A Freakishly Good Paranormal Romance
In Brambles, the book by Morgan Ray, we learn that nearly 100 years ago, a twisted murder and strange thing occurred. Two men were involved in the gruesome deed--one, a mysterious figure with crimes of his own, and the other, a clever writer.
One of these men would become a celebrity of his town, while one would be killed at gunpoint by a unknown third party. Little did these men know, that they were the new victims of a curse centuries old, and neither life or death would let them go so easily.
Sydney Phillips isn't the most fortunate. Her mother drowned in a drunken stupor, she has no idea who her father is, and her life is controlled by her cold, rich grandmother. A babysitter to her strange, Pluto-obsessed aunt, Sydney wishes she could escape her past and experience life the way she wants to. Sadly, that might never happen, as her grandma sees her as nothing but an item to marry off to gain more social standing.
One dreary day, Sydney somehow discovers a diary about the events following a terrible murder surrounding a girl named Rosalind. Taking the diary changes Sydney's life from bland to extraordinary--summoning the ghosts of Victorian-era men, Dorian and Reginald.
The two ghosts have been waiting in a purgatory-like land called The Thicket, waiting for someone like Sydney to be born, as she is the only one who can break the curse they suffer from. In order for her to eliminate the bonds of the curse, she'll have to choose which ghost to marry-- and which ghost will be lost to time forever. Whatever her choice, she'll be giving up her chance to determine her own life. What none of them know is that the age-old curse is more deeply rooted than imagined, and that more than marriage will be needed to completely erase it.
Three words for you: Hot. Victorian. Ghosts.
I'm not a huge fan of the romantic genre, but hot darn, if it's fantasy romance, I am down.
If you're a long time reader of the blog, you may know that one of my favorite series is the Tiger's Curse (by Colleen Houck) series, a romance series I hold dear to my heart. Imagine my surprise when I was contacted by author Morgan Ray to review her amazing Brambles series! A romantic fantasy, filled with ghosts and magic cats? Heck yeah!
Morgan was kind enough to send me the first two books, and I happily consumed them as one would consume a delectable cake. Let me say, if these books were in fact a cake, I would go back for seconds- no, thirds! There's everything I enjoy in Brambles, and written to the highest degree. So join me, young adventurer, as I present to you what I enjoy in Brambles.
For one, what is a romance book without characters? (Don't answer that, that was a rhetorical question.) As for our main character, Sydney, she's about as normal as most YA protagonists are. We don't learn important facts about her until the second book, which made me wonder if those facts were so important to her character, why didn't they come up sooner?
To be honest, Sydney is mostly an item to drive the plot forward for better or for worse, as seen in the second book, Thorns. The true stars of the series are Reginald and Dorian. Usually when it comes to romance in media, I fall for the "bad boy" character. But for Brambles it was different. Dorian is the bad boy love interest, dark and mysterious, but will do horrible things to get Sydney to love him. Reginald on the other hand is the "good boy" love interest. He starts off a bit selfish in his ways, but is respectful and truly cares for Sydney.
You see, I do love a bad boy, but only if they have redeemable traits. Let's take for example my imaginary boyfriend, Kylo Ren, the main villain of the new Star Wars movies. He is a bad guy, but has a reason to be. Even if he stays an antagonist in the first movie, he slowly tries to become good with the help of Rey, eventually casting aside his evil ways to help her in her darkest moments.
Dorian on the other hand, isn't as redeemable. He has the troubled past like Kylo Ren, but lacks the motivation to become good. No matter how much Sydney tries to be friendlier to him, he still tries to bribe and harm her way into getting his way, whether Sydney loves him or not. He treats her like a prize to be won, so far from the way he loved his Rosalind. He lacks the character development despite the pieces being there, and throws away all chances to grow as a character.
That is why Reginald is my favorite of the two. His family are the people who first were cursed, and he did try to eliminate a bunch of witches, but at least he's not a womanizing sleazeball. Reginald is polite and non-overbearing to Sydney, realizing it's her choice to decide her life, not his. He doesn't try to win her like an item, and honestly wants to love her. When she turned evil, instead of joining her on a illegal adventure, he went to go get help-- FROM THE WITCHES HE TRIED TO KILL-- which doesn't really sound like a good idea at first, but it meant that he apologized for the horrible things he did. I mean, I love a dark and mysterious dude, but a polite and loving dude is even better. Get yourself a Reggie.
The second book, Thorns, is a whole different thing. It deserves a blog of its own, so I'll keep this short.
Overall, Brambles and Thorns were really great books. If you're a fan of Tiger's Curse or the Twilight series, or maybe just fantasy romance in general, I would highly recommend this series for you. It sure does win a special spot on my bookshelf!
I will in fact be getting the third and final book, Thicket, when it comes out this summer, and with great excitement. Thank you, Morgan, for sending me your books, and sorry it took me so long to write this.
I am open to any YA author sending their books to me, I will always read and write a review on them for free. If you want me to read yours, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the contact page!