Monday, September 5, 2016

Burning Bright

Title: Burning Bright
Author: Melissa McShane
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication Date: August 15, 2016
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5/5 stars "Loved it!"
Source: ARC from NetGalley
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.

Description from GoodReads
In 1812, Elinor Pembroke wakes to find her bedchamber in flames—and extinguishes them with a thought. At 21, she is old to manifest magical talent, but the evidence is unmistakable: she not only has the ability to start fires, but the far more powerful ability to control and extinguish them. She is an Extraordinary, and the only one in England capable of wielding fire in over one hundred years.

As an Extraordinary, she is respected and feared, but to her father, she represents power and prestige for himself. Mr. Pembroke, having spent his life studying magic, is determined to control Elinor and her talent by forcing her to marry where he chooses, a marriage that will produce even more powerful offspring. Trapped between the choices of a loveless marriage or living penniless and dependent on her parents, Elinor takes a third path: she defies tradition and society to join the Royal Navy.

Assigned to serve under Captain Miles Ramsay aboard the frigate Athena, she turns her fiery talent on England’s enemies, French privateers and vicious pirates preying on English ships in the Caribbean. At first feared by her shipmates, a growing number of victories make her truly part of Athena’s crew and bring her joy in her fire. But as her power grows and changes in unexpected ways, Elinor’s ability to control it is challenged. She may have the power to destroy her enemies utterly—but could it be at the cost of her own life?

My Thoughts
I will admit that I was skeptical when I started this book.  It looked so good!  The story sounded amazing!  And just look at that beautiful cover!  Something has to be wrong with it!  Well, I couldn't find anything major (unless you count that it ended far too soon!)

From the very beginning, I loved Elinor.  How can you not admire the bravery of someone who keeps her wits about her when she wakes up in a room that she started on fire?  From the very beginning, she is portrayed as a quick-witted, resourceful, and intelligent young lady despite her failings to cling to everything society forces of her.  When she lives within society's grasp, she acts like a silly little lady.  She is not seen as more than "plain" or "unruly."  When she leaves for her time with the Navy, however, we see her truly begin to shine.  Now, she is important.  Her flame is a respected wonder!  She begins to feel as though she belongs!

And then, we have the wonderful Captain Miles Ramsay.   I fell in love with him the moment he appeared on the page.  His mild manners, kind heart, and chivalrous ways make him a terrific hero.  From the very beginning, I was hoping that he would earn Elinor's heart.

Romance is a very difficult thing to write.  The author must consider if their words are overly cheesy or sexual.  They must consider the way that the romance develops as well.  If it isn't obvious, the audience may not catch on.  If it is too obvious, the reader may lose interest.  Melissa McShane deserves a round of applause for the natural, easy, and obvious romance in this novel.  I have read so few books where it is properly done, and with just the right number of corny aspects, that I was in awe of the way that McShane does so with ease!

Final Thoughts
In Burning Bright, Melissa McShane creates a strong character.  She uses this character to effectively develop her themes of personal strength, self-confidence, resourcefulness, and adaptability.  With these qualities, one is able to survive in any surroundings.

Although this was my introduction to Melissa McShane's writing, it will definitely not be my last.

About the Author (From GoodReads)
Melissa grew up a nomad, following her family all over the United States, and ended up living in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains with her husband, four kids, and three very needy cats. Her love of reading was always a constant during those uncertain years, and her love of writing grew out of that. She wrote reviews and critical essays for many years before turning to fiction, and was surprised at how much she liked it. She loves the fantasy genre and how it stretches the imagination.

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