***I received a free ebook in exchange for a fair and honest review.***
The following review contains spoilers through the first quarter of the book.
“Amidst Honeysuckle, Promises and Forbidden Things” by Breannalyn May Pearce is a love story, and a bit of a coming of age story.
Christabella and her big brother, Gabriel, have always enjoyed an extremely close, loving relationship. When Gabriel suddenly does a one-eighty and becomes cold and distant, Christabella finds herself lonely and bereft. As she weathers her brother’s coldness interspersed with the occasional angry and violent outburst, she at last arrives at a confession: he has fallen in love with her.
I give the author credit for extremely clear storytelling: by the time I hit the second page, it was abundantly clear to me that this was going to be a story about the abnormally loving relationship between the main character and her brother. Pearce knows her audience, and knows how to assure them where this story is going.
This is a wish-fulfillment romance, written in the style of a fan fiction author. I state this not as a positive or a negative—merely as a statement of fact. For the first twenty pages or so, I was distracted by the style of the prose, not quite able to understand certain choices (like the description of the characters that’s just a list of attributes like you might see on a poster for a criminal at large)—and then around page twenty, it clicked when I realized that I only had to view this as a work in the vein of fan fiction, and I could understand it perfectly.
I do wish that a little more editing had gone into this—at one point, I was faced with a paragraph that filled an entire page, which was simply listing family members that had come visiting for Thanksgiving, each with their age, hair color, eye color and any other relevant physical characteristic.
There’s a lot of potential in this story. It has an—admittedly more lighthearted—message within it that can be likened to One Hundred Years of Solitude. It reminded me, in parts, of the anime Koi Kaze—though admittedly this seemed to present a more simplistic view on the prospect of a brother and sister pursuing a romantic relationship. Incest is treated a little more like a personal hangup—as in, the way a love story would treat one person being “not good enough” or “from the wrong side of the tracks” for the other—than like a huge social taboo that will follow these two for the rest of their lives.
The outbursts of Gabriel are a little concerning to me—not in the scale of the outbursts so much as the lengths that Christabella goes in response to try and “protect” him from any potential consequences, and forgiving him immediately. It’s a little concerning, but not nearly as bad as anything else in the same vein—like Fifty Shades of Gray or Twilight.
It’s a light read. If you require a story to adhere to strict grammar rules and have flowing prose, this may not be for you. However, if you are a reader of romantic fan fiction, or original romances from sites like Fiction Press and Wattpad, then you will likely enjoy this.
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