Tuesday, April 9, 2013

West of Want by Laura Kaye

Betrayal is all he's ever known, but in her, he'll find a love strong enough to be trusted...

When Marcella Raines' twin brother dies, she honors his request to be buried at sea, never expecting the violent storm that swamps her boat. Though she's gravely injured--and still emotionally damaged from her recent divorce--Ella fights to survive.

Zephyros Martius is the Supreme God of the West Wind and Spring, but being the strongest Anemoi hasn't protected him from betrayal and loss. Worse, he's sure his brother Eurus is behind it. When Zeph's heartbreak whips up a storm that shipwrecks a human, his guilt forces him to save her.

Ella is drawn to the vulnerability Zeph hides beneath his otherworldly masculinity and ancient blue eyes. And her honesty, empathy, and unique, calming influence leave Zeph wanting...everything. When Eurus threatens Ella, she and Zeph struggle to let go of the past, defend their future, and embrace what they most want--a love that can be trusted.

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After the relatively lighthearted and fun romance in North of Need the series takes a more serious and emotional turn in this book. As if all the grief and angst that Zephyros and Ella are feeling because of their individual situations isn't enough, we also get the more sinister threat posed by Zeph's brother Eulus who seems to have made it his mission to destroy Zephyros and anyone he holds dear.

When we first see Ella, she is saying a final goodbye to her twin brother Marcus as she scatters his ashes in Chesapeake Bay in an area where they had both loved sailing their ship True Blue. She gets caught in a storm that Zephyros has created from his grief and rage after another run-in with Eulus, and she only survives because he notices her fading lifeforce in time and rescues her. Besides the death of her twin, Ella is also still recovering from the collapse of her marriage, and it's reasonably fair to say that she's at the lowest point in her young life so far. She isn't giving in to despair however, and even though she's allowing herself time to grieve for all she's lost, she's also starting to make plans for the future, to discover who she really is and what she really wants to do. She's looking forward, and yet her past has certainly affected her for she is afraid to trust it when something good happens to her, and is afraid to trust that her feelings for Zephyros, and his for her, could be true. It's notable that she has the courage to take that risk and give it a chance to work between them, even though I think she maybe does so a little too readily.

Zephyros has Ella beat hands down on the lack of trust front, for he has been tricked and betrayed so many times by almost anyone and everyone that he's ever let himself care for or about to the point that he really has almost completely given in to despair. He rescues and subsequently heals Ella out of a sense of duty since she was hurt because of him, but he resists and mistrusts the attraction between them and scrutinizes and questions everything that happens or that is said, looking for hidden agendas or double meanings. In short, he is so used to being betrayed that he expects it, and looks for it even when he's given no real indication that Ella is toying with him, and indeed frequently has evidence to the contrary. I would have liked to see him be just a little more willing to trust the evidence of his own eyes and more willing to give Ella the benefit of the doubt instead of always jumping to the worst conclusion possible, even if it's understandable why he does. He does eventually decide to take charge and quit being the victim of Eulus's cruelty, but the decision comes a little too late perhaps.

Overall I loved the story of Zephyros and Ella's finding one another and learning to trust again, and I would have been totally fine with the story if it had been left at that. Certainly they had enough issues of their own to cause the needed conflict in the story without the need for outside threats. While Eulus's persecution of Zephyros is certainly integral to the person that Zephyros has become, and it was likely inevitable that he wouldn't refrain from causing problems for Zeph with Ella, a part of me really wishes he had, for I found the evil that Eulus represents to be somewhat discordant with the tone of the rest of the book and an interference in Zeph and Ella's story that I'm not entirely sure was needed. Could their story have reached the same sort of satisfactory conclusion without it? Perhaps, but I'll admit that it probably would have been somewhat lacking since some of the elements that make the ultimate solutions really interesting would have been missing.

A great story, and one that I'd definitely recommend to fans of paranormal romances, particularly ones featuring mythological themes. The way that Kaye incorporates and blends different mythologies here is quite fascinating and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it in future volumes of this series. A solid 4 stars to this one.

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