Friday, November 14, 2014

The Music Box by Alice Brown

It’s Christmas Eve and Beth Montgomery’s life is a mess. She stops by the nursing home to visit her last remaining relative, her grandmother, Adeline Montgomery. Then she can go home and have a glass or ten of wine and cry over her latest string of bad luck. She was released from her job earlier.

She arrives to find Alex St. Claire visiting with her grandmother. What she doesn’t know is that he is a very lonely vampire, who made a mistake years ago when he thought he was in love with Adeline. He has spent many years trying to help out the family where he can. But Adeline’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and Beth knows her grandmother doesn’t have very much longer to live.

Both alone, Beth and Alex make a spontaneous decision to spend Christmas Eve together and are recipients to more than one miracle. But what will happen the next morning? Is Beth strong enough to handle the truth about Alex?

Where to Buy

I wanted to like this book. The blurb hooked me in, for it sounded like exactly the sort of story I typically enjoy (really, a book usually has me at "vampire"), as well as sounding somewhat similar to some Christmas romance stories I've greatly enjoyed in the past. The opening scene in the nursing home was quite promising, for it drew me in and got me interested in the characters. Unfortunately it started going downhill for me after Alex and Beth left the nursing home and didn't really redeem itself until the last quarter or so of the book. It recaptured my interest then, at least to a certain degree, and pulled my final rating up considerably.

I prefer to focus on the positives about a book in my reviews, so I'll start as I usually do with the characters. Beth is young, and a bit naive in some ways perhaps, but mostly seems to have a relatively level head on her shoulders. Granted, it isn't generally advisable for young women to take strange men they've just met up to their apartment, but she has already had evidence that he's a decent man at least and she can largely be forgiven for wanting a bit of company on Christmas Eve. She is suitably incredulous when he starts telling her about himself, but also believes him a little bit too readily I think. As her life gets turned upside down and she gets pulled into a whirlwind of radical changes to her life as she's know it, she handles it all with commendable grace. Perhaps to a large degree she simply copes by suspending disbelief and just going along with everything, but she never lets herself get fully swept away by the rush of events.

Alex is a good man and easily likeable as a hero. I often found myself wishing that I liked other aspects about the book better, for he's mostly the sort of vamp hero that I could easily start to crush on for he has many things to commend him. He's caring, considerate, philanthropic, good in bed--there isn't really anything much to dislike about him and he mostly has all the makings of a truly compelling MH. Sadly those aforementioned other aspects too often made him seem more comical than compelling.

So what are those other aspects? Primarily most of them boil down to this book having been in need of much more (and better) editing. There many POV problems (aka head hopping) in the first half of the book; at times so much that it became difficult to keep track of which character's POV a scene was supposed to be in. The descriptions often verged dangerously into purple prose territory as well, particularly during the early sex scenes. The adjectives used to describe Alex's manhood became so exaggerated at times that it seemed like we were supposed to believe he was large enough to put a horse to shame. I also felt the book relied too much on sex to sell the story. I would have liked to have seen fewer, and perhaps shorter, sex scenes and more character development. The characters and the premise for the book were both wonderful and interesting and so much more could have been done with them.

Overall, while I felt this book had all the makings of something great, it fell far short of its potential in my opinion. I'm not sure that I could particularly recommend this book to anyone unless you're looking for something that is often more simple erotica than romance. I won't rule out reading other books by this author based on this one, however, as she is clearly skilled at creating great characters and that in itself will make it worth giving her another shot when time allows. 3 stars to a book that I found to be largely mediocre at best but which had enough to commend it to keep my rating in the mid-range.

Note: I received a free review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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