Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Review: Piercing the Veil (The Crusaders series, Book 1) by Nicole L. Taylor

Title:  Piercing the Veil (The Crusaders series, Book 1)
Author:  Nicole L. Taylor
Genre:  Fantasy Romance, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Alan and Lane Media
Release Date:  May 10, 2016

From the Back Cover:


Eighteen-year-old Alexa Moore has had enough of her rigid, controlled existence. Shortly after her graduation, she decides it’s time for her to make the decisions in her life, and quit letting her grandmother have the last say. But when she sees a man watching her—at her graduation, at the market, outside of where she volunteers—her excitement is snuffed out by a sense of dread she can’t shake. And that’s only the beginning…

Soon, strange things begin happening: doors opening by themselves, books falling off shelves. At first, Alexa ignores the bizarre occurrences, chalking them up to coincidence. But when things take a violent turn, she discovers that these occurrences aren’t coincidence at all. In fact, they’re all tied to one thing: her. It isn’t long before she realizes that telepathy and empathy are not the only abilities she possesses. And these new abilities—ones she cannot begin to explain—are growing in strength…becoming more and more dangerous.

Lost and confused, Alexa turns to her grandmother, the one person she trusts above all others, for help. But Gran isn’t who she appears to be, and Alexa finds herself embroiled in a family history that’s shrouded in mystery and lies, where no one, not even the young Irishman she’s fallen for, is who they seem.

Part romance, part thriller, and part fantasy, Piercing the Veil is Nicole L. Taylor’s premiere novel that is not to be missed.

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

My Review:

This review was very difficult for me to write. The most frustrating thing about this book was that it has SERIOUS potential. I could see this as easily being a hit -- one of those *ohmigoshIcan'twaitforthenextone* books. The author has an undeniable talent for writing.

I normally read the sample on Amazon before agreeing to read the entire book. I ignored my rule this time because after reading only the first few pages of the prologue, I was hooked. My excitement at possibly finding an awesome new series blurred the memory of the previous times I'd been burned. That was my mistake. Lesson learned.

The prologue is absolutely beautifully written with enticing descriptions, lots of action, mystery, and suspense. Coming from someone who typically hates prologues -- that's really high praise. However, the tone of the rest of the book is VERY different from the prologue. It almost felt like it was written by someone else and belonged to a different book.

While the content of the prologue was somewhat dark, the rest of the book was almost bubblegummy in comparison. That edgy darkness just wasn't there. That would have been fine, but it felt a little like a bait and switch. Prologue aside... the book was riddled with problems. By the time I finished it, I was downright pissed off -- and not in a good way (i.e. because the next book isn't out yet).

Within the first couple of chapters, I wanted to bitch-slap the main character, Alexa Moore. A guy in a store flirts with her a little bit and after she makes him run around collecting her hard-to-find items, he asks her out for coffee. Instead of a polite "no thanks" and moving on, she blows up at him and comes across as this moody bitch with a stick up her ass. The author makes pains throughout the book to point out how the main character is so beautiful, giving, and thoughtful -- even donating her time to the less fortunate -- but her actions and dialogue gave me the impression that she was an annoying, angsty, self-absorbed bitch.

I could have gotten past all of that, but there were some serious mechanical issues in the book that should have been addressed. A lot of these things should have been caught by the content editor. There were numerous problems with the author's timeline (to the point that I wanted to stop and email her a calendar). In addition, the prose in the beginning of the book was meandering, redundant, and repetitive. It evened out after a while, but the beginning was somewhat confusing with an influx of character names that were very similar (Mike/Mark).

The supporting characters weren't very well-developed or memorable... to the point that I stopped bothering to try and remember which one was the brother or the cousin. There just wasn't anything noteworthy about their personalities and they seemed to have no real bearing on the plot.

Then one of my biggest pet peeves made an appearance...

Please, for the sake of God's little green apples... stupid misunderstandings should NOT be used as a major relationship plot device. This happened not once, not twice... BUT THREE TIMES! It got to the point that I was hoping that the evil baddie would make a sudden appearance and put one or both of these characters out of their misery.

No such luck.

Putting that aside (because it's a personal preference), I finished reading...and then shook my head.

The story ended with the hint of a cliffhanger (no satisfying ending) -- no huge build up, no big climax... it just fizzled and was stamped with a big "To Be Continued...".

Not only that, but the ending also had major issues because the character's reactions didn't make any sense (given the secrecy through the entire freaking book). Their seeming acceptance of everything just made me shake my head and wonder if the characters had jumped trains mid-read. Without giving away any spoilers, I can't go into more detail.... but let me tell you, it was really frustrating and anticlimactic.

If the author reads this, I hope she doesn't take this review as overly harsh criticism. She does have a lot of talent and I think her writing will undeniably improve as she continues to hone her craft. I honestly think she should consider taking this book off-market, hire a good content editor to identify all these issues, fix them and tighten up the writing, and then resubmit it. The storyline is fairly typical for the genre (nothing groundbreaking), but the series has the potential to be a real hit if she expands on the world-building and fixes the problems.

Overall, I just can't recommend this book or series in its current condition. With revisions though...I think this book could easily be a 4 or 5 stars.

*Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy provided via NetGalley with the sole purpose of an honest review. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.

My Rating:

About the Author:

NICOLE TAYLOR grew up loving and devouring books, until one day she discovered she loved something even more than reading: writing stories of her own. After years of dreaming about becoming an author, she finally decided to sit down and make that dream a reality. When she’s not working away on one of her novels, she can be found tucked away in a corner with one of her favorite books, chasing after her two precocious children alongside her amazing husband, or pondering ideas for novels of her own to come.

Author Links:
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