Rating: 3.5 stars
The heart of this book is a love story about a woman struggling to find her place in the world amongst her protective family and a mysterious man who seems to draw out the very best of her. The love story was what drew me in – I couldn’t get enough of Alana and Chase. It was a beautiful story told with such sweetness that you couldn’t help but want to experience it with them. This does have a paranormal twist – although I would still classify it as a romance.
We meet Alana as she graduated college with a nursing degree and moves back home after years of living abroad. Alana is very strong and stubborn – two of the very qualities that made me like her the most – and is dealing with a heavy heart since her father’s untimely passing. Because she is so strong, she refuses to show weakness, thereby closing out everyone around her that loves and cares about her. Family tradition seems to reign and she battles these cultural traditions in an attempt to find her own place.
After meeting Chase Malek (the name just oozes sexiness and appeal doesn’t it?), she is fascinated by his knowledge of the Samoan traditions and language, but it isn’t until she unexpectedly witnesses him “helping” in the emergency room. This secret forces Alana to go through a myriad of emotions – fear, confusion, disbelief, fascination – and inevitably draws her to him. And thus begins their story… This was not an overnight love story. Time passed in between their meetings giving them each time to consider the emotions they were feeling.
The book started off a little slow for me. Because it was set in Samoa, I felt like the author spent A LOT of time describing the location – almost too much time. Even though I love it when an author sets the scene and describes a place so I can visualize it, I felt that at times, it was too much for me. I tended to skim through a lot of these parts and jumped ahead to the actual dialogue. I wanted more of the interactions with the various characters. Once Chase entered the picture and Alana saw his secret, the book got extremely interesting.
As I mentioned before this book does have an element of paranormal to it. Did it need it? Not really. The best part of this story was the relationship between Alana and Chase and I almost felt like the paranormal aspect was almost unnecessary. Yes, this aspect was the reason why they had so many problems being together, but it felt like a secondary story that wasn’t really expanded on.
Sieni’s writing of the romance was so good that she didn’t need this paranormal subplot. All of my favorite parts of the book – the gardenia and the tattoo – all had to do with the romance and I felt like she should have stuck with that. I do want to point out that this book is a “clean” romance (author’s words) and there are no sex scenes. To be completely honest, it didn’t need any. The story had enough angst, longing and lust that an actual sex scene was never needed.
If you want to read a book that is set in a tropical location with a great love story with a strong female character and a hint of paranormal, this is the book for you!
*I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*
Sieni has graciously agreed to giveaway a Kindle copy of ILLUMINE HER