I wanted to like this book more than I did. Going into it, I expected to come away liking it as well as the first. While the writing is just as good, the world just as cool, the characters just as intricate, I couldn’t get past the love triangle, which while suggested in the first and not nearly as central to the plot, takes a front-row seat in the ongoings of the second book. Granted, the love triangle itself didn’t bother me as much as choice others have in other books, but it still dampened the reading experience for me here. And that is simply because of Claire’s own reactions and how her ‘inner dragon’ is subdued every time James stops acting like the selfish prick he is.
I feel that this line particularly expresses the rather painful turn the series takes in this book concerning Claire’s choices and character: “She had lost sight of herself in the vision of how others saw her, and now she had to pay the price.” Indeed, the Claire in the first book – a female character with strength who developed a clear sense of self – is rather lost in the second as she becomes less steady and her goals, while not taking a backseat, see a new path toward achievement through the esteem of her peers.
Thankfully, there was still stuff to love in this book that made it a worth-while read all the same despite the disappointment presented by the love triangle here. The children’s lives under Claire’s guardianship have certainly come to fruition, not least of which in Willie who gains some much needed happiness through a reunion
. And the ending itself certainly makes up for the love triangle we have to deal with over the course of this book. Thankfully indeed, Claire regains her sense and returns to maintaining who she is and her goals, rather than thinking of social obligations and how others will and do see her. Even more thankfully, she finally does what she can to break off her engagement to James.
It will be interesting to see how Claire’s adventures on the path towards full independence take her and her company in book 3.