The first book in the highly anticipated Elemental World series, by Elizabeth Hunter, author of the best-selling Elemental Mysteries. In a world teetering on the edge of change, two beings struggle to find their purpose. Will their paths lead them closer together or tear their worlds apart? For a thousand years, powerful earth vampire Carwyn ap Bryn has served others. God. His family. His friends. But tragedy and loss disrupt his peaceful existence, causing him to question everything he has committed his eternity to. Brigid Connor has known about vampires since they rescued her from a painful childhood. But not even their vast elemental power can save her from the demons that torment her. As loyalties are tested and new paths are forged, a lurking danger slowly grows in the Elemental World. Carwyn and Brigid learn that even secrets revealed can come back to haunt you when you least expect it.
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I started out really liking this book. Others have commented on storyline etc, so I'll offer you this: If you like "christian" romance and paranormal, get this book. If you want something Really Long, with a little suspense get this book. Hunter does have a new take on the vampire culture/world building that I very much enjoyed. The characters are wonderful and the unusual longitudinal story over 7 or 8 years allows a lot of time for character development. The length gives a lot of detail to the suspense. I really liked both the leads tremendously. I was, however, irritated that when they FINALLY get together, its pretty lukewarm and very 1970s harlequin (everything kind of hinted at). I think we wait 12 hours before they finally merge. Both the lead female and the author are very prudish throughout the book. Its fine when its the lead character, but instead of passion, we just get treacle. Lots of treacle. "I love you". No, I love you. I love you. I really love you. Oh how I love you. Enough already. Though her first one in this series with Giovanni and Beatrice was nice and a very low embered burn that suggest a different approach to romance in the 21st century romantic fiction, this book--Building from Ashes--has much more of decided Christian romance, with a lot of devout practicing Catholics. The resolution was predictable. I give a 3 for the mystery villans, 4 for the worldbuilding, 2 for the romance (tho I loved the Stigmata movie related theme of the priest!) and 3.5 for the narration. If your usual fangy fare is Lara Adrian, C. Feehan, Larissa Ione, N. Singh, or K. Cole, but you are in the grove for something more tepid in the physical heat dept, you may enjoy this. Hunter is a good storyteller and you will love her characters. If you like Dee Henderson and her genre and are feeling like something on the paranormal side, you may enjoy this. Its got a tad more sizzle than Henderson who is a fabulous writer in military themed romance but is old fashioned and completely passion-free--something that seems thematic to me in "Christian" romance.
For me, if there had been a bit more passion, a little more sizzle when they DID get together--they are such good characters and I wanted to FEEL that moment with them-- I wouldn't suggest that this is more of a Christian paranormal. There was a lot in this one about Catholic practice (hey, even the Vatican is board with vampire priests) and there doesn't seem any discordance with vampirism and the Church. That's new. But we get a lot of religious hand wringing about the priest and our female lead and getting physical till marriage. I felt like I stuck it out through the all the Irish angst, and got let down. Never was I so relieved when the epilogue was intoned. I didn't stick around for the preview for the next book.
Dina Perlman was a better narrator here than in the first one since there is little Italian and mostly Irish, Scottish and Welsh accents to contend with. In the first book, she butchered italian so bad that I was cringing every time she said "Gee-oh" as the shortened "Giovanni" (it's "Joe"--"joe-VANNI" in Italian). Another example was "Dee-meh-DEE-chee" ( de Medici or "Day MED-de-chee"). Since it was said hundreds of times in the first book, you should take that as a recommendation that I bought another one in this series with the same narrator--the story in the first book outshone the butchered narration and poor pacing). PErlman gets better in this one with her pacing and voicing. It helps that this is not centered on a mystery involving medieval Italian literature as was the first.
I won't be continuing on with this series or the author, but I would recommend this as a bargain read or listen.
What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?
I SO wish that Zachary Webber could have narrated these books. His sexy voice would have made it a wonderful experience. Dina Pearlman was down right painful to listen to. Such a bummer. I was spoiled by listening to the Irin Chronicles first.
How could the performance have been better?
Zachary Webber, please read these to me?!
Any additional comments?
I will stick to reading thesee books. Dina Pearlman was HORRIFIC.