Title: The Raven (The Florentine #1)
Author: Sylvain Reynard
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Length: 496 pages
Rating: 4 stars
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel Series comes a dark, sensual tale of romance in a city shrouded in mystery…
Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery restoring fine works of Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semi-conscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attacker’s screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her…
When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. She returns to the Uffizi, but no one recognizes her and more disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of the events leading up to her disappearance, Raven also learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history – the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the baffled police force identifies her as its prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth about her disappearance. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets.
This book picks up two years after the Prince. The war among Providences has ended with the Prince and Florence winning. And while time has past, his desire for reclaiming his Botticelli drawings and seeking revenge against Gabriel Emerson has not died down.
Finally obtaining his drawings should bring the Prince peace, but on the same night of obtaining them, he world is turned on end with a helpless disabled girl near death.
I’m not big on paranormals (PNR), I find that some get overly complex and hard to follow along. But there are really two sides to this story. First, there is Raven’s world, the human world. She survives her attack but has mysteriously changed, morphing into the beautiful woman she always desired to be. She has no idea how this change came about, but quickly enjoys her new world without a cane. However, her change is temporary, which leads to the second world. The dark underworld of the Prince. Although it isn’t mentioned what the Prince is until midway through the book, I think it was very clear what he was. The Prince’s world is a volatile one, with forces both outside and inside trying to take him down.
Initially, Raven’s world and the Prince’s world are separate, with the story alternating their POVs. As Raven adjusting to the changes in her appearance and her life, suspicion about the disappearing drawings falls on her. At the same time, the Prince is trying to restore peace to his kingdom as new forces continual threaten their survival. Although the Prince tries to keep Raven safe, these forces continue to bring them back together. Despite attempts to fight it, the passion between them escalates over time, profoundly affecting them.
“You are the only ray of hope I’ve seen since 1274. You’re the only one who has caused my heart to beat again.”
For Gabriel fans, he does have a role in this book, as he attempts to recover the drawings. As Raven works at the Uffizi Gallery, she comes in contact with the family. It’s then that she learns of their desire to adopt from the orphanage that she volunteers at. Their love for a child with a disability creates a connection with them that will make a difference down the road.
If you read my review of The Prince, you’ll remember that I was not a fan of his. Particularly because of his desire to kill Gabriel and cause harm to his family. And his mission doesn’t die down in this book, but something is discovered about the Prince (William), which may change your mind, like it did mine. He has a compassion to do the right thing, particularly when it involves Raven (Cassita).
“A bird in the cage is never as beautiful as a bird that is free, Cassita. You’ve been wounded enough. I won’t add to your wounds.”
There are two things I came to love about the Prince. First, his admiration for Raven shocked me. For someone who’s essentially been dead for hundreds of years, he shows a great amount of humanity with regard to Raven. He proved he had a soul after all, or at least some version of one.
Second, I was initially concerned that William would be drawn by Raven’s reformed beauty. When in actuality, he doesn’t express his attraction until she reverts back to her former self. The one with a disability and curves. And it was nice to see a book where the heroine’s inner beauty was shown brighter than her outer self-conscious self.
“You are my greatest virtue and my deepest vice.”
This is book one of a series, and while there are a lot of unanswered questions, this doesn’t end in a cliffhanger. I’m definitely invested in the Prince and Raven’s story and eager to see where the author leads us next.
*An ARC was received for an honest review.