Review: Forbidden by Mike Wells and Devika Fernando

 Book 1 of Forbidden

A Novel of Love and Betrayal

Title: Forbidden

Subtitle: A Novel of Love and Betrayal

Authors: Mike Wells, Devika Fernando

Genre: Romantic Thriller

Year of Publication: 2015

Self-Published

Series: Forbidden

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Note: I purchased this book as a freebie. However, this aspect didn’t influence the review I wrote or the rating I gave this book.  In this review, you will find only my honest thoughts and opinions about the book I’ve read!

For today’s post, I’ve decided to share with you the review I wrote for Forbidden, the first instalment in a romantic thriller series written by Mile Wells and co-authored by Devika Fernando. When I read this novel, there were only three books in the series, but the authors announced the release of the forth one in late June. There are some mixed opinions about the first book out there, but, in the end, you will decide whether it’s interesting enough for you or not. My opinions and rating are somewhere in the middle because this novel wasn’t that bad, it was pretty much an easy read, but I wanted a little more from content.

The novel follows two alternating plotlines and perspectives: Eleanor’s rebellious teenage years and Jayne’s story from the day she met Lady Eleanor Sotheby onwards, a shocking and life-changing discovery she has never imagined. Though the two plotlines are strongly linked to each other due to Eleanor’s presence, I think that Eleanor’s dark past is more interesting than the present because it’s more suspenseful and its pace is more dynamic than the other plotline which has a steadier pace and some of the events are pretty predictable if you ask me.

At first glance, Eleanor may seem cultured and posh, but her true temper leaks out when things don’t go her way, just like in her early life. She is ambitious, snobbish and now she cares what other socialites have to say about her or her daughter’s reputation. Eleanor is a morally grey and complex character and the way she acts reminds me of another unlikable yet well-built character, Kathy Brogan from Black Widow. Eleanor is also in charge of Jayne’s transformation into a cultured young lady to make her adapt much easier to the new lifestyle and challenges she has to face.

“And what was acting, anyway? Nothing more than being a good liar, and she was very accomplished at that. She had been “acting” ever since she could remember.” (Loc. 591)

 But how Eleanor became a filthy rich widow who has so many connections in socialite circles? Dark secrets should always be buried in the past and Eleanor guards them well because no one should find out how her life was like before becoming Lady Sotheby. She had to take many risks that suited her rebellious nature, but Celeste and Jayne don’t need to know that because the truth would shatter the picture perfect image of this rich widow and she can’t allow that to happen. Therefore, lies are a useful tool to paint the truth in brighter colours.

The rest of the characters are not complex as Lady Sotheby, but we can easily recognise who is Jayne and who is Celeste because Jayne is sweet, caring, introverted and a girl who works hard to support her loved ones despite her frequent asthma attacks, while Celeste is stubborn, spoiled, posh, self-absorbed, loves parties and speed. And talking about the two girls, one of my favourite scenes is when Jayne and Celeste meet, shock, curiosity and emotions overwhelm each other; it was a truly touching moment.

“This wasn’t her exact reflection she was looking at—this was a version of Jayne dressed in expensive designer clothes, with a fashionably short haircut, and decked out in expensive jewelry.” (Loc. 392)

To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled with the beginning of the book, but the hook came along with Jayne’s journey to Nice to meet Celeste. Though Jayne is a sweetheart and I liked her as a character, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes because I couldn’t be that selfless to help Celeste, whom I’ve recently met just because she did a mistake that threatens her reputation and Lady Sotheby’s ambitions. However, the book is interesting because you get a glimpse of how the lives of rich people really are, besides the glamour and the influence they have in their exclusive circles.

The writing is beautiful in the main story with an overall steady pace and realistic in Eleanor’s shady story building the suspense. I enjoyed most of the novel and the characters though I would have liked this first book to be longer because it ended a bit abruptly for my taste. I might pick up the second book someday, just to see how Jayne and Robert’s relationship develops, but only time will tell if I will still be interested in reading it.

Interview with Author Devika Fernando

Note: This post was written in collaboration with my friend Elena from eLitere.ro

Social Media is an amazing tool to promote your business, book, art project or blog if you know where to look and how to use it. We’ve come to meet even more amazing people, and discover books or films that made us happy or broke our hearts. We bring you a new interview today, with a lady whose name was mentioned before on eLitere and on Alina’s Bookish Hideout: Devika Fernando. She is the author of  contemporary romance and paranormal books such as When I See Your Face: A Second Chance at Love, Kaleidoscope of Hopes: A Second Chance Workplace Romance and the book series Fire Trilogy (Elemental Paranormal Romance), Romance Round The World and Forbidden, a romantic thriller series written in collaboration with American author Mike Wells, writer of Lust, Money & Murder series.

When was your passion for writing born?

Devika: When I was seven years old. I was always being read to and reading books, and I really wanted my own story too. It was a very short, short story. The real passion for writing arose during my teenage years, though it was mostly poems in English and novel ideas (just a few chapters here and there) in German. In 2013 I decided to really make my dream come true and become a romance novelist.

What inspires you the most?

Devika: I react very powerfully to pictures like fantasy art, romantic photos or even places that I can imagine as the setting for a novel. Sometimes new items or a book I read might spark an idea. Ultimately, I regard everything and everyone in life as an inspiration for writing.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Devika: I don’t suffer from it. If I ever feel a little reluctant to write, I just push on and write anyway. Even if I might not be satisfied with what I’ve written, it’ll still have taken me a step further. If I get stuck, I sometimes switch to a different story or chapter or just read what I’ve written and fall back on track.

How has literature shaped the way you look at the world?

Devika: That is a wonderful question that I’ve never been asked before! I think it has made me observe more, and understand more, especially emotions and how they are sometimes hidden or unconsciously portrayed. And it has made me believe in love more because romance novels show that ultimately true love can overcome almost any obstacle.

“Artists instinctively want to reflect humanity, their own and each other’s, in all its intermittent virtue and vitality, frailty and fallibility”, said Tom Hiddleston in an interview some years ago. What are your thoughts on fandoms, on the way artists and their fans can interact nowadays?

Devika: It’s such a beautiful and meaningful quote, with which I heartily agree, being an artist myself. I think fandoms offer many benefits. They can bring people together, even if they might live on opposite sides of the globe or would otherwise never meet or talk, but are passionate about the same thing and will never run out of a topic to discuss. I’ve found three of my closest friends through a fandom. I also think being an ardent fan of someone or something brings out our creativity. It can give us strength to go on, things to look forward to, joy in hard times.

And with the internet, the possibilities seem endless. We have the chance to get to know a little more about the artist or even interact, and that in turn might make us understand and appreciate their work even more. Then there’s fanfiction. I know some people have very strong (negative) views about it, but I can’t see the harm in it. Some have discovered their inner writer through it or practice and end up writing wonderful books or even opening the door to success.

The only thing that makes me a bit weary of fandom is the ‘fanatic’ aspect. With the internet, some fans have started stalking artists or posting inappropriate stuff and totally ignoring privacy.

What would you say to those who are just discovering your novels? Why should they read your stories?

Devika: Another good question, thanks! I’ll give them three reasons: firstly, my characters don’t just fall in lust, kiss after the first page, and enjoy romps between the sheets, but really fall in love with each other. Secondly, I try to explore exotic settings in my novels that add to the fascination. For example, you can take a virtual trip to Sri Lanka in my multicultural romance novel Saved in Sri Lanka and you’ll find out a lot about Iceland in my upcoming paranormal romance novels Dancing with Fire and Living with Fire. Thirdly, there is always an aspect of the heroine (and hero) not only finding love but also finding themselves and learning to love themselves.

You can follow Devika Fernando on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and Amazon.

Review: The Prince’s Special Bride by Devika Fernando

Book 1 of Royal Romance

 

Title: The Prince’s Special Bride

Author: Devika Fernando

Genre: Romance

First Published in 2016

Self-Published

Series: Royal Romance

Rating: 3/5 stars

“Even during the fitful bouts of sleep, her mind had been filled with a suave, secretive seducer in a princely uniform who spoke endearments in an unknown language and caressed her body in all the right ways.” (Loc. 1201-1203)

For today’s post, I wrote a book review for author Devika Fernando’s first book in the Royal Romance series, The Prince’s Special Bride. Before I start, I just want to warn you that the novel triggered some mixed feeling inside me, so bear in mind that there will be also some negative aspects I will outline from an honest reader’s point of view. If you have different opinions, at least respect mine.

Marie Kemei works as a night manager at a resort on Kuramathi Island, in the Maldives, but her life is about to change drastically when she finds Olivia, the runaway Crown Princess of Taragonia. She was hiding from her family because they were forcing her to enter an arranged marriage with the Crown Prince of Visteria. If this wasn’t bad enough, Crown Prince Christian of Taragonia, Liv’s brother, shows up and the salty air becomes heavier with mutual attraction between Marie and Christian. Later on, Princess Olivia arranges a trip for Marie to come to Taragonia to assist the future bride as a dear friend and bride’s maid, but this also means that Christian and Marie will meet again. How will this modern Cinderella adapt to royal life in order to find her ‘happily ever after’ by Prince Christian’s side?

The positive aspects are about the writing. I love Devika’s writing and the way she uses the English vocabulary makes the dialogue feel real and dynamic. The setting is gorgeous, from the beach and the sunset in the Maldives to the majestic Taragonian palace and its lavish gardens. The rooms and the elegant dresses and jewels are depicted clearly as if you can see or even feel the fabrics and other objects. The royal events and campaigns are described well and, along with the strict presence of the Queen Mother, they made me think of the British Royal Family and their charitable work around the world. The writing is easy to follow, witty and the tension and suspense are just right.

If you ask me which was my favourite character, I would answer that it’s the Queen of Taragonia. Why? Because she is dignified, strict, conservative and she puts Marie to the test because no monarch would allow an outsider to enter a royal family without one’s consent. The way this royal lady talks, her body language and even her looks made me associate her with a middle-aged version of HRH Queen Elisabeth II. Then I liked Olivia, who preferred to run away than to become the bride of a self-centered playboy prince just for political reasons. She is stubborn and in desperate need of freedom because of the rules imposed by royal tradition suffocate her. She loves her country and her subjects like her brother Christian does and her love shines through the charity work.

Christian, Crown Prince of Taragonia is strict like his mother because he was raised to become a king one day. At first glance, he seems very severe, conservative and even cold, but this changes when Marie steals his heart. Christian cares a lot about the etiquette and his family’s reputation; he is a workaholic and an intelligent young man, who has learned a little bit of everything – from economics, politics and wine industry to charity work and so on. He becomes angry and lectures Olivia for acting unladylike and despite the fact that the prince tries not to show his feelings, Marie can easily read him like an open book, so most of the time he cannot fool her. Christian is an okay character but, as well as in Marie’s case, I didn’t feel that connection with him. I hate to say it, but he seems to be Mr Perfect who cares about his country, the royal rules, tradition and, on top of all that, he is the well-bred workaholic and eligible bachelor of Taragonia. Yes, Christian gets angry, quarrels or lusts for Marie like a normal human being would, but I think he needed more depth as an important character and Marie’s love interest.

And last but not least, let’s talk about Marie, the night manager who shows Liv what it feels like to live like an ordinary person for a day or so. Marie is also a workaholic who had a hard life as a child, but her back-story is very inconsistent if you ask me. I personally needed more details about her life because she is the protagonist. Even if it hurt, Marie should have been able to remember a little more about her mother than what actually appears in the book. As a character, Marie is professional when it comes to her job, a witty and quirky friend to Olivia, but she’s a bit silly while she is around Christian, blurting things she doesn’t actually want to say and making a fool of herself at the royal court. Who wouldn’t? I wouldn’t do a better job at a royal court either.

Marie is caring and loves being around people, though she notices that she is perceived as an outsider and she is constantly afraid that people will judge her by the colour of her skin because she is half-African. Honestly, I wanted Marie to have a little more depth as a character because, despite Christian’s fascination with her intelligence, I found her… not necessarily superficial, but pretty colourless for a protagonist. I really wished to feel more attached to her since the story revolves around her, but I couldn’t.

Overall, the story is sweet and perfect to be read at the beach, but it didn’t work for me that much because of the reasons mentioned above, but also because the climax didn’t have all the ingredients to blow my mind. I liked the instant friendship between Marie and Olivia and I loved the sexual tension between Marie and Christian when they went for a swim into the spring and the library scene, but the romance between the main characters wasn’t always that great.

 

Review: When I See Your Face by Devika Fernando

A Second Chance At Love

 

Title: When I See Your Face

Subtitle: A Second Chance At Love

Author: Devika Fernando

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Year of Publication: 2014

Self-Published

Rating: 4/5 stars

 

I wrote in an older review that I’m pretty shy when it comes to contemporary literature, because I’m not very accustomed to its genres, styles and new trends; plus, I don’t always know what I’m getting into. However, after recently discovering a few Romanian and foreign book tubers and after creating my Goodreads and Twitter accounts, my interest and appetite for contemporary books began to grow. It’s more like a combination of curiosity and the need to know what’s new and good to read.

For today’s review, I’m going to talk about a romance novel entitled When I See Your Face: A Second Chance At Love written by Sri Lankan-born German author Devika Fernando, who sent me a link to the free Kindle Edition of her book, that also contains an unexpected bonus. She has also published other contemporary and paranormal romance books and series, which are very tempting for any book lover of these genres.

When I See Your Face: A Second Chance At Love follows the story of Cathy Nolan, the wife of real estate manager Mark Nolan. She runs away from home, in order to escape the beatings and suffering caused by her abusive husband. She flees to a quiet village, where she plans to begin a new life. However, Cathy panics and has a nervous breakdown when she encounters Michael Newland, a man who looks exactly like her husband. Talking about freaky coincidences, huh? The other man’s face brings back to life Cathy’s traumatic memories and fears regarding her husband through vivid nightmares.

Though Michael and Cathy’s first encounter is far from polite, because of her improper behaviour towards him, the man introduces her to his passion for gardening, his artworks, because he also enjoys painting, and he overall makes Cathy feel useful happy and free. Compare this to the times when she was forced by her husband to behave in a certain manner, to always dress elegantly, wear make-up and talk very little as if she were his puppet. Michael, on the other hand, will help Cathy figure out a way to fulfil her dream of opening her own business, baking and decorating cakes, and he will be her biggest supporter. Cathy feels attracted to Michael, but she doesn’t know if it’s okay to fall in love with someone whose face she feared so much in the past. Though Mark and Michael are almost identical, Cathy realises that the latter is less self-centered than the former, he is truly caring, honest, funny and he’s very attentive towards her — these are qualities that Cathy never found in Mark.

Though it’s a bit odd for someone to fall in love with a man physically identical with one’s abusive and controlling husband, I presume that Cathy’s attraction to Michael can be interpreted as her longing for a better version of Mark. Even if Michel boosts her confidence, Cathy is reluctant to tell him about her past. Giving into his love for her it will not be easy, because of her shadowy memories regarding her husband and the fear of making the same mistakes again. However, Michael wants Cathy to leave the past and her fears behind and start afresh because he also went through a bitter life experience before moving to this small village and before working as a gardener. What secret will be revealed?

In short, the story is light – more like a summer read – fast paced and a cocktail of emotions ranging from fear, pain, and vulnerability… to love. The characters are relatable because each of them has both a good and a bad side. It’s a story about love, pain and happiness… about the strength to leave the past behind and chase your dreams. Enjoy!