Book Review: The Crimson Outlaw by Alex Beecroft

Posted: September 18, 2013 by sidlove in 3.5 Star Reviews, Book Reviews, Nina's Reviews
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Reviewed by Nina

The Crimson OutlawTITLE: The Crimson Outlaw
AUTHOR: Alex Beecroft
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 121 pages
BLURB: Love is the greatest outlaw of all.

Vali Florescu, heir to a powerful local boyar, flees his father’s cruelty to seek his fortune in the untamed Carpathian forests. There he expects to fight ferocious bandits and woo fair maidens to prove himself worthy of returning to depose his tyrannical father. But when he is ambushed by Mihai Roscat, the fearsome Crimson Outlaw, he discovers that he’s surprisingly happy to be captured and debauched instead.

Mihai, once an honoured knight, has long sought revenge against Vali’s father, Wadim, who killed his lord and forced him into a life of banditry. Expecting his hostage to be a resentful, spoiled brat, Mihai is unprepared for the boy to switch loyalties, saving the lives of villagers and of Mihai himself during one of Wadim’s raids. Mihai is equally unprepared for the attraction between them to deepen into love.

Vali soon learns that life outside the castle is not the fairy tale he thought, and happy endings must be earned. To free themselves and their people from Wadim’s oppression, Vali and Mihai must forge their love into the spear-point of a revolution and fight for a better world for all.

REVIEW:

A wonderful, fairytale-like story with richly developed settings and interesting characters – what more could you wish for, right? Hm. Kind of.

I’ll start with the best thing in this novella: the settings. It might be because Romania is a place I’m familiar with, since my parents are Romanian and I visit the country regularly, but every scene came alive right before my eyes. It’s clear that the author’s research is precise and in depth –  believe me, I’ve personally seen rooms, houses and villages like those she describes, and in some places they’re exactly the same today as they were two hundred years ago. Well, with the addition of electricity and running water.

Even the characters’ names are correctly spelled – most of them, at least – and I loved how the author used the Romanian term for food and drinks that exist in the rest of the world too, but with slight differences that make using a specific term necessary. Being pretty nit-picky when spellings and grammar are concerned, I do have to mention the sometimes incorrect spelling of these words and the fact that I think non-Romanian-speaking readers would appreciate a glossary.

To make a story this atmospheric and easy to visualise, I understand that the author felt the need to describe everything very in depth, but personally I think she went a bit overboard on that. In some parts the flow of the story was simply interrupted by mile long descriptions, and that made it even easier to put down.

And here comes my first complaint: the complete lack of tension. It’s an interesting, pleasant story, but there was no thrill to keep me glued to the pages. That is not to say that I was bored, but… well, I was. A little bit.

The characters had me conflicted. They’re original, consistent and easy to empathise with, but they would have needed a much longer story arc to have the time to develop fully. For example, Vali’s conflictual, complex relationship with his father had the potential for great tension; Wadim (oh, here’s the name spelled wrong) is a violent man and a violent father as well, but he has the ability to show affection towards his son in a way that made a sort of grudging respect and trust bloom in him. But was that affection real, or as calculated and cold underneath as the rest of his actions? I got a few clues in regards to that, but didn’t get to find out for sure, because this part of the story was cut short and underdeveloped after the initial scene in a way that some might consider apt and dramatic – others a convenient shortcut.

Vali’s character development and personal growth are more convincing: we get to see him start as a pampered, dreamy, almost childish young nobleman and become someone stronger, with firmer moral principles and a deeper understanding of other people. His relationship with Mihai is intriguing, but, again, underdeveloped.

All of the characters in this story appear colourful, three-dimensional and distinctive; the problem is that I felt as if I weren’t able to get closer to them and get a better look inside their heart and head, and was stuck with a clear but quickly gathered impression.

Summing up, this is a well researched, beautifully crafted and original story with a setting that, at least for me, shone brighter than the (admittedly wonderful) characters did – and while that can be interesting at times, it’s not really what I wanted from this story.

Nina rates it – 535px-3-5_stars-svg

BUY LINK: Riptide Store  ::  All Romance eBooks

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Nina is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.

To read all her reviews, click the link: NINA’S REVIEWS
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