Tuesday Reviews – The Charmer by C. J. Archer

Why I picked up this book:

While eagerly awaiting C. J. Archer’s 5th installment in her Glass and Steel series, I wanted to try one of her more adult novels. And with a series title of Assassin’s Guild, how could I resist? Something to note: I’m not a huge romance reader, but I do love romantic plot lines alongside monsters and explosions in a story. I took this into consideration with how I reviewed this tale.

This review may contain spoilers.

The Charmer (Assassin’s Guild #1)

Handsome. Charming. Devastating. He was the last man she needed, but the only one she wanted.

Orlando Holt has never assassinated a woman before. The lovely, feisty Lady Lynden will be his first. She’s supposed to be a vicious murderess, but when Orlando begins to have doubts, he sets out to discover the identity of the person who hired him. What he learns will turn his world upside down, and propel him headlong into love with a woman who’s immune to his charms.

Twice widowed by the age of twenty-four, Lady Susanna Lynden has had enough of charming men. Her last husband knew all the right things to say to get her to the marriage bed…then made her life miserable. Money may be scarce and her house falling down around her, but the exotic fruit from her orange trees will keep poverty away. Except someone is thwarting her at every turn. Someone who may even want her dead.

   

What I loved:

I loved Orlando’s sass. He may have been a charmer, but he also had a strong sense of humor and a quiet strength to his personality. All of these blended really well into a deep, complex character.

I found myself falling in love with the side characters in this story much more than the main characters. The staff surrounding Susanna were funny and fantastic, and there was a great balance to Margaret’s character & the Guild members, and how her arcs thread through the book. It was strong enough to feel like they was always present, but without casting too much light in their directions.

Areas needing a touch of refinement:

Some of the pacing was off. There were areas in the story where the tension was strong, then suddenly the characters were bouncing from task to task, or the setting was cut entirely in favor of only talking. The dialogue heavy bits felt rushed and I found myself wishing the author had fleshed those areas out.

Some of Susanna’s behaviors toward Orlando seemed a bit aggressive for the time period. She wants him, yes, but there were times Susanna felt out of character. Almost as if she needed to have some agency, so she was pushed by the author toward a more aggressive “take me now” action in favor of an organic conflict between her needs and societal standards.

At times the setting fell into a white room effect. There’d be so much dialogue and facial gestures that the sensory and setting details fell to the wayside. I’d have loved to see more overall for a solid immersion throughout.

Overall:

This was an immensely enjoyable read and many of the characters were so vivid I couldn’t help but fall in love. At this point in writing the review I was so taken by Cole’s character that I’ve already read The Rebel, second in the Assassin’s Guild series. I hope to have the review up in a few weeks.


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