Book Review: Ensnared by Rita Stradling

32472740Alainn’s father is not a bad man. He’s a genius and an inventor. When he’s hired to create the robot Rose, Alainn knows taking the money is a mistake.

Rose acts like a human. She looks exactly like Alainn. But, something in her comes out wrong.

To save her father from a five year prison sentence, Alainn takes Rose’s place. She says goodbye to the sun and goes to live in a tower no human is allowed to enter. She becomes the prisoner of a man no human is allowed to see.

Believing that a life of servitude lies ahead, Alainn finds a very different fate awaits her in the company of the strange, scarred recluse. (synopsis from Goodreads)

Rating: 7/10

(I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Pub Date: Dec. 2017)

I have conflicted feelings about this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and actually found it very difficult to put down, however, there are parts of this book that still bother me a bit.

First, some of the pros. One of the major issues with the Beauty and Beast story is that it’s a bit Stockholmy. This version does a pretty good job of being less so, mainly because Lorccan is unaware that Alainn/Rose isn’t a robot, and Alainn voluntarily enters into this situation. Still though, it’s a fine line that is pressed against for the majority of the book.

Overall, I enjoyed Alainn and Lorccan’s romance. I thought that Lorccan’s reasons for wanting Rose in the house were actually rather touching, and understandable. Unlike moments in the beginning with the Beast in the Disney version (which is what most people think of), Lorccan always does his best to make sure that Alainn is comfortable, and while his manner of approaching some situations isn’t what would be considered generally acceptable, it is framed in such a way that we understand that these moments don’t come from malice or disrespect. Instead, we see them as stumbling blocks for a man trying his hardest to relate to another human. Something he has been denied for his entire life. He’s more sympathetic, and we actually get the sense of just how difficult this is for him, making his motivations for doing so that much more touching. He’s stepping out of his comfort zone in some major ways, which causes us to celebrate his little victories as the story continues.

Alainn realizes all of this early into her time with Lorccan, and soon decides that while she’s there, she will help him. Alainn is patient and kind with Lorccan, but also pushes him just a little further each day, something that is key to their inevitable romance. This emphasis on taking small steps is actually something that I loved about this book. These small steps are an important part of the daily lives of those dealing with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Everyday is a struggle for those of us with these types of illnesses to varying degrees, and it’s important that those around us understand this and that at the end of the day we celebrate the little victories. The dishes we managed to do. The laundry we managed to fold. That blog post that we somehow wrote that day.

In Lorccan’s case, it’s having a slightly shorter table for chess. Sitting a little closer on the couch during a movie. We feel and believe the importance of these small changes. This being said, I do wish that we could see Lorccan making some progress toward addressing his agoraphobia and germaphobia, but I would like to imagine that they start working on these sometime after the book ends and we just don’t see it.

My major complain about the book is the ending. Because of the slower pacing of most the book, the ending comes off as rushed and a bit confusing. Everything seems to happen at once without much lead up. Hopefully the ending gets cleaned up a bit before this book comes out in December.

There was also a lack of backstory. We don’t really find out any of the details of why Alainn’s father was going to jail in the first place, and the bits of Lorccan’s backstory were heartbreaking, but I wanted a little more.

And as far as the world building, there wasn’t much. There are a lot of similarities to our current world, but also some differences, and that’s about all we get. The currency is different, there are AI, and Lorccan has some crazy tech in his house, but that’s about all we got.

In the end, I would probably read this book again, but maybe stop right before everything gets a bit crazy. What can I say? I like a good romance every once in a while.

 

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