TITLE: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
AUTHOR(S): Leanna Renee Hieber
SERIES: Strangely Beautiful #1
GENRE: Historical Fantasy Romance
PUBLISHER: Leisure Books
PUBLICATION DATE: August 20, 2009
FORMAT: Mass Market Paperback
LENGTH: 324 pages
DATE READ: February 2017
READING CHALLENGES: 2017 TBR Challenge, 2017 Historical Romance Reading Challenge, 2017 New To You Reading Challenge, 2017 Backlist Reader Challenge
CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Teacher Hero
TROPES: Forbidden Love
RATING: 3.5 STARS
What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows, of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent -- and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death...
Why I Read It...
This month's TBR Challenge theme is New-To-You Author and, while re-organizing my bookshelves last week, I discovered The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. Who knows how long it has been languishing on my shelf! After re-reading the summary and figuring out that I had never read a Leanna Renee Hieber book, I decided this would be my February TBR read.
What I Liked About It...
1. Historical romance is my one true reading love, but my second genre of choice is paranormal/fantasy so I am always excited when authors combine the two. I enjoyed the worldbuilding that the author did and, though there is the required info dumping at the beginning, I thought it was explained very well. I especially liked the Greek mythology inspirations.
2. Percy Parker is an interesting heroine who I didn't expect to like as much as I did. She is sheltered and has very low self-esteem. But, through her interactions at Athens Academy, she breaks out of her shell and becomes a strong person. I thought her development felt natural and I appreciated the emphasis on emotional/mental strength rather than just physical power.
3. Alexi Rychman is a typical paranormal/fantasy hero at first glance. He is brooding, mysterious, and completely focused on himself. But, through Percy, he is able to figure out a different path for his life. I thought the idea of him being a man of science and math while also dealing with the supernatural was a fun juxtaposition.
4. The Guard consists of five other people who are gifted with powers to keep the supernatural world in order while also helping Alexi find the prophesied seventh. I loved these characters! Even though the focus was primarily on Alexi and Percy, every scene with Josie, Rebecca, Michael, Elijah, and Jane stood out to me. I loved their friendship which crossed class lines and felt very organic. Elijah and Josie were particular favorites of mine and I am hoping the sequel will focus more on them.
What I Disliked About It...
1. I did think the romance between Percy and Alexi happened too quickly. The author tried to help with the love story's development by having them meet up many times, but I never really got much from those moments besides Percy's crush. I had a hard time believing Alexi's feelings went beyond intrigue and his opinion that she is the destined seventh member of their group. It is weird for me to say this, but I think I would have preferred there to be no or little romance in this story. I didn't think it added anything to the interesting plot and the well-designed characters.
Would I Recommend It...
Despite my issues with the romance development, I enjoyed The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker. It was engaging and grabbed my interest from the beginning. The writing is beautiful and the characters are so interesting that I want to know more about. I will hopefully read the sequel sometime soon.
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