Title: A Hidden Fire
Author: Elizabeth Hunter
Series: Elemental Mysteries #1
Publisher: E. Hunter; 2 edition (October 13, 2011)
"No secret stays hidden forever."
A phone call from an old friend sets Dr. Giovanni Vecchio back on the path of a mystery he'd abandoned years before. He never expected a young librarian could hold the key to the search, nor could he have expected the danger she would attract. Now he and Beatrice De Novo will follow a twisted maze that leads from the archives of a university library, through the fires of Renaissance Florence, and toward a confrontation they never could have predicted.
My Thoughts: Oh where do I start? Did I love it. That's a big NO. Did I hate it. Not really. My feelings are right up the middle on whether I liked this book or not yet I found so much of the book annoying.
The Good, The Bad and the Other Stuff: Although this book is more than readable, the author's writing is not very polished. Granted this is her first book and some leeway should be given but in my opinion a book that fails to pull me in emotionally is not as good as one that does. The amazing part of third person narrative is that we get to see our characters from the inside out. We read about their thoughts, their emotions and their actions which in turn lets us connect and identify with the heroine but often the hero too. Unfortunately the author didn't utilize this tool effectively. So much time is spent on the characters talking that we rarely saw the actual thought process behind it, making the emotional response of the character feeling disjointed and unnatural. The usage of an exclamation point doesn't come across as well as the description of a character's anger in many cases. In addition, I prefer to draw my own conclusion on how I feel about a character but many times I felt Hunter told me how I should view Beatrice.
"She cocked her head to the side in an adorable gesture."
Adorable? To whom, exactly? If this were written as Gio thoughts it might have come across better to me. As it's written the reader is told that Beatrice (and her head cocking) is adorable. Personally, I find it adorable when a toddler cocks their head. I love when my dog does it. I'm not sure it's as adorable when a 22 year old does it.
Another issue I had was all the eye rolling, winking, and smirking going on in the book. Oh, the SMIRKING! Beatrice and Giovanni smirked. They smirked a lot. They smirked at each other. They smirked with others. They were the smirkiest smirkers to ever smirk. I only mention this because the repetition was extremely noticeable and brought my enjoyment level down even more.
Now before I go blowing a review into epic proportions I'm going to quickly mention these other things I found to be a negative within the book. The immaturity of the heroine. The mystery that really wasn't. The smarmy villain who apparently tortures people with boredom instead of scary vampiry things. The slllllooooooooowwwwww pace of the book that suddenly got interesting only to climax into nothing but another 40 pages of sllllllllllloooooooooowwwwwww boring stuff. A sudden declaration of Beatrice being a financial stock brokering genius 2/3 of the way through the book because the last chapter needed a financial stock brokering genius. A hero who treated the heroine like a child and said things like "Don't be naive." to the her on more than one occasion. No HEA or hot monkey sex. I could live without that last one if I felt the characters were more connected. Sure they had some hot kissing going on but where's the passion? Another example of the author telling us there is passion but not necessarily showing us.
Now don't be fooled by all that. It wasn't a horrible book. The good stuff was actually really good. Despite me not connecting with Beatrice I did get a good sense of Giovanni. He wasn't immediately interested in claiming Beatrice for his mate or whatever she'd be because of her age which was such a good thing for me. Especially since I thought she wasn't a mature heroine to begin with. Elizabeth Hunter's vampires being tied to an element was a nice twist. Plus the secondary characters of Carwyn and Casper were really great. I actually found myself enjoying Carwyn more than the actual hero of the book.
In a Nutshell: Even though I didn't enjoy this book as much as others did and rated it accordingly I think it's worth a read through and perhaps continuing on to book 2 also. With more experience I think Elizabeth Hunter could pen a phenomenal book so don't write her off just yet. I haven't.