Wednesday, August 3, 2016

ARC Review: The Architect of Song by A.G. Howard

Title: The Architect of Song (Haunted Hearts Legacy #1)
Author: A.G. Howard
Publication Date: August 15, 2016
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Pages: 425
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Reviews for book 2 & book 3

//I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review//
A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower - intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

A.G. Howard is hands down one of my top 5 favorite authors and her books are on my auto buy list! I adored her Splintered series SO much that I would basically read her grocery list. When I saw that A.G. was going to be releasing the first book in a new adult series, I knew I had to have it!! I will admit... I had no idea what this book was even about when I requested a copy. I saw the cover, saw the author, and dived right in!

As it turns out, this is an incredible story about Juliet, a deaf girl whose mother has recently died. After stumbling into a friendship with a ghost who also happens to be the only person she can hear, Juliet finds herself embarking on a mission to help him find out more about his life and death. To gain information, she has to journey to a resort run by Lord Thornton, an unsavory fellow who has been after her estate for reasons unknown. Once there, she finds herself unsure of what to believe or who to trust, but remains determined to uncover the truth.

I loved Juliet! Despite the fact that she is forced to go to Lord Thornton's estate and essentially audition for the part of his wife, Juliet always maintains her independence and never becomes a weak character in any way. Not only does she play a huge part in the uncovering of the mystery surrounding Hawk, she actually fights against the system in several ways. The most entertaining of these is her refusal to wear the uncomfortable clothes forced upon her by the society of the time. I found it hilarious to see her repeatedly try to get away with not wearing the incredible uncomfortable dresses people kept trying to put her in, but I did like that she offered reasonable solutions to the issue. I also really liked that she was open to exploring relationships and her sexuality, albeit not in an overly risqué way. What I mean to say is I loved that A.G. Howard was able to give us a strong female protagonist while staying true to the time period.

Of course, there are two love interests, as implied by the synopsis. I ended up loving Hawk and Lord Thornton in different ways. There were times when I really didn't like either of them, but it all came together perfectly. I can't say much about either of these men without spoiling the book, but suffice it to say there were many swoons to be had. I was a little worried when I realized that there would be a love triangle in this story, but if anyone knows how to write a satisfying love triangle, it's A.G. Howard! Although this is a new adult romance and there is some sexual content, there are no sexually explicit scenes. Something to keep in mind if you're not a fan of the overly steamy!

The setting was also fantastic and really goes hand in hand with the cover. Most of this story takes place between a graveyard, a really unique luxury resort, and an old mine. All of it fit right into a story of a ghost stuck between worlds and a shady nobleman with a questionable past. I definitely felt like I could picture my surroundings the whole way through and it really added to the reading experience!

Speaking of reading experience... Sometimes new adult romance has a tendency to focus too much on the romance, while the plot slides to the back burner, but that is not the case here! I wasn't sure what the story would be going in and much of it stays shrouded in mystery until late in the book. I love big twists and The Architect of Song has them! I was totally shocked more than once reading this. There is also a very satisfying conclusion at the end of this book. Although it is the first in a series, they are loosely connected enough that there's no cliffhanger to leave you in agony for the next year!

I honestly don't think A.G. Howard can write a book I won't like. I went into The Architect of Song not knowing what it was all about, but with very high expectations. Sometimes high expectations are a recipe for disaster, but in this case I was not disappointed! I blew through this in a couple days and, even though there wasn't a cliffhanger ending, I already can't wait to get the next one!