Monday, August 10, 2015

Redemption - H. J. Bradley

RedemptionOkay, so let's establish genre first, so you know what you're getting into before reading the rest of this review: this is modern-based alternate-universe Earth, where every country mentioned (both real and fictional) is ruled by some sort monarchy.  Oh, and it's a romance/erotica.

Valto is part of the royal family of Finland, but he's like eleventh in line for the throne--no chance of taking it any time soon.  The love of his life is Cat, the crown princess of Wales who's set to be crowned in just over a year--as long as she's married first.  But there's a problem.  Valto broke up with Cat years ago because he thought she was cheating on him.  He has since learned she wasn't, but she pretty much hates his guts now, even if she's willing to marry him to secure to the future of her country.  Awkward...  As the title would suggest, the book is about Valto winning his way back into Cat's heart, even though he may have never really left it.

This is a good romance.  It has a strong central conflict, with Cat caring for Valto but not being sure she wants to open herself up to letting him hurt her again.  It has good sex scenes.  It's also got people in various configurations of non-monogamous-hetero relationships, which I know are the focus of some of Bradley's other stories; Prince of Ice has been on my Kindle for ages, but I just haven't gotten to it yet.  Anyway, because of all this, it's easy to see this is a series where the side characters feature prominently in their own books, and that's honestly my favorite kind of series, way above stories that directly follow each other.  Major kudos for that one.  The plot's resolved neatly, though the "climax" (in a plot sense, not a sexual sense--hehehe) is a little short-lived and could have been drawn out a bit more for dramatic tension.  Overall, I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading Bradley's other work...

...but it needs some editing.  Bradley's grasp of comma usage is shaky at best, and comma splices abound in this.  She consistently capitalizes words that don't require capitalization and has numerous instances of jumbled sentences that were clearly intended to make sense, but just slipped through the editing process.  This isn't to slam her writing ability; she's a very, very good author, but she's at her best when she's dealing with short, succinct sentences.  When she tries to get more elaborate, things tend to get a bit dicey.  But that's what good editors are for.  She needs one.  I understand that editing is a costly process, and can be very difficult when you're self-publishing, but it's absolutely vital that a book be well-polished when it goes to press.  She also needs a book designer; the digital formatting of this is awful, which might be due to a number of factors but I would put my money on Amazon's manuscript-to-digital-copy conversion tool, which is notoriously horrible at formatting digital books.  The interior of this is set up in a blog format: paragraphs that aren't indented, but are instead separated up by line breaks.  It makes it a little hard for the eye to follow.  In the grand scheme of things, these aren't huge issues, but they do get in the way of making Redemption look like a polished product, despite the absolutely gorgeous cover and strong grasp of characters and plot.  If these issues had been nonexistent, I could easily see Bradly being published by a major house, or at least see myself thinking she was published by a major house; as it is, though, she's firmly in self-published land.

3.5 stars out of 5.

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