Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Audiobook Review: Burning Bright by Melissa McShane

Series:     The Extraordinaries #1
Pub. Date:Nov. 15, 2016
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Cat Gould
Length:12 Hrs 49 Min

This is my first read by Melissa McShane, and I am so happy I gave her a shot! This series has kicked off with a unique story, a brave heroine coming into her own, and a honorable hero. The Extraordinaries have special talents above and beyond the rest of society. They can control fire, or move large objects (telekinesis), or read emotion, heal and shape the human body. Not everyone has a talent, and not every talent is extraordinary... but this series promises to showcase the most interesting people of the time.
Elinor Pembroke is an Extraordinary Scorcher with absolute control over fire. She can start it, extinguish it, and wield it like a weapon. When faced with an untenable choice from her tyrannical father, Elinor finds the wherewithal to run off and join the Royal Navy. I thought Elinor was incredibly brave. As the first woman ever to join the Navy, she was the sole female confined to a ship with a multitude of rough and superstitious men. Elinor was quite adept at remaining stoic when faced with the difficulties of naval life, and the only time the stress visibly affected her was when she was forced to kill men with her talent. I loved watching her learn to use her talent and win over the crew of her shipmates on the Athena. She never gave up when things didn't go her way, and she learned how to stand up for herself against bullies and self-important men.

Captain Miles Ramsay is an Extraordinary Mover, meaning that he can move large objects through telekinesis, and he can also fly! He is an honorable man who has enjoyed quite a bit of success with the Navy, which has caused jealousy among his peer officers. While he was not enthusiastic to have a female aboard the Athena, he treated her with respect and made sure that his crew did so as well. I liked that Ramsay allowed Elinor to do her thing and didn't try to stifle her abilities or treat her as a fragile flower. 

So all of the adventure in this story was fantastic. England is battling Napoleon, the French Navy and pirates from the shores of England all the way to the West Indies. The battling pirates, shipwrecks and political maneuvering within the ranks of the Navy was a throwback to old school historical romances with complex plotting and captivating drama. That was definitely my favorite part of the story. I also liked the unique talents that our extraordinary characters possessed, and see lots of room to go forward with this series in the future.

The romance in this one was nearly non-existent though. Elinor and Miles didn't really acknowledge their attraction to one another, even during their inner monologues. So I would have liked to see more tender feelings or grand passion mixed in with the action and adventure. That being said, it was a nice change of pace to have the focus not be all about the romance, so I wouldn't want a complete shift to romance over the main storyline. 

Cat Gould is the narrator for this story, and I am no stranger to her work. Gould performs quite a bit in the historical arena, and I have never been disappointed in her portrayal of these stories. 

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Tantor Audio.