book review

Book Review: The Bonds Between Us

THE BONDS BETWEEN US by Emily Ruhl is a paranormal romance set in a beautiful city where dark magic and mystery abound. Check out what Steph Huddleston has to say about this Atmosphere Press novel.

Book Review: The Bonds Between Us

Reviewed by Steph Huddleston

A paranormal romance set in a beautiful city where dark magic and mystery abound

Katya Anders has spent her life trying to protect herself and those around her from the magic inside of her. She’s supposed to be a monster, cursed to live a life of solitude. So when she connects with a handsome stranger and a soulmark appears on her wrist, she’s left questioning everything she thought she knew. 

Katya and Matteo should be incompatible, from their magic and social positions to the potentially deadly consequences of a union between the pair. Struggling with the bonds    drawing them together, the pair must work side by side to unravel the mysteries of a Venitian folktale. 

Then, hell sets its eyes on the city of Venice. 

The Bonds Between Us has all the hallmarks of a delicious paranormal romance. From the initial meet-cute, where Matteo and Katya literally bump into each other, the excitement builds in the potential of this story. 

From the get-go Katya is likable, and her serious doubts regarding the possibility for love endear us to her and allow a wide scope for expanding the budding relationship between them. 

Readers will likely find Katya an excellent heroine, but Matteo at times feels difficult to connect with; he often embodies the typical stoic, un-emotive, excessively good-looking romantic lead.  This, combined with the fast pacing of the book, contributes overall to a sense of their relationship being accelerated and causing a lack of investment in the romantic storyline.

“Looking into his eyes was like looking into his soul. Emotions danced in them like flickering flames.”

Venitian folklore is woven throughout the story in a way that elevates the entire setting. The setting of Venice is gorgeous, and for that reason alone, has been the setting for many romance stories. It is refreshing to see the city not just relegated to a romantic backdrop, but have a major influence on the plot through the author’s clever use of culture and folklore. Unlike many romances set in Europe, this story could not have been set in another city. Venice, its history, people, and stories, is expertly shared through the beautiful descriptions from the first page through to the last.

“Venice was an enigma. A beautiful maiden all at once willing to flaunt her culture, wisdom, grace and hospitality; yet at the same time, unpretentious, reserved, and shrouded by the mystery of her storied past.”

The characters work together to save the city from the ongoing consequences of folklore. The ultimate resolution and climax of the book demonstrate the author’s ingenuity in using characters to avert disaster using their brain, rather than brawn. This subverts expectations for the genre, where, when faced with disaster the typical resolution lies in the main character demonstrating a show of their powers. While this is true in part for The Bonds Between Us, it’s not all about the magical powers. It’s a satisfying end that readers will not see coming. 

The paranormal aspects of the book are fascinating with Vatteir society being made of different classes of magical people, depending on their elemental powers. However, the fast pacing of the book at times makes it difficult to grasp these worldbuilding elements. 

Overall, The Bonds Between Us offers readers solid, high-stakes romantic adventures in a city that feels vibrant and beautifully integral to the story.

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy / Romance

Print Length: 252 pages

ISBN: 978-1639882588

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