4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
The adjectives that quickly come to mind when I think about romance novels are hot, fun, passionate, heartwarming, and sensual. Castillia by Christina Des Jardins offers all that and so much more. Set on a planet with two moons, the author did not shy away from honing her creative license to produce a compelling and intense narrative rich with its own culture, history, and politics.
When what was meant to be a medieval vacation world from mother Earth unintentionally became the permanent home for all its occupants, panic and chaos swept across the lands of Castillia. After months of waiting for rescue with no communication from Earth or any signs of help on the way, it was concluded that a major catastrophe must have occurred on their mother planet. As time went on, desperation and limited resources stirred up a hostile environment riddled with war, death, and separation. Many years later, when Castillia seemed to have attained some semblance of peace, Jarod and Samantha’s love story is brought to light. A love riddled with trial and tribulations, misgivings, and misunderstandings. Given their strong bond of friendship as children, will their growing affections towards each other stand the test of time and stay strong against the tides that not only threatens to ruin their love but also the entire kingdom?
More than your run-of-the-mill romance novel, the narrative reveals an intricate tale of love, loss, betrayal, and greed weaving in elements of fantasy, alternate history, drama, and action. Christina Des Jardins’ brilliant yet seemingly effortless writing style and commendable world-building brought Castillia to life. I enjoyed being pulled into the complex society with its own set of troubles, norms, tribes, and creatures both similar and different to Earth’s. I also enjoyed discovering an interesting artifact that revealed a truth about the people’s past on the planet.
It was easy to picture the characters, as they were well-described. Additionally, the main characters were multi-dimensional, and some of them showed significant character growth throughout their years. The author also did a great job of conveying the characters’ emotions. This made me feel closer to the characters. Thus, when tragedy struck, I found that I shared the characters’ shock, hurt, and sense of loss. In addition, the dialogues flowed naturally, and the chemistry between the love interests in the story felt authentic.
For me, each page that featured Marium, Samantha’s mother, in her youth was engrossing and (in some ways) empowering. I admired her feisty spirit, bravery, pride, and strength. Some of Marium’s thoughts and antics when she interacted with other characters made for the most amusing moments. I also liked Jarod’s character in his boyhood days because I found it funny how he carried himself with an air of maturity, thinking of himself as an adult and acting like one in certain circumstances. As he got older, some of his flaws became apparent as did Samantha’s. There were no perfect characters; thus, there were times when I was in full support of the characters and times when I was frustrated and disappointed by their thought process and actions.
Though the narrative is written in the third person, the story alternates its focus on different characters and events taking place in Castillia. This built suspense and helped to keep things interesting in my opinion. The plot moves along at a good pace; however, if you’re only interested in romance, you might find the various subplots in this tale off-putting.
One thing that I did not like is that at some point (that is, the middle section of the book), the narrative became a little too descriptive and repetitive. It felt as though I was consistently being reminded of a certain character’s insecurity. I would have also liked to see Samantha crying less and not running away from things that upset her as much as she did. Her consistent wailing tainted the initial impression I had of her, which was that she was a fighter (physically and emotionally).
Overall, this is a worthwhile read deserving of 4 out of 4 stars. The book appeared to be professionally edited; I only encountered a few minor errors. I highly recommend it to those with a taste for romance and especially those who enjoy a blend of genres and stories with multiple plot lines. If you prefer books that do not contain details of violence, adult scenes, and attempted rape, this is not the book for you.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon