The Raven by Sylvain Reynard
Series: The Florentine #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 3rd 2015
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gabriel series comes a dark, sensual tale of romance in a city shrouded in mystery . . .
Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi gallery restoring Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semiconscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attackers’ screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her . . .
When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. Upon returning to the Uffizi, no one recognizes her. More disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of her disappearance, Raven learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history–the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the police identify her as their prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and most elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets . . .
“I am the darkness made visible.”
The Raven is the first full-length novel in Sylvain Reynard’s The Florence series, and it’s a book full of mystery and intrigue. I was a fan of SR’s Gabriel series and was highly anticipating this paranormal spinoff series. Although I didn’t connect with the main characters as much as I wanted, the writing had me hooked and the supernatural aspect of the story had me fully intrigued. Fans of the Gabriel series should definitely give The Florence series a try – SR gives a unique take on vampires that was highly enjoyable!
The Raven takes place two years after The Prince (which I highly recommend reading before going into The Raven). The Prince of Florence, who also goes by the name William York, has taken back his stolen art from the Uffizi, though he’s still planning on killing the Emersons. But one night, he encounters a woman on the brink of death, and instead of ignoring her, which would be the norm for him, he saves her life.
Raven Wood wakes up with no recollection of the past week, and when she returns to work at the Uffizi, she finds out that artwork has been stolen during the week she blacked out and she’s a prime suspect. While trying to clear her name, she comes across the name William York, but when she tries to find out who he is, Raven unknowingly puts herself deeper into the underworld of Florence and into danger.
William can’t get the woman he saved out of his mind, and even though he tries to stay away, he can’t. He continues to be Raven’s protector but keeps to the shadows until Raven falls into too much trouble and William has to come forward and save her life once again. As they spend more time together, Raven and William can’t help but feel drawn to one another.
I really enjoyed Raven’s character, even though I didn’t connect with her much. She’s the type of woman who doesn’t fit in with society’s views of beauty and she is typically ignored by men. Even though this could have made her a bitter woman, she’s strong and compassionate with a heart of gold. She’s unknowingly thrust into the supernatural world, but she faces it head on. William, on the other hand, took me a while to warm up to. He’s one of the most powerful vampires and he’s lived for a long time, so he’s done and seen things that have made him jaded. But bit by bit, as he grows to care for Raven, we uncover a passionate man who has more than a little humanity left in him. I was a much bigger fan of William towards the end of the novel.
I highly enjoyed the romance in The Raven. It was a slow burn kind of romance with tensions running high between William and Raven. And I loved that by being with each other, they open their eyes to the person they are underneath – William discovers that maybe he’s not the monster he makes himself out to be, and Raven realizes that beauty is so much more than just the surface of a person.
“You are the only ray of hope I’ve seen since 1274. You’re the only one who has caused my heart to beat again.”
SR flawlessly entwines Raven and William’s sensual but sweet romance with the gorgeous setting of Florence and the fascinating supernatural underworld. The Raven was an entirely satisfying read even though I wasn’t too keen on the characters, and that was mainly due to the writing. I found myself drawn into the dark underworld of Florence and couldn’t stop reading this book! If you’re a fan of SR’s writing, then I highly recommend reading this fascinating, romantic new series.
Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.
Reading Order: The Florentine series
#0.5 ~ The Prince: My Review • Ebook • Goodreads
#1 ~ The Raven: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The Shadow: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
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