Monday, August 29, 2016

strictly literary: burning bright by melissa mcshane

i know you're not supposed to judge a book by it's cover, but i think the cover for burning bright is absolutely gorgeous, so i was totally predisposed to like the story within. luckily for me it's a really good story, so i can just love the whole package unabashedly.

burning bright tells the story of elinor pembroke, who woke up one day to discover that she had an extraordinary talent for fire. as a scorcher she can make things burn, but as an extraordinary scorcher she can also extinguish. this makes her valuable. to her father she becomes a trading chip, a way of bettering their family's lot in life by marriage. to potential suitors she is no more than a brood mare useful for improving their family's power. and for the royal navy she is a powerful weapon. it's the height of the napoleonic wars and the caribbean is overrun by pirates. her kind of firepower hasn't been seen in over one hundred years in england, and she's barely had a chance to explore all she can do.

when she realizes that she needs to take her life in her own hands to avoid a lifetime in servitude either as a wife or poor relation she offers herself to the royal navy. and as much as they navy wants to, they can't say no. they put her on the athena under the command of captain miles ramsay an extraordinary too, though his talent is moving. and together with his crew they go to war on the brethren of the coast a merciless band of pirates led by an extraordinary seer that is terrorizing the royal navy based in the caribbean.

elinor was rather impulsive in throwing her lot in with the royal navy. life on a ship is not easy for a woman, especially not one who was a member of the gentility. everything has changed for elinor, but as she begins to know her shipmates, as she learns the extent and breadth of her powers, this life that she impulsively chose becomes the life she will fight for above anything. when she is trapped in a political tug-of-war and her life is endangered she realizes that her home is the athena. when she snuck away and left her life behind she really was leaving forever. but what she discovers about herself on that ship and the relationships that grow on that ship makes it all worthwhile.

there is romance and adventure and war in this story. elinor's power is at times uncontrollable and she struggles with the impact of her actions on others. the relationship between elinor and miles is so very proper and also so very swoon-worthy. the way mcshane integrates this world of supernatural talents into our historical regency period is very well done. the author promises future books in the series, i for one can't wait to see where she goes with it.

**burning bright published on august 15, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/curiosity quills press in exchange for my honest review.

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