Title: The Hummingbird Heart
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Haunted Hearts Legacy #2
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Historical Romance
Release Date: August 15th, 2017
Source: E-galley received from author for honest review
My rating: 5 stars
Set 19 years after The Architect of Song.
Shortly after escaping a circus tragedy, young Italian orphan, Willow Antoniette, seeks refuge at The Manor of Diversions—a holiday resort in England born of a ghost story. For eleven years, she’s raised alongside the children of the resort’s owners: Julian, his twin brother, Nick, and their younger sister Emilia. Now that Willow is of marriable age, she's determined to escape finishing school along with everyone's efforts to make her a proper lady. The only man she wants to spend her life with is Julian, after all. Yet how can she tell him, when he thinks of her as nothing but a friend?
As a machinist and engineer, Julian Thornton prefers a governable life. He can't allow his ever-deepening attraction for Willow to distract from his amusement park plans to lure a younger, wealthier clientele to their family's resort. In hopes to escape Willow and find investors, Julian sets off on a transatlantic ocean liner headed for the St. Louis World’s Fair, unaware Willow has secretly stowed away on the same ship.
A tiny, mute orphan named Newton and a pair of haunted Italian shoes bring Willow and Julian face to face on deck. Forced to work together to solve the mystery of Newton and his vindictive, ghostly companion, Julian and Willow can no longer fight their untapped passions. However, time to admit their true feelings is running out, for the ghost and her murderer have enlisted them as unsuspecting pawns in a karmic game of cat-and-mouse that could cost all of them their lives.
I have been a huge fan of Howard since her Alice in Wonderland retelling, Splintered. Then when her new series started with The Architect of Song, I was very much pleased to get a new group of characters to love, as well as another world built with her beautiful way of weaving words. This second book is set at a different time than the first one in the series. It's something I always wish would happen, but rarely does. We get a look at our couple Juliet and Lord Thornton in the future, and we are getting to see their children. Of course in order for their children to have a romance, the author has to introduce some new characters, and we get quite the emotional introduction of Willow at the beginning of the story.
So finding Willow with her new family is a bit of a jump from the tragedy that took her parents, but the skip over time feels natural, as it is obvious that Willow would not want to dwell on the sadness when she now has such happiness. Or at least mostly happy times. Of course coming from a past of being a circus performer, and now living with a proper family that will expect her to become a proper lady, that is hard for a girl like Willow to fit in with. Fortunately she has her friendship with Nick for the mischievous pranks she enjoys. Then there is the youngest sister, Emilia, who she gets to enjoy learning with, when she's not being sent away to what is basically a finishing school. And finally, there is Julian, who is her friend that she shares her interest in mechanical things, helping him with designing new attractions for their amusement park. But while she feels something more for him, Julian is much more about propriety than his brother Nick, and at times this may come between them.
Really, the way their relationship came along was done perfectly. Just the right amount of angst and stubbornness, but also the fact that Julian realized at a certain point he would not be able to keep Willow from her wild ways. And that made me love him even more.
There was also the surprise history that made a connection while they were all on the boat, and I loved all the hints that were given. They made my brain work overtime as I read, trying to figure out just how all the puzzle pieces of the story would fit together. The way it all came together was perfect though. I enjoyed the time spend on the ship on their way to America, but had actually hoped for a little more time spent in St. Louis a the World Fair. But it still was great despite that.
One thing I like about these stories is that characters are able to get redemption, even those that may be the villain, or come off as the villain in the beginning. The fact that the way not only the reader, but also the main characters themselves can come to see a different view of those "bad guys" is something that I feel realistic and makes a great story.
As I finished, I found myself wishing that with the update we got on Nick, that maybe the next story would be his, and so I was very pleased to find that is how it is listed on Goodreads. I also loved the idea of a hummingbird tattoo, imagine all the iridescent colors you could have in that!
A fun way to get a good glimpse inside the story before you read, or maybe during, is to go check out the author's Pinterest board for this story HERE. There are some pictures of the inspiration for Julian, that were great to have in my mind as I read.
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