Title: The Heartbeat Thief
Author: AJ Krafton
Pages: Kindle; 318
Release Date: June 12, 2015
Source: Xpresso Book Tours / Author
Genre: Paranormal Fiction
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy stories that span the decades, with a heaping helping of unrequited romance.
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Haunted by a crushing fear of death, a young Victorian woman discovers the secret of eternal youth--she must surrender her life to attain it, and steal heartbeats to keep it.
In 1860 Surrey, a young woman has only one occupation: to marry. Senza Fyne is beautiful, intelligent, and lacks neither wealth nor connections. Finding a husband shouldn't be difficult, not when she has her entire life before her. But it's not life that preoccupies her thoughts. It's death--and that shadowy spectre haunts her every step.
So does Mr. Knell. Heart-thumpingly attractive, obviously eligible--he'd be her perfect match if only he wasn't so macabre. All his talk about death, all that teasing about knowing how to avoid it...
When her mother arranges a courtship with another man, Senza is desperate for escape from a dull prescripted destiny. Impulsively, she takes Knell up on his offer. He casts a spell that frees her from the cruelty of time and the threat of death--but at a steep price. In order to maintain eternal youth, she must feed on the heartbeats of others.
From the posh London season to the back alleys of Whitechapel, across the Channel, across the Pond, across the seas of Time...
How far will Senza Fyne go to avoid Death?
What would you do to cheat death? That's the question that lies at the very heart of The Heartbeat Thief. In fact, it's the very question that plagues Miss Senza Fyne, the protagonist of this story. When your whole life is your beauty, when you're pampered and primped, raised with the sole purpose of claiming a good husband, how do you face down time? Time, which will steal that beauty. Time, which will steal those closest to you. That deep, dark fear of the unknown is exactly what drives our protagonist, and it makes for a rather interesting story.
I'll admit that Senza took a while to grow into a character I liked. I didn't fault her for her prim and proper demeanor, nor for the way she drank in the attention of others. It's simply how she was raised. No, what made it hard for me to like Senza was how deeply irrational her fear of death felt on the surface. I have firsthand knowledge of how hard it is to lose a loved one. It cuts deep, and isn't something that goes away. For Senza though, the loss of her loved one caused something that felt forced to me, at least at first. Suddenly she was terrified of dying. So much so, she put her faith in a gorgeous stranger that she had never even met. Does that sound wise? I think not.
However, as the story progressed, things evened out. This story spans decades, and Senza slowly comes to experience much more than she ever expected in her long lifetime. I appreciated how AJ Krafton navigated history. Senza was put into situations that took her out of her comfort zone, and it was those times that I liked her the most. The more pain she went through, the more real she became. By the time I'd reached the ending, I actually understood her. I mentioned it above, but if beauty is all you've ever had, how do you let go of that and journey into the unknown?
While this isn't a perfectly etched out story, the premise and the constant hopping through the decades keeps things fresh. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much growing Senza does throughout this book. She comes out a brand new person, and a wonderful one at that, on the other end. Hand me characters that grow and learn, and you have my heart. A solid three stars to The Heartbeat Thief.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.