'Prince of Never,' the first book in the Black Blood Fae series, is a story about a city girl with a special voice who happens to be the fated mate of a Fae royal cursed to die a slow, painful death.
Ever, the Prince of Air, is heir to the throne and carries the brutal Black Blood curse. When Lara falls into Faery, he's the one who finds her. Initially mistaking her for a troll or goblin of some kind, upon discovering she's human, he sets them both on a journey back to his home and his mother the Queen.
"The cold bites through gaps in shiny armor, nibbling around snug leather, but it doesn't matter; his veins are already filled with icy winter.
Why, then, does he shiver?"
In Faery apparently, finders keepers extends to people.. and as that makes her his.. despite his distaste for mortals, it's up to his court what to do with her. Unfortunately for Lara, there are others in the realm who either wish to possess her or see her dead.
I really loved the concept of the story and in the hands of a more experienced author, I could have loved it. The curse is creative, even though the trope is the common enemies-to-lovers. The magic is nothing new, but I did enjoy the composition of the fae paired with elementals.
Like the plot, the characters are a bit underdeveloped, but again.. they have all the makings of greatness.
Our dark prince is the usual broody sort (though I love them, they're my favorites).. but at least he has the excuse of being influenced by the curse, as it changes their temperments while it progresses. He's haughty, self-important, and just a bit wicked. He's prone to nearly constant dark moods, but there are moments where that softer side peeks out. He's also the most well filled-out character in the book.
Lara is.. different. She swings between charming and annoying.. between a quivering puddle of girlish fear and a raging force of stubborn determination.. all within seconds. The moment she's not being subdued in some way, she automatically starts issuing commands. She's not a two-dimensional character, she's a character that isn't defined at all.
I did love Balor and Jinn, the prince's wolfhound and steed. And his younger brother Rafael (Raff) was an adorable troublemaker with a kind heart.
"..how does one understand the cruelty of the night sky, unfathomable in its limitless blackness?"
There was a small thing that just drove me crazy on a personal level. I don't even know how to explain it to you, but instead of the usual introspective descriptions that people might use to reference themselves.. there would occasionally be moments where their words sounded far more like someone else might use to describe them.
If you asked me what color my eyes were, I'd say brown. Maybe dark brown. If you asked me to tell you about my personality, I might say I can be abrasive.
What I wouldn't say.. is that I have "mossy-green eyes"... and "a quick laugh." Nor would I refer to my own smile as sneering with those "wickedly, kissable lips." Things like that sound so strange coming from the person they're meant to describe. In part because there's a sense of emotion to them.. of admiration.. which is far more prone to someone observing them. It happened a few times in the book and everytime I grimaced.
Some of the transitions are rough too. There's one scene that literally shifts from a soft, almost dreamy question from one character.. to the narrator saying "I pull his face to mine and attack his mouth with gusto." There are definitely gaps in emotional understanding.
There's a lot of convenience to move the story along, but there were also a couple of scenes I truly enjoyed. One was a sword fight and another was an intimate evening of sorts. In the end, I'm left feeling conflicted.. but Ever (or Never, as Lara calls him.. to annoy him).. is almost enjoyable enough to almost carry the novel for me.
"This could be the reason I think of nothing else but the constellation of stars on your cheeks, wondering what other galaxies I will find billowing on your skin."
I do think Juno has a lot of potential, sheerly from a creative standpoint.. but much of her writing comes across as lacking maturity. Structurally, she knows how to get from point A to point B. She understands the building blocks of storytelling, but she could use a lot of study in language itself and the psychology of characterizations. Also, there's almost a forced feeling of an attempt at creating taglines within the work.. or built-in quotes, but the most quotable lines were elsewhere.
As I said, I'm conflicted. I didn't hate it and I didn't love it. It was all right. I wouldn't recommend it, but I'd also maybe give another title of hers a try in a few years and see if she's grown.