The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley
(Summary taken from the back cover) "Nicola Marter was born with a gift so rare and dangerous, she keeps it buried deep. When she encounters a desperate woman trying to sell a small wooden carving called "The Firebird," claiming it belonged to Russia's Empress Catherine, it's a problem. There's no proof. But Nicola's held the object. She knows the woman is telling the truth."
Let me just say: 526 pages definitely wasn't long enough! I loved this story! I was caught up in Nicola's world (and Anna's world...), and I did not want it to end. The two stories came together seamlessly, and I was honestly conflicted on which part I enjoyed more. In the end I couldn't decide, I enjoyed them both. Ms. Kearsley's character development is wonderful. Nicola, Rob, Anna, Captain Jamieson, Colonel Graeme, Vice Admiral Gordon, and Edmund, especially, intrigued and fascinated me. Rob seems like such sweetheart/hottie. I loved that he embraced his ability and wasn't afraid of what the world would think. Nicola grew so much in this book. It was interesting that it took learning about a woman in history to find herself. I had such admiration for Vice Admiral Gordon, helping Anna and taking her in as his own daughter. I felt a connection with each of these characters, and felt as if I were right there. The descriptions in this book just pulled me in. Ms. Kearsley's writing style is fun, easy to read, and simple, yet at times very profound. While I was reading the book I didn't realize that it was based on actual people and events, and so it was fun at the end to learn that a lot of the characters were real people. There were some great lessons weaved throughout the book as well. One of the biggest lessons was to be yourself. Love yourself and be proud of who you are and what your talents are. And to use your talents for the benefit of others. I think Rob and Nicola were so involved in helping that they forgot they were helping, if that makes sense.
The only negative I would give this book is also one of it's positives. There are a lot of characters, and many of them have Russian names. At times I couldn't remember who some of them were, especially if it had been 100 pages since they were last mentioned. It would take me a minute and then I'd figure it out. There are only a few profane words, maybe 2 or 3, in the whole book, which I loved. The whole book I was so happy that it was clean. Then, at the very end there was a love-making scene. It's not extremely detailed and it's not very long.
I highly recommend this book! I really enjoyed it and will hopefully be able to read some of Ms. Kearsley's other work.
Rating: PG-13+ (Minor profanity, a love-making scene)
Recommendation: 18 and up (Yes, I know......but I'm not too fond of young adults reading about "physical intimacy"---even if it's a short scene.)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.