Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Review: The Deepest Well (Age of Gray #1) by Juliette Cross

Book coverThe Deepest Well (The Age of Gray #1) by Juliette Cross
Purchase link: Amazon

My rating: star starstar star star

Heat rating: Flame  Flame  Flame

Lady Katherine Blakely is married to a monster. On the same night she witnesses how low her husband can sink, she meets a charming stranger, a gentleman from top to toe. Yet even her gallant rescuer is possessed of a dark side.

Lord George Draconis Thornton, commander of the Dominus Daemonum, is on a mission to expel the demon prince Damas back to the underworld. But a golden-haired beauty derails his plans and stirs an attraction he’s never felt before, not even for his centuries-dead wife.

Discovering Lord Blakely is in league with Damas, George sweeps Katherine away from the chaos and devilry threatening her life. With every touch, their love grows by joyful leaps and bounds.

Sensing his enemy’s vulnerability, Damas kidnaps Katherine to his hellish lair, where he wages a sensual assault on her defenses. As George tears at heaven and earth to find her, he is painfully aware of only one way to save her soul. The cost will break her heart…and destroy his own.

Warning: Contains wolves in gentlemen’s clothing, a precipitous descent into Hell, and a frightening glimpse of a post-apocalyptic world where angels and demons wage war for dominion on earth.

Juliette Cross writes a tense emotional story of the age old battle between good and evil woven into a wrenching love story which is certain to make your heart ache.

The short version of my thoughts: this story made me cry, many times, so it gets 5 stars. The long version? Read on ...

This story asks a very interesting question. Is it okay to fall in love with another man, an honorable, upstanding man, because your husband is a lying, cheating brute who abuses you? That's never an easy question to answer and it's filled with moral and ethical pitfalls, let alone the desires of the heart. This touches briefly on domestic violence and whether it's socially acceptable in that particular time period to leave in search of her own happiness or if she should endure as it is a wife's due and since she is considered property of her husband. What would a modern day woman think when she reads this? Will she cheer the heroine on and reserve moral judgment? or will she condemn her for her faithlessness? For me personally, I'm cheering Katherine on because I think she deserves happiness and of course, because George is delicious and the perfect knight in shining armor to rescue this damsel in distress.

The other thing which make me think in this story was the inherent weakness and evil in men. The demons corrupt and often seek out to corrupt either intentionally through their powers or through seduction. If a man can be corrupted by seduction without being forced into it via the demon's power, what does that say about him? Is he a weak man, or is he an evil man at heart, conforming to society's norms with a veneer of respectability and charm, only to have it stripped about to let their true face show when faced with their ultimate temptation? As I read about Alexander and Blakely, these were the thoughts that came to mind.

And how seductive is evil? How no matter now strong one it, it creeps up at you and disguises itself so you no longer recognize it. Then when you are at your lowest, where you are too lonely, too desperate, too depressed and filled with despair, it pounces on you, betrays you and there is no turning back. Deep within you, the conscious part of you will loathe yourself, while the weakness in your will succumb. And how do you forgive that? How do you forgive yourself? and how do you forgive the one who did not protect you well enough or save you fast enough from the evil that had seeped into your soul?

After all that, let's face it, I am utterly and completely shattered. What an incredible tale of love and loss, betrayal and forgiveness, restoration and hope, and ultimately, love.

I want to tell you what an incredible man George is, how heroic and noble. He is a man of myth and legend. And his love for Katherine is as enduring as time, steadfast and true over centuries.

I want to tell you how wonderful Katherine is, how dignified she is in her suffering and how completely broken she becomes when she is led through the depths of hell to suffer even more through the evil of a demon prince.

Instead all I can really tell you is my heart is utterly and completely broken through all the suffering that both George and Katherine endured. How bleak everything became and how low they fell before the pieces of their lives were put back together. How long it took. How very, very long it took ... because Juliette ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped on it.

I think Juliette did an incredible job writing this story and at the same time, she took some incredible chances with some of the things she put Katherine through and what Katherine did (you'll know what I mean when you read it!). I am wrung out with emotion and feeling too deeply. I also think she made me hate her just a little bit for putting George and Katherine through so much and taking so long to give them their happy ending. Most of all, I think I am a little at loss for words because if I say one thing, I say too much and I can give it all away.

So many things in this story broke me. Too short a time to love. Too brief a moment of happiness. A decision which costs many lifetimes of sorrow and despair. A decision which changes a life and brings hope for the future.

Juliette's stories are not for the faint of heart. They will make you think and look beyond yourself, if you dare and they will make you feel. They will also break you and make your heart bleed. At the end of it, you won't know if you are satisfied or if you want to bludgeon Juliette for what she has done to you, or go on and read the next book. I recommend reading the next book. :-)

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“How do you know about the world of demons, George? How did you move as they did? I thought I had fainted by the pond and awakened beside the barn, but I didn’t, did I?”

Had she imagined being transported from the horses to the barn in a long blink?

“No, you didn’t faint. It’s called sifting. A power of the angels, to move from place to place at will.”

“But they weren’t angels.”

“They were once.”

Fallen angels. Could this be possible? What did that make the man standing before her? He inhaled a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Perhaps I should define the two realms for you.”

“That would be lovely.”

His mouth quirked at her sarcasm, though he chose not to comment. “There is the Flamma of Light and the Flamma of Dark.”


“Fire, in Latin, which is the common tongue between the heavenly and demonic hosts.”

She pulled her hand from his and stood, staring into the flames. “Why fire?”

He joined her and removed his wet coat. “I asked the same question once.” He winced as he peeled the coat off his right arm. A pool of red had soaked through his undershirt.

“Oh God, your arm, George. You’re bleeding.”

“It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing.”

Just as he had unbuttoned her jacket, she swiftly unfastened his waistcoat, then his shirt and peeled them off him. Steering her gaze away from his finely sculpted chest and broad shoulders, she examined the cut more closely. She bent over and, with a quick rip, tore a long strip from her shift.

“You needn’t do that, Katherine.”

“Be still and let me mend you as best I can.”

He held his arm straight so that she could wrap the fabric around his arm.

“Why fire?” she asked again, busying herself with the makeshift bandage.

“Flamma are all touched by fire, an otherworldly power given to each of us.”

She remembered the way he moved, the way the demons moved, with supernatural speed and agility. A drop of rain dripped from his tousled hair, landing on his shoulder before rolling forward. She followed its path as it slid down and over his pectoral. Trying to regain her composure, she inhaled a deep breath, which was a mistake. She breathed in the heady scent of rain and beautiful man, her agitation amplified by his proximity and the undeniable power surging through his body. She longed to touch him, to know what all that strength would feel like under her fingertips, but she was paralyzed by her own desire and wavered on a dangerous precipice. When she’d cinched the bandage into a neat knot and finally chanced a glance at him, his smile nearly buckled her knees.

“There,” she whispered. “That will stop the bleeding.”

“I’m not so sure.”

“What do you mean?”

His shoulders went rigid as if he were holding himself in tight control. Katherine knew his thoughts had wandered away from the wound in his arm. She asked again, “What do you mean, George?”

His eyes slid closed. “I love to hear my name on your lips.” He opened his eyes again, his jaw set in grave lines. “What I mean, my lady, is that I am bleeding inwardly, and I know of only one way to stop it.”

Katherine was well aware of the tension filling the room, of the rise of her heart rate, of the longing in his gaze, which surely matched her own. She realized she was tumbling over that cliff. And she didn’t care, quite content to drown in his aquamarine gaze.

“How can I stop it, George? Tell me.”

“I’d rather show you.”

About the author

Juliette CrossJuliette calls lush, moss-laden Louisiana home where the landscape curls into her imagination, creating mystical settings for her stories. She has a B.A. in creative writing from Louisiana State University, a M.Ed. in gifted education, and was privileged to study under the award-winning author Ernest J. Gaines in grad school. Her love of mythology, legends, and art serve as constant inspiration for her works. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance--brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

Author links: Website - Amazon Author PageFacebook - Twitter - Pinterest - Goodreads - Newsletter

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  1. Wow you went deep into this one. I didn't consider all the corruption aspects. Good point.

    1. This story really moved me. I felt there were so many nuances to it. Of course, you could just read it on the surface and skip all the richness of it too.

    2. I was reading on the surface b/c I was behind and had to get it done in a day. No time to sit and think or savor.

    3. I try not to do that if I can but you are right, sometimes time can be a factor. I read this book over 3 or 4 days. I think a lot of books pack a lot of nuance in them which we miss if we are not looking, even the short category ones from Harlequin and Entangled.

  2. So I'm not sure if "thank you" suffices as you read so deep into the overlying theme of the entire Vessel Trilogy and the Age of Gray series. The two themes are consistently about love and loss and sin and redemption. You expressed my intentions so well. I'm kind of floored with this review. Thank you so much. And I do hope you'll forgive me. You'll get happy glimpses of George and Katherine later. Promise.

    1. As long as I didn't read too deep unnecessarily and found things that were my imagination and not really there. :-p