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Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Illuminate (Gilded Wings #1) by Aimee Agresti
Young Adult, Angels, Demons, Romance
hardcover $17.99 (528 pages, HARCOURT)
Ebook $9.99

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.
As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?
Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

Author Site: aimeeagresti.com

The Long and Slow of It... (4 stars)

Found in a ditch with no memory of who she is or how she came by the ugly scars marking her back and chest, Haven Terra, has managed to make a promising future for herself. Adopted by one of the nurses who cared for her she's an excellent student, caring volunteer, but shy young woman. But her dedication pays off when she, her best friend Dante and classmate Lance, are invited to intern at a glamorous hotel in the big city.

In Chicago, under the careful tutelage of Aurelia Brown and Lucian, her second-in-command, the trio soon find that not everything is as polished and perfect as it seems. Filled with mysterious hidden tunnels and even darker secrets. For Aurelia and her companions are using the hotel as a way station while they purchase souls and the most coveted souls belong to their new interns. Will Haven's attraction to Lucian be enough to woo her to their hellish company?

If I were to boil down ILLUMINATE to it's bare bones this is an excellent story. I could honestly say I loved it. But slogging through more than four hundred agonizingly slow pages before anything particularly exciting began to happen. Suspense is always good but the build up is too slow. Lucian has no personality to speak of and I couldn't figure out why Haven would continue to be attracted to him beyond the physical handsomeness we're told he has. Most of the chapters seem to consist of Haven narrating the ins and outs of getting the hotel ready for opening but never quite giving us any bones to gnaw on.

I enjoyed Lance and Dante much more than most of what was going on. My only quibble there is that Dante felt a little stereotyped though not unlikable. In the end I wasn't wholly satisfied with the outcome, I'd have been pleased to see this as a stand-alone. There were a lot of unanswered questions, definitely more left than were answered.

While I liked ILLUMINATE enough for a four star rating I don't intend to continue the series. The storytelling just dragged far too much for me to want to invest another 500+ pages of reading time on it. If you aren't one who likes lots of action and suspense, or at the very least romantic tension, you might love this one. It has a great concept I just couldn't love the execution.

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Notes: ARC received via Amazon Vine.

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