Customer Reviews for

Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood Series #1)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Heartless Review

Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is a story of love and adventure. It is a fantasy novel about dragons and princesses and kings and magic. It is the story of 18 year old Una and how she finds her path to true love. This book was nothing I was expecting it to be. Whe...
Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is a story of love and adventure. It is a fantasy novel about dragons and princesses and kings and magic. It is the story of 18 year old Una and how she finds her path to true love. This book was nothing I was expecting it to be. When you see the beautiful cover and read the back, you assume it will be a sleeping beauty type story. Handsome hero fights the evil dragon and claims beautiful heroin as his own. The plot however, was a far cry from the expected. Una is of marriageable age and the suitors begin to come calling. She scorns anyone who does not meet her expectations for romance and adventure and soon finds that true love is more than simple excitement. The twists and turns in this book will take you for a wild ride and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance, fantasy, or just a good read.

What I liked about this book: My favorite aspect of this book is the metaphorical. This book could be taken from the Bible. One of the characters, Una's main suitor Prince Aethelbald, is undeniably representing Jesus. And the dragon represents satan. I have read representations of the gospel before, and nothing compared to this. It is essentially a love story between Jesus and you. The theology is bang on too. For example, the dragon (or satan) could not take Una until she had given up all hope and gave in to him. To me, this was one of the most monumental truths in the book. That satan cannot have us as the rightful bride of Christ, unless we lose faith and hope in God and give ourselves to him.

What I didn't like about this book: Una is naiive, her view of love and life is a bit cliche. As a married sceptic of the wonder and joy and perfection and romance that young people think love is sickens me. Love is work, love is so much deeper than the thrill of his hand touching yours or the butterflies in your stomach. That is not love at all. So, to say the least, Una's perspective drives me nuts in the beginning. It isn't until life gives her a good knock on the head that I find her more tolerable as a person.

Who this book is good for: This book is pretty much the perfect gift for a teenage girl. They are naiive enough to be sucked into the romance and love story, and the metaphor of Jesus will give you something to discuss afterwards. They will be able to relate to Jesus in a whole new way as they see him as a suitor instead of a sacrificial lamb that is hard to picture and understand.

All in all, although there were things that drove me nuts, Heartless is a great book for anyone to read. I would strongly suggest reading it yourself before giving it to your daughter, or niece, or whoever as it will give you time to think about the many similarities in the book and the Bible. I highly enjoyed this book, it is one of the best I have read in a long time, despite my scepticism!

**I received a free copy of this book through Baker Publishing Group

posted by rspooner on July 26, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Mixed feelings

This book feels difficult for me to review. I actually loved the story. I thought the story line was great, and it was a lovely allegorical tale. However, I feel that I have to give it three stars because the section in the middle when the Dragon comes was just SO confu...
This book feels difficult for me to review. I actually loved the story. I thought the story line was great, and it was a lovely allegorical tale. However, I feel that I have to give it three stars because the section in the middle when the Dragon comes was just SO confusing. I understand that sometimes in a book things have to be explained later in the story, but these things weren't explained. They were just confusing and I think that was due to a lack of clarity in the writing. I also feel like some of the characters could have been better developed. They felt a bit one dimensional to me. I did enjoy the story though and it gave me some surprises along the way, which is always nice.

posted by JulesWrite527 on May 10, 2012

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  • Posted July 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Heartless Review

    Heartless, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, is a story of love and adventure. It is a fantasy novel about dragons and princesses and kings and magic. It is the story of 18 year old Una and how she finds her path to true love. This book was nothing I was expecting it to be. When you see the beautiful cover and read the back, you assume it will be a sleeping beauty type story. Handsome hero fights the evil dragon and claims beautiful heroin as his own. The plot however, was a far cry from the expected. Una is of marriageable age and the suitors begin to come calling. She scorns anyone who does not meet her expectations for romance and adventure and soon finds that true love is more than simple excitement. The twists and turns in this book will take you for a wild ride and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance, fantasy, or just a good read.

    What I liked about this book: My favorite aspect of this book is the metaphorical. This book could be taken from the Bible. One of the characters, Una's main suitor Prince Aethelbald, is undeniably representing Jesus. And the dragon represents satan. I have read representations of the gospel before, and nothing compared to this. It is essentially a love story between Jesus and you. The theology is bang on too. For example, the dragon (or satan) could not take Una until she had given up all hope and gave in to him. To me, this was one of the most monumental truths in the book. That satan cannot have us as the rightful bride of Christ, unless we lose faith and hope in God and give ourselves to him.

    What I didn't like about this book: Una is naiive, her view of love and life is a bit cliche. As a married sceptic of the wonder and joy and perfection and romance that young people think love is sickens me. Love is work, love is so much deeper than the thrill of his hand touching yours or the butterflies in your stomach. That is not love at all. So, to say the least, Una's perspective drives me nuts in the beginning. It isn't until life gives her a good knock on the head that I find her more tolerable as a person.

    Who this book is good for: This book is pretty much the perfect gift for a teenage girl. They are naiive enough to be sucked into the romance and love story, and the metaphor of Jesus will give you something to discuss afterwards. They will be able to relate to Jesus in a whole new way as they see him as a suitor instead of a sacrificial lamb that is hard to picture and understand.

    All in all, although there were things that drove me nuts, Heartless is a great book for anyone to read. I would strongly suggest reading it yourself before giving it to your daughter, or niece, or whoever as it will give you time to think about the many similarities in the book and the Bible. I highly enjoyed this book, it is one of the best I have read in a long time, despite my scepticism!

    **I received a free copy of this book through Baker Publishing Group

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2011

    Beautifully Written!

    This book was a true gem. This should be more popular than it is. I work at a Barnes in Noble in NC close to where Stengl is from and I saw a pamphlet about other Barnes and Noble booksellers who have had their work published. I noticed she was an artist as well and my heart lept because that sounded like me to the T. Heartless sounded like something I would read and I wanted to give a local artist a chance. I'm so happy I did! Her writing was so fluid and poetic that it reminded me of a classic with everything you want from a book today. It felt like the story that one imagines when looking at a Lady of Shallot Pre-Raphaelite painting. I read a lot of Young adult books and many of them don't even compare. I'm so excited to read her next book about Rose Red!

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A lovely opening novel

    Stengl's first novel in the Goldstone Wood series is a magical adventure fantasy lovers will savor. Dragon battles, swordfights, princes in disguise, faeries, and more than a touch of romance-Heartless has it all. The vivid, whimsical images are beautifully drawn, and the darker pictures are truly fearsome. The characters make a strong impression, even (especially) the cat, Monster. (I dearly hope we get more of his story and eerily realistic feline vocabulary in future books.) Stengl's turn of phrase is unique and thoroughly enjoyable; wickedly funny at times, she also has a knack for dramatic description. While the story possesses many of the traditional features of a fantasy, it portrays them in unusual ways. There are many tales of princesses and dragons, but this particular tale does not unfold in the way one would expect.

    While there is Christian allegory in the book, it does not intrude unnecessarily. The theme of unselfish love is one that readers will appreciate, regardless of their religious beliefs. Very little well-done Christian YA fiction exists, in my opinion, but Stengl is poised to revive the genre. I look forward to her next book with great anticipation!

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2010

    Truly Enjoyable!!

    I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed Heartless! The book had that perfect balance of truly classic fantasy, with a wonderful sense of humor (and drama, of course)! I just LOVED all of the characters! Anne did a great job developing them early on, so it was really easy to get wrapped up in the story as it got going. Even the more peripheral characters are unique and imaginative.

    Princess Una was exactly what I thought she should've been as a young woman, sorting things out in her head. Her brother Felix had that great feel of total immaturity, but yet just really wanting to be the hero. Leonard the Jester was so interesting from the first time you met him, and I can't wait to see where his story goes!! But my favorite by far was Prince Aethelbald. I loved Him instantly! Just like every scene in Narnia when Aslan is present has a special tenderness, so does every scene with the Prince. You can just feel his longing and compassion for every person that he encounters. Absolutely beautiful!

    The villain of the story was multi-layered in a way that I wasn't expecting. Someday, I think I'd really like to see him on the big screen. I'm totally captivated by his whole demeanor and appearance.very intriguing! And I love how subtle he could be with the way he treated other characters. It was really fascinating that he wasn't all "flame and rage."

    All in all a very enjoyable and compelling read. I can't wait to see what happens next!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2010

    Definitely a Keeper

    HEARTLESS is classical in style and plot yet original, pure fun yet thought-provoking. The story builds slowly, seeming light and frothy at first, until midway through when it takes off in a totally unexpected direction, and from there the pace never slows. It is a book to read again and again and always discover something new. Don't be fooled by the trite back cover copy-this book is something more.
    Princess Una is the kind of selfish, spoiled character nobody wants to be but many of us are to some extent. We laugh at her delusions and vanity, yet what girl doesn't long for faithful love from a dashing hero? A reader can identify with Una's pain as her dreams are stripped away, leaving her disillusioned and desperate, still lying to herself and refusing steadfast love from the one person who offers it because her pride won't let her admit that she was wrong. And oh yes, the end of the story is deeply satisfying!
    Other characters remain in my thoughts long after I finished reading-most of them can't be described in a few words because they are so complex and real, even though they're fictional. I want to read more about Monster the cat, Prince Aethelbald, Felix, Leonard the jester, the various princes and knights and villains. The Dragon is a multi-faceted villain such as one doesn't often see in modern YA literature. There is something here for everyone who loves fantasy adventure-my 14-year-old son ranks HEARTLESS among his favorite books. The story is complete in itself, yet there are many hints of future tales and fascinating history tucked within its pages. LOVE IT!

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2012

    Superb Allegory

    The author has deep insight into the inner struggles of Christians and is able to convey them to the reader with beautiful imagery. I'm a big fan of allegory and have not enjoyed a book this much since Hinds Feet on High Places, which was published many years ago. Ms. Stengl is clearly a gifted writer, and I eagerly look forward to reading any and all of her books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2010

    Heartless encouraged my heart...

    Miss Stengl's debut novel is compelling. Princess Una truly comes of age as she learns about her own fickle heart and the truth regarding what and whom to trust. I look forward to visiting Farthestshore again and learning more about Lionheart and Eanrin and Felix and Sir Oeric and, of course, the dragons. Write quickly Miss Stengl!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2010

    Hurray for Quality Work in YA!

    This might be the best new author this year! My best friend recommended the book to me since I'm a huge fan of Young Adult fiction. I have to say that I'm usually pretty critical, but Stengl's style and form are so refreshing! I can't remember the last time I enjoyed the craftsmanship in a book for young adults so much. Sure, her characters are less "deep" than some, but I appreciate the choice that allows much more for imagination (stylistically like M.W. Turner). After so many YA bestsellers that rely on gimmick and emotion (are you hearing this, Ms. Meyer?), it's fantastic that the publishing industry has finally started looking for quality again. I cannot recommend this enough (I intend to buy several copies for all my friends), and I look forward to this author's growth. Is it true that there are more books planned? And why don't I see this on more recommended book lists?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    Five stars are not enough

    Allegory is such that if flawed, reduces the story completely, but if done with precision and care of the emotive spirit, will bring tears to the most hardened. Heartless exceeds any recent similar work and sets a New high water mark. Place this volume next to The Great Divorce, The Pilgrims Progress, and refer back to often. Must read for all homeschool, private schools, hopefully someday, the public schools.

    I do not mean it is only for children, I'm 55 and loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2014

    HEY U!!! Read this book! Now do it nooow! Lol

    Hey you, I never read anything....I'm serious....and my friend got me this book on my nook and she said just read until chapter 5 so I'm like ok that's easy enough...but it wasnt , the prologue and chapter 1 were sooooooooo slow but I still read them and by chap. 2 it started getting really interesting! I love this book so much! You should totally read it. If there were more stars to rate it with you would loose count on how many there would be! Lol I would say this book should be for teenagers not younger well idk maybe........really good book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 25, 2012

    ┬┐You gave your heart for nothing, and now you have nothing, do


    “You gave your heart for nothing, and now you have nothing, do you? Poor little Una. You are heartless now, aren’t you? No better then a dragon yourself.”

    From the surface, Heartless is fairytale about a princess, a prince, and a dragon. But delve in deeper and you will find a story that is happening all around us.
    Princess Una is a believable girl. She finds her brother annoying, she loves her cat, she attempts to write poetry, and—surprise—she dreams of her future husband. But her first suitor hardly meets the requirements of her romantic notions. According to her, Prince Athelbald is boring. Okay, so he’s a prince of a great realm, loyal, patient, kind, humble, courageous, and her father likes him. But he isn’t handsome and does not constantly sing her praises. As far as Una is concerned, he’s not an option.
    Una’s dreams crash and burn as other suitors come and go, but then she meets someone else. He’s funny, kind, cute, charming, and has a tragic back-story. Before she knows it, Una has given her heart away…to a man she barely knows.
    And now, Una is in deadly danger from a Dragon who has been searching the lands for one person—her. Will any of the men who professed love be willing to come to her rescue?
    In the obvious light, the book shows that giving your heart away to the wrong person is extremely dangerous and destructive. We see that today’s idea of romance and love is shallow and undependable; that real love is self-sacrificial. But look closer at this tale, and you will see a powerful allegory of Christ and his love for rebellious us.
    Una is so real, she could be a girl you know (well, maybe not the royal title). We know the theme of the book is true, because it’s happening every day. Girls let emotions fly for guys, maybe even nice guys, and end up hurt and dissatisfied. Or in Una’s case…destroyed.
    Modern culture portrays love as an emotion. Real love isn’t. It’s selfless actions.
    Heartless is very clean. There’s zero language, mild violence, and no inappropriate content. But beware; halfway through the story, the book changes from a whimsical fairytale to an extremely intense epic which could be a bit heavy for young, inexperienced readers.
    That finally got the guy’s attention. Extremely intense epic? Yes. Sure, this book and the following series, is directed to girls. But guys can (and do) enjoy this book as well. The first half might be a bit hard for them to muscle through, but it isn’t completely girly. There’s Una’s teenage, mischievous, aspiring brother Felix, the mysterious and skilled Prince Athelbald, evil dragons, and a certain blind cat. (Let me just say that the certain blind cat is my favorite character in the entire series!)
    Heartless is the first book in “The Tales of Goldstone Wood” series and while it can be enjoyed by itself, you’d be missing out by not reading the next books. This is my favorite series and I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Recommended

    It was a good book. I imagine geared toward teen girls. A little frustrating because sometimes you knew what the main character was thinking and her motivations and other times you only knew her actions. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and had a hard time putting it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2012

    Mixed feelings

    This book feels difficult for me to review. I actually loved the story. I thought the story line was great, and it was a lovely allegorical tale. However, I feel that I have to give it three stars because the section in the middle when the Dragon comes was just SO confusing. I understand that sometimes in a book things have to be explained later in the story, but these things weren't explained. They were just confusing and I think that was due to a lack of clarity in the writing. I also feel like some of the characters could have been better developed. They felt a bit one dimensional to me. I did enjoy the story though and it gave me some surprises along the way, which is always nice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2012

    Great symbolism

    Loved the story, the symbolism is great. We all have a dragon inside of us, it is just a matter of who we allow to rule our hearts. Love the characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2012

    Wow!

    I have discovered a new favorite author. The next C.S. Lewis.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Veiled Rose- a lovely read!

    Ah, escaping to a different land, a different time and a different everything- isn't that a major reason to read a book? In the words of C.S Lewis "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again". Well I guess I am there with Anne Elisabeth Stengl's newest book in her Tales of Goldstone Wood series Veiled Rose. (Or rather in my case, I don't think I ever stopped reading them). If you are a fantasy fan that loves to read of princes and princesses, dragons and the netherworld then this book is for you.

    Our 2 main characters are both intriguing and complex with regards to what they are looking for in this life. Our heroine Rose red has a secret that is hidden behind her special veils- all designed to hide who she really is. She has lived a lonely existence in the forest and hills above Hill House- a mansion housing young Leo who is visiting his relatives for the summer. And Leo is our little boy longing for adventure and looking to defeat the Monster of the hills. He finds adventure all right, but more prominently he finds a fast and true friendship with Rose Red that grows in importance as they do in age throughout the book. As young Leo is the crowned prince of the Southlands or "Prince Lionheart" as he is known later in the novel, the pressures of his title irk him ,as all he would really like to be is a jester who entertains all those around them with juggling and a song (sung out of tune mind you, but never mind that). Unfortunately both Rose Red and Lionheart have to take separate journeys to try and save the kingdom from the wrath of the Dragon (enter villain), who is absolutely hell-bent on having Rose Red as his very own.

    This story is full of adventure, excitement and quite allegorical. The struggles each character goes through in the end show what each is really made of, in how it manifests in their choices. I honestly did not guess Rose Red's secret until it was revealed to me in the end and I love that when an author can pull that off, it's pretty rare for me. I will not give that secret away in this review- read it for yourself and find out! The pull of evil in our lives is strong and this book illustrated it beautifully while also showing the great hope and love that the light offers. A great read and one I really recommend. I had not read Heartless before I read this book and did just fine, so now I will have to backtrack and read it.
    4 stars.

    I was graciously provided a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Perfect book to read in one sitting!

    The cover drew me into beginning this book one hot afternoon and I read it until I finished it that night! I loved it of course. I can't wait to see what happens to Felix and what type of girl might eventually win his heart and sword. I loved the unique twist to dragon mythology. I love the idea of a 12 yr. market. I love the fact that a big yellow cat is such an important character! Heartless began with the easy pace you would expect in an author's primier novel but then at the end - boom - the characters you had fallen in love with were swept up in advetures of a grander scale than your average afternoon read. Heartless is full of analogy without being obvious and full of charm without being trite. I was left with questions at the end as to how the principal characters will react to the changes brought on by Una's decisions. This has left me hoping for a sequal. If you are a fan of dragons, princesses, unusual princes and unique twists to the basic fairy tale - Heartless is a great book to add to your summer reading list!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    An Excellent Read.

    A well written piece, which in this genre has become rarer and rarer - just because the events don't take place in this world and are therefore at times both magical and terrible . . . does not mean the writing has to be ghastly! Ms. Stengl obviously understands and appreciates this, and has worked hard at writing a good piece of literature, full of imagination and innovation, while not taking for granted that even the most imaginative work has to be well told.

    It's fantasy, in the very best of traditions, and even a nod to familiar fairy tales (seven league boots) but with the author's own take on it. Another rarity - this author is unapologetic in her take on it, which is nice to see; the characters are bold and well thought out, as is the world she has created.

    One hopes that this is but a brief glance into her world, and a brief display of Stengl's prowess, with a much fuller view to come.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2010

    Couldn't get into the story

    Una is the princess of Parumvir. When Aethelbald, Prince of the Farthest arrives and asks for her hand in marriage, Una turns him down because he is boring. But dreams of fire and heat are plaguing Una because the Dragon King wants her for himself. Aethelbald may be the only one who can save her.

    I was disappointed in this book. It was slow and never really picked up. I think the biggest obstacle was Una, I just never could like her. She was very childish and shallow. The interactions between the characters seemed stilted and off. The dialogue felt juvenile and lacked depth. Overall not worth picking up.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2010

    Review of Heartless

    Having never sought out or read anything that I would classify as "Christian" fiction, I was a little worried when I found out this book was categorized under "Christian" fiction. But my fears were quickly pacified by the somewhat familiar fantasy themes introduced with in the first chapters. These themes included fae creatures of varying types and even some familiar magical items such as seven-league boots. However these themes were also nicely tempered with original ideas and plot devices from the author creating her own unique fantasy world.

    That being said it was a bit odd when the kingdom in effect broke out into a civil war and the capital is seized by traitorous duke and a dragon with out one main or minor character dieing. People die yes, but they are "Red shirts" if you will, no-name characters such as random soldiers on the battle field or guards in the courtyard. Is this what "Christian" fiction means? I have no idea as I have nothing in my personal library to compare it too. But I digress let me continue with the review.

    This book is a bit different from normal fantasy in that its written from the... damsel in distress point of view if you will. Normally we get the heroes point of view who in this book would've been the fae prince Aethelbald, e.g. Hero has or is given a quest, then sets out on said quest, encountering obstacles and adventure along the way. Since the story is not written from the hero view we are left without knowing why anything happened. Why was the prince given the quest by his father to marry Una? Why does he love her? Whats the back story of the antagonists the two evil dragons who seem to be trying to stop him? Who knows?

    In this book, instead we are given the point of view of a young princess who has recently come of age, by the name of Una who is shallow, naive, drama filled and somewhat of a narcissist. I say shallow because the reader is never given any insight to what Una is thinking or why she feels the way she does. We watch as suitors come to try to capture her heart in the attempt be married to her. And then watch as one after the other she falls in love in a matter of days to a few weeks and proceeds in turn to have her heart broken by each of her suitors. Then we watch as she wallows in her own pity until eventually she self-destructs in a manner of speaking. Overall shes not a very likeable main character. And I found that these wallowing scenes slowed down the plot and momentum of the story as I had to drag myself though reading these scenes making for slow reading. Making a book of this length that normally would have only taken me a day to read last twice as long.

    Overall I enjoyed reading Heartless it was worth the time I spent reading it. However I hope any future novels by this author will be a bit more fleshed out as far as back story and plot goes and less wallowing from any main characters.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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