Leanna Renee Hieber and I have something in common – a love for the smexy Alan Rickman. I have a picture of him here on my blog, as one of my smexy men, and when she saw it, she knew this book was for me. She emailed me and said the hero of her book, Alexi Rychman, is intentionally Rickman-esque, she even dedicated the book to him. Of course, this excited me greatly – Alan Rickman and I have a great, naughty love affair going on and it was on that note, I started the book.
Six teenage mortals are chosen to be The Guard – to keep London safe from spirits who cause discord with humans. Alexi Rychman, the leader, along with Rebecca, Michael, Elijah, Josephine and Jane are each given a specific power to help fight. The goddess tells them that to fight the darkness, a prophecy must be fulfilled – a prophecy in the form of a seventh member. She warns them once the seventh joins them, it means war. She cannot tell them when she will come, or how it will happen, only that they will all see a door, a portal, and she will be placed in their path.
Twenty-one years pass, Alexi and his colleagues are no closer to finding Prophecy then they were when the goddess came to them. They are constantly looking for clues, as they fight the spirits that have come to harm their city. They may have not found Prophecy yet, but they have found friendship among them, and even some flirtations have arisen. Elijah, who I really fell in love with for his wit and humor, shares hidden kisses with Josephine when no one is looking and fashions tiny hearts out of candle wax in one of the sweetest scenes.
Alexi is tired – he had dreams of becoming a great scientist, not someone who chases ghosts throughout London. But he is loyal and for years, he has been waiting for Prophecy to come forward. The only thing that keeps him going is his belief the prophecy will also find her way into his heart. He’s constantly alert, looking for clues, and exhausting himself more every day. Even Rebecca starts to question him, wondering if he missed her but Alexi is quick to brush her off –
“The…fate of the seventh and myself is private.”
Rebecca groaned and clenched her fists. “You’re still going on about that? About the two of you? Alexi, in what part of her speech did your goddess say you were supposed to love the seventh? Those words were never spoken; love has nothing to do with it!”
He turned and pinned her with his eyes. “I’ve always believed it, Rebecca. You alone know this.”
Eighteen year old Percy Parker enrolls at Athens School where Rebecca is head mistress, hoping for a fresh start. She has a unique talent, she not only sees ghosts, but she can talk to them as well – something The Guard can not even do. Many times, she is mistaken for a ghost, with her pale skin and hair, and crystal like eyes. She is the source of much ridicule and distasteful glances. She hides herself behind glasses and scarves, never letting the real Percy show.
Percy can speak almost any language, finding they just come to her naturally but she is dreadful in Math. So embarrassingly dreadful, Alexi, who happens to be her mathematics professor seeks her out for after class tutoring. From first glance at professor Alexi, she is immediately drawn to him. Embarrassingly so, especially with her pale skin, the slightest blush is like a bright red beacon on her face. Alexi makes her remove her sunglasses, gloves, and scarf about her head, to show her true self. As Alexi watches her, and sees her for the first time in her true form, he sees her “tresses of lustrous, snow-white hair” and “luminous crystal eyes,” he sees beauty.
And although Alexi is stoic and reserved, his eyes sparkle a bit more when she enters the room. He becomes enchanted with her, although he battles to remind himself she is a student, and he is a professor, albeit an older student. It is here, during these tutoring sessions the real Percy comes out and the charming banter between the professor and student, turns into subtle flirtation between man and woman.
As Alexi learns more about Percy and starts to unravel clues to her life, a dark force creeps closer to the city. It is growing stronger and the six know, that soon, they will not be able to keep the evil at bay. Desperate to find Prophecy and gain strength to fight the evil, tensions erupt in The Guard. They must find trust in their leader, before the darkness embraces them all.
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker is refreshing, adorable, romantic and an exciting story. This book is a paranormal, historical romance, but it is written in such a way you forget about classifications. You forget spirits don’t really exist, and you really are not walking around 19th century London. The story completely absorbs you and pulls you into the world and you don’t want to leave.
Percy starts as such a shy creature, but that is the only way she knows to keep hidden. Leanna Renee Hieber does an amazing job writing Percy – you can feel her yearning, and embarrassment and conflicting feelings. I can’t remember being on such an intimate level with another heroine. It is not until Alexi makes her show her true self, and she gains strength in that courage, that she truly shines. Although most of their courtship she is timid, and unsure of how to handle her romantic emotions, when her relationship to Alexi is threatened, she stands up for herself and fights for him. The romance is sweet, and endearing and builds ever so slowly.
The other members of The Guard were great characters as well. As I mentioned, I hope we get more from Elijah, the smart-alec of the group – he had some of the best lines in the book and I adored his relationship with Josephine. Towards the end, when Elijah says, “Oh…that door,” I couldn’t stop laughing! (Out of context, not so funny) And Rebecca, Alexi’s confidant, she needs someone. She has a bit of a crush on Alexi, and yet, like the others, she has to push her feelings to the side for the greater good. I believe Michael is waiting in the wings and she will find him. I am very intrigued to see what the next book brings.
I will not be able to think of Alan Rickman without Alexi Rychman coming to mind now. I could hear Alan Rickman’s voice throughout the book. His brooding sidelong glances, sharp features, and the sweeping of his black coat – oh yes, Alan Rickman will play him just lovely in the movie ;)
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker will haunt me with happiness, smiles, and visions of Alan Rickman for a long time to come.
Rating: 4 Stars
Be sure to come back next Wednesday, August 16th when Leanna Renee Hieber stops by on her blog tour and a chance to win The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker!!
Visit Leanna Renee Hieber’s site for more information.
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