Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Jaq's Harp by Ella Drake [Review]

Title: Jaq's Harp
Author: Ella Drake
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release: Feb. 21, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 203 KB
Publisher: Carina Press
Language: English
ASIN: B004K1F7V2
My Copy: Publisher
Reviewer: Mishel

4 out of 5 Robots!

In a world of floating islands and bio-engineered beans, the bad guys are taken down by agents of the Mother organization—agents like Jacqueline “Jaq” Robinson. Instead of accepting her next routine assignment, she sets out on a mission of her own—to destroy Giant Corp, the company responsible for her sister’s wasting illness. Jaq must steal her cure from Giant’s headquarters high above the city…even though she’ll be brought face-to-face with Harper English, the man who left her to go deep undercover at Giant.

For Harp, Jaq had been a distraction the mercenary thought he couldn’t afford. But once he sees her again, Harp knows he’s made a mistake. Even though she vowed he won’t have her again, it’s clear they still have a powerful attraction. Harp’s determined to get a second chance with Jaq—if they can escape Giant Corp and get back to solid ground in one piece…

I usually don’t like short stories and/or novellas because I always seem to be left pretty unsatisfied in the end. So I tend to stay away from the shorter side of the story-telling world. However, something drew me to Jaq’s Harp, and having never read anything by Ella Drake, I can’t really tell you what made me want to read and review it. Jaq’s Harp is a unique re-telling of Jack and the Beanstalk that involves floating islands, secret agents, and new-age technology. Add in a little sprinkle of steamy sexual tension between ex-lovers and you got yourself a fun time!

Jaq is one of the many agents that belong to the Mother organization, a secret part of the government GOoSE (Global Organization of Strategic Equity), bent on keeping all of the Megacorps floating above New Castle in line. But Jaq has her own agenda in mind when she goes after Giant Corp. Giant is responsible for her younger sister’s fatal illness. The only way to save Merry is for Jaq to find a way up to Giant’s headquarters and steal the cure from the medical labs. But guards and getting caught isn’t the only thing Jaq has to worry about dealing with at Giant. Harper English is deep undercover working to track down evidence to bring Giant down as well. He’s on the very mission that caused him to break Jaq’s heart when he left her a year ago.

Harp finally realizes the mistake he made with Jaq and wants nothing more than another chance to prove himself. But he’ll have to escape Giant first, and make sure Jaq is safely on the ground with him when the corporation comes crumbling down.

So I give major kudos to Ella Drake for writing a really great and satisfying novella. Of course, I wouldn’t mind a full-length novel about Jaq, Harper, and the world of New Castle but I’m not being picky. Jaq’s Harp was very balanced, well-paced, and it wrapped up nicely in the end.

I enjoyed both Jaq and Harp. They were developed enough for me to get a good sense of their personalities and the background story of their relationship. Jaq is definitely a heroine that can take care of herself. And even though she’s been hurt by Harp, she still cares about him deeply. Deeply enough to risk her life going after him when he needs help! And Harp isn’t the tough, macho, secret-spy he claims to be, even though it does take almost losing Jaq for him to realize what he wants in life. Men just need a little extra time some days…

The world-building was pretty excellent in my opinion! The reader gets a gritty dose of the dark life as a Lander; the working-class people left to live life on the ground, while the rich and privileged are far above the dirt and grime. I also really loved all the subtle cracks and pokes at the original Jack and the Beanstalk, they were very clever and felt like small inside jokes that added a lot of fun to the story.

I’ll definitely be reading more by Ella (especially her twisted fairy tales) and I’ll be giving shorter stories and novellas more of a chance in the future. I think anybody who loves re-tellings of fairy tales, futuristic romance, or just a nicely-paced kick-ass read will want to get a copy of Jaq’s Harp.

P.S. (cover talk)

Love it! It’s depicts the ground of New Castle very well with the dark colors and drab feel of the city. The cover model for Jaq is really pretty and the beanstalk is the perfect touch!

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