NOTE: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review!
Title: The Jumbee’s Daughter
Author: Jonathan Ross
Publisher: Amazon Create Space
Release Date: June 14th 2016
Genre: Adult, Romance, Suspense,
Anika Hegner, of Danish heritage, has Jumbee blood in her veins, straight from the Dark Continent. Since childhood, she has delighted in shape shifting to a black cat and scaring the unwary. Now, as she struggles to reconcile her dual heritage, she discovers the added distraction of a taciturn veteran who insists on camping on her family’s abandoned estate.
Ex-Army Ranger Mike Stiles, haunted by the loss of a comrade in combat, can’t settle into civilian life. When his best friend asks for help to break-up a drug-smuggling ring on St. Thomas, Mike rushes to his aid. Mike figures the danger will do him some good and settle in to catch the smuggler, in spite of a beautiful woman ordering him to leave his post.
Ambitious, young drug lord Santiago Morales is expanding the family business from Puerto Rico to backwater St. Tomas. Smuggling, fast cars, and beautiful women are his passions. To celebrate his arrival on the island, he plans to romance a certain local girl and kill a nosy ex-soldier.
My First Thoughts:
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this book! I was really interested in the settling, since I have been to St. Thomas before, and I’ve never really read a ‘summer romance’ book. So feel like this will be an interesting book to read!
I wasn’t wrong about the book, it really was interesting! At times, it was really hard to put down and the pages just seemed to fly by. Now, that could have also been because the chapter were really short.
I really enjoyed reading from Stiles’s perspective, just because he thought of things a little differently than everyone else. I wish that you could read more of his struggles with the loss of one of his comrades. However, you could argue that once he starts something very little distracts him while he’s on the job. Either way, he didn’t feel as haunted as the synopsis made him out to be. He was still fun to read about, I just felt like the author missed out on some really interesting character development with him.
Anika was also interesting to read about. I’ve read and heard of stories about shape shifting individuals from all over Eurasia, but I’ve heard/read very little from Africa. So it was really neat to read about the Jumbees and their trickster characters, and I wish there was more to read about them in the story. Anika’s character was a little hard to sympathize at first, but as she started opening up she became more and more likable! I really enjoyed the development she had in the story, especially when she had a little bit of an identity crisis because not many books with similar characters think to include such things. And as I think about it, not every character should be likable at first, because a lot of people aren’t really likable when you first meet them. It’s only after they open up to you that you really start to like them.
The one thing I could not stand about this book was when the story was told from Morales’s perspective. I find it really interesting when a novel decides to tell from the villain’s point of view, readers can gain insights on the actions and characteristics that they might not have when reading from the hero’s side. However, it’s really hard for an author to pull it off, especially if they write from the villain’s side for a good chunk of the book. I know you’re not supposed to like the villain, but the novelty of reading about Morales’s story wore off very quickly. He had no redeeming qualities and sometimes it just felt like wasted paper. In fact, I feel like this novel would have done much better if it had less of Morales’s narration and spent more time developing Stiles and Anika. He did have some important scenes that really defined his character, but after a while I felt like Ross was trying way too hard to get the readers to hate the villain and demonize him.
While the characterization of the villain was a bit rough, the world that the book was set in was extremely detailed. I often felt like the book took me out of the school library and teleported me to St. Thomas! There were details in the story that only someone who had lived there for years would have thought to add. The scenery was wonderfully described and painted for the readers. My imagination had no trouble at all translating the author’s words, which were rather concise, into beautiful images or coral beaches and grassy hills.
The last thing that I’ll talk about is the romance. I’ve never been one for love stories that occur over a few days, it seems a little unrealistic to me. I understand that it actually happens to some people, but most of the time it’s a relationship that develops over several months. The romance in this novel isn’t terrible, just not my cup of tea. To me, it would have made more sense for the romance to take several months to grow and bud. However, I understand that for the sack of the novel’s timeline that wasn’t a luxury that the author had. That’s still not a great excuse, but it’s a seeable one. I wish that there was more time spent developing the romantic relationship of the characters, but it wasn’t the main point of the story, so either way it didn’t really have a lot of weight on what was going on. The only thing affected by the romance was the very end of the story, which was a little confusing to begin with. The overall story would not have changed drastically if the romance didn’t exist or was a little heavier than it was.
I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a free vacation that you can take with your mind! How the author describes St. Thomas and the locals may definitely transport you there. Absolutely beautiful and detailed descriptions, things that only someone who has lived on the island for years could write about.
I would also recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick summer read, something that you can read while on vacation or on the beach. The story reads quickly, but well-paced, and will keep you turning pages until the end. The romance may be a turn off to some people. At times, I got really frustrated with how the characters interacted with each other. I still believe that things developed too quickly, but then again I’m not one for fast romances. If you are, then you’ll really enjoy the book. However, if you’re like me, then you may still enjoy the book because the romance is more of an added flavor and not the main course.
And anyone who is into suspenseful summer stories like Into the Blue will definitely enjoy this story! Readers may find the thrill of the hunt too good to put down and the little sprinkle of magic enticing.
With Morales’s perspective: 2/5
I honestly did not care for the story told from Morales’s perspective. I’m all for reading from the villain’s side of the story, but only when they are relatable. I could not relate to Morales and his actions made me sick. After a while, I didn’t really care to read from his side of the story. At first it was interesting, but it grew old and sour quick, and I dreaded reading his chapters at times!
Without Morales’s perspective: 3/5
I don’t want one character’s side to taint the rest of the book. So I’ve decided to give this book a second rating, about how the story reads without Morales’s point of view. Overall, the story was a quick read, and it was a good solid story. There was nothing super spectacular about the book, but it was still entertaining to read. It gave me a number of enjoyable hours of reading and was a nice send off to summer. The romance wasn’t something to write home about, but the overall feel, writing, and story made up for it. The Jumbee’s Daughter is a good average book. I enjoyed the author’s writing and I would love to see more from Jonathan Ross in the future, to see where his creative mind takes him!