Sunday, November 20, 2022

Book Review: The Brilliance of Stars by J'nell Ciesielski

About the Book: 

Amid the chaos of the Great War, two elite assassins learn precisely how dangerous it is to have something—or someone—worth losing.

Washington, DC, 1914. Ivy Olwen knows how to survive on the streets without two coins to rub together. Then destiny thrusts her into the nest of a covert agency of assassins sworn to drive back the world’s darkness, and she acquires a new set of lethal skills. Her education—from explosives to etiquette, sharpshooting to sabotage—is as far reaching as the organization’s missions. But it’s the hours she spends among the towering bookshelves in the library and stargazing on the roof with Agent Jack Vale that make her heart fly.

Jack knew plenty of hardship before the agency refined his rough edges, transforming him into the man who never misses. But he didn’t know the feeling of home until Ivy entered his world. Now Jack’s heart drums with a singular purpose: he will fight for her, fight alongside her. No matter the cost.

When the pair is sent on a seemingly simple mission to take down Russia’s newest and most dangerous arms dealer—a soulless man using the Great War as an opportunity to further his own depraved agenda—they discover that no amount of training could have prepared them for a manhunt that takes them across the frozen tundra, to the Crimean Peninsula, and along the Trans-Siberian Railway . . . only to discover that there is evil in the world they will never understand.

The first book of an epic duology from bestselling author J’nell Ciesielski, The Brilliance of Stars incorporates her signature blend of thrilling adventure, glamorous espionage, and sweeping romance.

My Thoughts:

The Brilliance of Stars by J’nell Ciesielski starts off the Jack and Ivy Duology with a story of camaraderie and a quest to defeat evil. The novel hooked my interest early on as Ivy transitioned from homeless teen to educated, elite assassin. There was no lack of action, but once Jack and Ivy’s team traveled to Russia, things heated up and kept me flipping pages. Somewhere around the 60%-70% mark, the story slowed and grew darker. I knew to expect a cliffhanger, but this one wasn’t bad. It was more open ended rather than stopping at the pinnacle of suspense. It’s the type of cliffhanger I can live with although I am eager for book two.

I enjoyed Ivy and Jack’s relationship from beginning to end, even when only the barest hint of romance existed. Gradually, their romantic relationship grew, and I adored the way that Jack loved Ivy. I wish every man loved his woman that way. There was a fade-to-black bedroom scene with more detail than I was comfortable with. However, the novel still stayed in the “clean” romance category.

Speaking of categories, The Brilliance of Stars by J’nell Ciesielski contains some Christian undertones, but is largely general fiction, making it appealing to readers of both genres. I recommend this novel to fans of historical romantic suspense.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I think I'd like this series. Wonderful review, Jolene!