It’s time to celebrate Christmas at Etherya’s Earth, and Celine is determined to use the masked gala as a way to finally make a move on the love of her life. When the masks go on, the gloves…and maybe a few other items of clothing…come off.
What’s it About?
She was in love with a man who didn’t know she existed…
Vampyre aristocrat Celine has eyes for one man: a handsome council member who barely knows she’s alive. Determined to change her destiny, she secures a date with the enigmatic man, even if he won’t know her identity at the masked fete.
Council leader Sebastian considers relationships a waste of time—until a gorgeous stranger accompanies him to a ball. Suddenly, he can’t stop thinking about the woman behind the mask who sets his body aflame.
Consumed with uncovering the tempting stranger’s identity, Sebastian observes similarities between his phantom lover and the quiet aristocrat he’s barely noticed for centuries. Could his mystery woman actually be…Celine?
Fueled by passion and anger, he confronts the stunning aristocrat, never realizing their fiery encounter might cement Sebastian’s fate for eternity…
Rebecca Hefner is a master storyteller. She successfully manages to jam pack an entire novel’s worth of romance and character development into 167 pages of a novella without it feeling forced, rushed, or incomplete. Celine has had her heart set on workaholic Sebastian for centuries. We were first introduced to her infatuation for this vampyre in a previous novella within the Etherya’s Earth series, and while her attempts to attract his attention went unnoticed in that installment, Celine is determined to succeed this go around. She’ll just need a masked disguise, as well as a fake identity, to make it happen. What I appreciated most about this short read was that no detail was left out, from the impetus of Celine’s decision to go to such lengths, to Sebastian eventually opening his eyes to the beauty standing right in front of him for all these years.
After all, we can’t help but question why, after literally centuries of pining after this man, Celine would finally choose to make a move. This is especially true when we discover that she’s been quite the quiet wallflower for most of her life. However, it’s revealed throughout the novella how she was always raised to be the compliant daughter of an aristocrat, to be seen and not heard, and to ultimately be a trophy for her future husband. It is only after the events of the previous novels, when some of the strongest female voices of the Vampyres, Slayers and Deamons come forward into the spotlight that Celine realizes there’s another way to life. This doesn’t mean she’s suddenly transformed to become the loudest or most opinionated woman in the room, but rather she’s no longer afraid to start taking the steps towards what she wants most out of her immortal life. And that just happens to be the broodingly gorgeous Sebastian.
Blushing Wallflower or Sultry Vixen?
I love a masked romance under false pretenses just as much as the next Romancelandia fan. The surprisingly compelling aspect of Celine’s ruse was that while she went to such great lengths to finally secure a date and kiss with the love of her life…she really doesn’t know what to do when Sebastian actually returns her advances. It would have been so easy to have Sebastian become entranced by this bold masked figure, share a few passionate kisses with her in the shadows, and upon discovering Celine’s true identity he could have fallen to his knees in declaring his undying love for her. But that simply would have been too easy. Instead we see that when a masked Celine finally has Sebastian in her arms, kissing her with such reverence and whispering dirty nothings into her ear, she can’t help but be hurt at the reminder that he’s ignored her all this time. Why couldn’t he love her for the blushing wallflower she truly was, rather than the foxy stranger she’s pretending to be? There’s a moment of shock for all of us, readers and Sebastian included, when rather than pull him closer into this intimate embrace, she chooses to push him away. And that’s when the fun truly begins.
Sebastian can’t believe that this one evening’s encounter could throw his entire world off kilter. He’d love nothing more than to have another shot with the masked beauty from the fete, but she seems to have vanished into the night, never to be seen or heard from again. If there’s something I love more than a masked romance, it has to be the road to discovering the identity of our masked mystery guest, and Sebastian’s journey to realizing that Celine was behind the mask was an absolute treat. He starts to pick up on certain clues here and there, the most delightful of which was recognizing that Celine’s scent was quite similar to that of his aroused stranger. When he finally puts all the pieces together, an angry confrontation seems imminent, but let’s just say things quickly evolve into another kind of heated exchange.
Celine is still a virgin after all these centuries, and even though Sebastian awakens a fire within her, it was interesting to see how her sexual temperament mirrored her personality so closely. There’s an inherent shyness that surrounds her, but just as the changing circumstances of their society have inspired Celine to go after what she wants in life, the weight of Sebastian’s sexual attraction to her inspires her to voice what she wants during those moments of passion. Again, she doesn’t suddenly become a sultry vixen in the bedroom, but she does come to realize how the reaction she evokes in Sebastian is it’s own kind of power. For his part, Sebastian finally starts to see this new spark to Celine’s personality, both within and outside of the bedroom. She’s still Celine at heart, but there’s a more confident side to her that he can start to see himself falling in love with.
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Series: Etherya’s Earth, book 7.5. This is the perfect kind of palate cleanser to enjoy in between the full-length novels of this series. There are no battles or forces of evil to contend with, which makes it a fun, low-drama read to enjoy before the next installment. You could probably get by with this read if you haven’t read the previous books, but you might as well start from the beginning to enjoy the mastery at work!
Would I befriend the heroine? I think we’d be friendly acquaintances, but I’m not sure we have enough in common to be actual friends. For some reason I can’t see Celine lounging around on a weekend eating pizza and watching Seinfeld re-runs.
Would I date the hero? Celine does slowly start to pull some of Sebastian’s attention away from work, but on the whole he still seems to be too much of a workaholic for my taste.
Final Impressions: A fantastic read you won’t want to leave behind on your next beach vacation! There was a seamless flow to the events of the novel, and I appreciated how much content could be fit into these pages without feeling like too much was going on. Nothing was rushed when it came to Celine and Sebastian uncovering their true feelings for each other. When Sebastian expressed his desire for this masked stranger on that first night, Celine didn’t just fall into his bed for a quick romp. Similarly, when Sebastian discovers Celine was the one behind the mask, he doesn’t immediately declare his love for her. Their infatuation and genuine interest in each other naturally evolves into feelings of companionship, and ultimately love. That’s quite a journey for a novella!
Smut Level: Goodness me is it getting hot underneath this mask! Sebastian is definitely vying for top billing as one of the dirtiest talkers of this whole series, and while Celine might not be a dirty talker herself, she’s more than happy to be on the receiving end of it.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Reading Goddess Press, LLC. 167 Pages.