ARC Review: “The Reckless Oath We Made” by Bryn Greenwood

The Reckless Oath We Made by [Greenwood, Bryn]

Title: The Reckless Oath We Made
Find it on: Amazon
Author: Bryn Greenwood
Publication Date: 20 Aug 2019
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

Many thanks to the author, Bryn Greenwood, and publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Group, for providing a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A provocative love story between a tough Kansas woman on a crooked path to redemption and the unlikeliest of champions, from the New York Times bestselling author of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

Zee is nobody’s fairy tale princess. Almost six-foot, with a redhead’s temper and a shattered hip, she has a long list of worries: never-ending bills, her beautiful, gullible sister, her five-year-old nephew, her housebound mother, and her drug-dealing boss.

Zee may not be a princess, but Gentry is an actual knight, complete with sword, armor, and a code of honor. Two years ago the voices he hears called him to be Zee’s champion. Both shy and autistic, he’s barely spoken to her since, but he has kept watch, ready to come to her aid. 

When an abduction tears Zee’s family apart, she turns to the last person she ever imagined—Gentry—and sets in motion a chain of events that will not only change both of their lives, but bind them to one another forever.

(via Amazon )

Review

This was an incredibly beautiful book, but I have to say I disliked it at the beginning and severely disliked the ending. The middle 80% was the really magical bit in my mind. Let me explain.

Before getting into the main body of work I browsed the table of contents for the book. There were about twice the number of chapters I’m normally used to, and each were only identifiable via what seemed to be a character’s name. Seeing that, I was nervous about having too many potential POV switches with no context on chapter content. I found myself feeling lost initially. The gradual introduction to the characters was apparently not rounded enough for me to feel grounded within the first three chapters. By the fourth, however, I started to feel comfortable with the book and really began to enjoy it. Around that point is when we start getting a fuller picture of Gentry.

Initially introduced as a ‘stalker,’ Gentry in fact turns out to be a very endearing character I loved for the remainder of the book. A young man on the autism spectrum with symptoms of auditory hallucinations, he sports an old Middle English accent and an obsession with knightly culture. Pure and chivalrous, Gentry is a memorable character. My only nit is wishing there was slightly more character development in his story, but I understand the focus was on the primary driving plot. He did make strives in growing close to Zee, which is a notable change through the book. For these bits I’m torn. I wanted more sincere slow-burn romance and less detailed intimacy, but another part of me felt those parts were done pretty well. Ultimately I’m left with very few complaints with Gentry as a character, only minor crits wishing for more build-up. He was the perfect foil to Zee.

Coming around to Zee (or Zhorzha), I had trouble connecting with her story simply due to her personality and background. From a troubled family with a history of mental/physical health issues, prison, and hoarding, she attempts to provide for her family via whatever means necessary. Given her rough background it’s no wonder her outlook and projection are a bit abrasive. In fact the writing style complemented this perfectly, with its unembellished and easy to read approach. Zee grew on me through the book (certainly with the help of Gentry’s role), but towards the end her actions led me to absolutely hate her. I never managed to resolve that feeling and ended the story with severely negative feelings towards her character contrasted with extremely positive feelings towards Gentry. If this was the author’s intention (which it very likely was), it’s a testament to how well the characters were conveyed that such strong connections were formed. It’s been a while since I’ve had this kind of reaction to a story.

I read this book in two sittings while traveling, delayed only because I was nervous about how the plot would resolve. It turned out my intuition was right and I didn’t love the ending, but I have to admit it made some sense given the context. (If anyone reads this please let me know what you think!) Overall I found this to be a beautiful book with themes of acceptance, fidelity, trust, and forgiveness. Gentry was a stand-out character that really shined, and the plot cadence was paced well for a relaxing but engaging read.


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