The Hells of Notre Dame by R.L. Davennor

Published: March 28, 2023

Night Muse Press

Genre: Dark Fantasy

Pages: 295

KKECReads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I received a copy of this book for free, and I leave my review voluntarily.

Raelynn Davennor is an author of fantasy romance and fairytale retellings. She is known for her diverse and complex characters, as well as her ability to craft heart-wrenching plots that explore heavy themes. A firm believer that light cannot be appreciated without darkness, Raelynn always ensures that her characters find their happily ever afters. When not obsessing over her latest idea, she enjoys pampering her menagerie of pets and pretending she isn’t an adult.

One night was all it took.
I should have stayed away. I should have thrown away her scarf, banished Esmeralda from my mind, body, and soul, and never thought or spoke of her again. That would have been the best thing, the right thing.
But our Lord works in mysterious ways, and before I know it, the walls of Notre Dame become her prison as much as they are my sanctuary. And with temptation front and center, neither of us have the strength to resist. Our days become longing glances and coded whispers, our nights stolen kisses and caresses on borrowed time, because we both know the inescapable truth.
Our love can only end as it began—in fire. But as each day passes, and the more I fall under her spell, eternal damnation seems a small price to pay.
If Esmeralda is hell, I’ll go willingly.

“I may be a holy woman, but I sure as hell wasn’t a saint.”

Claude is trying to live a proper life. But there are struggles, challenges to overcome constantly, and so much inner guilt. Esmeralda is confident, beautiful, and willing to do whatever it takes to protect herself and her family. When their paths cross, the attraction is instant, and the lust is fire.

This was an interesting spin on this story. I found how it was told an exciting mix of the original storyline and a fresh blend of the new story.

I liked the characters. The balance between acceptance and rejection was well-defined and well-portrayed. The struggles were felt with the heaviest of weight as we watch Claude struggle to find their path.

I enjoyed the use of elements within this tale, and I liked how that mixed with the darkness and the light. It was very poetic. I also found the inclusion of Erik and Meg interesting and a neat crossover.

For the introduction to a series, a lot happens in this book. It’s pretty action-filled, with a lot of chaos. But as things come together, they fall apart with even more drama. The ending was a sneaky cliffhanger and left us with the question- did she know the whole time?

I am interested to see what direction the next book takes us. I’m curious to see what the established characters do and who else might join this cast of misfits.

While this won’t be the book for everyone, I found it a relevant and modern take on a classic fairytale. And the acceptance and love captured between these pages were so well done.

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