Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2
I’ve had my eye on Fiona West since reading an ARC of her first book, The Ex-Princess. To say that I’m excited to see her evolution as a published author is an understatement. With The Ex-Princess, she undertook to create a fusion of romance and fantasy on the scope of Tolkein. Creating worlds while offering an unusual romantic pairing in Edward and Abbie seemed like a mammoth undertaking. If you read my review of that book (see here), you’ll note that I commented on the breadth of her book and its overwhelming nature. However, in the midst of her first book, you could see the genius behind her intent.
For the The Un-Queen, her second book, her story read more stream-lined, less overwhelming in its details. It was clear that, after setting up her world in the first book, she could focus more on the story of Edward/Preston and Abbie. Even more, she was able to offer a message underlying the story: keeping your identity in the face of a relationship.
Now, she is offering the next book in this series of standalones, The Jinxed Journalist. First of all, I’m a lover of alliteration, and the book’s title is enough to intrigue her reader. In this book, the story revolves around one of King Edward’s friends and confidantes, Captain Saint. As the voice of King Edward, Saint is responsible for handling the perceptions of King Edward within the news cycle.
Enter Brooke Everleigh, a persistent journalist. Brooke has received information about a news story that implicates King Edward in a scandal. Facing Saint in a press conference, she seeks after confirmation from the crown, only to be met with silence. As the story progresses, Brooke becomes vehement in her protection of the victim, and Saint maintains his protection of the crown. In the midst of their battle of wills, Saint becomes tasked with acting as a mentor for Brooke’s son. Through spending time together, Saint and Brooke become more attracted to each other. Unfortunately, her position as a journalist and his as the public face for the crown make it difficult for them to have a future. Even more, Brooke’s story further complicates their attraction. West has created quite a conundrum for Saint and Brooke in her story.
The strength of West’s newest book is its story. Since she has already laid the foundation of her fantasy world in her earlier books, West is able to spend her time in creating the challenge of Brooke and Saint’s relationship. These two are “enemies” at the beginning. This is the type of situation wherein their attraction to each other grows with each dig. Prior to Brooke, Saint is a playboy. He isn’t seeking after a relationship until Brooke burrows under his skin. It’s this tension that makes their relationship interesting. Each little dig builds more chemistry on the page until, as a reader, you cannot wait for them to consummate their relationship. West makes this chemistry palpable for her readers. It is the fire of this story.
As a hero, Saint is interesting. He’s multi-layered and complex. West crafts him with complications. At his surface, he seems uncomplicated. Yet, as his story progresses, we find that his past casts shadows over his present. With this character, West illustrates a need for vulnerability in relationships. Given his background, Saint struggles with “feelings.” He’s shut them down as a way to protect his heart from hurt. Through the character of Brooke, West teaches Saint, and effectively ourselves, that the risk of vulnerability builds a greater love if we’re willing to offer our heart to another. It’s Saint’s journey in The Jinxed Journalist that offers the depth of West’s story.
Between the fire and heart of West’s story lies Brooke. Brooke also struggles with vulnerability, mostly in the realm of asking for help. West’s articulation of Brooke’s struggles with integrity in journalism is a minor message of the book. There is an important discussion about abuse and the protection of the victims of abuse. West takes the time to carefully remind us that we need to care for the accusations of victims, but it also sets up the concern that the accused is given their space to defend themselves. The turmoil created by Brooke’s story becomes a thoughtful discussion about the truth in reporting.
As I devoured Fiona West’s The Jinxed Journalist, I couldn’t help but become excited for her. This new book shows the strength of her writing. Unlike her first book that seemed heavy and clunky at times, this book is streamlined and crafted to entertain and challenge her readers. Saint and Brooke have quickly become my new favorite couple in The Borderline Chronicles world. Saint’s heroic evolution and Brooke’s journey build a story that is equal parts sweet, sassy, and serious. West isn’t in the business of writing $exually-driven romance, but it’s not needed. Instead, The Jinxed Journalist is a book that will tug at your heart and entertain you until its last page.
In love and romance,