Haunted by Paper Characters
Dark Romance lacks depth
Honestly, I'm not sure where to start with this one. To be upfront about Haunting Adeline, I was disappointed by this book. Overall, it was just okay.
Let's start with what is probably going to get the most attention: the trigger warning and the sex scenes. This is an area where Carlton really excels. If you're just here for the romance scenes, you might enjoy this one. Unlike other romance novels, the sex scenes can actually be really poignant ways of moving the plot and character development forward. There are multiple that are well done and show how the characters are bonding together.
However, if you're here for a sweet romance that you have surely picked up the wrong book. This is directly about a woman and her stalker. It is a horror in all of the victorian sense of the word. If this is your first romance, I'd recommend starting with something else.The gun scene is graphic and jarring if this is not your normal genre.
It wasn't the graphic nature or the dark topics that I found disappoint though. My main critique with the book was how flat the characters were. I struggled to connect with any of them in any meaningful way. There was very little development or depth to any of them, which left us feeling pretty underwhelmed. At first it felt like a complete oversight. I was optimistic that as I kept reading I might get deeper backstory or character development, until the point at which Zade directly addresses the issue by pointing out there is no reason for his crusade other than his own personal desire.
When I learned about human trafficking and the depths of its depravity, I was sickened. And I have the skill to do something about it, so I am. I’m saving innocent people because I want to. And I’m torturing and murdering the bad because I want to.
I don't feel like the journal entries and mystery of who murdered Gigi to be compelling addition to the narrative. It felt as if it didn't really serve any purpose in the broader scheme of the plot and could have been left out entirely. I kept hoping to have them tie together (was Zade really a stalker to both?) but was left disappointed. At least Carlton solved that mystery before the end of the novel.
Unlike the main story of the novel which ends on a major cliffhanger that felt like an obvious attempt to force readers into buying the second book. (I did not, nor do I have plans to do so.) I don't mind a good cliffhanger as long as it feels like a natural progression of the story, but this just felt like a cheap trick.
Overall, Haunting Adeline left me feeling pretty lukewarm. While there were moments we enjoyed, overall we found it to be lacking. The flat characters and unnecessary plotlines left us feeling underwhelmed, and the ending left a bad taste in our mouths. While we wouldn't necessarily dissuade someone from reading it, we wouldn't recommend it either. There are plenty of better books out there.