In Denise Rossetti's THE DARK ROSE, Noblelady Rosarina of Caracole, also known as the Dark Rose of Caracole, is known for her astonishing beauty and social grace. She used to be one of the most sought after courtesans in the land and now runs a school instructing others in the fine art. But she's much more than a pretty face. Rose is a woman with deep secrets and an agenda as one of the queen's top spies. She's on a mission to take down the Technomage Quintus, a man immersed in science, and one who might be a real danger to the planet. Problem is, he intrigues her, attracts her, and irritates her in equal measure. She knows she can't afford to want him, yet she does. And that's a tough pill to swallow considering she's supposed to kill him.
THE DARK ROSE is Rossetti's stunning conclusion to her Four-Sided Pentacle series. The book is best enjoyed after reading the previous novels to fully appreciate the complexity of world building, but you can also read the book as a stand-alone for enjoyment. There's magic, technology, and a generous blending of the two that's at once mesmerizing. I'm not sure how Rossetti does it, but her descriptions are so vivid and her characters so alive, I didn't want to leave that world. I've never read a book so in depth and creative, yet one that adhered to a deep and fulfilling romance as well.
Rose is a complex heroine. Strong and vulnerable, beautiful and with the same wants and needs to be loved that we all have. Quintus, the hero, is a mix of human and machine, yet it's his humanity that makes him so rich. The machine in him ties him to a world he feels responsible for, and it's that machine that can save everyone...or kill them all. Only Quin can make that decision, and at great cost to himself.
Older characters from the previous Pentacles books return, but not to overtake the central plot or steal the show from Rose and Quin. The villains are dastardly, the stakes high, and the love and growth between the protagonists enthralling.
I'm only sorry this book ends the series. But it did make me go back and reread the others on my keeper shelf, starting with THE FLAME AND THE SHADOW, THE THIEF OF LIGHT, and then THE LONE WARRIOR before this one. I can't wait to see what Rossetti comes up with for her next series. She's definitely an auto-buy for me.
If you want a story with rich characters, incredibly believable world-building, and a blend of magic and realism that will manage to knock you off your feet so that you can't put the book down until it's done, don't miss THE DARK ROSE and the rest of the Four-Sided Pentacle series. Your only regret will be that you didn't read this sooner.
A recommended read and a 5++ star rating.
Romance Junkies Reviews