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Hawaiian Gothic by Violetta Vane

Hawaiian Gothic

by Violetta Vane, Heidi Belleau (Author)

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Somewhere between 3 and 4 stars - can't decide.

A somewhat wistful and forlorn story, because the hero is essentially a lonely man, and that didn't change for me, despite fulfilled wishes, so the HEA is a melancholic one. Maybe it's because Kalani never really came alive for me (pardon the pun); he works as a catalyst rather than a second main character. But I found I didn't mind that; it fit well with the otherworldly plot.

The one part that really annoyed me was that little three-way background exposition concerning Kalani's parents. Like fixing a hole in a fine art print with duct tape.

Apart from that, it's absolutely beautifully written, engages all the senses and makes the world it is set in come superbly alive on the page.

Can't wait for the next Belleau/Vane.
  G.B.Gordon | Jul 10, 2013 |
This novel reminded me of a very nice movie, Undertow, with a tragic ending, and so I was reading it teetering on the edge of fear, wanting to like these characters but afraid of what would be of them. Lucky for me, this is a romance, and of course, although non-conventional and not even totally rounded, there was a some sort of happily ever after for them.

Ori is finally coming back home, but unfortunately his childhood friend, and unrequited love, Kalani, is not waiting for him, or at least, not in a way Ori is happy to acknowledge. Kalani is in coma, according to the doctors it’s irreversible, and Kalani’s foster mother is asking Ori’s consent to detach the machines maintaining his body alive. When Kalani was attacked, Ori tried to come back home as soon as possible, but instead he ended up doing 1 year of prison for attacking his superior officer. Now one year later, Kalani’s situation didn’t change, and basically they are waiting only for Ori to have the chance to say goodbye. But the same night, Kalani’s spirit appears to Ori, and he is very much alive. Both Kalani than Ori know Kalani’s body is dying, and basically Kalani is asking Ori to let it go, but Ori thinks that, if he will be able to solve a mystery in Kalani’s past, that will allow his spirit to find peace. But finding peace will mean that Kalani will really go forever, in a place where Ori and him will not have the chance to be finally together, unless Ori doesn’t follow him there too.

Hawaiian’s tradition are quite complex, and they are a mix of religion and myth. What I always find in these novels is the feeling that the admixture between them is so strong that paranormal becomes almost ordinary, seeing spirits is exceptional but not extraordinaire, and to someone like Ori, after the first surprise, is natural to accept Kalani is real and in need of his help. Ori and Kalani’s relationship, before and after Kalani’s accident, is bittersweet, already marked by tragedy, even before they were born.

This is not an easy novel, the plot is complex, made even more that by the different flashback not in chronological order, and at one point we even go back before Ori and Kalani were born, to a totally different pair who perhaps share the same forbidden love. More than paranormal, Hawaiian Gothic is spiritual, new age, mystic; if you like all these you will love it.

  elisa.rolle | May 27, 2013 |
Gregorio “Ori” Reyes and Kalani Lihilihi have known each other since childhood. Although they were always very close, Ori left home to serve in the Iraq war before either man had a chance to explore the strong feelings growing between them.

A vicious hate crime leaves Kalani’s body comatose in the hospital while his spirit wanders freely. Ori was dishonorably discharged from the military and served some time in prison. He returns to his home in Hawaii, disconsolate and penniless, blaming PTSD for his visions of Kalani.

These visions are very real, and for the first time, both men have a chance to overcome the pain of missed opportunities and regrets from the past.

Through flashbacks, the reader gets a glimpse of Ori’s and Kalani’s childhood and teen years, their family and friends, Ori’s stint in Iraq and his brief stay in prison, Kalani’s brutal assault, and the mystery of his parents’ deaths.

What starts out as a rather conventional love story, turns into something quite surprising and unexpected when Ori and Kalani embark on a journey through the spirit world, where dangers lurk, curses must be reversed, and lives are healed.

This is a very thoughtful and moving story that I personally feel could have benefitted from first-person dialogue. Many times I wanted to get into Ori’s head and know the depth of his feelings, but mostly I felt somewhat distant from the main characters until well into the novel. The flashbacks, while very effective and essential to the story, slowed the pace for me and made the story seem a lot longer than it actually was.

I loved the vividly described Hawaiian setting and culture and the emotionally-charged and beautifully written love scenes. This highly original non-traditional romance should appeal to adventurous readers.

Received this book for review at Outlaw Reviews ( )
  Nancy_F | Mar 29, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vane, ViolettaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Belleau, HeidiAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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