The premise of this story is what drew me to it. It sounded so unique and creative, I could not wait to start. While this was a quick read, there was something that kept me from giving it more than three stars. Maybe it was the lack of character development or the slight instalove, or perhaps it was both of those combined. The thought of a traveling circus held together by (brace yourself) a charm and a curse had piqued my curiosity. A curse, you say? I’m in! The history of everything was complex and wonderfully executed. It all clicked into place and I was here for the show. I’m starting to slowly get into books that have a circus/carnival theme. This setting was so fun, creative, and well developed.
What left me wanting was the lack of character development. Emma was a charming protagonist who happen to fall victim to the curse. I understand her want and desire to break the curse and find her way out of the circus when nobody before her could. (The person who lured her into the curse had been there for 50 years but suddenly she could break the spell?) Sadly, her character never developed during the story. She was stuck in a horrible situation but she just did not grow or have a character arc that I usually need for the story to feel complete. Neither did Ben, the other POV in this book. He was the love interest who swore he could help free Emma because he had an instant attraction to her. HENCE the instalove that always makes me roll my eyes. It will not ever be believable for me and always makes me groan.
On top of the lack of character growth, the pacing was a bit off. There were times when things moved like molasses in winter and other times it was moving at break-neck speed. I did lose interest in what was happening at times but I did stick with this until the end. I would have like a little more backstory/expansion on the secondary characters. I feel that would have rounded the story a little bit more, but that could just be me.
Overall, this was a fluffy read but it didn’t leave me with the thought that this was earth shattering, ground breaking. It lost me at instalove and the other things listed above. I will continue to read whatever Questell writes as she certainly does have a strong talent for it.