Upon ending up in Wonderland, Alice managed to convince Julius to allow her to stay with him at the Clock Tower. Julius gripes about Alice getting underfoot but doesn't put any effort into making her leave. Alice makes him coffee and gets irritated when he says he doesn't like it, but despite his complaints, he always drinks it, even if it's become stone cold. However, something suddenly changes between them. For some reason Julius begins avoiding Alice and acting cold and distant towards her. When she confronts him about it, he tells her to leave, so she does. Nightmare decides to step in and put both of their feelings to the test.
If Alice were a real person and I was asked to pair her up with someone in this series, I'd probably pair her up with Julius. He may not be the most exciting guy in the franchise, but he's generally emotionally stable and considerably less violent than most of the Wonderland guys. He's also the least likely to try to force her into anything.
In this one-shot, Julius knows that Alice has another world she calls home and worries the he'll get too attached to her and then she'll leave him. Alice, meanwhile, thinks that Julius considers her to be little more than an annoyance. Ace, who loves both of them, is on the sidelines trying to figure out how to get them to actually talk to each other about how they feel and what they're thinking. I have to say, I'm a big fan of Ace in caring and friendly mode. And hey, I'd be more on board with a threesome involving Alice, Julius, and Ace than Alice, Dee, and Dum.
Nightmare's solution to Alice and Julius's communication problem struck me as being a bit melodramatic and cheesy. There was a tower with a stairway blocked by thorny roses and everything. Julius had to act like some sort of fairy tale prince. I outright groaned when Nightmare explained what the thorns were and why they suddenly disappeared and were replaced by rose petals.
The overall pacing was good, and the story was nicely focused - no attempts to cram more franchise lore into the volume than there was time to handle. For example, Alice's unrequited feelings for her sister's fiance were only briefly referenced.
Aoi Kurihara's artwork was nice, but still nowhere near as appealing to me as Mamenosuke Fujimaru's, although Kurihara seemed to be better at drawing guns. Fujimaru's guns are laughably bad. As far as Alice x Julius volumes go, though, I think I prefer Alice in the Country of Hearts: The Clockmaker's Story over this. I recall the romance being more appealing, and it managed to work in more of Julius's backstory. Still, Love Labyrinth of Thorns wasn't bad.
Two full-color pages, a two-page (or two single page?) humorous bonus comic (Ace is adorable), an artist afterword in comic form, and an 11-page preview of Devils and Realist.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
It's been a bummer of a day. We haven't even finished January yet, and my workplace has already had its second retirement announcement of the year, this time due to the person's serious illness. I decided some cotton candy reading was in order. This was a bit melodramatic and cheesy, but I think it helped somewhat.
Country Hearts is a phenomenal contemporary western romance by Cindi Madsen. Ms. Madsen has provided readers with a well-written book populated with an outstanding cast of characters. Jemma lost her job due to budget cuts and took a temporary position in Haven Lake. Wyatt meets Jemma when chasing his horse and catches up just as Jemma answers the strange knock on her door. Wyatt and Jemma's story is packed with drama, humor, spice and cupids of all ages. I totally enjoyed reading this book and look forward to my next book by Cindi Madsen. Country Hearts is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
She shouldn't get involved with the cowboy next door...
Laid off from her teaching job in the city, Jemma Monroe takes a job teaching in a tiny town and rents a house on the outskirts. A visitor soon shows up at her door—a horse. His owner, a handsome neighbor in boots and a cowboy hat, comes by to collect him.
When single dad Wyatt Langford meets Jemma, it’s the first time he feels interest in a woman since his wife left. But she’s his daughter’s new teacher, so they both know they should keep their distance.
Nonetheless, Wyatt keeps finding excuses to spend time with Jemma, and Wyatt’s daughter becomes more and more attached to her. With them, Jemma discovers the good things about country life, from starry skies to s’mores cooked over a fire. But she still misses her past life in the city. Is there any reason for them to dream of a future together?
Country Hearts by Cindi Madsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Jemma has an upheaval in the middle of the school year. Luckily she ends up in the most heavenly small town. When she meets her neighbor, she decides he must hate helping her.
Wyatt cannot believe how attracted to his daughter's teacher he is. He knows she should be off limits. She is not planning to stay, either. If he could just turn the attraction off enough to be just friends.....
This story just grabbed me from the start. The characters are witty, charming, and seriously attracted to one another! With this story, I eagerly turned the pages. Humor, surprises, and even bits of whimsy appeared.
***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.
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Cindi Madsen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she'd be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a pretty new pair, especially if they're sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music and dancing and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband, three children, an overly-dramatic tomcat, & an adorable one-eyed kitty named Agent Fury.
You can visit Cindi at: www.cindimadsen.com, where you can sign up for her newsletter to get all the up-to-date information on her books.
Follow her on Twitter @cindimadsen.