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Monarch – Michelle Davidson Argyle

I’ve been following Michelle’s blog and progress for a while now – I read her self-published novella Cinders, and was thrilled for her when she got a contract with Rhemalda Publishing. She is such a lovely person, and it’s always nice to see someone who is so generous with their time and encouragement succeed.

So obviously, it was a no-brainer that I put my hand up for an ARC of Monarch 😉 Read on to see my review, and go in the draw to win an e-book copy of your very own.

Nick’s life as a CIA spy should be fulfilling, but it has only given him unhappiness—a wife who committed suicide, and two daughters who resent everything he has become. Now, stuck in the Amazon on the last mission of his career, he must track down Matheus Ferreira, a drug lord and terrorist the U.S. has tried to bring down for years. If he succeeds, he’ll have the chance to start his life over again.

Just when Nick is on the brink of catching Ferreira, he’s framed for a murder that turns his world upside down. His only chance of survival lies in West Virginia where Lilian Love, a woman from his past, owns the secluded Monarch Inn. He’s safe, but not for long…

The novel begins with some information about the Monarch butterfly; their journey, their tenacity despite many obstacles, and the dangers they currently face. These are beautiful creatures, and obviously dear to Michelle’s heart. They are also central to the story line. Michelle’s use of symbolism has always impressed me. She manages to weave the Monarchs into every facet of the novel in a way that gives greater meaning to the story without it feeling forced. In fact, these days when I think about symbolism, I think of Michelle, as well as all the classes on Othello I did in high school 😉

I was intrigued to see how she would blend a thriller with drama/romance, and was pleased that it wasn’t done in the typical fashion. The characters are not sleek and perfect, they have faults which at times make it seem as though they will never get what they really want. I thought it was refreshing that Nick and his love interest were older, too – I’ve not come across that in many of the novels I’ve read lately. Main characters with grown children was a new angle for me, and brought with it a whole different set of difficulties which I enjoyed exploring.

That said, I found the character I connected with most was Lilian’s son, Devan. I can’t really put my finger on the reason, perhaps it was simply that as someone closer to Devan’s age bracket, I could identify with his issues the most.

While this novel was not quite up my alley, it’s definitely a well written story. Michelle has an impressive grasp on the technical skills of writing and I think this book will appeal to anyone who enjoys their thrillers with very human characters, rather than with the flash and panache of say, James Bond.

If you’d like to win an e-book copy of this novel, all you need to do is leave a comment 🙂 I’ll leave the draw open until midnight October 7th.

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