A suspenseful, passionate, paranormal romance that sweeps through the emotions of first love and heartache as it traverses centuries and continents.
Michelle used to feel like she was behind in everything, especially school and relationships. Her great aunt from the old country says she is like a bland meal, "no salt or pepper". But in junior year, everything changes. Her father takes a position on the Town Council, a popular boy in school becomes interested in her, and most importantly, the Hekademos Learning Center, a private school for 'troubled' students, moves into her quiet neighborhood amidst the protests of the entire town.
After seeing the School Regent out with a group of young guys just before Christmas, Michelle is convinced that there is something odd about them. Her curiosity gets the better of her and she embarks upon a mission to figure out what is really going on. After an embarrassing fall over the school wall, Michelle meets Elliot and her ordinary ‘bland’ life changes its course forever.
Elliot is no ordinary human. In fact, no one at the Hekademos Learning Center is. Beautiful and fierce, they have survived throughout the millennia by weaving in and out of human events. Through them, Michelle learns that history and myths from around the world are dotted with references to their kind. Michelle falls madly in love with the ever-striking and mysterious Elliot and, as much as he tries to fight it, he develops strong feelings for her as well. Although Elliot carries numerous painful memories from his many pasts, he disregards his own better judgment and the advice of his friends, and finds himself falling for Michelle‘s offbeat personality. Their feelings grow in intensity, but when History catches up with them, the difference between their life paths threatens to destroy any future that they might have had together.
Michelle learns that there are infinite shades of gray between black and white, and has to deal with the bundle of contradictory emotions called love. After some unexpected twists during a family trip to Europe, she has to trust her intuition in order to face the danger and uncertainty of being drawn into Elliot’s wondrous world. Ultimately, it is up to Michelle to make the split-second, life-altering decision that will either tear them apart forever, or give them another chance.
The book is in two parts. At the very beginning, we are introduced to Michelle and her friends as they prepare for Halloween. A near-accident and a premonition give some insight into what is yet to come, without giving away major plot points. Michelle is a very relatable character, with the usual problems of what to wear to the upcoming dances, strep throat, and that elusive boy. You feel a kinship with her and root for her in the romance department. Despite the bizarre happenings with the boys at the school down the road, the storyline seems quite believable and realistic.
As she gets to know Xander and Elliot, you find yourself being drawn into their world. You strive to understand their complex history and even find yourself falling in love with Elliot. You want to keep on reading so that you can discover more of the missing pieces and fit together the random bits that you already have. The second part focuses more on the battles being waged between the boys of the Hekademos School and others of their kind. Michelle has been drawn into the middle of it all, questioning her relationship with any of them. At times you wonder if she has made the right decisions; other times you find yourself yelling at the book (or Kindle in my case).
A.J. Sweeny has done an excellent job of blending fiction with history in a way that I have never before seen. I felt like I learned something new about both mythology and some historical stories as I read through the book. I also felt inspired to look up some of the stories to which she alludes in her tale. The teacher in me appreciates that aspect of the book. Perhaps some young readers will feel compelled to learn more about mythology and history, where they would not have otherwise?
It took me longer than usual to finish Pulse of Heroes. I am a fast reader, so 500 pages usually is not an issue for me. The first chapter or two take some time to reel you in. Once I got going though, I had to take longer because I needed to taste every word, feel every emotion, and process every new bit of information. The pages turned quickly, but I didn't want to miss a thing. I was actually disappointed when it was over, only because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I absolutely must get my hands on the rest of this series!
Pulse of Heroes is also available for your Kindle, by clicking here.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.