Stealing Phoenix by Joss Stirling, published by Oxford University Press on 1st September 2011
Phoenix belongs to the Community - a gang of thieves with paranormal powers. Yves Benedict - an American student visiting London - is her mark. But Yves turns out to be more than just a target. He is her destiny. Her soulmate. But the Community owns Phoenix's past and it wants her future too.
‘Stealing Phoenix’ is a companion book to last year’s stellar debut from Joss Stirling, entitled ‘Finding Sky’. As I’m sure fans of the latter would agree, I was desperately hoping that this wouldn't be a stand-alone novel. It seemed like the seeds had been planted perfectly for further books in the series, featuring Zac’s brothers and their own searches for their soulfinders. However, I wasn't certain that this was actually going to become a series so when I first heard about ‘Stealing Phoenix’ I was unbelievably excited and couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. When it finally arrived I started and finished it the same day! Simply put, it was so amazing that there was no way I was going to be able to put it down until I’d reached the story’s conclusion. The book was everything I was hoping it would be and more! I absolutely loved it!
The book is set in London and this made a good contrast to the first book which featured an English girl in America. I also loved the fact that London was the backdrop to the story because Joss Stirling mentions so many familiar landmarks and places. There’s a chapter which takes place at the Apollo Victoria Theatre (which is one of my favourite places) as the characters go to see Wicked (which also happens to be my favourite current musical). The opening chapter also takes place at the London Olympic Stadium and I really felt like I could visualise all the places which are featured because I've either been there myself or they were described so perfectly that I could picture them easily.
This time the plot revolved around the second youngest Benedict brother Yves and his soulfinder Phoenix. Phoenix is mixed up with a group of savants who are controlled by the Seer, a threatening and controlling presence in her life. When she meets Yves and they discover the link between them, he tries to extract her from the community, whilst attempting to convince her about the future life they're destined to have together, but it turns out to be harder for Phoenix to escape than they'd anticipated.
What attracts me to a book more than anything else and what then hooks me into a story, is a romance that literally makes my toes tingle and 'Stealing Phoenix' definitely didn't disappoint on that front. Joss Stirling seems to have an incredible gift for writing a romance which is completely believable. Her heroines do not fall hook, line and sinker for the boy until he's proved himself and wooed and won her over. The romance is about more than just kisses (although there are plenty of those too!) but it's also about the boy being gentle, protective and devoted. It's about gentle caresses, hands touching and just being in each others presence. More than anything, it's about two people being totally devoted to each other, which is what I felt between Yves and Phoenix. You can't help but cheer them along and hope that in the end they'll end up together. The idea of having a soulfinder really appeals to me and is something which works beautifully in the books.
I loved both Yves and Phoenix as individual characters too. Phoenix is fiery, stubborn and determined and has had to learn to survive on her own. The concept of a proper family is unknown to her so I loved the bits which featured her getting to know all the Benedicts. Yves is clever and somewhat of a genius but he's also a magnet for little old ladies and knows how to treat a girl right. I do in fact, love all of the Benedict brothers. With their alphabetical names and quest to find the girl of their dreams, they remind me a little bit of the brothers from 'Seven Brides For Seven Brothers' which is one of my favourite old musicals. I'd love to know if it actually inspired Joss Stirling at all!
For those that loved Zed and Sky from the first book in the series then have no fear, they also return about half-way through. It was great seeing how their relationship has matured and grown and lovely to see some familiar faces.
I simply can't gush about this book enough. It has an amazing romance which will make your heart skip a beat, wonderful characters, an exciting plot and is so incredible that as soon as you've finished it you'll want to start it all over again! I'm guessing that the next book in the series will be about Xav. I'm simply dying for more from the Benedict boys and this fantastic author.