Cascade by Lisa BergrenJune 1, 2011 by David C. Cook
*I was provided a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Read my review of Waterfall (River of Time #1)
Gabi knows she’s left her heart in the fourteenth century and she persuades Lia to help her to return, even though they know doing so will risk their very lives. When they arrive, weeks have passed and all of Siena longs to celebrate the heroines who turned the tide in the battle against Florence—while the Florentines will go to great lengths to see them dead.
But Marcello patiently awaits, and Gabi must decide if she’s willing to leave her family behind for good in order to give her heart to him forever. (courtesy of Goodreads)
An excellent follow-up to Waterfall. Cascade escapes the pitfalls most second books fall into. There's no love triangle. It never drags. The happy couple remains, for the most part, together and happy. It's refreshing to see an author who didn't feel obligated to stick to the formula for a second book.
Lisa is a masterful plotter. There is never a lull in the action in Cascade. The She-Wolves of Siena return to a hero's welcome (with their mom in tow). But the opportunity to bask in happiness is short-lived. There's two enemies brewing against Siena: plague and the Firenzes (sp?). Gabi, Lia, Marcello, Luca, and the rest of the crew are soon in the middle of impending disaster. While Cascade is action packed, it also flows smoothly. Too many books either have long periods where nothing happens or shifts from adventure to adventure so quickly that it feels choppy. We ride the wave up to the action scene, but have enough (but not too much) time to recover before the next adventure arrives.
The romance between Marcello and Gabi is perfect. They're happy, incredibly passionate, and selfless. Marcello is wonderful in that he lets Gabi shine. Too many heroes are so terrified that their ladies will get hurt that say lock them away (*cough* Edward *cough*). Marcello tries to protect and shield Gabi from danger, but he is quick to realize that it's best if she stands up and fights alongside him. That said, their relationship doesn't do it for me. I like both characters, but I don't swoon at Marcello and I don't get googly eyed at their (well-written) passion scenes. I can't figure out why. It's everything I should love.
Now Luca and Lia...that I love even though there's only inklings of romance. Luca is always upbeat and good for a laugh. Lia plays a much bigger role in Cascade. I admire her precision and skill with the arrow and bow. I also like how she puts forth rational thought and caution to dampen down Gabi's tendency to act without considering the consequences. It's almost like she's the big sister.
Another intriguing new character is Lord Greco. I love the uncertainty and tension of a character who seems evil but may be good. I expect great things for Lord Greco in the next book.
I mentioned in my review for Waterfall how well Lisa established the medieval Italian scene. This continues in Cascade. We see the dark beauty of the castle as well as the color and vitality of Siena and Firenze. We even see the contrast between the wealthy and poor. Gabi and Lia do a wonderful job of cultural adaptation. They embrace the idea of "When in Rome"...except for the dainty ladylike parts. Lisa doesn't skimp over the violence and danger of this time. Gabi and Lia are willing to do things like kill, main, and impart justice that would be unimaginable in modern times. Similarly, both girls are subjected to terrifying, dangerous experiences. There's no skimping on the violence.
A few complaints. It bothers me that Marcello and Luca have a pronounced lack of curiosity. Call me crazy, but if two people showed up at my doorstep from 600 years in the future, I'd have a few questions for them. Marcello and Luca don't seem to wonder about the world that Gabi and Lia come from. Or if they do ask questions, it's off the page. Also, Gabi is a great kick-butt, passionate, act-and-think-later character. Kind of like Rose from Vampire Academy but without all the anger. It's exciting to view her from the outside, but rather boring having to sit inside her head throughout the whole book. Her thought process is dull and doesn't make me feel connected to her.
Cascade is not a perfect book, but it is thoroughly enjoyable. It has great plotting, great character, great references to history, and great issues of faith. Yes, the Christian aspect is still there. I like that it's more geared toward a gradual building of faith than any great miracle or endless prayer. I highly recommend Cascade.
Rating: 4 / 5
Check out the book trailer for Cascade