All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Captivate – Vanessa Garden & Author Guest Post

on December 12, 2013

Vanessa Garden
Harlequin Teen AUS
2013, 291p
Uncorrected proof copy courtesy of the publisher

Miranda Sun is almost 17 and after twelve months is still grieving the loss of her parents and keeping a dark secret. She has been keeping it from her sister Lauren, too frightened to tell her in case it widens the gap between them even more. Miranda’s grandparents have taken the two sisters to their beach cottage, where they’ve spent every summer, to see if it will heal them a little more and help repair their broken relationship.

One night, when she is out swimming with Lauren and about to confess to her, Miranda is dragged underwater and taken. When she awakes days later she discovers that she is being held captive in an underwater city named Marin and that she has been taken in order to become the bride to the King, Marko. Miranda and Marko will create an heir and provide new hope to the civilisation and also stop the crown from falling into the hands of Marko’s older brother, the sinister Damir.

All Miranda wants to do is get home to her sister and her grandparents. She forms an alliance with Robbie, one of the king’s guard who is charged with watching over her. Miranda is willing to use Robbie’s growing feelings for her in order to manipulate him into taking her back to the surface so that she can go back to her old life. However Robbie is loyal to Marko and although he wants to help Miranda, he just can’t quite bring himself to do it. As the time marches on and the lure of Marin begins to take its toll on her, Miranda gets to know Marko and it makes her wonder if she really wants to leave at all.

Captivate takes deep down into the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and a city enclosed in a dome. Our protagonist is Miranda, a few days off being 17 when she is taken off the coast of Western Australia and transported down one of the tubes that connect Marin with the surface. She is to be betrothed to the King of Marin and her reluctance is not of any concern to basically anyone. Her refusal to become Marko’s wife will lead her to the Colosseum, basically a stadium filled with water….and several very hungry sharks. This is entertainment and justice and punishment and much more in the world of Marin.

The premise for this book is awesome and the cover is beautiful! It seems like a bizarre pardox, a gothic fairtytale where a young woman is ripped away from her family and wakes up in a beautiful underwater city where she is to become its Queen. Her soon to be fiancé is young and handsome with a formidable reputation but yet a softer side and although Miranda and Marko have their difficulties, she does get to see several different sides of him. She also adapts remarkably well to being yanked away from her life and virtually made a prisoner. There are a few nice moments between Miranda and a couple of the characters and her fledgling friendship with Robbie is also rather cute.

However, there’s a lot that feels quite underdeveloped in this novel, starting with the romance. Although Miranda and Marko do have a couple of moments, I’m not sure it’s really enough to make the reader feel like they’re developing a strong connection. Marko is icy with supposed hints of vulnerability and he comes across as being quite a lot older than 19. Miranda doesn’t have a lot of time to learn about him and to witness much of what goes on in his life and their escalation from captor and captive to falling in love tends to feel a bit like dependency, a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. In the beginning I wasn’t sure if Miranda was going to fall in love with Robbie, her so-nice-it-hurts guard or Marko (who are of course, also as close as brothers). I preferred Marko over Robbie (a lot, the nice guy never gets my vote!) but I do wish he’d been a larger presence in the novel. He kind of strides in and strides out, being very busy and important and the connection between them is only really briefly explored.

I didn’t mind the setting, I thought the city sounded interesting and the reason why they needed to bring Miranda down into the city to marry their King seemed like it could be something really worth exploring. The way in which the book ended really piqued my interest for another installment and I am hoping that I get to see what happens next for Miranda and Marko and if they ever do get the chance to explore a relationship naturally because it’s what they both want, not because it’s the great hope of the nation.


Book #318 of 2013


Captivate is book #110 of the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

1055 Vanessa Garden LargeAs part of the Captivate blog tour, Vanessa Garden has written a post about inspiration:

The When, Where, What Why & Who Of Captivate

When did you realise you wanted to become a writer?
I wrote a lot of stories as a child and some poetry as a teenager so I’ve always enjoyed writing. But I started to take writing seriously after I had my first child. I was home each day and had more time on my hands so I decided to have a go at writing a novel. It was a historical romance and it just poured out of me. Sadly (or perhaps luckily), it has never seen the light of day, but it was a good apprenticeship novel and despite the cringe-worthy love scenes and ridiculously dramatic dialogue, I learned a lot from writing it.

Where do you like to write?
I love to write all over the house, but especially like to curl up on the couch with my laptop resting against my knees. If I get stuck on a particularly tough scene, I head to the local cafe for a coffee and for some reason the words begin to flow again while I’m there.

What inspired you to write Captivate?
It was a song, actually, called ‘To You I Bestow’ by Mundy. Listening to it for the first time created this beautiful image inside my head of two people, a boy and a girl, standing in a beautiful garden. It kick started the entire story. I wanted to know who these two people were, where they were, and how they felt about each other.
Also, growing up by the sea, I’ve always wanted to write a story set underwater. The ocean has always inspired me.

Why did you chose an underwater setting? 
The ocean holds so many secrets, and I like the idea of a glittering underwater city hidden beneath the deep dark sea. The ocean can be both beautiful, yet mysterious and dangerous. I like to think the city of Marin is very much the same.

Who is your favourite character in Captivate?
This is difficult as I love them all, especially Miranda – she almost feels like a sister to me. But I’d have to say Marko is my favourite. He is such an interesting and exciting character to write and has so many hidden depths that I feel there is still so much to learn about him. Right now he’s inside my head, pacing the castle corridors, waiting for me to finish this interview so that I can continue writing the other books in the series.

Thanks Vanessa! Good luck with the next book in the series.

This post is part of the Captivate blog tour running from Dec 11-20. Click on the banner for more information!

Captivate Blog Tour


3 responses to “Captivate – Vanessa Garden & Author Guest Post

  1. […] “The premise for this book is awesome and the cover is beautiful! … However, there’s a lot that feels quite underdeveloped in this novel, starting with the romance.” All the Books I Can Read […]

  2. I hardly ever comment on these posts, but I assumed this on deserved a well

  3. Daniel Smith says:

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