I just have to start out by telling you that this is the third part in The Madame X Series. You can not start reading the series at part 3, these books are not standalones. So if you want to be a part of the wonderful experience that is the Madame X Series, you need to start at book one and come back to this review when you are ready for book 3. The prior books as well as this review will contain spoilers of the preceding books in the series.
Okay now that that warning is out of the way let's get down to business. This has been a truly compelling and intriguing series . Exiled is the final installment and provides the answers to the questions about Isabel's identity that have followed the series. Exiled also brings an end to the love / hate triangle between Isabel, Logan and Caleb. By way of background, I gave the first two installments in this series five stars each and they were five well-deserved Stars. As much as it pains me to do it, to really be honest about where this book falls on the rating scale, I had to give it a solid three stars. I think it is necessary to dissect my rating a little bit just so that you have a clear picture of what it means.
First, in terms of the writing and the language of this book, this is definitely Wilder at her best as usual. The language is Rich and nuanced and the author paints a picture that you can engage in at every scene in the book. If this review were just about the technical and structural aspects of the writing, it would be a total 5 star review. The reason this book wound up in my good but not great category is because of the progress of the actual story.
I think that because the first two books present so many issues that have to be resolved in terms of Isabelle's background, a lot of this book is spent explaining Isabel and her past. This is done through conversations between Isabel and Caleb, Isabel and Logan and it is also accomplished through a series of flashbacks. The thing that can be a little difficult for the readers who are expecting the explosive romance and sex that we found in the first two books is that this is more the story of Isabel's life including how she came to live in New York, her parents and finally we learn how Isabel and Kaleb met. As much as we need the biographical information, I have to admit that there were parts of the book that just weren't as compelling as what I came to expect from the series. Some of the book felt like the coming-of-age story of Isabelle.
The other thing about this book that is a little bit different from the other books in the series is that a sort of triangle emerges. I know it's been there in other books but it was a little more complicated in this one in terms of Isabelle's feelings. That's all I can tell you without spoiling anything but it was one of the things that I wasn't necessarily crazy about. And the reason I wasn't crazy about it is because all the things that we know Caleb did to Logan. In the first two books the readers are kind of torn about their feelings for Caleb, we are trying to decide is he a good guy or a bad guy. When book two closes, however, we are fairly certain that Caleb is a bad guy. It was hard sometimes to read Isabel's positive feelings for someone who destroyed Logan's life in many ways. I guess how you ultimately feel about that issue depends on whether you are team Caleb or team Logan.
The last thing about this book that I REALLY did not enjoy was the twist on the unexpected thing that happens. I refuse to spoil anything but there is an issue that arises and we have to wait most of the book to get an answer. When we get the answer it is just so far fetched, I was really unhappy about the answer we got. That's all I can tell you.
Obviously, you have to read this book if you've read the series. Be warned, you might not love Isabel at the end and you might not be as entertained by this book as the others in the series.
**ARC provided by Publisher**