Title: Echo North Series: Standalone Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer Release date: January 15, 2019
I went into this book thinking it was going to be a simple Title: Echo North Series: Standalone Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer Release date: January 15, 2019
I went into this book thinking it was going to be a simple fairy tale retelling, a fresh spin on something I've heard a million times. Beauty and the Beast is a beloved fairy tale and known to many, but I guarantee nothing about this will feel stale or uninspired. This book is more of a mash up of several fairy tales with the author's imagination stamped in the fine details. Meyer held me spellbound and captive to her words, there's no other way to describe it. One minute you're strolling through her world, naively thinking you'll coast on comfortably 'til the end. The next, the force of the story slaps you in the back with unexpected momentum. And you're careening through its twisted, thorny path so fast you're breathless with wonder.
They were fairies, I think, or something like fairies: wispy creatures as tall as trees that seemed to be made of rain, or flowers; willowy spiders with laughing hair; bears with long fingers and masques instead of faces; hundreds of others harder to describe. They all danced together in the center of the clearing, a mass of strangeness and swirling color. In their midst sat a woman on a writhing throne, her hair the same shade as the starlight.
I'm sitting here trying to form coherent, linear thoughts to write down. But my mind is still dizzy with the adventure I reluctantly returned from. I'm in the enchanted house under the mountain where nothing is as it seems. Your smallest wish is granted, and the nightmare you never knew existed waits for time to slip through your fingers. The answers to this enigmatic puzzle are as ephemeral as a dream you can't quite remember when you wake. Teasing the edge of your consciousness. Echo must have the cunning to solve the mystery, and the courage fight an ancient adversary with immeasurable power. You will agonize every step of the way with her. One wrong move will have all hope for the future folding in on itself like a house of cards.
Echo Alkaev was disfigured by a mysterious white wolf in the woods as a child. Once she led a normal life, now she's reviled and feared because of the scars mapping one side of her face. Her father and brother have always given her unconditional love, but her confidence has been shattered by small minded people who cannot see past her surface imperfections.
I learned very early that in the old tales of magic the wicked were always ugly and scarred, the good beautiful; I was not beautiful, but I wanted to be good, and after a while I couldn’t bear to read those stories anymore.
Growing up in her father's book shop has garnered a passion for reading, and a thirst for knowledge. Yet nothing outweighs the loyalty and love she has for her family. So when her father disappears one winter after a journey into the woods, she sets off alone. Desperate to find him. Stumbling upon his half frozen and unconscious body, she's frantic to get him home. The white wolf from her past appears, and offers a bargain. One year of her life in exchange for her father's safe return.
That year is a two-sided paradox of euphoria and despair, like a coin flipped and suspended in the air holding her fate in the balance. Even as she swears to uncover the wolf's past and set him free, the house's magic dazzles her with distractions. It's a visceral feast on your senses. Who wouldn't be enthralled with a library that allows you to enter its mirror-books, silver spiders spinning webs that can bind collapsing rooms, and a venomous garden with poison roses and vines? At night the house cracks and moans, cackling in evil delight. Echo doesn't know what forces threaten outside her locked bedroom door, but she doesn't truly know who's locked inside with her either.
"What happens at midnight?" "The magic ceases to function, and the house is unbound." Did that mean he would become unbound too?
This book had so many dualities to explore. Layered characters with secrets and muddled intentions. Jaw clenching, white knuckled suspense where time ceases to exist. Just when you think you've reached the pinnacle of the adventure, you're steered on a harrowing voyage that seems doomed to end in failure. But this is where Echo's heart is exposed the most. She's a true heroine that may get knocked down, but she dusts herself off and runs fiercely towards the challenge again. Her courage never fails her, even on her darkest days.
I was nothing short of frenzied this morning when I woke up and immediately dove right back into the book. I blew through 300 pages without pause, refusing to put it down until the conclusion. That's how good it was, I didn't have any choice in the matter. The lush, dark landscape was constantly shifting, the characters along with it. I loved not only this author's writing, but her finesse in storytelling. I'm an instant fan and cannot wait to read more from her in the future. Do not hesitate!! If I could heft a huge a neon sign up that blinks, "READ ECHO NORTH" I would. I want everyone to experience this exhilarating, fantastical tale.
Title: The Governess Series: Wicked Wallflowers Author: Christi Caldwell Release date: February 12, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre:historical romance
Only Brod Title: The Governess Series: Wicked Wallflowers Author: Christi Caldwell Release date: February 12, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre:historical romance
Only Broderick Killoran could issue a threat in a silken whisper that painted it as seduction instead of ruin.
Christi Caldwell has quickly become a new top favorite author in the historical romance genre for me. I recently binged on The Sinful Brides series and the first two in the Wicked Wallflowers back to back because once I started, I was utterly addicted. I gobbled them up like they were my last meal before a long fast.
I'm going to be honest and admit that Broderick Killoran was not high on my list of characters that I was especially excited to read about. As the head of the Killoran clan and the Devil's Den, he's certainly the most powerful. He's a man who's willing to play dirty in the cutthroat streets of the Dials in order to give his siblings financial security. But his obsession with marrying off any one of his sisters to a nobleman didn't incite any warm and squishy feelings. I never really understood his laser focus on making that happen, despite his sisters' aversion to sacrificing themselves. I should have known better than to be anything less than excited for his book. Somehow Caldwell not only meets, but far exceeds my expectations. I don't know how she keeps doing it, but each couple seems to impress me more than the last.
I knew going in that this was going to be a secret unrequited love story, so I was hoping for all of the angst that goes along with it. Let me assure you, it did not disappoint. Regina "Reggie" Spark is the governess to Broderick's younger brother and sisters, and has become one of the few people he trusts in the world. Reggie has been harboring some very inconvenient feelings for her employer that she's sure he will never return. There were hints in the series that she felt something deep for him, but he never had a clue about her turmoil. She was his employee (and practically a member of the family as far as he was concerned,) so that was a line he couldn't fathom crossing.
Reggie has decided that for her own peace of mind, she must separate herself from the family and start her own business. She plans to open her own music hall which will not only give her her own independence, but it will also give the prostitutes from the Devil's Den a new life where they don't have to sell their bodies to survive. I admired Reggie's strength and tenacity from page one. She wants to make something of herself and follow her passion for music, and it took a lot of guts to make the decision to put herself first. Knowing that Broderick would see her move as a betrayal against him, she pushed on with her plans because she knew she couldn't continue to be dependent on this ruthless man. She had to make her own way in life, with or without his approval.
Ten years ago, nearly to the date, Broderick had saved her. On this day, Reggie would save herself.
When Broderick discovers her secret plans, the retribution is swift and brutal. He isn't willing to listen to her explanations or motivations, and sets a trap to keep her under his control. Thing is, Reggie isn't the type to be backed into a corner or bullied, and the sparks start flying. She was the perfect adversary for him because she knew every one of his secrets and intimidation tactics. And despite his broken trust, he can't help but admire the fire, wit, and courage she displays. Out of his admiration grows an attraction that he's determined to resist.
It was a relief to finally get inside Broderick's head so that I could understand him better. Previously he always seemed very self-absorbed and single minded in his attempts to:
1) Make money 2) Form connections to the nobility through advantageous marriages with his sisters
Leading the life he has, first with Diggory, and then making a name for himself in the unforgiving streets of the Dials, his only objective has been to give the Killorans safety. They believe that he wants to increase his own fortune and social standing, but he's worried what will become of them if his enemies ever get the better of him. His role is the protector, because he's determined to do a better job than his own weak father who led him to the underbelly of London. Even as the noose is tightening around his neck as his past catches up with him, he's resigned to the inevitable. Gertrude is his last unmarried sister, and he's dead set on giving her a season where she will meet a husband who will take care of her.
I wasn't prepared for how tragic Reggie's backstory would be. The combination of the slow burn, enemies to lovers tension, and uncovering her painful past created a serious amount of emotion that had my heart fluttering inside my chest. She was such a broken heroine, and yet she gritted her teeth and faced every obstacle with incredible bravery. There were several times in the last chapters that I got choked up and barely held myself back from crying as she healed from all of the hurt she had been hiding.
Not only did I fall head over heels for Broderick, but his spoiled brother Stephen finally brought me around to his corner. I never thought I would like him after what he did to the Black family, but he proved that he had some honor in him by the end. Stephen's father, Lord Edwin's vendetta against Broderick was at the center of all of the threads of the plot. I was on the edge of my seat as they all started to weave together and rush towards the conclusion. There is much more of the story to be told in regards to Edwin, and I'll be interested to see how the author reconciles his relationship with his son.
If you haven't read a Christi Caldwell book, you are missing out. Her writing is instantly engaging and highly addictive. The characters she creates are flawed, three dimensional people that you have to learn more about. They're like a puzzle with scattered pieces you need to study and put back together again. And that's exactly what she's done with Broderick and Reggie. Two broken people find an unexpected love together that binds them and gives them strength to overcome their pasts. I highly recommend this series, and cannot wait for Gertrude's book, The Bluestocking which is scheduled for publication in May.
A taste of her was a mere taunt. Temptation. Sin wrapped in splendor. And he wanted all of her, rules of honor be damned.
Title: A Duke Changes Everything Series: Duke's Den Author: Christy Carlyle Release date: November 27, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide sp Title: A Duke Changes Everything Series: Duke's Den Author: Christy Carlyle Release date: November 27, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
“You clearly haven’t read many fairy tales, Your Grace. There’s plenty of tragedy, and sometimes the creature is actually an enchanted prince.”
What a breath of fresh air! I needed this book so badly, I can't even tell you how much. Lately I've been in such a book funk that I couldn't seem to find a romance that swept me away and gave me that level of excitement that elevates a good book to great. From the moment I cracked open this book, (or tapped open would be more apt) I knew it was going to give me something more. Something that makes you want to speed read and slow it down to make it last all at the same time. Thank you, Avon Romance for putting that absolutely STUNNING cover art on the book. It caught my eye and helped me impulse click this hidden gem. All I can say is, after reading A Duke Changes Everything, I'm firmly hooked on the series, and I cannot wait to read more about Nick's friends in the next installments.
Aidan, Rhys, and Nick are co-owners of the Devil's Den, a gentlemen's club that made them all very wealthy and independent men. Nick makes additional money in the Lyon's Den, the basement of the club where desperate gamblers go to beg for mercy and one last-ditch loan. Nicholas Lyon is the secondborn son of the Duke of Tremayne, but don't let his aristocratic lineage fool you into thinking he's a pampered and privileged lord. It doesn't take long to realize that Nick's frigid coldness and brooding nature are hiding a world of pain that he's kept hidden away for a very long time. The power he wields in his club is something he needs after a childhood of fear and powerlessness. When he unexpectedly inherits the dukedom, he must return to his ancestral home to get his affairs in order.
Nick is a character you can easily empathize with despite his gruff exterior. Abused for being born with Heterochromia (two different colored eyes), the castle he returns to is nothing but a house of horrors with painful memories around every corner. He's suffered unimaginable cruelties by his father, and it's left him deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. But he doesn't let his fear control him, and bravely faces the place he barely escaped with his life. Because of his facial scar and his unusual eyes, he's prepared for people to recoil at the sight of him. The isolation and loneliness are constant companions, even with Aiden and Rhys' acceptance. He's used to being an outsider, and it's hard for him to warm up to people. But when he encounters a young woman in breeches climbing a tree on the road to Enderley, he's not prepared for the emotions that she immediately begins to stir.
Mina has lived on the property her entire life, and when her father passed away, she took over his job of managing the estate. I loved how unconventional she was, working as a steward, and wearing men's clothing. Her father had raised her to temper her adventurous spirit, and her decidedly "un-ladylike" behaviors, but she failed to hide her true nature from Nick. He saw right through her thin veneer, and spotted the passion and intelligence she exuded so brightly. Mina was one of the best HR heroines I've read in a long time. She had such courage and spirit, and not for a minute was she intimidated by the hero. They had such an instant awareness of each other that makes you melting into a pile of goo from their very first interaction. The author did an amazing job creating an organic attraction in subtle ways that built my anticipation to monumental levels. I wanted to smoosh their faces together and make them kiss so many times!
His head, where he’d convinced himself to value a life unencumbered by personal entanglements, knew she was right to draw a boundary line between them. But his heart, that rarely used thing that thrashed every time Mina was near, didn’t seem to agree.
He was determined to leave as soon as humanly possible, she was equally determined to convince him to let go of his hatred of the property. Unfortunately, she had no idea of the trauma he went through there, and what an impossible task that would be. As she took him through the property to meet the tenants, and show him the beauty hidden under the disrepair, their attachment grew stronger. She may not have been able to make him love his home, but she made him want to be a better person. He doesn't trust anyone easily, but from the moment they saw each other again, there was a mutual understanding and respect that neither had felt before. They were from completely different social classes, but he always sees her as an equal which I adored. There was some trepidation on her part that they could never be together because of the vast differences in their social stations, but he went above and beyond to make her feel comfortable. When he went in, his heart was all in.
Mina didn’t make him feel weak. She made him want to surrender. To give her everything and hold nothing back. Even if it meant she’d see the truth of who he was—the ugliness, inside and out. Somehow, she’d unearthed goodness in him, a vein of decency he’d doubted he still possessed.
Nick and Mina gave me the giddy feels. From the uncovering of each other's heartaches and hurts, to the sweet unraveling of their carefully constructed lives into something much more beautiful together. I was either grinning like a fool at Mina, or sighing in complete bliss over the hero's wounded heart that got pieced back together bit by bit.
I'm SO happy I found Christy Carlyle, and even more thrilled that I have Aidan and Diana's book to stalk next. Book two in the Duke's Den series, Anything But a Duke, is scheduled for publication April 2019
She and this slave fighter shared a common truth. He dealt death with sword and ax, and she with fire. Neither commanded their fates.
This is exactly the kind of fantasy I love to read, but is so difficult to find. The storyline instantly engaged me, first of all. Which is not very common in the genre, as a general rule. The first in a fantasy series tends to take more time to get into because of the world building detail. In this case, Grace Draven has done a flawless job setting the scene in bite sized increments that allow you to sink your teeth into the real flesh of the story. I didn't waste a moment of this book. I painstakingly consumed it, savoring the atmospheric world one word at a time. You will take a trip out of the dank cells at the coliseum with captive blood soaked gladiators, through haunted towns, barrows with demonic guardians, past the imposing fire veil to the beautiful Sky Below. Where revenge will be satisfied, and two reluctant hearts will twine together that are destined to be torn apart.
Azarion and Gilene's personal plights are front and center from page one in gritty, raw, detail. Enslaved to the foul Empire, they no longer have the privilege of living a normal life. Their whole existence is narrowed down to one simple goal: survival. Honor, perseverance, and courage are traits they both share, and they were both equally heroic characters in their own right. Be prepared for them to cast their spell upon you and leave you utterly enchanted.
When the struggle only pleased the torturer and made the torture worse, you stopped fighting and learned to endure. To endure was to survive.
Gilene has the unfortunate duty of being the sacrificial lamb for Beroe year after year. Every generation, one person is born with her gift of fire manipulation. They're expected to become a "Flower of Spring" to be burned on the pyre as an offering to the gods. She faces her responsibility with grim obedience, because the alternative would weigh too heavily on her conscience. How could she refuse, when other lives would be lost unnecessarily? Possibly even those in her own family? While I admired her for her incredible strength, those she protected were selfish and weak in comparison.
I loathed them all for hiding behind her, and forcing her into a lifetime of hell. Physically and emotionally, she's a force to be reckoned with. Spiritually she is broken. The bitterness she feels towards the gods is something that holds her back from grasping who she truly is. She is a woman of immense power, even holding the ability of illusion, which is unheard of for other fire witches. Her latest illusion is about to fail her in the most spectacular of ways, and it will change her life forever.
Azarion is the Gladius Prime at the Coliseum. After ten years of enslavement to the Empire, he has become the fiercest fighter to play in their deadly games. He lives with one goal in mind, and that is to return to the Stara Dragana and reclaim what was stolen from him so long ago. All of the torture he's suffered only fueled the fire inside him to find justice. Gilene is his key to achieving that, and he doesn't hesitate to coerce, threaten, and kidnap in order to set his plan in motion.
There wasn't a moment of boredom with these two as they made their way to his clan on their long journey. Their path certainly wasn't for the faint of heart, but luckily they were both well used to tests of character and strength. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with. Grudgingly, on her part. While he grew closer to everything he ever wanted with each step they took, hers took her away from where she was honor bound to be. The tension between them was well done, ratcheting up my excitement to see them come together and help find some measure of healing.
Painful memories battered him. He allowed them their abuse, then pushed them away. He might one day be able to face them and not flinch, scatter them into nothing because they no longer meant anything to him, but today was not that day.
This book. This incredible book. I loved every single minute in between the pages, and my mind refused to leave long after I closed it. It holds nothing back and goes right for the jugular. It was brutal fights, lovers finding tender solace, awe-inspiring backdrops, and some kick ass, powerful magic. Most importantly, as you can expect from Grace Draven, she has created characters you have no choice but to become invested in, and root for good to conquer evil.
It's invigorating to find a fantasy that isn't something you've read a million times before. It was different even from what I was expecting based on what she delivered in Radiance. It had a noticeably darker tone, but she didn't skimp on the emotional development of the romance in between the suspense. It was a slow burn in the background that was magnificent when it finally sparked.
The ending was breathtaking!! My heart was in my throat the entire time, and I was white-knuckling my kindle through the action. And the good news? There is NO cliffy at the end, it leaves you with more story to tell, but not in a place of suspense. So really, what are you waiting for? Go one-click this stunning introduction to the Fallen Empire series, where a thrilling adventure awaits you.
Title: The Kiss Quotient Series: The Kiss Quotient #1 Author: Helen Hoang Release date: June 5, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)] Title: The Kiss Quotient Series: The Kiss Quotient #1 Author: Helen Hoang Release date: June 5, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Authentically true characters elevate a good book to great, and Michael and Stella are as real as you can get. That's only a fraction of what makes The Kiss Quotient one of the most exciting and memorable books I will read this year. It's only May, and I know this to be a fact. I'm sitting here trying to come up with a way to explain just how much I enjoyed this book without sounding trite. These two characters have completely stolen my heart and they deserve so much more than that.
This is one of those stories that I entered into with zero expectations. (Helen Hoang is a debut author!) After only a few pages, I found myself so completely immersed and invested that there was no real life until I turned the last page. I was utterly ADDICTED, and unable to put it down. Word of advice: do not start this book late at night, people, because you can kiss a good night's sleep goodbye. The humor was effervescent, the narrative crisp and clear, and the love story was an unconventional match made in heaven.
On the outside, Stella Lane seems to have it all. She excels in her chosen career as an Econometrician. After all, facts, figures, algorithms, and statistics are like child's play for her. She's creatively gifted, comes from a family that loves and only wants the best for her. But there are many things that Stella struggles with every single day, simple things that most people take for granted. Stella has Asperger's. Interacting with people always seems to end badly for her, so going to work becomes her solace, and her personal life becomes non-existent. She has no close friends and no past romantic relationships to speak of. After constant pressure from her mother to find a man, she decides to take charge of her life and hire a professional to help ease her into physical intimacy and dating.
Going out was supposed to be fun. For her, it was work— hard work. She could interact with people if she wanted to, but it cost her. Some times more than others.
I adored everything about Stella, even the things that she perceived as faults. There was absolutely zero artifice to her. Her thoughts filtered through her brain, and directly out of her mouth with complete innocence. The unpredictability of what she would say would have me laughing out loud on many occasions. Her brain is hardwired to examine things analytically as opposed to emotionally. She would use data she discovered from work to solve her problems in her personal life.
If a woman purchased underclothes for a man, it meant she loved him. Stella was fully capable of purchasing underclothes.
Getting inside her head was fascinating and endearing all at the same time.
Escort Michael Phan only works on Friday nights, and there are no repeat performances. It wasn't something he enjoyed, but a sacrifice he was willing to make. Like a mask he would take on and off, he became another person, and then slipped back into his everyday life. A desperate financial situation has him backed into a corner, forcing him to live a double life, hiding his activities from his family. When he arrives to see his client, Stella is the last thing he was expecting. You could see right away that he thought she was adorably funny and cute, and her intelligence was a turn on. His protective side immediately came out as he noticed her vulnerability, and my heart swelled seeing how sweet he was with her.
I could feel how perfectly they matched during their first interaction. He intrinsically knew she needed patience, and he soothed her anxiety without judgement. That was something that was imperative for her to have. But despite his best efforts with Stella, she was going to need more time...something he didn't have to give. What he didn't know? She was about to make him break all of his rules and shatter every last one of his expectations.
Everything about him pleased her. Not just his looks, but his patience and his kindness. He was good. He was an obsession waiting to happen.
I loved the way their relationship evolved. There was never a moment where I felt that what they had was cheap or meaningless. They both treated each other with respect from day one. He didn't see her as just a paycheck, and she didn't treat him as her personal property. And there was a total comfort between them that eased them into their attraction. Before they knew it, they were moving from a physical tutoring arrangement, to a fake dating relationship, to true intimacy and hopes for more.
Both were clinging to secrets that they felt would alter how the other felt about them. Big secrets. Insecurities would get in the way, and fears would have to be faced. Michael had to let go of his fear of turning into his father, and allowing himself to pursue his own path. Stella needed to love herself exactly as she was, challenges and all, and have the confidence that others could as well.
I can't finish the review without talking about Michael's relationship with his family. The ribbing between the siblings, and the honor and loyalty that centered around them all was beautiful. They were the absolute sweetest. I couldn't get enough of those scenes, especially the ones where they brought Stella into their fold and accepted her as one of their own. Michael's friend Kai will be getting his own story next in The Bride Test, coming January 2019! My impatience anticipation is through the roof for more!
To sum up: It was delicious. I happily devoured the charm Hoang served up with a spoon, and left the table fully sated in romantic bliss. It was sexy, sassy, and everything I could hope for in a contemporary romance. Don't walk...RUN to pre-order this gem of a book.
Recommended for fans of: fake relationship trope, rom-coms
Title: Sky in the Deep Series: Standalone Author: Adrienne Young Release date: April 24, 2018 Cliffhanger: No
It was the same sea. The same beach. But the Title: Sky in the Deep Series: Standalone Author: Adrienne Young Release date: April 24, 2018 Cliffhanger: No
It was the same sea. The same beach. But then I looked back to the village and the truth resurfaced in my mind. Nothing would ever be the same again.
This book. This book HAS ME IN ITS CLUTCHES AND WON'T LET GO. I finished reading it yesterday, thought about it all day, and fell asleep thinking about it. I woke up this morning thinking about it. Now as I sit here, I'm still lost in my head. Wandering the battlefield in Aurvanger, and listening to the axes clang and the warriors roar. Feeling the crisp, briny breeze blowing through my hair from the fjord, and the wintry air stinging my cheeks on the snowy mountainside. The world was so richly depicted, with such precision, that it becomes home. Your mind takes up residence there and holds you hostage.
Adrienne Young is an exciting new voice in the fantasy genre. Her words are evocative and powerful, connecting you to the pulse of the character's hearts and the deep reaches of their minds. Making you feel things you hadn't anticipated feeling, and aren't entirely sure you want to feel. Nothing is glossed over, or romanticized about Viking life, yet I loved it all the more for its unmerciful honesty.
Sky in the Deep is about a war that spans centuries and generations. It nurtures a hatred between the Riki and the Aska clans with no conceivable end in sight. Every five years like clockwork they meet, and prepare for the eventuality that their loved ones may be leaving them for the afterlife. Eelyn is one of the fierce who fight to defend her people, and uphold their honor. She's raised to be strong, and her pride for the Aska courses through every inch of her veins. Her strength and courage will soon be all she has to hold on to, and not once does she let it slip. I loved Eelyn so, so much. The betrayal that broke her heart laid heavy on my chest, and made me suffer right along with her. She brushes off stab wounds, arrow punctures, countless indignities, and the loss of her freedom. But it was the betrayal that wounded her so visibly, more than anything else could.
I’d felt the absence of my mother as soon as she stopped breathing. As if with that last breath, her soul had let go of her body. But with Iri, it had never been that way. I still felt him. Maybe I always would.
In the last fighting season, she lost her beloved brother, Iri. The memory of his broken body beneath the cliffs feeds the fire burning in her blood. Vengeance sits at the end of her battle axe, but nothing soothes the ache that's left from his loss. The last thing she expected was to see him once again. Walking, breathing, and possibly most shocking of all, fighting with their sworn enemy against their people. When she sees him run out of the fog and lock eyes with her, she has no idea in that moment what his return will bring about.
In her confusion, Eelyn is captured, and her life is forever changed while living with Iri's new family. The family that took her and her father's place. Eventually, when she can see past her bitterness and anger, she faces some hard truths about her way of life, and the prejudices she's been raised on. I'm going to be honest, I can't say that I completely forgive her brother. For the most part, I understand it, and even agree with his ability to see past the old beliefs. It's even admirable. What I can't wrap my mind around is that he turned against his family and clansmen. (view spoiler)[It's one thing to see past divisions to humanity. But he was attacking his own people!! I get it, he had to prove his loyalty and earn their trust...but I can not get past that. Eelyn never once considered killing her people for the sake of love or a new found loyalty. It still angers me to think about it, even though I know I am supposed to have let it go. (hide spoiler)]
Fiske seems harsh and brutal at first, certainly not someone I could imagine ever pairing with Eelyn. But as time wears on, you see that his actions are motivated by his need to protect Iri and the rest of his family. If her identity is discovered, no one's safety is guaranteed. She suffers cruelty there, but also sees the love. The families. Eelyn begins to thaw, her hardened heart softening a little bit more every day. But when a powerful enemy rains terror and destruction upon the land, their plan may be their salvation or the end of life as they know it.
My heart pulsed in my veins as the fear pressed down on me, making me feel heavier. It was terrifying—that feeling—like there was something tying me to him. Because if one of us fell into the darkness, the other would too.
There's no way I can properly explain how incredible this story is. I had so many overwhelming emotions for much of the book. So many!!! One thing I have to mention is how much I LOVED the gender equality of Eelyn's people. Men and women were trained side by side, and never once was a female coddled or believed to be less worthy. The fight scenes....mah gawd...I was sitting on the edge of my seat seeing the epicness go down. Fingernails were chewed, reading position shifted repeatedly as the action escalated. All I can say is, this is going on my yearly favorite list. It was that good. After a little stalking, I discovered that there WILL BE A COMPANION BOOK SET IN THIS WORLD next year! Day. Made. Now excuse me while I go obsess a little bit more, and nurse my book hangover.
This is one of those reviews that intimidates you to write becaus Title: Legendary Series: Caraval #2 Author: Stephanie Garber Release date: May 29, 2018
This is one of those reviews that intimidates you to write because you know there's no hope in ever expressing how good the story really is. I'm a huge, huge fan of book one, Caraval. The twists and turns, the unpredictable nature and magical adventure was like nothing I had read before. I never would have thought it was possible to top that reading experience, and I must admit I was a little nervous for disappointment in the second book. After all, I'm no novice. I know what to expect from this deceptive game now. Right?
Check your confidence at the door before stepping foot in the Meridian Empire's enchanted city of Valenda. Once again, Stephanie Garber had me questioning everything I thought I knew, and turning the world on its head. In Valenda you'll discover a city of flying carriages, and crumbling columns. Imprisoned immortal fates whose cruelty must never be unleashed on the world again. A city blanketed by lavender skies, stardust, and more danger than your imagination could conjure.
Tella wondered if Legend’s games ever ended, or if his world was an endless maze of fantasy and reality that left those caught inside it forever suspended somewhere in between the two.
It all started with a Deck of Destiny and a curious little girl who couldn't resist tempting fate. Tella Dragna has always been bold, courageous, and maybe a little too impulsive for her own good. With one innocent choice, she set a chain of events in motion that she may never be able to break.
In Caraval, Tella was a wild card with questionable motivations. Scarlett's younger sister seemed flighty and whimsical, and I had no idea what to think of her. Then she looked death square in the eye, and risked everything for the sake of her sister. With a cruel father, and a mother who didn't care enough to stay, Scarlett was the one person she could depend upon. That forged a solid bond, and fierce loyalty between the sisters that couldn't be broken. But their mother's disappearance seven years before left a gaping hole that needed to be filled. She would have answers, even if she had to bargain with the devil to seek them out.
Not only is she up against Legend's wit and magic, a new sinister player is revealed that may have the power to be her undoing.
They said his kiss had been fatal to all but her—his only weakness—and as he’d sought her, he’d left a trail of corpses.
Even with an unexpected ally, (Or are they really?) she's working with a physical handicap that's like a ticking timebomb preparing to detonate. You can try to guess her friends and foes, what's real, and what's a trick of the mind. I dare you. Even with the unveiling of Legend, will Tella find the answers and the future she seeks? Or is she doomed to fulfill the destiny that's been foretold that she refuses to accept?
Tella won me over completely with her determination and bravery. She was nothing like I expected, and much more than she believed herself to be. Along the way she faced countless challenges, crushing disappointments, and heartache. Underneath that fiery stubbornness was a vulnerable side that she tries to hide, but comes peeking out at the most inopportune times. You could see that this entire adventure was her desperate attempt to recapture control of her life after being powerless for so long. Flitting from boy to boy was self-protection from the belief that she wasn't meant to find true love. That love was alluring, but destroyed everything it touched.
Love turned the world into a garden, so beguiling it was easy to forget that rose petals were as ephemeral as feelings, eventually they would wilt and die, leaving nothing but the thorns.
These characters have a depth and dimension to them that make the story so vivid you can't tell where the pages end and you begin. The plot is layered with mystery, desperation, and when everything comes together it will leave you gasping. I'm not exaggerating, my heart was actually pounding from excitement as she raced towards the final confrontation. I could not read fast enough for my spinning mind. The story told from a fresh point of view, a glittering, sprawling backdrop, and filled with a new ensemble of completely fleshed out characters. I can tell you without hesitation that this is one of the best crafted fantasy books you'll ever read.
The number one rule of Caraval is to Remember, it's only a game. I kept chanting this most basic rule. It's a game! These are actors playing a part on the grandest of stages! BUT Y'ALL, I STILL DOUBTED. I theorized, guessed, second guessed...well...you get the picture. Just don't expect things to be wrapped up in a cozy, tidy bow. Hold your breath, take the leap, and experience the wonder that awaits you.
Title: Wicked and the Wallflower Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #1 Author: Sarah MacLean Release date: June 19, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes Title: Wicked and the Wallflower Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #1 Author: Sarah MacLean Release date: June 19, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Men raised in the dark will do anything for light. She wondered if he realized how much she wanted to explore the darkness.
Sarah MacLean thrilled me with this first installment in the Bareknuckle Bastards series! It's one of those books that you greedily consume, then slowly sigh in contentment after turning the last page. After that? You'll want to flip back to the beginning and re-read your favorite parts all over again because you want it to last just a little bit longer. There's nothing like the rush of starting a new series that checks every single historical romance box you have, and that's exactly what I found in Wicked and the Wallflower.
The Bareknuckle Bastards rule the seedy side of London with an iron fist, and merciless retribution for anyone that cross them. Their road to wealth and power began with street fighting, and eventually led to a smuggling empire built out of sheer grit and determination. No one is immune to their control. Not even the man who calls himself Robert, Duke of Marwick. One of three bastard sons to born to the former Duke, the title and lands were conceded to him under the deal with his brothers that he would never have any children to continue the family line. It was the one promise of solidarity after the years of terror and abuse he subjected them to. Once it was known that he intended to renege on their deal, the gloves came off, and things promised to get dirty.
The backstory of the group's tragic childhood is presented here with just enough detail to intrigue without slowing down the pace of the plot. Oftentimes, setting up a series can take away from the romance development, but that wasn't the case with Devil and Felicity. I felt the intensity of their attraction in every witty verbal match, and every sly glance.
Devil is a character that I shouldn't have liked based on his selfish scheming to use Felicity as a disposable pawn in his power play. But right from the very start, there's something about him that draws you in and snares your attention. He's a hardened man, scarred physically and emotionally, exuding an air of mystery and wickedness. But all it takes is one meeting on a dark balcony with Felicity Faircloth before you see the struggle with his conscience trying to break through.
Once one of the brightest stars of society, a scandal and financial ruin have killed Felicity's chances of every marrying, which places her firmly "on the shelf." The lords and ladies she once considered friends now turn up their noses in her presence. They either pretend as if she doesn't exist, or go out of their way to humiliate her. She's hurt and vulnerable when she boldly (and foolishly) starts a rumor that she has hooked the hottest catch of the year: the Duke of Marwick. And with this lie, she unknowingly steps into a situation that's sure to dig a deep grave for the final resting place of her reputation.
I loved Felicity's surprising gift of lockpicking. It was one of those things about her that contradicted the plain and boring label that came along with being a wallflower. I don't think I've read a heroine quite like her before which was extremely refreshing.
“I pick locks because I can. Because there are very few things in the world I can control, and locks are something I am good at. They are a barrier I can clear. And a secret I can know. And in the end, they bend to my will and . . .” She shrugged. “I like that.”
Underestimated and overlooked by everyone, it left her with an emptiness that she mistakenly believed could be filled by their acceptance. Like many women of her time, she didn't have a lot of freedom or choices. Her family was horribly selfish, and expected her to clean up their mess like a sacrificial lamb sent off to slaughter. So not only was she mistreated by those she once considered her friends, but she didn't even have family who truly cared about her wellbeing. That's a pretty lonely place to be, and it left her ripe for the alluring promises Devil whispered in her ear. She wanted fire and passion, but not just that, she wanted to do the burning. She wanted to know what it was like to captivate a man and inspire uncontrollable passion.
“You are the most remarkable woman I’ve ever known, and if I have only this moment—this present—with you, then I wish to make you burn until you’ve made the stars jealous of your heat.”
That quote right there...easily a favorite from the entire book, but there were SO MANY that held me absolutely riveted and on edge. You know that there is going to be a moment of reckoning when the truth comes out, and that makes for some deliciously angsty reading. I'm telling you, I was hopelessly ADDICTED to the sparks that flew between this couple.
Devil's siblings Whit and Dahlia were amazing in their own right, and brimming with potential. However, Dahlia is my favorite of the two as the reigning Queen Covent Garden. She is one serious badass who can hold her own in the streets, and I have a feeling that her book is going to be the most exciting of the entire series. After reading this story, I am officially stalking Brazen and the Beast until its June 2019 publication. Take my word for it, you do not want to miss this one.
Title: When a Duke Loves a Woman Series: Sins for All Seasons #2 Author: Lorraine Heath Release date: August 21, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Ye Title: When a Duke Loves a Woman Series: Sins for All Seasons #2 Author: Lorraine Heath Release date: August 21, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
He’d kissed women before, lots of women, all sorts of women, but it had never felt as though any of them had reached deep within him and caressed his soul.
I was so excited to start the second installment in the Sins for all Seasons series after reading and loving the first book, Beyond Scandal and Desire. This is the story of Gillie, one of six illegitimate siblings who were raised by Ettie Trewlove. Besides the youngest, Fancy, they were all aristocratic children born on the wrong side of the blanket and discarded on her doorstep. Despite society's unfair prejudice against them, they have all grown to be a tight-knit family who are reasonably well adjusted and successful in their own right.
Gillie was a fascinating heroine who unlike most other women of her time wants nothing to do with love and marriage. She's completely independent, and focused on making The Mermaid and Unicorn tavern in Whitechapel a success. If she were to marry, the business she built with her blood, sweat, and tears would be handed over to her husband. How could she possibly desire such a thing? No, she was just fine living by her rules, since the rules and opinions of society had never been in her favor anyway.
It hurt too much to care. She knew her limits, knew her path. It didn’t involve marriage, children, or love.
On top of that, she was taught growing up to guard herself from men and be wary of their intentions. Dressing in men's clothes, cutting her hair short, and binding her breasts, she learned to make herself blend into the background and avoid drawing attention to herself. Too many women had fallen prey to their passion, and she had no desire to repeat past mistakes and create a child who would be ostracized by polite society like her family had been.
Another thing I loved about her was her unpredictability. She was a study in contradictions. Growing up in the seedy side of town, saw things in her tavern that ladies couldn't even imagine, and because of that understands human nature at a deeper level than most ladies. At the same time, she's utterly inexperienced with men, to the point where she fears allowing anyone to get close. She knows the mechanics and facts of sex, but she's never even been kissed at almost thirty years old. She wouldn't think twice about throwing a punch in a bar brawl to break it up, or bluntly speaking her mind, but her tough exterior hides a woman who has no faith in her own desirability and confidence in her worth.
For all her boldness, there was still a part of her that believed she deserved being left on a doorstep; buried deep within her was a little girl who wanted to believe she was a princess. He intended to treat her as though she were a queen.
Then there's her whimsical side verses her practical side. She daydreamed as a child that she was a princess, and loves mermaids and unicorns. Yet, in her life, her head has always ruled over her heart. Gillie is a true three dimensional character who's strong, yet just vulnerable enough to capture readers' hearts.
The book begins with a twist on the classic hero rescues the heroine trope which I really enjoyed. In this case, Thorne has been set upon by thugs, and could have lost his life if not for Gillie's quick intervention. After dragging him up to her apartment, she spends time caring for him and fighting some very unfamiliar feelings of attraction. Thorne goes in and out of consciousness, but even in his weakened state, he's drawn to her just as much. I found his insta-lust/attraction to be a little on the unbelievable side to be honest.
First of all, he was in her neighborhood searching for his bride who left him at the altar. Secondly, he's had a massive amount of blood loss and life threatening injuries. I couldn't help but feel that it was far-fetched for him to be mooning over another woman, and even responding physically in those circumstances as he was laying in bed so weak. I had a hard time connecting to them as a couple in the first half of the book partly because of feeling like their attraction was so abrupt and rushed.
The whole period where they spent time getting to know one another was in the search for his missing bride. As she assisted him through her neighborhood, there was a LOT of internal dialogue on his part where he compared her to Lavinia. Even though it was always in favor of Gillie, after a point it started to grate on my nerves. Yes, it helped to establish that he had no feelings of love for Lavinia, and that he was sadly lacking knowledge about her, but it didn't endear me to Gillie and Thorne's romance.
Thorne was an easy hero to love, and refreshing in that he wasn't your typical brooding or alpha type. He was much more open and warm, and from the very beginning, he admired Gillie's independence and differences. And though he was a Duke (and a cousin to the Queen herself!) he never looked down his nose at her, or anyone else in the working class. In fact, he admires them, and even rolled up his sleeves to help work in the tavern when she's shorthanded.
The greatest roadblock for Thorne was understanding and identifying the love he had for Gillie. Growing up with such cold parents, he has never been exposed to true romantic love. His father was a philanderer, and his mother was vicious and bitter because of it. There was never any parental affection doted on him from either of them, only expectations of his responsibility as the future Duke.
When he came to realize his growing feelings for the woman he admired so deeply, he didn't hesitate to try to introduce her to his world. Gillie was sure that like the Unicorn and Mermaid, they were destined to live in different worlds never to cross, but he was determined to convince her otherwise. She was strong, intelligent, and the bravest woman he ever met. All he had to do was convince her that she was the perfect candidate to step into the roll of duchess without having to let go of her dreams. The second half really picked up for me, and I was really invested in them finding a way to come together despite his mother and snobby society's expectations.
Though I didn't love this one quite as much as the first book, I still thoroughly enjoyed seeing these two find their way to each other. Thorne was a man who didn't know how to love, and Gillie didn't want to fall in love. However, they grew, changed, and by the end, understood themselves and one another better than they ever had before.
I'm so looking forward to reading Finn and Lavinia's story, The Scoundrel in Her Bed. Lavinia really intrigued me in this book, so I was excited to see that she would be paired with Gillie's brother Finn! I'll be counting down the days until February.
Nothing particularly wrong with this, but for some reason it's failing to hold my interest. I love the heroine a lot, but I'm not feeling enough excitNothing particularly wrong with this, but for some reason it's failing to hold my interest. I love the heroine a lot, but I'm not feeling enough excitement over the story to continue right now. Maybe I'll pick this back up later if the mood strikes me. ...more
Title: Nothing But Sky Series: Standalone Author: Amy Trueblood Release date: March 27, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Barnstor Title: Nothing But Sky Series: Standalone Author: Amy Trueblood Release date: March 27, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Barnstormer Grace Lafferty was everything I could want in a heroine and more. She redefines the limits and roles of women in post-WW1 America with her inspiring strength and perseverance. One of her best qualities was her tenacity in the face of adversity. She had to work twice as hard just to be taken seriously in her male-dominated field, yet she was always the one encouraging everyone to never give up. Even her own uncle doubted her abilities to pull off the death-defying stunts that she performed in The Soaring Eagles' show. Though honestly, you couldn't really blame the man for being protective of his niece. His heart was in the right place, and he only wanted to do right by her and her parents.
No one knows the evils of war more than the men who’ve faced them.
Henry Patton is a talented mechanic and veteran of the Great War who's struggling to acclimate himself to civilian life. Injured and suffering from PTSD, he's a bit growly and prickly with Grace during their first meet. First impressions were not the greatest, and it set them on the wrong footing early on. What I loved about Henry was his respect and chivalry towards her even when they were at odds with one another. There was an old-fashioned wholesomeness in how they interacted that really transported me to another time. Ms. Trueblood's skill in setting the scene created such a realistic narrative. Her detail was impeccable: the music, clothing and hairstyles, speech patterns, and current events. It gave an authenticity to Nothing But Sky that readers look for in historical fiction. But I digress...back to our handsome fella Henry.
He was gallant. Supportive of Grace's aspirations. He hopes to own his own garage one day, and isn't afraid of working hard to get there. Taking a job for Grace's uncle is the first step in making his dream become a reality. My heart went out to sweet Henry for the emotional conflict he was going through. The battlefield had left an indelible mark on him, and there was a certain amount of shame that came with that. Henry eventually connected with the survivor in her; and respected her all the more because of it. It was only one of the things they found to have in common.
“You said before that you thought I was brave, but after what happened to your family I believe you’re the one who is truly brave.” “Let’s not call it bravery. Perhaps we can think about it as pure survival.” “The will to live,” he added quietly.
Grace may be just eighteen, but she's already experienced enough tragedy and heartache for a lifetime. Being up in the air and soaring through the clouds is the one place where she's at peace. It's a place that feels like home after losing the only home she'd ever known. Now her one ambition in life is to make it to the World Aviation Expo in Chicago, where she'll compete for a coveted Hollywood contract. It means security for herself and the entire team. Without it, her future in barnstorming may end before it really started. Bad luck begins to plague the group, and after a horrible accident up in the air, Grace must learn to put her own
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this refreshing and feel-good story. The romance was quite nice, but it wasn't at the forefront of the story, which I was on board with. Grace and Henry had a gradual progression from friendship that felt really natural and solid. It took some time to get there, but when they did, they had some beautifully poignant moments. They both accepted each other just as they were and supported each other as equal partners. They were one of the sweetest couples I've read in quite a while.
“Tell me the truth, Grace. Can I ever be enough for you?” Our lips hovered only inches apart. Our breaths synchronized in perfect time. “You already are.”
This is the kind of YA story that we need more of. A book with a positive message and empowering themes for women. Highly recommended!
Title: Six of Crows Series: Six of Crows #1 Author: Leigh Bardugo Release date: September 29, 2015 Cliffhanger: Yes HEA(view spoiler)[No (hide spoiler)]
Title: Six of Crows Series: Six of Crows #1 Author: Leigh Bardugo Release date: September 29, 2015 Cliffhanger: Yes HEA(view spoiler)[No (hide spoiler)]
Leigh Bardugo is a master storyteller. I'm sure this isn't news to many, but it was a fresh discovery for me. I couldn't get enough of this highly compelling story. I was up until 1:30 in the morning, bleary eyed and racing through the pages. This book, about a gang of hustlers and thieves who embark on their impossible quest, was easily one of the best I've read all year. With six main characters traipsing through an intricate world spanning the brothels, alleys, and dark corners of Ketterdam, to the Ice Court fortress, there was so much to learn and experience. This series follows the events that take place in the Grisha series, but you do not have to read those to learn your way around this one.
The Dregs are a top gang in Ketterdam led by the mysterious and cunning Kaz Brekker. Since working his way up as Per Haskell’s prized lieutenant, he's brought prosperity and respect. But most of all fear. You learn not to cross Kaz, because he'll always be ten steps ahead of you with a gun aimed in your direction. There is no job too dirty or dangerous for him as long as there is a profitable payout worth his time.
Kaz learned a tough lesson on the streets as a little boy: you're either the mark or the predator, and he's vowed to be a victim no more. His innocence was lost in the murky waters surrounding the slums of the Barrels, and now he lived for nothing more than the sweet taste of revenge. Revenge plots have always been a particular weakness of mine, so this was enough to make me rub my hands together in glee.
He’d heard there were sharks in these waters, but he knew they wouldn’t touch him. He was a monster now, too.
When Kaz is offered the chance at riches beyond his wildest imaginings, it didn't take him long to take on this seemingly suicidal operation. He's either the most gutsy criminal I've ever seen, or the most reckless. I can't decide which. He's tasked with infiltrating the most highly secured fortress known to man: the Fjerdian Ice Court. The creator of jurda parem, a dangerous drug that enhances the powers of the Grisha people's magic, is being held prisoner there. Without an interception, this powerful weapon could be used to decimate untold numbers of people in the wrong hands.
Quickly, he assembles his crew and begins plotting. He's a mastermind at schemes, and it will take every trick he knows to come through this impossible feat alive.
“For every trick you’ve seen, I know a thousand more. You think a year in Hellgate hardened you up? Taught you to fight? Hellgate would have been paradise to me as a child.
Through third person, multiple POVs, we are slowly introduced to his crew of outcasts.
Inej: Kaz's right hand and spy, silent and lethal with her knives. Matthias: the former Fjerdan witchhunters and ex-Hellsgate prisoner. Jesper: the Zemeni sharpshooter. Nina: the Grisha Heartrender. And Wylan: the demolition expert.
Each has their own fully fleshed out backstory, and three-dimensional subtleties and nuances that make them come to life in the most incredible way. You'll find yourself rooting for them despite their flaws and vices. Cheering over their victories, and feeling heartsick over the tragedies they've survived. I particularly loved Inej and Nina. They were equally strong and brilliant women who had a limitless amount of courage. There was some angst involved with the two of them and their love interests, but this was not on the forefront of the story. The story was impressively character driven, with a high level of action and suspense fueling the book. I was on the edge of my seat until the very end.
This fantasy book was on a level all its own. It was the perfect package for me and I can't wait to find the time to get to the conclusion in Crooked Kingdom.
I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.
My recent fantasy obsession led me straight to this gorgeous book, and I was so excited to have the opportunity to read it. I tried not to get my hopes too high. Expectations have a way of dooming you to be disappointed when you let them run away with you. But when I started to flip through the first pages of this story, almost immediately I knew that I had something special in my hands. This tale of scheming royalty, courageous hunters, and the contest for power and survival will not be easily forgotten.
I was swept away to the fascinating Pavan Kingdom, where Aurora's powerful Stormling family rules and protects from the terrifying deadly storms that plague them. Storms that hold magic, and have the power to infect the mind, sending its stunned captors to their doom.
Storms are the greatest predators in existence because they can destroy you with their savage strength or enthrall you with their terrible beauty. Like a poison flower with the stealth of a snake and the ferocity of a lion and the force of all the world’s armies combined.
A Stormling Kingdom is seen as the only hope for survival in this brutal land. Stormling magic is passed along the rulers' bloodlines, it dispels the storms with the aid of Stormhearts. These are the stones and gems that amplify their power, or give them affinities. The more Stormhearts that are collected through the generations, the stronger their power is that they wield.
Rora is next in line to inherit the crown, and at eighteen, her time in seclusion has come to an end. For years, she and her mother, Queen Aphra have kept an alarming secret that threatens to tear their safety apart at its seams. Rora holds no magic, and unless she marries immediately, there will be no one to take over her mother's storm duties when she is succeeded.
She may have been young and sheltered, but that didn't mean she was unintelligent. She spent her childhood studying, training, and preparing herself to be a strong and self-reliant woman. It took great courage to face her uncertain future for her family and her people. Because no one was to be trusted with her secret, her only friends were her books for many years. She yearned for a grand adventure her whole life, but her upcoming nuptials would soon kill that dream stone dead. At least, that's what she thought.
After accidentally stumbling upon a black market filled with possibilities she wasn't prepared for, she hatches a daring plan to shake off the chains of matrimony and take the power back that had been lost to her for so long.
Sometimes she was Aurora. Confident. Clever. Cultured. Sometimes she was Rora. Afraid. Alone. Ashamed. And more and more, she was Roar— bold, brash, and increasingly baffled by the situation in which she found herself. And sometimes she was none of them, lost and adrift somewhere in between, like the wildlands between Stormling cities.
Locke is a nineteen year-old hunter, and at first very much against her joining them. She's inexperienced and naive to the dangers that she'd be up against, and he doesn't want her death on his hands. Tragic events from his past have made him a very protective person, and he knows this girl has trouble written all over her. He just doesn't know the depths of the mysteries that she conceals.
With any good fantasy book, you need exceptional world building, and an original plot. This book had those in spades. This world BLEW ME AWAY with it's uniqueness and violent beauty. The varied storms that could level an entire population in a heartbeat could also provide incredible power. The storm hunters that Rora encountered and joined were a very detailed, well developed group of secondary characters. Each with fascinating backstories and engaging personalities. It was action packed, with more than one chilling adversary pitting themselves up against the princess and her new friends.
The desire between these two provided just the right amount of kindling for this YA romance. Not too heavy, but it was smoldering throughout with angst and passion that you could really feel.
With each soft sweep of her mouth over his, she dismantled the frame of his world and built a new one.
If you're looking for something different than anything you've read before, something that will keep you guessing, and completely addicted...look no further. This book had it all. In fact, my only complaint is that I now must wait in desperation for an undisclosed time until the next in the series. No news to speak of on when we can expect more. But you'd better believe I'll be first in line to take another exhilarating trip to the enchanting world of Caelira.
Title: Spellbinder Series: Moonshadow #2 Author: Thea Harrison Release date: July 18, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Title: Spellbinder Series: Moonshadow #2 Author: Thea Harrison Release date: July 18, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Shifters, fae, creatures, sorcerers! A bottomless well of magic and fascinating adventures! That's what you'll find in Thea Harrison's books. With her reliable wit and charm, yet again, she delivered an enchanting story that I couldn't get enough of. Characters with untold powers, awe inspiring gifts, and immeasurable courage. This book pulled me right out of my book funk from page one and took me on a wild, and fantastical ride. You do not want to miss it.
This book is about the bad guy. At least, that's what we'd been led to believe-not only in the Elder Races series, but in Moonshadow as well. Morgan Le Fae isn't a light or dark fae at all. He's the most feared and formidable sorcerer known by supernaturals and humans alike. But something told me that we wouldn't be getting a cold-blooded anti-hero, and my instincts were right.
Morgan was captured centuries ago by Queen Isabeau of the Fae Light Court, and his loved ones killed. Enslaved by stolen magic of a God, he's bound to obey any direct order by her. For hundreds of years, there has been no escape from the vile and evil deeds he has been forced to commit as her captive. As the commander of her vicious Hounds, he has been changed physically in irrevocable ways. But most devastating of all, through the loss of his free will he has lost all sense of hope and happiness. Morgan is a very stoic man, but it was clear from the very beginning the hate he held for Isabeau. The only thing he wanted more than escape was retribution.
He still felt passion, but long ago his passion had turned dark and tinged with crimson. It had died down to a single thread, a burning desire to destroy those who had laid waste to his homeland and had enslaved him. That had become his mission in life.
Unexpectedly, he's handed a brief deliverance through a fluke loop hole in the magic. So he runs, with her Hounds on his heels.
Sidonie is a brilliant and successful musician, who has the world at her feet on the stage. But when it comes to interacting with people socially, she isn't skilled, nor is she comfortable. After spending her childhood studying and practicing, it left little room for making friends. To compound her difficulties, she has OCD issues as well, so this has caused her to live inside her head a lot. It wasn't until she caught the eye (and ears) of Morgan that would shake her tidy little world upside down.
Kidnapped and taken to the queen, she endured horrors she never could have imagined. She wasn't prepared for the cruelty, prejudice against her as a human being, and the fear that clawed at her for days on end. With no knowledge of the court and how the calculating inhabitants ticked, she needed a miracle, and she needed one fast. Just as she had given up all hope, a voice came to her in the darkness. A visitor who brought comfort, food, and care. She put her trust in him, and began to gain courage that she could survive in this nightmare she had fall into.
He was the worst, most dangerous monster she could ever face down here in the dark, but he didn’t tell her that.
Sidonie and Morgan had a wonderful connection, I felt their spark immediately. She went through a lot of growth in captivity, losing her shyness and finding her strong inner core. I didn't see her as all that tough in the beginning, but her predicament made her adapt quickly. Morgan was never one you could imagine as protective in any previous books, but that's exactly what he became with this woman. He put his own tenuous freedom on the line time and again in order to be watch over her and help her survive. I absolutely loved them together, their passion and their unselfish love was amazing to see flourish in those desperate conditions.
There was tons of suspense, exciting magic, and a thrilling end that kept me on the edge of my seat. I just flew through this one, I loved every minute of it. There was an appearance from one of my all time favorite past characters, and I'm sure it will make a lot of readers happy when they get to see the little cameo. I love this detailed Elder world that Thea Harrison created, it never gets stale. With every book, it's more enriched and realitic. As long as she wants to create new inhabitants there, I will be more than happy to make their acquaintance. If you love paranormal and urban fantasy books, I highly recommend checking this series out!
He fell… he fell into her as inexorably as Icarus, who had flown too close to the sun.
Title: The Alice Network Series: Standalone Author: Kate Quinn Release date: June 6, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
The Alice N
Title: The Alice Network Series: Standalone Author: Kate Quinn Release date: June 6, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
The Alice Network is one of the most brilliant and inspired books I have ever read. Yes, those are some tall words, but I say that with no hesitation or second thought. I feel like it's an impossible feat to sit here and adequately explain all of the reasons why you shouldNEED TO READ THIS.
Let's get this straight right from the start. This is not for the faint of heart. It's a labyrinth of raw, all-consuming emotion that will cut your nerves down to the quick. If you don't want to be up late at night, frantic and edgily consuming this story, do not open this one up. Do I regret reading this? Not for a second. I guarantee it will take you on the most unhinged ride of your life. Inside the excruciating suspense soaked pages, you're given an inspirational story about a group of cunning women fighting impossible odds. An uplifting affirmation of the power of friendship, love, and sacrifice. Seamlessly told in a wonderfully humorous narrative that will make you fall in love with these beautifully flawed characters.
In 1947, present time, we're introduced to an American student named Charlie St. Clair. Her gift for mathematics and quick wit were frowned on by her parents rather than encouraged. She's never quite fit in, or cared about the marriage race that every "good girl" aspires to win. When she falls pregnant at college, her already limited choices dwindle down to none.
I was just numb. I couldn’t believe in this baby, because it had changed nothing. Only my whole life.
Her brother's suicide after WII left an indelible mark on her, and the disappearance of her beloved cousin Rose had led her down a path of self-destruction that she couldn't seem to recover from. So when her mother pressures her on a trip to Europe to get rid of the "Little Problem" she seizes the opportunity to escape and hunt down the one woman who may be able to help her. The profanity spitting, gun wielding, crass and bitter alcoholic who wants nothing to do with her. Eve Gardiner.
They were far from instant best friends, in fact, I'd go so far as to say that they could barely tolerate each other's presence. But by the end, they became more than friends, they became family in the truest sense of the word. Both learning from one another, and experiencing tremendous growth in character.
This book is composed of alternate past and present stories of these two exceptional women. One who has faced unimaginable devastation, and lived to harbor the pain with liquor and a viciously sharp tongue. The other who has experienced her own tragedies and is trying valiantly to surface through the numbness. If she could just find her cousin, maybe hope could be restored. Maybe her failures won't be as insurmountable as they seem. Charlie isn't to be swayed, and the three of them barrel towards an uncertain resolution in ravaged, post war France.
“I want to hear the rest of your story." "It’s not a pretty story," she said. “And it lacks an ending.” “So write the ending now.”
In 1915, during a time when every woman was overlooked, underestimated, and stuffed into a tiny box of limitations, Eve wanted more out of life than societal precepts allowed. Desperate to make a difference in the war, and earn the respect that she had always been denied, she jumped at the rare chance that fell into her lap.
Eve joined the Alice Network and became a spy and her life would never be the same again. As her mysterious history unravels, the knot in your chest will helplessly tighten. The evil that she faces with nothing more than wits and bravado was chilling. Lili and Violette played pivotal roles in Eve's history and were riveting to read about.
Lili in particular as the head of the Alice Network was a central character, and based on the real life French spy Louise de Bettignies. Many scenes from the book were pulled from real recorded historical incidents, yet it wasn't glorified in typical Hollywood fashion through a rose colored lens. We saw the gritty realities as they would have experienced them. These women should be remembered for their bravery and contribution, and after reading The Alice Network, I think I can safely say that the author shed the illuminating light on them that they deserve.
"There are two kinds of flowers when it comes to women,” Eve said. “The kind that sit safe in a beautiful vase, or the kind that survive in any conditions…even in evil.”
The two alternating timelines run parallel to one another, until they reach the end of their search for Rose. As they head to their final climactic resolution, I guarantee, you will not be able to set this book down. Kate Quinn is nothing short of a master storyteller. She illustrated so vividly how damaging war is, not only for those who fight in the thick of it, but for their families and generations to follow. Psychologically, physically, and financially. Historical fact and fiction were merged so flawlessly with precise attention to detail, it was as if I had been swept right inside this book. Experiencing every tragedy and victory as it occurred.
For you romance lovers out there, there IS romance involved and it made this reader more than satisfied. It wasn't the main focus of the story, but significant enough to stand out and I wouldn't change a thing. Even if you don't typically read this genre, like me, I urge you to take a leap of faith and give it a chance. This is landing not only on my 2017 favorites, but my all time favorites shelf. Enough said.
Title: Hello Stranger Series: The Ravenels #4 Author: Lisa Kleypas Release date: February 27, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Title: Hello Stranger Series: The Ravenels #4 Author: Lisa Kleypas Release date: February 27, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Lisa Kleypas writes in a way that reminds me why I fell in love with reading romance. There was a simplicity to the story, while her way of expressing it was anything but. There were so many times I just stopped and stared at the eloquence of her beautifully descriptive writing, because it was just too good to not savor. I've read almost all of her books, and like with any author, you're going to have some that hit a more resonant chord than others. I can honestly say that this book was one that worked in every way for me. It was so good that I couldn't stop thinking about it for days afterward.
Let's start with Ethan. Formerly a Scotland Yard detective, currently a spy who slips through London unnoticed and alone, and isn't afraid to break a few rules to achieve his directive. Raised in poverty, he fought and clawed to make it out of the gutter. But despite his drive to become a success, he never lost his moral compass or conscience.
He had been born to this city, nursed on it, until its violent rhythms were woven through him as surely as the network of his own veins.
There's a vulnerability there that immediately makes you want to strip away the mystery surrounding him and learn everything there is to know about the man underneath. Not to mention the chemistry as he bantered with Garrett was completely addictive. He has such a devilish charm about him (That dimple and cheeky grin!) that Garrett tries to blow off, but she's no match for the attraction that blazes between them.
Dr. Garrett Gibson was easily one of my favorite heroines that Ms. Kleypas has ever written. She was a feminine anomaly during that time that no one quite knew what to do with. As the first female doctor to practice in England, let's just say that her career choice is not one that is accepted with open arms by the masses. She's not the type of woman who places matrimony and a conventional life at the top of her priorities as was expected of women back then. She followed her dream, and she lives by her own set of rules with absolutely zero shame. What else did I love about her? She's snarky, independent, smart as a whip, and let's face it...a bit of a badass. In the opening scene, she faces three attackers on a dark London street without flinching. She doesn't break under pressure, she shines.
Don't get me wrong, she may be amazing, but like any genuine character with depth she has her faults. Her biggest one probably being that she has a difficult time allowing people get close to her. Losing her mother at a young age, and her time growing up in a boarding school molded her to be closed off and very private. I think this is why she and Ethan complimented each other so well, because his ability to speak from his heart in such a compelling way. That man...oh my. That man could charm the hardest of hearts in two seconds flat.
“A queen, you are,” he said softly. “I could travel the world the rest of my life, and not find another woman with half your ways.”
One of the things I loved the most about Ethan was that he looked at Garrett as his equal partner and treated her accordingly. He wasn't intimidated or threatened by her strengths. No, instead he was even more hopelessly addicted to her, and drawn to this very capable beauty. And as tough as Ethan was, he needed a partner who would stand by his side and fight for him. Now tangled up in a web not of his making, he must find a way to extricate himself and bring proof of corruption and malice to the attention of the authorities before it's too late.
In case you hadn't noticed, I ADORED THESE TWO. I loved their heat, their passion, their dedication and need for one another. They were two totally unconventional people that fit seamlessly as if they were tailor made for each other. I was already a huge fan of this series, but this story bumped up my excitement to a whole new level for West's and Phoebe's book!! West has come such a long way from the spoiled and selfish character he once was. I got such a kick out of his scenes in Hello Stranger, and I can't wait to read his HEA. All I can say is, Lisa Kleypas has done it again! You don't want to miss the latest installment to the Ravenel series.
Every awareness converged as he went deeper and deeper into the mysterious soft depths of her, and there was no world but her, no breath, no language, no sun, no stars, nothing that didn’t begin and end with her.
Title: A Different Blue Series: Standalone Author: Amy Harmon Release date: May 29, 2017 (Publisher re-release) Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hid
Title: A Different Blue Series: Standalone Author: Amy Harmon Release date: May 29, 2017 (Publisher re-release) Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Can you imagine how lost you would feel to not know your own story? Where you came from, and who gave birth to you? Even the most basic DNA of our identity: your own true name and age? This was Blue Echohawk's reality. Jimmy Echohawk, the man who raised her, was a odd sort. Quiet and taciturn. He lived a simple life with her, on the road selling his wood carvings. And for a time, she was carefree and happy. But after he passed away when she was eleven, she went to live with her aunt Cheryl. And life as she knew it was gone. She became a self-destructive girl, void of hope or self respect.
Jimmy’s little blackbird died a slow and painful death. In her place I built a gaudy, colorful, blue bird. A loud, obnoxious peacock with bright feathers, who dressed to call attention to her beauty at every moment, and craved affection. But it was all just a bright disguise.
On the first day of her senior year in high school, she walked into her history class and met Mr. Wilson. He would come to be the first positive influence in her life since she was a little girl. He's only a few years older than her, but has so much knowledge to give. He saw the hardened, angry girl that she was and made it his mission to get her to open up. Their relationship was completely platonic. He started out as her teacher, her guide, someone she could depend on and trust. When she was at her lowest points and most joyful moments, it was Wilson that saw her through it all.
Blue and Wilson had a beautiful friendship. It brought tears to my eyes so many times to see how he gently nudged her into believing in herself again. She had been through so much hopelessness it makes you want to wrap your arms around her and make everything better. Her aunt did her best, but didn't give her the time of day. So when someone showed interest in her, treated her as if she had value and worth, she soaked it all up like a sponge.
Wilson was an exceptional man. I loved him so, so much. He was extremely wise, funny, giving, and wonderfully endearing in a nerdy sort of way. Growing up in a wealthy British family, he had many more advantages in life than she had. Yet he wasn't snobbish or self-entitled, quite the opposite. And he accepted Blue, scars and all.
“I keep wishing you had had a better life . . . a different life. But a different life would have made you a different Blue.” He looked at me then. “And that would be the biggest tragedy of all.”
Everyone has a story. Even if her beginning was blank, he helped her see that her future was wide open for her to shape. But just when she started to stretch her wings and fly, she suddenly plunged to the ground. Broken again. She had yet another setback, and my heart broke for her all over again. After graduating high school, Wilson offers her an apartment in his home so that she can get back on her feet and pursue her love of art. Blue made stunning sculptures that she carved out of trees and branches. It helped her to feel close to Jimmy and it was an outlet to express herself.
Resolution. Redemption. Revelations.
These are the themes of A Different Blue. There was so much to love about this book. I wouldn't even necessarily say that the romance is what you will focus on. It's pretty much secondary to Blue's own personal struggle to rip off the labels that have placed on her. Her triumph over the mystery of her past, and owning her true self. To see her growth from the brittle and sulky girl, to the strong woman who finally found peace really touched my heart. Both characters were far from perfect, and made human mistakes and decisions that we could all probably relate to. That's why I think I really identified with this story and it's uplifting message. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone looking for something with real depth and substance.
**This is a publisher re-release with a bonus epilogue and scene from Wilson's POV. I think the epilogue was a perfect conclusion that left me so satisfied. And I was pretty giddy over getting rare glimpse inside Wilson's head. HIGHLY recommend even for a re-read just to get these new additions to the story.
Title: The Indigo Girl Series: Standalone Author: Natasha Boyd Release date: October 3, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Title: The Indigo Girl Series: Standalone Author: Natasha Boyd Release date: October 3, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Lately, I've been searching for books that are outside the contemporary romance sphere. Has it been because I've read the same thing too many times, or are original plots about unique characters genuinely becoming more scarce? I can't say. Here's one thing I can say with certainty:
The Indigo Girl is special and it deserves to be voraciously devoured and appreciated by readers. Those who are hungry for a story that will move them and linger in their minds. You WILL soak this story up like a sponge, passionately shouting your enthusiasm to anyone who will listen.
It's that kind of book.
Like me, it's very likely you'll say to yourself, "How did I not know about this incredible woman?" She was so revered and respected that our first president publicly acknowledged and honored her contributions to the country. In colonial America, women were quite literally dismissed as silly and inferior as the general rule. Yes, gender inequality is alive and well today. But there's no comparison to how women's choices were taken away and their lives completely controlled in Eliza Lucas' time. The enormity of what she accomplished is immeasurable. Especially when you consider that this was a teenage girl who shattered the limitations placed around her by society.
Eliza grew up in the Caribbean island of Antigua, and moved to South Carolina with her affluent family as a young girl. With racial and political tensions rising, moving off the island was a move considered for everyone's safety. She and her father developed a close relationship as she matured, one that grew out of respect and love. He unconventionally fostered her fascination with botany and her interest in the management of the numerous plantations they owned.
If I loved someone would that be enough when I no longer had the satisfying business of a plantation to run? My drive to succeed and improve our lot, as unattractive a quality as Mama said it was, couldn’t be helped.
Encouraging interests outside of finding a husband was virtually unheard of in those days. However, as the oldest sibling of four, she was depended on to help as her younger brothers obtained their education in England. When her father leaves to report to the British Army, his desire to rise in the ranks of the military lead him to entrust their plantations in Eliza's capable care. Much to his wife and many neighbors' dismay.
Unbeknownst to Eliza, her family's livelihood was quickly deteriorating due to her father hemorrhaging money towards his military ambition. She soon realized that with their homes heavily mortgaged, they were barely scraping by and paying the bills. One wrong move, and the whole house of cards would come tumbling down.
I felt like I was holding on too tight to everything . My ambitions, my emotions … I feared they would soon slip through my fingers and unravel at lightning speed.
Her solution was diversifying into the extremely profitable, but mysterious indigo plant. Everyone knew that the dye extracted from indigo was highly sought after and desired. The challenge wasn't just finding someone willing to share the delicate process of accurately producing it. There were few that had faith that a slip of a girl could succeed where so many men before her had failed. But she didn't let that stop her, because she had nothing to lose. With the faithful help of her neighbor, Mr. Pinckney, she set out to prove everyone wrong.
Intertwined with Eliza's urgent struggle to prove her worth and bridge an independent life for herself, is a heartrending story about forbidden friendship. Ignorance and hatred separated two children whose bond could never have been accepted. The boy she knew in Antigua had been sold, but never forgotten. And his reappearance in her life had an immense emotional impact on her.
Our friendship was the friendship of two connected souls who’d met in the shade of trees on a sugar plantation when our hearts were pure.
This book made me feel so much, and not all of it was comfortable. Boyd doesn't shy away from depicting the horrors and injustice of slavery. It was enough to make your chest ache and your throat clog, thinking of the silent suffering that was endured. Eliza's mother enraged me on so many occasions. She had absolutely no sense of her daughter's strength and courage, often belittling her, or intentionally preventing her from succeeding. Her ambition for her daughter began and ended with marrying her off, while her brilliant and progressive mind was stifled.
Treachery, betrayal, and tragedy pave the path to Eliza's dreams. Told in Natasha Boyd's beautifully descriptive narrative, The Indigo Girl captivated me, inspired me, and transported me to a volatile time filled with terrible despair and fragile hope. Eliza Lucas dared to reach for the impossible and changed the course of history. Even if you're not typically a reader of historical fiction, I believe you should give this powerful book a chance. It's been almost a week since I finished reading it, and my mind is still drifting back to Eliza's remarkable story. It's one I can easily say that I won't soon be forgetting.
Title: The Black Lily Series: Tales of the Black Lily #1 Author: Juliette Cross Release date: March 27, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide s
Title: The Black Lily Series: Tales of the Black Lily #1 Author: Juliette Cross Release date: March 27, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
“I don’t want any other woman. Only you. More than blood, more than breath, more than life itself.”
I'm going to start out by saying that this book is worth the read just based on its originality alone. I can honestly say that I've never read another Vampire historical with a twist on the Cinderella fairytale. Just the fact that the author went the distance to write something completely unique was appreciated. The idea that Arabelle went to prince's Marius' ball to assassinate him rather than to catch his eye was pretty amazing I thought. You almost feel sorry for the poor guy as she uses her considerable feminine wiles to infiltrate the glass tower and take her stab at him. (Sorry, pun intended.) He was searching for his next blood concubine, she was seeking retribution at the end of her dagger. Marius was addicted at first glance and never stood a chance.
She was the sweetest ambrosia sent straight from heaven. Or the most sinful temptation to drag him down to hell. He didn’t care.
By day, Arabelle is a simple peasant serving woman. By night, she's the mysterious and elusive Black Lily. A woman who spearheaded the movement that wants to break free from oppression and stop the murder of the working class. The loss of her own mother at a Vampire's hands had a tremendous effect on her impression of them. She wasn't going to sit and be a helpless damsel in distress, she's a woman who takes the power back that's been stolen from her.
I'd have to say that Arabelle is probably my favorite part about this book. I absolutely love kickass heroines who know how to take care of themselves and this one defined strong. There was a red-hot attraction from the moment they laid eyes on each other, and it wasn't just one sided. Arabelle however, didn't fall prey to the But-He's-So-Hot syndrome and throw her self respect and game plan out the window because of her lust. As far as she knew, he was just another heartless blood sucker who preys on the innocent and weak.
Prince Marius was nothing like Arabelle imagined. He wasn't the evil creature she saw him as, quite the contrary. I knew from the start that he was a good guy at heart, if a little clueless. The sanguine furorem or blood lust running rampant in town for years had been hidden well, but he was finally taking notice.
If you love alpha obsessed type heroes, you're going to love this guy. He was completely out of his head for her despite her repeated assassination attempts. Which is pretty hilarious when you think about it. Her courage and beliefs were something he hadn't come across before. This made him more determined than ever to locate her and uncover the enigma of the Black Lily.
To set his desires on a peasant woman who continually tried to kill him wasn’t very wise for one as old and experienced as he was. But she had already gotten under his skin, her scent the most tantalizing lure he’d ever known. Like the Siren to the sailor in deep waters, he feared he’d willingly drown if she beckoned him.
My only criticism is that I would have liked to have seen more actual time spent between the MCs in each other's company. I give leeway because of the fact that this is PNR and there is an instant/soulmate type of connection. But considering she's human, she took considerably longer to allow herself to trust her enemy and let him in. And even then, I didn't quite see where the development of her feelings occurred since they were hardly ever together. They were on opposite sides of the camp and when they did cross paths, they had no time to connect on a personal level. Their attraction seemed doomed in failure, so you couldn't really blame her for not wanting to put her heart on the line for sure devastation.
There was no world where the two of them could be true lovers. She did not belong in the Glass Tower. And he did not belong in her world of the Black Lily.
I loved the world that Juliette Cross created. Varis was rich with detail and an intriguing set of characters to tempt me for future books. Her writing was easily absorbing and fast-paced. There was plenty of action and adventure, and I would without a doubt read the next installment in the series. For my first read by this author, I'd say that it was a resounding success.
Title: Mists of the Serengeti Series: Standalone Author: Leylah Attar Release date: January 31, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spo*****NOW LIVE EARLY!*****
Title: Mists of the Serengeti Series: Standalone Author: Leylah Attar Release date: January 31, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
I just finished this book minutes ago, and I'm sitting here trying to choke down all the emotions this book has me feeling. I wanted to write this while the words I soaked in are still fresh in my mind. Though, honestly, I don't see this incredible story fading whatsoever. It was just that poignant and breathtaking for me. With zero hesitation, I can say that this book will be on my favorites for the entire year, as well as being one of the all-time best books I've read. (Yes, I really said that.) I loved every piece of this story, each one so impressive separately, but when the whole of them came together they created magic.
They say that a person’s true strength comes through in times of calamity. It’s a strange and unfair measure of a man.
I started reading the prologue and immediately felt pulled in. After meeting Jack and Rodel, I was fully invested by the cataclysmic event that eventually brought them together. The bombing that took his daughter, and her sister, left them devastated. Trying to make sense of the senseless and not sure how they will ever recover.
When Ro comes to Nima House in Amosha, Africa, it served a dual purpose. One, to collect her sister's things where she had been volunteering. And two, to step inside her sister's wanderlust shoes. To see the world from her perspective, when for so long she always lived life in a neat and orderly way. There were so many things that I loved about this heroine. She was intelligent, brave, funny, and filled with wonder at the strange and beautiful land in front of her. She begins her journey searching for peace, but eventually finds her way to Jack's coffee plantation and an adventure unlike any she's ever experienced.
Jack is just a hollow shell of a man, deeply mourning the loss of his little girl. He wants no part of this trip she's asking him to take her on. To finish the task her sister had set in motion, delivering persecuted Albino children to the orphanage in Wanza. It was dangerous, and a hero's mission. Something he wasn't deluded enough to believe of himself anymore. Not after failing to save his daughter that horrible day.
“In a thousand lives, I would die a thousand deaths to save her. Over and over and over again.”
The grief that mirrors back at her from his eyes eventually isn't quite as sharp after they have each other to lean on. And in that process of letting go, they find themselves in each fevered, longing glance. The heat these two generated was absolute perfection. The angst was slowly drawn out and delivered a powerful punch that was well worth the wait. The romance that was spun took my breath away. They are the entire package, everything I look for. Jack and Rodel had the kind of quiet, sublime love that will make your heart race and shatter from one moment to the next.
This is what it looks like when you wander somewhere between the sand and stardust, and meet a piece of yourself in someone else.
How could I explain to her the hunger, the craving, the obsession? The small, sharp memories of her, always at the edge of my brain? I couldn’t. So I kissed her. With all the words I couldn’t form.
I was so impressed with the incredible writing. Attar blew me away with her brilliant descriptions of the sights and sounds of Africa. The culture of the native people, the clothing, food, the dusty safari in the Serengeti...she breathed life into the book with each gorgeous detail. The setting was fresh and vibrantly realistic. A kaleidoscope of a million colored words. And I don't think there was a character that I wasn't crazy about. But my favorite secondary character was without a doubt Jack's grandmother Goma. She had me laughing out loud so many times, she was absolutely hilarious!!!
The romance, the setting, the unique and well developed plot, they all tied together in the end to make me prepare for the inevitable book hangover that's coming. I can't believe that I've never read anything by this author before, and I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to discover her. If there's one book that I can convince you to read this year, let it be this one. It's one of those books that I will never forget. These characters have stolen a little piece of my heart and I don't want them to give it back.
Title: Rhapsodic Series: The Bargainer #1 Author: Laura Thalassa Release date: November 15, 2016 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[HFN (hide spoiler)]
Title: Rhapsodic Series: The Bargainer #1 Author: Laura Thalassa Release date: November 15, 2016 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[HFN (hide spoiler)]
The past few months I've been finding my way back to my love of fantasy books. When I spotted this one, I grabbed it on pure impulse and decided to start it immediately. I went in pretty blind, not doing more than the synopsis and browsing the general ratings. I didn't want to second guess myself or talk myself out of trying an unknown (to me) author. Thankfully, this is one of those times when the gamble had a huge payout. This book was exactly what I was craving: it was unique, wonderfully detailed in its world building, and filled with fascinating characters. Without a doubt, Laura Thalassa has found a new follower in me.
This book is told in alternating past and present sections. I know a lot of people have issues with this structure, but I don't have a problem with it most of the time. The book opens you up in a very desperate moment in Callie's past. She's covered in blood and frantic. After years of being preyed on, she finally snapped and took irrevocable action.
Now there's only one person can save her: The Bargainer. The mysterious six foot tall, blond and menacing King of the Night who grants his supernatural help in return for favors. Many know of him, but few dare to call on him. In the supernatural world, he rules over darkness, chaos, violence, and sex. All things that go bump in the night. In the human world, he's a man of many secrets and schemes, and willing to break any law to achieve his goals.
After Callie leaves for boarding school, we get small snippets of how these two grew close to one another and her slow progression from client to friend, to something more undefined. I really enjoyed seeing their background and how their feelings grew. He may have had darkness in him, but he genuinely cared for and protected her. Whether it was from outside forces or the memories that haunted her, he was always there when she needed him.
There's a mystery surrounding what separated them for the seven years between the past and the present. Callie grew resentful and angry at his disappearance, but it's clear from the start that now that he's back, he's not letting anything come between them.
“How did you feel, leaving me?” I ask. He holds my gaze. “Like my soul was ripped in two.”
Callypso was a kickass heroine. I loved the fact that she was a Siren, that she held the abilities to use her feminine powers to glamour those who would seek to harm. She works as a PI with her best friend (who I absolutely loved) and gets unwilling confessions out of criminals. Evil made her a victim once and now she sought justice and retribution for those who needed her. It was this side of her that I felt matched Des really well. They both did bad things for good reasons, they had darkness in them but they weren't past redemption.
Now that Des is back, she's determined to keep her distance whatever price he asks her to pay.
I made a promise to myself after Des left my life, a promise to be independent. To not allow men like him to destroy my world. And now the very man who forced me to make that promise wants to burrow his way under my skin and into my heart once more. I’d be the worst sort of person if I broke that promise at the first sign of temptation.
The long drawn out desire between these two was amazing. I loved their chemistry, their tenderness, and their passion for one another. The angst exploded off the pages and made my heart happy.
And then Des kisses me. A kiss to end all kisses. Love is another sort of subtle magic. It can bring people together and tear lives apart. It can wash away sorrow, it can forgive. It can redeem.
Des needs to utilize her special skills to coerce the changelings in his world to reveal their secrets. There's unimaginable evil wreaking havoc and she is the key to unlocking the source. The "Thief of Souls" and his children were absolutely disturbing and made my skin crawl. Callie thought she had seen the darkest depths in the human world, but nothing compared to what she now faced. Be prepared to be creeped out.
I was going to rate this book a five originally simply because of how deeply I connected to the characters and storyline. But after thinking about it, there were enough minor issues to force me to shave off a partial star. However, that did not affect my overall enjoyment. I would recommend this one to anyone looking for a fantasy book that will hold you completely engrossed and on the edge of your seat. It's sexy, mysterious, and quite the exciting ride. Stalking has immediately commenced for news on a release date for A Strange Hymn.