Category: Reviews

Review: Evermine by Hailey Edwards

Posted September 22, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Evermine by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Evermine by Hailey Edwards
Series: Daughters of Askara #2
Also in this series: Everlong
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 21, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person, Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 201
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He can be a slave to his past…or allow her love to free him.

There’s such a thing as too much change. Emma’s sister is mated. Revolution is brewing in her home realm. The last straw: her would-be mate is back from the dead and back under her skin—yet when it comes to the last five years, he’s not talking.

Desperate for a chance to start her own life, she answers the queen’s call to ensure equality for all of Askara’s newly freed slaves. It’s the perfect opportunity to escape a heartbreak in the making named Harper.

Harper loses a piece of his fractured soul when Emma walks away. His lies were meant to protect her from torturous years that drove him to the point of madness. Instead, when he comes to her a year later to help avert a crisis in a freed-slave community, the wedge those lies drove between them is firmly in place.

As their new lives collide with old wounds, they race to stop a threat that could not only destroy the queen, but send Harper back to the hell he escaped. Emma must decide if the man she still loves deserves equal rights to her heart.

Warning: This title contains torn pants, ripped gowns, and sand in uncomfortable places. It also includes one overcompensating villain, one gnarly priest, and two battered hearts willing to give this thing called love one last chance.

Evermine (Daughters of Askara #2) by Hailey Edwards follows Emma, whom we met in the first book. I enjoyed her quite a bit in Everlong and was curious to see how things would turn out for her. Fair warning, this is a dark novel that deals with dark themes. Please review the Content Warnings before reading this book.

Emmaline was born into slavery. As the bastard daughter of the Queen of Askara’s consort, she was raised to be the personal slave of the princess Madelyn. They grew up as sisters, and Emma would do anything for Maddie. Now that Maddie has found her mate Emma knows she needs something more. When the evil Queen is overthrown by Maddie’s older sister and slavery is abolished, Emma agrees to return to Askara to act as liaison between the Avanti former-slaves and the Askarans. If that gets her away from her fated mate? All the better. She knows she can’t face Harper after the way she betrayed his memory when she thought he was dead, plus he refuses to share his past with her. It’s a recipe for disaster. But still, when Harper requests her help to uncover a plot against the new Queen, Emma knows she can’t refuse, even if being near him is nothing but torture.

Harper has always known Emma would be his. He meant to protect her by refusing to share his past with her; he never expected it to push her into leaving him. Now that they’re together again, he’s determined to prove to her that they belong together. Though he isn’t sure she can accept all of him, he knows he has to try.

This is a complex and multi-layered world. I highly recommend reading this series in order. A lot of the events that happen here are related to what happened in the first book.

I really liked Emma in the previous book. She faced things head on and wasn’t afraid to get in someone’s face if she needed to. That was true here as well, though she seemed less sure of herself at times. Plus, she had an addiction that I don’t really think was properly addressed.

View Spoiler »

Harper was a prisoner for 5 years. Literally kept in a cage and used and abused, he’s determined to give others better. He was a strong character and I loved how determined he was to save those he cared about. I didn’t necessarily love him and Emma together. They weren’t great about communicating, and her reasons for keeping him at arms length seemed forced at best.

I enjoyed the world and overarching storyline enough to immediately start the next book, but this isn’t my favorite series from Edwards.

3.5 out of 5

Daughters of Askara

three-half-stars


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Review: Everlong by Hailey Edwards

Posted September 20, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Everlong by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Everlong by Hailey Edwards
Series: Daughters of Askara #1
Also in this series: Evermine
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 30, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

The most damaged heart can fly with the right pair of wings.

Madelyn’s life is far from fairytale perfect. She is second in line for the throne of a corrupt, brutal monarchy. Or at least she was until her dark guardian sacrificed his life to hide her safely in a realm of infinite possibilities.

For years she’s lived among a colony of escaped slaves as her guardian’s widow. Even in this simple life, though, nothing is as it seems. Her hero kept a secret—a younger brother named Clayton Delaney. Warrior, winged demon…and the man who now wants to lay claim to her heart.

No longer cast in his brother’s shadow, Clayton meets all obstacles head on, including one named Maddie. His infatuation with her reaches the breaking point when she undergoes a royal rite of passage, going into heat and pushing them both over the edge.

Just as Maddie learns that some risks are worth taking, she discovers that her guardian may be alive. And she’s forced to make a choice between the man she’d thought she loved, and the demon willing to lend her his wings.

Warning: This book contains virginal angst, a hero who’s too nice for his own good, wings, claws, and convenient use of glamour. It contains heartbreaking loss, conversation with a woodland creature, and sweet, sweet demon loving.

Everlong is the first book in the Daughters of Askara series by Hailey Edwards. I’ve read a number of books by Edwards and generally enjoy them, so I went into this with high expectations. Unfortunately, the heroine’s “head in the sand” approach to basically everything left me frustrated.

Madelyn is the Princess of Askara, a brutal monarchy. It is time for her ascension, a ceremony where she was to claim her title as Princess and accept her place as second in line for the thrown. During the ceremony she and her personal slave, Emma, are to be tattooed from head to foot to denote their stations in life, and then Maddie is meant to take a man to her bed for the first time. Emma’s after, Maddie’s step-father, has decided she must choose him as her consort for the evening. In return, he agrees to grant Emma and Maddie’s Guardian, Harper, their freedom. Although she has every intention of sacrificing herself for them, Harper takes the choice out of their hands by whisking them away to an alternate universe before the ceremony can be completed. Only Harper is killed and Maddie is left mourning him for five long years.

On Earth, Maddie and Emma open a diner and do their best to blend in the colony where Harper left them. Emma makes friends and joins the community, but Maddie chooses to keep herself apart, grieving for her dead Guardian. Until the 5th anniversary of his death, when she finally meets his older brother, Clayton. Clayton has kept himself away from Maddie to allow her time to grieve, but now that her mourning time has passed and she’s going into heat, he knows he has to stay near to protect her. Because when the females of their race go into heat, the males will do anything to claim them. Clayton may want Maddie for himself, but he would never dishonor his brother’s memory that way. The best he can do is keep her safe….unless she decides she wants him, then all bets are off.

I didn’t care for the way Maddie kept her head in the sand and refused to see anything that was going on around her. I really wanted to see her come into her own, but I don’t really think it that happened. She was better toward the end of the novel, but it ended before I was satisfied that she was anything more than a literal spoiled princess. She was basically a walking zombie, never engaging with anyone or seeing what was right in front of her nose. I didn’t understand why she acted the way she did, or more importantly, why anyone put up with it.

I did like Clayton. He was a good leader and an honorable male. This was a quick read. I enjoyed the world and the secondary characters, but Maddie kind of ruined it for me. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Daughters of Askara


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Review: Ryan by Jessica Gadziala

Posted September 15, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Ryan by Jessica GadzialaReviewer: Casee
Ryan by Jessica Gadziala
Series: Mallick Brothers #2
Also in this series: Shane
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 2, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 241
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

RYAN

She was perfect: Sweet, smart, awkwardly adorable, and beautiful as hell. The only problem was: she was terrified to leave her apartment. And, apparently, she had somehow gotten herself wrapped up with some pretty bad guys to boot.

DUSTY

He was perfect: He was a living, breathing, walking, talking statue come to life. But when would a man like that ever want to be with a woman who was too anxious to even walk into the hallway? Let alone go on a date with him. Or meet the family he was so close with. That being said, he seemed interested for some reason. So obviously, he was just as crazy as I was. On top of that whole confusion situation, something was going on with my business partners. And things were about to go straight to hell…

* For possible triggers, please visit: http://www.jessicagadziala.com/trigge...

When it comes to the family’s loanshark business, Ryan is the numbers guy. If someone doesn’t pay their loan, Ryan is the first enforcer. After that it goes to Mark, then Shane, and finally Eli. Ryan keeps the books for their legal & illegal businesses. He’s a bit of a workaholic.

Dusty is housebound. Not because she wants to be, but because she has severe agoraphobia and anxiety. It was heart wrenching to read. Dusty wasn’t always afraid to go outside; it was something that happened gradually over time. When she meets her new neighbor while standing in the doorway to her apartment, she wishes she could be different. But men & relationships are not in the cards for Dusty.

Ryan is enchanted with his beautiful neighbor. She’s lived in his building for quite some time & he had never gotten a glimpse of her. After meeting her, he wants more. He doesn’t understand Dusty’s issues at first, though they are front & center when Ryan has to get Dusty out of the building due to a fire.

Ryan & Dusty got to know each other over time. After he saves her and bodily carries her down the stairs, she is wrecked. It was the first time she had gone outside in years. Instead of trying to fix it, Ryan tries to understand. He gives Dusty the space she needs without giving her space at all.

As someone with anxiety, I am very picky when it comes to reading about someone with anxiety. Usually there is something that makes me say “That’s wrong” or “That doesn’t happen”. Not so with Gadziala. She wrote Dusty’s problems so well. There is no quick fix for anxiety or agoraphobia.

The best part of this book was seeing Dusty’s growth. She knows that her life is never going to go back to the way it was. Ryan handles Dusty’s issues with such patience and care. Ryan doesn’t try to change Dusty. He accepts her fully for who she is. I loved that about him. He was very patient and kind. Ryan knew that they would never have what is deemed a “normal” relationship, but he wants to try.

This book was very well written & an amazing addition to the Mallick Brothers series. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series though I’m sure I’ll be sad when it ends.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Mallick Brothers

four-stars


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Review: Shane by Jessica Gadziala

Posted September 13, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shane by Jessica GadzialaReviewer: Casee
Shane by Jessica Gadziala
Series: Mallick Brothers #1
Also in this series: Ryan
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 10, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 235
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

I was just supposed to be laying low, keeping my head down, staying out of trouble.

And "trouble" was exactly what Shane freaking Mallick was. Knee-cap breaker, loan shark enforcer, panty-dropper. Trouble with a capital T.

And the absolute last thing I needed in my life...

Lea is on the run from her past. She’s living in a dump just trying to stay under the radar. When she lands in Navesink Bank, she doesn’t know what she’s going to do with herself. She does know that she needs a job. When she finds a job posting for a phone sex operator, she decides that it’s exactly the job for her. Her boss, Fiona Mallick, is delighted with Lea. She knows her stuff when it comes to sex & she has a sexy as all get out voice. Then she has a run in with Shane Mallick, Fee’s brother-in-law. And her life changes in ways she doesn’t expect it.

Shane knows Lea is running from something and he’s determined to find out what it is. Everything about Lea turns out to be everything he wants in a woman, but both their pasts may come back to haunt them. Shane is a loanshark enforcer for his family. When someone doesn’t pay up, there is an order in which they try to collect what is owed to them. Shane’s brother Ryan, who is a peacekeeper goes first & tries to reason with them. If that doesn’t work, Mark goes to shake them down. If that doesn’t work, Shane goes in and beats some ass. Shane is definitely an anti-hero. I think all the Mallick brothers are.

When Leah’s past ends up in Navesink Bank, Shane will do anything to protect her. Knowing about her past and what she is endured has make Shane resolute in keeping her in his life. He will do anything for Lea including and up to committing murder. Anti-hero though he was, he was a great character. I loved how he treated Lea. He knew what she had gone through but he didn’t treat her like a fragile flower. I loved that. He also had some great advice for Lea.

“If you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, the fucker will jump right back out. It knows it’s wrong, it hurts, it will kill him. But if you put him in a pot and slowly raise it up to boiling, he’ll stay. That’s what abuse is like. You might not even notice it’s happening at first. You’d brush it off as him having a bad day, you pissing him off. But then it starts getting worse in small ways until you’re in so deep and you’re so hot and your skin is peeling and you don’t know if you even remember you can jump anymore. That doesn’t make you weak. You got out of that shit, baby. That makes you stronger, a lot stronger, I think, than you even realize.”

I loved Shane since I first read about him in Reign. I think this story was well written & very engaging.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Mallick Brothers

four-stars


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Review: Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna Collett

Posted September 8, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna CollettReviewer: Holly
Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna Collett
Series: Ever Dark Ever Deadly #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fairytale, Fantasy
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A spellbinding mystery leads an unlikely pair on the hunt for a killer.

Tessa Daniels needs a miracle. Preferably, the kind that comes with cold hard cash. Her magic shop is failing, and she'll be tossed into the street unless she clears her debt.

When a financial boon arrives in the form of a young woman determined to attend the prince's ball, a risky spell turns out to be the miracle she needed. That is until the woman is found dead at the stroke of midnight, and Tessa comes face-to-face with the kingdom's cold, and way too appealing, lead detective.

Detective Derrick Chambers has no use for the supernatural. As the rising star at the Royal Agency, he won't let magic, or the pretty witch that deals in it, get in the way of solving a murder.

His logic tells him to steer clear of Tessa's chaos, but a forced partnership soon turns into an attraction neither can resist.

With the body count rising, and the kingdom in a panic, an exposed secret will tear them apart and put Tessa in the sights of a killer where no amount of magic can save her.

Spellbound After Midnight is an enemies-to-lovers, slow burn romance, with a puzzling mystery, strong female heroine, and fairy tale elements.

Spellbound After Dark is the first book in Jenna Collett’s Ever Dark, Ever Deadly series. I found this while browsing Kindle Unlimited and decided to give it a try based on the reviews. This is my first read by the author. I really enjoyed the writing and the story. I easily fell into it.

Tessa Daniels is a down-on-her-luck witch. Her mother was renowned in the kingdom for her powers, but Tessa has never had very good control of hers. More often than not, her potions and spells go wrong (sometimes seriously so). As a result, the magic shop she inherited when her mother passed away is on the brink of bankruptcy. In a moment of desperation, Tessa borrowed money from the local kingpin, and he’s calling it due.

When a young woman she casts an illusion spell for turns up dead, Tessa realizes she can help solve the young girl find justice and solve her financial problems by collecting the reward money. The catch? She has to work with Royal Detective Chambers, a total stick-in-the-mud who also happens to be attractive as sin.

Derrick Chambers isn’t thrilled about being forced to work with a witch, but they end up making a good team. Both on the case and off it. Unfortunately, Tessa forgot to mention that whole “in debt to a gangster” thing, and there may be no coming back once he finds out.

This story was an unexpected delight. I liked the fairytale twist (“Cinderella” died at midnight, and the “fairy godmother” has to solve the murder case), and I really loved the romance. Derrick was really wonderful to Tessa, despite them getting off on the wrong foot. He was kind and caring, and it was obvious he was struggling with his feelings, but he was never cruel.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t love that Tessa kept secrets from him. I understood her reasons, but I didn’t agree with them. Aside from that, I don’t have much to complain about. I loved the friendship Tessa had with Vivian, a medium. I also enjoyed the world and the mystery behind the murder. I figured out the suspect early on, but I still liked the way the story unfold.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ever Dark, Ever Deadly

four-stars


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