Author: Grace Draven

Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Posted November 14, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 4 Comments

Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace DravenReviewer: Casee, Holly, & Rowena
Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven
Narrator: Katharine McEwan
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

Phoenix Unbound is the first book in Grace Draven’s Fallen Empire series and it follows a young woman named Gilene who was born with fire magic. Each year, the Empire demands a sacrifice from each village in the form of a young woman who will be burned to death for the entertainment of the masses and each year, Gilene has been the sacrifice for her small town. With her fire magic and illusion, Gilene has been able to trick the Empire into believing that her town sends a new sacrifice each year and each year, her small town makes her pay the price.

When Gilene comes across the Empire’s winningest gladiator, her life is forever changed because Azarion knows Gilene’s secret. He can see through her illusion and knows she’s been coming every year. He needs her help in escaping his enslavement because he needs to go back home and re-claim his title and his family. He also needs to make sure that those who sold him into slavery pay for their crimes.

Rowena: Alright, so what did you guys think? Did you guys enjoy this book as much as you did Shadow and Ice? =P

Holly: I listened to the audiobook, and the first few chapters were pretty slow for me. I don’t know if it was because I was listening instead of reading, or just the book itself, but I struggled. By the halfway point (perhaps a bit sooner, I didn’t really pay attention to where I was at in the book) it picked up. Regardless, I ended up really loving it. Shadow and Ice, not so much.

Casee: Okay, I finally read this book and I really ended up enjoying it. I don’t think I liked it as much as you two did, but I did really like it. It started out really, really slow for me. I listened to it on audio. I liked the narrator, which always helps. It really wasn’t until they got back to Azarion’s homeland that the book started getting interesting.

Ha. This book was loads better than Shadow and Ice. The two don’t even compare.

Rowena: I read the eBook and was fine. I didn’t think it was slow at all, but that could have been because I was so bored through Shadow & Ice that the mystery behind what Gilene did for her village, every single year had me sitting up and taking notice right from the jump.

Holly: I really loved Gilene in this book. She was such a strong woman. I really identified with her determination to save her family, even if they didn’t necessarily deserve her sacrifice.

Rowena: Like Holly, I loved Gilene so much in this book but I also really loved Azarion. They were both going through so much that it was hard not to sympathize with them. I completely understood why Azarion did what he did to Gilene at the same time that I understood why Gilene had to get back to her village, and why she felt she had to continue to do what she does year in and year out even though her village probably didn’t deserve her sacrifice.

Holly: I understood why Azarion did what he did, too, though I didn’t fault Gilene for being angry at him over it. I also got why she needed to go back to her village. They definitely didn’t deserve her, but she couldn’t turn her back on them and I respected that.

Casee: I did find Gilene and her history interesting. I also found her a little insufferable. She was constantly fighting Azarion. I understood that, but at the same time I was like give it a rest, girl. Bide your time.

Holly: I didn’t find Gilene insufferable, though I did find myself thinking she needed to relax a little. She spent her whole life being told she had to do this one thing, so I understood where her head was at.

Rowena: That was the same for me. It’s hard not to sympathize with her considering the big sacrifice she had to go through every single year and then how else was she to respond to Azarion kidnapping her? I would have been fighting his ass at every turn too.

My favorite parts of the story were when Azarion and Gilene were back in his home…and when she fooled those guys that tried to attack her and the people of Azarion’s village. The way that she made the fire all big was great and I loved seeing her come into her own powers, especially in the end when she’s back in the empire. What were some of your favorite parts of the book?

Holly: I loved Azarion’s culture. It reminded me of the Dothraki from Game of Thrones. I really liked the time they spent with Azarion’s clan. His mom and sister were great, and I liked how Gilene proved herself. The scene you mentioned, definitely, plus her actions at the end. I loved how brave she was, and how willing she was to sacrifice it all for others.

Rowena: Yeah, same.

Casee: My favorite part of the book was when Azarion thought Gilene was lost to Agna forever. I think that scene truly showed the depths of his feelings for her. And when they found each other again? Sigh. That was just about perfection.

Rowena: How about Azarion’s cousin? I’m not going to lie, it brought me much joy when Azarion killed that little bitch with his Legolas horse shenanigans. That was great.

Holly: I loved it when Azarion finally took care of his cousin.

Rowena: Overall, I thought the story was interesting and I’m interested in keeping the party going. I’m thinking that homegirl from the caravan people is going to get a book and the other girl from the Empire, the one that was supposed to be burned up with Gilene the day that she went nuts on the empire. Which, by the way, was fantastic.

Holly: I think the caravan healer will have a book, and the other girl you mentioned. I hope we have more info about what’s next soon.

Casee: I did think it was interesting when Holly asked me if I thought Azarion was going to be Gilene’s hero. I never he thought he might not be. I did wonder how it was all going to work out though.

Rowena: This is was my first book by Grace Draven and it was a good one so I’m definitely keen on reading more from her. I give this one a 4 out of 5. What about you guys?

Holly: The story was definitely interesting. The beginning was slow, but the second half more than made up for it. I loved Gilene’s strength of will, and her determination to do the right thing no matter what. I loved Azarion, and how protective he was of her and how determined to do the right thing with his clan. I’m really looking forward to the next book. 4 out of 5

Casee: I’m giving this a 4 out of 5.

Casee: 4 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

The Fallen Empire

four-stars


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Review: Radiance by Grace Draven

Posted September 21, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Radiance by Grace DravenReviewer: Holly
Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1) by Grace Draven
Series: Wraith Kings #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 297
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Goodreads
four-half-stars

THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

This was an adorable story. If you’d told me prior to reading this that I’d think a dude with gray skin and yellow eyes would be adorable, I’d have called you crazy. Yet here we are. Brishen was adorable. I loved the main conflict – that they’re different races and find each other hideous.

“You find me ugly, don’t you?”
“Hideous. A hag of a woman. And you? You don’t think me a handsome man?”
“Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father’s mace.”

She’s human and he’s Kai. They’re to be married at the edict of their respective kings. Neither is looking forward to being married to a monster. He calls her a hag and she calls him a dead eel. That may not sound like the makings of a great romance, but it was. I loved their banter and how they came to see each other in a different light.

Ildiko was strong and practical. I loved how she embraced her new life and kept an open mind. Brishen was kind and thoughtful, especially when it came to Ildiko. They made a great team together. Their romance was very sweet, despite their differences. I love how they chose to support one another, rather than being angry because they were forced into the marriage.

“You are also a princess of the blood through marriage, a member of the royal family. My wife. Every Kai in that room owes you their allegiance and respect. I will cut out any tongue that would try and besmirch you, Ildiko.” He pressed his lips to her palm. The tiniest crack appeared in her serene composure.

Her mouth twitched with the hint of a smile. “Or bury an axe blade in their heads?”

His guilt over his inability to rescue her from his own family eased a little at her humor. “I’m adept with spear and sword as well. Just name who you want me to skewer for you.”

The majority of the book is spent on Ildiko learning about Brishen and his people, as well as settling into her new life. While it could have been slow and boring, instead it was sweet and engaging. Early on Brishen and Ildiko decide they need to be a team if their marriage is going to work. I loved their solidarity and how adult and mature their romance was. Though there is some minor outside conflicts, that’s not the focus of this book and I loved it.

Brishen was adorable. Ildiko was perfect for him. Together they were unstoppable.

4.25 out of 5

Wraith Kings

four-half-stars


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Giveaway: Celebrate Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven with a Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit

Posted September 3, 2018 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 1 Comment

Start Kit Book Covers

Enter for a chance to win your own romantic fantasy starter kit! 

As Phoenix Unbound is the first book in Grace Draven’s Fallen Empire series, Ace is celebrating with a giveaway that also features other first-in-series romantic fantasy books (including books by Nalini Singh, Chloe Neill, Ilona Andrews, Anne Bishop, and Patricia Briggs). They are calling it a ‘Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit’ and it includes some seriously awesome books.

Giveaway: Celebrate Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven with a Romantic Fantasy Starter KitPhoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Also in this series: Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1)
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

These six first-in-series books are essential to building your fantasy romance collection!

20 runners-up will receive an advance reading copy of Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven!

SLAVE TO SENSATION by Nalini Singh

THE FIRST PSY/CHANGELING NOVEL from the New York Times bestselling author of Shards of Hope, Shield of Winter, and Heart of Obsidian

The book that Christine Feehan called “a must-read for all of my fans.”

MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews invites you to experience the first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring the intriguing fantasy world of mercenary Kate Daniels…

WRITTEN IN RED by Anne Bishop

Enter the world of the Others in the first novel in New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s thrilling fantasy series: a place where unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—rule the Earth and prey on the human race.

CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs

#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs presents the first Alpha and Omega novel—the start of an extraordinary series set in Mercy Thompson’s world, but with rules of its own…

PHOENIX UNBOUND by Grace Draven

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

WILD HUNGER by Chloe Neill

In the first thrilling installment of Chloe Neill’s spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series, a new vampire will find out just how deep blood ties run.

Click here to enter! 

*This giveaway is not a Book Binge sponsored giveaway. You will enter through the publisher’s website and they will contact you direct if you win.


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Guest Review: Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter and Jeffe Kennedy

Posted December 28, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter and Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Tracy
Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Jeffe Kennedy, Elizabeth Hunter
Publisher: Brightlynx Publishing
Publication Date: December 12th 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
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Goodreads
four-stars

As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night...

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

THE CHOSEN, by Thea HarrisonIn her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

THE DARKEST NIGHT

Jahna was born with a birthmark on her face (what is now known as a port wine stain) that has made her the victim of severe bullying whenever she wasn’t in her home.  Her father refuses to let her stay home when there are festivals to go to at the palace.  She never takes part in the festivities but enjoys them none-the-less.

When Jahna is a 16-year-old she meets Sir Velus, the swordmaster who has been hired by her father to teach her brother for the next four years.  They become friends but they both harbor deeper feelings for the other that may never come to light.

This was a lovely story that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I do wish that we could have seen Velus and Jahna together a bit more as the story does jump time a bit (the novella covers a 4-year span of time).  Despite that I really liked it and love Velus for loving this wonderful woman that everyone else ignored.

THE CHOSEN

This story takes place in the same world as the Elder Races but in one of the parallel magical universes.  The Goddess has a Chosen one and she has prophetic dreams.  She sees violence coming to her country and she’s not sure who she can trust among the warring men.  One man, makes his way into her heart and helps her grow as a Chosen.

I really love Harrison’s Elder Races novels and this was a lovely glimpse into the more magical places in that world.  I really loved both the hero and heroine in this story – I just wish it was longer! Lol  I was totally into it and then it ended. sigh

THE STORM

Maxim fell in love with Renata 18 years earlier but she has been in and out of his life since that time.  He’s determined to finally lock her down!

I loved the premise of this book with the half-angelic Irin people and all they were going through.  It was sad at times but happy at others.  I liked Maxim a lot and was happy when he finally got Renata to agree to be with him forever.

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN

Ash is a soldier and knows that he’s not a good enough man to be with the queen, even though he loves her and her children.  Ash is seeing them to Windroven where Queen Amelia wants to spend the feast of midwinter.  During their travel they argue and agree to part but neither truly wants to be parted from the other.  When danger threatens the Queen Ash is there to save her.  They finally talk and realize that they never want to be parted.

This was a good story but I felt like I was missing something.  It’s obviously part of a series and because of this I didn’t feel that it stood alone well.  I liked it but was lost at times.  I thought that Amelia and Ash were both hard-headed and needed to talk.  When they finally did, all was well.  It ended without conclusion so I believe that there will be more to their story in the series to come.

Overall I really liked this anthology a lot.  The stories were engaging and I loved the magical/fantasy element that ran through all of the novellas.  This is one I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven

Posted September 11, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Gaslight Hades by Grace DravenReviewer: Holly
Gaslight Hades (The Bonekeeper Chronicles, #1) by Grace Draven
Series: The Bonekeeper Chronicles #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 117
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he's earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married.

Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.

GASLIGHT HADES is a 39k-word novella-length gaslamp fantasy romance with a sprinkling of airships, monsters and ghosts.  This story may also be found in the duology, Beneath a Waning Moon, alongside an Elizabeth Hunter tale.

Gaslight Hades is a dark and gritty novella that introduces us to a new Steampunk series by Grace Draven.

Nathaniel Gordon used to be a gunner on an airship, until he fell into hell and was remade by a monster. Now he’s a Guardian; Able to walk between two worlds – the living and the dead – he’s a Bonekeeper, a protector of graveyards and those who reside in them from grave robbers, who steal dead bodies and deliver them to madmen to be experimented on and brought back to life in the worst imaginable way. Life as he knew it is over, he understands and accepts that…until his lost love, Lenore Kenward, turns up in his graveyard for her father’s funeral.

Lenore begs The Guardian to watch over her father’s grave, not realizing he’s what’s left of the man she was meant to marry. There’s something very familiar about him, and she finds herself drawn to him despite his appearance and the probably danger. But will she still be able to accept him once she finds out the truth?

This my first story by Draven. I really like Steampunk so I expected to enjoy it, but I was surprised by how much I liked it. I was very sad it ended when it did. I would have loved to have more: More of the world, more Lenore and definitely more Nathaniel. I’m really excited to see this is just the start of a series and I hope all 6 Guardians get their own books.

3.5 out of 5

four-stars


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