Author: Jeffe Kennedy

Joint Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Posted April 28, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Also in this series: The Orchid Throne
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATEAs Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MENConrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1) first came on my radar last year. I thought the cover was gorgeous and the premise intrigued me. It fell by the wayside until I saw the second book was going to be published soon. I asked Rowena and Amy if they wanted to read the first book with me, and they agreed.

Queen Euthalia was promised in marriage to the evil emperor of the realm in order to keep their island – and secrets – safe. For years she’s lived under the threat of their engagement, but she’s managed to keep him at bay by projecting a carefree, vapid image and playing a very delicate game of politics behind the scenes.

Now, a new threat has come to the shores of Calanthe….a changed wolf of a man, who is determined to avenge his family by murdering the Emperor. Conri needs Lia to agree to marry him….because prophecy says in order to defeat the emperor, he’s going to need her help.

Holly: This was different than I expected. It started really slow for me, and it took almost half the book before it picked up. What did you two think?

Ames: I agree, the beginning was slow for me too. But I was sucked into it when I realized Con had to go to Calanthe for magical reasons and that would make him and Lia meet. They were two strong characters and I liked them together.

Rowena: This one started off a bit slow for me too and even, in the end, I thought the world was interesting but I don’t know, in the end, I still didn’t completely connect with any of the characters and what was going on. I also wasn’t a fan of the jumping first-person POV business. In the beginning, it took me out of every chapter and I played catch up a lot.

strong>Ames: Lia is a true queen, worrying about her land and her people. This puts her at odds with Conri’s path of revenge because she sees his way as putting Calanthe in danger. And Conri wants revenge against the evil emperor Anure, who is responsible for his father’s death. And Conri’s own enslavement.

Holly: I do wonder how things are going to work out for them in the future. Lia’s sole focus is protecting Calanthe, and at times I wondered if her loyalty to the Island itself would put her at odds with Con. Even though they seemed to come to an understanding, I doubt it’s going to be smooth sailing going forward.

Holly: What did you think of Lia’s best friend, Tertulyn? She was obviously up to some shady stuff. Do you think she’s loyal or do you think she’s conspiring against Lia?

Ames: I don’t want Tertulyn to be a betrayer. But the way she was acting was so shady! I honestly thought she was there for Lia.

Rowena: I definitely think that Tertulyn is doing some shady shit right now. She’s too mad about Con and his men overtaking her family’s home and she thinks they’ve killed her family. I bet you she’s gone to Anure to betray Euthalia. I’m Enter ominous music here I’m not a fan of the way that Tertulyn acts and treats Euthalia, it doesn’t feel sincere to me so I’m thinking she’s definitely going to betray her.

Holly: I want Tertulyn to be loyal, but she’s definitely acting shady right now and I’m pretty sure she isn’t going to come out looking good in this.

Rowena: I agree with you, Holly. I just don’t have a good feeling about her so I’m counting on the betrayal. She’s gonna try and make a run of it as Anure’s wife, watch.

Ames: Also, how hilarious was Ambrose and his bird? That scene in the garden and then afterwards with the guards? I was cracking up!

Holly: I loved Ambrose and his bird. That scene in the garden was hilarious.

Rowena: I really liked Ambrose and his bird (and the staff) as well. He definitely marches to his own tune and seeing him annoy the snot out of Conri and then, later on, Euthalila, it was great.

Rowena: I am curious to see where their story takes them in the next book so I’m definitely interested in continuing the series. What about you guys?

Holly: I’m definitely interested to see where the story goes. I do wonder if the second book will also end in a cliffhanger. I haven’t heard how many books are planned for this series.

Ames: I’m definitely interested in reading more from this series. Lia and Con are going to argue over every step they take going forward. But I think they’ll make a good team when it comes time to fight Anure.

I know there’s a third book coming out next year – but I’m not sure how many books are planned in the series overall though.

Rowena: I do plan on reading the other books in this series but I have to say, I wasn’t all that jazzed about the ending of this book. I’m hoping that there won’t be any more of that nonsense.

Overall, this was an interesting start to a new series and I’m curious enough to want to continue so I’ll definitely be reading but I wasn’t a huge fan of the pacing of this story, the constant whiplash I got from the changing POV and that ending wasn’t my favorite either. I’d give this one 3 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I agree, the premise was interesting and I like the world, but the pacing was off and the ending frustrated me. I’m going to read the next book, but I think I’ll wait until we know how many are planned before I pick it up.

I’d give it 3.5 out of 5.

Ames: I agree with you guys – the pacing was a bit off and the beginning was very slow. However once things picked up I was into it right to the end. Yes the ending was abrupt and if I had read this book when it came out, I would have been super frustrated to wait a year to read the next one. LOL So knowing that’s how this book ended, I kind of want to wait until book 3 is released before reading book 2.

I really enjoyed the characters and once we got into the world-building, I liked that too. I’m giving The Orchid Throne 3.75 out of 5.

Final Grades

Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Holly: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5

Forgotten Empire

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Posted September 26, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Jen
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Also in this series: The Orchid Throne
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

"The Orchid Throne is a captivating and sensual fantasy romance you won’t want to miss! High stakes. Remarkable worldbuilding. Unique and compelling characters. A slow-burn romance that’ll make you combust.” — Amanda Bouchet, USA Today bestselling author of The Kingmaker Chronicles

"The Orchid Throne captures from the first page and doesn't let go as Jeffe Kennedy weaves a timeless tale of love and survival amidst a lush backdrop teeming greed and deceit. You will fall for Lia and Con and root for them with every breath you take. This is a book that will linger in your thoughts for a very long time."- Darynda Jones, New York Times bestselling author

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATE

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MEN

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Lia, Queen of Calanthe, has spent the last few years of her life playing a dangerous game. Her island nation is one of the few who has not been taken over by the brutal Anure and his Empire. Lia is supposed to marry Anure, but she has been skillfully putting him off. She knows time is running short, and she is desperate to find a way to protect Calanthe, regardless of what happens to her. Con led a revolt of slaves against the Empire, and he arrives in Calanthe hoping to further his cause. Lia and Con are drawn to each other, but neither particularly trusts the other. Lia has to decide whether to throw her lot in with Con or give in to the Empire.

There is a LOT happening in this book. Kennedy has created an incredibly rich world, and for that reason this book has some info dump in it. Normally, too much of that bores me, but here I was fascinated. It helps that the world of Calanthe in particular is gorgeous and mysterious and full of magic, making you want to hear more about its secrets. I was particularly (and surprisingly) engaged by the political games Lia must play. In many ways Con’s accusation that she has lived in luxury while people in the world are dying at the hands of the Empire is completely justified. Calanthe has been spared the cruelty everyone else experienced, and most of the residents are either unwilling or unable to acknowledge that privilege. Lia believes she’s doing the right thing, but you can see the other side of that argument too. However, that safety has come largely because of Lia’s own sacrifices in recent years. She deeply understands the expectations her subjects have of her, her role on the political stage, her role as a potential wife, and how to use subtlety, charm, and ruthlessness when necessary to get what she wants. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her weigh her options, work behind the scenes, and use all her available resources to save her kingdom. She has been sheltered, but she is also very, very good at being Queen, and everything she does, she does for her kingdom, not for herself.

Con and his people have experienced a LOT of trauma (and CW for talk of abuse, torture, rape, and slavery), but somehow he is still a kind man. He is particularly sweet and vulnerable in his interactions with Lia, and it was both heartbreaking and lovely. His life has been so horrible–you just want to see things go right for him for a change. You can tell he is still growing into his role as a leader, and I can’t wait to see where he goes in the future. He and Lia both bear the weight of expectation and loneliness, and by the end it appears that they will both be made better by their union.

I didn’t realize before I read the book that this isn’t a finished story, nor would I quite categorize it as a romance (maybe just the first installment of a romance). While Con and Lia do have some great sexual tension and do end up together (and have some very hot sex!), it doesn’t happen until the very end of the book. By the end, there is some tentative trust and agreement between them, but they aren’t fully a team yet either. Really, this book is set up for the world and the conflict, but it doesn’t resolve anything. Not knowing that, I was very disappointed when I got to the end and realized there would be no resolution. That did temper my enjoyment of the story a bit.

I did love this world and these characters, though. I want to see Lia and Con grow into true partners, and I want to see how they can fight against the Empire. I will be waiting with baited breath for future books in the series.

Grade: 4 out of 5.

four-stars


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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: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 12th 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
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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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