Genre: Fantasy

Review: The Kingpin of Camelot by Cassandra Gannon

Posted January 4, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: The Kingpin of Camelot by Cassandra GannonReviewer: Holly
The Kingpin of Camelot (A Kinda Fairytale, #3) by Cassandra Gannon
Series: A Kinda Fairytale #3
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: July 31, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 576
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four-half-stars

The Queen: Guinevere must save Camelot. Ever since Arthur died, the evil Scarecrow has been trying to marry her and gain the crown. If she and her daughter are going to survive his mad schemes, Gwen needs to find Merlyn’s wand. Fast. Unfortunately, the only man strong enough to help her on her quest is Kingpin Midas, a flashy, uneducated mobster dealing with a curse. Gwen is a logical, rational woman, though, and she can draft one hell of a contract. She’s pretty sure she can come up with an offer not even the kingdom’s greatest villain can refuse.

The Kingpin: Anything Midas touches turns to gold. Literally. The curse has helped him to rule Camelot’s underworld with an iron fist. He has more money and more power than anyone else in the kingdom. He’s convinced there’s nothing he can’t buy. One look at Gwen and Midas knows that he’s about to make his most brilliant purchase, yet. He’s about to own the one woman in the world he would give anything to possess. All he has to do to claim her is somehow win a war against the smartest man in Camelot, hide his growing feelings from Gwen, deal with his overprotective bodyguard’s paranoia about the queen’s hidden motivations, and adjust to a five year old demanding bedtime stories from a gangster. Simple, right?

The Contract: Gwen’s deal is simple: If Midas marries her, she’ll make him King of Camelot. It’s a fair bargain. Midas will keep her enemies away and she’ll give him the respectability that money can’t buy. She never expects Midas to agree so quickly. Or for their practical business arrangement to feel so… complicated. Midas isn’t the tawdry, feral animal that Arthur railed against. He’s a kind and gentle man, who clearly needs Gwen’s help just as much as she needs his. In fact, the longer she’s around Midas the more Gwen realizes that their “fake marriage” might be more real than she ever imagined.

Recently Ilona Andrews blogged about The Kingpin of Camelot by Cassandra Gannon, and I had to try it. It was so much fun! It was sweet and silly and over the top in the best possible way. If you’re looking for something light to read, I highly recommend it. King Midas was everything!

This modern fairytale reminded me quite a bit of the Shrek franchise. Fairytale characters abound as Guinevere tries to retake the Kingdom of Camelot after the death of King Arthur. Though he was no one’s hero and she doesn’t mourn him, his death threw the kingdom into chaos. As the rightful queen, Gwen can take the kingdom back, but she needs help. Although Midas is an underworld Kingpin, Gwen has it on the highest authority she can trust him. After their first meeting she realizes he’s just a giant teddy bear and she decides she needs to marry him to protect him from those who’d take advantage of him.

Midas is no one’s fool. When Guinevere shows up and says she needs his help, he’s quick to agree. Even though he knows it shows weakness to jump in so quickly, he can’t help himself. She’s everything he’s ever wanted. He agrees to a “fake” marriage knowing full well he’ll never give her up.

Blue eyes, the exact color of Vivien’s enchanted lake, looked up at him… And for the first time in his life, Midas belonged somewhere. Oh God. He’d found her.

Gannon, Cassandra. The Kingpin of Camelot (A Kinda Fairytale Book 3) (Kindle Locations 391-394). Star Turtle Publishing. Kindle Edition.

This was such a campy, over-the-top read. A bit predictable and one-dimensional at times, but fun and engaging for all that. I fell right into it. I loved Midas and Avalon, Gwen’s daughter, not to mention Tristan. The way Gwen thought she had to protect Midas was adorable. So was his immediate reaction to her and her daughter.

He just wasn’t taking the situation seriously. She’d mentally readjusted her plans to deal with the fact that she would have to protect Midas from himself. It would be difficult, but it was her responsibility to keep him safe, now.

Gannon, Cassandra. The Kingpin of Camelot (A Kinda Fairytale Book 3) (Kindle Locations 1177-1179). Star Turtle Publishing. Kindle Edition.

If you’re looking for campy fun, this is the book for you.

4.25 out of 5

four-half-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 | 1 Comment

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
Published by Brightlynx Publishing
Publication Date: December 12th 2017
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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Review: Heart Sight by Robin D. Owens

Posted December 19, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Heart Sight by Robin D. OwensReviewer: Holly
Heart Sight (Celta's Heartmates) by Robin D. Owens
Series: Celta's Heartmates #15
Also in this series: Heart Fate, HeartMate, HeartMate, Heart Dance, Heart Journey, Heart Secret, Heart Legacy, Heart Change
Published by Berkley Books
Publication Date: December 5th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
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four-stars

Journey back to the planet Celta with award-winning author Robin D. Owens in this novel about shadowed enemies and unimaginable psi power.

Muin "Vinni" T'Vine has been the prophet of Celta since he was six years old. A unique and lonely child, his strong psi power made most people wary of him. But now that he's older, he's ready to marry and protect the girl he's known was his HeartMate for years.

Avellana isn't as fragile as Vinni believes...nor as compliant. She fights to be considered Vinni's equal and a strong member of her Family and community. Both of them have kept Avellana's main power secret for over a decade.

But rumors of her strange psi talent are spreading, and Vinni is experiencing premonitions of danger to Avellana--even from the highest people of the land. When the whispers become threats, Vinni and Avellana must discover and defeat their secret enemies before they can finally claim happiness together.

I’ve been waiting years for this book. Vinni and Avellana were introduced in the 2nd book and had parts as children in some of the following books. Now they’re all grown up. Vinni, the Premier Prophet of Celta, keeps having terrible visions of Avellana’s death. For years he’s been sending her to remote places to keep her safe. Now a woman of 24, Avellana is tired of being away her home and loved ones. Even though Vinni still senses danger in her future, she refuses to leave. She wants them to fight together, not spend their time apart, cowering from some unknown threat.

As excited as I was about this couple finally getting a book, I went into with some trepidation. After all, these two were young children when I started reading the series, and young adults in the last book I remember them in. Owens did a great job of showing them as grown adults.

The main conflict is Vinni’s over-protectiveness when it comes to Avellana because of his visions, and how that’s damaged them both over the years. I really enjoyed seeing them grow, accept each other as they are, and come together as an adult couple and as HeartMates. Unlike other couples, they’ve both known since her birth they were fated for each other. That made things easier for them in some respects, but much harder in others.

I liked that Avellana stood up for herself. For years she’s been passively accepting of her family and Vinni’s over-protectiveness. She finally realizes she can’t continue to allow them to send her away.  Not if she wants to finally live the life she was meant for. Her inner strength really came through and I ended up admiring her in the end.

It would have been easy to hate Vinni for forcing Avellana away all those years, except he truly was terrified for her safety. His obvious love and devotion for her came through so strongly it was impossible to hate him. Like Avellana, I got angry with him over his determination to do things “for her own good”, but as he accepted who Avellana had grown to be, it was easy to let go of that anger. I was fully rooting for them in the end.

I always love returning to Celta. The world is so well-drawn I’m always fully immersed. This novel is at turns sweet, suspenseful and angst-filled. It was lovely.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted August 31, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn SparksReviewer: Holly
So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #2
Also in this series: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1)
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 29th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 496
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four-stars

Growing up on the Isle of Moon, Brigitta knows nothing of her past, except that she is Embraced: born with powers that forced her into hiding. Everything changes when she learns she’s a princess, hidden away from her villainous half-brother who now rules the kingdom. But he knows about Brigitta, and he’ll do anything to get her back. Unless a certain roguish pirate has anything to say about it…

Rupert is both an infamous pirate and a sorcerer with the power to harness the wind. He’s been waiting nineteen years for revenge—and he needs Brigitta to get it. What begins as a kidnapping of the fiery beauty turns into a fierce attraction. But can he win the captive princess’s heart?

So I Married a Sorcerer is the second book in The Embraced series. I skipped book one, How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days, and don’t feel like I missed anything. It stands alone well.

Brigitta and her 3 adopted sisters were raised together in a convent on the Isle of Moon after their families gave them up because they are Embraced – meaning they were born with magical powers. Brigitta knows nothing of her past, so when a naval fleet chases her ship down while she’s on her way to visit one of her sisters, she’s shocked to learn she’s actually a princess long thought dead. When she’s captured by pirates and she realizes the vision her sister foretold is coming true, she’s both frightened and exhilarated.  As she learns more about her biological family and the pirate Rupert, she can’t help but wonder …who is the hero of this story, and who is the villain?

Rupert has been waiting 19 years to gain his revenge against Brigitta’s family. When he finds out she’s alive, he knows this is the opportunity he’s been waiting for. By ransoming her to her brother, he’ll finally gain the leverage he needs to avenge his past. The problem? He’s having a hard time with the thought of putting Brigitta in danger. He should hate her. After all, she’s the sister of his greatest enemy. But it doesn’t take long for him to realize she’s completely innocent..and quite possibly destined to be his. Can he set aside his need for revenge to win her?

This is my first book by Sparks. I avoided her novels in the past because I thought they were really light and campy. While that may be true (or not! I’m not even sure why I thought that) of her other novels, this was actually a fairly dark read. Brigitta’s strength and quiet determination were lovely to read about. I really enjoyed her and Rupert, both together and apart. He had a rock solid core of honesty and goodness that really worked. Together they were well matched.

The adventure and world-building were also very well done. I really enjoyed the setting and learning more about the world. I plan to go back and read book one.

Filled with action, adventure, betrayal, revenge, love and a strong sense of family, So I Married a Sorcerer was a great read all around.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre

Posted August 28, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Leopard King by Ann AguirreReviewer: Holly
The Leopard King (Ars Numina, #1) by Ann Aguirre
Series: Ars Numina #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: September 28th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 271
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four-stars

Proud. Imperious. Impassioned.

Until three years ago, those words applied to Dominic Asher, the leader of Ash Valley. His family has ruled the feline branch of the Animari for hundreds of years, guiding the pride through perilous times. Unspeakable loss drove him into seclusion, a feral beast nobody can tame. Now he’s wrecked, a leopard king in exile, and he wants nothing more than to die.

Fierce. Loyal. Determined.

Fortunately for Dom, those words still apply to Pru Bristow, his dead mate’s best friend. She’s had her heart broken too, but she never quits. With the conclave approaching, alliances with the Pine Ridge pack and Burnt Amber clans on the verge of collapse, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to drag their leader back, before his second can start a war.

At best theirs seems like a desperate alliance, but when their mate bond turns hot and fierce, there’s no end to the questions and the doubts. Neither of them expects to fall in love. But sometimes people don’t know what they’re looking for until they find it.

The Leopard King is the first book in Ann Aguirre’s Ars Numina series. Ahh, the angst! The first few chapters of this book were Intense (with a capital I). It lightened up some after that, but overall this was a pretty dark read. I really enjoyed the way the romance and the story arc progressed.

Dominic Asher was the leader of the Ash Valley shifters until his wife was murdered. For the past three years he’s been hiding away in a mountain retreat, slowing wasting away. When Pru, his dead wife’s best friend, shows up and says he needs to return to the pack, he wants nothing to do with her or his place as leader. Pru is a Latent (meaning she can’t Shift), so Dom tells her he won’t return until she can Shift and go back as his mate. Something he knows will never happen.

Pru spent years trying to force the change. The best way is through some kind of strong emotion, so she’s tried everything from slitting her wrists to jumping off buildings to make it happen. She’d given up years ago, but for Dom and the good of the pack she’s willing to try again.

Dom didn’t expect to have such a visceral reaction to Pru hurting herself. Nor did he realize the depth of her inner strength or her stubbornness. It isn’t long before her attempts to Shift firmly pull him back into the land of the living.

Pru really made this book for me. Dom was great, don’t get me wrong, but I adored Pru. She was calm and level-headed under pressure, fierce and strong when she needed to be, and stubborn enough to get any job done. There were a few times I got frustrated with her for rushing into things without thinking them over, but overall she was pretty awesome.

Dom’s anger and grief over hist lost mate was heartbreaking and visceral. Those early chapters just slayed me. His slow transition back into the land of the living with Pru’s help was fabulous to read about. I’m telling you, Aguirre really knows how to hit those emotional high notes.

The action lacked a little something. I’m not sure what. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the action scenes, exactly, just that I felt like something was missing from them. It was almost like they were glossed over in some ways, which lessened their impact on me as a reader. Aside from that, I really enjoyed the way the story progressed and all the secondary characters. I’m really looking forward to starting the next book.

Danger, intrigue, heartbreak, healing and love….The Leopard King has it all.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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