Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne

Guest Review: Otherworld Challenger by Jane Godman

Posted April 6, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: Otherworld Challenger by Jane GodmanReviewer: Jen
Otherworld Challenger by Jane Godman
Series: Otherworld #3
Also in this series: Otherworld Protector, Otherworld Renegade
Published by Harlequin Nocturne
Publication Date: September 1st 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 304
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

KING OF THE OTHERWORLD
The race is on to find the true heir to the faerie crown before the evil king Moncoya returns from exile. Mercenary necromancer Jethro de Loix will find the challenger to Moncoya's crown...for a price. One million mortal dollars. Outraged at Jethro's audacity, Princess Vashti, Moncoya's daughter, arranges to accompany him on his mission.
Jethro doesn't want company, especially not from Moncoya's belligerent, pampered daughter. But as their journey pits them against evil forces, their animosity soon gives way to an overwhelming physical attraction. When the trail ends on the legendary Isle of Avalon, can the pair face down the evil sorceress Morgan le Fay to claim a future they'd long denied themselves?

Otherworld Challenger is the final book in the Otherworld series. While it had some pretty disappointing flaws, overall I was happy I read it.

Note: There are a few tiny spoilers for books 1 and 2 here. I’ve kept them to a minimum but if you haven’t read the other books and really don’t want to know anything, skip this review!

This time, our heroine is Vashti, Moncoya’s other daughter. She’s now the faerie representative in the new Otherworld Council, a role she takes really seriously. In book 2, we learned that someone from the faerie royal bloodline is still around. (Moncoya stole the crown but wasn’t part of the line.) The Council wants a democratic election, and they decide the best chance to get the faeries to vote for someone other than Moncoya is to find the legitimate heir. Jethro de Loix, the mercenary necromancer we met earlier in the series, offers to find the challenger, and the Council decides Vashti should accompany him to confirm that he gets the right person. The problem is, Jethro and Vashti can’t stand each other, and now they have to undertake an incredibly dangerous journey together. Doing so will take them deeper into Jethro’s past and force them to rely on someone else in a way neither has ever done before.

I totally loved Vashti. While Tanzi was the feminine fashion icon, Vashti was the fierce tomboy her father always wished was a boy. In book 2, she was still holding some loyalty towards her dad, but when he tricks her into helping him escape at the end of that book, she finally realizes he doesn’t care about her at all. Moncoya often pitted the girls against each other, discouraged them from using their fae senses of intuition and healing, and ruthlessly suppressed their emotions. Once Vashti is free of her father’s influence, though, she discovers she has deep emotions and powers, and I really enjoyed seeing her discover more about herself.

Really, though, this is kind of Jethro’s story. Vashti doesn’t say much about herself, largely because her own past was detailed in Tanzi’s story. It’s a little frustrating because of course Jethro wasn’t there for that, but I could understand not wanting to just rehash what we already know. Jethro’s story is pretty compelling, too, and even though it’s clear from the start what the big secret is going to be, it’s still interesting to read about. I thought Jethro was an excellent match for Vashti, too. He’s kind of a dick, and he’s hard on Vashti at first, but she’s equally prickly and obnoxious at first, too. Once he gets to know her better, he displays a lot of sensitivity and caring, and as you learn about his life you see he’s not quite the heartless mercenary he appears to be.

The first half of this book was so great. We learn more about Jethro, and Vashti gets used to the human world and her own true self. We also find out that Vashti and Jethro have an almost supernatural connection that seems to strengthen both. They have some great sexual tension too, and all of this awakens Vashti to the possibilities inside her. There’s also a big adventure component as they travel around, escaping the evil sorcerer who’s after them. Vashti starts to protect Jethro, physically and emotionally, and I loved the dynamic that was developing. But then, the second part of the book kind of loses that momentum. They go to the mythical island of Avalon, which is where they’re supposed to be, but things slow down once they get there. Even worse, though, all the build up about the mystical connection and this idea that they make the other one stronger kind of just disappears. In the end, Jethro basically does it all on his own while Vashti kind of hangs back instead of being his partner like she was earlier. It was super disappointing and, frankly, a disservice to Vashti.

When I looked back and cataloged all my thoughts about the book it sounds a little frustrating, but while reading it I Could. Not. Put. It. Down. I gasped at the surprising parts, bit my lip when things got hairy, and sweetly sighed at the romantic parts. I knew it wasn’t perfect, but I enjoyed the hell out of it anyway. This series was unexpectedly fun for me, even if it was a bit crazy. If you’re looking for a paranormal romance you can read in a few short hours, and you don’t need to overanalyze the details, this series might hit the spot for you, too.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Otherworld Renegade by Jane Godman

Posted March 30, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Otherworld Renegade by Jane GodmanReviewer: Jen
Otherworld Renegade by Jane Godman
Series: Otherworld #2
Also in this series: Otherworld Protector, Otherworld Challenger
Published by Harlequin Nocturne
Publication Date: May 1st, 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 304
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Claiming her felt like his destiny…but could prove to be his ultimate undoing.

Desperate to flee a horrific arranged marriage, Princess Tanzi turned to the only man who could help. Lorcan Malone, infamous necromancer, had vowed to come to her aid whenever she needed him. And even as they traveled from the mortal world into the fantastical Otherworld, Tanzi knew her true need ran deeper than just a rescue.

She was his enemy’s daughter. A renegade like Lorcan had no business craving a Fae princess, one intended for a greater calling. Yet he was powerless to resist the pull to do more than protect Tanzi…

Back to the Otherworld and my favorite book in the series! As I mentioned in my review of book 1, things get more exciting in book 2. We met Lorcan in Otherworld Protector, but here we get to know him even better. He’s a friend of Cal’s and a powerful necromancer in his own right. He’s a comedian who can always lighten the mood, but of course it hides the fact that he’s tortured and can never love anyone. In the big final battle in book 1, Lorcan saved Tanzi Moncoya, the daughter of the evil Faerie King. Tanzi stayed behind after her father escaped and started participating in the new reconstruction government Cal and Stella were organizing, but when her father arranges a truly despicable marriage for her, she knows she has to run. Unsure about who to trust, she runs to the human world and to Lorcan, hoping he’ll save her again. When it becomes clear she can’t hide, Lorcan agrees to help her escape to the one place her father could never reach her. But will either of them be able to let go once they get there?

My favorite part of the book was Tanzi. She and her sister Vashti were groomed their entire lives to serve Moncoya. Both trained with the Valkyries and are brutal fighters, and Moncoya used them as propaganda tools to intimidate and awe his enemies. Both girls also knew that some day they’d be expected to marry to further their father’s ambitions. Moncoya was a cruel and love-less father, but until he left they didn’t realize the scope of his evil activities. At the start of the book, Tanzi feels torn because he’s still her dad, but the marriage he arranges finally lifts the veil from her eyes, and she understands he is just plain a bad guy. Throughout the book she learns even more about the truly awful things her dad has done, and she has to come to terms with the role she played in his power, even if it was largely inadvertent. Even though she’s a trained warrior, she’s mostly lived a sheltered life, and it was nice to see her take control of her own destiny and have new experiences. I found her story very compelling. I really liked Lorcan and Tanzi together, too. Lorcan is patient and thoughtful, especially once he recognizes Tanzi’s life wasn’t what he thought. Seeing them come together, despite the fact that they both knew it was probably not a good idea, was sweet. Lorcan is also really committed to helping Tanzi on her quest, and their dangerous journey was exciting and gave a lot of time for them to fall in love.

Annoyingly, there’s a secret Lorcan keeps from Tanzi throughout the book, and it was kind of silly. First, the secret isn’t even that big a deal, and I don’t know why Lorcan thought Tanzi couldn’t handle it. Second, instead of having a conversation about it Tanzi pushes Lorcan away and of course ends up in danger. It was contrived and frustrating. In my review for book 1, I had mentioned that this felt like the kitchen-sink of mythology, mixing tons of different myths, stories, and traditions, and that continued here. The problem is, these are category romances, so there’s just not the page space to go too deep. Consequently, it felt like everything was painted with big broad strokes (both characters and the world) instead of finely wrought details. It’s maybe a little too ambitious to take on in a shorter book, even a trilogy.

But still, I am having such a good time reading these books! They aren’t perfect, but boy are they fun. They hit the right notes of adventure/paranormal/fantasy/romance for me, and I love the premise and the characters.

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Guest Review: Otherworld Protector by Jane Godman

Posted March 29, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Otherworld Protector by Jane GodmanReviewer: Jen
Otherworld Protector by Jane Godman
Series: Otherworld #1
Also in this series: Otherworld Renegade, Otherworld Challenger
Published by Harlequin Nocturne
Publication Date: December 2015
Genres: Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 293
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-stars

When Stella Fallon journeys to Spain for a dream job, she never suspects that a cataclysmic confrontation is looming. Or that she is the last in an ancient line of dark sorcerers. For her new employer--an electronics billionaire--is actually a Faerie King desperate to harness Stella's powers so he can rule the Otherworld.
The only one who can protect Stella is a man she once thought her guardian angel. Cal becomes human, but his centuries-old secret could destroy her trust. Still, the pair cannot deny their white-hot attraction as they seek refuge in a cave to prepare for a battle of epic magnitude...

The set up: The Otherworld is an alternate world that exists alongside the world we all know. (The mechanics aren’t entirely clear, nor are they very important!) Who lives in Otherworld? Magical and fantasy creatures, like faeries, vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, etc. The Otherworld is at a crisis moment, though, and the evil Faerie King is trying to take over. He is also making evil inroads to the human world, and he needs to be stopped.

This book focuses on Stella Fallon, a video game designer. She moves to Spain to do an internship at a big game company owned by the mysterious Ezra Moncoya. She brings with her someone she likes to think of as her “protector”, a mysterious figure who literally hangs around her peripheral vision (she can sense him but never quite see him full on) and has been saving her from catastrophe her entire life. When it’s clear Moncoya wants Stella for more than just her programming skills, her mysterious protector intercedes and finally shows himself to be Cal, a sorcerer sent to guard her. Cal tells her that she’s actually a powerful necromancer and the key to saving the Otherworld. As Cal and Stella grow closer, she must learn to control her powers and figure out what role she and Cal must play in the coming confrontation.

I loved the premise of this book. I am always up for the “person thinks they’re ordinary but really they’re the key to saving the world” storyline. It is great to see Stella learn about her powers and about the world she never knew existed. I was fascinated by the Otherworld, too. It mixes so many different fantasy concepts. At times that does get a little bit like the kitchen-sink of mythology (Christian-like angels, necromancers, Valkyries, vampires, etc all in the same book?), but it’s still great fun. I also enjoyed Cal and Stella together. The sex was steamy, and I liked the way Cal was hesitant to get involved with Stella but helpless to avoid her pull.

Unfortunately, this book suffered from a little too much info dump. This is a complicated world, probably too complicated for the length of the books, and this first book in particular feels a bit plodding sometimes because of all the information. It’s also kind of hard to escape the fact that it’s a little creepy for Cal and Stella to fall in love. Cal has been watching Stella since she was a child, but suddenly he’s thinking about banging her. You really can’t think too hard about that part or it’s kind of skeezy! While there was a lot of info dumping about the world, there wasn’t much about Stella’s powers, and that disappointed me. She is supposedly so powerful, but we don’t see a ton of her work. She learns quickly and with few hurdles, and she has little trouble adjusting to the whole situation. I thought there were some major missed opportunities for character development there.

Really, this book is simply ok. However, the series gets much better in books 2 and 3, so I am very happy I kept reading. Because there’s so much world building in this book, I can’t recommend skipping it. All I can say is that if this premise interests you, consider reading Otherworld Protector so you can move on to books 2 and 3 (reviews to come).

Grade: 3 out of 5

three-stars

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