Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Sunday Spotlight: A Cowboy Like You by Donna Grant

Posted November 24, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 2 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Sunday Spotlight: A Cowboy Like You by Donna GrantA Cowboy Like You (Heart of Texas #4) by Donna Grant
Series: Heart of Texas #4
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Westerns
Pages: 304
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In the Heart of Texas, a heartthrob cowboy may get his second chance at love…

Danny Oldman, the handsome Lone Star sheriff, is still single. He tells himself, and anyone who asks, that he is married to his job―and what matters most is keeping the people of his beloved Texas hometown safe. The truth? Danny still hasn’t gotten over his high school crush. She moved away after graduation and took Danny’s heart with her.

Skylar Long never thought she would have to flee Houston and return home―where it all began for her. But that’s what happened after the man of her dreams turned out to be an actual nightmare. Now, Skylar is desperate to escape her obsessive boyfriend. Nothing shocks her more than seeing Danny again and realizing that their long-ago attraction is more powerful than ever. But can she and Danny find a way to fight against Skylar’s wealthy, powerful ex who is dead set on tearing them apart?

New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant adds to her popular Heart of Texas series with A COWBOY LIKE YOU (St. Martin’s Paperbacks; November 26, 2019). In her latest captivating and compelling Western, a heartthrob cowboy who’s been stuck in a rut may get his second chance at a love with a woman he never forgot.

Excerpt

Excerpt from A COWBOY LIKE YOU by Donna Grant

Of all the people Danny had thought he might run into, he’d never in a million years expected to see Skylar Long again. If he believed in destiny, he’d almost accept that his thinking of her earlier had brought her straight to him.

One of the things he remembered about her was how she’d wanted to get out of their town and move to a big city. Her sights had been set on Houston or even Dallas. She had wanted to get lost in all the people.

Many of his classmates had spoken about leaving their little town, but few did. And many who left eventually returned. Not Skylar. She’d gotten out, and he’d figured she would stay gone forever. After all, her parents had moved about ten years ago, which meant there was no reason for her to return.

Yet, here she was. And more stunning than ever.

She had been Danny’s crush from the time they were in grade school. Skylar had always been a free spirit. She had confidence that most girls her age lacked. It wasn’t arrogance, simply a belief in herself that came through in everything she did.

While beautiful, she had been a little reserved. She had run with the popular crowd, but she didn’t wield that social level to degrade anyone or use it to her benefit like others had. She had been kind, and she wore her heart on her sleeve.

He and Skylar had been able to talk about anything. She was always open and engaging, but Danny had never pursued her as his girlfriend. He’d never thought he was good enough for her, not when so many of his other friends had wooed her.

Danny looked at her. The harsh light of the streetlamp above them couldn’t diminish her beauty. Her golden blond hair was pulled up haphazardly with strands falling around her face and neck. But her large, azure eyes still held more shock and fear than he liked.

She was on the petite side with curves in all the right places. Her lips were full, pouty even, and they made his blood heat just looking at them. Her skin had the dewy glow of a healthy lifestyle that made him want to reach out and run the pads of his fingers down her cheek to see if her skin was as velvety as it appeared.

Hearing her story earlier made him want to go find Matt and punch him a few times. Danny had never been so happy to be in the right place at the right time. He gave himself an inward shake to get back to the matter at hand. “And what happened tonight?” Danny asked to get the final piece of the puzzle.

Skylar shrugged. “It was Matt’s night out with friends. I made sure to keep to my same schedule, not doing anything that would alert him that I planned to leave. I waited an hour after he left before I grabbed an overnight bag and threw a few things in. I just wanted to get out. I didn’t care about the rest of my stuff. I figured I could get it back later or replace it.”

“It was a good decision. Things can be replaced. Your life can’t. So, how did he figure out that you left?”

“I honestly don’t know.” Concern clouded her face. “He was gone, I know it. I even drove by the bar to make sure his car was there. Then I headed straight out of town.”

This wasn’t the first time Danny had dealt with a domestic situation like this, but he didn’t like that he knew one of the parties involved. Mainly because he knew the odds of how such circumstances turned out.

Danny ran a hand down his face, his gut churning. “If he was gone from the house and at the bar, then he had to know you left somehow. Are there cameras in the residence?”

Her eyes widened, and her lips parted in shock. “I . . . I don’t know. There could be. It sounds like something he’d do. He was adamant about me moving into his place. It was bigger than mine, even though mine was in a better location, so I agreed.”

“What about tracking your car?”

She shook her head and shrugged her shoulders at the same time. “I wouldn’t put anything past him.”

“Does he always know what’s going on in your life?

People you’ve talked to, places you’ve been?” “Yes.”

“What about phone calls and texts? Does he ask you specifics about them?”

She frowned as she thought about his question. “He used to, but not anymore.”

Danny figured as much.

Skylar’s gaze sharpened on him. “Why? Do you think he installed some kind of spyware on my phone? Oh, God. He installed spyware on my phone.”

“We’ll get you a new one, and I’ll have my guys look over your car to see if there’s any kind of device.”

Her eyes filled with tears that she hastily blinked away. “How did I get into such a situation?”

“It doesn’t matter. What counts is that you’re getting out of it. If that’s what you want.”

Her head bobbed up and down rapidly. “Yes. I knew I was getting away from him tonight, one way or another.”

Danny recalled that she had said she had a handgun in her car. Not that he could blame her for having it, but he was happy she hadn’t had to use it. “I’m glad you pulled in here.”

“I wasn’t going to. As soon as I thought the headlights were from a car like his, I thought it was just my imagination, that I was just scared and seeing things. Then something told me to pull in here and see if the vehicle followed. As soon as it did, I knew it was Matt. Why were you here?”

Danny lifted one shoulder and twisted his lips. “Eating dinner.”

She blinked and looked around. “At a rest stop?” “Yeah. Where were you headed?” he asked to change the subject. He didn’t want to discuss his lack of a life, not when her situation was more important.

Skylar blew out a breath. “I don’t know. I just got on the road and drove. I didn’t even realize I was here until I saw the county sign five miles back.”

“Is there anyone in town you can stay with?”

Her gaze dropped to the ground. “I didn’t keep up with anyone here. I can stay at a hotel.”

“That’s the first place Matt will look for you when he gets out of jail. I could post a deputy to keep watch, but that’s a temporary fix.”

“I understand.” Her gaze lifted to his, and she forced a smile that didn’t reach her blue eyes. “You’ve been a great help tonight, but you’ve done enough. I’ll figure something out.”

Danny took a step toward her. “If you think I’m going to walk away, then you don’t remember me at all.”

“Oh, I remember you,” she said. This time, the smile was the one he remembered from years earlier.

“Then let me help.”

Worry crossed her face once more. “Matt is the kind that won’t give up, isn’t he?”

“Let’s just say that I don’t want to take any chances with him. I know the perfect place you can stay. It’s a fortress unto itself. There’s no way Matt can get anywhere near you there.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Her relief was so great that her shoulders drooped with it. “I can follow you there.”

“Your car is staying here. I’ll have it towed to the station to be looked over. Get whatever you need. I’ll drive you.”

Hearts of Texas

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: November 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Donna Grant

Donna Grant Author Photo

Donna is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels. Her most popular series is the breathtaking Dark King (aka Dragon King) series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

In addition to her novels, Donna has written over forty short stories, novellas, and novelettes for digital-first and print release. She has been dubbed as giving the “paranormal genre a burst of fresh air” by the San Francisco Book Review. Her work has been hailed as having “deft plotting and expert characterization” by Publisher’s Weekly and “sizzling” by RT Book Reviews.

She has been recognized with awards from both bookseller and reader contests including the National Reader’s Choice Award, Booksellers Best Award, as well as the coveted K.I.S.S. Award from RT Book Reviews.

Donna travels often for various speaking engagements, conferences, and book signings. She is also a frequent workshop presenter at national conferences such as RT Book Lovers Convention and Thrillerfest, as well as local chapters.

Born and raised in Texas, she also has ties across the border in Louisiana. Growing up with two such vibrant cultures, her Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding. She is never far from her faithful 80 pound dog, Sisko, or her three cats. She can often be found at the movies or bookstore with her children. Or buying makeup. And shoes.


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Sunday Spotlight: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Posted November 10, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

What to do when everyone you’ve always relied on seem to disappear at the moment you need them the most? Look to yourself for the answers. From Stephanie Butland, the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop, THE CURIOUS HEART OF AILSA RAE (St. Martin’s Griffin, October 29, 2019, $17.99), will warm readers from the inside out. An emotional story about love and loss, Butland’s thoughtful imagination will tug at the heartstrings of all readers.

Sunday Spotlight: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie ButlandThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Pages: 397
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Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She's only a few months past the heart transplant that - just in time - saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point. She knows she needs to find her father. She's missed so much that her friends have left her behind. She's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

Excerpt

9 October, 2017

Ailsa is alone when it happens.

‘We think we have your heart.’ Bryony, the transplant coordinator, is smiling from ear to ear, for once. Given that her usual message is No News Yet, that’s hardly surprising.

Ailsa feels her hands fly to her chest, as though to protect what’s in there, hold it before it dies. She makes herself move them to her lap. They are shaking. So is her voice.

‘A new heart?’ And then she feels the patched-up heart she has summon up the life to expand with hope: with permission.

Her head is a scramble of thoughts, the practical and the terrible. She needs to be nil by mouth, so when did she last eat? Where is her mum? If she’s getting a heart, that means someone, somewhere has died.

Ailsa’s mother rushes in behind Bryony, breathless, bringing cold air and cigarette smoke with her. They fight the stuffiness of the room for a second before being absorbed. ‘They told me at the nurses’ station to get along here fast. What’s happened?’ She steps across the room; her hand is in her daughter’s. All Ailsa can do is nod at her, squeeze her fingers, because her throat has tightened and her mouth is drier than usual. She wants to say: I wish you had been here when Bryony came in. You deserved to hear it with me. But that’s silly, and unimportant, and anyway, you don’t get to choose these things. You get to accept them.

‘We need to have you prepped and in theatre in three hours,’ Bryony says. ‘Hold onto your hats.’ She flips open the file in her hand, picks up Ailsa’s notes from the bottom of the bed, and so it begins.

Or ends, depending on which way you look at it.

From The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: November 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Stephanie Butland

Author Photo

Stephanie Butland is a writer, who is thriving after breast cancer. (She used to say she was a survivor, but that was a bit lacking in joie de vivre.)
Although she’d never have chosen it, her dance with cancer has changed her life in many positive ways. Now she is happier, healthier, and more careful with her precious life and the precious people and things in it.

Her writing career began with her dance with cancer, and now she is a novelist.

Aside from writing, she works as a speaker and trainer, and she works with charities to help raise awareness and money in the hope that cancer will soon be about as scary as a wart.

She lives in Northumberland.


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Review: Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh

Posted September 30, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Lethal Nights by Lora LeighReviewer: Casee
Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force #3
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Ilya Dragonovich is no stranger to the dark side. As a safe-house owner for security agency Brute Force, Dragon knows that the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man―and, sometimes, a beautiful woman…

Emma Jane Preston needs help. After her marriage crumbled, she believed she could get back to a normal, happy life. But her ex-husband moved among some shady characters, and now she needs the kind of protection that comes at a cost―one that only someone like Dragon can provide. But can Emma Jane trust this handsome, undercover operator to keep her safe when she is in danger of falling into the arms of the deeply seductive, fiery Dragon. . .and never letting go?

Lora Leigh is one of those authors I just can’t quit. I feel like I’ve outgrown her, but it just doesn’t seem to matter. I keep coming back for more. In Lethal Nights, we’re taken back to the Brute Force series. This is the third book in the series and my first of the series. That’s fairly uncommon as I don’t generally read out of order. I didn’t feel very lost while I was reading, so it’s safe to say that you can jump in anywhere in the series.

Brute Force has made a deal with Emma Jane Preston’s in regard to using her house as safe house when they are in need of one. This is a common practice for Brute Force though they don’t generally go looking for people. The situation is different for Ilya Dragonovich who is drawn to Emma Jane from the beginning. He knows that the time isn’t right for Emma Jane as she just started divorce proceedings. He leaves her with a kiss, promising that he will be back for her.

It’s a year later and Emma Jane is in trouble. She’s becoming the target of multiple assassins and no one can figure out why. The trail seems to be non-existent which worries Ilya. Coming back into Emma Jane’s life was what he planned all along, but not because she was in danger.

Emma Jane knows that she will fall for the man with the dragon tattoo on his face. His dragon seems alive to her, which she knows is impossible. What she doesn’t know is that it is alive, but only to the person that is meant for the man.

It took me a long time to read this book. It was very slow moving at first. When it did get going, it really got going. I liked the meat of the story as well as how it concluded. While I don’t generally read very many romantic suspenses anymore, I really ended up liking this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Brute Force

four-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh

Posted September 29, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 4 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I cannot quit Lora Leigh. There are certain things about her books & writing that drive me bonkers, but her stories and characters are incredibly compelling. Lethal Nights is no exception. Emma Jane and Ilya’s story was really good. As usual, I was sucked right in & didn’t get spit out until the last word. If you like romantic suspense and steamy sex, this book is definitely for you.

Sunday Spotlight: Lethal Nights by Lora LeighLethal Nights by Lora Leigh
Series: Brute Force #3
Also in this series: Lethal Nights
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 294
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Ilya Dragonovich is no stranger to the dark side. As a safe-house owner for security agency Brute Force, Dragon knows that the battle line between good and evil runs through the heart of every man―and, sometimes, a beautiful woman…

Emma Jane Preston needs help. After her marriage crumbled, she believed she could get back to a normal, happy life. But her ex-husband moved among some shady characters, and now she needs the kind of protection that comes at a cost―one that only someone like Dragon can provide. But can Emma Jane trust this handsome, undercover operator to keep her safe when she is in danger of falling into the arms of the deeply seductive, fiery Dragon. . .and never letting go?

 
 

Excerpt

Excerpt from Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh

Ilya Nicholas Dragonovich.

Son of the Dragon. She thought she’d heard somewhere that that was the literal translation of his surname. If so, it fit him from head to toe.

Emma Jane stared back at the tall, dark vision of pure danger and dark, carnal sex appeal and wondered why she wasn’t shaking in her size 6 sneakers. A normal, everyday woman should never be forced to face such men. Just being in their presence drove home the fact that there might be pleasures, experiences, and hungers that would always be denied.

His sunbronzed face was covered on one side by a menacing tattoo of a dragon, red eyes glaring at her from just above his left brow. Rough-hewn features were arranged with a hint of aristocracy, but for the evidence of a once-broken nose and the shadow of scars beneath the dragon. The icy stoicism in his pale green eyes and expression called to her and made her heart ache as he stood before her, made her want to reach out and touch him.

She wanted to stroke him.

There was something about him that was just so primal, elemental. He was a force of nature. He made her heart race.

He expected her to be frightened. The man she’d always called Dragon when she saw him in the society pages stood on her front porch, all but glaring down at her. He seemed to be awaiting a less than welcoming response. She probably should be frightened. Would have been, but instead she was charmed.

“How can I help you, Mr. Dragonovich?” Was that surprise in his gaze? If so, she’d better hurry and relish the victory, because she had a feeling it wouldn’t last long. “The society pages precede you,” she assured him with a grin, pushing back her nerves. “I recognize you.” She wagged her brows. “‘Russian Lothario on the Loose’! I believe you had two young women of European royalty on your arm that night.”

The slash of his dark brow arched slowly, causing the head of that tattoo to tilt its snout just enough to look curious.

She decided in that moment she was in love with this man’s ink.

“If you recognize me, then perhaps you could invite me inside,” he suggested, the subtle flavor of his Russian accent sending a tingle up her spine. “I have an offer I’d like to discuss with you.”

An offer? For her?

She was ordinary. Men like him did not offer women like her anything.

“What kind of offer?” She couldn’t exactly hold back her suspicion.

Was that a grin edging his lips? A hint of amusement in a man who the paparazzi swore never smiled?

“The kind that ensures you keep your home when your divorce is final, and one that aids an agency I represent. I refuse to stand on your doorstep while you consider it though.”

An offer to save her home when she was certain her estranged husband was indeed going to be able to force her to sell it? Okay, she might want to hear this.

She stepped back. Not that she trusted him, but the call she’d put through to her cousin Mikayla Steele’s husband ensured help was on its way. It wasn’t every day a dragon stood on a girl’s doorstep and she couldn’t be too careful.

“I called my cousin’s husband, Nikolei Steele, when you stepped from your car,” she warned him. “He’s a badass and he’ll mess up your pretty face if I ask him to.” He stepped inside, and the once-spacious hallway suddenly seemed much smaller. He towered over her, surrounded her, the warmth of his body sinking into hers in a way that sent a shiver up her spine.

“Good choice.” He nodded, his gaze direct, as curious as his ink now appeared to be. “Nik Steele’s a good man. We’ll just wait for him . . .” He tilted his head to the side, causing his dragon to watch her as though with interest. “I must admit though, I don’t think I’ve ever had a beautiful woman call me pretty.”

Was that amusement gleaming in his eyes? The faintest hint of a smile at his lips?

“It’s the dragon.” She shrugged, narrowing her eyes on the iridescent scaled face. “I think he’s flirting with me.”

Brute Force

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: September 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Lora Leigh

Lora Leigh dreams in bright, vivid images of the characters’ intent on taking over her writing life, and fights a constant battle to put them on the hard drive of her computer before they can disappear as fast as they appeared.

Lora’s family and her writing life coexist, if not in harmony, in relative peace with each other. Surrounded by a menagerie of pets, friends, and a son who keeps her quick wit engaged, Lora finds her life filled with joys, aided by her fans whose hearts remind her daily why she writes.


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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
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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