Reading Challenge: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge

Review: Evermine by Hailey Edwards

Posted September 22, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Evermine by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Evermine by Hailey Edwards
Series: Daughters of Askara #2
Also in this series: Everlong
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 21, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person, Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 201
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He can be a slave to his past…or allow her love to free him.

There’s such a thing as too much change. Emma’s sister is mated. Revolution is brewing in her home realm. The last straw: her would-be mate is back from the dead and back under her skin—yet when it comes to the last five years, he’s not talking.

Desperate for a chance to start her own life, she answers the queen’s call to ensure equality for all of Askara’s newly freed slaves. It’s the perfect opportunity to escape a heartbreak in the making named Harper.

Harper loses a piece of his fractured soul when Emma walks away. His lies were meant to protect her from torturous years that drove him to the point of madness. Instead, when he comes to her a year later to help avert a crisis in a freed-slave community, the wedge those lies drove between them is firmly in place.

As their new lives collide with old wounds, they race to stop a threat that could not only destroy the queen, but send Harper back to the hell he escaped. Emma must decide if the man she still loves deserves equal rights to her heart.

Warning: This title contains torn pants, ripped gowns, and sand in uncomfortable places. It also includes one overcompensating villain, one gnarly priest, and two battered hearts willing to give this thing called love one last chance.

Evermine (Daughters of Askara #2) by Hailey Edwards follows Emma, whom we met in the first book. I enjoyed her quite a bit in Everlong and was curious to see how things would turn out for her. Fair warning, this is a dark novel that deals with dark themes. Please review the Content Warnings before reading this book.

Emmaline was born into slavery. As the bastard daughter of the Queen of Askara’s consort, she was raised to be the personal slave of the princess Madelyn. They grew up as sisters, and Emma would do anything for Maddie. Now that Maddie has found her mate Emma knows she needs something more. When the evil Queen is overthrown by Maddie’s older sister and slavery is abolished, Emma agrees to return to Askara to act as liaison between the Avanti former-slaves and the Askarans. If that gets her away from her fated mate? All the better. She knows she can’t face Harper after the way she betrayed his memory when she thought he was dead, plus he refuses to share his past with her. It’s a recipe for disaster. But still, when Harper requests her help to uncover a plot against the new Queen, Emma knows she can’t refuse, even if being near him is nothing but torture.

Harper has always known Emma would be his. He meant to protect her by refusing to share his past with her; he never expected it to push her into leaving him. Now that they’re together again, he’s determined to prove to her that they belong together. Though he isn’t sure she can accept all of him, he knows he has to try.

This is a complex and multi-layered world. I highly recommend reading this series in order. A lot of the events that happen here are related to what happened in the first book.

I really liked Emma in the previous book. She faced things head on and wasn’t afraid to get in someone’s face if she needed to. That was true here as well, though she seemed less sure of herself at times. Plus, she had an addiction that I don’t really think was properly addressed.

View Spoiler »

Harper was a prisoner for 5 years. Literally kept in a cage and used and abused, he’s determined to give others better. He was a strong character and I loved how determined he was to save those he cared about. I didn’t necessarily love him and Emma together. They weren’t great about communicating, and her reasons for keeping him at arms length seemed forced at best.

I enjoyed the world and overarching storyline enough to immediately start the next book, but this isn’t my favorite series from Edwards.

3.5 out of 5

Daughters of Askara

three-half-stars


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Review: Everlong by Hailey Edwards

Posted September 20, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Everlong by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Everlong by Hailey Edwards
Series: Daughters of Askara #1
Also in this series: Evermine
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 30, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 224
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

The most damaged heart can fly with the right pair of wings.

Madelyn’s life is far from fairytale perfect. She is second in line for the throne of a corrupt, brutal monarchy. Or at least she was until her dark guardian sacrificed his life to hide her safely in a realm of infinite possibilities.

For years she’s lived among a colony of escaped slaves as her guardian’s widow. Even in this simple life, though, nothing is as it seems. Her hero kept a secret—a younger brother named Clayton Delaney. Warrior, winged demon…and the man who now wants to lay claim to her heart.

No longer cast in his brother’s shadow, Clayton meets all obstacles head on, including one named Maddie. His infatuation with her reaches the breaking point when she undergoes a royal rite of passage, going into heat and pushing them both over the edge.

Just as Maddie learns that some risks are worth taking, she discovers that her guardian may be alive. And she’s forced to make a choice between the man she’d thought she loved, and the demon willing to lend her his wings.

Warning: This book contains virginal angst, a hero who’s too nice for his own good, wings, claws, and convenient use of glamour. It contains heartbreaking loss, conversation with a woodland creature, and sweet, sweet demon loving.

Everlong is the first book in the Daughters of Askara series by Hailey Edwards. I’ve read a number of books by Edwards and generally enjoy them, so I went into this with high expectations. Unfortunately, the heroine’s “head in the sand” approach to basically everything left me frustrated.

Madelyn is the Princess of Askara, a brutal monarchy. It is time for her ascension, a ceremony where she was to claim her title as Princess and accept her place as second in line for the thrown. During the ceremony she and her personal slave, Emma, are to be tattooed from head to foot to denote their stations in life, and then Maddie is meant to take a man to her bed for the first time. Emma’s after, Maddie’s step-father, has decided she must choose him as her consort for the evening. In return, he agrees to grant Emma and Maddie’s Guardian, Harper, their freedom. Although she has every intention of sacrificing herself for them, Harper takes the choice out of their hands by whisking them away to an alternate universe before the ceremony can be completed. Only Harper is killed and Maddie is left mourning him for five long years.

On Earth, Maddie and Emma open a diner and do their best to blend in the colony where Harper left them. Emma makes friends and joins the community, but Maddie chooses to keep herself apart, grieving for her dead Guardian. Until the 5th anniversary of his death, when she finally meets his older brother, Clayton. Clayton has kept himself away from Maddie to allow her time to grieve, but now that her mourning time has passed and she’s going into heat, he knows he has to stay near to protect her. Because when the females of their race go into heat, the males will do anything to claim them. Clayton may want Maddie for himself, but he would never dishonor his brother’s memory that way. The best he can do is keep her safe….unless she decides she wants him, then all bets are off.

I didn’t care for the way Maddie kept her head in the sand and refused to see anything that was going on around her. I really wanted to see her come into her own, but I don’t really think it that happened. She was better toward the end of the novel, but it ended before I was satisfied that she was anything more than a literal spoiled princess. She was basically a walking zombie, never engaging with anyone or seeing what was right in front of her nose. I didn’t understand why she acted the way she did, or more importantly, why anyone put up with it.

I did like Clayton. He was a good leader and an honorable male. This was a quick read. I enjoyed the world and the secondary characters, but Maddie kind of ruined it for me. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Daughters of Askara


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Review: Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna Collett

Posted September 8, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna CollettReviewer: Holly
Spellbound After Midnight by Jenna Collett
Series: Ever Dark Ever Deadly #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fairytale, Fantasy
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A spellbinding mystery leads an unlikely pair on the hunt for a killer.

Tessa Daniels needs a miracle. Preferably, the kind that comes with cold hard cash. Her magic shop is failing, and she'll be tossed into the street unless she clears her debt.

When a financial boon arrives in the form of a young woman determined to attend the prince's ball, a risky spell turns out to be the miracle she needed. That is until the woman is found dead at the stroke of midnight, and Tessa comes face-to-face with the kingdom's cold, and way too appealing, lead detective.

Detective Derrick Chambers has no use for the supernatural. As the rising star at the Royal Agency, he won't let magic, or the pretty witch that deals in it, get in the way of solving a murder.

His logic tells him to steer clear of Tessa's chaos, but a forced partnership soon turns into an attraction neither can resist.

With the body count rising, and the kingdom in a panic, an exposed secret will tear them apart and put Tessa in the sights of a killer where no amount of magic can save her.

Spellbound After Midnight is an enemies-to-lovers, slow burn romance, with a puzzling mystery, strong female heroine, and fairy tale elements.

Spellbound After Dark is the first book in Jenna Collett’s Ever Dark, Ever Deadly series. I found this while browsing Kindle Unlimited and decided to give it a try based on the reviews. This is my first read by the author. I really enjoyed the writing and the story. I easily fell into it.

Tessa Daniels is a down-on-her-luck witch. Her mother was renowned in the kingdom for her powers, but Tessa has never had very good control of hers. More often than not, her potions and spells go wrong (sometimes seriously so). As a result, the magic shop she inherited when her mother passed away is on the brink of bankruptcy. In a moment of desperation, Tessa borrowed money from the local kingpin, and he’s calling it due.

When a young woman she casts an illusion spell for turns up dead, Tessa realizes she can help solve the young girl find justice and solve her financial problems by collecting the reward money. The catch? She has to work with Royal Detective Chambers, a total stick-in-the-mud who also happens to be attractive as sin.

Derrick Chambers isn’t thrilled about being forced to work with a witch, but they end up making a good team. Both on the case and off it. Unfortunately, Tessa forgot to mention that whole “in debt to a gangster” thing, and there may be no coming back once he finds out.

This story was an unexpected delight. I liked the fairytale twist (“Cinderella” died at midnight, and the “fairy godmother” has to solve the murder case), and I really loved the romance. Derrick was really wonderful to Tessa, despite them getting off on the wrong foot. He was kind and caring, and it was obvious he was struggling with his feelings, but he was never cruel.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t love that Tessa kept secrets from him. I understood her reasons, but I didn’t agree with them. Aside from that, I don’t have much to complain about. I loved the friendship Tessa had with Vivian, a medium. I also enjoyed the world and the mystery behind the murder. I figured out the suspect early on, but I still liked the way the story unfold.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ever Dark, Ever Deadly

four-stars


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Review: Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas & Linsey Hall

Posted September 1, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas & Linsey HallReviewer: Holly
Wicked Wish by Veronica Douglas, Linsey Hall
Series: Dragon's Gift: The Storm #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 22, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

I’m at the mercy of a fallen angel.

I work for the Order of Magica, the supernatural version of the FBI. Sounds fun, right? Except I spend my days chained to my desk, writing reports, and wishing that I was out solving crimes.

Well, be careful what you wish for.

When my best friend is abducted, my life in Chicago turns upside down.

I’ll do anything to get her back—even work with Damian Malek, a wanted criminal, notorious crime lord, and dangerous fallen angel. He’s hot, lethal, and he's the only one who can help me master my dangerous powers. I don't want anyone to know about my magic, but I have no choice if I want to save my friend.

Here's the catch: if the Order finds out that I’m working with Damian, I’ll get canned. Maybe even hunted for what I am. But if I don’t give him what he wants, he’ll reveal my secret to the world.

It appears this is a spin-off of another series, but it’s the first book by the authors I’ve read. I enjoyed it and didn’t feel like I missed anything by starting here.

Neveah Cross works for the Order as a researcher, but she’s trying to get promoted to investigator. When her best friend, Rhiannon, (who is an investigator) calls to say she’s needed in the field, she rushes out to help contain two demons, thinking this may be her chance. The problem? She’s half-djinn and if the Order finds out there’s a good chance she’ll never be seen or heard from again. So she has to keep her power hidden.

When Damian Malek, a crime boss and fallen angel, contacts her and asks for her help containing an evil djinn who keeps kidnapping Supernaturals, Neve has to decline. She can’t risk being found out…Until Rhiannon goes missing. Then Neve will do whatever it takes to get her back, even work with Damian. Neve has spent her whole life hiding her power, but now she has to learn to master it – and quick – if she’s going to save Rhia and contain the Djinn.

I enjoyed Neve as the MC. She’s smart and capable, though unschooled in her powers. She did feel kind of young to me at times. Not sheltered, exactly, but lacking in maturity about some things in the world. I really loved her friendship with Rhiannon, and how she would do anything for her.

Damian was an enigma, dark and mysterious, but also caring and protective. A bad boy with a heart of gold, or someone with his own agenda who is using Neve? I enjoyed getting to know him through Neve, and I’m curious to see where things go in the next book. I didn’t love the way this ended – cliffhanger, ugh – but the world, action, adventure and characters kept me glued to the pages. I’m looking forward to learning more about the world and discovering what’s really going on with Damian.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Dragon’s Gift: The Storm

four-stars


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Review: Shifters in the Night by Molly Harper

Posted August 25, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shifters in the Night by Molly HarperReviewer: Holly
Shifters in the Night by Molly Harper
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi, Jonathan Davis
Series: Mystic Bayou #5
Also in this series: How to Date Your Dragon (Mystic Bayou, #1), Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues, How to Date Your Dragon, How to Date Your Dragon, Selkies are a Girl's Best Friend, One Fine Fae
Publisher: Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: September 21, 2021
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Length: 6 hours, 43 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A chance meeting leads to a wild ride in this irresistible audio-first romance by Audie Award-nominated author Molly Harper! 

Lia Doe came to Mystic Bayou for one simple reason: to get her job done. Namely, to build a housing complex for all the new residents flocking to town since word of its supernatural population got out. But from the moment Lia arrives, it's clear that nothing about the job is going to be simple.

First, there's the mysterious guy she meets in the middle of the night while they're both cavorting in their alternate forms. Spending time with shape-shifters is nothing new to Lia, but there's something special about Jon Carmody…and the magical pull she feels whenever he's near. There's also a sense of homecoming and belonging in Mystic Bayou that makes her want to stick around - despite the dangers brewing from mysterious forces.

Will Lia complete her project with her heart unscathed, or will her life shift forever?

Shifters in the Night (Mystic Bayou #5) by Molly Harper brings us back to the magically eclectic town of Mystic Bayou, where magie (magical beings of all kinds) have lived in harmony for centuries. Thanks to the recent outing of magie in the world, people are flocking to Mystic Bayou in droves. As a result, there’s a housing shortage. Lia Doe is the project manager in charge of building a housing complex in town. She’s surprised at how at home she feels in town, considering she’s always been a big-city girl. Meeting local Jon Carmody is just the icing on the cake. Amid weirdness from her boss and putting out fires he creates, she really settles into life in Mystic Bayou.

Ever since a kraken attack left him scarred, Jon has mostly turned into a curmudgeon. His brother, Will, has been trying to get him out and about more, which is how he realizes the beautiful creature he swam with late at night in his lake, and whom he thought was a figment of his imagination, is really the new construction project manager. Determined to get to know her better, she attempts to get outside his comfort zone.

This is such a fun series, I always love returning to Mystic Bayou. I really love the entire town and the cast of characters from previous books. I didn’t love the story as much this time around. I really liked Jon and Lia separately, but I didn’t love the conflict that keeps them apart, or their romance. I really wish they would have just communicated with each other instead of jumping to conclusions. That was a minor part of the story, however, and didn’t run my enjoyment as a whole.

While this wasn’t my favorite book of the series, it was a good listen and I’m always glad to return to Mystic Bayou.

Rating 3.75 out of 5

Mystic Bayou

three-half-stars


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