Series: The Embraced

Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted May 4, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn SparksReviewer: Holly
Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #3
Also in this series: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3)
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-stars

From the brilliant imagination of Kerrelyn Sparks comes a bold new fantasy romance series in which passion and magic collide. Behold the Embraced…

Gwennore has a talent. An Elf able to track down the cause of an illness and heal it, she’s a valuable asset to her people. When the kidnapping of a young girl thrusts Gwennore into the very heart of the realm of the dragons, she discovers not only a place of power and magic, but also a haunted land, plagued by an ancient curse that all but ensures extinction to the royal family. But when she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, they strike a bargain—save the country from its cursed illness, and he will return the kidnapped girl. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon, but never did making a deal with the devil feel so good…

Silas has no way of curing the family he’s loyally served for years. But when a beautiful elf, long considered the enemy of the dragons, comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to passion and desire in a way he’s never felt before. But can he trust a sworn enemy to save the very existence he holds dear? And can their love survive those that threaten to tear them apart?

Gwennore was raised with 5 other women – her adopted sisters – in a convent on the Island of Moon. They were abandoned by their family’s because they were born Embraced (with magical powers). Gwennore is an Elf who can magically sense illness in others. She’s been training as a healer, but she isn’t as knowledgeable as she’d like to be. Still, when she’s accidentally kidnapped and realizes the realm is suffering under a curse, she agrees to help figure out the cause. General Silas Dravenko, aka General Gorgeous – has nothing to do with that. Really.

Silas is immediately attracted to Gwennore. He’s willing to do whatever he has to do to keep her close. The truth is, he needs her help. His Queen is being poisoned and his family is living under a curse. If Gwennore can help him figure out what’s really going on, he can’t pass that up. If he gets to spend time with her in the meantime? All the better.

I really liked Silas. He was such a great character. His jealousy was cute and I loved how he kept trying to get Gwennore to admit he was just as awesome as her favorite dragon. I also really liked the 8 rules for dating a dragon.

I wanted to like Gwennore just as much, but I didn’t really connect with her the way I did the previous heroine. She rarely used her talent and not much was explained about it. She constantly waffled, suffering from major bouts of self-doubt and angst, then standing up for herself. Her constant back-and-forthing got old, fast. The romance between them moved very slow. I wanted to see them get together, but honestly by the end I wasn’t very invested in them.

The end was too rushed and I really struggled with a lot of inconsistencies in the story. None of the major conflicts of the books were resolved to my satisfaction. I don’t want to include spoilers, but I will say I was highly dissatisfied with the brief paragraph in the epilogue that magically fixed everything. There wasn’t enough dragon in this for me, either. I’d have loved to see more.

There were parts I enjoyed (mostly Silas and his struggle with Gwennore’s love for the dragon), but overall I was underwhelmed. I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous book.

3 out of 5

The Embraced Series

three-stars


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Guest Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted April 9, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn SparksReviewer: Jen
Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #3
Also in this series: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3)

Publication Date: March 27th 2018
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 448
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

From the brilliant imagination of Kerrelyn Sparks comes a bold new fantasy romance series in which passion and magic collide. Behold the Embraced…

Gwennore has a talent. An Elf able to track down the cause of an illness and heal it, she’s a valuable asset to her people. But when the kidnapping of a young girl thrusts Gwennore into the very heart of the realm of the dragons, she discovers not only a place of power and magic, but also a haunted land, plagued by an ancient curse that all but ensures extinction to the royal family. But when she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, they strike a bargain—save the country from its cursed illness, and he will return the kidnapped girl. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon, but never did making a deal with the devil feel so good…

Silas has no way of curing the family he’s loyally served for years. But when a beautiful elf, long considered the enemy of the dragons, comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to passion and desire in a way he’s never felt before. But can he trust a sworn enemy to save the very existence he holds dear? And can their love survive those that threaten to tear them apart?

Gwennore is adopted sister #3 from the group of orphaned girls living in a convent on the Isle of Moon. She’s an elf, and because the elves are particularly vicious and have been warring with many other nations, she’s treated with disgust and revulsion pretty much everywhere she goes. She loves her sisters and their children, though, so she puts up with the abuse instead of running back to the safety of the convent. When Gwen and the princess of Eberon get kidnapped by a dragon, she finds herself taken to the kingdom of Norveshki, where a very kindly dragon and a very handsome man promise to keep her safe. Silas is better known as General Dravenko, and we met him in the last book when he helped Rupert. Some extremely shady and worrying things have been happening in Norveshki, and since Gwen is Embraced (born with one magical power) as well as intelligent, Silas thinks she can help him get to the bottom of the problem. Of course, things are more complicated than they at first appear, both in Norveshki and between Gwen and Silas.

This book has dragons! Whew, I love me some dragons. Unfortunately there wasn’t nearly enough dragon parts (harhar) for me, but there are a couple scenes of dragons saving the day so I wasn’t totally unsatisfied. I really love the fantasy world of this series. It is vaguely medieval but not strictly so, which means references to “underpants” and other modern phrases feel a little anachronistic but not inexcusably so. This is clearly not our universe, even if it it is very similar. Personally, I’d like a little more world building, like details about the religion for instance, but some of that may come later, too.

I really liked Silas and Gwen, if not 100%. Silas was such a sweetheart underneath, though he covers it up with jokes. In a way I felt that was a bit of immaturity due to his age, like he has to make all these big decisions and carry this big weight on his shoulders but he makes light of it by acting silly. I did wish he was a little more forthcoming to Gwen with information. He has one big secret he keeps from her and that was totally believable because knowing would have had serious consequences for her. Fair. (Although honestly he dropped enough hints that I’d argue deep down he wanted her to figure it out.) But he also leaves out a REALLY big detail about who he is…and his excuse is he just didn’t think about it?! I gave him some serious side eye there. Still, he is just so tender-hearted and good. He is trying his best to take care of the entire kingdom and save his family, and I felt so bad that he was forced to juggle all of that. Gwen is also amazing and so resilient despite all the terrible treatment she’s experienced. She has trouble believing anyone would find her worth loving, which is one reason she pushes Silas away for so long. Unfortunately, it went on too long. I didn’t understand why she was still fighting him for so many pages.

Silas and Gwen had some great chemistry together and at first it was sexy, but then it dragged out. They don’t even kiss until FAR into the book, and the only sex scene comes nearly at the end. It was just odd to build up this tension and then do nothing with it. I also wanted them to have some more conversations. Silas is so busy protecting Norveshki’s secrets that he doesn’t tell Gwen much about himself, and she doesn’t say much about her own life either. It’s not that I didn’t buy them as a couple, but I would have liked a stronger physical and emotional connection.

While it’s not a cliffhanger, there are no resolutions to all the threads in this book–I presume they will be continued in the next book. In particular, we have to find out more about Gwen’s parents and about Sorcha, another sister whose story started to come out in this book. We do also hear from The Chameleon, the villain from the earlier books, and we get some inkling that something more complicated is going on than anyone realized. I can’t wait to find out more.

I personally loved this book, although frankly that’s more for how it continued the series than for this book itself. If you are enjoying the series this will probably work for you, but I wouldn’t suggest you begin here.

The Embraced Series

Grade: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted April 6, 2018 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn SparksReviewer: Jen
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), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3)
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 469
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-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?

I enjoyed Book 1 of the series, but I loved Book 2! To recap, the series follows a group of adopted sisters who’ve been secluded at a convent. Here we follow the second of the sisters, Brigitta. The convent is headed by Mother Ginessa. In the style of Albus Dumbledore, Mother Ginessa has kept the girls’ true histories secret until she’s forced to reveal some tiny amount info, at which time she reveals just a slice of the truth before sending the girl off on her merry way. (Because, you know, understanding their family histories and being able to prepare to meet those challenges head on is apparently a no-go for Mother Ginessa.) But as with Luciana from book 1, Brigitta rises to the challenge when she’s told she’s actually a princess (surprise!) who’s half-brother the king is suddenly requesting her presence (i.e., basically kidnapping her off the ship she’s on). But while she’s getting these truth bombs dropped on her, the infamous pirate Rupert interrupts her brother’s kidnapping with his own more successful kidnapping. Turns out Rupert haaaaates her brother and wants to use Brigitta as part of his revenge plot, and as Brigitta learns more about her awful brother and Rupert’s big secret, she realizes she’s sorta ok with that. The rest of the book becomes about Brigitta, Rupert, and their friends trying to right past wrongs and bring peace to the kingdom.

I adored both Brigitta and Rupert. Brigitta is smart and brave but in a way that’s realistic for a naive, sheltered young woman. She’s understandably freaked out by Rupert and isn’t stupid about taking risks, but she also knows that if she doesn’t go with him she puts innocent people in danger. I love the way she’s so protective of her friends and, later, of Rupert and his crew. She’s Embraced as well (a person born with magical powers, which is illegal in most of the world), although I didn’t think her power was used to its full potential for most of the book. She can find things that are hidden, which can mean objects as well as a person’s secrets. I thought there could be more done to explore this talent, but instead it really only plays a major role towards the end.

Rupert is also Embraced, and his power is much cooler. He can control the wind, a power he uses to great effect when he’s pirating or whispering sexily in Brigitta’s ear from across the ship. He’s very much a pirate in the style of Westley from A Princess Bride, in that he’s handsome, kind, only steals from bad guys, and always protects innocent people. He’s kind to his crew, helps out the underdog, and is so tender with Brigitta, even from the start. That doesn’t change the fact that he is planning to use her in a cruel way, though. As readers we can see immediately that he would never be able to go through with it, but he experiences some major internal conflict as he wrestles with his desire for revenge and his desire for Brigitta. He has spent his entire life plotting revenge and hating both Brigitta and her brother, but the more he gets to know her the more he sees she is not what he thought. I loved that as his feelings grew for Brigitta, he realizes he has to find another way, and then he’s all in with her. He is just such a good man!

There were two relatively minor things I didn’t like about the book. First, I thought the ending with Brigitta’s brother was kind of rushed and trite. I also got annoyed by the constant jokes about the pirates ravishing Brigitta and her chaperone, Sister Fallyn. It is a pretty serious subject and, in reality, would be a huge threat to both women. It went on way too long and just felt kind of icky, when there were other ways Sister Fallyn could have provided comic relief.

I think you could certainly enjoy this book without reading Book 1 of the series, but I think you’d get a lot more out of it if you started with Book 1. I am beyond excited to read Book 3 (one word: DRAGONS!!), and I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

The Embraced Series

Grade: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-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), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3)
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 29th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 496
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
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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Guest Review: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks

Posted July 31, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn SparksReviewer: Jen
How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days (The Embraced, #1) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Series: The Embraced #1
Also in this series: So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3), Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon (The Embraced, #3)
Published by St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 396
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father's life.

Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage...until he discovers she's vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?

If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

This book is somewhat inspired by Beauty and the Beast, though to be honest it’s only very loosely related. In this story, the man with the Beast moniker is Lord Leofric, Leo for short. Leo is one of The Embraced, people born with supernatural powers. Normally The Embraced are killed when they are born because the world fears them, but Leo escapes that fate because he’s part of the royal family and because he’s so dangerous that he’s hard to kill. He can harness the power of lightning, and one touch of his skin can kill (and has, many times). He uses his power to protect his people, but they all are terrified and basically shun him. Luciana is also Embraced, but she escaped death by being hidden away in a convent her entire life, thinking her family was dead. It turns out they’re not, though, and because of political machinations by the cruel king, the only way she can save her father is by marrying The Beast. Luciana could be killed if she reveals the truth of her story to Leo, but if they don’t work together they can’t stop the king’s evil plots.

If you like tortured heroes, Leo should appeal! He does have a few friends, but for the most part he lives in isolation. People literally turn away from him in disgust and fear, yet he soldiers on using his power to protect his people even though they think he’s the one causing danger instead of stopping it. Moreover, harnessing the lightning is excruciatingly painful, and he’s pushing his body to its limits by doing it because he wants to protect others, which is a hell of a position for him to be in. Perhaps most heartbreaking of all, he can’t touch. He can’t be hugged, can’t hold hands, can’t even get a pat on the head, because even through clothing his power will injure or kill. Luciana is the only person apart from a few friends who sees the good Leo does instead of believing the rumors. There’s one scene where bystanders once again misinterpret a situation and think Leo is behind something dangerous, but Luciana loudly and publicly defends him. That scene just made my heart melt. It was clearly the first time anyone had ever stood up for Leo before; I’m smiling just thinking about it. The sexual tension between them is great, too. As you can imagine, “no touching or you’ll die” is quite the conundrum in a romance! I won’t tell you the hows and whys, but I can assure you this book is sexy.

I liked Luciana a lot as well. Her power is that she can talk to the dead, which comes in handy when she’s trying to learn about her new life. She’s sweet and kind and patient, but she’s not a particularly deep character. Really, though, neither is Leo. He has a lot of pain, but I almost felt like it didn’t impact his character as much as one would expect. He has been very isolated, yet he still is perfectly socially adept, flirting with his bride-to-be, handling the management of his estates, working with his army, etc. I just didn’t see a lot of consequences to his isolation.

Luciana has to lie to Leo and everyone else to save her father, which is perfectly understandable. She obviously didn’t know Leo and would have been foolish to trust him quickly. However, I really wanted her to come clean sooner, simply because I wanted to see her and Leo’s relationship develop further. Leo basically figures it all out on his own (and I appreciate that he absolutely accepts why she’s lying and doesn’t act all butt hurt about it), but the actual conversation between the two is a long time coming. Combine the secrets with the draggy pace in some parts and the fairly limited contact Leo and Luciana have for part of the book and you have a romance that never goes quite as deep as I would have liked.

I am extremely interested in the world Sparks has created, and I am hoping that future books won’t need to do as much world building as this one, leaving more time for developing the characters and relationships.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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