Tag: Fantasy

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Seduced by Silver by Gwen Campbell

Posted March 26, 2020 by Ames in Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Seduced by Silver by Gwen CampbellReviewer: Ames
Seduced by Silver by Gwen Campbell
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: February 19, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 102
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

When Meadow accompanies her boyfriend home for a weekend, she expects to try to rekindle their romance. Instead, she meets his father Keefe—mature, sexy and Alpha enough to claim her as his own. And claim her he does. The heat that flares between them quickly turns to something more and their passionate joining leads to a deeper connection. But Meadow’s father is Keefe’s biggest business rival, and Meadow’s a daddy’s girl through and through—and her daddy’s not going to like this.

Reader Advisory: While the world in this book has the traditional werewolf pack structures, social statuses and hot, animalistic sex, the characters aren’t shapeshifters.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on March 7, 2010.

First of all, that cover makes me blush. LOL

Second, I enjoyed Seduced by Silver. The set-up of the Eupanorian world is different enough (humanoid beings with a culture based on wolf pack structure) that it totally makes sense that if someone isn’t Alpha enough for their woman, someone else is. And that it’s Meadow’s boyfriend’s dad? Hey, he’s the Alpha! And she’s an Alpha bitch! LOL

This kind of thing would not work for me in a contemporary or even a historical, but Gwen has created an interesting world and I bought it.

Killian and Meadow have been dating for a while. But after they reach final maturity, something that happens when a Eupanorian reaches their 20s, Meadow realizes that Killian isn’t her equal in the pack social structure. He’s mid-level. And she’s an Alpha. The trip to his childhood home is in an effort to rekindle their romance, a chance for Killian to prove he can handle her. Unfortunately, Killian couldn’t…but his father can. Meadow and Keefe don’t back down from each other and are constantly challenging the other. Perfect chemistry for two Alphas.

But can Killian live with the choice he made? And does Keefe want Meadow for life or for the rest of the trip?

I liked Meadow. She definitely was an Alpha and I loved that she was equal to Keefe. In shifter stories, the Alpha male is so alpha, and the heroine kind of isn’t. LOL So I really liked that these two were equal. And the hot sex doesn’t hurt. I wouldn’t have minded a bit more conflict, because there really wasn’t any. But for pure escapism with some Alpha-ness, I’d recommend Seduced by Silver for sure. 3.75 out 5

This book is available from Ellora’s Cave. You can buy it here in e-format.

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday Spotlight: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

Posted February 2, 2020 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. 🙂

Alright, I’m going to be honest. When Milla Vane first announced she was going to write a Barbarian Fantasy Romance back in 2014, I had to take a minute. I mean, I love everything she writes, but Barbarian Fantasy Romance??? I ended up loving The Beast of Blackmoor (Found in the Night Shift Anthology), however, and I’ve been jonesing for more ever since. IT’S FINALLY HERE! I’m so ridiculously excited for this new series.

Sunday Spotlight: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla VaneA Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane
Series: A Gathering of Dragons #1
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 560
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil--until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.
Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents' murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king's daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.
Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones--because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own...

Excerpt

“Our queen and king and two Dragons murdered.” A dozen warriors, who were also mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. Maddek stopped pacing, his chest a ragged ache, his family’s silver crest burning around his thumb. “How can I let this remain unavenged? I cannot.”

“You must.”

“The alliance has run its course if this corruption and betrayal can stand and the council stands with it, because nothing will stand if our allies cut our legs out from beneath us.”

“And what would you put in the alliance’s place? Warriors are stronger when they stand together—and Parsathe is stronger if we stand with the southern realms. Even if one of those realms is rotten.”

“Only one? With Aezil on Rugus’s throne, Zhalen’s rot will not be contained within Syssia—and some say that Aezil is worse than his father.” Not only murdering his cousin to gain his throne, but also studying dark magics and seeking power through blood sacrifice. “These are the kings we stand with?”

“If we must,” Nayil replied. “Kings rise and fall. It is not for them that we fight, but for the people who live under their rule.”

That was truth. So was Maddek’s reply. “Then it would be better for all if I took Zhalen’s head.”

“And if your vengeance destroys the alliance—”

“Then we will remake it anew.”

For a long moment, only another heavy sigh was Nayil’s response. Then the older man said, “You will be my king, Maddek. I hear your words—and I hope you hear mine when I advise you not to make any decisions in grief and rage. If you must vow to avenge them, I advise that you also do not speak an oath in haste. Silver-fingered Rani has taken your parents, so nothing can change their course; only yours can be determined now.”

And his course might determine the course of every Parsathean. Maddek inclined his head. Though his heart yearned for blood, he could not deny the wisdom of the man’s words.

“Your journey home will pass through another full turn of the moon,” Nayil continued. “Use that time to reflect upon the path you will take. That is my advice to you: think hard and well upon your next steps.”

“I can promise that.” Another harsh laugh escaped him. “I know not how I will think of anything else.”

“Nor I. I have not these many days and nights.” A rueful smile curved Nayil’s thin mouth before a grave weariness flattened his expression again. “When you are Ran, you will speak for every Parsathean. Perhaps you should let every Parsathean guide your voice—for Ran Ashev and Ran Marek were not only your parents but also our queen and king. When we gather, we can tell our brothers and sisters what befell them. We can tell them of the council’s investigation and of the lies we suspect. We will tell them the consequences of vengeance and the threat of the Destroyer. If they demand blood, I will stand with you.”

That was also wise advice. “And if there is not a consensus?”

“Then it is your place as Ran to speak for us. We will abide by your decision. So think upon what it must be. Think upon it as a son and as a king.”

He would try. But he was not a king yet. Only a warrior.

Now his warrior’s heart grieved anew. His parents, too, had been warriors—and every warrior knew death would one day come. If not by steel, then by claw or plague, or the ravages of age. Countless dangers could have befallen his parents. Before Maddek had arrived in Ephorn, he hadn’t known what danger it had been, but he could have accepted any of them.

He could not accept treachery and dishonor.

And Maddek had believed that in the council’s haste to send word, they simply forgot to tell the cause of his parents’ deaths to the Tolehi captain who’d borne the message. But now Maddek understood.

If the queen and king had sickened, or been attacked by bandits, or become a meal for the fanged beasts that stalked the Burning Plains, such information would have been passed along, too. But the council had not told Maddek what Zhalen had done because they had not wanted him to charge north with the Parsathean army at his back and with vengeance burning in his heart.

Yet vengeance burned hot, anyway—and only one thought stoked the furnace of his mind.

Someone would pay.

A Gathering of Dragons

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: February 2020

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 Milla Vane

Milla Vane suckled at the plump teat of 80s fantasy movies and was never properly weaned. Under a pen name, she is also an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of steampunk and paranormal romance. Milla currently resides in Oregon.


Tagged: , , , , ,

Review: The Cursed by Alyssa Day

Posted October 23, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Cursed by Alyssa DayReviewer: Holly
The Cursed by Alyssa Day
Narrator: Xe Sands
Series: League of the Black Swan #1
Publisher: Berkley, Self-Published
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Fantasy
Pages: 282
Length: 8 hours and 1 minute
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-half-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

New York Times bestselling author of the Warriors of Poseidon series Alyssa Day returns with a thrilling new series of paranormal romance and a heated battle between good and evil fought to the death on the streets of New York…

Bordertown private investigator Luke Oliver’s beat is the dimensional fold in Manhattan between the human and supernatural realms. But now a secret from his past—the League of the Black Swan—has surfaced. Because Luke isn’t any ordinary P.I. He’s the Dark Wizard of Bordertown, and he never backs down from a fight.

But this time the fight threatens his life and his heart. Rio Jones, the only woman he loved, needs his help against a deadly menace. Luke pushed her away once before, so she’d never fall prey to the curse that threatens to destroy him. He swore he’d never let her go again.

Luke and Rio, with the help of the newly reformed League, must keep evil forces from taking over Bordertown—all the while battling a passion on the razor’s edge between danger and desire. And going to take everything they have just to stay alive.

I discovered The Cursed by Alyssa Day while browsing Audible Escape and decided to give it a go. Shortly after I checked the author’s website to see the series had been cancelled by the publisher and no follow up book has been released. The description says this does not end in a cliffhanger, so I continued on with it. While there isn’t technically a cliffhanger, the story is left open and I’d have liked answers to some of the questions left open.

When Rio Jones witnesses a young girl being kidnapped in Bordertown – a place full of magical beings between the Realm and San Francisco – she knows she needs help. She goes to Luke Oliver, the Dark Wizard of Bordertown. The PI is sexy as sin, but has made it clear he isn’t interested. She doesn’t want to go to him, but she knows he’s the only man who can help. Luke turned Rio down for her own good, but he knows he isn’t strong enough to walk away from her twice. When she requests his help, he knows he’ll do anything he can to keep her safe – and to keep her around.

The world was interesting and the early chapters really pulled me in. I enjoyed Rio and Luke, both, as well as the secondary characters. As the story wore on, I became more and more frustrated with the way Rio and Luke both put their heads in the sand and refused to deal with all the questions concerning Rio’s past. Everyone but her seemed to know who she was and what was coming, but rather than follow up they both just sort of ignored everything. Plus, the way things were glossed over about Luke’s “curse” and how quick both of them were to storm off in a huff was annoying.

I really liked certain aspects of the book, and I would have read another had it been available, but overall this was a pretty underwhelming listen.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5

League of the Black Swan

two-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Posted October 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. SmithReviewer: Holly
The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Vine Witch #1
Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 263
Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith is a debut historical fantasy novel. This was an Amazon First pick. The audio add-on was only $1.99, so I snagged that with it and ended up listening to the whole book. The narrator did a wonderful job with the story.

Set somewhere near the turn of the century in France (automobiles are just becoming popular, though the year is never mentioned), The Vine Witch follows Elena Boureanu as she beats a deadly curse and returns to family winery Château Renard, the only home she’s ever known…only to discover it’s been sold and life as she knew it is changed forever.

For seven years, Elena has been stuck as a toad, forced to eat poison to fend off a deadly curse. When she finally breaks free, she returns home to Château Renard with vengeance in her heart. She’s convinced her former fiance is the one who cursed her when she broke off their engagement, and she plans to make him pay. When she returns home she finds all of the land has been hexed, not just her. It’ll take all her skill as a Vine Witch to untangle the mess of hexes…something made more difficult by the new owner’s refusal to believe in witches.

Jean Paul left a prestigious law firm in the city to become a winemaker when he saw the renowned Château Renard was available for sale. He wants nothing more than to produce amazing wine…using science, not the superstitious “magic” the locals claim is responsible for the good – and bad – in the land. When Elena returns, he’s suspicious of her, but if she can teach him the secrets of her famed grandfather, she’ll be worth her weight in gold. As he and Elena become close, he realizes there’s more to her than meets the eye..and everything he thought he believed may be a lie….

This was a lovely fairytale-esque novel, filled with mystery, intrigue and magic. I truly enjoyed both Elena and Jean Paul, as well as the world Smith created. The melancholy of the vines, the hexed land and the shadowy figures responsible truly came to life. I figured out early on who the villains were, and how Elena came to be cursed, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel.

This was the fantasy Gothic novel I’ve been craving. The Vine Witch shines bright.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Vine Witch

The Glamourist (Coming 2020)

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Buddy Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Posted October 3, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer EstepReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
Series: Crown of Shards #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Kill the Queen is the start of a new fantasy series by Jennifer Estep. Set in a world where magic rules the land, this is a novel full of royal intrigue, evil machinations and in the center, a young girl of royal blood who just wants to be accepted for who she is…

Holly: Rowena chose this book for us, in part because it’s touted as “Gladiator meets Game of Thrones”. I hadn’t read Estep before, but I really loved her writing. So, what did you two think? Did you think it was GoT-esque?

Rowena: First off, nice intro Holly.

You know, I’m not even mad that I chose this book for us to read. I enjoyed it and I did think that the story overall was GoT-esque. I liked all of the royal intrigue and I liked seeing Evie really grow from the girl we first meet and the woman she becomes in the end. I’m mighty curious to see where this series goes so I’m definitely going to be reading the next book in the series. There were times in the beginning when I wanted to strangle Evie for not opening her mouth, for sitting on shit that she shouldn’t, for taking shit from people who were beneath her but all of my frustrations with her fell away when she becomes a gladiator. I really liked her friendship with Paloma and my heart hurt for her after everything with Isobel and her cousins. Yeah, this was a good one.

Ames: This was a good choice, Wena! I’m glad we read this one. I wasn’t slumping but I felt like I was in a contemporary romance rut and nothing was appealing to me. It did take me just a wee bit to get into a fantasy head-space but Evie’s story was engrossing so I had no problem jumping in either. I really enjoyed her character and I can see why she held on to what she did. She learned really fast that you couldn’t trust anyone at court and she held onto that lesson for her life.

Holly: This reminded me a lot of Amanda Bouchett’s Kingmaker Chronicles, but I think Estep did it better. Even though I got frustrated with Evie in the beginning, too, I was still totally engaged in the story. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen and how she was going to deal with it.

Man, I was so sad for Evie when everything happened with Isobel. I wish we’d seen her reunite with Alvis, her mentor.

I really enjoyed watching her growth, too. The way she decided to stand up for herself, and stop hiding, was so great. I was totally cheering for her.

Rowena: Same. I was engaged the entire time that I was reading this book and I was going through a reading slump. You wouldn’t have known it by how fast I read this book, when I finally buckled down and read. Good stuff.

I would have liked to see Evie reunite with Alvis, the jewelry maker. Do you think he knew who and what Evie really was? I hope we find out in the next book.

Holly: I hope we see that in the next book, too. Are you planning to start it right away?

There’s a possibility of a romance. What did you think of that?

Rowena: Possibility of a romance? You mean between Evie and Sully? They better have a romance! Haha.

I’m going to wait a while before starting the next book, closer to the time that the third book comes out. You guys?

Ames: I’m like you Wena, I’m going to wait until closer to book 3 comes out before reading book 2.

I liked Sully’s character and we better see a romance between Evie and Sully. I liked how their relationship developed – the snarkiness at the beginning and how he pushed her, challenged her. And then when the truth comes out about both of them, their identities, I can see why he pushed her away. Book 2 will be interesting to see how Evie gets him to come around.

Holly: Yeah. I mean, it’s barely hinted at here. Obviously we want it to go forward, but were you satisfied with how it turned out here?

I might read the 2nd book now. Tracy read it and said it ends similar to how this one does. It’s not a cliffhanger but it’s open for more.

Ames: I loved the changes that Evie went to after she joined the gladiator troupe. She really got down to who she was a person and she was so strong. I really liked Paloma and how that friendship came about. Evie was just surprising everyone left and right with her talents. I liked that she wowed everyone by baking. LOL

I did feel bad about her losses though. Isobel was one of the only people who were kind to her in the castle. Alvis is a mystery and I hope we see him again.

Ok you guys, what did you think of that rhyme and what it means? I thought it was interesting that Evie just thought it was a children’s song and didn’t mean anything.

Holly: I think it means the Winter Queen will be harder and more badass than all the lame-ass Summer Queens. LMAO. I liked that she won everyone over by baking, too. Not gonna lie, those pies made me hungry.

Rowena: Yeah, I thought it meant that the Winter Queens were way more badass than the Summer Queens. That they were more important, and maybe in the coming books, we’ll find out why. I definitely think there were more Winter Queens than Summer Queens during Halloween in the kingdom.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book and I’d give it 4.25 out of 5 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I agree. It was an enjoyable book and I’m anxious to see where we go from here. 4.25 out of 5.

Ames: I agree with you both, it’s a 4.25 out of 5. A strong start to a new and interesting series. I can’t wait for book 3 to come out so I can read book 2. You know me, preferring to read my series books closer together. 😛

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Series

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,