Tag: Romance

Joint Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted January 21, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Ames and Rowena
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Traitor Queen, The Bridge Kingdom , The Traitor Queen
Publisher: Context Literary Agency
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 356
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

What if you fell in love with the one person you'd sworn to destroy?

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil - and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara's homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.

But as she infiltrates her new home - a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas - and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

This book came highly recommended by Holly so Ames and I chose to read it together this month and to say that it was a really great recommendation is putting it mildly. This book packed a really great punch and kicked off this series beautifully.

So this story is about Princess Lara of Miridrina who travels to the kingdom of Ithicana to fulfill her country’s part of the peace treaty with the late King of Ithicana. She is to marry King Aren of Ithicana but she is also putting into action, a plan that her father, the King of Miridrina, has been plotting for the last fifteen years. A plan that depends on Lara to make happen.

When Lara gets to Ithicana, she is not a fan of the King, his sister, or the people and she is deadset on the plan she was sent in for but the longer she’s there, the more she realizes that there are holes in what she grew up learning about Ithicana, it’s King and the people. The closer she gets to her husband, the more torn she is.

Lara’s journey is not an easy one because falling in love with her husband and her new home was not in the plan at all.

Rowena: Alright Ames, we’re kicking off 2021 on a great note, wouldn’t you agree? What did you think of this one?

Ames: I definitely agree- yay for us picking up our buddy reviews again! And second, thank you to Holly for recommending this series. I was in a bit of a slump so although this took me a minute to get into, once I was I couldn’t put it down. I was completely caught up in Lara’s story and you know what? I don’t even like spies or spy tropes. LOL But I liked Lara and I thought the author did an excellent job showing the struggle Lara was faced with. And the world-building was so easy to get into. It wasn’t heavy or difficult to follow at all.

What did you think?

Rowena: I think the same. It took me a little bit before I was fully invested in Lara’s journey but once the story took off, I was all in. I had a little bit of anxiety going on because like you, I’m not the biggest fan of spies or the spy trope but I thought Danielle L. Jensen handled everything well. Her writing style was really easy to follow and I finished this book, then immediately had to start the next book because I was that invested in what was going on.

I will say something that Holly brought up after I finished reading this one. I would have been royally pissed off if I had read this book back before book 2 was released. I don’t think I would have been able to stand not being able to continue the story after I was done with this one. This one ended on a sort of cliffhanger, do you think?

Ames: This is the exact reason why I let series build up before reading all the books close together. LOL, I could not have imagined waiting any time at all to see what happened with Lara! I jumped immediately into the next book. haha

I don’t want to be too spoilery but this book – there was one scene in particular where I was like “Nooooooooo!!!” and sure enough, it bit Lara in the ass. I was annoyed with Lara’s reticence in telling Aren how she felt. I understand that she was basically brainwashed by her father and his men regarding the Ithicanians but yeah, I was annoyed with Lara and how long she took to make up her mind. However, I understand WHY. I just didn’t like it. LOL.

Rowena: Haha, I know exactly what you’re talking about because I was screaming the same. That totally bit Lara in the ass and all I have to say for that is if she had opened her mouth, and trusted her husband (who had proven himself time and time again to her) with the truth, her ass would have been fine. But noooooo….haha.

I thought it took her far too long to come clean about everything and when she finally does, I was heavy sighing all over the place because girl…it was too little too late.

This book was super engaging and I couldn’t read it fast enough. From almost the beginning to the end, I could not get enough. I was wrapped up in everything that was going on and when the ending was coming and things were really coming together, I dreaded getting to the end. I didn’t want it to end. I was so invested in the romance between Aren and Lara, Lara getting to know the people of Ithicana and seeing her come to care for everyone. I think the weakest part of the story was that ending, which I thought was abrupt but I’m glad that I had the next book ready to go because I jumped right into the next book when I finished this one.

I’m so glad that we decided to give Danielle L. Jensen a try, I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait for the next book in this series. I’m giving this a 4.5 out of 5, what about you?

Ames: I’m glad this book defeated my reading slump. It was super engaging and really, I can’t stress this enough, for a fantasy book the world-building was incredibly easy to get into. That’s huge for me because these days I lose interest so easily. I am giving The Bridge Kingdom 4.25 out of 5. And for potential readers out there, make sure you buy book 1 and book 2 so you don’t have to wait! LOL!

Final Rating

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

Posted January 6, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Magic Triumphs by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #10
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks, Iron and Magic, Magic Binds
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 328
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can't-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban-fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She's made friends and enemies. She's found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate's doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows her time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Magic Triumphs is the final chapter of the Kate Daniels series and it was so good that I had a moment after I finished where I let myself be sad that I’m done with these books. I’m so glad that we’re not done with the world though. I’m looking forward to reading the Iron Covenant series and the Aurelia Ryder series. There’s still so much to look forward to and man does that make me happy.

So this book is one helluva book. This was a really emotional read for me. I cried a lot. Lots of stuff happened and seeing Kate struggle to keep it together while bringing everyone together was a lot. She needed everyone to come together to defeat Roland and by some miracle she made it happen. Friends, family, enemies, they all came together to fight for Atlanta, and Kate was right there in the center of it all. Goodness, seeing Kate in this book and remembering Kate from the beginning of this series is pretty incredible. When we first met her, she was so closed off to relationships and people in general but to see her in this last book, you wouldn’t have guessed it. She is the driving force for so many people and she’s loved by so many people that only Kate could unite an entire city against a common enemy. Only Kate can make people set aside their differences and their issues to fight together.

There were so many characters that have come such a long way from the beginning of this series. Curran, Derek, Julie, hell even Gastek and Mahon. Goodness, Derek, and Julie were babies when we first met them and now they’ve grown and they’re fighting the bad guys along with the people that raised them. Julie is a big sister and Derek is a man who is loyal and ready to take on the world.

I feel like I keep saying the same thing over and over again in my reviews of the books in this series but I promise they’re true in every case. This book was filled with everything that makes a story great. The growth of the characters that we have all come to know and love is fantastic and the humor is present at every turn, despite the seriousness of their situation. Ilona Andrews writes incredible stories of good vs. evil and this is one of my top favorites of all the books that I’ve read by them. This book has is an emotional finale that will be hard to beat. I loved everything about this book and I highly recommend it. Read Iron and Magic first though because that story leads into this one. It’s another good one so it’s worth the wait to read this one.

Final Grade

4.5 out of 5

Kate Daniels

The Iron Covenant

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Joint Review: To Dream Again by Laura Lee Guhrke

Posted December 31, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: To Dream Again by Laura Lee GuhrkeReviewer: Holly and Rowena
To Dream Again by Laura Lee Guhrke
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 1, 1995
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 342
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

Beautiful widow Mara Elliot has only one goal—to save her London factory from the creditors. A no-nonsense woman of business, Mara has no patience with impractical schemes and risky ideas. But when she is forced into accepting handsome inventor Nathaniel Chase as her business partner, Mara has no choice but to go along with his reckless plans, plans which put everything she’s worked for at risk.

Nathaniel knows success doesn’t come to those who play it safe. Mara’s factory is the perfect place to transform his innovative ideas into reality, but his new business partner isn’t cooperating. The provoking beauty questions his judgment at every turn and fights his plans every step of the way, but she also sparks his desire like no woman he’s ever met before. Can Nathaniel convince her to trust him and follow his dream, or will he have to give up everything he’s ever wanted in order to win her heart?

To Dream Again is the story of Nathaniel Chase and Mara Elliott. Nathaniel and Mara become partners in a toy business that Nathaniel is funding. Mara’s late husband was supposed to go into business with Nathaniel but he died and left behind a loan that the bank called. Mara, who had been running her husband’s business for the last four years cannot pay the loan so Nathaniel comes onto the scene, pays the loan, and starts changing the direction of the business that Mara has been managing.

Nathaniel and Mara have a long road ahead of them filled with business drama, family drama, and chemistry that is heating the both of them right up.

Rowena: I didn’t realize that this book was as long as it actually is when I was reading it. I enjoyed this one but I didn’t LOVE it. There were times when I wanted to strangle Mara, times I wanted to kick Nathaniel in the nuts but I did enjoy their romance.

What about you, thoughts?

Holly: It felt like this book too ages to read, and now I know why. It’s a pretty hefty read. Like you, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. In the early parts of the book Nathaniel drove me crazy, but Mara got on my nerves later in the book.

I enjoyed their romance, too. I really liked how Nathaniel worked hard to get Mara to rise above her fears. Some of the best parts of the book were when he forced her to get out of her own head.

Rowena: Yes! I really liked seeing Nathaniel try to make things work with Mara, first professionally but also personally. I liked seeing him grow into his feelings for her too. Their feelings for each other came about organically so it felt natural and I enjoyed it. I liked that Nathaniel had Mara’s back at work and that they eventually became a true partnership. It took Mara a little bit to get there but when she finally does, I was glad.

I also really liked seeing the two of them together with Billy. The first time that Mara made Nathaniel take him to the showers, I laughed out loud.

Holly: I really liked that Nathaniel wanted the controlling percentage of the company, but he treated Mara like a partner. He looped her in on decisions and didn’t try to undermine her. That was nice.

That made me laugh, too. I loved all the scenes with Billy. He was a scrappy kid, but he had a big heart.

What was your favorite part of the book?

Rowena: A couple things come to mind. I really liked when Nathaniel took Mara and Billy kite flying. It was so obvious that Mara needed something outside of her work to keep her occupied. It was also super obvious that Billy needed something to smile about since his life was hard and with him being so young, I loved that Nathaniel and Mara were able to be there for him. It was a great day and I loved seeing Nathaniel and Mara’s playful side.

But I also liked the scene when Billy is fighting with his bully and Mara holds herself back from going to help him. She came so far from when she first met Billy and she was getting on my nerves so when we finally get here and she supports Billy by staying away, I was happy.

I also really liked when Nathaniel built the fire escape for her. What about you?

So there’s a lot to like in this book. The characters really grow into their own, but even with all of that, the story moved a little slow in places. This one gets 3.75 out of 5 from me. What about you?

Holly: I really loved that Nathaniel built the fire escape. He really paid attention to Mara and knew what she needed without her asking. I also loved when Mara stood back while Billy defended himself. She definitely came a long way.

There was a lot to like in this book. Mara’s plight as a woman in that time period hurt my heart, and at times I got frustrated with both of them, but overall it was a good story. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5.

Holly: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 3.75 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Review: Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews

Posted December 21, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Magic Binds by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Rowena
Magic Binds by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #9
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic , Magic Rises , Magic Strikes, Magic Mourns, Magic Bleeds, Magic Dreams, Magic Slays, Gunmetal Magic, Magic Gifts, Magic Rises, Magic Tests, Magic Stars, Magic Shifts, Magic Steals, Magic Breaks, Magic Breaks, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 333
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-half-stars

The new, “heart-stopping”* novel in the New York Times bestselling series that “defines urban fantasy.”*

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Magic Binds is the ninth book in the Kate Daniels series and this book had a lot of the end is near vibes going for it, at least for me. Kate and Curran are planning their wedding and stuff just keeps coming up that they have to deal with and most of the shenanigans start and end with her evil ass manipulator of a father, Roland.

It took me a while to get this book read because I was super distracted by a bunch of other stuff going on in my life. This pandemic has introduced me to a bunch of new to me things and reading kind of fell to the side but I knew that I wanted to read this book and I knew that I was going to finish the Kate Daniels series this year and so I kept right on pushing through until there was no turning back. The Ilona Andrews duo are really good at their job. After nine books, you’d think that they would run out of steam but nope, they just keep right on delivering the goods.

I enjoyed this one a lot and I didn’t think I could love Kate and Curran any more than I already did but reading this book made a liar out of me. I loved them both more. I really like that though they’re both these serious badasses, at the end of the day, they’re just as normal as you and me. Kate had a job, she had a family and friends and she had a whole lot of responsibility. She didn’t take any of these things for granted and she worked her ass off to be there for everyone, get the job done, and made sure to be home every night to make dinner. It’s so easy to see yourself in Kate and in each and every single book, I connected with what she was going through, what she was feeling, and even though I didn’t always agree with her, I still really loved her character.

In this book, she’s dealing with her father taunting her, trying to drag her into one mess after another mess and she doesn’t have time for him or his shenanigans but when he kidnaps her friend, she can’t just sit idly by while Roland tortures him so she decides that she’s had enough of Roland’s shit and goes to get her friend.

This one is another winner and I am so sad that my reading adventure with Kate front and center is coming to an end. I’m really looking forward to continuing in the same world with the Aurelia Ryder and even the Iron Covenant series but I’m sad that Kate and Curran’s series is coming to an end. It’s been a really great reading adventure and this book was just one of many wonderful journeys. I love seeing everyone come together to help Kate fight the bad guys and there’s just so much goodness in this one. The humor that we all know and love, the action is there, and the characters are all shining examples of why this series is so popular. If you haven’t read this book (I’m looking at all of my So Cal blogger buddies), you should definitely fix it. It’s SOOOOO GOOOD, I promise!

Final Grade

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Kate Daniels

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Throwback Thursday Review: Losing Control by Jen Frederick

Posted December 17, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Losing Control by Jen FrederickReviewer: Rowena
Losing Control by Jen Frederick
Series: Kerr Chronicles #1
Also in this series: Losing Control, Taking Control
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 16, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 280
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

I’d do anything to keep my mother alive.

Anything, including ask Ian Kerr for help. I don’t know much about him, except that he has more money than some small countries. And he’s willing to spend it on me. Just one catch: there’s a string attached, and not just the one I feel pulling me into his arms and his bed. There’s also the plan for revenge he wants my help with.

Every time he says my name, it makes my body shiver and my heart stutter. I know he’s going to wreck me, know there won’t be anything left of me but lust and sensation by the time he’s done with me, but even though I can see the heartbreak coming towards me like a train, ready to crash into me, I can’t get out of the way. I want what he makes me feel. Want what he’s offering.

This may have started out as something to save my mother, but now…now it’s about what he makes me feel. I’m in danger of losing everything that’s important. Worse? Ian's whispered words and hot caresses are making me believe that's okay.

This review was originally posted on December 23, 2014.

I read this book for my book club meeting last month. Jen Frederick is an author that I enjoy so it wasn’t hard for me to jump right in. It didn’t take me long to read the book but when I was finished, I was a bit underwhelmed and I can’t blame that on the cliff-hanger at the end. I knew there was a second book so the cliff-hanger didn’t bother me one bit.

I just didn’t connect with Victoria, the heroine. And while I enjoyed Ian (the hero), I thought his high-handedness where Victoria was concerned was kind of offensive and reminded me of Christian Grey (even though I’ve never read those books). Yeah, we all wish that a billionaire would come into our lives, become so enchanted with us and then take us away from our poor lives. The fantasy is great but for some reason, it didn’t work for me here.

Victoria is a bike messenger trying to make ends meet. She’s taking care of her sick Mom and doing whatever needs to be done in order to make sure they have a roof over their heads, food on the table and their bills paid. Even if it means working for her douche-hole of a criminal step-brother, Malcolm. She does some shady delivery services for him, asks no questions and makes more money than she would at her normal every day bike messenger job. There are plenty of risks but to keep her Mom healthy and comfortable, Victoria will gladly take those risks.

When we first meet Victoria, I really liked her. She was a bad-ass with enough stress to drown a sumo wrestler but she kept right on going, taking care of business. So when Ian bulldozes into her life, I felt like a lot of the bad-ass I admired kind of went out the window. She turned from this determined young woman who was fighting the good fight against poverty to this new person who was trying to stay strong and independent by coming off bratty and whiny and who still rolled over whenever Ian was around. And then in the end when her life is drastically changed forever, I felt like she dropped the ball. The strong and independent girl that I liked in the beginning was completely gone. She spent so much time worried about her Mom in the book and then when everything goes to shit, she kind of just fell apart. Maybe it’s the way that I was brought up but when shit gets hard, you handle your shit. You don’t fall into a pit of depression and let other people handle shit that you should handle yourself and Victoria (I didn’t like her nickname, Tiny so I refuse to call her that) let me down. She wanted to put distance between her and Ian after all of that stuff with her Mom but who the hell was taking care of YOUR business while you were thinking of leaving him? NOT YOU.

Ugh.

My friend Tasha and I had completely different reactions to this book. She was hooked and though it wasn’t her favorite read, she still really enjoyed it but not me. Even Holly liked this book more than I did but sometimes it happens that way. I didn’t completely hate it. There were moments between Ian and Victoria that I thought were cute and the beginning showed such promise so that was good but those moments didn’t stand out to me in the end because I didn’t rush to start the next book and I have it to read.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Kerr Chronicles

two-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,