Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted July 13, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Holly
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang, James Patrick Cronin
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Traitor Queen
Publisher: Self-Published, Audible Original
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Audible Escape, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 356
Length: 11 hours and 52 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
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 popped up as a recommended read in Audible Escape. The blurb was intriguing so I decided to give it a try. I really enjoyed both narrators. From the very first I was pulled into this novel. I ended up purchasing the ebook so I could read when I wasn’t able to listen.

Lara and her half-sisters were raised in a desert compound for one purpose – to take down The Bridge Kingdom from the inside. As part of a 15 year treaty, one of them must marry the King of Ithicana (the Bridge Kingdom). Lara isn’t the chosen one, but she betrays her sisters to take her place as Queen in order to save their lives. Her goal is simple; Learn as much about the country and the Bridge as possible, so her father and his forces can take it over. Ithicana and her new husband are nothing like she thought they’d be, and it isn’t long before she begins questioning everything.

This was such a stellar story. I was sucked in from the very first page. Lara was such a multi-faceted character. Her whole life she’s been told Ithicana and her King are the reason so many in her country are starving. Although she doesn’t have a lot of love for her father, she does want better for her people. I completely understood why she made the choices she did. From beginning to end, I felt her struggle and determination to do what was right. My heart broke for her at the end, even as I wanted to rage at her. There never came a point when I didn’t understand her plight or her reasons for doing the things she did.

Aren wasn’t as complex of a character. He wanted what was best for his country, and he hoped for a true alliance with Lara’s father, though of course he was wary of ever getting it. Of the two, he was more open and sweet. He just wanted to be able to allow his country men and women to leave, or pursue other dreams, rather than become soldiers. I liked him, but I didn’t feel the same connection to him that I did Lara.

This book ended in a cliffhanger and I immediately dove into the second book.

The politics and intrigue, the personal relationships and Lara’s struggle to do what she was trained to do when her heart was telling her otherwise was very well done. I highly recommend this series.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom

four-half-stars


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Sunday Spotlight: Desolation Road by Christine Feehan

Posted July 12, 2020 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 1 Comment

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

Sunday Spotlight: Desolation Road by Christine FeehanDesolation Road by Christine Feehan
Series: Torpedo Ink #4
Also in this series: Judgment Road (Torpedo Ink #1), Judgment Road, Vengeance Road (Torpedo Ink #2), Vendetta Road, Desolation Road
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: three-stars

Take the ride of your life with the Torpedo Ink motorcycle club in this thrilling romance novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Christine Feehan.    Torpedo Ink is Aleksei “Absinthe” Solokov’s whole life. They’re his brothers, his family—his everything. But that doesn't stop him from wanting something that only belongs to him. That’s why the tough biker has spent the last six weeks at the library, reading every book he can get his hands on and watching the prim and proper librarian who makes his blood rush.    For the past six weeks, Scarlet Foley has been fantasizing about the handsome, tattooed man whose eyes follow her every move. She senses he's dangerous. She wants him to get close enough to touch. She wishes she could let him know the real woman, not the one she pretends to be. But Scarlet has a plan to carry out, and she can’t afford any distractions.   Absinthe is well aware that Scarlet is hiding something. She’s a puzzle he intends to solve, piece by intoxicating piece….

Excerpt

Absinthe opened the door to the restaurant for her, scanning the room quickly for potential trouble before allowing her to do the same thing while he turned back toward the street and gave that another quick once-over. Certain no one was paying attention to either of them, he closed the door and followed his librarian’s amazing ass. She was in a black skirt with small white polka dots scattered over it. The material clung to her curves. He appreciated that particular skirt very much.

Absinthe held the back of her chair for her, ignoring the waiter who looked as if he might conk him on the head and abscond with the girl. She looked regal as she took the seat, smiling up at Absinthe, nearly taking his breath away. Whatever it was that she had affected him like some kind of aphrodisiac. Her small teeth. That mouth with her full, pouty lips that were made for a man’s dirtiest fantasies. He hadn’t had them until she came along. Not like this. Mostly he’d had nightmares. The erotic, very graphic dreams were a welcome change.

“Are you a wine drinker?” Absinthe didn’t know the first thing about wine. He could make her any kind of drink she wanted, or talk beer, but wine eluded him. If she loved wine, he was going to be taking a crash course. It wouldn’t take him long to catch up.

She shook her head. “I actually don’t drink very much. Once in a while, if it’s really hot out, I’ll have an ice-cold beer. But other than that, it’s a very occasional drink and usually I go for something girly like a cosmopolitan.”

“I don’t drink wine,” Absinthe admitted. “Like you I’m not a big drinker, but mostly that stems from wanting to be alert all the time.”

“You don’t put your feet up, relax and have tons to drink?” There was the merest hint of amusement in her voice. Mostly she was serious.

He loved the look on her face when she gave him her full attention. He focused completely on her once he was certain the few couples already eating or waiting to be served weren’t interested in them in the least.

“No, that wouldn’t work for me. I do like to put my feet up though,” he admitted. “I’m going to be very up-front with you.”

It was confession time. If he didn’t say it straight up, she’d find out anyway. “I’m not good at this. I never know what to say and I come off stilted and awkward, but I don’t want to be that way with you.”

Her green eyes were hard to stay still under. She seemed to see right through his skull into his mind where chaos reigned—thanks to her.

“I’m not so great at this either,” she declared. “I guess we’re going to have to learn. I’m very competitive and I have a fast learning curve. Very fast. Wait.” She frowned at him. “You weren’t reading a help book on dating, were you?”

“Do they have those in the library?”

Her lashes swept down and then back up. A small smile teased the curve of her mouth, causing his heart to accelerate. He found himself staring. Shit. He was going to lose before he got started because he couldn’t stop staring at her.

She laughed. “I’m not telling you. I’ll read them and turn into a scintillating conversationalist in minutes, leaving you in the dust.”

He instantly learned three things. There were multiple self-help books on dating, she read extremely fast, and she really was competitive. He flashed a small grin, looking at her with hawk-like eyes, giving her the predator look just for a moment. Just to see the shiver that crept down her spine.

“I’ll have to be there first thing in the morning before your shift.”

“You know my shifts?” The smile faded, and she sounded uneasy.

He shrugged. “How was I going to ask you out? I went multiple times without seeing you, so clearly you had a shift and only came into the library during those times. I kept having to trade work with friends, and drive here from the coast, so, I found out when you worked. I came as often as I could, and just waited until we’d established a very tentative woman can charm the socks right off a shy man any day of the week.”

“Is that what we established?”

Her laughter got him every time. He found himself actually relaxing. The waiter hovered, and both guiltily studied the menu. She ordered a pasta dish and he ordered a steak. Fresh-baked bread was put on the table, and he suddenly realized he was very hungry.

Torpedo Ink

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: July 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 Christine Feehan

I live on the beautiful Northern California coast and draw much inspiration from the beauty around me. I've always been a writer, for as long as I remember. My sisters were forced to read all of my books from the time I could write a story on paper.

I love family. I love my brothers and sisters, my children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren. My home was always full of kids and children give me so much joy.

I also love my "sisters of the heart", those friends who have supported me through my life, laughed with me, cried with me and loved me regardless of how crazy my life got. I am a strong supporter of women helping each other which is why I became a third degree black belt and taught self-defense to women who'd been abused.

I love people and dogs, good books and great coffee and I'm lucky to know just how blessed I am.


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WTF Cover Saturday (359)

Posted July 11, 2020 by Casee in Features | 2 Comments

I’m not going to lie. I’ve read this book. It’s as bad as the cover is. No joke.

Share your thoughts on this cringe-worthy cover in the comments below!


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What Are You Reading? (533)

Posted July 10, 2020 by Holly in Features | 3 Comments

Casee: I’m reading Rock Chick Renegade by Kristen Ashley. I’m really liking this series. It’s so over the top, but still super funny. I’m also still reading Looking Inside by Beth Kery.

Im listening to Magic Binds. I am so in love with this series. I can’t believe I’m already on the ninth book.

Holly: We missed last week, so here are my reads for the past two weeks. I DNF’d Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope just over the halfway mark. I was liking it early on, but then it turned kind of weird (trucks and cars in what I thought was a fantasy world, etc). I might try the second book in the series. I read The Malediction Trilogy by Danielle L. Jensen. Stolen Songbird, book 1, was really good. I liked the premise and the politics and intrigues. I didn’t enjoy book 2, Hidden Huntress, quite as much, but I liked Warrior Witch, the third and final book. Interestingly, I actually came to like the main character less in each book. I would still recommend the trilogy for the world and secondary characters.

I read and listened to Wishing for a Highlander by Jessi Gage. It was just okay. I liked the premise and the hero, but the wishy-washy heroine and over-the-top villainous characters worked against it. I started the second book, The Wolf and the Highlander, but quickly set it aside when I realized one of the villains from the first book was the heroine of the story. I may come back to it later once I have some space from her actions in the first book.

Aside from that I re-read several novels by Kristen Ashley (Rock Chick Reawakening, Rock Chick Regret, Games of the Heart and Golden Trail), Crush the King by Jennifer Estep to refresh my memory before I reviewed it with Ames and listened to Wildfire by Ilona Andrews. I am planning to read Brass Carriages and Glass Hearts by Nancy Campbell Allen next, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Posted July 10, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. MaasReviewer: Holly
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: May 5, 2015
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult
Pages: 419
Length: 16 hours and 7 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Feyre's survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price ...

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre's presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is the first book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for years. Recently I requested a good Paranormal/Fantasy series on Twitter, and this was one of the top recs, so I dug it out. I had the Kindle version with the audio add-on, so I read and listened. The narrator was good. I really enjoyed the writing and the world-building, but I found the story moved slow at times and I had a hard time focusing on it. The second half picked up, however, and I was fully invested in Feyre and her journey.

For hundreds of years the Faeries and Humans have been bound by a treaty that keeps the Faeries from killing humans and/or keeping them as slaves. Feyre and her family live near the wall that separates the two lands, in abject poverty. While she’s out hunting, she kills a wolf that turns out to be faerie and forfeits her life in return. Rather than killing her, Tamlin, the faerie who comes for her, tells her she must come and live with him over the wall in Prythian. Once she arrives in the Spring Court, she’s surprised to learn she won’t be a prisoner, but rather a permanent guest. Her whole life she’s grown up hating the faeries for how they treat humans. As she spends time with Tamlin and the other faeries at the Spring Court, she comes to realize there’s more to the story than she ever knew..and not all faeries are bad.

At the beginning of the novel, Feyre was a hard character to like. Her vain, shallow mother has died, and her father has lost their fortune and retreated into himself, leaving Feyre to care for him and her two self-absorbed sisters. She’s had to teach herself to hunt, how to barter for what they need and how to survive in a world so unlike the one she was meant to inhabit. This has made her hard and a little jaded, not to mention focused solely on herself and her own needs (or those of her family). It’s not that I blamed her, as I understand what poverty can do to a person, but it didn’t make her very likable in the beginning. As she settles into life in Prythian and relaxes her guard, I came to enjoy her more. The novel spans several months, which gives us an opportunity to watch her grow and blossom away from the oppressing burdens of her human life. This is the Feyre she was meant to be, but with a core of steel she may have never grown otherwise.

I never really warmed up to Tamlin. He was different than I expected from the way he burst into Feyre’s home and forced her home with him; a bit old fashioned, but very sweet. He encouraged her to find herself and rediscover her love for painting, explore the area and make herself at home. Tamlin had his own agenda. Though he was kind to Feyre, it was obvious he was waiting on something from her. There were also several instances where he came off as very weak, not a warrior, for all his “I kill the bad things” vibes. I didn’t dislike him, necessarily, but I didn’t really like him, either.

Around the 70% mark, Feyre is forced to go Under the Mountain (another Court in Prythian, ruled by an evil faerie) to save Tamlin. This is where the novel really picked up. I loved watching Feyre use her wits and strength to survive and overcome. Still, it was hard to read, because while Feyre survived, parts of her were broken in the process. The latter part of the book was focused pretty much solely on Feyre. She was doing what she was doing for Tamlin, but he wasn’t really involved.

Having said that, I loved how Feyre changed and grew over the course of the book, and I was invested in her romance with Tamlin and her life in Prythian. The world-building and court politics and intrigues were very well done. I loved learning about the different Courts, being introduced to all the Faeries and coming to understand the truth behind Tamlin’s actions. Though this wasn’t a perfect read, I was invested in Feyre and her journey enough to continue reading, even through the slow parts. While it doesn’t necessarily end in a cliffhanger, I did immediately pick up the second book because I needed to see where Feyre’s story headed next.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

A Court of Thorns and Roses

three-half-stars


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