Category: Reviews

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Kingpin of Camelot by Cassandra Gannon

Posted August 23, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Kingpin of Camelot by Cassandra GannonReviewer: Rowena
The Kingpin of Camelot by Cassandra Gannon
Series: A Kinda Fairytale #1
Also in this series: The Kingpin of Camelot (A Kinda Fairytale, #3)
Publisher: Star Turtle Publishing
Publication Date: July 31, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 576
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's Summer Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The Queen: Guinevere must save Camelot. Ever since Arthur died, the evil Scarecrow has been trying to marry her and gain the crown. If she and her daughter are going to survive his mad schemes, Gwen needs to find Merlyn’s wand. Fast. Unfortunately, the only man strong enough to help her on her quest is Kingpin Midas, a flashy, uneducated mobster dealing with a curse. Gwen is a logical, rational woman, though, and she can draft one hell of a contract. She’s pretty sure she can come up with an offer not even the kingdom’s greatest villain can refuse.

The Kingpin: Anything Midas touches turns to gold. Literally. The curse has helped him to rule Camelot’s underworld with an iron fist. He has more money and more power than anyone else in the kingdom. He’s convinced there’s nothing he can’t buy. One look at Gwen and Midas knows that he’s about to make his most brilliant purchase, yet. He’s about to own the one woman in the world he would give anything to possess. All he has to do to claim her is somehow win a war against the smartest man in Camelot, hide his growing feelings from Gwen, deal with his overprotective bodyguard’s paranoia about the queen’s hidden motivations, and adjust to a five year old demanding bedtime stories from a gangster. Simple, right?

The Contract: Gwen’s deal is simple: If Midas marries her, she’ll make him King of Camelot. It’s a fair bargain. Midas will keep her enemies away and she’ll give him the respectability that money can’t buy. She never expects Midas to agree so quickly. Or for their practical business arrangement to feel so… complicated. Midas isn’t the tawdry, feral animal that Arthur railed against. He’s a kind and gentle man, who clearly needs Gwen’s help just as much as she needs his. In fact, the longer she’s around Midas the more Gwen realizes that their “fake marriage” might be more real than she ever imagined.

This was one of Holly’s choices for me to read for my Summer Reading Challenge and if it wasn’t for her, I probably would have never picked up this book. I’m glad that I read it all the way through because it took me a while to warm up to the story. The world that Cassandra Gannon created for these characters reminds me of Shrek and I’m not the biggest fan of the Shrek movies. I’ve only watched the first one and I’ve only watched it once because it wasn’t my favorite so that explains why it took me a while to warm up to everyone, except Avalon, and everything. I’m glad that I stuck with this book because I ended up liking it and LOVING King Midas.

So Queen Guinevere must save Camelot from the evil clutches of the mean Scarecrow, who is trying to force her into marriage so that he can become King and rule the land. He’s up to no good and with King Arthur out of the picture, Scarecrow means business. Guinevere needs to find Merlyn’s wand to protect her and her daughter. The only person that can help her and keep her and Avalon safe is King Midas so Guinevere runs to him.

Midas is the ruler of the Underworld and he’s also cursed af. Everything he touches turns to gold. Everything. He’s the richest man in the world because of the curse but that isn’t enough for Midas. One look at Gwen and he realizes that he wants her as well. She’s all class and class is something that Midas has never had. When Gwen comes to him for help, he knows he’s not going to turn her away. When she proposes marriage, Midas is all in. He’ll do whatever it takes to own the biggest prize he’s always wanted. He’ll take on the Scarecrow and win this war for her.

This is a marriage of convenience romance and I thought Cassandra Gannon did a great job of pulling this story together. There was a lot to tackle but I didn’t feel that anything was rushed and I wasn’t confused or anything like that. It took me a little bit to get into the story but that was more of a personal preference that kept tripping me up than anything to do with the actual writing or story going on here. The world Gannon created for these characters is colorful and it’s fun and once I got over myself and just read, I enjoyed it.

The romance between Gwen and Midas was a lot of fun and super sweet. I adored seeing Midas fall deeper and deeper in love with Gwen, all the while, trying to hide his feelings. It was really sweet to see how quickly he fell for both Gwen and Avalon. I just, seriously, I adored the hell out of him. OMG, I love him. I also really enjoyed Gwen’s character. I didn’t think that would be the case early on but I did warm up to her and loved seeing her fall just as deeply in love with King Midas as King Midas did with her. I loved how they had each other’s back and how they were a team, taking on the bad guys….even though, for years, Gwen thought Midas was one of the bad guys.

This was a sweet story that was light but full of goodness. I’m definitely planning on reading the other books in this series and kudos to Holly for making me read this one.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

A Kinda Fairytale

Happily Ever Witch

four-stars


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Review: Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews

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

Review: Sweep of the Blade by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #4
Also in this series: Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1), Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1), Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2), One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #3), Clean Sweep
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: July 16, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Pages: 315
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Maud Demille is a daughter of Innkeepers—a special group who provide ‘lodging’ to other-planetary visitors—so she knows that a simple life isn't in the cards. But even Maud could never have anticipated what Fate would throw at her.

Once a wife to a powerful vampire knight, Maud and her young daughter, Helen, were exiled with him for his treachery to the desolate, savage planet of Karhari. Karhari killed her husband, and Maud—completely abandoned by his family—has spent over a year avenging his debts. Rescued by her sister Dina, she's sworn off all things vampire.

Except... In helping Dina save the world, she met Arland, the Marshal of House Krahr, one of the most powerful vampire houses. One thing led to another and he asked for her hand in marriage. She declined. Arland is not used to hearing the word ‘no;’ and try as she might, Maud can't just walk away from Arland. It doesn't help that being human is a lot harder for Maud than being a vampire.

To sort it all out, she accepts his invitation to visit his home planet. House Krahr is extremely influential and Maud knows that a woman—a human, with a very questionable past—who's turned down a proposal from its most beloved son won't get a warm reception. Maybe she’s not sure about marrying Arland, but House Krahr isn’t going to decide for her. Maud Demille has never run from a fight, and House Krahr will soon discover that there's a lot more to Maud than they’re expecting.

Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews is the 4th book in the InnKeeper Chronicles. Books 1-3 were told from Dina’s point-of-view, and were centered in her Inn, Gertrude Hunt, in Red Deer, Texas. This novel takes us into the Holy Anocracy, as Maud travels there to see if she can make a life for herself and Helen with Lord Arland, Marshall of House Krahr. I read this as a free serial on the author’s website, but this review is for the expanded, fully edited version. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the full release for months. This is my favorite of all Andrews’ series (maybe) and I adore Maud, Arland and Helen.

Maud DeMille, daughter of Innkeepers, has spent the past two years surviving on a hellish planet, paying a blood debt after her husband gets them all banished from his House and eventually ends up dead. As the human wife of a Vampire, she had to work hard to prove herself to House Ervan, and now that her husband is dead and her sister rescued her from Karhari, she isn’t keen to put her or her child back in with another House. But Arland, Lord Marshall of House Krahr, makes her feel things she never thought she’d feel again. So she’s back in the Holy Anocracy, trying to decide if she can earn a place in his clan, or if she’ll have to walk away from him forever.

…they pitched forward and conquered the final stair. “As I was saying,” Arland said, a sheen of sweat covering his face, “if I had to fight nine knights every week for the pleasure of you berating me, I would do it gladly.”

“You are an idiot. I abandoned my sister and a perfectly good inn and traveled halfway across the galaxy for an idiot.”

Arland’s devotion to Maud and Helen came across so well it was hard not to want Maud to fall right in with his plans for her to marry him. But I understood her hesitation completely. She’d been burned once and lost – literally – everything when her husband betrayed not only his House, but her and their daughter as well. Her need to take things slow and go cautiously with their future made perfect sense. I loved Helen in the previous books, and she was just as wonderful here. I also loved Maud’s devotion to her, and how well developed their relationship was.

“And he said I wasn’t good enough to be his enemy. And I said, ‘I’ll punch you so hard, you’ll swallow your teeth, worm.’”

Maud hid a groan. “Where did you hear that?”

“Lord Arland.” Oh goodie.

The political intrigue, evil vampire machinations and kickass fight scenes only amplified an already amazing story. The world-building is so detailed I honestly felt like I was right there on the planet with them. Watching Maud find her place with Arland amongst his clan was lovely. She’s so kickass, I can’t help but adore her.

“They did call me something on Karhari.”

“What was it?” “Maud the Sariv.”

“What does that mean?” Karat asked.

“On Karhari there is a summer wind that comes from the wastes. Nobody knows how it forms, but it comes out of nowhere and it picks up thorny spores from local weeds. When you inhale sariv’s breath, the spores enter your lungs and cut you from the inside. There is no escape from this storm. If you are caught in it without protective gear, it will kill you. They called me that because I paid the blood debt I owed to my husband’s killers.”

I also loved what an asset she was as Maven, and how we got to see Nuan Cee again. The way she was with the Tachi, and her knowledge of so much, was wonderful.

Vampire worldview, condensed into three sentences: If it’s not food or a pet, kill it, because it might be poisonous.

There’s quite a bit of humor, along with a whole heaping lot of fight scenes with just enough romance thrown in to keep my heart happy.

Overall, this was another stellar Innkeeper novel. I can only hope the authors continue the series. I want more!

“What I’m trying to say is, I see you. I would love you if you were a vampire or a human, because of who you are. You don’t need an inn or a broom to fascinate me. You only have to look my way and you’ll have all of my attention.”

Something fluttered in her chest. Something left over from before Karhari and her marriage.

She tilted her head and gave him a narrow smile. “What if I were a werewolf?”

He sucked in air, pretending to think it over. “I would love you still.”

Rating: 4 out of 5

Innkeeper Chronicles

four-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Warrior Ascended by Addison Fox

Posted August 22, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Warrior Ascended by Addison FoxReviewer: Casee
Warrior Ascended by Addison Fox
Series: Sons of the Zodiac #1
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: March 2, 2010
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

View our feature on Addison Fox’s Warrior Ascended.First in the dark and sexy paranormal romance seriesStarring the immortal warriors of the zodiac

Charming, proud, and impulsive, Leo Warrior Brody Talbot is fighting what may be his final battle. Enyo, the Goddess of War, plans to fulfill an ancient prophecy to destroy humanity by harnessing the dark power of the Summoning Stones of Egypt. There's only one person who knows enough about the stones to help Brody stop her-beautiful museum curator Ava Harrison.

Never in all his centuries has Brody met a woman who enthralls him like Ava. But, bound to protect her, he struggles to deny his passion as they are drawn into a dark and dangerous final reckoning between good and evil.

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

Holly: Isn’t it funny how we find a book or author we love, then forget to look out for the next book in the series? I think that’s what happened to Casee with this series.

This review was originally posted on Aug 11, 2010.

After all the mythology in the last book I read, I wasn’t too sure about reading this one. Then I went onto Amazon and looked at the average stars. I didn’t read the reviews, just the stars. Sometimes that is my go-to when I get all wishy-washy can’t decide between one book and another. I’m glad I did b/c this book was amazeballs and how did I miss Addison Fox and where are you Addison Fox?

On a day long, long ago (like a millennium), Themis went to Zeus with an idea. Create some warriors to help the humans that were going to get themselves killed (stupid little buggers) and give his daughter, Enyo the Goddess of War, a little fun. A play date if you will. Zeus still feels bad about the whole Hera situation so he agrees to Themis’ request. He never realizes that the fine print will come back to bite his daughter in the ass.

So why does Themis want her own warriors to help the humans? She’s the Goddess of Justice. Mother to the Three Fates. Before you start screeching, remember that this isn’t Sherrilyn Kenyon’s world. It’s Addison Fox’s. Where are you, Addison Fox? In Addison Fox’s world, Themis and the Three Fates are good. Warrior Ascended is the story of the Leo warrior.

Brody is an archeologist that is on a dig protecting something when something actually becomes something. An ancient map that tells how to bring six stones together for ultimate power over the earth. His job as one of Themis’ warriors is to not allow that to happen. It’s not quite as easy as just stealing the map, so the next best thing to do is go to the stones.

Ava Harrison has always felt an aversion to the stone that sits in the museum where she works. It started the day when her father first brought her to see it. He changed to another person before her eyes. She never has lost that uneasy feeling. Anything else she feels, she writes off as her imagination. If only you knew, Ava. But wait, you’re about to know.

When Brody is on his way to meet Ava for the first time, he intercepts an attack on her. Just in time, too. When he finishes saving the day, he takes away her memories. It doesn’t really work because the next time she sees him, she remembers who he is. Now she wants to know how he could have saved her life and oh yeah, did she kill anyone?

The attraction between the two is something that is completely unexpected on both sides. Brody is something that accepts Ava as she is. He doesn’t expect her to come out of her self-imposed shell and be someone she is not. He understands the trauma she has been through in her life. Brody has been through some trauma himself and Ava can help him heal if he’ll let her. He has a hard head though so it takes her awhile to get through.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

four-stars


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Review: The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

Posted August 22, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Wallflower Wager by Tessa DareReviewer: Rowena
The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare
Series: Girl Meets Duke #3
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal , The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

They call him the Duke of Ruin.

To an undaunted wallflower, he's just the beast next door.

Wealthy and ruthless, Gabriel Duke clawed his way from the lowliest slums to the pinnacle of high society—and now he wants to get even.

Loyal and passionate, Lady Penelope Campion never met a lost or wounded creature she wouldn’t take into her home and her heart.

When her imposing—and attractive—new neighbor demands she clear out the rescued animals, Penny sets him a challenge. She will part with her precious charges, if he can find them loving homes.

Done, Gabriel says. How hard can it be to find homes for a few kittens?

And a two-legged dog.

And a foul-mouthed parrot.

And a goat, an otter, a hedgehog . . .

Easier said than done, for a cold-blooded bastard who wouldn’t know a loving home from a workhouse. Soon he’s covered in cat hair, knee-deep in adorable, and bewitched by a shyly pretty spinster who defies his every attempt to resist. Now she’s set her mind and heart on saving him.

Not if he ruins her first.

The Wallflower Wager is the third book in the Girl Meets Duke series by Tessa Dare and it features the heroines from the previous two books friend, Lady Penelope “Penny” Campion. Penny has lived on her own for a while now, in a house that has been good to her. She has been able to help needy animals in need of tender and loving care. Her heart is just as generous as the home where she keeps all of the animals in her care. There’s a parrot with a colorful language, a dog, an otter, a hedgehog, and well…you get the idea. She would have continued to live the loving, spinster life if her Aunt hadn’t shown up on her doorstep, letting her know that if she doesn’t make an effort to get herself hitched in the next little while, she’ll be forced to move in with her brother and her brother’s family. Not only will Penny have to show some progress in getting married, but she’ll also have to give up all of her animals and while that will help solve all of Gabriel Duke, aka The Duke of Ruin’s plans, he needs Penny to stay as much as he needs her animals to go so that he can turn a profit on selling the house next door to Penny’s.

Penny needs his help finding homes for all of her animal charges and he needs her to stay put because lots of hob nobs would love to buy a house right next door from a Lady and Gabriel is determined that Penny is that Lady.

Right from the very beginning, Gabriel is attracted to Penny. He can’t understand why she’s still single, being as pretty as she is but the more he gets to know her, the stranger she seems and the more he likes her. He starts to care for Penny almost immediately and he loves her soft heart, her bright outlook and her caring nature. All of the things that are so foreign to him, yet every day, he’s drawn more and more to this woman that keeps digging herself deeper and deeper into his life.

Tessa Dare continues to shine with every single book that she writes. I absolutely adored the previous books in this series and that didn’t let up with this one. Gabriel and Penny were a lovely couple that captured my attention from the start and won my affection not too long afterward. I was wrapped up in their personal struggles, in their shared situations, and I really, really loved the way that they came together. I loved how Gabriel tried every underhanded tactic to get rid of the animals and how Penny didn’t let him get away with anything. I loved how much they both came to care for each other. Their banter was a lot of fun and their romance was super sweet and I adored every minute.

There are some things that are dealt with in this book that you might want to check the trigger/content warnings on (provided below behind a spoiler tag) but I thought that Tessa Dare handled that stuff well. My heart broke for these characters and I loved the way that everything works out. Penny grew up to be such a strong and caring woman and you won’t be able to help yourself, you’re going to cheer your ass off for her to get her happy ending and Gabriel Duke was her perfect match. I enjoyed this book a lot and I definitely recommend it.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Posted August 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith DuranReviewer: Holly
The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: May 8, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 388
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Holly's Summer Reading Challenge, New to Me Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything...and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces...

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé's betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London...

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous -- and that a single decision can alter one's life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned...and some passions never die.

I remember when The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran was first released. There was much fanfare and everyone seemed to love it. I often have bad luck when it comes to books everyone else loves, so I put off reading it. Years went by and, though it’s been sitting in my TBR pile for a decade, I never did read it. Casee chose it as one of her picks for me for our Summer Reading Challenge, so I dug it out. It turned out to be a lovely read.

This is a dark, complex read. Emmaline, our female lead, suffers much trauma. A shipwreck, then war in India. She is much affected by her trials and tribulations, and that came across well on page. I was fully wrapped up in her journey. Part one, especially, was hard to get through. So much violence. There was somewhat of a disconnect in Part two, however. I found myself getting impatient with the story, and also struggling to readjust to life in London ballrooms. Which, I think, speaks well of the author and how well she brought me into Emma and Julian’s story in India.

As for the romance, I truly felt the connection Julian and Emma had. I also felt their anguish at all that had come between them. I did find some of their actions not in keeping with their characters, however. Especially when they reunite in England. But I was able to move past it. Something I had a harder time moving past was all the exclamation points Duran used! They were relentless! Sometimes two or three per paragraph!

Still, all in all, I think Casee chose well for this one. Shocking, I know.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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