Format: eBook

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
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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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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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Review: When He’s Dark by Suzanne Wright

Posted July 8, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: When He’s Dark by Suzanne WrightWhen He’s Dark by Suzanne Wright
Series: The Olympus Pride #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: April 7, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 334
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Cat shifter Bree Dwyer doesn't fear much. Ironically, what she fears most is the person who was put on the Earth just for her. Your true mate wasn't supposed to be cruel and twisted; wasn't supposed to be someone who’d never love or want to claim you. The rumors that her true mate is dead bring her only relief. Bree's intent on moving forward with her life and building a future with someone else. Sadly, the male she wants most is one she can never have—a hot-as-sin wolverine shifter who happens to be her boss … and the cousin of her predestined mate.

Aleksandr “Alex” Devereaux detests being bullshitted, but he’s been lying to himself for years—pretending he thinks of Bree as extended family; that he doesn't want her so bad he aches with it; that he can't feel himself weakening against her pull. The night they spend together changes everything. He's done fighting himself on what he wants. Someone isn't happy about that. Possibly the same 'someone' who's playing mind games with Bree, trying to scare her. They're succeeding, because too many leads point to the possibility that the culprit could be the one person that she's determined to believe is dead.

I was sad to see the end of the Phoenix Pack and Mercury Pack series, so I’m really glad Wright is doing this off-shoot. We were introduced to characters from the Olympus Pride in previous books, but this book stands alone well.

Bree is a pretty strong Omega, which means she can help others control their emotions. There are several Omegas in the Pride, but though she isn’t Primary, she is the strongest. She’s also the one least likely to put up with other people’s crap, or sugar coat things. As a result, she and the Primary Omega butt heads. Bree knows she’ll either have to take over as Primary or leave, so she’s planning to leave.

Alex Devereaux has other ideas. He’s wanted Bree for years, but he didn’t think she was ready for him. Now it doesn’t matter, he’s determined to make her his. When strange things begin to happen to Bree and she’s almost kidnapped, Alex knows he’s made the right choice. She needs him in all the ways.

I really liked Alex and Bree. They had a fun romance. I didn’t love the external plot. These are always pretty predicable for me and I had everything figured out early on. Still, I liked the romance and the characters enough that it didn’t bother me too much.

3.5 out of 5

Olympus Pride

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Dancing in the Dark by Jennifer Dunne

Posted July 2, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Guest Review: Dancing in the Dark by Jennifer DunneDancing in the Dark by Jennifer Dunne
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Publication Date: April 19, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Genres: Erotica
Pages: 82
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three-half-stars

A humdrum life… Keri Montero lives a boring life. Work, TV, volunteering, and her quilting hardly make the stuff of fantasy and dreams.

A mistaken invitation… All this changes when she receives an invitation to a charity Halloween costume party to benefit the local opera house. She decides to go, even if the tickets are—gasp—$100 each.

A walk on the wild side… Her costume can be anything, and Keri decides to live on the wild side for once. Going as a submissive slave girl might invite trouble. But when she meets the man of her dreams, she decides to go even wilder. Keri wants to submit to his every…sexual…whim.

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

This review was originally posted on May 8, 2010.

So after getting the invitation to the Halloween party Keri has to decide what to be. She goes online after deciding to be a slave girl – since there are always so many in the operas – and buys a costume sight unseen. That right there would put up a big red flag for me. When she gets the costume it’s more of a bdsm costume than anything else but Keri decides to go for it. When she gets to the party she talks up many gentlemen but none of them seem to get what she was trying to do – which was a find a master. When she meets the man – who’s dressed as a sun god and is masked himself they immediately are drawn to each other and leave the party.

The sun god is truly looking for a slave and he wants to be Kerri’s Master. He takes Keri to his apartment that holds his dungeon and they proceed to get down and dirty. I don’t know too much about the bdsm lifestyle but I’d have to say that I found this to be bdsm light since Keri was completely new to the lifestyle. After 2 days of meeting with “the Master” Keri still has no idea who the man is or what he looks like but she doesn’t want to go back to her humdrum life and decides to take the bull by the horns and keep up with her slave girl position.

This was a very cute story but I have to say that I did have a couple of issues with it. First I found that what Keri was doing was completely not her. She came home and watched Charmed every day and ate microwave meals and quilted. I just couldn’t see her – even in her wildest dreams doing something like this. I saw her as more of the person who would get the costume on a whim and then decide not to wear it. IDK it just didn’t hit me right. The second would be that she fell in love with the sun god – sight unseen – knowing nothing about the man except having sex with him 3 times. Having great sex is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but a love relationship it does not make imho.

Despite the niggles I had with it I thought the story was written well and it did get my attention and didn’t let go. This is a highly sexual & erotic novella and has more sex than not, but I didn’t find myself skipping any sex scenes (which when they get tedious, I must admit I do).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

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

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Fatal Affair by Marie Force

Posted June 25, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 3 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Fatal Affair by Marie ForceReviewer: Casee
Fatal Affair by Marie Force
Series: Fatal #1
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: October 21, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 357
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

*This is an updated cover of this Kindle edition.*

Washington, D.C., Metro Police Detective Sergeant Sam Holland needs a big win to salvage her career--and her confidence--after a disastrous investigation. The perfect opportunity arises when Senator John O'Connor is found brutally murdered in his bed, and Sam is assigned to the case. Matters get complicated when Sam has to team up with Nick Cappuano, O'Connor's friend and chief of staff...and the man Sam had a memorable one-night stand with years earlier. Their sexual chemistry still sizzles, and Sam has to fight to stay focused on the case. Sleeping with a material witness is another mistake she can't afford--especially when the bodies keep piling up.

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

This review was originally posted on June 25, 2010.

I have enjoyed Marie Force in the past. Her books seem to be outside the box to me when it comes to the romance genre. When I read the blurb for Love at First Flight, I was like “are you blanking kidding me?”. Yet Force had the talent to write a storyline without squicking me out. Something that is much appreciated.

I started Fatal Affair almost as soon as I got it. It dragged for me for about the first hundred or so pages. I found myself wondering where Marie Force went and who took her place. The book was just blah. Too much talk of politics and political agendas. Not enough murder and mayhem. That changed (thank you God) about mid-way through the book. Suddenly the book that couldn’t get any slower took off like a rocket.

Sam Holland has returned to the police force after one of her orders inadvertently got a child killed. The public outcry was for Sam’s head. The mother blames Sam and wants to kill her. When high profile Senator John O’Connor is killed, Sam is put on the case. She has to make this one good b/c everyone will be watching her every single move. So it’s just her luck that the guy that found the body is a one night stand from six years ago. One that she’s never forgotten.

Nick is devastated by the death of his best friend. He has long since considered the O’Connor’s family. I think that this is why the book got bogged down. It was in the details. I know too much about what it takes to be a senator’s chief-of-staff. I know too much about John’s family. There was just too much, which definitely took away from the storyline.

Nick called Sam repeatedly after their one night together but never heard back from her. It has always chafed him that she blew off their incredible night together. It’s only after they’re thrown together over John’s murder that they both realized that Sam’s ex-husband was behind her not getting the messages. This is basically a reunion story, the kind that I love.

The complexity of being an alpha male with a female that is a cop is really fascinating. I thought that Force did a good job of writing from both Nick and Sam’s point of view. Sam instinctively protects Nick even if it puts her in danger and Nick wants to protect Sam.

By the time I finished the book, I was much happier than when I started. I do look forward to the next book in the series which continues Sam and Nick’s journey. And what a journey it will be.

3.75 out of 5.

Fatal

three-half-stars


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