Genre: Paranormal Romance

Review: Heart of Fire by Bec McMaster

Posted June 28, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Heart of Fire by Bec McMasterReviewer: Holly
Heart of Fire by Bec McMaster
Series: Legends of the Storm #1
Publisher: Lochaber Press
Publication Date: April 8, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 278
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The old eddas speak of dreki--fabled creatures who haunt the depths of Iceland's volcanoes and steal away fair maidens.

Freyja wants none of such myths. Dreki seducing young ladies? Ha. They probably eat such foolish girls. But when the local dreki steals her last ram--costing her any chance of feeding her ill father through the winter--Freyja intends to confront the fearsome myth.

Sentenced to a life of exile from his clan, Rurik is fascinated by the furious woman who comes to claim her ram. She reeks of mysterious magic and challenges him at every step. He intends to claim the passionate firebrand, but to do so he must take mortal form. It's the only time the dreki are vulnerable, and with a dragon-hunter arriving on the shores of Iceland, he can barely afford the risk--but lonely Freyja, with her elf-cursed eyes and pragmatic soul, tempts him in ways he's never felt before. Is she the key to reclaiming his heritage? Or will she be his downfall?

The Legends of the Storm series:- Fantasy Romance- Historical Fantasy- Paranormal Romance- Fated Mates- Shifter romance

At the time of this writing, this novel is free for Kindle users. I did not check other platforms.

Heart of Fire by Bec McMaster is the first book in the Legends of the Storm fantasy romance series. This came up as a suggested read in Kindle. I decided to give it a try since my friend recently read another book by Bec McMaster and enjoyed it. I really love that it’s sent in Iceland in the early 1800s.

Freyja lives on a small farm with her father, who is blind and in poor health. Because of rumors circulating in the local village – rumors spread by the local landowner’s son, who wants her for his mistress – no one will trade with her and she and her father are on the brink of starvation. For 30 years, the villagers have paid a weekly tithe to the Dreki (dragon) who lives under the volcano that sits above the village. They leave an animal once a week and in exchange, he leaves their village alone. When Rurik, the Dreki, steals her one and only ram, that’s the last straw for Freyja. She marches up the volcano to demand he return it.

Rurik has been exiled from his clan. He’s been alone under the volcano for far too long. When Freyja marches in demanding he return her ram, he’s both amused and intrigued. Since the villagers stopped paying the tithe, the ram was fair game, but she’s a puzzle he can’t wait to solve. He hasn’t been tempted to take on human flesh in ages, but Freyja is too much to resist. He’s determined to have her, and if that means changing shapes then so be it. The timing couldn’t be worse, however, since a dragon hunter with vengeance in his heart just landed on the shores of Iceland, and Rurik is his intended target.

I really enjoyed the mythology and the setting. Freyja frustrated me a bit, and I thought it dragged some in the middle, but overall it was a well-done fantasy novel. I loved Rurik. Dragons are one of my favorite shapeshifters, and he was everything I love in a dragon. I liked how Freyja challenged him and puzzled him all at once. I also loved his attempts to woo her.

Freyja has hidden her entire life, because she has powers her mother told her must be kept secret at all costs. Still, she isn’t without protection, so she has strong self-confidence, which I loved. I really connected with her early on in the novel, but as it wore on she began to frustrate me the way she constantly pulled back from Rurik. I understood why she wanted to pull back, but her constant hot and cold started to wear on me.

Still, I enjoyed their romance and watching them figure each other out. Rurik’s persistence and thoughtfulness were sweet, and I really did enjoy how independent Freyja was.

I also enjoyed the way the dragon hunter and his backstory were incorporated, as well as the hints of the Dreki court politics we saw. Based on the way things ended I believe the story of the court politics will carry over into future books and I’m here for it.

Although the heroine occasionally frustrated me and parts of the novel were slow, overall this was a really lovely fantasy romance. I loved the world and characters. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Legends of the Storm

four-stars


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Review: Coldest Fire by Juliette Cross

Posted June 25, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Coldest Fire by Juliette CrossReviewer: Holly
Coldest Fire by Juliette Cross
Series: Dominion #3
Also in this series: Darkest Heart, Hardest Fall
Publisher: Entangled, Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: November 14, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: No
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 234
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Archangel Uriel is hell bent on revenge on the demon prince Vladek. To get into the prince’s impenetrable fortress, he’ll have to fight in the pits of the underworld. And he’ll need the help of the last person he can trust––the demon witch Nadya.

There is no way Nadya, who spends her days taking care of others, expected to find Uriel on her doorstep. He seems no happier about being there than she does. But helping him means evening the scales against her backstabbing sister, and she’ll do whatever it takes to make that bitch pay.

Using the fight pit circuits in the demon underworld, Nadya helps Uriel combat his way to the arena at the castle in Russia. Only she isn’t what she seems. As a matter of fact, she may hold the key to his redemption...and to his heart.

Coldest Fire in the third book in the Dominion series by Juliette Cross. This was my favorite book of the series, which is surprising because I didn’t think anyone could top Dom and Anya from the first book. I really loved Uriel and Nadya. They were so perfect for each other.

Uriel spent months as a captive of the Demon Prince Vladek, under the control of his demon witch concubine, Lisabette. He suffered untold tortures at their hands, and he’s determined to get revenge. Someone must rid the world of that evil, and Uriel is just the archangel for the job. Even if it means working with another witch, Nadya. He and Nadya have history, and he both craves and hates her.

Nadya escaped her captivity under Vladek, but she bears the scars still, both physical and emotional. She agrees to help Uriel because she knows someone has to help, but she’s terrified of ending up back in Vladek’s clutches. As she and Uriel spend time together, she finds more of her own inner strength, and comes to realize there’s more the Uriel than she ever imagined.

Nadya and Uriel were both broken and scarred from their experiences, but they were strong enough to come out the other side wanting to do good. I loved that they were wary of each other at the start, but also drawn to one another. The way Uriel took care of Nadya made me melt. Their inner strength really came through, and I loved their romance.

The world-building is well-done. I loved how nothing was really black and white. Some of the most evil demons were true allies, while the most pious angels were betrayers.

This was a great series and I hope we see more in the world going forward.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Dominion

four-stars


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Review: Hardest Fall by Juliette Cross

Posted June 23, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Hardest Fall by Juliette CrossReviewer: Holly
Hardest Fall by Juliette Cross
Series: Dominion #2
Also in this series: Darkest Heart, Coldest Fire
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: February 25, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 270
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The tattooed demoness, Bone, doesn’t like anything except the magical weapons she makes. But she has hidden talents few know about. When I was brought to her near death, she used her Seraph song to manipulate flesh and bone to heal me. But she wasn’t happy about it.

Now I must return the favor. Even though she refuses to take sides in the apocalypse, there’s one job she’s not willing to do for the demon prince Rook. If she doesn’t, her head will end up on a spike. Of course, there’s a good chance we’re all going to die anyway, but I will do anything to protect this fierce woman—and not just because she saved me.

So, we’re both off to kill a demon—or three—and possibly save the world.

Each book in the Dominion series is STANDALONE:* The Deepest Well (prequel)* Darkest Heart* Hardest Fall

Hardest Fall by Juliette Cross is the second book in the Dominion series. I was ridiculously excited to read this book since it features two of my favorite characters from the first book. Bone, the badass weapons maker and Xander, a demon hunter. Sadly, I didn’t end up loving this as much as I hoped I would. The second half was much better, but I spent the entire first half seriously pissed at Xander.

Bone was once a Seraph, an angel with a heavenly voice who used to sing to bring humans solace and peace. Now she’s a fallen angel – a demoness weapons maker – the best in the business. When her friend Dommiel shows up with a wounded Xander, she uses all her formidable power to save his life. She grafted him a metal heart, she had to imbue it with her essence. She expects a bit of gratitude, but Xander shows none.

Xander is equal parts amazed and horrified that Bone was able to save his life. He fully expected to die, and he’s awed by her power in keeping him alive, but having her essence inside of him makes him uncomfortable. Plus, he hates that she won’t choose a side. She claims to be neutral, but how can she supply weapons to demons and angels alike? He’s determined to show her that she needs to fight on the right side – his side.

I really wanted to like Bone. The way she was described in the first book, I thought she was such a badass character. Full of inner fire, a deep talent for weapon-making, and covered in tattoos, you’d think she’d be a hardass, but she was also compassionate and loyal to those she cared about. While I loved the darker aspects of her character, we didn’t see a lot of that in this book. She spent most of the book trading barbs with Xander – and losing every verbal exchange. She also seemed less confident in this book. I understand that she was still trying to atone for past mistakes, but she seemed so much more sure of herself in the first book. There wasn’t a lot of her creating weapons or fighting in this book, either, which I think worked against her character development. We saw her kickass abilities in the first novel, but we were only told about them here.

For the first half of the book, Xander was arrogant and smug, to the point of being insufferable. He knew better than Bone, in all things, forever. I think it was meant to be endearing, that he wanted her to choose a side and forgive herself, but the way he went about it just pissed me off. He did get better in the second half. He stopped being such a bastard about her, and she seemed to open up a bit more. But he never really recovered for me from the first half when he was such a jerk.

I do like the world, and I enjoyed the secondary plot. While the romance wasn’t my favorite and this wasn’t the kickass I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR book I expected, I did enjoy the world and the secondary characters. I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Bring on Uriel and Nadya!

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Dominion

three-half-stars


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Review: Darkest Heart by Juliette Cross

Posted June 21, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Darkest Heart by Juliette CrossReviewer: Holly
Darkest Heart by Juliette Cross
Series: Dominion #1
Also in this series: Hardest Fall, Coldest Fire
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: August 20, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: No
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 265
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Anya—a stoic, blue-winged angelic warrior—was bitten by a demon prince in battle, and now she has precious little time to find a cure for his deadly venom. But the only archangel with the power to stop the dark poison from corrupting her body and soul is missing. She’ll have to trust her guide, the outcast high demon Dommiel, who is as handsome as he is dangerous if she has any hope.

An outcast of his own kind, high demon Dommiel stays under cover while the war between angels and demons rages on. When the only person who ever showed him kindness asks for his help, he has no choice but to try to save the angel. Venturing back into the dens he has avoided for so long, Anya makes him want and feel things he never thought possible.

But Dommiel knows there is no way an angel can ever love a demon…

Each book in the Dominion series is a STANDALONE.

Darkest Heart by Juliette Cross is the first book in the Dominion series. I read and enjoyed another novel by Cross, Wolf Gone Wild, and when I found this one on KU I decided to give it a try. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this is a spinoff of another series (which I have no interest in reading). I like that each book in this series features a different couple. I’ve been reading a lot of UF lately, so this was a nice change.

In this apocalyptic world, the war between Heaven and Hell waged quietly for millennium, until the gates opened and battles between angels and demons started raging on Earth. Humans – those who survived – are just trying to find a safe place to exist, while the lines between good and evil blur…

Anya is desperate to find the Archangel Uriel. She is slowly being poisoned by the essence of a demon and Uriel is the only one who can remove it before it turns her into a mindless slave. With the help of a friend, she enlists the aid of High Demon Dommiel to help her locate and rescue Uriel. Anya has always fought on the side of the angels or humans, and has no love for demons, but Dommiel is different. From the beginning they have a deep connection, and he makes her want things she never even thought about before.

Dommiel was once the High Demon of New Orleans. He’s committed a lot of sins since his Fall, and he’s not done yet. He will have Anya, he can’t help himself. Walking away may prove to be impossible, but how can a demon and an angel ever make it work?

Anya used to fight for the angels, but now she and Uriel, along with some others, are fighting for the humans – trying to save them before it’s too late. Dom was betrayed by the one who was closest to him, and he was cast out of heaven, then branded a traitor to demonkind. Now he works as a mercenary, helping the human resistance and others …for the right price.

I walked on, following in her footsteps, letting her take me wherever this path led—to death or to freedom—it didn’t matter. As long as we walked together.

I really liked the world and the way Cross blurred the lines between good and evil. Nothing is black and white, and it’s surprising what allies may be found in the gray shadows. The romance was also well done. I liked watching Dom fall for Anya, and her open up to him. Her faith and trust were given so freely, I couldn’t help but laugh at how he tried to resist..and couldn’t.

This is a dark, gritty novel. All in all, a great start to a new series. I can’t wait to read the next two books (which feature characters I fell in love with here).

Rating: 4 out of 5

Dominion

four-stars


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Review: Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca Zanetti

Posted June 7, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Rebel’s Karma by Rebecca ZanettiReviewer: Casee
Rebel's Karma by Rebecca Zanetti
Series: Dark Protectors #13
Also in this series: Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Fated (Dark Protectors, #1), Claimed (Dark Protectors, #2), Hunted (Dark Protectors, #3), Consumed (Dark Protectors, #4), Provoked (Dark Protectors, #5), Marked (Dark Protectors, #7), Shadowed (Dark Protectors, #6), Vampire's Faith (Dark Protectors, #8), Demon's Mercy (Dark Protectors, #9), Alpha's Promise, Hero's Haven, Guardian's Grace
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: June 8, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: No
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

There’s no denying destiny . . .

For too long, Benjamin Reese has masked his deadly skills and temper with loyalty and humor. A vampire-demon hybrid, he fiercely protects his family, guards his brothers, and destroys the enemy without mercy. But when he discovers one fragile, beautiful blonde—a woman once mated to a Kurjan, no less—every primal instinct he has buried for centuries roars to life. With the mating mark she roused on his hand entwining their fates, no one will prevent him from keeping her safe and making her his, forever . . .

Or desire . . .

Karma wishes she could remember her last name. Or if she even had one. All she has in this confusing new world is a desperate duty to save the innocent. That means destroying the dark, dangerous, and desirable Benjamin Reese and everything he loves—an impossible task even before his touch arouses a passionate hunger she can’t afford. She’s certain a deadly enemy watches her every move, but it’s not until Benny kisses her that she tastes true danger…

I adore Rebecca Zanetti. I think she’s a fabulous storyteller that really pulls you in deep. Rebel’s Karma is book 13 in the Dark Protectors series. The books she’s writing now have to do with the Seven. Seven vampire/demons/vampire-demon hybrids have been chosen to keep Ulric in another dimension so he doesn’t come destroy the world.

This book was really about Karma coming into her power as a woman. She has been with the Kurjans for centuries, had even mated one. He died and now she’s only a tool for the Kurjan’s to use. When they use her to spy on Benjamin Reese, she wants to say no. She can’t. Whether she likes it or not, she lives with the Kurjans.

Benny knows that Karma has some kind of Stockholm syndrome. Except she doesn’t. She has to protect her two daughters. To do that, she has to find out more about the Seven and the Realm. She’s already heard all sorts of horror stories about the Queen of the Realm. It doesn’t take Karma long to realize that most of the things she was taught were a lie.

Benny wants nothing more than to take care of Karma. She is his mate, and he hers. But he won’t mate her when death is looming over his head. He’s sure that to stop Ulric, he will have to sacrifice himself. Benny refuses to mate because he knows he’s going to die.

One thing I appreciated was that RZ addressed what would happen if someone actually broke through an alternate dimension. Scientifically that is. It was clear that you can’t just go willy-nilly through dimensions without there being consequences. The Seven are dealing with the fallout of those consequences and have basically been exiled by the Realm.

This series keeps getting better. I like where it’s going and am really looking forward to Sam’s story. Oh, Sam.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Dark Protectors

four-stars


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