Narrator: Susannah Jones

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Posted October 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. SmithReviewer: Holly
The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Vine Witch #1
Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Kindle Unlimited, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 263
Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith is a debut historical fantasy novel. This was an Amazon First pick. The audio add-on was only $1.99, so I snagged that with it and ended up listening to the whole book. The narrator did a wonderful job with the story.

Set somewhere near the turn of the century in France (automobiles are just becoming popular, though the year is never mentioned), The Vine Witch follows Elena Boureanu as she beats a deadly curse and returns to family winery Château Renard, the only home she’s ever known…only to discover it’s been sold and life as she knew it is changed forever.

For seven years, Elena has been stuck as a toad, forced to eat poison to fend off a deadly curse. When she finally breaks free, she returns home to Château Renard with vengeance in her heart. She’s convinced her former fiance is the one who cursed her when she broke off their engagement, and she plans to make him pay. When she returns home she finds all of the land has been hexed, not just her. It’ll take all her skill as a Vine Witch to untangle the mess of hexes…something made more difficult by the new owner’s refusal to believe in witches.

Jean Paul left a prestigious law firm in the city to become a winemaker when he saw the renowned Château Renard was available for sale. He wants nothing more than to produce amazing wine…using science, not the superstitious “magic” the locals claim is responsible for the good – and bad – in the land. When Elena returns, he’s suspicious of her, but if she can teach him the secrets of her famed grandfather, she’ll be worth her weight in gold. As he and Elena become close, he realizes there’s more to her than meets the eye..and everything he thought he believed may be a lie….

This was a lovely fairytale-esque novel, filled with mystery, intrigue and magic. I truly enjoyed both Elena and Jean Paul, as well as the world Smith created. The melancholy of the vines, the hexed land and the shadowy figures responsible truly came to life. I figured out early on who the villains were, and how Elena came to be cursed, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the novel.

This was the fantasy Gothic novel I’ve been craving. The Vine Witch shines bright.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Vine Witch

The Glamourist (Coming 2020)

four-stars


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Review: Rock Chick Reawakening

Posted July 26, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Rock Chick ReawakeningReviewer: Holly
Rock Chick Reawakening by Kristen Ashley
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Series: Rock Chick #0.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased, Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 207
Length: 5 hours and 8 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

From New York Times bestselling author, Kristen Ashley, comes the long-awaited story of Daisy and Marcus, Rock Chick Reawakening. A prequel to Kristen’s Rock Chick series, Rock Chick Reawakening shares the tale of the devastating event that nearly broke Daisy, an event that set Marcus Sloane—one of Denver’s most respected businessmen and one of the Denver underground’s most feared crime bosses—into finally making his move to win the heart of the woman who stole his.

Rock Chick Reawakening is a prequel novella by Kristen Ashley featuring Daisy and Marcus Sloan, set in the Rock Chick world. For some reason I thought Daisy and Marcus got a full-length novel. I’m glad that wasn’t the case. This novella was perfect for them. I’ve read it before, but I decided to give the audio a try after I saw it on the Audible Romance Package. I really enjoyed the narrator and fell right into the story again.

With the exception of Rock Chick Regret, I don’t really care for the Rock Chick series. They’re all zany and over-the-top, which can work for Ashley, but doesn’t in this case. They border on being too campy and ridiculous for me to enjoy. Still, I love Daisy in the novels and I was so glad to see her get a novella of her own. She and Marcus are together throughout the series, so seeing how they came to be was great.

Daisy grew up poor in a small Southern town. Her mama was the town slut, and people never let her forget it. Until a kind, wealthy woman, Miss Annamae, her mom worked for took Daisy under her wing. She taught her all the lessons a Southern lady should know. She also gave her an extremely valuable gift – a set of pearls – so that Daisy would have the means to escape her mother when the time came. Daisy took advantage of that and grabbed a bus to Colorado, where she turned to stripping to make money. Daisy is fine with who she is – brash, bold and happy about it. Until she’s violently attacked and loses her confidence.

Marcus has wanted Daisy from the moment he set eyes on her, but he had to focus on other things and didn’t feel like he could pursue her. Until the attack left her vulnerable, and he could no longer stay away. He wants to put Daisy in a castle and protect her, but first he has to convince her he’s a Knight in Shining Armor, and not a frog.

This is a difficult story to read at times. Daisy is such a bright, shining light in the beginning. I loved her confidence and how well she accepts who and what she is. She doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with her making money as a stripper – hell, she was able to buy a Porche her first month – and she’s good with how she dresses and who she is.

I looked like Dolly Parton impossibly created a love child with Peg Bundy (no, I rocked that look).

Then she’s attacked and loses her confidence. Though Ashley tends to write in a lighter fashion, the themes in this novel are dark. My heart broke for Daisy.

And I was finally getting it. Finally. They treated me like trash because that was what I was.

Marcus isn’t living his life 100% in the light. A lot of his business interests are illegal (though Ashley doesn’t go into much detail about what that means). But I really loved the way he was with Daisy. He worked hard to pull Daisy out of a bad time in her life. He was strong and supportive, and his actions really touched me. He doesn’t want Daisy to be anything but what she is. He loves her big hair and brash personality.

“I’ve been waiting thirty-five years for you to come into my life, Daisy,” he whispered fiercely.

View Spoiler »

Although this isn’t a perfect story, it’s sweet and touching. It really worked for me.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Rock Chick

four-half-stars


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Review: Fireworks by Sarina Bowen

Posted February 27, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Fireworks by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Fireworks by Sarina Bowen
Narrator: Susannah Jones, Zachary Webber
Series: True North #6
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast, Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful, Speakeasy, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Fireworks, Keepsake, Bountiful
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Length: 9 hours and 59 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Skye Copeland is on paid leave from her broadcasting job after accidentally drawing a pecker on the traffic map.

Let that sink in. Like it’s her fault the traffic pattern that day created a perfect schlong?

Skye isn’t laughing. She needs this job. And that’s the only reason she’s agreed to chase down a story in her least favorite place—that hell on earth known as Vermont.

A quick trip. In and out. Much like - never mind. Skye can sneak into the town that once tried to break her, get the story and get back into the good graces of her producer. Easy peasy.

Except things go sideways even as she sets foot over the county line. Her step-sister is on the run from a violent drug dealer. And the cop on the case is none other than Benito Rossi, the man who broke her teenage heart.

His dark brown eyes still tear her apart. And even as she steels herself to finally tell him off after twelve years, the old fireworks are still there.

Things are about to go boom.

I loved this book because I loved Benito. Loved him. Adored him. Want to have his babies. All that mushy stuff. I’ve listened to the entire True North series on audio. The narrators have been superb. The narrators here were no less than I expected. They pulled me in and didn’t spit me out until the end. I love audiobooks. ::sigh::

Benito came onto the scene in Bountiful, which was Zara’s book. Benito is Zara’s twin brother. He is a former DEA agent that has come home to Vermont and is trying to shut down the drug trafficking that is happening in his town. He knows exactly who is responsible, but bringing the person down is another matter entirely. The very last person Benito expects to find right in the middle of his investigation is his first and only love, Skye Copeland. The girl that broke his heart.

Skye has come to Vermont to visit her stepsister. Or so she thinks. She soon recognizes that Rayanne is up to something and it isn’t good. Skye never thought she would actually go looking for Benito Rossi after that night twelve years before when he broke her young heart. But he is her only option. Rayanne is in trouble and tells Skye that Benito is the only person that can get her out of the mess she is in.

This book really tugged at my heart. At first I was all like “She has seriously been heartbroken for twelve years because he stood her up for prom?”. Then you learn more of Skye and Benito’s backstory and comprehend that their relationship is far from what a normal teenage relationship looks like. There was no sex involved when they were young, but these two are as close as any two people could be.

The “mystery” here is pretty lame. It still didn’t take away from the story as a whole. When I first started listening, I didn’t think I would like Skye as much as I did. She was too wholesome. I guess that would be the word. Yet over the course of the book, I came to appreciate that even with what she went through during her childhood/teenage years, she could still be so innocent. And Benito? Just hotness.

Seeing the entire True North crew was nice too. Griff wasn’t an ass in this book, which was a nice change from previous books. Oh, Zara in the flashbacks? What a fucking bitch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

True North

four-half-stars


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