Source: Audible Escape

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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Guest Audiobook Review: The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted June 29, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Audiobook Review: The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Tracy
The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang, James Patrick Cronin
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #2
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Bridge Kingdom
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: February 27, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Length: 10 hours and 13 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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five-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Lara has only one thought when her husband is taken prisoner: I will do whatever it takes to set you free.

A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.

And it is bait she fully intends to take.

Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father's clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared.

But as Lara and her companions formulate a plan to free Aren from her father's palace, they soon discover that while it is easy to get in, it will be quite another thing to get Aren, and themselves, back out. Not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she's trying to free - the husband she betrayed.

With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who - and what - she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or for herself.

The Traitor Queen is the second book in The Bridge Kingdom series.

Where do you go and what do you do when you’ve unintentionally destroyed a kingdom and your husband has captured? The people you’ve come to love with your whole heart have now turned against you and you want nothing more than to help them make things right again.

Lara is in this situation and is running into stone walls when it comes to getting help from the Ithicanians who now hate her.  Where does she turn?  To her sisters who were all trained to be just as good as she at fighting for what they believe in.

I truly can’t tell you anything about this book without giving SO much away. The story has an incredible amount of action and goes non-stop from one event to the other.  I was listening to this story and never once wanted to hit pause while listening.  I can’t remember the last time that happened, if ever.

Lara and Aren’s story continues in The Traitor Queen but it’s not an easy one. The Ithicanian fight with the Maridrinians, as well as the possible resolution between Lara and Aren, had me on the edge of my seat for the entire book.  Throughout it all I couldn’t see how things would resolve but the author did a great job of it.  I would have liked just a bit more at the end of the book with the Ithicanians and Lara, but hopefully the author will put out a 2.5 novella for us (hint, hint Ms. Jensen).

The author has built a world that I kind of want to live in.  Seriously.  Sounds silly, but when you read the book, you’ll understand.  Though the main focus is on Lara and Aren, she didn’t limit us in just knowing them.  I felt she described the world so well, and made all of the characters so real to me, that I just want to go there. Lol

If you want to read a story with action, adventure, revenge, fury, resentment, romance and love then this is definitely the book you’ll want to read.

Rating: 5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom

five-stars


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Guest Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted May 26, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Tracy
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang, James Patrick Cronin
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Also in this series: The Traitor Queen, The Bridge Kingdom
Publisher: Context Literary Agency, Audible Original
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 354
Length: 11 hours and 52 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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?

Lara and her sisters are princesses who are deadly.  Their father is the King of Maridrina and has isolated his many daughters since they were five years old.  He has had tutors and trainers at their desert compound teaching them to be assassins, seductresses, poison experts; you name it, they were taught. They’ve been tortured and they have murdered. Why? Because Maridrina has a treaty with the Bridge Kingdom of Ithicana. The two kingdoms have had peace for 15 years but at the end of that term (which is now) one of the princesses would travel to Ithicana to become the queen.  King Silas of Maridrina plans on sending one of his daughters to spy on the king of Ithicana and his kingdom and send back information so that Maridrina could take the bridge and destroy Ithicana.  Not only have Lara and her sisters become fighters, they’ve also been told their entire lives that Ithicana is a horrible place, the king is an ass who cares nothing for others, and that Ithicana has such a stranglehold on trade that the Maridrinians are starving.

The daughter that is chosen to be queen of Ithicana is Marylyn. Lara, however, believes that Marylyn is too kind and will be crushed by the cruel Ithicanian king.  Lara takes matters into her own hands to ensure that she will be the one sent to Ithicana. This does happen and she is soon married to the Ithicanian King, Aren.

King Aren has no idea who/what his bride truly is. He believes Lara to be a scared mouse-like woman, even though he finds her beautiful. He secludes her in his house and moves on with his life. Despite Aren’s decision to stay away from his wife, he finds himself drawn to her. He truly wants the marriage to work and believes that with the treaty fulfilled that Ithicana and Maridrina can become allies.

With Aren occupied this gives Lara time to investigate and find secrets – she is constantly spying.  She inadvertently learns secrets of the Bridge and how to infiltrate it.  She learns other secrets about Ithicana as well and plans on sharing it all with her father.  What she didn’t count on was learning that Aren was not a monster, the Ithicanians weren’t cruel, and the reason that the Maridrinians were starving was all her father’s fault.  Lara’s world is turned upside down but Aren is there to catch her when she falls.  They fall hard for each other but despite Lara’s best efforts to keep the information about Ithicana away from her father, he gets the message loud and clear.

I won’t tell anything else because it’s so good to have the story unfold and learn each bit little by little.  I truly never expected to enjoy this book so much.  I started listening to it in audiobook but it was going too slowly for my liking and I ended up reading the second half of it.  When I finished book one I immediately wanted to start book two (even though it was already 11 at night), but it’s not available in ebook until September 2020. Ugh!! (I listened to the second book in audio the next day. :))

This story has so much going for it!  There’s a huge cast of characters that you will fall in love with, and some you will hate.  I loved watching Aren and Lara fall in love – they were so perfect for each other! On top of that there is adventure, deception, forgiveness and war.  It’s so good, I can’t possibly describe it to you.

If you love a good fantasy with great characters then this is a book for you.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5  

The Bridge Kingdom

four-half-stars


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Guest Review: Jed Had to Die by Tara Sivec

Posted February 6, 2020 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Jed Had to Die by Tara SivecReviewer: Tracy
Jed Had to Die by Tara Sivec
Narrator: Amy McFadden
Publisher: Novel Audio
Publication Date: October 27, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Length: 8 Hours and 11 Minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

The happiest day of Payton Lambert's life was the day she graduated high school and watched Bald Knob, Kentucky get smaller and smaller in her rearview mirror. She wanted more for her life than a tiny town where everyone knows your business and you can’t find a decent cup of coffee for at least forty miles. Twelve years later, an unexpected phone call in the middle of the night has her packing up her life in Chicago and racing back home to the one person she ever regretted leaving behind.

Wait, one person?? Make that two. When the hell did Leo Hudson become sheriff of Bald Knob and get so hot? The scrawny Future Farmer of America who followed Payton around like a puppy and could recite cow insemination facts in his sleep is long gone. Leo is still hot on her heels, but now he's wearing a badge and dead set on solving a murder that may or may not involve Payton...along with half the town.

You steal a few wine coolers in high school and make one little comment about cutting off a man's balls when you come home, and suddenly, you're suspected of killing him.

In a town where the biggest crime happened the day Jethro Snell kicked a few of his cows (an honest mistake when you've had a few jars of homemade moonshine), people are pointing fingers, rumors are spreading like wildfire, and Payton swears she's only making out with the sweet-talking, studly sheriff to distract him from the secrets she's keeping.

When you've been tased, peed on by a yippy dog named Bo Jangles, and can't stop picturing what Sheriff Hudson looks like naked, it will be a tough job making everyone agree that...Jed had to die.

Payton Lambert got out of her hometown of Bald Knob, Kentucky the minute she could.  She went to Chicago, got a degree, and now owns her own coffee shop (called Liquid Crack)…which is getting franchised!  She has no plans to ever go back to Bald Knob, but all of her resolutions of the past 12 years go down the drain when she gets a call about her best friend, Emma Jo.

Emma Jo got married right out of high school and stayed married to the deceitful charmer for 12 years.  During that time she’d been abused constantly.  Of course, no one would have believed her if she’d told anyone, her husband is the town mayor and just an all-around good guy.  Blech. He finally beats her to the point that she reaches out to Payton for help and Payton is there as fast as she can be.

Payton is not liked in her hometown.  She was a troublemaker during her youth and a menace (according to the town folk) and not welcomed.  She forces Emma Jo to finally get a restraining order against her husband Jed and gets the locks on her house changed.

Leo Hudson is the hot town sheriff and has got his eye on Payton.  He had a crush on her in high school when he was just a skinny geek.  That crush never died and now he’s not going to let her get away without making his move.

When Jed turns up dead, Emma Jo and Payton believe that something they did caused Jed’s death and they’re petrified that Leo will find out.  That doesn’t stop Payton and Leo from starting something.  Payton’s not sure where the relationship is going, however.  If she doesn’t go to prison for Jed’s death, then she’ll be going back to Chicago to get away from the town that hates her.

This audiobook cracked me up.  When I first read the blurb I figured this story was based on the song by the Dixie Chicks Goodbye Earl.  It started off a little bit that way but only a bit.  I liked the turn it made and found it original and hilarious.

Payton was my favorite character in this book as her sarcasm brought joy to my heart.  Now, Payton and Emma Jo trying to come up with lies to try and hide what they thought they did got a bit old, but overall was pretty funny.

Amy McFadden was the narrator on this story, and I thought she did a fantastic job.  She was spot on with her accents and everyone had a different one so there was no question about which character was doing the talking.  I’m pretty sure she made the book that much better for me.

If you’re in the mood for a fun and funny audiobook, then this is definitely one you should pick up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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DNF Review: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

Posted January 20, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

DNF Review: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene FrostReviewer: Holly
The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Series: Broken Destiny #1
Publisher: HQN
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 384
Length: 8 hours and 21 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
dnf

Sometimes, falling in love really is the end of the world... don’t miss this fan-favorite tale from
New York Times
bestselling author Jeaniene Frost.
Ivy has always seen things that she cannot explain. Strange things. Otherworldly things. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse--her hallucinations are real, and her sister is imprisoned in a realm beyond Ivy’s reach. The one person who can help her is the dangerously attractive rebel who’s bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.
The fate Adrian has fought to escape is here - but he never expected the burning need he feels for Ivy. With destiny on one side and desire on the other, Adrian must help Ivy search for the powerful relic that can save her sister. Yet he knows what Ivy doesn’t: the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could destroy the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side, Adrian on the other, and nothing but ashes in between...
Originally published in 2014

The Beautiful Ashes is the first book in the Broken Destiny series by Jeaniene Frost. I’ve heard wonderful things about Frost, but I’d never read her before. When I saw this book in the Audible Escape package, I figured I’d give it a try. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me at all and I ended up DNF’ing it around the halfway point.

Ivy is searching for her missing sister when she ends up on a small town and almost gets murdered by a vampire. She gets rescued by a guy, Adrian, who may or may not be good, and gets drawn into a deeper plot. Filled with angels, demons and all other kind of supernaturals, this book sounded like it was right up my alley.

Ivy was really young and made a lot of dumb decisions. Blindly following strangers, not asking questions or demanding answers when she did, etc. I was semi-interested in her search for her missing family, but her constant bumbling around and insta-lust with a creepy stranger was just too much for me. Not to mention the constant game playing and secret keeping from Adrian and everyone else. I wanted to like the story, but I just couldn’t continue on with it.

Rating: DNF

Broken Destiny

dnf


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