In the distant past, the Kingdom of Harcia was torn apart by royal brothers who could not accept a lesser inheritance. Now, the consequences of their actions are coming to light.
Balfre, son of Aimery, Duke of Harcia, is his father's heir. But he has dreams of a crown, not a coronet. He dreams himself the king of a Harcia re-united, but his brother Grefin, their father's favorite, stands in his way.
Harald, debauched Duke of neighboring Clemen, is feared and despised by his nobles. He thinks he can trust his bastard-born cousin Ederic ... but Ederic fears for the duchy and will do what he must to save it.
And caught between dangers is Harald's infant son, Liam. Stolen by his nurse, vanished into the lawless Marches, he is the spark that will grow to set the world on fire.
The Falcon Throne by Karen Miller begins a new series by the author, and this first installment in the Tarnished Crown Quintet, so there is quite a lot of setup to get through in terms of characterization and worldbuilding. The premise is that a kingdom is being torn apart by a conflict between two duchies, those of Clemen and Harcia. This is due to a rift caused by some long-ago dispute between royal brothers. War is looming large yet again, and the common people are caught in the middle of this power struggle.
Duke Harald, ruler of Clemen is disliked and feared by both the citizens and his nobles. It follows that there would eventually be a rebellion, and it is led by his cousin Ederic, born a bastard, and with the support of Humbert, the foster lord of Ederic. This rebellion ends Harald’s rule, and in the fighting, his infant son and heir, Liam is thought to have been killed, but in fact his nursemaid was able to steal him away and intends on raising the boy with the intention of returning him to his throne when he is older.
In Harcia, the two sons of Duke Aimery are the stereotypically hotheaded heuir, Balfre and the younger, calmer Grefin. The heir has some grandiose dreams of ruling the entire kingdom, which would involve conquest and bloodshed, while his father is aware that having such a person become king is a supremely bad idea. Unfortunately Balfre doesn’t intend on anyone thwarting his plans, not even own family.
The story certainly has the epic scale necessary for dealing with such scheming, fighting, and family drama, but although it has a lot of material, it doesn’t seem to do anything new with it. These are concepts that have been explored countless other times, and most notably, will be familiar to anyone who watches Game of Thrones and enjoys families who are trying to conquer kingdoms and stab one another in the back at the same time. Even so, the characters don’t really stand out from others in this genre of book, and while there is a lot going on, at times it feels like the story has to pause to overload readers with information, and the result is a decent story that needs a bit of breathing room.
In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of “rehabilitation”—the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was…
Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion—and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities—or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…
I'm a huge fan of Nalini's Archangel series, but aside from a novella from an anthology that I read last year, I just never got around to starting the Psy series. That being said I'm so glad I did. Granted right now the Archangel series is still my favorite, but I can easily see this one moving right up there. The attraction, tension, and romance between Sascha and Lucas was both sweet and sizzling at the same time. I was hooked from the start at the byplay between them as they circled one another. Enemies to lovers is by far my favorite trope, so this one definitely helped give me my "fix." Sascha and Lucas practically sizzle right off the page and I really loved seeing the push and pull between them as well as there being a full plot in addtion to the romance. In fact if they are any indication of the rest of this series, I'm practically kicking myself for not starting it sooner.
With as much as I enjoyed the couple and the plotline in this book there were a few things that kept me from giving this one a five star rating. First up, there just wasn't quite enough world building, leaving me scrambling at times to figure things out. This tends to be an issue in series opening books for me, there's either too much world building to the point where the pacing is bogged down, or like in this case, where there's just not enough and I'm left scrambling to keep up. The second part that kept me from rating a five was due to the resolution somewhat fizzling. There was this amazing build up of tension both sexually between the main characters and also with the plot as they searched for a truly evil killer racing against the clock. I just felt like the climax wasn't quite enough after all that built up intensity. That's not to say that it wasn't good, I just was hoping for a bit more.
All in all, Slave to Sensation is a good kick off to what I can easily see becoming a favorite series. So if you are like me and have been meaning to give this one a shot, don't wait any longer!
At the cliffhanger ending of Scan, Tate loses the very thing he was fighting to protect, what his father had called the key to human survival. Tate doesn't have much time to worry about it because he needs to get away, to ensure he and Christina are safe. His father left him one last thing that can do just that—a safehouse, which turns out to be a clue to what's really threatening the planet. As Tate follows the clues his father left behind, he starts to uncover the truth, realizing he's up against an enemy he's only beginning to understand.
A riveting, fast-paced "we are not alone" adventure, Burn thrills to the very end.
I'm very picky about SciFi books. I was raised on all things SciFi TV and movies, but most times I just don't seem to share that same love in books. It's one of the rare times I would actually prefer to watch the TV version over reading the book. That being said every so often a SciFi book comes along that the blurb intrigues me enough to give it a try, and this time it was definitely a winner. I'm so glad I gave this series a chance because both books were jammed packed with action and entertainment, BURN even more than the first book. So for anyone like me who's a bit leery about SciFi in their books, trust me, it's done very well in this one, and definitely worth checking out.
From the moment I picked BURN up, I could hardly put it down as one thing just happened after the next. Add in the mystery and clues Tate's father left behind as well as the sweet romance and frenetic action scenes and this one seriously is one heck of a roller coaster ride from start to finish. So if you love books that are incredibly fast paced without a dull moment, BURN (and Scan) are the perfect read for you.
Fan-favorite author Bree Despain continues her modern-day romance trilogy inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades with this second book in her Into the Dark series.
Haden Lord, the disgraced Prince of the Underrealm, has chosen love over honor and will do everything in his power to protect Daphne Raines, the human girl he was supposed to bring to the Underrealm. Haden’s choice is put to the test as the Skylords and a figure from his past arrive in Olympus Hills with a plan that could destroy all of the realms.
Embracing her destiny as the Cypher, Daphne begins to understand the immense power of her musical ability to control the elements, but she must come to terms with her feelings for Haden and what she must sacrifice in order to protect him and her friends.
Believing the Key of Hades is the only thing that can stop the Underrealm Court from releasing the monstrous Keres on the mortal world, Haden, Daphne, and their friends set out to find the Key before Persephone’s Gate opens again on the spring equinox.
I have mixed feelings about this one. The romance is really off kilter in this series, at least for me. And considering how romance driven I am with my reading choices, this one frustrated me a good bit. At the end of the first I had high hopes that things would turn around in the department, but unfortunately the romance was just more of the same in THE ETERNITY KEY. I can tell that there's supposed to be this epic draw between them, if not more on Haden's part considering all he sacrificed for her. I just didn't feel it, especially on Daphne's end. Her reasoning for keeping away from him ring hollow at this point, leaving me more frustrated than not. The other problem with the romance is that it slowed the plot down due to all the focus on it, which would have been okay if there had been any real kind of progress. Frankly put, the romance doesn't work in this one, but despite saying this before, I have high hopes again based on the ending events for the next book, but only time will tell.
I think the biggest thing that keeps drawing me back to this series is the Greek mythology aspects. They are so unique and one of my favorite mythologies. Bree Despain has really created a fascinating and unique world that I really enjoy reading despite my romance and pacing issues. I think that ironically makes things a bit more frustrating as since I love the world so much I just want the romance and everything to fall in line to make this a fantastic read. Granted, it still was a pretty good reads and I enjoy the characters and the overall plot, so take my ruminations with a grain of salt. After the cliffhanger ending I am pretty impatient to get my hands on the next book to see how things turn out.
Linda Grimes’s sexy and hilarious urban fantasy series that began with In a Fix and Quick Fix continues in The Big Fix. Aura adaptor extraordinaire Ciel Halligan, who uses her chameleon-like abilities to fix her clients’ problems—as them—is filling in on set for action superstar Jackson Gunn, whose snake phobia is standing in the way of his completing his latest mega-millions Hollywood blockbuster. There’s only one thing Jack fears more than snakes, and that's the possibility of his fans finding out he screams at the sight of one. Going from hero to laughing stock isn’t part of his career plan.
Seems like a simple enough job to Ciel, who doesn’t particularly like snakes, but figures she can tolerate an afternoon with them, for the right price—which Jack is offering, and then some. What she doesn’t count on is finding out that while she was busy wrangling snakes for him, his wife was busy getting killed. When Ciel goes to break the sad news to the star, she finds out Jack was AWOL from her client hideaway at the time of the murder.
Ciel begins to suspect Jack’s phobia was phony, and that he only hired her to provide him with an alibi—but if she goes to the police, she’ll have to explain how she knows he wasn’t really on set. Up against a wall, Ciel calls on her best-friend-turned-love-interest Billy, and her not-so-ex-crush Mark, to help her set up the sting of a lifetime.
The premise of this series leads to so many fun and interesting plot lines. This time around, Ciel has herself mixed up in Hollywood and more than a little over her head at times. Her "messes" are always amusing to see how she digs herself out, and this time definitely takes the cake. It's just a whole lot of fun rolled into one book and I enjoyed every bit of it.
I'm seriously in awe at Linda Grimes ability to make be laugh out loud so many times at the hilarious hi-jinx going on, but also be serious enough to make me cry at the sad parts as well. I won't spoil things, but twice this book made me tear up due to things that happened with the characters. The first scene involving a huge misunderstanding made me very very angry at first, to the point where I wanted to throw the book and give up on it. But then once I calmed down a bit and kept reading, I realized this event needed to happen. There's just been too much simmering beneath the surface on that issue. While the way things were brought to a "head" were gut wrenching for me, it was a really important lesson to be learned (and the same could be said about the second point in the book that made me tear up, but this time for a different character). Linda did an amazing job at writing it so that I felt every bit as much as the characters did, making for the best kind of read.
My only complaint about this series is that they just aren't coming fast enough. I love Ciel and crew so much, and as soon as I finish one book, I'm already dying for the next. Trust me, if you enjoy urban fantasy with a good dose of humor, steamy smexy times, and a fast paced plot, these books are simply not to be missed.
In the latest Novel of the Elder Races, two souls who have long buried their passions are about to be consumed…
Ever since their scorching affair ended years ago, Julian, the Nightkind King, and Melisande, daughter of the Light Fae Queen, have tried to put the past behind them—and distance between them. But when a war breaks out between Julian and Justine, a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind council, they find themselves thrown together under treacherous circumstances…
Kidnapped as leverage against Julian, Melly is convinced that her former lover won’t be rushing to her rescue. But when Julian gives himself up to save her, they both end up Justine’s captives. Armed only with their wits and their anger, Melly and Julian must work together to escape. But will they be able to ignore their complicated history, or will the fiery passion that once burned them blaze again?
I have to admit I wasn't sure how I felt about this one in advance. Julian seemed too much of a jerk hero when it came to how he was towards Melly. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about enemies to lovers, but prior to reading this one, I felt like his behavior against her was too much. And then on the flip side, from initial impressions I found Melly to be too immature for my tastes, so I wasn't sure how this one was going to work out for me. Luckily while both of those issues are there at the start of the book, they actually worked really well and made things more interesting as the book progressed. Melly has an outward immaturity, but an underlying core of steel showing there's much more than meets the eye to her. And Julian had reasons for being so much of a jerk, but when push came to shove he swallowed his pride and risked everything. So these "flaws" actually wound up enhancing the story in the end, and that's the best kind.
With the amazing tension, high stakes risk, and off the charts steam, this one should have easily been a five star read. Unfortunately the plot itself held it back from that perfect rating. While things felt high stakes with the risks against both Melly and Julian, there just didn't feel like there was a lot of forward momentum in the book. It just felt like it was all high stakes that were focused so much more on than the outcome. There was this whole build up that kept me on the edge of my seat, but the resolution kind of fizzled at the end. The entire book is spent wanting the villans to "get there's" but when that actually happens, well it was rushed and just overall wasn't satisfying enough after all that build up for me. I just wanted more from it, and that's why this one is a solid four star for me.
Overall while the resolution just wasn't enough for me, I enjoyed every other moment of this book. I read it in one sitting as I just couldn't put it down. Fans should be more than pleased with this latest installment in the Elder Races series as no one does enemies to lovers like Thea Harrison. No one.
First in a new fantasy series from the author of the Novels of the Half-Light City.
Entangled in a court ruled by tradition and intrigue, a young witch must come to terms with newfound power and desire—and a choice between loyalty and survival.…
The royal witches of Anglion have bowed to tradition for centuries. If a woman of royal blood manifests powers, she is immediately bound by rites of marriage. She will serve her lord by practicing the tamer magics of the earth—ensuring good harvests and predicting the weather. Any magic more dangerous is forbidden.
Lady Sophia Kendall, thirty-second in line to the throne, is only days away from finding out if she will be blessed—or perhaps cursed—with magic. When a vicious attack by Anglion’s ancient enemies leaves the kingdom in chaos, Sophia is forced to flee the court. Her protector by happenstance is Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, a member of the royal guard, raised all his life to be fiercely loyal to the Crown.
Then Sophia’s powers manifest stronger than she ever imagined they would, and Cameron and she are inextricably linked in the process. As a witch unbound by marriage rites, Sophia is not only a threat to the established order of her country, but is also a weapon for those who seek to destroy it. Faced with old secrets and new truths, she must decide if she will fight for her country or succumb to the delicious temptation of power.…
I have to admit that I'm sometimes leery of straight fantasy books due to the world building bogging things down. There's just typically too much to learn with all the very different world "rules" than ours from the start that I quickly lose interest. However, I really enjoyed M.J.'s Half Light series, so when I saw this new series, I knew I'd be giving it a try. I'm really glad that I did, and in fact I enjoyed this one so much it makes me want to be a bit more open to fantasy in the future just to make sure I don't miss really good reads like this one. There was just the right amount of world building to balance things out where I was intrigued and not left in the dark. Add in the yummy romance and the really interesting plot, I was hooked.
I do have to make mention a plot hole that is still sticking out to me. Since it happens early on I can talk about it without worrying about spoilers, but I'll still be a bit vague just in case. The Princess sends Sophie out with the royal guard with the implication that she had a bit of precognization. It just seemed like she sent Sophie out knowing there was some reason that she had to be out of the castle even if she didn't know why. But what bothers me is that the Princess then acted surprised/annoyed at the outcome of Sophie being out of the castle during the attack. I just felt it rang a bit false which frustrated me. That being said, I did read and ARC so perhaps that little tidbit will be fixed by the final version.
Now onto the romance. Ooooh boy did I love this one, and honestly this played a large part in me being so hooked on this book. They started off really cold towards one another, but then once things started it was utter fireworks. Of course then there were circumstances that didn't make it easy for them, but the tension and the yearning made it oh so yummy. I just loved every moment of it.
It's been awhile since I've felt so quickly attached to a new fantasy series, so it was exactly the read I needed. And that ending? A doosy. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book, and I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new series to fall in love with.
Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can't forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he'd signed his own death warrant.
Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order's headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember's own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George.
A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day…or start an all-out war?
I'm not the biggest fan of love triangles. Most time they just annoy me rather than make me feel torn like the character does. However, there are sometimes where there is enough reason behind the heroine being torn that I don't mind it, which is the case here. Ember's own identities between her human and dragon self are like two completely different people, so it makes sense that each side of her would be drawn to a different thing. Unfortunately however, despite understanding that conflict, I frankly do not feel much of an attachment to either hero. There's just a disconnect between myself and the characters that made it hard to really get attached or sucked in to the romance, which made the whole thing somewhat of a let down. I just think that for there to be a love triangle, there just needs to be more of a connection and stronger built romance rather than just the words of attraction. I just didn't feel the pull.
Ember is a tricky character for me. On on hand, she's fiesty strong and refuses to follow authority blindly, which I love about her. I can easily seeing her becoming a true character to reckon with as she gets a bit more experience under her belt. But that same rebellous nature about her annoyed me as well. Several times throughout the last book and this one as well it felt like she was disobeying and going against what was asked of her just for the sake of "bucking" authority. There were a few times her behaviour/reactions were completely and entirely reckless for no reason other than to be stubborn and reckless it seems. For example, they are on the run from both St. George and Talon at one point, and she is asked to stay put and out of sight for her protection so they don't get caught. Of course, she gets "stir crazy" and goes out risking all their lives just because she was bored. It made her seem selfish and immature, and frankly put me off. I prefer a character to rebell for a purpose rather than immaturity. That being said, she's still very young and naive, and as more and more things happen I have a feeling she'll grow.
I have to admit I'm a bit frustrated with this series. It has all the makings of a completely great read, between the unique world, interesting cast of characters and the rotating first person narrative that really works for me, plus a fast paced plot to boot. However, the execution of everything isn't quite what I had hoped, between the love triangle disconnect, and the overly reckless heroine, I just can't sink into these books as much as I would like. Don't get me wrong, they are interesting and entertaining reads, but I just feel like there's unrealized potential not being met here, but hopefully the future books correct that.
From the bestselling author of Winterbirth comes a magnificent new epic fantasy about The Free - the most feared and revered band of mercenaries the kingdom has ever known . . .
They are the most feared mercenary company the kingdom has ever known.
Led by Yulan, their charismatic captain, the Free have spent years selling their martial and magical skills to the highest bidder - winning countless victories that shook the foundations of the world. Now they finally plan to lay down their swords.
Yet when Yulan is offered a final contract, he cannot refuse - for the mission offers him the chance to erase the memories of the Free's darkest hour, which have haunted him for years.
As The Free embark on their last mission, a potent mix of loyalty and vengeance is building to a storm. Freedom, it seems, carries a deadly price.
The Free by Brian Ruckley is the story of the last contract a group of mercenaries take before their retirement. Although the summary makes the story sound fairly straightforward, and even dull, the story holds up, and exceeds such a narrow summary.
The setting for the story is a kingdom which is being torn apart by civil war as the nobility rebel and depose the royalty. This is problematic for a number of reasons, including the fact that the royal family’s accomplishments including preventing the southern regions “Orphans” from invading by way of threatening to unleash a Permanence, called The Bereaved on them. Then there are the neutral parties in this civil war, the magic users, or the ‘clevers,’ who are able to use elemental magic for their own agendas.
The Free is a band of mercenaries comprised of clevers, warriors, and their Permanence, the Clamour has nearly completed their last contract, having been hired to fight for one of the noblemen against the last of the royalty. The Free are eager to be done fighting, in particular their leader Yulan, who is looking forward to a quiet retirement. But then Yulan is offered a final contract, one which promises a large sum of gold, but also allow them to clear the slate of an old humiliation.
A great deal of the plot sounds like a collection of familiar tropes, and to round them out is a young peasant named Drann, who is the reader’s way into this band of mercenaries but whom will soon find himself in over his head. Other characters are interesting, but at times may feel as if they have been gathered from familiar stories with little alteration.
As a whole, the book has enough action and worldbuilding for it to be a quickly moving story, but the predictability of some of the characterizations and plot elements may not appeal to some readers.
(Received a copy from the publisher)
Romantic and action-packed, The Replaced is the gripping second installment in the Taking trilogy.
Kyra hasn't been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the run from the NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with others who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted—all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive but is in the hands of a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, Kyra knows it's a risk to go after him. What if it's a trap? And worse, what if the returned Tyler isn't the same boy she lost?
Perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and the Body Finder series, The Replaced is both chilling and explosive, with creepy, otherworldly elements and twisty, psychological thrills that will have you questioning what exactly it means to be human.
I need to take a moment and pause before really getting into the review to express frustration that the dreaded love triangle yet again is rearing its ugly head. It's especially frustrating in books like this where the first book "sells" you so much on the romance, like it did with Kyra and Tyler. Then magically this third wheel romance gets thrown in book two to complicate things. In fact this unwarranted love triangle (and some issues I had with Kyra that I'll get into in a bit) brought my rating down. It's a shame because I remember really enjoying the first book, but this one just didn't spark the same due to my frustrations.
Perhaps I don't fully remember how Kyra was in the last book, but this time around she seemed particularly dramatic, and she just fell flat for me. There was one reaction to a reveal that seemed over the top, especially considering it was something I felt she should have already long realized. Then of course she spends a lot of the book utterly distraught over Tyler and where he was, what happened to him etc. Which was in direct contrast to the addition of the love triangle, and just left me scratching my head. So much more of this book was spent in her head and her lamentions, and it just bogged things down for me.
Negative things aside, I did like the direction things were heading by the end (love triangle aside) and I found the reason behind her differences from the other Returned an really intersting twist. The cliffhanger ending is a pretty big whopper and has the potential to make for a whopper of a final book if things speed up a bit and Kyra gets out of her own way and returns to the kick butt heroine from the first book. It's funny, typically cliffhangers can almost ruin books for me due to the frustration, but in this case I think that final twist is what sold me on being excited for the last installment after this one was a bit lackluster. So here's hoping it all ends with a bang.