Tag Archives: romance

Book Review of Radiance by Grace Draven

Radiance Wraith KingsRadiance is the first book in The Wraith Kings series by Grace Draven. With the cultural divide that currently besets America, I loved how the author addressed how two dramatically different cultures can peacefully co-exist. A very timely story with far-reaching implications.

SUMMARY: ~THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE~ Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

~THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE~ Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I knew I was on to a good book when I saw 1,212 reviews with a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon! Congrats to Grace Draven. Based upon what I read, the rating is well deserved.

The Kai are a race of nocturnal beings with deathly pale skin and long fangs. Certainly the sight of one would be enough to make any sane human run. And many do. But for Brishen (Kai) and Ildiko (Human), they are married to secure an alliance for a treaty between their nations and have no choice but to tolerate each other. But much more happens to them.

The couple are initially repulsed by each other’s physical appearance, but both choose to look beyond the physical and discover the unique and lovable  individual within each. Their relationship grows from tolerance, to understanding, to a deep and abiding love for each other despite everyone around pitying them for the choice forced upon them. It is a very timely theme in light of the racial tensions currently besetting this country. We could all take a lesson from this for I think this thinking works in practice as well as in fantasy.

While I thought the author did an amazing job with world-building as well as character development, I have two complaints. The first is the plot seemed prescriptive and contrived, lacking subtly and intrigue. I love novels that keep you guessing and when the reveal finally happens, you’re surprised because you saw all the clues but never pieced them together. This ain’t that. The author laid out the clues, but in a way that they seemed obvious that she was setting up something for later on. Not a huge negative, I just thought this could have been epic if there was as much finesse put into plotting as character development.

The other small complaint I have is with the ending. The author leaves us with a wrapped up story, except gives us an epilogue that seems very different than anything that happened in the story. It’s not that I couldn’t connect the dots and say “okay, that’s possible” but  the author used an unrefined way to set up the next book. I just thought it could have been done with a bit more finesse. Again, this is not a huge issue, but it just struck me as not fitting in with everything the author had so beautifully set up in the first book.

Overall, I give this book 4.5/5.0 stars. Get book on Amazon

Warning: This is not YA. There are a few sexually explicit scenes as would be expected in this Adult fantasy romance work.

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FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

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Review of Air Awakens

AirAwakensAn engaging storyline. A strong heroine. A complicated future.

Air Awakens is the first in the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova.

SUMMARY (from back): A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond… The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all–the Crown Prince Aldrik–she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.
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WHAT I THOUGHT: To the commoner, magic is a misunderstood and scary phenomenon. To those gifted with it, it’s a weapon to be wielded. From the four corners of the kingdom, different magical affinities originate: Firebearers from the West, Waterrunners from the South, and Groundbreakers from the North.

But what of the East? For more than a century a societal prejudice has existed against Windwalkers, magicians from the East. For something happened that had the race exterminated. While hints are offered as to why, there’s much more to understand as we meet Vhalla Yarl, a commoner who works in the royal library. Impossibly and unbeknownst to her, she is a Windwalker and her powers are about to be manifest despite her efforts to deny them. Imagine yourself holding to cultural narratives that magic is ‘bad’ just to find it is part of you. But confront it she must.

Aldrick, the eldest Prince of the kingdom (a powerful Firebearer in his own right), deduces her affinity when she saves him from a mortal wound when he is injured in battle–her research produces the cure the Royal healers are unaware of, as well as a magical Bond between them that begins to heat up in a forbidden relationship.

Through Vhalla’s trials, we see her emerge as the strong heroine she is as she grapples with the choice before her to embrace her Affinty and begin a new and unfamiliar future, or have it removed and follow a familiar and comfortable path. As you would imagine, forces are at work to prevent the latter, not the least of which is a trial at the hands of the Senate over her actions that threatened the prince.

All that said, a professional editor should have gotten hold of this work before it hit the shelves. I found numerous missing words, words used incorrectly and the like that a professional set of eyes would have quickly fixed. It just drives me crazy when such a good work is compromised for such a simple thing. As a reader, I don’t want to think about the mechanics. I want to get lost in the story. I would have given this 5 stars but for that, for which I deduct 10% and give this 4.5 stars.

Despite the poor editing issue, the engaging storyline had me preorder the second book in the series that is scheduled to be released Nov 19, 2015.

Get Air Awakens Book One (at Amazon)

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FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of thePrequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

My Review of Servant of the Crown

ServantoftheCrownServant of the Crown by Melissa McShane (The Crown of Tremontane Book 1)

If you loved Seraphina for the fantasy mixed with political intrigue, I recommend this book! While there are no dragons, the mix of a strong heroine, dynamic characters, and excellent writing is sure to satisfy.

SUMMARY from Back: Alison Quinn, Countess of Waxwold, is content with her bookish life—until she’s summoned to be a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Tremontane’s mother for six months. Even the prospect of access to the Royal Library doesn’t seem enough to make up for her sacrifice, but Alison is prepared to do her service to the Crown. What she’s not prepared for is Prince Anthony North, Queen Zara’s playboy brother, who’s accustomed to getting what he wants—including the Countess of Waxwold.

When the fallout from an unfortunate public encounter throws the two of them together, Alison has no interest in becoming the Prince’s next conquest. But as the weeks pass, Alison discovers there’s more to Anthony than she—or he—realized, and their dislike becomes friendship, and then something more—until disaster drives Alison away, swearing never to return.

Then Alison is summoned by the Queen again, this time to serve as Royal Librarian. A threat to Tremontane’s government, with her treasured Library at stake, draws Alison into the conflict…and into contact with Anthony once more. Can they work together to save the Royal Library and Tremontane? And can she open her heart to love again?

WHAT I THOUGHT

Allison Quinn, Countess of Waxwold, is a smart, savvy business woman, working for her father’s publishing house. When she is summoned to be a lady in waiting for the Dowager (mother of the queen) for six months, loyal citizen that she is, she presents herself for duty. But it doesn’t take long to see her true bookworm-self revealed, for true to form, she insists on seeing the Royal Library and is frustrated by the Librarian who refuses to permit it–heresy!

Men had treated her as an object to possess rather than recognizing who she was so when she encounters the prince, Anthony, an arrogant chovanist, she dresses him down publically leading to all manner of wonderful plot twist.

I so enjoyed her enthusiasm when she is appointed Royal Librarian. Be still my heart (LOL!). But I knew we were in for a treat when by a third of the way through the book, Allison had already fallen in love and betrayal reared its ugly head.

The queen, Zara, daughter of the Dowager and sister of prince Anthony appears as another strong female character with political obstacles she must navigate to retain the power necessary for the crown to effectively manage society. I was impressed that the author fully developed her allowing us to see the complex struggles force and giving in to frustration would thwart.

What a sweet interplay between these three. A masterful job of weaving in so many emotional threads and giving the reader a satisfying conclusion.

The only thing not well developed in my opinion was the healing magic that society apparently shunned. This came more into play with the short story that followed the novel, but that detail was never expanded upon and it appears it becomes a significant plot element, at least going forward.

I can’t wait for the sequel, RIDER OF THE CROWN!

Get Servant of the Crown (at Amazon)

PLEASE NOTE!  If you enjoyed this post, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you think and then sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live. Scroll back to top of this page and enter your email.

I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Links are along the right side of this page.