#BookReview #PNR #RH // Three Trials by Kristy Cunning

Three Trials
The Dark Side #2
by Kristy Cunning

I’m really not quite sure how or why, but this series is really working for me. It doesn’t have the greatest world building or the most complex of plots, but I adore Keyla/Paca’s feisty, sarcastic and adorably sweet nature. Her banter, random comments and crazy attitude utterly pleases me and she is definitely one of my favourite book heroines.


I enjoyed the second half of the book more though hindsight, following some expected and unexpected revelations, helps to explain how our intrepid quintet were able to complete the task in hell so easily. We finally (and in that we I am definitely including Paca) got our long anticipated steamy moments. Kai definitely ended up as my favourite following that rather steamy not so little tryst.


Thank you to my fellow Buddy Readers over in the DE group – can’t wait to read book #3 with you all!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

**Contains sex scenes**

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36839899-three-trials

Synopsis
So, I’ve checked off some life goals and added a few new ones to my list.

Goal #5: Get out of hell’s belly without letting my ungrateful charges die.
Goal #6: Get a new name that’s more badass.
Goal #7: Stop wasting my breath on lectures and start annoying the quad hell squad every time they annoy me. Fight fire with fire. Ha! Another hell pun.
Goal 8: Find out who the hell killed me.


I’ll add more. I don’t want to overwhelm myself before I even finish checking off my old goals. But seriously, I really do need a more badass name, considering how much I have to keep saving my damsels in distress. I probably shouldn’t call them damsels, since they’re a little murderous and all.

Maybe I should add seeing a hell-certified psychologist to my list of goals.

#BookReview #RomanticSuspense // Crow by A. Zavarelli

Crow
Boston Underworld #1

A. Zavarelli

Mackenzie “Mack” Wilder is searching for her BFF, the girl who helped her survive the horrors of being a teen in the care system. No one wants to know or help and all the clues point to a club run by Lachlan Crow, a mover and shaker in the Mackenna syndicate aka the Irish mafia. Throwing caution to the wind, because without Talia what’s the point anyway, Mack decides to step into the lion’s den. What she didn’t expect was to catch the eye of the pride male. Lachlan Crow doesn’t need the complication of the dark haired, blue eyed beauty, he’s already promised to another and his Russian associates want her “controlled”.


Does Mack feel like the average 22 year old? Not really, but then her backstory doesn’t paint her in that light either. So despite her usually feeling much older, I didn’t find her maturity, or her strength, out of the bounds of believability. Lachlan is probably an awful lot nicer than most genuine members of a criminal gang, however we wouldn’t fall in love with him if he was without some morals, compassion and integrity. On balance I did feel his character was plausible, and his utter obsession with Mack allowed me to forgive the rest!


The chemistry between this pair is scorching and this is one pretty hot read. It was easy to believe in the feelings that developed between Crow and Mack, particularly as the book is written first person from both perspectives. Being able to listen in on their thoughts, to feel their passion and the incredible attraction they share, had me sold on their feelings.


Unlike many mafia romances, this did feature the syndicate in a believable way. It wasn’t overly sanitised though many of the darker aspects were more briefly touched on, so this didn’t feel a particularly dark read. I was left with some questions, particularly around the Russian mafia and the betrayals, but if I remember correctly subsequent books run concurrently with this and more of the story is revealed with each new instalment.


I’m so glad I got the chance to re-read this. It did take a couple of chapters to really get into the story, but once I did it became a book I just did not want to put down.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mafia Romance

Age 18+, Contains adult content

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31309440-crow

Synopsis
An Irish mobster. A missing friend. Two loyalties, ripping me apart.

I had a plan. Get in, get my information, and get out. Easy, right?

That’s when Lachlan Crow noticed me. Problem was, he wasn’t a soldier. No, he was next in line for the throne of the Irish underworld. And he was determined to hate me from the outset. My sob story about needing a job? Yeah, he wasn’t buying that either.

Too bad for him, I won’t let anyone get in the way of my mission.

Who cares if we have some kind of crazy chemistry? He’s the worst kind of wrong- and I would never in a million years be with a guy like him.

Because they took her from me, and I’m going to make them pay.

#BookReview #PNR // Four Psychos by Kristy Cunning

Four Psychos
The Dark Side #1

Kristy Cunning

I’ve not read the author before but this was chosen as our group PNR buddy read – possibly in honour of her recent passing. I was impressed by the quality of characterisation, the intriguing plot and the snarky humour demonstrated by our heroine Keyla, who’s sole perspective it is written from. Once picked up this book somehow buried itself under my skin and I didn’t want to put it down.



It doesn’t have the greatest world building or the most complex of plots and whilst it talked a lot of sex it didn’t really have much action for a reverse harem book. Yet somehow I thoroughly enjoyed every single chapter, paragraph, line and word. The only thing stopping me from immediately jumping into book #2 ( Three Trials ) is that it’s scheduled to be buddy read in September! I’m hoping we see the four anti-heroes develop distinct characters, I found Gage to be instantly forgettable and at times Kai and Jude felt too similar. However with three further books there is plenty of time for that to still happen!



I found myself laughing so many times and I absolutely adored Keyla and Ezekiel. Jude and Kai have some serious work to do in earning both of our forgiveness, but I trust with all their various skills and talents they will easily manage that 😉. I’m hoping my views won’t change as I continue with the series but based on this first book it is definitely one I would recommend, particularly to fans of K.F. Breene’s PNR/Urban Fantasy work and also Tara West’s Eternally Yours series.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Paranormal / Fantasy Romance

Age 16+ – Sexual situations, Reverse Harem, Dark humour, Language warning

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36550871-four-psychos


Synopsis
I’m not so different from most people. Like everyone else, I have life goals.

Goal #1: Become a real girl instead of this invisible ghost thing I currently am.
Goal #2: Convince the four men I’ve been haunting for the past five years to pick me to be their new toy after goal one is complete.
Goal #3: Figure out who/what I am and why I can’t remember anything past the five years I’ve been haunting this quad.
Goal #4: Eat popcorn.

See? Perfectly normal. Sort of. Gotta start small, after all. It’s not like anyone else is perfect either.

#BookReview #Fantasy #FantasyRomance // A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
Blood and Ash #2
Jennifer L. Armentrout

Sing along –

And nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all
The needle returns to the start of the song
And we all sing along like before….

Having spent several hours reading this, and boy did I feel everyone of them, even thought it’s a DNF for now, I do feel I’ve read enough to comment. And that comment is “congratulations on winning first prize for the most boring and repetitive book I’ve read in years!


I got to approximately the 50% mark, but seeing 6 – 7 hours of reading time left in the book just crushed my soul. It shouldn’t have, because the author’s voice is beautiful, her characterisation is good (though not so good in book 2 as it was book 1) and I enjoyed her world building. What IS an issue is the waffling inner monologue that she insists on. As a result the pace slowed to such a crawl the plot is in actual danger of going backwards! In all the hours I spent reading this there was no real movement, metaphorically or physically. We had 7 or 8 chapters of story s-t—–r——-e——t——c—–h——e-d over two or three times that figure.


Yeah, I’m seriously wishing I’d read reviews for book #2 BEFORE starting book #1. The pacing for that was bad enough, but I could forgive a first book in the series being slower to allow for all the world building, introduction of characters etc. But lord above, how the hell can you spend 300+ pages in the same place? I’ll tell you how!!!!! BY GOING ROUND AND ROUND IN BLOODY CIRCLES THAT’S HOW.


There is something seriously wrong when you see you have over 5 hours of reading time left in a book and all it does is make you want to cry. Honest to god I was in despair at the though of having ro read another sentence that involved Poppy stabbing someone, Casteel dragging his fangs over his lip, Poppy’s uncontrollable lust for him or how Casteel smelled. The answer to which is variously like fruit, earth, smoke and various other things that sounded stupid. I’d rather it had been Brut 45 or Old Spice 🤣🤣🤣.


Really, unless you enjoy being bored out of your skull avoid this at all cost.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Fantasy Romance

Age 18+, Contains violence and sex scene

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54319549-a-kingdom-of-flesh-and-fire

Synopsis

A Betrayal…

Everything Poppy has ever believed in is a lie, including the man she was falling in love with. Thrust among those who see her as a symbol of a monstrous kingdom, she barely knows who she is without the veil of the Maiden. But what she does know is that nothing is as dangerous to her as him. The Dark One. The Prince of Atlantia. He wants her to fight him, and that’s one order she’s more than happy to obey. He may have taken her, but he will never have her.

A Choice…

Casteel Da’Neer is known by many names and many faces. His lies are as seductive as his touch. His truths as sensual as his bite. Poppy knows better than to trust him. He needs her alive, healthy, and whole to achieve his goals. But he’s the only way for her to get what she wants—to find her brother Ian and see for herself if he has become a soulless Ascended. Working with Casteel instead of against him presents its own risks. He still tempts her with every breath, offering up all she’s ever wanted. Casteel has plans for her. Ones that could expose her to unimaginable pleasure and unfathomable pain. Plans that will force her to look beyond everything she thought she knew about herself—about him. Plans that could bind their lives together in unexpected ways that neither kingdom is prepared for. And she’s far too reckless, too hungry, to resist the temptation.

A Secret…

But unrest has grown in Atlantia as they await the return of their Prince. Whispers of war have become stronger, and Poppy is at the very heart of it all. The King wants to use her to send a message. The Descenters want her dead. The wolven are growing more unpredictable. And as her abilities to feel pain and emotion begin to grow and strengthen, the Atlantians start to fear her. Dark secrets are at play, ones steeped in the blood-drenched sins of two kingdoms that would do anything to keep the truth hidden. But when the earth begins to shake, and the skies start to bleed, it may already be too late.

REVIEW – Historical Romance // Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare

Romancing the Duke
Castles Ever After #1
by Tessa Dare

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I found the characters to be likeable – if somewhat stereotypical of the genre – and the plot to be engaging. The story moved at a decent pace and had plenty of different strands that were woven together to build an interesting and textured tale.


With themes of acceptance, friendship and learning to trust, the author’s voice was incredibly pleasing and she conveyed emotions in a palpable manner. Both Ransom and Izzy had a solid backstory. one that explained all their foibles and character traits. In fact I found myself very impressed that there was no redundancy in the story, even little snippets of seemingly window dressing eventually prove to have some value later in the story.


This was the first e-book I had borrowed from a library and despite not being able to read on my kindle I quickly found myself thoroughly absorbed by this book. I ended up reading it in a day, I was caught hook, line and sinker by Ransom and Izzy’s story and enjoyed every moment of it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fantasy Romance

Age 15+, Contains some violence and glossed over sex scene

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18052985-romancing-the-duke

Synopsis
As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?


No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

REVIEW – Epic Fantasy Romance // From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

From Blood and Ash
(Blood and Ash #1)
by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Always late to the party and wearing last year’s fashion, I feel as though I’ve missed the boat on this series. On reflection though, perhaps NOT being drawn into the hype and furore allowed me to enjoy this book in an honest and open minded way, free of unreasonable expectation.


Despite the first half of this being more like a 3.5 star read, because whilst it didn’t drag per se I was just wanting something a little more… exciting to happen, the last 40% was so out of this world brilliant that I’m rounding up my 4.5 rating to a 5. Because I can! And because although I was restless at times, I also appreciated how that time was spent introducing the main protagonists and building a picture of Poppy’s world and life. It’s maybe not the “cleverest” of plots, one not full of complicated and interwoven sub-plots, but the imagery of the prose, the well crafted protagonists and the depth of emotion that is conveyed all added up to make a truly thrilling and captivating opening installment.


Whilst it’s fairly easy to guess Hawke’s secret I’m going to take that as a deliberate move since the author all but has a flashing neon sign pointing the way. As a book friend pointed out only recently, sometimes the obvious plot twist was never really a twist because the author meant for you to guess, and I feel that may well be true for this book. The excitement was in wondering how the revelation would play out, the suspense of not knowing how Poppy would react, the mystery of what consequences follow the truth being revealed. Because the truth is that, like a pebble tossed into a pond, the after effects of the reveal touch all aspects of the story, just as the ripples spread across the surface of the water.


It would be totally remiss of me to complete the review but not mention the chemistry between Hawke and Poppy. Intense doesn’t even begin to describe it. Hot enough to melt diamonds, I felt as though I could reach out and touch the sexual tension it was so potent. Given how the book ended, I’m fairly certain we will see lots of sparks and fireworks between these two. If it wasn’t for the fact that this is part of a buddy read, and I have other commitments, I would be jumping straight into book #2. Irritatingly I have to wait until next month for that one – I’m not sure if my resolve will hold out that long!

And if anyone is interested here were my thoughts at 56%

Almost since we first met him I’ve had my suspicions about Hawke and have just given in to the temptation to check out spoilers and yep he is who I thought.
The only reason I gave into that impulse is that this book is like wading though treacle (something similar to molasses). It’s not that the writing is bad, just that the author seems to believe in the tenet of “why use one word when a dozen will do?”
I will persevere though as an obvious theme from reviews seems to be that the last 30 – 40% actually has more pace and excitement to it. I’m also enjoying this, I just want something, ANYTHING to happen.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Paranormal Vampire Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52831200-from-blood-and-ash

Synopsis
A Maiden…
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.