Book Review

#BookReview #FantasyRomance #KatherineQuinn #CityOwlPress

On These Wicked Shores
The Azantian Trilogy #2
Katherine Quinn

As this is book #2 in a trilogy, I was expecting to read more of Bash and Margrete’s love story, see more battles of mind, wit and magic against Darius, and experience more adventures. I love the cover, it makes me imagine a strong, determined woman who is ready to face her foes.

All of this, and more, was delivered in a well-written, captivating and exciting story that threw more than one curve ball into the mix. The blurb covers most of the book, with the discovery of the third coin occurring quite late in the story.

The first half of the book, at times, felt a little slow, ponderous, and dare I say repetitive and had it stayed that way my rating would have been hovering between 2 and 3 stars. It’s possible that my head wasn’t quite in the right mindset for this as, initially at least, I found I was having to push myself to keep reading. Thankfully that feeling didn’t last and the more I read the more my enjoyment of this story grew.

I know readers can get irritated by authors over-explaining things but at times I wasn’t quite sure of the reasoning or purpose behind events. Perversely there was occasionally too much foreshadowing, which left me waiting for the other shoe to drop. And not in a good “on the edge of my seat” way but more of a “can we just get on with it” feel. Despite those frustrations, I did enjoy the book and, once the pace picked up, it quickly became the 5-star read I had been hoping for. Whilst I didn’t need the book to have had that level of pace and tension throughout, as it can be in those quiet, gentle times that we get to really connect with the characters, it needed to be more evenly spread throughout the book. Either that or more ruthless editing of dead passages was required.

Overall I’m still a fan of this series and will definitely be reading the final book when it is released. This is written in the third person, mainly from Margrete and Bash’s viewpoints but we also get to hear from Darius and Bay. I liked how this gave extra depth and insight into the story, even if Darius is an unreliable narrator. It has quite dark moments, including on-page deaths of some side characters, and the romance includes several on-page sex scenes.

Overall Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plot ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Characters ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
World Building ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍 🤍
Writing ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Heat Level 🔥 🔥 🔥

Romantic Comedy


Smart and ambitious, Freya Scott prides herself on always having it together: she has a top job as a Brand Manager for Suttworth, a multi-national drinks company, and she’s engaged to her long-term boyfriend, Matthew. Their wedding is the first of eight on her calendar this year, and she’s intent on making it the fete that everyone is talking about all summer long.
But when Matthew calls it off the day before their walk down the aisle, Freya’s entire life plan goes up in smoke. Humiliated and heartbroken, she is determined to appear in control and fine. Surely, Matthew will soon realize that he’s made a huge mistake, and their wedding will simply be “postponed” instead of cancelled.
In the meantime, Freya still has a summer of other people’s nuptials ahead of her––which she must now attend solo. To help her survive the wedding season, her best friends concoct a series of challenging, outrageous tasks that she must complete at each event, designed to distract her from Matthew and what might have been.
From getting stuck in an old church bathroom and needing to be rescued by the vicar to making out with a barman at a French chateau, Freya realizes that despite herself, she might just be having fun. And by the time the final wedding arrives, she will discover that the road to a happy ending sometimes has unexpected detours, that “I do” is only the beginning––and that perhaps her own love story isn’t over just yet.

Book Review

#BookReview #Fantasy #YA #TheThief

The Thief
The Queen’s Thief #1
Megan Whalen Turner

This book wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would! Gen is a rather cocksure youth but perhaps justifiably so and he certainly had that air of infallibility that so often comes with being a teenager. His “voice” is incredibly entertaining and I very much enjoyed seeing the story directly through his eyes.

The Thief managed to surprise me plenty, even when I’d guessed one twist the plot then twisted again in another totally unexpected way. The prose and plot had me riveted, desperately needing to know what would happen next and being unable to put the book down. The moment I rather sadly turned the last page, because goodness me I was not ready to leave the world just yet, I wanted to immediately jump into the next book.

I loved the world MWT created, had it been artwork it would perhaps have been more Claude Monet than Michelangelo, but it included everything I need to know to understand the characters, the quest, the dangers, the politics and the people. All of that detail was cleverly woven throughout the story, absorbing it almost without realising it was present.

I would write more but the longer I’m here the longer I’m NOT out adventuring with Gen, and I know where I’d rather be and what I’d rather be doing!

Overall Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Plot ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Characters ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
World Building ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Writing ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Epic Fantasy


Eugenides, the queen’s thief, can steal anything – or so he says. Then his boasting lands him in the king’s prison, and his chances of escape look slim.
So when the king’s magus invites him on a seemingly impossible quest to steal a legendary object and win back his freedom, Gen in no position to refuse.
The magus has plans for his king and his country. Gen has plans of his own . . .

Book Review

#BookReview #Fantasy #Romance // Second Star to the Left by Megan Van Dyke

Second Star to the Left
by Megan Van Dyke

Second Star to the Left is a wonderfully written, captivating, well-paced re-working of Peter Pan. In this one Captain Hook is a gorgeous pirate with a heart of gold, a sexy accent, a curse to lift and a vendetta to win against the true villain, Blackbeard. Tinker Bell is not a small fairy but rather a vertically challenged, somewhat naive pixie who just wants to be able to find her way home. For both to gain their heart’s desire (and you know exactly where THAT one is leading!) they have to complete a quest by working as a team.

Hook and Tink are both very likeable characters and I quickly found myself caught up in this delightful enemies-to-lovers tale – especially with a hero who seemed a mix of Jack Sparrow and Killian “Hook” Jones. The story had a good mix of action/adventure, character development and world-building – not to mention a couple of red hot love scenes too. It was easy to not only feel the connection between Tink and Hook but also to believe in the strength of their feelings for one another.

Depth and colour were added by including a wide cast of well rounded supporting characters. The back story of both protagonists was slowly revealed as we progressed through the book, some of these threw very unexpected curveballs at both the reader and character alike. My only wish would have been for the quest to have not been quite so easily completed, though we did eventually get conflict.

I very much enjoyed this book, with its feel-good vibe, great characters and great story it is one to add to your TBR list.

Overall Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plot ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Characters ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
World Building ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Writing ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ 🤍
Heat Level 🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥

Fantasy Fairy Tale


Tinker Bell, banished from her homeland for doing the unthinkable, selling the hottest drug in Neverland—pixie dust—wants absolution.
Determined to find a way home, Tink doesn’t hesitate to follow the one lead she has, even if that means seducing a filthy pirate to steal precious gems out from under his…hook.
Captain Hook believes he’s found a real treasure in Tink. That is until he recovers from her pixie dust laced kiss with a curse that turns the seas against him. With his ship and reputation at the mercy of raging storms, he tracks down the little minx and demands she remove the curse. Too bad she can’t.
However, the mermaid queen has a solution to both of their problems, if Tink and Hook will work together to retrieve a magical item for her.
As they venture to the mysterious Shrouded Isles to find the priceless treasure, their shared nemesis closes in. However, his wrath is nothing compared to the realization that achieving their goal may mean losing something they never expected to find—each other.

The swagger and adventure of Pirates of the Caribbean meets the sexy banter of The Hating Game with a healthy dose of steam in this retelling of Peter Pan that’s far from the Neverland you know.

Book Review

#BookReview #FantasyRomance // The Rising Wave series by Michelle Diener

The Rising Wave (#0.5), The Turncoat King (#1), The Threadbare Queen (#2)
by Michelle Diener

A princess intent on escape . . .
Ava has everything ready for her last chance at escape from her years’ long imprisonment. She knows if she doesn’t succeed this time, she will die. When an injured warlord is thrown into her cell with her, upsetting her plans, she faces a dilemma . . . leave him to die or try to take him with her.
A warlord intent on rebellion . . .
Luc may lead a rebel army, but now he’s at the mercy of his enemies, and they have no mercy to give. All except the woman imprisoned with him. She not only has mercy, she has a plan to escape. He just has to convince her to let him come along . . .
A partnership forged in adversity . . .
Unable to leave him behind, Ava includes Luc in her plans, but escaping the castle where her cousin has imprisoned her is only the first step. Hunted by their enemies, she and Luc will have to trust each other, no matter how many secrets they’re keeping.

The Rising Wave

Well this totally and utterly ensnared me, I shall be immediately jumping into The Turncoat King, book #1 of the series.
For such a quick read the author packed in world-building, character development and plot, plot and more plot. I totally fell in love with Ava and Luc and cannot wait to rejoin the adventure and find out what happens next!

The Turncoat King

Having loved the introductory novella The Rising Wave I had quite high expectations for The Turncoat King and on the whole I wasn’t too disappointed. The story held my attention from start to finish, the pace was excellent and the prose flowed smoothly. What did let it down was how very easily the conflict was resolved at the end, particularly the fact that three men held off a whole city full of people and guards. I also wondered why the author kept making a big thing of Ava’s secrets as no one seemed too bothered by the truth when it was revealed.

Almost too perfect for words, Ava and Luc both still managed to make me adore them and were a big part of what drew me into the story. They are decent people with strong morals and steely determination. I found them immensely likeable, particularly enjoying the scenes where they were together. Neither experience too much in the way of adversity during the timeline of the story, so whilst both were well-rounded there wasn’t much evidence of character growth or learning. The fade-to-black sex scenes didn’t bother me, though the very instant-love nature of their relationship did take rather a suspension of disbelief.

Sara’s review here (…) hit’s the nail on the head when she says “When the book was good, was in the midst of a scene. I was easily captivated by what was occurring in the story. The author excels at pulling me into the moment and holding my eyes wide open. It’s when I step back and think on the logic of things that this story doesn’t feel as well written.”

Despite all that I still really enjoyed this book. As I was reading I didn’t want to put it down, it fully held my attention. As such I do recommend it and also fully intend to continue with the series.

The Threadbare Queen

The Rising Wave pretty much picks up from where The Turncoat King ends. That, along with The Rising Wave, must be read before this book for the story to be fully understood.

Whilst this isn’t quite as gritty, tough or imperfect as my preferences run to, there is something rather captivating and engaging about the author’s voice. Within a few pages I found myself caught up in the story and, unlike other books I’ve read recently, it readily held my attention from start to finish. I very much like Ava and Luc, yes I would rather they not be quite so perfect, but they are still great characters who are easy to understand and get behind.

After the far too easy resolution last time, I did feel as though the author had attempted to make life a little tougher for our protagonists in this book. However, I get the impression that she is far too nice a person to go down that route of killing off a side character or two. This means the books are fairly low angst, but sometimes that is what this reader wants. And with such excellent prose, I find this a very enjoyable and engaging series. I for one can’t wait to read the next book and am happy to recommend this series to others. It’s particularly good for those who hate cliffhangers as each book has its own complete story arc.

A thirst for revenge . . . Ava is committed to vengeance against the man responsible for the death of her parents. The same man, the Queen’s Herald, kept her prisoner for two years, until she escaped with Luc, a warlord bent on vengeance just as fierce as her own. He’s forged a powerful army of people from all through the region, called the Rising Wave, to march on the Kassian royal family and smash its corrupt power under the weight of their anger. But for Luc, just as for Ava, his true motive is a lot more personal.
A hidden magic . . . Luc suspects Ava has magical abilities, suspects he’s benefited greatly from them, but he’s no stranger to the burdens of power, and he’s prepared to let her tell him in her own time-after all, she’s his heart’s choice and he will give her all the time she needs. Except time is running out for both of them. As they near the Kassian stronghold, forces from within their own camp and without will use every trick they have to stop both Luc and Ava and tear them apart.
A secret laid bare . . . Luc knows Ava has a secret she’s keeping from him-but what he doesn’t realize is she has many. And when those secrets are exposed, everyone will have to grapple with the consequences. Ava is prepared to sacrifice her happiness and even her life to save the Rising Wave and Luc-but she would prefer to use her heart and her head to outwit her enemies instead.

A conqueror’s victory is never assured . . .
The Rising Wave may have taken control of Kassia, but hot on the heels of their victory, Luc receives word from one of his spies that the Jatan, emboldened by the Kassian army’s withdrawal, have crossed the border. More worryingly, they haven’t just moved into northern Kassia, but also east to Luc’s home region of Cervantes, and with all the Cervantes warriors with Luc in Kassia’s capital, Fernwell, cementing their hold on power, his home is vulnerable and defenceless. Luc has no choice but to leave securing Fernwell to Ava, gather forces, and head north, to try to push the Jatan back to their side of the mountains.
A queen’s safety is never a given . . .
Finally, after months of trying, a minion of the Speaker of Grimwalt’s court manages to snatch Ava from under the noses of her friends and allies, off the streets of Fernwell and onto the back roads to Grimwalt. Ava has to struggle against an insidious assault on her vitality and magic, fighting a power that isn’t just strong, but malevolent.
And nothing is set in stone . . .
As Ava tries to escape her captors and Luc races to defend his homeland, they draw closer and closer to each other, until finally their paths cross, as they always seem to do. As they once again face their enemies together, they will have to use all their strength to salvage the victory they’ve worked so hard to accomplish.

Book Review

#BookReview #Fantasy // The Final Masquerade by Ariana Nash

The Final Masquerade
by Ariana Nash

Oh my, what an emotionally turbulent, intensely evocative and utterly mesmerising story this is. I fell down a rabbit hole with Brice into a swirling, dizzying and ultimately soul-shattering melee of magic, mystery and mayhem. Lies are layered upon lies whilst deceptions, tricks and misdirection abound until you can no longer trust anyone or anything – not even the evidence seen with your own eyes.

Ariana Nash delivers up a dark, twisted tale of fae madness. An intriguing story of machination and manipulation, where every word is deceptive, every look meant to seduce. Whilst hidden desires may be fulfilled, it pays to remember that nothing is given freely and most things are not as they may seem. The story is by parts raw, vicious and heartrending, yet also delicate, gentle and loving.

He tasted of fae sweetness. Of sweet wine and bitter sadness. He didn’t believe anything would change; he didn’t believe Brice would succeed. He thought this was goodbye.

I adored Brice and his slippery fae paramour, couldn’t get enough of this wonderful pair truth be told. Their chemistry was explosively hot, though the path to a HEA was littered with pain, sadness and heartache. Each damaged in their own way, this pair of star-crossed lovers battled long and hard against the power of the Masquerade, but when truth and illusion are impossible to differentiate then suffering and angst are sure to follow.

Every moment in the masquerade held an air of peril and threat, blinding me with its devious illusions and leaving me unable to even begin guessing as to the twists that would unfold and the truths that would be revealed. It held me spellbound with its brilliance, tossed me on the stormy seas of its emotional intensity and left me wanting to never leave the world that had been created. If a golden-edged invitation should happen to fall on my doormat I’m not sure I could resist its siren call.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

MM Fantasy Romance


The winter solstice. The darkest day, the longest night. Every year the solstice heralds the return of the masquerade ball. Fae and human dance and drink and make merry, so long as they remain masked. But there’s a darker side to this night. Should a guest lose their mask, their life is forfeit, cursed to dance forever for the entertainment of the masquerade’s cold and cruel fae host.
Ever since he was a boy, Brice LeChoix’s mother had warned him of the terrible fae. But it wasn’t the fae who took his parents from him. Madness did that. Years later, now Lord of the crumbling LeChoix estate and buckled by debt, he has more important things to think about than fairytales. Until the masquerade comes to town. Every year on the solstice it appears, and every year the townsfolk frolic with the fae. Some never return.
Brice warned his brother not to go. And when the masquerade vanishes like mist at dawn, it takes Charon with it. Now Brice must return to the masquerade, the very place he vowed never to set foot in again. The fae know his desires, they know his weaknesses. Forbidden lust will lure Brice from his world, into theirs. To save his brother, he must survive the masquerade’s beautiful lies and avoid the host’s wicked ways.
But the fae have other ideas. One in particular has his eye on Brice… The trickster, Raoul, will stop at nothing to seduce Brice because he knows, more than anyone, that the masquerade is a trap from which no soul truly ever escapes.

The longest night is upon us. Can you hear their call? Take my hand, come with me, to the masquerade ball…

A stunning adult MM dark fairytale standalone novel of 115,000 words. Coming Autumn/Winter 2021. Warning: this book contains devious fae, dubious consent, coercive rape, sex with multiple partners, suicide, and violent punishment, and is advised for readers aged 18+