Showing posts with label e-book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label e-book review. Show all posts

Monday, April 29, 2013

eBook Review: Gone with the Wolf

CEO and alpha werewolf Drake Wilder has given up the search for his one true love. When he discovers that she’s a secretary in his company, Drake’s primal instincts kick into overdrive.

What he wouldn’t give to have her fingers rake over his body instead of the keyboard…

Free-spirited bartender Emelia Hudson wants nothing more than to make her Seattle-based bar succeed. But when profits decline, she slips into a dress suit and secures a nine-to-five. After learning that her bar has become property of Wilder Financial, Emelia is determined to get some answers.

Two can play the ruthless business game. If only her attraction to the boss wasn’t so intense…

When Drake’s twin brother senses that Drake has found his match—and now inherits their father’s billion dollar estate—he hatches a plan to take Emelia out. Drake vows to protect her at all costs, but he might have to pay with his own life

Overall I enjoyed this book, but it didn't leave much of an impression. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the charade had gone on a little longer, mostly because I think it would have made the 'Drake stole my bar' plotline a bit less...annoying.  It was a little unbelievable that Emelia, who owned her own business, would blame Drake for personally stealing her bar out from under her.  She shows more common sense then that throughout the book.

Since this is a werewolf paranormal it of course means that there is a 'predestined mate' (called 'Luminaries') and I'll give Miller credit Emelia doesn't take the pill and swallow it.  Things get a bit muddled (continuity wise) for Drake though since he grows steadily sicker the longer he's away from her, but promises to let her go if she really doesn't want him (and he's good on his word).

Emelia for her part isn't a shrinking violet.  She's not as well defined as a character as Drake is, but she holds her own and doesn't come across as a damsel in distress.  I particularly enjoyed near the end when Drake is all happy puppy about a present for her and she's like 'Are you effing serious? Have you not listened to me at all?' and makes him figure out what he did wrong.  Though since it takes him rather longer than you'd think it led to other complications, but there you have it.

At some point the book became too heavy with too many different plot points.  We had Drake trying to woo Emelia, Emelia fighting her attraction, Emelia trying to figure out what happened to her bar, Drake fighting his brother, his brother wrecking havoc, Emelia trying to figure out what being mated to Drake is about--while all the threads fed into the same problem (Emelia and Drake are mated), they jostled for position and kept things from being fleshed out.

Monday, April 22, 2013

eBook Review: Diary of a Dragon

You hold in your hand a sacred trust—a dragon’s diary. My diary. And that trust has been horribly violated by that dreadful Princess Lillian, or you wouldn’t be holding it. My own personal diary, published for all to see! That human female has no shame.

I do, however. I do not wish my secrets spread about. Please, I beg you, put this book down now and walk away, kind browser. Respect an old dragon’s privacy. No matter what the princess thinks, these matters of violence, blackmail, and unnecessary romance are not for the eyes of others!

No, no, don’t even open it! Ignore the attractive illustrations and the shocking true secrets of dragon life!  You’ll be sorry!

All right, you won’t. But I will.

I hate princesses.

This is, simply put, the cutest thing this side of fantasy short reads ever.  I downloaded this on a whim, because who doesn't like dragons and their diaries?  Other then a bit of threatening to eat a Princess this is a good book to share with a child.  Granted the humor is probably more dry then most kids' books, but since Flammiferus (yes that is the dragon's name) hates pretty much everything a kid does they should emphasize with him.

Basically Flammiferus kidnaps a princess, who then proceeds to demand all sorts of things of him until he finally gives in.  Just as he's getting used to her however she decides to play Dragon Matchmaker and finds him an eligible dragoness.

Things rather devolve from (for him) from there.

For a quick read I definitely recommend this.  The print book is also avail (in limited quantities) from Subterranean Press and I'm willing to lay bets the illustrations are even cooler in print.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

eBook Review: Hunting

Ash Lenthard doesn’t call herself a vigilante. She’s merely prone to random acts of derring-do, and occasional exhibitions of tomfoolery. Her friends, the Huntsmen, have never stepped over the line while patrolling the streets of Luinhall.

That was before the murder of Ash’s beloved guardian, Genevieve.

Now, Ash Lenthard is out for blood and even when the hunt sends her to the palace, on a collision course with a past identity she would do anything to forget, Ash cannot, will not, back down.

What the summary doesn't tell you is that along the way Ash saves half the cast from dire straits at various points (in person's case twice!) because she can not because anyone particularly tells her to.  Seriously, she even says she can't help herself it just kind of happens.  A lot. (to be fair she also is laboring under a pretty intense case of regret because of Genevieve's death).
Höst says that Hunting was in response to Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer, a story about a girl searching for her brother and getting into a wild amount of scrapes (considering how well to do she was) and constantly needing rescuing.  One thing Ash doesn't really need is rescuing (though on occasion she does need help rescuing herself).  Ash prepares for things and within reason can estimate how things will shake down to anticipate what she needs to do. 

She's not infalliable; her mistakes tend to be underestimating people and their motivations however.  Ash has a lot of street smarts--she can turn a phrase so its not quite a lie and adapts to situations quickly.  She understands people to a point.  Ask her why her peers are hostile towards her or why Genevieve helps people the way she does and Ash will have an immediate response.  However despite witnessing cruelty and evil, Ash is at a loss to understand the motivations of the killer hunting the herbalists throughout the city.

And to be perfectly truthful I was a little sketchy on the reasoning as well.  A lot is made of the Rhoi (Arun)'s life being put in jeporady...probably.  The mystery of who is behind some of the attack's on Arun's heir is less complicated then Höst perhaps intended.  I guessed the fiend fairly quickly though whether its because I watch a lot of detective shows or because Höst choreographed this person's involvement quite loudly is anyone's guess.

The attacks are only part of the larger conspiracy and this is when the mystery begins to break down for me.  When we find out the "true" culprit things become a bit dicey motivation wise.  Its not until late into the game that Ash and Co. make a connection between the culprit and what's going on now.  And much of that is because of something said to Thornaster.  If that phrase hadn't been said I'm not sure they would have made the parallels they did.

The best part of this book was the characters.  Ash is a delight--sometimes a bit too arrogant of her abilities for her own good, but its justified.  She's also not above a manipulation to get what she wants, which is good since its put to use throughout the book.  Her banter with Thornaster is lively and makes their eventual mutual understanding much easier to see.  Ash also keeps lively company with her "Huntsmen" and has some interesting conversations with a couple peers (though I'll admit they're given a much broader stroke of detail than the Huntsmen).

Overall I enjoyed Höst's newest work.  Its not quite as defined as her other worlds, but there's an intriguing mythology at its roots and Ash was simply a joy to read. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

e-book Review: The Shattered Mountain

On the outskirts of Joya d'Arena, small villages fight for survival against the onslaught of sorcerers and raiders. Mara's village has been safe--so far--but Mara decides to escape anyway. Escape from her harsh, abusive father. Escape with her first love. But when their plans fall on the same day that the animagi burn the village to the ground, Mara faces losses that could destroy her. She's a survivor, though. She is going to make it through the mountains, and she is going to protect the refugees following her. Because there's a rumored safe haven . . . and some say they have found the Chosen One. 

Told from Mara's point-of-view, "The Shattered Mountain" is an alternate perspective of the beginning of the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns.

I have to give Carson credit--these prequels definitely serve to help round out the world and give us a different look at Elisa (or the role she fills).  In "Shadow Cats", told from Alodia's POV, we saw Elisa as a younger girl, frightened, but understanding so much more than Alodia gave her credit for.  Now in "The Shattered Mountain", though Elisa has a very small role near the end, Carson shows us how from the very first moment Mara saw that Elisa was special and would understand her.

This also serves as a way to establish the reason for a lot of Mara's early antagonism as well as the bond she shared with many of the children shown throughout the first two books.  In a matter of less than a hundred pages we see Mara go from a dreamer who saw freedom only in how far she could run to a leader, keeping a dozen or so children grounded and brave against impossible odds.

I wouldn't say that Mara is hard or grim; she has moments of such, but who wouldn't under such odds?  She is trying to keep frightened, starving, injured and grieving children alive while avoiding the Invierno who are everywhere.  She makes a lot of decisions that are hard and doesn't have a lot of time for coddling.  Survival is on the line and discomfort now could save their lives.

I already liked Mara from the books, so this was just icing.  This served to illustrate why she is such a good fit with Elisa.  I do think this was a story you could only fully appreciate if you had read the books first.  The details we learned throughout those books are fully explored here and thus all the more appreciated.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

eBook Review: Just for the Summer

Dani Sullivan has come to Lake Bliss to write her latest cookbook and take a breather. After the year she’s had, she deserves a summer retreat to reevaluate priorities and make peace with past decisions. But from the moment single dad and sheriff Matt Reagan shows up, she has a hard time convincing herself that a life away from Lake Bliss could beat the life she might have here.

Recently divorced Matt is ready for a new relationship, but he doesn’t want short-term—his son needs permanence, and so does Matt’s heart. Unfortunately, it’s the smart-mouthed and sinfully sexy Ms. Sullivan who catches his eye. But when Matt learns Dani’s secrets, will he still want her to stay? Or will her chance for love last just for the summer?

My main issue with this book was that it felt like Matt's reaction to Dani's omission was too much.  It was basically "I can't believe it you're just like my ex-wife!" without listening to her side of things.  I'm not saying what Dani did (or rather didn't do) wasn't worth getting upset over.  However Matt takes it a step too far and even after realizing why she must have hidden the knowledge, he's still "Why did she lie to me?".  In short he made some very selfish decisions.

Its also all very coincidental and easy for Dani to find out the information she needed to find her son (plus illegal) and she was very lucky that it worked out the way it did.

Regardless when Dani wasn't agonizing over the fact her son was so close, but so far she was an engaging heroine.  Playful, up-beat and determined Dani doesn't let her dark past overwhelm her.  Rutland pays lip service to the fact that Dani had to go through counseling to get past what happened, but Dani gives the impression that through force of will she overcame it.

I couldn't get a handle on Matt.  He kept claiming he's such a great, non-sexist guy, but almost every word (or thought) was a barely veiled insinuation that Dani should get in bed with him.  Actually sometimes it wasn't even an insinuation, but an outright confidence game.  Dani gives as good as she gets though and keeps him on his toes, calling him on some of his more jerky comments and doing the proverbial slap down.

That is until an inconvienent plot device throws them together all the time.  This next part is a bit of spoiler so read at your own risk:

[spoiler] Her son, or rather Matt's son, develops Diabetes quite suddenly.  Like I mean he's fine at the start of the chapter and by the end of it he's critical.  I know very little about Diabetes, but what I've read would suggest that there should have been some warning signs prior to the 'critical' stage.  Regardless this means that Dani moves in to educate Matt and his mother on what it now means.  I'm sorry what?   Dani says she'll leave each night, unless she's working too late on recipes, but I'm stuck on the fact she felt a need to be there.  And that Matt thinks its completely rational.  True something happens and Matt almost makes the wrong decision, but all the printed material that Dani gave them would have given him the same answer that Dani gave him.  It felt so forced and disingenuous that I found myself getting irritated the further the book went on.[/end spoiler]

Bringing back to another point--Matt's mother (Elaine) had to be the most selfish person to ever grace the page as a grandmother.  I can't think of any other reason why, after being told its her grandson's life on the line if she doesn't change her ways, she stubbornly thinks its all just an excuse of Dani's to kick her out.  Her refusal to think that what Dani was saying was anything but an elaborate ploy to make her look bad made me want to strangle her.

Some good points in its favor are the secondary characters--Lake Bliss is blessed with an assortment of caring, vibrant characters (a couple of whom I'm sure will be getting their own book(s) soon).  Dani is instantly welcomed into the community, though I'm sure some of that has to do with the fact she's writing a cookbook and everything in town has a (horrible) pun for a title.  No one, in any world, should ever write a cookbook called "Beauty and the Yeast". Ever.

Overall this was an easy read with mild enough irritations.  It makes for a good summer read with its breezy writing and quick to catch on plot.  While the end game is obvious, sometimes the getting there is amusing.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

eBook Review: The Mysterious Madame Morpho

Taking place after Wicked as They Come, this original eBook features a mysterious lady and a reclusive mechanical genius who find love and danger in a traveling circus. 

An elusive woman arrives at Criminy’s doorstep with a steamer trunk, begging for a position in the caravan to perform her unique new act. She opens her trunk to reveal a menagerie of brilliantly colored butterflies. The woman, who calls herself Madam Morpho, is on the run from a dark past in London, where she was forced to leave her equipment behind and abscond with only her tiny performers. 

Playing a hunch, Criminy hires Madam Morpho on the spot. Taking her down to meet Mr. Murdoch, the reclusive talented engineer who keeps the carnival’s clockworks running, Criminy instructs them to work together to design and build a groundbreaking new circus for the butterflies. Amid the magical ambiance of the circus and the hint of danger from Madam Morpho’s pursuers, she and Mr. Murdoch soon find that their scientific collaboration has produced chemistry of a more romantic kind.

While I didn't necessarily enjoy this short trip into Sang as much as PECULIAR PETS there's no denying that the more I read of this world the more fascinated I am.  Imogen serves as a good counterpoint to Tish (from Book 1).  Whereas everything is so new to Tish (she's a "Stranger", someone who fell into Sang from another world) and she reacts with both wonder and fascination, Imogen has grown up in Sang.  She knows the dangers of the world, but makes a conscious decision to not let it run her life.

While Criminy (as well as others) make appearances throughout the story, this is very clearly about Imogen and Mr. Murdoch.  The two connect quickly, but the sexual tension is rather minimal.  Its not that its not there, but Imogen is a scientist; one who wasn't ever shown affection or love, who values people based on their actions.  Murdoch by comparison is reclusive, taciturn and hard to read at first. 

Despite Criminy's utmost confidence in Tish, and Murdoch's belief that all will be fine because of this, there's a palatable tension.  What is Imogen running from?  What is the real deal with her previous employer?  What is so special about the butterflies?  Many of these questions are answered, with an ending that suits each person well.

I wouldn't say its necessary to read the first book, not if you want a taste of the world and Dawson's writing before committing.  Some things are offhandedly referenced (like Casper, or Tish's abilities), but nothing much is said about what happened in that book.  This does make a good introduction to the world of Sang and Criminy's Clockwork Circus and an entertaining addition to the world at large for veteran readers.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

eBook Review: Undone

Before the accident. Before their universes collided. Before they fell in love.

Riveting and romantic, Undone: An Unraveling Novella contains three short stories set in the world of Unraveling, the first book in the gripping sci-fi duology by Elizabeth Norris.

Before Ben Michaels saved Janelle Tenner’s life, Janelle saved Ben when he stumbled through an interuniverse portal into a completely new world. That day, he fell in love with the girl of his dreams. And he never forgot her.

Through three stories told from Ben’s point of view, learn how Ben and his friends discovered their ability to travel between worlds, how Ben first met Janelle, and how he pined for her for years before he actually got the chance to meet her, save her life, and capture her heart. And find out what happens to Ben between the cliff-hanger conclusion to Unraveling and the beginning of its heart-stopping sequel, Unbreakable.

I really enjoyed UNRAVELING so much more than I thought I would.  I'm eagerly looking forward to Book 2, UNBREAKABLE.  This e-novella?  Told from Ben's point of view?  Made me want it so much more.

Oh my shiny stars...told from Ben's POV and starting before he saved Janelle's life we see just how much he was torn between fixing a wrong he was only partially responsible for and moving on. I have to admit on paper, comparing his actions to other YA male love interests, he sounds like a super-creep.  Moreso even than in UNRAVELING since we see him from being super-creep through his own eyes.

He admits to this, justifying himself by pointing out he understands he's being creepy. But I think what sets him apart is that he doesn't force his attentions on Janelle. We see various 'crucial' moments in his life (involving her) before he saves her and each time its sort of sweet how he's like "All right I got this, we will talk and she'll find me funny and--there goes my chance. If i talk to her now it would be creepy. Well there's always next time."  This isn't a guy who wants to possess or dominate the object of his affections, this is a teen guy who's already kind of lost in a world just enough skewed from his own that he's off balance. 

Really this made me think back to my own aborted attempts at getting my crush to notice me.  Memorized his school schedule (check), could tell from the way he smiled if he meant it (check), could recognize his walk anywhere (check).  I barely even knew the kid, so I had even less reason than Ben to know these things.  Its all about intent.  I didn't intend to use that information to manipulate my crush into asking me out.  Ben didn't intend to use the little things he picked up about Janelle to do anything more than observe her.  If something came of it well so be it.   

Briefly there's a chapter or so about the events happening during UNRAVELING and the immediate aftermath, but the bulk of the last half of the book is a set up for UNBREAKABLE.

We got to see how his and Eli's homecoming was NOT what they (or anyone could reasonably) expect. My heart broke for them, and their families. I think things were a bit too easy in the case of Reid's family though.  [spoiler] Reid is of course dead, but then apparently so are his parents, so Eli and Ben don't have to face them and lie to their faces about their son. [/end spoiler] We see Ben's family, learn a bit about Eli's and get some context as to how different their world is from Janelle's.

This is a bit more difficult to comprehend.  At the end of UNDONE, we see what it takes to make Ben break and make a vow that is (at best) morally gray.  Included is a snippet of UNBREAKABLE and I'm not sure how that fits with what we read in the last couple of pages of UNDONE. 

[spoiler] At the end of UNDONE, the Bad Guys bring in Janelle as a hostage to force Ben to do what they want or they'll hurt her (they had previously tortured him and Eli for weeks, then shot Eli's stepfather in front of him).  Ben agrees if they'll leave her alone.  In the UNBREAKABLE excerpt, Janelle is perfectly fine--relatively speaking--and the last sentence is of her seeing Ben.  So I'm a little confused if the last bit of UNDONE is set during UNBREAKABLE or what[/end spoiler]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

eBook: With This Kiss (Parts 1-3)

Lady Grace Ryburn, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Ashbrook, has fallen wildly in love with Colin Barry, a dashing young lieutenant serving his country in the Royal Navy. When he returns home to exuberant celebrations, will he even notice the quiet wallflower he grew up with … or will he fall for Grace's sparkling, gorgeous sister?

Author's Note: Lady Grace is the eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Ashbrook, from The Ugly Duchess, and Colin is the eldest adopted son of Sir Griffin Barry, from Seduced by a Pirate.

Here's the thing, to a point I really enjoyed these short stories (all about 30pgs each).  I loved how James illustrated how the two grew close over the years, how Grace understood Colin in a way no one else seemed to.  I thought it was sweet that Colin treated Grace with respect and didn't talk down to her.  Then as they grew older we saw how Grace's feelings for Colin evolved and Colin, for various reasons (I'll get into later), clung to an easier time.  I had a rather difficult time with a piece of the second part however.

We open with Lady Grace acting the perfect daughter of a Duke.  She's 10 years old, well behaved, admirably skilled in a variety of activities and in most respects, the reliable Ryburn daughter.  This is contrasted with her younger sister Lily who is a vibrant minx, constantly disobeying rules, constantly getting into trouble and acting a hoyden.  This leads Grace to one (sadly not entirely false) truth: if you are beautiful (and even as a young age Lily shows every sign of being exceptionally so) you are forgiven anything.

She doesn't really feel upset or miserable about this.  Indeed throughout the novellas its never really the fact that Lily is so beautiful that Grace is envious or irritated about.  Its the fact that despite adhering to the ideal she is always the afterthought. At one point she says to her mother the reason why she enjoyed the attentions of a suitor was basically because he never looked at Lily or flirted with her first.  His gaze was always on Grace from the beginning.

Colin when he comes back in the second part (he routinely comes in and out of Grace's life due to when he gets leave from the Navy) made me want to smack him.  I don't think James did a good enough job illustrating why he felt scared to face Grace, why it was imperative to him that he avoid Grace.  Not because of who she is, but what she represents to him.  This is all explained in the third part, but at the time I felt so keenly for Grace (I fully admit there were tears in my eyes) because she just doesn't understand.  To her all it looks like is that once again she was the best she could be and  it amounted to nothing.

My issues with a section of book 2 can be considered highly spoiler filled, so highlight the below to read:
Through events that transpire Grace ends up in a carriage with a blinded Colin on the way back to his parents' home.  He's given a hefty dose of laudanum and as was previously established he tends to have very realistic, very erotic dreams involving Grace.  At some point--this is from third person Colin's view, in which he thinks he's dreaming--he starts to basically ravish Grace.  

Grace had previously stated she was going to either seduce Colin or tell everyone he seduced her in order to do...something (its a bit muddled), so presumably (given Colin saying she was responding) she was totally okay with it actually happening.  Its debatable if she knew he was that far gone on laudanum.  Unfortunately because Colin thinks this is a continuation of every other erotic dream he has of Grace he believes she's no longer a virgin--she's never one in his dreams because he claimed that right at some point in the nebulous dream past they share--and is...less than restrained.  

As this is from his POV we don't know how Grace felt in that particular moment, but we know afterwards as she's thoroughly horrified.  She enjoyed the beginning (the foreplay), but the end result terrified her because it was so brutal.  This is further compounded by the fact she's certain he thought he was making love to Lily.

All that?  Made me really really dislike Colin.  Yes he was under the influence of drugs, had no idea that Grace really was in the carriage with him and really wasn't capable of rational thought--but it bordered on dubious consent sex.  It wasn't romantic or sexy--it bothered me the entire time. [end spoiler]

Ignoring the second part's section I had no stomach for, the third part really wraps things up well.  A lot of miscommunication is cleared up and Colin finally admits why he's such a dope (a monumental dope).  There's a lack of consequences however that are never discussed, though I wonder if that is because this is part of the larger "Fairy Tales" books that James is releasing and they will be answered later.

Point in fact James has a whole dedicated to this serial.  With an interesting discussion, excerpts and an extra scene between James (er the character from The Ugly Duchess) and Griffin (from Seduced by a Pirate) after Colin makes a request from James.

Overall this is a treat for fans who wanted to see more of James and Griffin's broods, as well as how the old salty pirates were doing (spoiler quite well).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

eBook Review: The Peculiar Pets of Miss Pleasance

**Please Note: This is set after Wicked As They Come, the first Blud book and before Wicked As She Wants, the second Blud book.  As such there is spoilers regarding Casper...and nothing must said about Criminy or Tish**
Blud 1.6
This e-novella follows Casper to London as he begins to rise to stardom. When lonely pet shop owner Frannie Pleasance takes in a new lodger, odd things begin to happen. Fire fighter Thom Maccallan might be the only one who can keep her safe.

I was a little confused at first because I had somehow forgotten that Casper was not the male love interest for Frannie.  He puts on less of a good show here then he did in Wicked As They Come, but Frannie has less reason to indulge him (point in fact she has no idea he's not from 'her' London.  Still as delightful as before were the odd little quirks and differences that Dawson introduces.

For instance Sense and Sensibility is transformed into Sagacity and Susceptibility with a much less...pleasing ending for all parties concerned.  This is a good reflection of the different world outlooks however--if there were bludkittens running around ready to gnaw my shins to bloody tatters I'd feel a lot less sanguine about things.

Which oh my shiny stars how cute BLUDKITTENS!  They're now on my list of the most adorably terrifying concept (right there with bludbunnies, who sadly make no appearance).

The underlying mystery, who wants Frannie dead, is sometimes muddled as Frannie genuinely has no idea who would want to hurt her (outside of a former beau, who she continually dismisses out of hand as too lazy or uninventive) and the cast is quite small.  I found myself halfway believing its all a mad coincidence on occasion.

I found Thom (who wore kilts whenever he wasn't working, ah the Scottish) to be the perfect sort of hero.  Hardworking, charming, insightful enough to give a lady space and devoted to protecting Frannie (or helping her find her birds).  Frannie was very likeable, though I was a little irritated with her frustrating attitude towards Casper (which not her fault, she didn't know his whole story).  Casper was as charming as ever, though he really does have a bad run of it women wise.  I kept wishing he'd confide in Frannie, but given her hang-ups with how much he resembled her brother I'm not sure that would have been wise anyhow.

In the end this was a nice little tidbit in the world of Sang.  It built up my interest in what was going on with Casper, but more importantly reminded me why I loved Dawson's writing so very much.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

eBook Review: Tower in the Woods

Raised by the Women’s Independent Territory Church (WITCH), Nel Zapur is a skilled sniper tasked to eliminate zombies. Never having once laid eyes on a man, she has been a prisoner in her tower for eleven long years. A fateful snowstorm leads a mysterious stranger to her window, and saving him may prove to be the best and worst decision of her life.

Special Agent Dane Prince was sent to gather intelligence on the WITCH, and his journey leads him to a mysterious tower in the woods. Snowed in with a virginal member of the feminist cult, Dane is determined to use the situation to his advantage. Not only will Nel provide him with the information he needs, she will also learn to submit to his every desire.

In all honesty I think this could have benefited from a much longer presentation.  While the premise is certainly interesting, and its a different twist on the story of Rapunzel (or of surviving Zombies), Quan doesn't establish a firm enough grasp of the world before tossing everything helter skelter.  Nel is an unreliable narrator and straight from the start it proves problematic because Quan has the story third person from both Nel's perspective and from Dane's.  Nel is unrelentingly certain about everything, to the point that I wasn't sure why Dane put up with her.  Dane meanwhile vacillated between 'Gonna shag her and get what I need' to 'Gonna shag her, get what I need and protect her' in a short amount of time.

I admit it was a novel experience to have the guy be the uncertain one.  Regardless of anything else Nel has a plan, or at least a routine, to combat anything Dane throws at her (at one point Dane is grumpy about the fact she's all business all day and a seductress at night with nothing in between).

I was often confused by the world mechanics.  Nel is sure there is nothing but her Sisters in WITCH, their Mother and lots of dead people.  So Dane rocks her world.  Okay.  She's a straight forward better to tackle this head on sort of gal.  Okay.  Dane clearly is alive and nothing like Mother said so the logical course of action would be to...ignore this and instead just go about her business?  And was she REALLY going to let herself freeze to death?  She'd been stationed there for many years--nothing Quan said short of 'this is the first winter in the last decade' would have me believing that she didn't know when to call it quits.

The chemistry is good however and Nel takes to sex like a fish to water (which is only slightly weird given her celibate lifestyle and upbringing).  Dane is more or less your typical guy--hot woman+passionate nature=lots of sex.  Once he got over his moral quandary about shagging her and leaving her high and dry, he's actually very protective and nurturing.  A bit fatalistic also (he doesn't see how he can get her away safely since he's not sure how he'll get away safely), but mostly encouraging of her independence surfacing.

I do like that in the end Quan shows us practical growth in Nel.  I hope more is explained.  Its all rather rapid fire let's hit the Happily Ever After button, so some of the loose ends (and world building holes) aren't wrapped up neatly.  Still I'm interested to see what her next entry is!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

eBook Review: The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back

Everyone knows how all those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince, falls instantly in love, lives happily ever after and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—read pretty, smart, and, worst of all, sickeningly nice—stepsister is dating the charming, tall, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine years old?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her on Skype. Mercedes, the school mean girl, has made it her personal mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister Ella is the most beautiful, popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret longtime crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own stupid fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against wildly popular Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

Before I go on I want to say I adore the cover for this book.  I don't normally like pink, but I think the cover for this is absolutely perfect and fits who Mattie is.  This funky, arty teen who doesn't quite see reality at first.  I have to give Wilson credit, she got a cover that really stood out (in a good way).

This was a cute, fluffy book that was entertaining, but didn't make me think.  I know that doesn't sound like the compliment I mean it to be, but sometimes I just need something to be a quick, amusing read without involving me remembering reams of complicated plot points.  This is straight forward and unabashed.

Mattie isn't quite the pushover she appears to be at first.  She's a bit of a whiner?  Or rather she has an inferiority complex brought on by a teen culture that worships an 'ideal' that matches her stepsister Ella to perfection, an obnoxious mother, artsy father and too much time on her hands.  She proves her mettle the first time Jake tries to sweet talk her into doing something she knows is wrong.

A lot of what happens is very easy to guess at and can feel a little choreographed at times.  The little things that upset that structure mostly are a good bump--maybe not so much the whole 'glamor make-over' Mattie undergoes (I think it undermined a lot of what Wilson was setting up as 'Mattie's style and belief in who she was, even if Jake was like 'no effing way').  I didn't see the whole thing with her mom playing out the way it did.

In short this could have very easily been a teen movie from the late 90's in the vein of "She's All That", "Drive Me Crazy" and "Ten Things I Hate About You".  And there's nothing wrong with that at all.  I love those movies and they serve a vital important in reminding me that sometimes a story can be that simple, but satisfying.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

eBook Review: The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf

Prince Richard is cursed. Enslaved to a magic mirror, he must truthfully answer the evil queen when she uses it to call on him. To keep from betraying innocents, Richard wanders the countryside and avoids people.

All her life, Gretchen has been teased for being small. When she hears of a hidden farm populated by little people like her, she sets out to find it—and is welcomed by the mostly male inhabitants. Lars in particular woos her with his gentle kindness and quiet strength.

Danger looms when Gretchen meets a runaway princess and offers her shelter at the Little Farm. Wandering nearby, Richard instantly falls in love with the beautiful princess, and is later compelled to tell the queen that she is not the fairest of them all. Enraged, the queen vows to find them and destroy them.

If either Gretchen or Richard are to have their happy endings, they must team up to break the mirror's spell before the queen kills them all…

Ever since The Sevenfold Spell I've been eagerly awaiting the next book in the "Accidental Enchantments" series.  Nevitt made me wait a fairly long while....but I forgive her since this was worth it.  That's right my forgiveness is conditional, bare that in mind writers everywhere.

One of the best things I want to call out about both books is that Nevitt takes well known fairy tales and gives them an uplift.  The Sevenfold Spell was Sleeping Beauty, while The Magic Mirror is Snow White...but neither is really focused on the 'Princess'.  The Magic Mirror focuses instead on the 'Mirror', or rather the man in the mirror and one of the infamous dwarves from the tale.  Nevitt also gives us two romances rolled into one, neither panning out quite like you'd expect, but both still resolving in a manner reminiscent of the original tale.

In particular I found Nevitt's focus on the dwarves' farm to be a nice way to show us a bit about the world outside of what one usually sees in fairy tales.  The Princess does figure into Gretchen (the dwarven female)'s story, but at first she's merely a secondary player to Gretchen's tale. 

Meanwhile the man in the mirror, Prince Richard, is off on his own tormented journey until he unhappily stumbles upon the Princess (whom he knew when they were both younger) and involuntarily puts everyone in jeporady.

I liked Gretchen, and I emphasized with her.  I can only imagine how stifling life must have felt for her, being in a town where she was the only one like herself and in a world where the outside world was only connected by traveling bards and merchants. In only a few short pages we see how she struggled in her life.  I also thought it a good use for Gretchen to overcome her jealousy because she recognized a kindred spirit in the princess, not because she was suddenly surrounded by people like her.

Like Talia, both Gretchen and the Princess (and to an extent the Evil Queen) take their sexuality into their own hands.  Gretchen because she realizes its the only way to figure out her feelings and the Princess because she doesn't want to be afraid anymore.  I admit to some confusion over the Queen, there's a lesson she had to learn which gets a bit muddled with everyone coming together and prodding their significant other into action.

In regards to Prince Richard and Lars, both of them were interesting, though Richard was far more fleshed out given he was a principle character whereas Lars is mainly a secondary character in Gretchen's story.  And both managed to win the day with their wits and ability to recognize their love interests had a handle on things.

Definitely recommended, this one is less erotic then The Sevenfold Spell, but no less romantic or happily ever after.

Monday, February 4, 2013

e-Book Reviews: Throne of Glass Novellas

Please note: These four novellas lead up to the book THRONE OF GLASS.  They're all set in the 18 months before ToG and give a more complete picture of the main character Celaena.  You don't need to read these in order to read ToG, but it certainly helps to understand who she is.  Also each summary is basically a spoiler for the next novella so...keep that in mind.

Novella 1:
Summary: Celaena Sardothien, feared assassin, has come for retribution. Sent by the Assassin’s Guild to a remote island in a tropical sea, Celaena is supposed to be to collecting on a debt they are owed by the Lord of the Pirates. But when she learns that the agreed payment is not in money, but in slaves, her mission suddenly changes–and she will risk everything to right the wrong she’s been sent to bring about.

Review:  Wow. I mean, Celaena is an arrogant diva, but she gets the job done.  I was rather worried about Sam, he didn't deserve to get wrapped up in her foils, but well he seemed content to go along so who am I to judge?

This is an interesting introduction to Celaena, who's a renown assassin and takes quite a bit of pride in her job.  Several times she makes the distinction that she kills bad people, murderers, criminals and adulterers mainly.  She holds her mentor, Arobynn in very high esteem and grapples with the fact he sent her and Sam on an errand to collect slaves.  And listening to her as she describes him and everything he's done for her, the reader can't help but wonder why he would as well.

Sam's theory makes a certain amount of sense, though Celaena dismisses it almost out of hand.  Her arrogance is a problem--its immediately evident in everything she does.  Its not that she believes she's the best--she knows it.  She's been told it, has proven it constantly over and over since she was very young.  Sam's assertion that there's more at play directly clashes with her own belief that Arobynn trusts her.  How can there be a deeper game if she's not part of it?

This was a great stepping stone into the world and made me glad I had Novella 2 waiting!

Novella 2:
Summary: The Silent Assassins of the Red Desert aren’t much for conversation, and Celaena Sardothien wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s not there to chatter, she’s there to hone her craft as the world’s most feared killer for hire. When the quiet is shattered by forces who want to destroy the Silent Assassins, Celaena must find a way to stop them, or she’ll be lucky to leave the desert alive.

Review: Someone please assure me that the Silent Assassins show up again?  'Cause that would kick butt.  Celaena, still bruised and  humiliated from her disobedience in the last novella, as well as confused over what's going on with Sam (her memories of the beating are, at best, jumbled as to what happened) sets off on a trek across the desert to gain the approval of the Master of the Silent Assassins.

The Silent Assassins, who's leader is on the same level as Celaena's Master, were interesting when juxtaposed against Celaena's life.  They live a very sparse life, with little ornamentation and fanfare with virtually no competition amongst each other.  Oh there is some, especially for the Master's personal tutoring, but by in large they all live together in a much less acrimonious environment then Celaena was led to believe is the norm.

Whereas Celaena was more or less in charge and happy to prove how great she was in the last novella, here she is little better then a novice and chafes at that.  She has to learn a new way to improve and achieve results, all while accidentally becoming embroiled in a plot against the Silent Assassins.  The betrayal here, as well as some epiphanies that Celaena comes to, will have long reaching effects I think.  And again I say it, I want the Silent Assassins to re-appear.

Novella 3:
Summary: When the King of the Assassins gives Celaena Sardothien a special assignment that will help fight slavery in the kingdom, she jumps at the chance to strike a blow against an evil practice. The mission is a dark and deadly affair which takes Celaena from the rooftops of the city to the bottom of the sewer–and she doesn’t like what she finds there.

Review: Sam officially owns my heart.   Seriously, 100% owns it.  I was a little leery at first because he acts the ass originally, but really some of that is Celaena's fault for being so prideful.  She wouldn't know someone was helping her if they slapped her across the face with it (which almost is what it takes).  To be fair she's confused and lost, isn't sure how to take this new facet of Sam's personality and her own.  She's also still quite raw from what happened in the Desert with who she thought was her first real friend.

The plot itself smells fishy and plays out fishy from the get-go, so I almost didn't pay attention to that in my need to know what was going to happen between Sam and Celaena, as well as if Celaena would choose to walk away.  She's got pots of money now, she could.  But she's more the little girl then she appears, still quite unsure if she feels safe enough to leave behind her Master even if she can't ever forgive him for what happened.

The end though?  Oh the end.  Its painful and sweet and painful all at once depending on what you focus on more.  I'm not sure how innocent you could call Celaena, but that's all pretty much GONE by the end of this novella and I'm worried to see how it plays out in the last one.

Novella 4:
Summary: Celaena Sardothien is the assassin with everything: a place to call her own, the love of handsome Sam, and, best of all, freedom. Yet, she won’t be truly free until she is far away from her old master, Arobynn Hamel; Celaena must take one last daring assignment that will liberate her forever. But having it all, means you have a lot to lose . . .  

Review All right guys, having read Throne of Glass already I know that this doesn't end particularly...happily.  For a variety of reasons.  So I put off reading this almost half a year...


My emotions went like this: 'Aww Celaena!  Aww Sam!  Don't fight! Aww sweet moments!  No stop being so arrogant the two of you! No don't trust that!  NONONO OMG STOP NO'

So Sam and Celaena did it--they walked away from Master Arobynn, began to forge ahead with their new life together.  Except Arobynn is making sure that they can't make money at what they do best and Celaena isn't keen on Sam's methods of making money.  So one more job.  Then they're free right? Yeah, you all know how ToG goes.

This story cemented Celaena's interactions with her Prince and Bodyguard in ToG I think.  It was a slap in the face basically saying "You can't have nice things Celaena".  She can have all the baubles and rich fabrics and books she wants, but she can't have what she was ready to give all that up for.  Love.  Arobynn is a bastard and I hope he burns.  Seriously.  It was surprising to see her try her best to keep her arrogance in check.  To try so hard to change so that she and Sam would work out. 

And as little as I want to think or say this, I'm not sure they would have in the long run.  They love each other sure enough, but communication wasn't their strong suit.  How much of it was because the shadow of Arobynn and the Assassin's Guild loomed and how much of it was their own inability to trust that what they had would last (Celaena questions it quite often) is debatable. 

I do wonder why Celaena didn't offer the suggestion that they go join up with the Silent Assassins.  I'd bet they'd be welcomed quickly enough (or I just want the Silent Assassins to show up again...).

[overall review]On her website Maas says these shorts aren't necessary to reading Throne of Glass, but I would beg to differ.  She exhibits a certain amount of foreshadowing in each novella that pays out in Throne of Glass (and presumably the rest of the novels).  The road she walked to get there so to speak.  Also I think its fascinating to see Celaena at the beginning (in Pirate), Celaena at the end (in Empire) and then Celaena coming basically full circle at the beginning of ToG.

I hope Bloomsbury decides to release these as a paperback collection--I'll put out money for them again.  I urge everyone to read these (all four together is only $3.96 right now on Kindle) and then pick up Throne.  Celaena is my new hero for life and I can't WAIT to read more of her adventures.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

eBook Review: Lycan Unleashed

Detective Astrid Holmes is a sensitive, a human capable of feeling the energy of otherworlders. When she is dispatched to the horrific murder scene of a local vampire, she expects it to be just another day on the job. But when evidence is stolen on her watch, she is removed—not only from the investigation, but from her job as a member of the Chicago police department’s paranormal unit.

Astrid’s only hope of reinstatement lies with her ex co-worker and almost-lover, Lycan Mason Sanderson. But convincing the OWEA agent to let her assist with the investigation isn’t nearly as difficult as staying alive when the murderer realizes that Astrid may hold the key to unlocking his identity.

Fighting to take down a killer could have deadly consequences for Astrid and Mason, but working together puts their already fragile relationship in jeopardy.

Three things to keep in mind - 1) I really liked the old covers a lot, but that being said I like the colors of this cover quite a bit. 2) Astrid! I'm so happy we got her tale! and 3) Please please please tell me there will be a book about Claude? Everyone keeps talking about him and his 'mysterious' disappearances, but I really want to know!

Also I wasn't quite as happy with Mason's reasoning as I could have been

With a new OEA book, third in the series following BANSHEE CHARMER and SUCCUBUS LOST, comes new covers!  I thought the original covers for BC and SL were nice and engaging, they were different and more serious feeling, giving some credence to the not just romance angle these books aim for.  That said, I really like the colors they chose for each one (BC's cover and SL's cover), but I miss the emphasis that the women are the focus.  Granted in this book, which to my knowledge no other cover was released for it, the 'lycan' refers to Mason, not Astrid, but still.

Moving on.

Astrid has been a minor character in the previous books assisting Mac and Marisol.  As a sensitive she's not particularly fond of going out into the field and with her partner (the oft-mentioned Claude) on one of his mysterious jaunts she's normally tied to the desk.  And she likes it that way, but almost from the first she's intrigued by the murders being committed.  The facts don't line up--either from what she senses or the murders themselves.  I think its her curiousity that mainly drives her at first, and then after being the victim of a magical attack, well she became very determined.
I really admired Astrid.  I think of the three so far, she's my favorite character.  Part of what helped was that the case(s) were less personal for her than either of Mac's or Marisol's.  Even after being attacked and taken off under susipicion she keeps a very cool head.  Was she manipulative?  Oh yes, but really she was given no choice.  If she didn't omit certain details to Mason than she would have been framed and then where would the story be?

Mason was harder to read.  He ran hot and cold in the same sentence if he could manage; his eyes and body language saying one thing (very loudly) and his tone of voice claiming the exact opposite.  His reasoning was a little flimsy and cut against the representation that Allee portrayed him under.  It didn't make sense under scrutiny (which Astrid was happy to tell him) and as a reader it took the shine off him.  Astrid at least could legitimately claim her past sucked and it wasn't going to get rosier.  He didn't have that, it was all on him.

A larger mystery is playing at the fringe of these novels.  One dealing with the Head Vampire in Charge and his skeezy son.  This book put the son squarely in the crosshairs, making it abundantly clear that he's a bastard and his father is covering for him (through loyalty, complicity or to save face isn't clear).  I want to hope that when we FINALLY get Claude's book its going to wrap up that whole shebang, but honestly I'm not pushing to have this over with.  These novels are fun, engaging reads.  Why mess with that?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

eBook Review: Leopard Moon

How do you disappear when you come from a family of predators?

A wereleopard, Kess is forced to flee her home and family in Miami once her brother's obsession with her turns violent. She runs from city to city, trying to stay one step ahead of the investigators her family has dispatched to bring her home. Kess ends up in the mountains of North Carolina and attracts the attention of Cormac, a young man with a secret of his own. As she attempts to live as normal a life as her were-nature allows, her brother Sek continues to hunt for her. He believes she is the key to revitalizing their weakened clan and is driven to extreme measures to ensure their continued existence. As Kess' relationship with Cormac deepens, Sek closes in, threatening Cormac's life and Kess' freedom.

When the moon rises, the hunt is on….

This was an okay and moderately satisfying read. The pacing was erratic and the character development was spotty at best however. I'm not sure where Battista is taking the series as a whole and it reflected in the flow of events. The scenes with Mac and Kess were, while tense because of her fear, languid almost. Then there were chapters focusing on her brother and those were utterly disturbing pages. Then more languid courtship. Then more disturbing. I think the book would have benefited by having the confrontation between Kess and Sek occur in the second book.

For much of the book I wasn't sure how I felt about Kess.  Skittish and paranoid, I couldn't understand why Cormac found her so fascinating.  A few glimpses of a clever girl with a sweet personality don't make up for genuine connection.  Of course this is a shifter book, so that undoubtedly counts for quite a bit.  Cormac was pretty basic as far as personality goes.  He goes from interested to possessive in a hot second over Kess, even before he knows she's a wereleopard.

The scenes with Sek were disturbing, though his inferences that the Clan as a whole is unsavory icked me a bit.  It also seemed at odds with the kind of person their father was.  Sek references debauchery happening left, right and center during their childhood plus condoning of (what I assume to be) drugs being smuggled through their territory.  This is completely different then how their Father was presented.  Or any of them actually.  None of the other wereleopards seemed particularly...creepy.  Just Sek.  Truthfully we saw very few other wereleopards--a couple of henchmen really and no one seemed overly concerned with interceding when Sek got out of hand.  

Truthfully, other then the vague hints at the end that Kess doesn't get to live the happy peaceful life she wants after all this book wrapped up things well.  I'm not entirely sure I want to see the hardships Kess is going to have to deal with in the next couple of books.  I want her to have that happy ending.  No reason to make it complicated.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

eBook Review: Griffin's Destiny

To save the key she must die. To save her he must escape. To save the world they must sacrifice everything. 

Jelena has found acceptance and love amongst the elves, but war, a sweeping pestilence, and the death of her beloved leave her desolate. Unaware Ashinji still lives, she seeks comfort in the arms of a young soldier determined to marry her.

Knowing Jelena''s life is in peril, Ashinji continues his desperate trek homeward. Racing against time, and chased by murderous slave hunters, he and his companions are out-matched until Ashinji breaks the bonds preventing him from tapping his own extraordinary magical power. As the world teeters on the brink of destruction, Jelena and Ashinji face their fates and discover Griffin''s Destiny.


All right guys let's just wrap this up since I can't even begin to deal with some of my emotions.  I'll cut out the stuff I already whinged about in the first two books.

I want to first point out that this in the synopsis "the death of her beloved leave her desolate. Unaware Ashinji still lives" call me odd but having those two sentences abut each other seems...wrong somehow.  That chops HALF the tension out right there.

Anyhow the Nameless One gets a bit more center stage prescence, for all the good it does.  This is really and truly the story of How Jelena and Ashinji Lived Happily Ever After.  Every other plot had to tie into this central theme elsewise it got shafted.  Ashinji and his sadistic brother Saidaiyo's confrontation, the death of Sonoe so the Nameless One could come into the world, THE NAMELESS ONE IN GENERAL.  Never have I read a book or series where the evil gets so shafted.  

Someone tell me how the Nameless One escapes, in the body of Sonoe to join the army (none of whom have apparently gotten wind that Sonoe is a traitor, killed their King in his sleep and is a zombie--what? Did someone forget to send a Raven?) and yet does no discernible damage whatsoever.  She didn't kill anyone.  Didn't take any prisoners.  Didn't.  Do.  Anything.  What in the name of the Seven Hells was the point then?

Also death is about as permenant in this world as it is in a video game for the good guys. The only 'good guy' to stay dead is the King, and really he probably was okay with it since it meant he got to be with the great love of his life (Jelena's mother) and leave the king stuff to his younger brother (who was better at it).  For Jelena there are no consequences, its like someone waved a magical wand and said 'And your life shall never have strife'.

Let me list out what could have ruined her life:
  • the Sundering - supposed to kill her, instead she just napped
  • Dying - she kind of died?  But got better.
  • the War between the Elves and Humans - this oft spoken of War must have been just to pad out the pages because it does little except give Saidaiyo a way to kill his brother, Ashinji a way to get captured and reunite with Magnes and a convenient place for Sonoe to disappear to when she ran off.  There are no casualties amongst any of Jelena's friends (compassionate my ass, who gives one of their top people permission to hang back during a WAR?)
  • Prejudice against hikui - averted since she was a PRINCESS and BELOVED immediately
  • Ashinji's death - lol j/k guys no one had any idea who he was but was told to keep him alive! :rolls eyes:
  • Mai - I felt bad for this dude since even though Moore tried to sell it, there was no possible way for him to get Jelena.  As readers we knew Ashinji was alive still so the entire romance was just meh.  And he took it really well considering how much he ardently loved her.
  • Her Uncle - putting aside anything else about being the Key of Uselessness if he was as paranoid and concerned as he should have been about how beloved Jelena became, she should have been killed. 
But no, Jelena comes off scot free.  Even Claudia when she arrives later in the story to see her dies peacefully in her sleep after seeing Jelena's second child born.  

I just can't.

Reading other reviews of this series, very few other people have these issues the way I do.  Am I just way too picky?  The first book is for free on the Kindle, so if anyone happens to read it please come back and tell me if I'm just being overly sensitive here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

eBook Review: Griffin's Shadow

Jelena Preseren has finally found love and happiness with her new husband Ashinji Sakehera and his family, but her peaceful life is about to be turned upside down. Far to the south, the Soldaran Empire prepares for war against the elves and in the icy north, the arcane power of the Nameless One continues to grow... Set against a backdrop of impending war, shocking betrayals, and uneasy alliances, Griffin's Shadow is a story of courage and enduring love in the face of adversity.


New Meme, modeled after 'First World Problems', 'Mary Sue Problems'.  Jelena - going from a half-breed kitchen maid nearly sold into sexual slavery by an uncle that despises you, to being rescued by the second son of an affluent and powerful [enemy] family, who then marries you.  Only to find out that the father you've been searching for is really the Elven King, who readily accepts you.  Her predominant thought? 'I hate wearing expensive clothing'.  Mind you this all happens in less than a year.

That's the better part of the book.  Followed by becoming pregnant, being told she is the Key to the Nameless One's resurrection/imprisonment, brief moment of worry for her beloved cousin Magnes, constantly telling other hikui (half breeds) how guilty she feels for having a better life then they do, railing against the injustice of it all...days before being crowned a Princess and her husband's 'death'.

I'll give Moore credit, she kind of ramped up the Big Bad presence in this novel, but it barely seemed to effect Jelena's little bubble of perfection.  All the Big Bad did was torment his loyal minion (who wanted lots and lots of power) and speak about what he'd do when he was released.  Everything 'bad' that occurs in this book is because of pettiness between family members and racial tensions!  The only folk worried about the Nameless One's rising are the ones who are supposed to prevent it, but they're so busy hiding secrets from their spouses, each other, Jelena and the King that its a wonder anyone told anyone anything!

And don't get me started on Ashinji's death.  Why Moore felt a need to push his and his despicable older brother's jealousy and hatred of each other so far is beyond me.  Seriously, if half as much time was spent on the Big Bad being EVIL instead of inert, this book would have been a rip roaring adventure.  Instead we have Ashinji/Saidaiyo's brotherly issues taking up the bulk of the tension, with some political unrest from Keizo (the King's) brother and then when Ashinji is sold into slavery, he becomes a gladiator.

Everything felt very contrived to keep the drama going.  No less than three characters remark, at various points, that Jelena would have to die for various 'greater good' reasons.  Or that they had to move up the time table--which is a joke.  They say this when Jelena is maybe halfway done with being pregnant, and that they may have to kill her (as part of the ritual to keep the Nameless One imprisoned) before she gives birth...but its brought up ONCE and the ritual doesn't even take place for at least another half a year, likely more.

I honestly don't know why Moore bothered to include 'The Key' and the Nameless One in these books, they bare so little difference to the plot (other than to give an artificial sense of urgency) that I could (and did at times) skip the sections dealing with it and oh look we came right back to where we began.

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