Review: Lord of the Hunt (Court of Annwyn, Book 2) by Shona Husk

lord of the huntReviewed by Sharon S.

She Wasn’t Cut Out for His World…

The realm of the fairies might be unbelievably beautiful, but its people are notoriously treacherous. Raised among mortals, Taryn hoped to avoid her fairy heritage her whole life. But now she must cross over to Annwyn and appeal to the King to pardon her exiled parents, or they’re sure to die. And to get to the King, she’ll first have to face the Lord of the Hunt…

He Can’t Imagine Life Without Her…

Verden, Lord of the Hunt, is sworn to serve to King. But the moment he sees Taryn, the attraction is instant and devastating. How can he not help the beautiful, brave young woman who refuses to bend to the will of the court? Yet the power in Annwyn is shifting, its magic failing. No matter how much he may love Taryn, the Hunter knows that abandoning his duty could bring down the mortal world forever.

I have reviewed all three books in Shona’s Goblin series and both books in her Court of Annwyn series. I am not a big paranormal romance reader, but I love Shona’s writing and stories. I have never been disappointed by her books. I was so excited when she decided to write a series about the Fae. They are my favorite supernatural characters. Lord of the Hunt is Verden’s story. We briefly met Verden in book 1 Outcast Prince. He was cold and ridged in his ways, but I knew there was more to him. This book can be read as a stand-alone.

Verden has only lived in Annwyn, traveling into the human realm only when his job as the Hunter required it. He never mixed with humans. He has spent his whole life playing the games of the court, lying and gambling to reach the highest status the King could bestow. His loyalty to the King has been unwavering until now. Taryn is fairy, but was raised in the human world because her father was banished before her birth, and her mother followed because she loved him more than her loyalty to the King and his court. Taryn has also had to pretend and lie about who she was so she could fit in with the humans, but it was nothing compared to the games she would have to play in Annwyn.

Annwyn is dying because the King and Queen’s relationship is failing and full of nothing but hate and resentment. Their son and heir Prince Felan hasn’t found a human wife yet, therefore the power can’t seamlessly shift to him and bring Annwyn back in balance. The failing of Annwyn also has dire consequences for the human realm. Taryn goes to Annwyn to get the King to lift her father’s banishment so her family can come back to Annwyn and not die in the power shift that is coming. Taryn is a fish out of water in fairy and must quickly learn how to play the court games and politics. Failure would most certainly result in her death there. Taryn’s innocence touches a forgotten part of Verden that had been buried by the numbness of life at Court. He struggles with his loyalty to the King and the life he fought so hard for and the unknown of love and freedom with Taryn.

I love the world Husk has created in this series. There is enough world building complexity to satisfy the urban fantasy lover in me as well as feed the addiction for my favorite romance troupe, forbidden love. The sexual tension built between Verden and Taryn while they had to hide their feelings for each other at Court made those moments when they could be together much more intense. They pain they both go through breaks your heart. Yes, I shed some tears. This book also set up the next one about Prince Felan and his quest to win back the only woman he has ever loved.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Lord of the Hunt (Annwyn)

[phpbay]lord of the hunt shona husk, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Review: Call Me Yours by Celia Kyle

Call Me Yours by Celia KyleReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Mitchell Faerigan owns and works at a motorcycle shop. He builds the bikes as well – got to love a hot mechanic/owner. But he’s not all that he seems. Clover Brady owns an antique shop close by. And he’s being “worshipped from afar”.

Celia does a great job with this book. While you read, you tend to forget that they’re two males – you just see them as two people who are into each other. There was one scene where our author had Clover giggle. I’ve never heard a man giggle before but Celia has left me wanting to hear the sound. This is when I wish the book had audio.

Celia could have done like other authors and put in lots of sex (because isn’t that what people assume a M/M book is about) but she didn’t do as expected. The love story is what’s important and the sex is put in right where it belongs. She also writes so that gender seems to be an afterthought. You’ll love the scene where Clover meets Mitchell’s mother and brother – just sayin’.

Our author also includes just the right amount of fantasy/paranormal. Language is graphic but don’t let that bother you – after all it’s told from a man’s perspective. If you’ve never read any of her work before, this will leave you wanting to read more. So, stop over to her web site, http://celiakyle.com, and see what other books she has written.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Call Me Yours (Gay Paranormal Fantasy Romance)

Review: The Outcast Prince (Court of Annwyn, Book 1) by Shona Husk

outcast princeCaspian Mort can feel the history in anything he touches, a gift he inherited from his father, the Crown Prince of Annwyn. Devastated over his ex-wife’s infidelity, Caspian has withdrawn from human contact except when working as an antiques dealer.

While assessing the contents of the historic Callaway House he encounters the beautiful Lydia Callaway and senses that her home is haunted by a banished fairy. But what does the dangerous exile want? Unbeknownst to Lydia, she’s the owner of the last remaining portal to Annwyn—a mirror hidden somewhere in the house. To keep Lydia safe, Caspian will have to divulge the secrets of his heritage, and risk losing his heart again.

Husk has taken one of my favorite mythologies and put her own twist on it. I love everything about the Fae; from their arrogance and contempt for humans to their militant need to uphold tradition and the politics of the court. I especially like the idea that fairies are dark and dangerous creatures and want nothing more than to trick you out of your soul. You will get all this and more in The Outcast Prince.

I read Husk’s Goblin series and instantly fell in love with her dark storytelling style. I was happy to see she continued this in The Outcast Prince. The heart of the story is the romance between Caspian and Lydia. They may be from different worlds, but their struggles with family secrets and heartbreak connect them on an emotional level. You will enjoy the romance of two people willing to take one last chance at love even though it could break them completely. I really appreciate the fact that Lydia is the sexual aggressor in the beginning instead of the clichéd human enchanted by fae magic. And Caspian’s psychometric ability adds a unique complication to their relationship.

If this was nothing more than a romance I wouldn’t have been satisfied. There are many secondary storylines and intriguing characters we are teased with. They have bearing on Lydia and Caspian’s situation, but also have you wanting to go deeper and discover their secrets. The next book in this series will be about Verden, the Hunter of Annwyn. We only get a taste of him, but I can’t wait to take a bigger bite. Unlike Caspian who is half fae, and therefore has a soul and a moral compass, Verden is full fairy and in Annwyn he is to be feared. I can’t wait to see his icy exterior melted.

There are enough urban fantasy world building elements to make me happy, but not so much it will turn off the die-hard PNR fans. There is a lot of sexual tension and only a couple of sex scenes. The only complaints I have are in the romance part of the story. During their first sexual encounter things were “butterflies in my stomach” sexy and then an erotic term was used and it jarred me right out of the moment. But that is just me. I don’t like erotica terminology. There is a formula feel to the romance trope, but the uniqueness of Husk’s spin on Fae mythology more than made up for it with me.

If you love PNR this book is for you. If you are like me and prefer urban fantasy, here is a chance to expand your romantic horizons a little.

Favorite quotes:

It would be very easy to fall and not think about the landing. Too easy. And he knew how destructive and devastating the impact of loss could be.

and

Caspian’s eyelids flew open. Lydia stood in the doorway looking like a beautiful thundercloud.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Outcast Prince (Annwyn)

[phpbay]outcast prince shona husk, 10, “”, “”[/phpbay]

Review: Broken Prophecy (Heirs of Aedan, Book 1) by Raven Raye

Broken ProphecyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Killian is thinking of a human and her name is Marcella. His purpose in our world is to find out who is threatening his kind. Marcella Rowan works at Cloudcroft’s hospital. She cares a lot about her patients. Her friend Brenna also works there as well.

Raven gives her readers a little bit of everything – paranormal, mystery, thriller, horror, and romance. She shows what lengths some people will go to for the person that they love. She has also made Lilith, an angel who’s not so angelic, the evil in this piece. I think she could give any other evil being a run for their money.

A circle seems to connect our characters. They all interconnect – both good and evil. For some, family has no meaning. For others, friends and family mean everything. Brenna and Marcella are the perfect friends. They complement each other and seem to know what the other needs. Plus they each have a special gift that can help the other.

This is a story that took a lot of creativity. Raven has taken everything that we thought were just fairy tales, and myths, and turned it around into a story that could be totally believable. She also shows the reader that no matter how “superior” a race, prejudice can exist and until something changes it always will. Hatred can cause a lot of destruction but can love and faith have a chance to change the impossible?

The only disappointment I had was that I kept seeing the pages disappear. I didn’t want the tale to end. But knowing that this is book one means that there will be another tale to follow. It will be interesting to see if Killian and Marcella’s story will continue or if Raven will introduce two new characters. You may want to keep an eye on her web site, http://www.ravenraye.com/, for any possible updates.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Broken Prophecy

Review: Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Iced by Karen Marie MoningReviewed by Sharon S.

I was a little apprehensive about reading this story. I loved (in an unnatural way) the Fever series, but I never really cared for the character Dani and the thought of a trilogy about her wasn’t appealing. I knew I would read it because I love Moning’s emotional first person POV writing style and the Fever world and all its characters. You don’t have to read the Fever series to enjoy this book. Moning does a good job of giving the reader any extra information needed, but you are totally missing out on one of the best series out there if you don’t.

I love that we experience things through many different characters POVs. Dani’s POV got on my nerves in the beginning. In part, because Moning was very repetitive with Dani’s thoughts. I don’t know if this was on purpose since Dani is such a chaotic character or if Moning just went overboard. By the end of the book I found Dani to be tolerable. Her growth over the trilogy is a what this story is about so I think I will eventually I will like her. Most of the book is from her POV and we learn some interesting information about her past. She is only 14 at this point and she would act mature beyond her years one moment and then like a teenager the next. It was interesting to watch her and the other characters struggle with this.

Mac and Barrons are mentioned though out the book, but we never have any interaction with them until the very end. Based on the ending of ICED we will see more of them in book two. There are three possible love interests for Dani at this point! I know, right?

Dancer is Dani’s post-apocolyptic buddy. He is a human and a genius. He obviously has feelings for Dani, but she is just too focused on herself to notice. He is just a little too perfect though. Like all the characters, he isn’t all that he seems and I can’t wait to find out.

Ryodan is one of Barrons’ men and he has been watching Dani since she was 9 when he found out about what she calls her “superpowers”. They are very much like Ryodans. He is sort of “the law” in Dublin now that the walls have fallen. He is like Barrons, but he wants to have power and is willing to do anything to achieve it. We don’t know why yet, or how Dani figures into his plans, but he sees something in her and is waiting for it. You really can’t tell his interest is romantic or just power driven yet. Moning is definitely setting up a love hate relationship between them.

Then there is Christian. I think he is the most complex and interesting character. You have to read the Fever series to understand what happened to him, but he is turning into the fourth Unseelie Prince. It is heart breaking to watch him struggle to hold onto his human side. Moning is creating a lot of sympathy for him even though his Unseelie side is very dark and twisted. He also sees something in Dani he calls a “light” and he is in love with her and plans to make her his Unseelie princess.

There are many character threads and they are all just starting to be woven together. I am very excited to find out what Moning has in store for us. I don’t know how she will get us there, but it will be on hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Iced: A Dani O’Malley Novel (Fever Series)

[phpbay]iced karen marie moning, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Review: The Demon Lover (Fairwick Chronicles, Book 1) by Juliet Dark

demon lover juliet darkReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This story is written in the first person.

Dr. Cailleach Fay seems to enjoy writing about all types of demon lovers. She doesn’t just teach the classics but also watches episodes of Dark Shadows and reads the works of Anne Rice. Callie is vying for a teaching position at Fairwick College. A college where we find out that everyone isn’t as they seem.

Juliet does a great job of describing the town where Fairwick College is located. It sounds like a quaint little town that any romantic would love to visit. Callie is staying at an Inn in town while waiting to see if she got the job. She then falls in love with a house across the street called Honeysuckle House.

Callie starts to get nightly visits from a mystery man. Is he just a man of her dreams or is he something more? We have a little mystery going on and some of it revolves around Callie’s house and the woods that are just behind. The College also seems something of a mystery.

Callie’s house used to belong to a romance novelist. Part of what the novelist wrote is located in the attic. Callie is very interested in learning more about the novelist that lived in Honeysuckle House as well as reading her works. Will Dahlia LaMotte’s stories, journals, and letters connect these two ladies?

I did love how Juliet gives us a story within a story. We get to read parts of the stories that Dahlia created. Juliet also gives her readers some pretty hot dream scenes. Not overly sexual but hot, and very descriptive, all the same. But there were times that I thought things were moving to slow. And that there were parts that could have been left out and probably would not change the storyline.

I think that Juliet knew what she was doing by creating a mystery around Callie’s house. It will hold your attention and make you question as to what is going on. We need to keep reading in order to see if the mystery gets solved. But then she surprised me by who she hooked Callie up with. I never would have guessed that one in a million years.

The story will make you turn the pages but if you’re looking for a romance, this may not be the kind you are looking for. To me it’s more of a paranormal mystery. But since this is book one, maybe the storyline will continue in book 2. Maybe this is the hook that Juliet wants to use to have us follow the series. I would say that if you want to read this book, check it out at your local library.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Demon Lover

[phpbay]demon lover juliet dark, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

Guest Review: The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This is book number 4 in Julie Kagawa’s “Iron Fey Series”.

This story is written in the first person.  I’m not usually a fan of a book written this way but I found I enjoyed this one.  The book is written for a Teen audience but adults will like it as well.  Julie also names her chapters which give the reader a hint as to what each chapter is about.

Julie has a great writing style that gives the reader “ears” to her words – you can almost hear the conversations as they take place.    She also becomes our eyes.  The reader can picture exactly what her characters are seeing.

The story starts with Ashallayn and Puck talking to each other.  As they interact, you can almost hear the sarcasm.  At times, this sarcasm has the reader laughing.  What I loved about the story was that the sarcasm, between Ash and Puck, carried all the way through.

Ash is a fey who is in love with a half-human named Meghan – but he’s not the only one.  Because of who they are, they are currently unable to be together.  Ash is trying to find a way to change that.  We also meet his first love, Ariella.

Ash has asked Grimalkin, a cat, for his help.  But Grimalkin lets him know there is a price for his favor.  This is a great reason to turn the page.  The reader wants to know what that price is.  But Julie has also made Ash a smart young man.  He’s smart enough to put some stipulations on his “payment”.

In order for Ash to be with Meghan he must complete a journey.  The journey will not be easy but it is not one that he makes alone.  As you continue reading you think of other “adventure” stories such as “Alice in Wonderland”, “The Wizard of Oz”, and “The Chronicles of Narnia” – and for the adults, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

Julie also puts in some lessons in her story.  She shows Ash that not all tasks can be completed by one person.  Sometimes you need to work as a team to get things done.  During the journey there are trials that he must accomplish.  She also makes you think – can we go back and change the past?  She lets us see a side of Ash that is very hateful and another side where he would make a terrific father.

There are all different forms of love and toward the end of the story Julie writes one that will touch your heart.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book and how much I liked it.  I will have to put her other 3 books on my to read list.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Iron Knight (Iron Fey, Book 4)

[phpbay]iron knight kagawa, 10, 377, “”[/phpbay]

A Story is Born!

by Inara Scott, guest blogger and author of Radiant Desire

Where do you get your ideas?

This is a common question that authors are asked, and I think perhaps people imagine that ideas drop, fully formed, into author’s minds. In fact, for most of the authors I know, the hard part isn’t getting ideas: it’s weeding out the avalanche of ideas that life drops on you, and turning them into a coherent plot. It’s an organic process of taking an idea, poking, prodding, and testing it, marrying it with other ideas, and then letting the resulting chimera grow and develop into something different and unexpected.

But what exactly does that mean, you might ask? How do you go from idea to story?

Here’s how it went for me when I was writing Radiant Desire. First, there were toys. My daughter’s Barbie faeries to be exact. I would look at them, lying all over the house, and muse to myself, “These faeries would be perfect for a romance novel.”

Seriously? You wrote about Barbies? No, no, remember, this was just the beginning!

Then there was a conversation on a blog about favorite romance tropes: you know, marriage of convenience, beauty and the beast, Cinderella, etc. I myself have always loved the beauty and the beast story, but it occurred to me that the man is always the beast. That didn’t seem fair.

Was there someway to make a woman the beast?

Hmmm. Barbies and Beasts. How to pull them together? Well, remember that in the Beauty and the Beast story, the Beast started out handsome, and then is punished for being wicked by being turned into a Beast. So perhaps my Barbie Beauty could be changed into something less beautiful. Perhaps not a Beast, per se, but what if she were turned into something, well, ordinary?

Human?

Yes, I thought, this might work! What if I took my perfectly beautiful faerie – the essence of male desire – and made her human? Better yet, what if my now-very-human faerie had to make a man fall in love with her, just like the Beast, but couldn’t use her beauty to do it?

Now, I thought about making my faerie selfish, or needing redemption the way the beast in the story is usually portrayed, but I decided that would make it very hard for people to identify with her and love her. (I think the woman is usually the beauty for a reason!) So instead of that, I left her ignorant of love, and ignorant of what it truly means to be human.

Of course, until you truly understand what love is, it’s very hard to use it against someone. My faerie would have to learn about love first hand before she could use it against our hero.

And voila! There you have it. A story is born. Beauty and the beast, Barbies, and true love.

Twitter: @inarascott
Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/inarawrites
Inara’s Website: www.inarascott.com
Blog: http://www.inarascott.com/blog/
Email: inara.scott@gmail.com

Buy: Radiant Desire (A Handmaid’s Seduction, Book One)

GIVEAWAY: I have an ebook of Radiant Desire up for giveaway. Open internationally. Enter by leaving a comment! Last day to enter: October 15, 2011.