Review: The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus, Book 3) by Kaitlin Bevis

iron queenSummary: Kidnapped by her father, Persephone is not looking forward to be reunited with dear old daddy. The guy has several screws loose and wants one thing – to live forever in the peak of his power. And if not his, then to steal another’s powers and realms. Persephone is the key to do this as she’s a link between the mortal realm and the Underworld. If he can get her to swear loyalty to him, Zeus will get everything he wants by consuming her powers.

Hades and Demeter can’t let this happen. The remaining gods and goddesses must choose sides. Stick with Zeus or rebel? Hades strongly suggests they choose his side because with or without them he will tear the world apart to bring Persephone back home to him… the one place she truly belongs.

Review: The tension in this book is high right from the beginning. Persephone is captured by her evil father Zeus and held in his sky castle. She is completely isolated from the others. The angst (always one of my favorite parts of any romance) was strongly present. Be prepared for your heartstrings to be tugged. You will swoon over Hades. I did.

My least favorite part of this story was the jump into Aphrodite’s head (cue a clear setup for future books). It wasn’t needed in a story that previously focused only on Hades and Persephone. I would have preferred more from Hades and Persephone and if another character was needed then, Zeus, as he’s the bad guy.

I love the fact that Zeus is not the traditional good guy. It’s a great twist which I have appreciated throughout the whole series. Overall great story. Great series. Great romance. Who doesn’t love Persephone and Hades? I would totally read more about these two in a heartbeat.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Iron Queen (Daughters of Zeus)

Review: Daughter of the Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus, Book 2) by Kaitlin Bevis

daughter of earth and skySummary: You have to be careful as a goddess. You are held by your word – quite literally. So promises are made sparingly and avoided at all opportunities. Persephone was tricked by someone she thought a friend and now she can’t tell anyone about the betrayal.

Hades places Persephone in the care of the betrayer not knowing what was going on and thinking all the stress his dear wife shows has to do with her father, Zeus, and her new sister Aphrodite… and perhaps this human boy, Persephone is drawn too.

If Persephone can’t tell soon or beat the betrayer at his own game, there might not be anything left fighting for… surely, she’s not in an insurmountable situation? Think! There’s got to be a way before the silence wedges itself permanently between her and Hades.

Review: This novel got dark and quick. Persephone is tortured by Thanatos and his reapers by night, by day she escapes to school – but is escape or torture of another kind? This was definitely a novel that if the hero and heroine would communicate, things could be fixed and quickly. However, Persephone is bound by the rules of being a goddess and she promised not to tell Thanatos secret – too late realizing that he’d trapped her.

Zeus is a horribly creepy father figure and there are overtones of incest because of him at a part in the novel. Yuck. Luckily, Persephone is a lot stronger than anyone gives her credit, including herself. When Hades finally sees what is happening he is as fierce and as dark and as wonderful as you can imagine. His retribution is swift and merciless. Nobody messes with his wife. Nobody. Oh and there’s another epic cliffhanger. Ahh!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Daughter of the Earth and Sky (Daughters of Zeus)

Review: Persephone (Daughters of Zeus, Book 1) by Kaitlin Bevis

persephoneSummary: Persephone lives a normal life with the exception of a few abnormal things here and there. She can always explain it away – even the creepy feeling of being watched. But she can’t ignore the weirdness when a winter storm springs out of nowhere on a trip to see a rock concert with her best friend.

She tells her mom (smart!) who reveals to Persephone that she’s a goddess and says the winter storm is not a good sign. Because the storm is Boreas (the winter god) and he wants to kidnap her. Boreas almost succeeds too until Hades steps in and rescues her… oh and makes her his bride. Persephone just wants things to go back to normal… but is normal possible anymore? Was it ever? Perhaps this is all a strange dream!

Review: While there were some shaky areas of the novel, my take away from it was a world I wanted to continue reading and a couple for whom I would be rooting. The strong points include the romantic leads, the underworld and its rules, the evil villain, and the plot twists. Yikes! I didn’t see that ending coming at all. Hades is a good ruler trying to do his best to understand the souls in his care and provide a good afterlife for most of them. He’s not a particularly dark underworld king (which I would have liked – he’s the Beast in a Beauty and the Beast fairytale… he’s got to be beastly, right?)

I didn’t particularly like Persephone’s friend, Melissa, and I felt most of the side characters in the Underworld were a little shapeless (Cassandra, Helen, and Charon). Cassandra slightly less so, but she’s so bubbly and exuberant it felt like it wasn’t her true nature (forced, if you catch my drift). Thanatos was a great minor character for reasons I won’t go into, you’ll have to trust me.. Solid start to a new series and I look forward to the sequel.

Also, look at this cover! Yum! Love!

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Persephone (Daughters of Zeus)

Review: Her Wanton Wager (Mayhem in Mayfair, Book 2) by Grace Callaway

her wanton wagerHero: Gavin Hunt owns the Underworld, a premiere gambling hell in the heart of London. He has plans to enact revenge upon the man who scarred him and left him for dead while setting a house on fire. When Gavin survived, he was blamed for the fire and was imprisoned aboard ship anchored on the Thames for years. Clawing his way out and to the top wasn’t easy, and now the revenge he’s wanted for so long is finally in his grasp and nothing will stop him from taking it, not even his heart.

Heroine: When Persephone “Percy” Fines discovers her brother has gambled away all of his shares to the family business to Hades himself, she wants to save her brother from a terrible fate. Going toe-to-toe with the man she wagers her virginity against the shares. It is a wager she plans to win, because there is no other choice, but unfortunately she rolled the die and must resist seduction for six nights. Can she love the man who holds her family’s fate?

Review: I loved the Greek mythology overtones to this story, the heated seductions, the night in the Vauxhall Gardens (chase sequence too) and the snippets of Percy’s novel at the top of each chapter. I especially loved that while revenge was Gavin’s original goal, he became so smitten with Percy that he wanted to win the wager to have her not destroy her. He was constantly trying to figure out how to achieve both outcomes, but mostly how to win Percy. At the end in the epilogue, I thought their last hashing out of who won the bet to be very cute. Her Wanton Wager is a great read that is sexy, fun and very enjoyable!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Her Wanton Wager (Mayhem in Mayfair #2)

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Review: Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test, Book 2) by Aimee Carter

Summary of Goddess Test to Date: Persephone dumps Hades and while several humans have tried to pass the Goddess Test to become his queen, they all failed (and died) except Kate. After Henry and Kate’s wedding, Kate is whisked off on a romantic tour of Greece by James for her summer away from the Underworld.

Summary: Kate Winters can’t wait to get back to Henry and start their life together in the Underworld. Her return though isn’t at all what she expected it to be. Henry is more aloof and secretive than ever before and Kate doesn’t know why. When an expected Titan disrupts Kate’s coronation as Queen of the Underworld, Henry and the other main gods run off to fight only to get captured. Kate now has to fight through hell to get him back – and she’s going to need to enlist the aid of the one soul she least wants to deal with – Persephone, Henry’s unrequited love and ex-wife.

Review: I really liked how empathetic and sympathetic Kate is to Henry and Persephone even when she doesn’t want to be and wants to figure out what is going on between them. It led to a lot of internal angst and you know me I love my yummy angst. Ms. Carter is a master at it too.

What’s nice about Kate’s angst compared to – let’s say Bella Swan’s – is that Kate takes action. She immediately sets off to save Henry despite his odd behavior and while she’s uncertain of her future with him she’s determined to do her best.

Some of my favorite moments are when she begs him to give her a reason to stay in the Underworld. When they clear the air it is very touching and moving and full of depth because we recognize how deeply painful it is to each character to reveal themselves. I also liked an earlier scene when Kate witnesses something without meaning to and has nowhere to run and no way to stop seeing what she is seeing.

Then there’s that cliffhanger – OMG! Book three, where are you? I want it!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Goddess Interrupted (Harlequin Teen)

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Review: The Highest Stakes of All by Sara Craven

Heroine: Joanna Veron is somewhere around 19. In her father’s world she plays at being a high maintenance vapid beauty, but inside she’s really just a sweetheart looking for a way out of her father’s lifestyle (without having to go to her perfectly nice uncle) ever since a particularly bad incident when they were living in Australia where they swindled a youngish man named Peter out of a lot of money. She extracts a promise from her father to never use her in such a manner again, but of course Denys doesn’t hold to it for long.

Hero: Vassos Gordanis (I see his name and think vaseline) is somewhere in his 30s. He’s out for revenge against Denys and Joanna (though of course she’s clueless.) When he wins Joanna in a high stakes poker game he believes he has the chance to accomplish both punishments as he believes Joanna is Denys mistress. Obviously he’s not buying the “she’s my niece” they both claimed ever since Joanna joined her father on his jaunts around the gambling dens of the world. (Why does Joanna allow this? Gross.)

Favorite Moment: The first and second time they make love when he learns of her innocence (read virginity surprise!) and then tries to teach her about lovemaking which she tries so hard to hate … There’s flavors of Stockholm Syndrome in this, but honestly it worked for me because there’s also the play on the Persephone myth.

Missed Opportunity:
If I remember right they were talking about her real relationship to Denys, but it could also have easily alluded to her virgin state.

Vassos: Why didn’t you tell me?
Joanna’s answer should have been: Would you have believed me?

It seems like a perfectly standard response, but it never came up.

TSTL Ending: Why did the HEA have to include a flowery all is forgiven resolution between Joanna and Denys? What a crappy way to tie it off. Sometimes splitting family units is okay and in this case her dad is such a scumbag there’s really no way I’d buy his remorse and sudden “Oh shut up” speech to his new wife (whom he married right after Joanna was taken by Vassos to avoid his debts and to get the hell out of dodge, the bastard didn’t even look for her to get her back.)

Rating: ★★★★☆ – I know the rating seems incongruent with the story’s flaws, but I’m also factoring in the *guilty pleasure* I got out of it, because what worked, worked really well for me.

Buy: The Highest Stakes of All (Harlequin Presents)

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Review: The Devil’s Darling by Violet Winspear

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I liked the other Violet Winspear so much that I picked this one up without a moment’s hesitation.

The story revolves around the Greek tale of Hades and Persephone. The hero is Don Diablo and the heroine is Persepha. A perfectly convenient match, but a delightful one nevertheless.

However that’s about the last good thing that I can say about this book. It’s definitely period as it was published in 1975 for the first time. Knowing it was period was really the only fact that kept me reading after they hero and heroine joined in a quick marriage of convenience.

The heroine wakes up from grief of her loved and recently departed guardian. She says it was a mistake to marry in such haste. Diablo refuses to let her go and what followed was the least romantic series of events.

She struggles. He overpowers. It’s not said in so many words but it’s clear it’s rape or at the very least an extremely forced seduction. He wears her out and then proceeds to “love her.”

The hero sums up their relationship quite succinctly when he tells her later in the novel he believes she didn’t cuckold him on his business trip despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

“I should hate to think that I had misjudged you after all, querida, and you were not so intrinsically virtuous that even a husband feels he is raping you each time he takes you in his arms. It isn’t a pretty word, is it? But to the point.” — pg 155

Another Greek myth is mentioned and very nearly plays out in full. Don mentions reenacting out the story of Lucrenzia. I looked it up. The story of Lucrenzia is a story of a young wife who was raped in her own bed because the man threatened to do it anyway and then kill her and a slave and arrange their bodies to look like she’d committed adultery. Afterwards she confesses to her husband and family and then takes her own life.

The last ten pages (180-189) the heroine still is crying out how much she hates the hero, doesn’t love him, doesn’t like him, doesn’t want his kids, wishes he’d die, etc. He overhears her telling this to his grandmother and she realizes he’s heard. Off she runs and manages to run to the very spot where his mother committed suicide. He thinks she’s about to do the same – grabs her and hauls her back to her room. He explains about his brother’s death, his mother’s actions and in less than five pages she claims to have fallen in love with him.

It’s completely ridiculous and I closed the book miffed.

Rating: 0.5-1 Stars

Buy: The Devil’s Darling

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