Review: Blood Torn (Blackthorn, Book 3) by Lindsay J. Pryor

blood tornReviewed by Sharon S.

‘Vampires might bite, honey, but lycans tear.’

Jask Tao, lycan leader, rules his pack with absolute dedication and demands the same loyalty in return. In the world of Blackthorn, where respect is a rare commodity, Jask has earned his – few dare to cross him, and fewer survive to tell the tale.

When he captures Sophia, a rare serryn witch – whose blood is lethal to vampires – Jask knows just how valuable she can be. Despite her fiery nature, he also can’t shake the feelings that she rouses in him – feelings that he thought died along with Ellen, his mate.

Sophia knows she has to escape from Jask’s lycan compound – and fast. Inheriting her sister’s serryn powers can only mean one thing – that her family is at risk. She’ll have to get past the dangerously attractive Jask first but, scarred by memories of her mother’s murder, Sophia won’t ever give up.

Sparks fly between Jask and Sophia but, as both her family and the pack come under threat, they might just need each other if they, and their loved ones, are going to stay alive…

In this thrillingly sensual novel, Lindsay J. Pryor returns to the shadowy dystopian world of Blackthorn, where tensions are rising, the risks are high, and the most powerful loves are formed in the face of great danger.

This is the third book in the sexy action filled series Blackthorn. I am surprised I hadn’t heard of it since it has every thing I love. It is one of those fun series that blends the world building and grittiness of urban fantasy with the sexy love story found in paranormal romances. Even though this is book three I was able to understand and enjoy Jask and Sophia’s love story, but I felt a little lost with the series arc. Only because there were so many other characters involved from the first two books. I will be checking out the other books so I can find out what happened with those couples.

I am pretty hard to impress in the paranormal romance department. I need some meat to my story (heehee, that kind too) and strong over bearing personalities. Blood Torn contained my two favorite romance tropes, forbidden love and enemy to lovers. Jask is a tortured werewolf alpha in the best possible way (swoon). The mythos Pryor created for the werewolves in her world is full of danger and heartbreak. Turning isn’t something they want to do and this fact is being used against them. Sophia is a witch, but still human, and has a destiny forced on her that she didn’t know about. They are both alphas and broken on the inside. I loved watching them one up each other even cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Even though I couldn’t get enough of them, the author went over the top occasionally.

It is the dark world Pryor created that really draws me to the series as a whole. You could even call it a dystopian. Vampires decided to make their presence known to humans 80 years prior and they brought the werewolves with them against their will. The “others” have been segregated into an inner city by a scared human race. How close to the inner city a human lives in dependent on their money and social status. The elite living gated off in the suburbs.

Definitely a series I will be following and one urban fantasy fans and paranormal fans can enjoy.

[Rating:4.5]

Buy: Blood Torn (Blackthorn)

Handfasting

By the Fates FoughtGuest Blog by Patricia Eddy, author of By the Fates, Fought

I love weddings. But in a magical world, you can’t always have an actual wedding. In my series, By the Fates, Raven and Ealasaid are destined to love each other forever. They say the sacred words of binding in By the Fates, Freed and from that moment, their souls are one.

I love the idea of destined love and a love that lasts throughout the afterlife, but we are creatures of tradition and so after I finished By the Fates, Freed, I realized there was something still missing between Raven and Ealasaid-a public and visible commitment between the two characters.

Hence, handfasting. It’s an old custom, dating back centuries. The term comes from the custom of tying the man and woman’s hands together at the wrists. In many instances, the binding only lasted as long as the ceremony, but in others, it lasted until the now-husband-and-wife actually physically consummated their relationship.

There are many different handfasting rituals. Some actually require the binding of both hands, others just one. Most have an officiant, though the couple recites their own vows to one another. One of the reasons for the rise in popularity of handfasting after the 1950’s was that anyone could technically be handfasted-even those for whom traditional marriage was illegal (same sex couples for example). It is a symbol of commitment that is often incorporated into a wide variety of civil marriages even today.

In By the Fates, Fought, Raven and Ealasaid perform a public handfasting. In their world, the words of mating are only for each other. They are said in private, usually in an intimate moment, and have no witnesses. Though only those words are required to complete the mating, the public ceremony gives family and friends the opportunity to witness the couple’s love.

When creating the ceremony in By the Fates, Fought, I researched a variety of Wiccan and Pagan handfasting ceremonies. Most reference the points of the compass or the elements of the earth as both factor strongly in Wiccan and Pagan customs. A handfasting can be more than a promise, it can be a deep and personal commitment between two people.

I hope you enjoy the handfasting ceremony from By the Fates, Fought.

Raven offered me his hand and led me inside the circle. We stood at the center. The couples formed three points of the compass with Faolan taking up the fourth. Moire and Ian spoke first, their voices combining in unison. “We ask the Fates to bless this union with the gifts from the four corners of the world. We represent the gifts of the northa firm foundation on which to build, a hope for a fertile mind and body, and a stable home where you may always return to each other’s arms.”

Marcas and Una spoke next. “We represent the gifts of the souththe comfort of a loving home, the heat of the heart’s passion, and light in the darkest of times.”

Seònaid and Ami stepped forward. “We represent the gifts of the westa commitment as deep and a passion as allencompassing as the sea.”

Faolan’s raspy voice completed the ritual. “I give you the gifts of the eastthe union of the heart, mind, and body, fresh beginnings with the rising of each sun.”

The air around us stirred. I swept my gaze over the deep purple sky to where it touched the expansive sea. The water lapped softly at the sand. I inhaled deeply. The salty air filled my lungs. I had never felt so freeso very loved and safe.

Ami stepped forward with a braided piece of silk. “Ealasaid, take Raven’s left hand in yours.” She laid her hand on ours, cool against our warmth. Her eyes met mine. “May I bind your hands?”

I nodded. As she tied a loose knot at our wrists, a sudden memory threatened me, but one look into Raven’s eyes and it vanished.

“Your hands are now joined, in front of your family, as witnessed by the Fates. Hold each other, caress each other, support each other, love each other. Your lives, your hearts, and your souls are joined in this life and the next. By the Fates and by the laws of this land may this be done.” Ami unwound the silk and handed it to Seònaid. “There is only one thing left to do.”

I looked over at her. What else could there be?

Raven dipped his hand into his pocket and brought forth two silver rings, one large and one small. “A symbol. Like our sigils. I had them made for us.”

He took the smaller ring and slid it onto my finger. It was warm. The engravings appeared to come alive for a brief second, glinting in the light of the surrounding lanterns. Raven extended his hand, offering me his ring. I had a sudden flash of memory: Raven offering me a grape the first morning I’d been free. Tears pricked at my eyes. With trembling fingers, I held his ring. My magic pulsed, heating the silver. What is happening? As the ring slid over Raven’s finger, I awakened my sight. Emerald wisps of air were flowing from my hand to his. His aura took on the slightest green tinge. It was almost like a halo around his body. The ring had a stronger aura, one all its own. Was there magic in the metal? I looked down at my hand. My ring had no such aura. When I looked back at his ring, the aura was gone.

“Ealasaid.” He brought me back with the gentle word. “The Fates smiled upon me the day they led me to you. They have blessed me every day since. I have seen you discover your magic, your voice, your strength, and even your very name. Each day with you is a gift-one I treasure.”

I cupped his cheek. “It is I who am blessed. I had nothing. You gave me the strength to discover who I was. It is because of you that I have a family. There is nothing more precious to me than this.”

For several long moments, all was silent. We were locked in a gentle embrace. Raven’s eyes shone with unshed tears. He dipped his head. His lips were soft, warm, and tasted of home. He was my home.

Buy: By the Fates, Fought

Review: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, Book 2) by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night by Deborah HarknessReviewed by Sharon S.

I had heard wonderful things about A Discovery of Witches so when I got an opportunity to review the sequel Shadow of Night I thought, perfect! Unfortunately this is a series that needs to be read in order. Harkness did a great job of catching the reader up on her world building, except for what Daemon are. I still don’t know anything about them and considering one of the main characters in this book, Kit Marlow, is one I would think Harkness would have mentioned more about them. What you don’t get by skipping the first book is the emotional connection to the main couple Diana and Matthew. I can tell it was a passionate and emotionally volatile romance, but without it I wasn’t able to fully appreciate Shadow of Night. I love first person POV, but I found Diana a bit sterile and boring in her account of events. The subject matter is fabulous and I recognize and respect what Harness has accomplished with this book and the series as a whole, but I just didn’t like Diana.

Now, Matthew is whole other story. I love a complex and emotionally damaged paranormal Alpha male. Matthew is a 1500 year old vampire and in this book he must face the past he has never really been able to let go of. He is the perfect blend of powerful, sexy and scary. It is because we only see him through Diana’s eyes that make him so mysterious and absolutely delicious! I plan on reading the first book just to experience more Matthew. Another character I connected too was Matthew’s father Philippe, and watching these two interact was heartbreaking and touching.

I don’t know about A Discovery of Witches, but Shadow of Night is more like a historical, which isn’t my favorite genre. I got tired of Diana’s constant commentary on her surroundings and the ways of Elizabethan period. I do appreciate the effort it took Harkness to weave factual history and her made up world into one story.

I honestly don’t think I can rate this book in a fair manner. If you have read the first one and loved it, then you are going to go nuts over this one. There are tons of surprises that I am sure you won’t see coming (isn’t that mean <G>, but I can’t spoil). If you haven’t read the first book yet, then do so before picking this one up. And lift some weights, because this book is almost 600 pages long! I am going to give the book 3.5 stars when read as a stand-alone.

[Rating:3.5] (as a stand alone novel)

Buy: Shadow of Night: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy)

Review: For the Love of a Goblin Warrior (Shadowlands, Book 3) by Shona Husk

For the Love of a Goblin WarriorI loved the first two books in this series. Hush has an amazing ability to weave a mesmerizing story with a magical dark fairytale feel to it. And she achieves that again in For the Love of a Goblin. This book can be read as a stand-alone, but I recommend reading the first two because compared to the first two books this one doesn’t quite measure up. It is good, but the pacing of the story is a little awkward.

Meryn was the first of Roan’s men to go goblin and spent 2000 years as one. When the curse was broken and Dia pulled him from the Shadowlands he was about as broken as a man could be. And like all fairytales, his fate is entwined with another. Nadine’s world fell apart when her mother was murdered 20 years ago and her father was convicted. She was witness to the crime but can’t remember what she saw and hasn’t communicated with her dad at all. Her father is now out on parole. Meryn and Nadine are both wanting to move on with their lives, but not sure how too. Their emotional wounds are deep and dark.

Husk spends most the book slowly developing their relationship and there is a big build up to their first kiss and love making, which is totally worth it. There is a lot of time spent on them working through their individual issues such as Nadine and her father and what really happened the night her mother disappeared and Meryn coming to terms with why he turned goblin and having to face his king and adjusting to his new life. While I liked the characters I think too much time was spent on this aspect of the book.

The big reveal when Nadine finds out about Meryn’s past life and how she reacts is dealt with in the last four chapters. It all happened way too fast compared to the pace of the rest of the story. Sort of a let down from a writing perspective for me.

Not every book in a series can be a homerun to a reader and this one is more like a double with a RBI for me. I will keep reading this series because I love the beautiful and dark fairytale Husk has created.

[Rating:3.5]

Buy: For the Love of a Goblin Warrior (Shadowlands)

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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:5]

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

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