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)

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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)

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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: ★★★½☆

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

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Review: Kiss of the Goblin Prince (Shadowlands Series, Book 2) by Shona Husk

kiss of the goblin princeReviewed by Sharon S.

Kiss of the Goblin Prince is the second book in Husk’s Shadowland series. I reviewed the first book The Goblin King and loved it because the author veered away from the same old PNR formula and gave me something different. I was hoping she would continue this in Kiss of the Goblin Prince. I won’t keep you in suspense though…Husk does it again with Kiss of the Goblin Prince.

In book one we met Roan, the Goblin King, and Eliza, the woman who rescues Roan and his brother Dai from the Goblin curse that imprisoned them in the Shadowlands for 2000 years. This book is about Dai and his struggle to find his place in the fixed realm now that he is truly free to make his own choices for the first time. Dai is scared figuratively and literally. His body is covered in scars from the 4 years he was a slave to the Roman General Claudius. He went from that to being cursed with his fellow soldiers who tried to rescue him. He spent the next 2000 years trying to find a way to break the curse while fighting to keep his humanity and not turn completely goblin. He learned just about everything there is to know, but magic wouldn’t work in the Shadowlands so he didn’t know how to apply all his knowledge. He has lived with so much guilt and vengeance and rage that it actually manifested itself as a claw that grips his heart.

Once in the fixed realm again, he realizes he can use his magic, but it is no longer used or believed making him possibly the last magic user. I loved how Husk explained Dai’s use of magic and the romantic way she used it in the connection between Dai and Amanda. Amanda found the man of her dreams 7 years ago. He died 4 months later and she was left to raise their unborn child. Amanda still wears her wedding band, not willing to let go of what she lost. Her daughter Brigit has chronic asthma that eventually will kill her. Amanda hasn’t felt a longing for another man since her husband and feels guilty when she finds herself attracted to Dai. Their love story is all about forgiving yourself for the past, letting go and moving on. These two don’t go jumping into bed like in most PNR. Their lives are complicated and they are both smart but over cautious. It is a slow and beautiful romance…and yes they do eventually end up in bed.

The beginning was a little slow, but once it picked up I was hooked. The first book divided time between the romance and the world building. This book focuses on Dai and Amanda’s relationship. There is no villain to explore because the conflict comes from within them. Husk brilliantly wove in a secondary storyline about how people will keep coming being reborn and repeating their same mistakes until the soul can finally break the cycle. She also set up the next book in the series with a little twist I didn’t see as a result of the curse being broken.

Husk is a fabulous storyteller and has written a PNR that doesn’t use the same old clichés. You don’t have to read the first one to enjoy the love story, but you will enjoy the world building better if you start with The Goblin King.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Kiss of the Goblin Prince

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Life Lessons from Goblins

by Shona Husk guest blogger and author of The Goblin King

A goblin is a creature of nightmares, with grey skin, hooked nose, and yellow eyes. They damned themselves to the Shadowlands with their greed and lust for gold. Roan. However, was unfortunate enough to be cursed. He is caught between both worlds. He still has a human soul, but his heart is gold and as the curse takes over he shares many goblin traits—like the need to hoard gold.

There are a few things that goblins can teach us (aside from the obvious warning that greed doesn’t pay).

  • Gold can’t buy happiness or a soul…

No amount of gold will ever make a goblin happy. The more they have the more they want. While Roan and his men have human souls, true goblins don’t since they gave them up for a chance at more. Once given away a soul can’t be returned.

  • If something is worth having it’s worth fighting for…

Sometimes if you really want something you have to put yourself on the line for it. A goblin will fight to the death for a speck of gold. To them there is nothing more important than gold. For Roan that means keeping his men alive and breaking the curse…and having Eliza.

  • The passage of time has little meaning, it’s what you do with it that counts…

While spending close to two thousand year in the Shadowlands may not be everyone’s idea of passing eternity Roan didn’t waste those years. He hoarded silver and gems and gold, spoke to witches and wise-men, saw history unfold and played a part in some of it. He didn’t let being cursed stop him from living—or trying to live.

  • A little magic goes a long way…

Sometimes it’s the little things that count the most, like being able to purify the slippery river water in the Shadowlands, or being able to cross through the realms at will. That skill made Roan the envy of all other goblins as true goblins can only cross into our world at winter solstice. Like all magic there is a price, the grand gestures and magic battles chip away at Roan’s soul until there is almost nothing left…

  • Real love is worth waiting for…

Love can’t be bought, conjured, or faked. You either have it or you don’t. For Roan, finding Eliza made all those years in the Shadowlands worthwhile.

What have you learned from fairy tale creatures?

THE GOBLIN KING BY SHONA HUSK – IN STORES OCTOBER 2011

Once Upon a Time…

A man was cursed to the Shadowlands, his heart replaced with a cold lump of gold. In legends, he became known as… The Goblin King.

For a favored few he will grant a wish. Yet, desperately clinging to his waning human soul, his one own desire remains unfulfilled… A Willing Queen.

But who would consent to move from the modern-day world into the realm of nightmares? No matter how intoxicating his touch, no matter how deep his valor, loving him is dangerous. And the one woman who might dare to try could also destroy forever his chance at a … Happily Ever After.

Buy: The Goblin King

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Debut author Shona Husk is a civil designer by day and an author by night. She lives in Western Australia and through history, myth and imagination she creates heroes that are armed and dangerous but have a heart of gold-sometimes literally.  For more information on Shona and The Goblin King, and where to download the FREE prequel, The Summons, please visit: http://www.shonahusk.com/.

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 copies of The Goblin King up for grabs today. Open to US and Canadian readers only. Enter by leaving a comment about life lessons from fairytales. Last day to enter: October 30th, 2011. Good luck!

Review: The Goblin King (Shadowlands Series, Book 1) by Shona Husk

Reviewed by Sharon S.

Now, when I first saw this title I thought “Goblin, really?” but I liked the blurb. Boy, am I glad I took a chance! This was an original and dark fairy tale. And yes, a Goblin King can be sexy <G>. More on him later…

This is a paranormal romance, but Husk took the old tried and true PNR plot formula and chucked it out the window. You still have your tortured alpha male and your strong human female, but there is more to the story than a lover’s tale and the characters don’t behave in the predictable PNR fashion. There are secondary characters, like Eliza’s controlling fiancé Steve and Roan’s brother Dai that are as well developed as our hero and heroine. We even get their POV in the story. She also meshes a fairy tale like feel with the elements of a smexy PNR giving the story a wonderfully dark and desperate feel. If I had to choose I would say it could be compared to Beauty and the Beast.

I don’t know much about Goblin myths, but Husk took these and combined them with a magic twist to create a savage and unique world where Roan and his men live called the Shadowlands.

Roan, The Goblin King, is a delicious hero. He is fighting to keep his humanity for the sake of his men, even though he wants to give in. He is always putting others needs before his, even Eliza’s who he desperately wants. Even his appearance is a break from the normal PNR hero. What I wouldn’t give to hear those beads in his hair chime <G>. You will have to read the book to see what I mean ;) I don’t want to give anything away about the book so I won’t go into plot, but if you have been looking for something a little different in the PNR genre then give this one a try.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Goblin King, The Goblin King (UK)

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