As the new queen of Bellona, Everleigh Blair wants to bring peace to her country despite the grumblings of her own noble families. When an assassin tries to kill her in her own throne room, Everleigh plans a trip to the neighboring country of Andvari to sign a treaty and stand up against the dark forces who would try to overthrow their kingdoms. With the help of her gladiator friends she faces the family of her love, bastard prince Lucas Sullivan. In Andvari she learns what it means to be a Winter Queen, in an emotional journey. What will she do? Choose what’s right for her country or the man she is coming to love.
Protect the Prince brought all of the action that I loved in Kill the Queen but added an emotional depth to our main character, Everleigh. She and Lucas have a connection that shouldn’t be acted upon as she is now queen and Lucas is the bastard son of the Andvari king. Knowing their love is futile, frustratingly, they spend a good majority of this novel apart. I hated that! I love a little romance in my action fantasy novels. However, when Everleigh finds a plot to bring down the Andvari house and goes undercover (so to speak) the plot thickens and became interesting enough for me to overlook the fact they were not together…yet.
I loved both Everleigh and Lucas’s strength of character in Kill the Queen, but felt like Lucas could’ve fought a little bit more for what he wanted, and Everleigh could’ve let him in on a few of her secret plots so he didn’t spend a good portion of the novel hurting. I hated the lack of communication! I know, it’s just a book, but I like it when my characters are on the same page. Aargh! LOL. Both Everleigh and Lucas’s characters get a little more back story which explains some of their character traits. Through flashbacks we learn about the death of Everleigh’s parents and the part the Bastard Brigade played. This explains Everleigh’s determination to bring an end to that group. We also learn about a past love of Lucas’s that ended poorly and explains why he continues to do what is right instead of what he wants. Both of these things slow the novels down only slightly but help me care more for their characters and the outcome of their relationship.
As with the first novel there was some great politically charged action scenes with our bad guys somehow always staying one step ahead of our heroes. The conclusion to those political machinations had a couple of surprise twists that left me feeling like I MUST read the next novel! I just wish it were coming out a little sooner than next year!
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“In addition to political shenanigans, there is plenty of action in Protect the Prince as well as subterfuge, betrayal, and some rather swoony moments. I loved reading this story and I am completely looking forward to what is next in this series!!” The Genre Minx Book Reviews
“The series so far is still littered with all kinds of fantasy tropes, but surprisingly, I don’t have a problem with it. The truth is, it gives these books a certain kind of charm, and I love being able to kick back with something light and fun. I also have a feeling Estep is working on the bigger picture, building towards something even better. I look forward to reading the next book.” The Bibliosanctum
Sweep of the Blade is the first novel in this series to not feature Innkeeper Dina Demille. Instead, we learn her sister Maud’s fascinating story of love, heartbreak and honor. Seeing through Maud’s eyes her love for her first husband and consequent betrayal by him I understood more the barrier she built to save herself, and her daughter Helen from caring for anyone that much again. When she helps her sister defend her Inn and meets Arland her will starts to bend until she agree’s to go with him to House Krahr to determine how well she and Helen would fit in.
Maud is such an interesting character! She is a warrior, scholar, mother and woman who just kicks A&&! If you looked up fierce in the Ilona Andrews dictionary, you’d see a picture of Matilda “Maud” Demille. A human married into a vampire House, Maud had to show her worth by knowing every single fact about that vampire world. Those facts combined with her knowledge from an education growing up an Innkeeper’s child made her a silent threat. As she navigates House Krahr those skills become invaluable as she uses them to infiltrate behind possible enemy lines.
Arland, Marshal of House Krahr, is as funny and unique as in previous books, but in this one we see a more serious side. He is back home where he has a job to do and outside influences take up a lot of his time. This doesn’t take away from his determination to win Maud as his wife and be a father to Helen. He does this by allowing Maud to shine on her own. I LOVED that!
Helen as in the last book, steals the show. She is sassy, brilliant, and fierce like her mom. A veritable mini-Maud, albeit she is a human-vampire hybrid. I hope somewhere in our future Helen has her own series!
The Innkeeper series is one of my favorites. I’ve listened and read each book numerous times and always find a new tidbit to keep me coming back. Sweep of the Blade only added to the allure, and the ending? Oh boy! I can’t wait to read what happens in the next novel!
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
” got my copy of this around 4:00 this morning, and devoured it in one setting. So much love. I don’t usually like books where one of the main characters already has a kid, but this one is a big exception. Helen is an absolute favorite of mine – I would go so far as to say my favorite kid in a series, period. So, so much fun.” Wicked Scribes
It has been awhile since I’ve read a novel by G.A. Aiken, but after my first few moments of WTF-ness I caught onto the rhythm of her magic and got swept along by the story.
As the Old King’s last breathe is uttered, his sons start slaughtering each other and every living relative in the hopes of being the last man standing and becoming the new Old King. A few of the brothers actually separate, hoping to gather enough soldiers to march and fight for the title when a prophesy that a queen will ascend the throne who is a farmer’s daughter waylays their plans. A race to find this girl, Beatrix, and either kill her or marry her to retain the title is foiled by the epic strength of her blacksmith sister Keeley.
Despite her almost god-like strength, Keeley is a simple woman. Family means everything to her and even though she’s thrilled at how this war is great for business, she doesn’t hesitate to fight for her families safety. Joined by the Amachai, a group of Centaur warriors, Keeley takes her sister Beatrix off to the Black Hills to be declared the girl who would be Queen, but in romantic fantasy nothing is ever as easy as it looks.
I loved Keeley’s heart, and her relationship to her sisters and family. They mean everything to her and she is an easy heroine to support and like. Even more I liked her mischievousness and humor. G.A. Aiken didn’t want a one dimensional heroine and her practical jokes and ready smile were her most likable characteristics. Caid, the Centaur romantic hero, was the perfect foil. Dark, brooding, and non-verbal, he couldn’t help but be taken with her and watching him slowly reveal more to his personality than the taciturn warrior was unexpected.
The Blacksmith Queen was an irreverent mix of fun swordsmanship (or hammer skills!), trash talking sisters, and a romantic adventure. Filled with Centaurs, dragons, trolls and elves, this novel has the beginnings of what could be an epic series. Be prepared to be surprised at the mix of modern slang with historic fantasy elements. At times it was a little confusing but if you throw all of your expectations out the window and enjoy each reveal you’ll have a blast reading this totally unique novel. ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I received a free copy of this ARC through NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review and it was honest!
Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, so here goes!
Sapphire Flames: A Hidden Legacy novel by Ilona Andrews
First Sentence Read: “I was swimming through the warm water of the Gulf when someone knocked on the sky.”
No More Secrets: A Small Town Love Story (Blue Moon #1) by Lucy Score
First Sentence Read: “Summer Lentz hefted her suitcase and laptop bag into the trunk of her snappy little rental car.”
Sapphire Flames was everything I could’ve imagined and it’s been so hard to choose my next book! Truthfully I started a different book, the second in a series where I loved the first book and it just didn’t feel right, so I put it down. I haven’t started No More Secrets yet, but LOVED the last novel of Lucy Score’s I read so I have high hopes I’ll be able to get into this one!
It’s the start of a new week, What are YOU reading?
Recently I was looking at my NetGalley ARC’s trying to map out my reading schedule and realized I didn’t have any books I had to read for a July release. What?!! Immediately I wondered if I missed any and Googled Goodreads most popular list of July releases to just double check. There are some good ones on the list but surprisingly only a few that were on my radar. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton being releases but I like certain genre’s and there are only a few that hit my sweet spot.
It’s kind of nice to know I can read for pleasure and maybe get a head start on my August ARC’s, cause you know, I over-requested for that month. Sooo many August releases this year! Anywho… here are some July releases that I’ve added to my TBR, and got in line for a few of them at my local library.
DEB’S TOP 5 RELEASES FOR JULY
5) Protect the Prince (A Crown of Shards #2) by Jennifer Estep
Release Date: 7/2/2019
Publisher: Harper Voyager (Harper Collins)
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
I loved the first novel in this series and can’t wait to dive into Protect the Prince!
Everleigh Blair might be the new gladiator queen of Bellona, but her problems are far from over.
First, Evie has to deal with a court full of arrogant, demanding nobles, all of whom want to get their greedy hands on her crown. As if that wasn’t bad enough, an assassin tries to kill Evie in her own throne room.
Despite the dangers, Evie goes ahead with a scheduled trip to the neighboring kingdom of Andvari in order to secure a desperately needed alliance. But complicating matters is the stubborn Andvarian king, who wants to punish Evie for the deaths of his countrymen during the Seven Spire massacre.
Dark forces are also at work inside the Andvarian palace, and Evie soon realizes that no one is safe. Worse, her immunity to magic starts acting in strange, unexpected ways, which makes Evie wonder whether she is truly strong enough to be a Winter Queen.
Evie’s magic, life, and crown aren’t the only things in danger—so is her heart, thanks to Lucas Sullivan, the Andvarian king’s bastard son and Evie’s … well, Evie isn’t quite sure what Sullivan is to her.
Only one thing is certain—protecting a prince might be even harder than killing a queen…
Nora Roberts is sometimes hit or miss, but I do like her Romantic Thriller’s, and well she is Nora Roberts and always hits my TBR.
For both Zane and Darby, their small town roots hold a terrible secret. Now, decades later, they’ve come together to build a new life. But will the past set them free or pull them under?
Zane Bigelow grew up in a beautiful, perfectly kept house in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Strangers and even Zane’s own aunt across the lake see his parents as a successful surgeon and his stylish wife, making appearances at their children’s ballet recitals and baseball games. Only Zane and his sister know the truth, until one brutal night finally reveals cracks in the facade, and Zane escapes for college without a thought of looking back…
Years later, Zane returns to his hometown determined to reconnect with the place and people that mean so much to him, despite the painful memories. As he resumes life in the colorful town, he meets a gifted landscape artist named Darby, who is on the run from ghosts of her own.
Together they will have to teach each other what it means to face the past, and stand up for the ones they love.
Not sure how I missed this one because I really like this author and this looks so cute! If you like YA, you need to check this one out.
Synopsis: One year. Nine events. Nine chances to . . . fall in love?
Weddings. Funerals. Barbecues. New Year’s Eve parties. Name the occasion, and Sophie Evans will be there. Well, she has to be there. Sophie works for the local florist, so she can be found at every big event in her small hometown, arranging bouquets and managing family dramas.
Enter Andrew Hart. The son of the fancy new chef in town, Andrew is suddenly required to attend all the same events as Sophie. Entitled, arrogant, preppy Andrew. Sophie just wants to get her job done and finish up her sketches so she can apply to design school. But every time she turns around, there is Andrew, getting in her way and making her life more complicated. Until one day she wonders if maybe complicated isn’t so bad after all . . .
Told over the course of one year and following Sophie from event to event, this delightful novel from master of romantic comedy Kasie West shows how love can blossom in unexpected places.
I actually did ask for an ARC of this novel and got rejected… BOO! I love Berkley books but for some reason I only get about 50% of the books I request. Regardless, this author wrote one of my top funniest books The Garden of Small Beginnings, and I hope for a repeat every time and so she lands on my TBR again…
Synopsis: Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.
The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.
When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all—or mostly all—excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?
Nina considers her options. 1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.) 2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee). 3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)
It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand-new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page.
1)Sweep of the Blade (Innkeeper Series #4) by Ilona Andrews
Release Date: 7/16/19
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Romantic Fantasy
It is not a secret that I’m having a secret love affair with the writing team called Ilona Andrews. LOVE this series, and really any series they write. This date just dropped this week and I AM SO EXCITED! They release each chapter for free on their website, but I always wait for the entire book to release to read it.
Synopsis: Maud Demille is a daughter of Innkeepers—a special group who provide ‘lodging’ to other-planetary visitors—so she knows that a simple life isn’t in the cards. But even Maud could never have anticipated what Fate would throw at her.
Once a wife to a powerful vampire knight, Maud and her young daughter, Helen, were exiled with him for his treachery to the desolate, savage planet of Karhari. Karhari killed her husband, and Maud—completely abandoned by his family—has spent over a year avenging his debts. Rescued by her sister Dina, she’s sworn off all things vampire.
Except… In helping Dina save the world, she met Arland, the Marshal of House Krahr, one of the most powerful vampire houses. One thing led to another and he asked for her hand in marriage. She declined. Arland is not used to hearing the word ‘no;’ and try as she might, Maud can’t just walk away from Arland. It doesn’t help that being human is a lot harder for Maud than being a vampire.
To sort it all out, she accepts his invitation to visit his home planet. House Krahr is extremely influential and Maud knows that a woman—a human, with a very questionable past—who’s turned down a proposal from its most beloved son won’t get a warm reception. Maybe she’s not sure about marrying Arland, but House Krahr isn’t going to decide for her. Maud Demille has never run from a fight, and House Krahr will soon discover that there’s a lot more to Maud than they’re expecting.
Happy Monday everyone! I ran across this post on Book Date and liked the idea of sharing what I’m currently reading, so here goes!
Kingdom of Exiles (Beast Charmer #1) by Maxym M. Martineau
First Sentence Read: “By the time evening fell, three things were certain: the gelatinous chunks of lamb were absolute shit, my beady-eyed client was hankering for more than the beasts in my possession, and someone was watching me.”
Rock Bottom Girl by Lucy Score
First Sentence Read: “Downsized, broke, and dumped, 38-year-old Marley sneaks home to her childhood bedroom in the town she couldn’t wait to escape twenty years ago.”
After an epic fantasy my fall back to cleanse the palate is a contemporary romance! I love sports themed romances and soccer was my game. This rom-com looks really cute! I hope it lives up to my expectations!
Exiled Beast Charmer Leena Edenfrell was betrayed by her lover and has resulted to selling her beasts, something that is forbidden by death for a Charmer. On the run, she foils an assassination attempt taking the assassin captive in order to strike a deal with the head of the order of assassins. Noc has a deadly secret of his own that he thinks could be tamed by a Beast Charmer. Together they strike a deal and in searching for beasts they find something in the other that fills the void in their hearts.
Kingdom of Exiles has all of the elements of a great romantic fantasy adventure. I loved the newness of the world Maxym M. Martineau developed. I don’t think I’ve read a fantasy novel that had an advanced level of Beast Charmer characters and the little that was revealed in this novel only makes me want more to read. There were elements of magic and a mysteriousness to the Order of Cruor assassins, the way they used shadows to move quickly or jump from place to place was a little bit reminiscent of Christine Feehan’s Shadow Rider series, although this setting is completely different. I liked that the assassins were revived after death but could still get someone pregnant? I definitely wanted to learn how that would be possible!
Kingdom of Exiles also used my favorite romantic trope of enemies to lovers. I L-O-V-E when two adversaries come to admire traits in the other that makes them fall in love, yet, they are resistant to it happening. This novel portrayed that tension really well and kept me reading that “just one more” chapter.
The only negative for me about this novel was that it started so strong but somewhere around 2/3’s of the way through the pace slowed just enough for me to get impatient. I’ll admit to rushing through a couple of chapters until that pace picked back up again towards the end of the book. The ending was great, leaving the reader with a little hint about what direction the next book may take. I just wish this author had the next book coming out soon! ❤️❤️❤️❤️
I was given a free ARC of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Opinions from around the Blogosphere
“Overall,I loved Kingdom of Exiles! It was enchanting, magical, unique, and surprisingly sweet. The romance was well-written. It wasn’t too much but engaging enough. I really adore this book.” Discover Elysian
“All in all, this is one of my favorite books that I have read this year. The characters were well developed, and the plot was fun and unique. I loved everything about it. If you like fantasy & romance, this is the book for you.” Caffeinated Fae
I have been listening to the audio books of all of Ilona Andrews books. I have read all of them before, but listening to the narration by Renee Raudman has given me a new appreciation for some stories that I haven’t read in quite a few years. Fate’s Edge is one of those stories and Renee Raudman’s characterizations were spot on and her delivery engaging.
The Edge series is pretty dark. When I listened to Bayou Moon (book 2) I thought wow, there are some pretty grim and gruesome details in this book! There’s something about listening to a book that make those details really stand out. Fate’s Edge tells the story of Kaldar and Audrey. We had met Kaldar previously in Bayou Moon. He was kind of a crazy character and I wasn’t sure how they’d write a whole book about him and didn’t remember if I liked him or not. Turns out I LOVE him. Being inside Kaldar’s head gives us insight into why he does all of these crazy things. When he meets Audrey he’s working for the Mirror (think CIA) trying to find the team that stole some magical bracelets that the Mirror doesn’t want out in the world. Audrey is one of the thieves who stole those bracelets and he is gobsmacked when he meets her. She is drop dead gorgeous and a natural con artist. Something he really admires.
The greatest thing about these two characters is that they understand each other perfectly. They are very similar, both are con artists, both are great actors and both have been disappointed by life. When they meet, Audrey knows immediately that Kaldar is her soul mate but she is determined to keep him at arm’s length because she knows to be involved with a grifter is to doom yourself to a disappointing love life. Kaldar doesn’t immediately know that Audrey is his one and only, he just knows he wants her. Their back and forth dialog, along with their adventure while retrieving the bracelets is lighthearted and fun. A refreshing departure in this dramatic series! Eventually those interactions and adventures makes it apparent to Kaldar that Audrey is meant for him. When he comes to this realization your heart squeezes at the emotion he is feeling.
Along for the ride in this adventure are George and Jack. Rose’s little brothers from The Edge, the first novel in the series. They provided some humor as well as their own little heart tugging moments. When the story ends, you just don’t want to let the two of them go, they are so adorable. I can’t wait to listen to the Innkeeper series because my sister told me that George and Jack show up as an adults and I can’t quite remember his part in that story and it’s driving me mad. These novels are interconnected in ways that I didn’t realize and by listening to them all at one time, I’m seeing and hearing things that I missed on the first reading. What fun!
The third and final installment in the Kingmaker Chronicles, Heart on Fire shows us a more introspective Cat. Pregnant with she and Griffin’s first child, living finally means more to Cat than conquering the world. She is starting to think before she leaps into danger and that second guessing has made her powers even more unreliable. She has got to figure things out before she goes to war with her mother or she and her new family don’t stand a chance.
This series has been one of my favorite new romantic fantasy series and Griffin and Cat made my top 5 romantic couples of all time. I had mixed feelings about reading this last novel because I just didn’t want their story to end. Even though Heart on Fire showed us a more emotional Cat and less of a kick but heroine, it fit. Cat has found her heart in Griffin, their baby, his family and her friends on the Beta team and she has a lot to lose in this final battle with her mother. Griffin’s support remains steadfast and even though they have a few really difficult final challenges to overcome he always chooses Cat. Griffin is every woman’s fantasy mate and he lives up to that title in Heart on Fire.
Even though I said I didn’t want Cat and Griffin’s story to end, I’ll admit, I was a little impatient with all of Cat’s introspection. I was used to the fast pace of the previous two novels, more action than introspection, so the change in pace took a little getting used to. However, once I adjusted I realized that I felt more connected to Cat than I had been. Truthfully, in the first two books Griffin was the character I was more enthralled with because he was such an Alpha male in love, which is really attractive. I took note of Cat’s emotions, but her thoughts and emotions were secondary. Heart on Fire made me have more empathy for Cat, giving the finale more impact.
If I ranked the three books Heart on Fire would fall at #3. It was my least favorite of the three but at the same time it was a great ending to the series. These characters needed to grow in the direction Amanda Bouchet wrote in order for their emotional arc’s to be complete. Cat and Griffin went from two dimensional to bright 3D technicolor…right where they belong.
I was given a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest!
Some people really don’t appreciate a good shifter romance. What’s not to like? Men, (or women!) who can shift between human and some sort of animal form, finds their mate, goes all alpha on them and they live forever in heat, uh love. Right? Well, Trigger does have a few of those elements. Godric, God to his friends, is the King. Literally. He’s a lion shifter, and he rules a world where women must get married to procreate by the age of 25, or enter the military. Who wouldn’t like that premise? Well, most women probably. However, once I started reading, I was intrigued! Continue reading “This Chick Read: Trigger (Origins #1) by Scarlett Dawn”→