Review of Black Swan by Kel Carpenter and Aurelia Jane

Black Swan (A Demon's Guide to the Afterlife Book 3) by [Kel Carpenter, Aurelia Jane]

Everyone wants to be different, until they are. Take it from a true Heinz 57, being special isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Especially when it sets off a series of events that will end the world. You know, the catastrophe I was sent to prevent in the first place.

Fate has a funny way of doing whatever it wants.

In trying to change the future, I’m now the catalyst for destruction.

I should have known it was a bad omen when I shifted into a white raven instead of a wolf.

Our enemies may be more powerful than we ever imagined, but I’ve got a talking crow and Bloody Mary on my side.

I have friends now—and family. Not to mention, one hell of a love life I have no intention of giving up. I would die for any of them, but that’s not the plan.

It’s time to see if I can stop this black swan.
Tick. Tock.

BLACK SWAN is book three in A Demon’s Guide to the Afterlife series. This is the FINAL book in Fury’s story. Start the series with DARK HORSE right now!

This is an adult paranormal romance series with multiple love interests and some dark elements. If you don’t like strong but flawed women and alphahole heroes that need to learn a thing or two about boundaries–this book is not for you. If you love works by Tate James, Ivy Asher, Raven Kennedy, Joely Sue Burkhart, and CM Stunich, then dive right in to the Afterlife. It’ll be one hell of a ride.

This was a decent ending for Fury’s story. There were definite aspects I never saw coming, but it flowed well and I quite enjoyed it. The relationships were and are really what drove this book/the series. I love Hades and Fury’s relationship and the dynamic there. There were a few times that I didn’t read fully and was skimming, but it was never for that long. One great take away is the depth of what being forced into situations can do to a person, and how unhealthy hoping mechanisms can’t be encouraged and it’s okay to get outside help for problem behaviours. It’s also okay to not put up with people who abuse you. All in all, I can’t wait to read the last (?) book in this series of Hades and Jules, but I greatly did love getting to be in Fury’s world.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Gleam by Raven Kennedy

Gleam (The Plated Prisoner Series Book 3) by [Raven Kennedy]

Book 3 of this adult fantasy series continues in this epic story inspired by the myth of King Midas, fae, fated romance, and insurmountable greed.

“I don’t choose him. Not anymore. I’m choosing me.

King Midas made me the woman I am today. Notorious. Unattainable. His.

The thing about being confined is that you believe it’s to keep the bad out. …Until you realize it’s about keeping you in.

I’m now in a strange kingdom surrounded by liars, with no allies of my own, but I won’t sit idly by and let myself wither. No, there’s something that’s bloomed from the pit of my repression. Something dark. Something angry.

But the last thing I expected was for my anger to call out to him. King Ravinger.

He’s sinister and powerful and entirely too seductive. I’ve learned my lesson with trusting manipulative kings, so why does my chest constrict every time he’s near? I need to tread carefully, or I’m at risk of losing much more than just my freedom.

Regret and revenge war inside of me, and I need to figure out a plan fast before I get tangled up in the schemes of kings and queens.

Because I won’t be caught in a cage again. No, this time, it’ll be me setting the trap.
…I just hope my heart comes out of this unscathed.

Please note: This is an adult fantasy series with dark elements that may be triggering, including Stockholm Syndrome and emotional manipulation, as well as explicit romance scenes. Read at your own discretion.

Firstly, the trigger warning on this one is different than the others, which is interesting, but going into the story itself…

There are so many moments of finally in this novel! Unfortunately I personally found that while certain awaited scenes were nice, I was drawn out of the story because of the modern language usage that in no way fits any other part of this series. Additionally, this was the first book in the series that I found myself actively skimming parts of instead of fully reading to continue on. Auren finally looks inside and realizes all the ways that she was taken advantage of, and her resolve is quite inspiring. There were moments of sheer triumph, and there were also moments of true uncertainty and potential terror. Towards the very end there was a huge twist revealed that I never expected and wow. We end, as usual, with a big cliffhanger, though not quite so bad as some of the others- so frustrating that the next isn’t out until May!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Glint by Raven Kennedy

Glint (The Plated Prisoner Series Book 2) by [Raven Kennedy]

“You want to make your life easier? Then be the caged bird that you are and sing.”

For ten years, I’ve lived in a gilded cage inside King Midas’s golden castle. But one night changed everything.

Now I’m here, a prisoner of Fourth Kingdom’s army, and I’m not sure if I’m going to make it out of this in one piece. They’re marching to battle, and I’m the bargaining chip that will either douse the fire or spark a war.

At the heart of my fear, my worry, there’s him—Commander Rip.

Known for his brutality on the battlefield, his viciousness is unsurpassed. But I know the truth about what he is.


The betrayers. The murderers. The ones who nearly destroyed Orea, wiping out Seventh Kingdom in the process. Rip has power sizzling beneath this skin and glinting spikes down his spine. But his eyes—his eyes are the most compelling of all.

When he turns those black eyes on me, I feel captive for an entirely different reason. I may be out of my cage, but I’m not free, not even close.

In the game of kings and armies, I’m the gilded pawn. The question is, can I out maneuver them?

This is the captivating second book of The Plated Prisoner series. It’s an adult epic fantasy story blending romance, intrigue, and beautiful imagery. Return to the seductive story of magic inspired by the myth of King Midas, and get caught up in the world of Orea.

Please note: There is explicit language and romance in this book, not suitable for those under the age of 18.

Finally. Finally, Auren becomes the her that I thought was hiding underneath. She’d guided to see herself and stop hiding what she is, who she is, and facing up to how she is treated versus how she’s perceived herself to be treated. This book was perfect. There was a slow build, tension, but we truly see how strong Auren is, and what she could be, if cultivated. I love Rip. I did suspect what we learn of Midas’ power, but I would think that wouldn’t be a hard deduction.

A few highlights were in chapter 18 when Malina thought, “The women might not all be the heads of their houses, but they speak into the ears of the men who are. If done right, those whispered encouragements can become the subconscious thoughts of ignorant men.”

Another gem would be, “Foolish is the king who does not prepare for attack. From outsiders, as well as those within.”

Another, from the illustrious Rip, “Yes, how magnanimous of him to lock you behind bars all day and call you his favored whore.”

Writing this review as soon as I finished the book, because I cannot wait to get and dive into book 3! *Warning, this book ends in a delicious cliffhanger. Thank goodness the next book is already out!

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Gild by Raven Kennedy

The fae abandoned this world to us. And the ones with power rule.


Gold floors, gold walls, gold furniture, gold clothes. In Highbell, in the castle built into the frozen mountains, everything is made of gold.

Even me.

King Midas rescued me. Dug me out of the slums and placed me on a pedestal. I’m called his precious. His favored. I’m the woman he Gold-Touched to show everyone that I belong to him. To show how powerful he is. He gave me protection, and I gave him my heart. And even though I don’t leave the confines of the palace, I’m safe.

Until war comes to the kingdom and a deal is struck.

Suddenly, my trust is broken. My love is challenged. And I realize that everything I thought I knew about Midas might be wrong.

Because these bars I’m kept in, no matter how gilded, are still just a cage. But the monsters on the other side might make me wish I’d never left.

The myth of King Midas reimagined. This compelling adult fantasy series is as addictive as it is unexpected. With romance, intrigue, and danger, the gilded world of Orea will grip you from the very first page.

Please Note: This book contains explicit content and darker elements, including mature language, violence, and non-consensual sex. It is not intended for anyone under 18 years of age. This is book one in a series.

I have a myriad of opinions on this one. Firstly, the relationship between Midas and Auren is, for lack of a better term, dysfunctional. We see bits and pieces of their past, but it seems like Auren is both desired and revered, wanted but isolated. There are definite moments where you can see the separation between her and others of similar status, and while at first I was determined to think that Midas was a possessive self-righteous asshole, in some ways further in I began to wonder if this isolation was also done to keep her naïve to the ways of how “saddles” generally work. There is a definitive moment in the book when Auren realizes that there are certain talents and abilities that women in the entertainment industry have for performance and manipulation that she doesn’t know of, understand, and very much lacks. I had anticipated that might be a bigger, more important part of this novel, but perhaps it will come up in the subsequent ones.

Secondly, we have Auren’s predicament. All the saddles dislike her and she’s seem as an oddity, which she is, but everyone wants to see her and finds her fascinating. In many ways, she has nothing that makes her special except her skin, and her position as Midas’ favored. Because of the gaslighting done to Auren, of how safe and protected she is in her cage, she thinks anything and everything that happens if she isn’t in it is ultimately her fault. While I recognize that there may be a bit more backstory that we, the reader, have yet to learn that makes her feel that way, it really makes you dislike Midas as it seems as if that was a thought he put in her head. In some ways Auren could certainly be seen as a Mary Sue, but there are certainly flaws she has that she looks to overcome.

I very much look forward to reading the second book in the series, so much so that I told myself I can only get it if I finish this review first. I recommend it to people who like fairy tale retellings and don’t mind the warnings in the synopsis.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Long Live the Soulless by Kel Carpenter and Lucinda Dark

Long Live the Soulless (Dark Maji Book 5) by [Kel Carpenter]

She died protecting the man she loved. She died by his hands. And on that blood soaked grave, vengeance grew.

Quinn Darkova leads a listless existence in the dark realm. As honored guest and beloved by Mazzulah, she wants for nothing. But when Risk enters the realm to save her, the dark god can’t resist a good bargain.

Lazarus is not the man he once was. Consumed by his own grief, he’s a beast whose sole motivation in life is getting revenge on the man who took Quinn from him.

Fate isn’t done with either of them.
There’s still one game left to play.
Winner takes all, and no matter the victor, the Sirian continent will never be the same again.

This is the fifth and final book in the Dark Maji series. This series must be read in order.

While this was a good end to the series, I will say that this book ramped up a few things that I’m not certain readers will quite enjoy. Firstly, the depravity of Nero is fully seen on display, both in actions he actively takes part of and things he did in the past. That depravity (of a different sort but equally heinous) is shared by another king, and his end was well deserved. Secondly, the editing in this particular book left a lot to be desired. There were several mistakes, which while they didn’t necessarily take away anything from the story, the rest of the series was so well done that it did take me out of the book/world, if only for a few moments. All in all I didn’t feel cheated by the ending, and it seemed a good way to leave things- though I would love a side story to tie up the loose ends.

Review of For King and Corruption by Kel Carpenter and Lucinda Dark

For King and Corruption (Dark Maji Book 4) by [Kel Carpenter]

After five months of journeying across the continent with her sister, Quinn is finally ready to return to the king she swore to serve.

But war has been brewing over Norcasta in her absence. While Lazarus may reign as king, there are those that would see the blood heirs in power instead.

Quinn, however, will never let that happen. Her brutality threatens to drive a wedge between her and those she cares about, but they should know she would do anything to protect them.

Caught between the wills of his Left and Right Hands, Lazarus must navigate the pit of vipers that is his court and decide what sort of king he wants to be. But when Quinn pushes too far, she ignites a series of events that will either cement his rule, or destroy House Fierté entirely.

I loved the development that Risk makes in this novel, and how Quinn and Lazarus have their reckoning. The end of this book was… soul destroying, and of course I immediately had to start the next and final book in the series. I quite enjoyed the book, and how everyone in Lazarus’ dark vassal/emissary court fits in with the average court fixture.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯