Review of Peppermint and Pentacles: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Peppermint and Pentacles: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 3) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
Up on the housetop werewolves howl
Out jumps good old Agent Louvel
Down through the chimney chasing monsters quick
Feeling far less jolly than Old Saint Nick

Red Cape Society Agent Clemeny Louvel is used to chasing werewolves across London. But when she’s reassigned to a special case just days before Christmas, she learns that she’ll need more than a silver bullet to keep everyone on the nice list.


Review:
Finally we get to see a nice decent amount of grandmere Louvel! I always enjoyed her “oranges and lemons!” exclamation but I hadn’t known where it was from. This has been one of my absolute favourite books in the series, because I noticed what was happening before the characters told you, and it was just so festive and fun. I really enjoy seeing the characters relationships developing and how the people interact. I know in some reviews of previous books in this series people have complained that she uses modern language and that takes away from the “steampunk” side of things being Victorian, but to me the setting is what gives it the Victorian vibe, the steampunk elements are from the contraptions, and honestly, I find myself deeply entrenched, wanting more, more, more. I am going to be quite sad when I finish this series(which will likely be today or tomorrow at this rate).

Review of Alphas and Airships: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Alphas and Airships: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 2) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
With Lionheart as the new alpha, the streets of London are quiet.

But above the realm, mischief is brewing.

While airship pirates are a common plague upon the kingdom, the Airship Fenrir proves particularly troublesome—especially on a full moon.

Clemeny must take to the skies before these shape-shifting Vikings kick off a new Ragnarok. Easier said than done now that she’s down one good eye, a partner, and not to mention the fact that she gets motion sick.

On top of that, the new scar across her face makes Clemeny feel like she’ll have better luck intimidating her foes than finding a beau. But Agent Edwin Hunter, recently assigned as head of Clemeny’s division, is proving to be an interesting prospect. Despite her apprehensions, it’s up to Agent Louvel to chase Fenrir across the heavens.


Review:
Clemeny is down a partner, but she still has work to do, so she has to deal with someone perhaps a bit green, but at least they do get along. I quite enjoy how Clemeny gets on with everyone, and how even those she doesn’t really know seem drawn to somewhat like her and help her. Many thanks to the wife of the Captain! I also quite enjoy how there are a few unsuspected saviours/helpers towards the end.

Like the first book, this story goes quickly. I’m not sure if it’s because these are short or just superbly written, but I find myself soaring through them.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Wolves and Daggers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale by Melanie Karsak

Wolves and Daggers: A Steampunk Fairy Tale (Steampunk Red Riding Hood Book 1) by [Melanie Karsak]

Synopsis:
Who’s afraid of the big, bad wolf?

When London’s brightest tinkers and alchemists come up missing, Red Cape Society Agent Clemeny Louvel is on the case. As an agent for London’s preternatural enforcers, Clemeny has seen it all. Even though they call her Little Red due to her diminutive size, Clemeny is feared by the werewolf packs. But this case is different. When Clemeny discovers goblins, werewolves, and vampires working together, she realizes a darker danger is looming.

To help Clemeny get the problem in hand, Queen Victoria assigns her a temporary partner–a werewolf with a knightly history and a tendency to be far too flirtatious for either of their good. Can she trust him to help her chase down the monsters they’re hunting?

Review:
This book is a treasure- easy to fall and lost in. It has everything you could want- steampunk, supernatural, and the interwoven fairy tales are just a bonus along the way. It is short, concise, and to the point- without a lot of overwriting that many do. The relationships are realistic and the characters have flaws. I love how red riding hood is seamlessly woven into the Victorian society of this book, and how everything interlocks perfectly. I was quite pleased to realize it was book 1 in a series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Mr. Hired Boss by Lindsey Hart

Mr. Hired Boss (Alphalicious Billionaires Boss Book 4) by [Lindsey Hart]

Synopsis:
He is the WRONG guy!
I brought the wrong guy home to mummy and daddy…
#FML

I met him the night I swore men off forever.
And proposed to him right there and then.
Pretend to be my boyfriend for the weekend!

Yup, I hired a stranger as my escort.
I had my reasons, okay.
Plus him, love, and all that drama shit? Not going to happen. Ever!
All the pretend stuff? Child’s play.
Sharing my bed with him? Easy peasy.
My family? They are totally going to fawn over him.

See all-round perfect.
Why?
Because he is gay.
Except… you know…
Well, he is being a little too perfect in his job.
So perfect that I’m not sure what is fake anymore.
So perfect that I’m seeing heartbreak written all over him.
And that is most definitely not what I hired him for!

Review:
Disappointing. This book had such potential to be great. It had good characters, an interesting premise, but for all that lead up only had one sex scene that wasn’t written well. I quite enjoyed the characters and the heat and intensity between them as their story unfolds and they pretend to be in a relationship, but the actual intimacy wasn’t gripping. If this was classified as a sweet romance, it’d be five stars (and that one scene would likely be omitted) but as it isn’t, I’ll give it three. Plotline and characters were great, language was a bit weird with the word “farging” being used instead of the curse word “fucking”, but the “romance” part… not so much.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯

Review of House of Assassins by Larry Correia

House of Assassins (Saga of the Forgotten Warrior Book 2) by [Larry Correia]

Synopsis:
Ashok Vadal was once a member of the highest caste in all of Lok. As a Protector, he devoted his life to upholding the Law, rooting out those who still practiced the old ways and delivering swift justice with his ancestor blade Angruvadal. None was more merciless than he in stamping out the lingering belief in gods and demons among the casteless. His brutality was legendary and celebrated.

But soon Ashok learned that his life to that point had been a lie. He himself, senior member of the Protector Order, was casteless. He had been nothing more than an unwitting pawn in a political game. His world turned upside down and finding himself on the wrong side of the Law, he began a campaign of rebellion, war, and destruction unlike any Lok had ever seen.

Thera had been first daughter of Vane. A member of the Warrior Order, she had spent her life training for combat. Until a strange sight in the heavens appeared one day. Thera was struck by lighting and from that day forward she heard the Voice. A reluctant prophet with the power to see into the future, she fought alongside Ashok Vadal and his company of men known as the Sons of the Black Sword until a shapeshifting wizard with designs on her powers of precognition spirited her away. He holds her prisoner in the House of Assassins.

Ashok Vadal and the Sons of the Black Sword march to rescue Thera. With his sword Angruvadal, Ashok was unstoppable. But Angruvadal is gone, shattered to pieces on the demon possessed husk of a warrior. Now, Ashok must fight without the aid of the magic blade for the first time. Thera’s life depends on it.

But there is much more at risk in the continent of Lok. Strange forces are working behind the scenes. Ashok Vadal and the Sons of the Black Sword are caught up in a game they do not fully understand, with powerful forces allied against them.

Ashok no longer knows what to believe. He is beginning to think perhaps the gods really do exist.

If so, he’s warned them to stay out of his way.

They would do well to listen.

Review:
This book is amazing. There is so much depth of the various character’s backstories, and we get to understand more of how they came to be the characters we know from the first story. Not everyone is born to privilege, but everyone is shaped by the different events in their life and their chosen reactions, and that is especially true to our ragtag bunch of Sons of the Blacksword.

I certainly found myself rooting more for Thera, and understanding her plight more the deeper into this book that I got. Ashok’s resignation to helping with anything against the law is still in full force, but we see him begin to think and act more of his own accord and conscious. I am quite enjoying how the various groups believe there is nothing tying them together, yet there seems to be bits and pieces that meld from group to group. While some villains may have slight redeeming qualities, there are still plenty of surprises to be had, and I can’t say I’m too upset about anything I read, but I’m also quite glad that we already have book 3 for me to start soon.



Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Close Quarters by Emily Deady

Close Quarters: Enemies to Lovers (A Brekka Romance Book 1) by [Emily Deady]

A forced engagement. A cramped ship. Two hearts that refuse to bend.

When Ceola’s father arranges her marriage to Tuav Strand, she’s furious. Not only is she in love with someone else, she’s tired of sacrificing everything for her father’s political career. But when her father offers her a handsome sum to spend three months with the man before she calls it off, she gladly accepts the deal. That money means freedom.

Tuav is a sailor, not a politician. He won’t abandon his summer patrol for some spoiled girl from the capital, even if she is the Regent’s daughter. What he can do, however, is make her miserable enough to break off the engagement herself.

When Ceola arrives at the coast to spend time with the man she already hates, she finds him leaving on patrol. The only way she can fulfill her bargain is to join his expedition. Stuck on a confining ship with him, a lighthearted crew, and an old natural philosopher, her only respite is that in three months it will all be over. Or will it?

This sweet romance is an enemies-to-lovers tale full of banter, adventure, romance, and a happily ever after.

Review:
I quite enjoyed the development of our lead protagonists from naive children to adults that had to empathize with each other, and that other people have goals and ambitions in life. I thought it was incredibly realistic as I know I, for one, was (am) a hopeless romantic, and probably spent far too much of my time daydreaming about relationships that were never to be. Ceola really has to grow up and not act like a brat, and while Tuav finds himself learning more of the girl, it is really Ceola who develops.

The ending was nice, but seemed a bit lackluster, with a promise but nothing actually finished. I imagine that, like the Fairy Tale Royals books, you’ll learn more about how everything settles in the next book in the series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯


On a side note, clearly once I read some books of an author I really like, I tend to devour a lot. Any recommendations from those of you reading?

Review of Dark Horse by Kel Carpenter and Aurelia Jane

Dark Horse (A Demon's Guide to the Afterlife Book 1) by [Kel Carpenter, Aurelia Jane]

Synopsis:
My husband killed me.

Instead of spending my immortal Afterlife pissed off and angry, I moved on. I became someone.
Sure, that someone was a demon with the highest track record of reform, AKA punishment, in Hell. But who’s bragging?

I’m right on my way to retirement behind the pearly gates. Everything was going fine . . . until the Risk Witches saw a terrible vision.

Three men. Each scarred in their own way, born with powers that haven’t been seen in eons.
Upper Management sent the best to correct their path. Angels. Poltergeists. Nothing worked.

These men were too stubborn. Too bad. Too untamed…

So they sent me.

Roman. Ezra. Dorian.
Combined, they have enough power to end the world—and they will.
Unless I find a way to stop them first.

Breaking people is my job. But this time…my job might break me.

Author’s Note: 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.

Review:
So, clearly I love books by Kel Carpenter, and this was no exception. I will say that I found the beginning very jarring and wasn’t sure if I was going to like it if that was the tone expected, but the surprise factor was indeed there perhaps because, as Fury would say, you can’t do what people expect. I really enjoyed the differentiation of abilities for the different species, and how they had their own special skills, and how that influenced Fury’s connection to them.

While I did enjoy this story and trying to figure things out, I found that it lacked a lot of the jabs and tension that most Carpenter books seem to entail, and it certainly lacked the intimacy that most books hold. I also found that the descriptions weren’t quite right in my head, though perhaps that’s because the word amber was used to describe both eyes and skin tone.

All in all, I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Pearl of Magic: A Little Mermaid Romance by Emily Deady

Pearl of Magic: A Little Mermaid Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 3) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Life in captivity is horrible.

But pretending to be a prisoner is worse. 

Aizel is a Majis and, against her will, a spy. She is supposed to be uncovering secrets for a cruel king, but spends most of her time listening to the haughty, self-absorbed musings of her captor, Prince Erich. 

It would be much less frustrating if she could at least complain about it, but the king has silenced her, taking away her voice so that she cannot wield her magic. 

If she fails to gather information from Erich, her family will be killed. But if she reports back to the king, her people’s only hope for freedom will be exterminated. Can she find a way to communicate with her captor and convince him of the truth about the Majis?

Review:
My goodness does this story have depth! Erich is the last born son, and as such, he finds himself not thought of and respected as his older brothers, and although he does have to act the part of a prince, he doesn’t enjoy having to squelch his self to be prim and proper. Aizel is the opposite, with lots of responsibility and guilt at not being more capable than she is. Both are good protagonists with a lot of depth and growth throughout the story. Both have to overcome obstacles and learn to see beyond the information they’ve had propagated throughout their lives.

I quite enjoyed all of the time alone that we got to witness, and how Erich and Aizel interact with their horses, and the mention of how one is with their horse tends to give an insight to how they are as a person. This may be my favourite in the series so far, though I truly loved A Shard of Glass. I absolutely adore how all of these stories are woven together within one family, but how each story gives more insights on parts of the story we read in previous novels in the series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Thorn of Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Romance by Emily Deady

Thorn of Rose: A Beauty and the Beast Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 2) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Beauty is a curse.

It attracts the basest sort of men, even a beast.

With her father deathly ill, Isabel Bielsa throws herself into their mutual passion: bookbinding. Hiding in the library also allows her to avoid the unwanted attentions of the local self-absorbed noblemen. But, there is only so many times one can read the same book. When the governing council demands her father’s skills she happily goes in his stead. 

However, her new library assignment is far from private. Prince Aden of Iseldis, cursed into the form of a beast, keeps interrupting her work. With his idealistic standards and comfortable self-righteousness, she sees him as just another man besotted by her beauty. That is, until Isabel discovers that his curse has also affected his eyesight. 

As her feelings for him grow, Isabel nears the end of her assignment. Can she break Aden’s curse before the magical attacker comes back to finish him off for good?

Thorn of Rose is a fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It is a sequel to Shard of Glass, but can be read out of order. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and a self-assured heroine, than this story was written for you.

Review:
Both Isabel and Aden have strong ideals and personalities, which make them clash and have to actually work to get to know each other–something that likely could have and would have happened even without his curse. Isabel is very opinionated and used to dealing with people thinking she is stupid (something any reasonably attractive female is unfortunately well acquainted with, I fear) and perhaps because of that can be rather brash and cruel, assuming all men are the same because most she has come to know have been. Aden is both brash but quite emotional and carrying, and his relationship with Warrior and dedication to keeping people safe is sweet.

I absolutely love this take on Beauty and the Beast, because while some versions (Disney) claim she’s a beauty but don’t necessarily show it beyond one annoying suitor, this not only shows why she would be so annoyed with men in general, but also gave her a depth and level of intelligence other versions lack. There were always high stakes, and the story flowed very well, and was hard to put down. I absolutely loved the integration of her love of books and how connected she is to her father through her love of reading and the written word.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Shard of Glass: A Cinderella Romance by Emily Deady

Shard of Glass: A Cinderella Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 1) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Once she was a noblewoman.

Now she is a palace servant.

Ashlin never pictured herself scrubbing floors. But with the family savings depleted and her stepmother crippled by grief, Ashlin selflessly takes a job at the royal palace. She can pursue her dreams of becoming a seamstress someday in the future.

However, as she forms an unlikely friendship with the prince, she learns that the future may not be so certain. Wielders of a powerful magic threaten their small coastal kingdom and Prince Onric does not believe that their defenses will hold. 

As Ashlin navigates growing feelings for the charming prince, she realizes that her unique skills could help save the kingdom. But can she trust the charming prince or he is merely exploiting her selfless nature? 

Shard of Glass is a fantasy retelling of Cinderella. Discover a world where heroines can be both powerful and worthy of protection. If you love sweet romance, a little bit of magic, and heart-melting conversations, then this story was written for you.

Review:
This book was sweet, with nice layers. It wasn’t your typical Cinderella story, but there were definite elements that would be recognized. Ashlin is kind, smart, and resourceful and although she allows herself to be manipulated, she is a strong, brave woman. I absolutely loved getting to see how Onric interacted with Ashlin, and how she got to become herself again after tragedy. I will likely continue reading this series, in part to get more glimpses of enthralling captivating fairy tales that you feel yourself fully drawn into and invested in.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯