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

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

Synopsis:
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.

Review:
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: ✯✯✯✯

Review of Twisted is the Crown by Kel Carpenter and Lucinda Dark

Twisted is the Crown (Dark Maji Book 3) by [Kel Carpenter]

Synopsis:
Quinn Darkova made a vow from the very beginning.
And now she’s home.

For revenge . . .

Except N’skara isn’t the same as it was ten years ago, and the person she came for is nowhere to be found. After being taken ashore by armed guards of the same Council they came to sway, Quinn knows it’s up to her to uncover the truth about what really happened, while seeking the retribution owed to her.

Lazarus knew she was hiding something. He knew she had unfinished business in N’skara. But never could he have known this. He hadn’t predicted how set in their ways the people were. He hadn’t listened to the warnings when Quinn spoke of secrets and lies. He hadn’t realized that the woman he couldn’t stay away from was forged as much by blood as she was by darkness.

Now it was time to learn.
In a land of sheep, it pays to be a wolf.

Review:
This is the back story we have been waiting for; what led Quinn to doing what she did, and becoming what she is. Carpenter and Dark have said it was the driving force behind the series and you can certainly see why. There is such treachery and heartbreak; there could be no greater title for this book. This is where the series turns dark, and where the depravity is seen. Quinn has to face her past demons but also move Lazarus’ agenda along and forge a completely new path and life for the N’skara… whether they want it or not.

I absolutely loved this book. It showed such depth of Quinn and even of Lazarus. Quinn is better understood in this book, and their relationship deepens with the level of trust and understanding they had to give and use. This book is also where the true spice between them is finally fully out there.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Blessed be the Wicked by Kel Carpenter and Lucinda Dark

Blessed be the Wicked (Dark Maji Book 2) by [Kel Carpenter]

Synopsis:
Some will try to trap her in hopes of harnessing her dark power.
Others will seek to end her, deeming it too terrible to risk.

In the end, he will destroy them all—because Quinn is his weapon, and he plans to keep it that way.

Lazarus was warned that Quinn’s power might be too great, even for him, but nothing prepared him for the truth of it until she held a dagger over him, and he was powerless to stop it. Now at odds with himself, the future king of Norcasta must find a way to regain control of his house and secure an alliance with the Pirate Queen…before fate tips its hand once more, and his carefully laid plans are led astray.

Quinn’s loyalty is not easily won, but Lazarus has managed to do it. Now the vassal and right-hand of Lord Fierté, Quinn seeks to gain him an alliance with Ilvas all the while challenging him at every turn. With the Cisean tribes won over, and the blood heirs behind them, Quinn expects this to be an easy task, but soon finds herself entangled in a web of lies.

Forced to gamble with her life—and the lives of her comrades—Quinn must make a choice that will either save or doom them all.

Review:
Now this book went much like the first; I was enthralled and pulled deeply into it. In many ways this series seriously differs from Carpenter’s usual works. There is that delicious tension between Quinn and Lazarus, but it hasn’t become more than tension; she’s still his vassal, but honestly, that adds so much more to the stakes within the story. I won’t say the “mystery” was all that hard to solve for I had figured it out before it really became an issue, but the real treasure of this story was getting further backstory for some of the Ilvas people. Like all Carpenter novels I couldn’t put it down, and can’t wait to continue onto book 3. This book was a bit shorter than the last, but it felt just right. If you like sweet heat and slow build, smart women this is definitely a series for you!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Fortune Favors the Cruel by Kel Carpenter and Lucinda Dark

Fortune Favors the Cruel (Dark Maji Book 1) by [Kel Carpenter]

Synopsis:
Throne of Glass meets Black Jewels in this twisted yet alluring dark fantasy tale.

Quinn Darkova, freed from the chains of slavery, wants nothing more than vengeance against those who sold her. But with her dark powers on the rise and her ascension nearing, Quinn’s blood retribution will have to wait in favor of her immediate survival.

Lazarus Fierté is a nobleman without equal. He’s as controlling as he is stubborn, and for the last six years he’s been waiting for a woman to appear—but not just any woman. A Maji of great power, capable of terrible things. She could be the key to everything he holds dear.

His savior … or his destroyer.

The only thing he didn’t predict was that she would become both.

*Please note, this is a dark fantasy series. There is a heavy romance subplot between two consenting adults but the material is dark in nature. The characters are not heroes. This isn’t a story about saving the day.*

Review:
From the beginning, this book had me drawn in. From the beginning we’re shown that Quinn has something to fear, something to run from, and something she wants vengeance for. There are different stakes at every turn, and every choice leads to potential ruination. The multitude of subplots gives the book a great build where you never really want to set it down, because who knows what might happen next! The slow build up of relationship between Quinn and the other vassals and Lazarus is both gradual and intense at the same time. I quite enjoyed falling into Quinn’s world, and am greatly looking forward to continuing on in the series.

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of White Raven by Kel Carpenter and Aurelia Jane

White Raven (A Demon's Guide to the Afterlife Book 2) by [Kel Carpenter, Aurelia Jane]

Synopsis:
An alpha wolf, a seductive vampire, and a dominant fae all walk into a bar. What do they have in common? Being mated to me, apparently.

My dreams of retirement crashed and burned when the rogue shifter bit me. Not only have I changed into something neither world has ever seen before, but my mission just became even more impossible. To find the answers about what I am, I enlist the help of an infamous ex-poltergeist, a shifter freak, and my least favorite pigeon.

What a team we make.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that my mate’s bloodthirsty daughter is awake and hunting my ass now? Because that’s a thing too.

Why?
I have no idea, but we have every intention of finding out.

An angel is playing games with me, but little do they know—I’ve got three alphas by my side, and this dark horse plays for keeps.

Review:
There are twists and turns in this book for days! As always, Carpenter delivers and Jane is keeping up there! This book has everything that keeps readers coming back for more- depth, passion, and introspection on what makes one happy and want to stay someplace, what home can mean, and how trauma can last long after it has stopped actively happening.

This book picked up with all the spice and connections that Carpenter has used as a draw in the past, and I quite enjoyed every bit of it. This felt perfect, well done, and like I never wanted it to end and simultaneously couldn’t put it down. The worst part was realizing I have to wait until December 1st for the last book in this trilogy!

Star Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Sky of Wind: An East of the Sun West of the Moon Romance by Emily Deady

Sky of Wind: An East of the Sun West of the Moon Romance (Fairy Tale Royals Book 4) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
He’s my fake husband. Our kingdom’s only hope.
And he has no idea that I’m desperately in love with him.

I’m not strong and powerful like my brothers. I’m just a princess. A rather spoiled princess. My skills will not help us win this war.

But turns out, my mischievous mind and diplomatic mouth are perfect for subterfuge. By marrying Sol–a magic-wielder–I can sweet talk our way directly into the enemy’s headquarters where Sol can destroy the source of their power.

I just can’t let myself get distracted by my fake husband’s stormy eyes, or the gentle pressure of his hand on my arm as we exchange pleasantries with fellow dignitaries.

Pull it together, princess. Your people come first.

Sky of Wind is a standalone sweet romance with a happily ever after set in a larger fantasy world. It can be read on its own, but if you don’t like spoilers, start with Shard of Glass.

Review:
I absolutely loved this book. Having just finished the book about Robin when she was younger it was so great seeing not so young Meena. I absolutely loved seeing Robin again as well, especially with the knowledge that Lady or Maid gave. Meena shows that she had deep feelings and puts others first, even if her family never gives her the chance to ever do anything. Perhaps it’s because she’s a girl, perhaps it’s because she’s youngest, but seeing her learn of the real world and plight of other people was both heartbreaking and endearing. She took everything in stride and worked so hard to try to keep her people, and Sol, safe. This series is magnificent and I loved this book. Highly recommend this series and Emily Deady as an author.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Secrets of the Specter: A Haunted Mystery, A Magical Cat & A Modern-Day Candlestick Maker by Molly Fitz and L. A. Boruff

Secrets of the Specter: A Haunted Mystery, A Magical Cat & A Modern-Day Candlestick Maker (Meowing Medium Book 1) by [Molly Fitz, L.A. Boruff]

Synopsis:
I’m Mags McAllister, and I am an honest-to-goodness modern-day candlestick maker. I work in my family’s shop in the historic district of Larkhaven, Georgia, and also make a pretty penny from sharing videos of my process online.

My life is simple, quiet, and all mine… until a white cat with mismatched eyes shows up outside my shop and refuses to leave. When I take him home, things get really weird. As in, I can now see things and people that were never there before.

It gets even freakier when a voiceless spirit introduces herself to me via a handwritten letter. This specter claims that I share her name and will also share her fate if we can’t solve the mystery that’s haunted our town since 1781… and quickly because she won’t be able to maintain her strength for much longer.

Talk about a cold case! Can I find a way to free my eighteenth-century counterpart? Or has my new feline companion just signed my death warrant by opening my eyes to the secret supernatural plane in our otherwise sleepy small town?

Review:
I decided to switch genres a bit to something modern and quirky in honour of Halloween, and I am oh so glad that I a) managed to finish this in one day and b) read this! I quite love Molly Ftiz’ writing style, and I absolutely adored how she opened the story. In many ways, it reminded me of doing an in character book talk where a character is coming up and telling you everything about themselves, but the way it tied into the story was excellently done and I loved it. I loved all the modern social media/internet tie ins. It’s a very pop/now book, but that’s part of what makes it so neat.

I had ideas on who the mysterious person we were looking for might be but I was constantly (pleasantly) redirected by suggestions of what Mags was thinking, which I found utterly delightful. It’s quite a light read, but quirky and fun. I would highly recommend it.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of Lady or Maid: A Goose Girl novella by Emily Deady

Lady or Maid: A Goose Girl Novella (Fairy Tale Royals) by [Emily Deady]

Synopsis:
Most people wouldn’t complain about being sent to live in a palace.
But I’d rather stay in my forest home.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice. I’m far too young to inherit Lockwood and the king of Iseldis is now my guardian. His luxurious feasts, blazing fires, and fancy clothing will do nothing to ease the fresh pain in my heart.

But my maid has an excellent suggestion. If we switch places before we arrive at the palace, I can grieve my lost parents in peace before my entire life changes.

What could go wrong?

Lady or Maid is a short story about Ian and Robin which takes place ten years before Shard of Glass. It is a sweet retelling of The Goose Girl and takes place during the Iseldan version of Christmas. Cuddle up for some cozy snow, sour berries, and a first crush.

Review:
This book was just perfect. I loved how donkeys were worked in instead of merely horses; it gave an interesting and neat development to the story that hasn’t been done. It was also neat how Robin showed herself to Ian despite supposedly being a goose girl, and how much he could see from his interactions with her. His keen insight after studying under his father to become king was quite well shown. I quite enjoyed this novella, and didn’t want to set it down. It was easy to read, but what really drew me in was how it really revolved around the emotions, relationships, and connections between the royals and their inner circle. Absolutely loved it.

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

Review of A Vow So Bold and Deadly by Brigid Kemmerer

Synopsis:
Kingdoms will clash. Choose your side.

The incredible conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Face your fears, fight the battle.
Emberfall is crumbling fast, torn between those who believe Rhen is the rightful prince and those who are eager to begin a new era under Grey, the true heir. Grey has agreed to wait two months before attacking Emberfall, and in that time, Rhen has turned away from everyone–even Harper, as she desperately tries to help him find a path to peace.

Fight the battle, save the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Lia Mara struggles to rule Syhl Shallow with a gentler hand than her mother. But after enjoying decades of peace once magic was driven out of their lands, some of her subjects are angry Lia Mara has an enchanted prince and a magical scraver by her side. As Grey’s deadline draws nearer, Lia Mara questions if she can be the queen her country needs.

As the two kingdoms come closer to conflict, loyalties are tested, love is threatened, and an old enemy resurfaces who could destroy them all, in this stunning conclusion to bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer’s Cursebreaker series.

Review:
I waited and waited for the two factions to end up together and honestly I was not disappointed when they were together. However, when the parties were separate, it really seemed like Harper and Rhen left any sort of real connection for most of the book. When they finally came back together, their spark was undeniable, but it remained very obvious that Harper never really found a purpose in Emberfall, though she originally tried to help out in previous books. Jake finally found a purpose, which was great to see, but, Harper really failed quite a bit and really played the part of “uncertain little sister” in this book. The men were great, grew, had good arcs. The women, however, seemed to grow less certain of themselves. Harper’s spark was seen when she fled the castle, but Lia Mara never truly seemed to become fully confident in herself.

While I loved the last chapter and where it seemed to be going I felt like we dropped off with part of the story left untold. Harper still had no real “end” and while we can assume Noah and Jake are together we don’t know where they are staying or what they plan to do. It feels like there should be another book to tie up loose ends, which is to say, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one set 16 years in the future or so…

Star rating: ✯✯✯✯

Review of A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Synopsis:
Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Grey may be the heir, but he doesn’t want anyone to know his secret. On the run since he destroyed Lilith, he has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

Review:
This book is just as epic as the last, however, in different ways. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this one. I wasn’t a fan of Lia Mara and moreso the concept at first because I loved the dynamic of Grey, Harper, and Rhen. Unfortunately, this book really made it more and more apparent that Rhen isn’t the protagonist he may have appeared to be previously. While there are understandable reasons for his actions and reactions, I have found myself disliking him more and more… but also liking Grey more.

My personal opinion at the end of this is that Harper would do better as ruler herself, and that there better be a damn good final book in the trilogy to somehow tie this train wreck together. It would have made quite a bit more sense, in my head, for Rhen to have told Harper, and ended up with Harper himself. Instead, everyone seems completely different than they were, and while I enjoyed seeing Grey go out and find a love of his own, it seemed as if there was a major plot missing because as some other reviewers have mentioned, Rhen had lived with Grey for years and should have been able to spot there was an issue. Clearly, the heart so fierce and broken was Rhen’s, in retrospection.

I am not a fan of the actual ending at all. Who would do that after all those three had been through?!

Star rating: ✯✯✯