Wednesday 31 October 2012

Tangled Web by Crista McHugh (Deizian Empire #1)

Genres: Adult, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: October 9th 2012
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 8 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


The deadliest assassin in the empire just got too close to her target…

Azurha, a former slave turned deadliest assassin in the empire, has just been offered the ultimate challenge—seduce, then murder the new Emperor. But Titus is not the tyrant his forefathers were, and his radical ideas might be the glimmer of hope the empire needs.

Titus Sergius Flavus has yet to master the powerful magic of his ancestors—magic he must wield if he’s to protect his people—but his father’s death has left him no choice. Rule the Deizian Empire and attempt to right his ancestors’ wrongs, or watch her fall to his greedy kin.

More than just Titus’ ideas hold Azurha captive. Night after night, he awakens desires she thought lost, and uncovers the magic of her hidden lineage. As her deadline approaches, Azurha is forced to make an impossible decision—complete her job and kill the man she loves, or fail and forfeit both their lives.


This was a very interesting world that reminded me of a cross between ancient Rome and the Barsoom series. Azurha's planet was conquered by the Deizians, who now rule using their technology which only they can control with magic. It was a combination of fantasy and sci-fi that you don't see often, especially not in romance.

I have read a lot of court intrigues and books about female assassins lately, and this was better than all of them. It wasn't too slow or talkie and didn't focus on politics. The romance was smoldering and the action and suspense was so intense that it literally left me breathless with anticipation. At one point, I had to put the book down and watch some TV for awhile, to let my heart-rate get back to normal.

Azurha and Titus had great chemistry that you could see and feel, even outside the bedroom, although that's where they spent most of their time. The sex scenes are not particularly graphic and are sometimes as short as one paragraph, but they are ridiculously frequent so I would still categorize this as erotica. Azurha is a perfect example of the saying, "Behind every great man is a great woman." With her help, Titus has the potential to be a great emperor who can save their planet. They complement each other and make each other want to be better people. And they love each other desperately.

There is always a conflict part-way through a romance, and Titus was inevitably going to find out Azurha's secret, but I love how it was handled. Titus acted rationally and considered what he knew about her before jumping to any conclusions. He loved her enough to consider her side before letting his hurt feelings get in the way. It was a major event, but hardly even a stumbling block in their relationship.

The first part of the book focused on developing Azurha and Titus' relationship and establishing her place in the story. But after Azurha changed her mind about her place, things started to get tense. There was always something else around the corner. But now Azurha and Titus can face it together, and I cannot wait to read the next book!

“For the first time in her life, she felt free. Free to do as she wished. Free to shape her future. Free to love the man who knew her darkest secrets and still wanted her.  And she embraced it with every fiber of her being.”

Thursday 25 October 2012

Born of Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon (The League #1)

Genres: Adult, Sci-fi, Romance
Publication Date: September 29th 2009
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
Smut-O-Meter: 5 out of 10
My Rating: 5 out of 5


In the Ichidian Universe, The League and their ruthless assassins rule all. Expertly trained and highly valued, the League Assassins are the backbone of the government. But not even the League is immune to corruption . . .

Command Assassin Nykyrian Quikiades once turned his back on the League—and has been hunted by them ever since. Though many have tried, none can kill him or stop him from completing his current mission: to protect Kiara Zamir, a woman whose father’s political alliance has made her a target.

As her world becomes even deadlier, Kiara must entrust her life to the same kind of beast who once killed her mother and left her for dead. Old enemies and new threaten them both and the only way they can survive is to overcome their suspicions and learn to trust in the very ones who threaten them the most: each other.


This book was amazing! It was the best book I have read in a long time! It was also my first Sherrilyn Kenyon book and I look forward to there being many more of them in my future.

I really enjoyed going back to my roots and reading some sci-fi, while still indulging my new obsession of romance. And it really had everything. Laser blasters, space dog fights, bars full of unidentifiable aliens. All very cool. But most of all it had romance. I could die happy. And I just might if I don't stop thinking about Nykyrian. He is going to give me a heart attack. If you are a fan of tortured heroes, like I am, this book is for you! Nykyrian is the epitome of tortured heroes. Although I hear Sherrilyn Kenyon has some great tortured heroes in her historical romances, so I will definitely be checking those out!

Nykyrian is the most tortured hero I have ever met. He was not only tortured by his past, but he was tortured in his past. He was beaten down and abused, chained and treated like an animal, mutilated and raped, told he wasn't human and that he was worthless until he believed it. Eventually nothing bothered him anymore, physically or emotionally, he was untouchable, until Kiara. She was a ballerina that he thought was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and everything that he would never deserve. But after she is thrust into his path he has no choice but to protect her, and she wants nothing more than to show him his true worth.

As they grow accustomed to each other, Kiara gets enough glimpses into his beautiful soul to know that she wants more. Kiara does most of the work in this relationship, putting up with Nykyrian's attempts to protect himself by pushing her away, trying to break through and convince him he deserves everything she wants to give him. I cant help but want to love men like Nykyrian. And when he finally does find reason to let her in, he is so passionate. He has so much feeling in him that he never had a reason to use before. Its so powerful. I just love how much they fought for each other. Through all the assassins, all the gun fights, their sights were still on each other. Always.

"I wish I could take away your pain. I wish I could go back to when you were born and take you somewhere safe. Far away from all the people who've hurt you." 
"You’re doing that now."

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Vengeance Born by Kylie Griffin (The Light Blade #1)

Genres: Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
Smut-O-Meter: 7 out of 10
My Rating: 4 out of 5


Her lineage is both a blessing and a curse...

There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not pure bred is virtually powerless. Until an unlikely champion is born...

Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na'Reish king, longs for more than a tormented life among her father's people. Conceived in hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she's gifted with a special talent that can heal as well as destroy...

With the Na'Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone. Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by theNa'Reish horde have increased. As chosen leader, he faces the task of stopping the demons—and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is necessary for survival.

When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father's dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council—and discover a shocking truth that could throw the human race into a civil war...


I was surprised how much I enjoyed the story in this, despite the fact that I was only reading for the romance. At first I was a bit bothered by the stiff dialogue. It sounded too formal to be natural. But it is a fantasy world and perhaps they simply speak like that there. But despite stiff dialogue, that story was captivating. It was first and foremost a romance, but it still had a large story full of larger-than-life characters, dark evils, and world shifting threats, as well as an interesting history and mythology.

Also very impressive was the way the relationship between Annika and Kalan was laid out and paced. The book wasted no time getting right into the story in the first chapter, and you see the respect and trust growing between them throughout the first half of the book. Then the strong physical attraction, then their unwavering friendship, then love. A strong, self-sacrificing love. It was incredibly real and organic. Also, they didnt love each other just because. They were both incredible people well worth loving, and I could see their reasons alive in each of them.

This is a wonderfully beautiful combination of high fantasy and adult romance for fans of both genres. If you are only a fan of high fantasy, this may not be for you due to multiple graphic sex scenes, but if you are a fan of both, or just romance, this is a must!

I am very much looking forward to reading Alliance Forged, which is Kymora and Varian's story. From the moment they met, their connection was as obvious as Annika and Kalan's. Having gotten to know their characters quite well in Vengeance Born, I am not against a switch of MC. I usually avoid such series, but Varian had several chapters from his POV in this, which acclimated me to him and Kymora. I cannot wait to learn more about those two enticing characters!

“Say it again, Na’Chi.” 
“I love you, Light Blade.”

Friday 12 October 2012

Guardian of Time by Amanda Gerry, Christy Hall (Shardwell #2)

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
Publication Date: August 6th 2012
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 5 out of 5

A secret has the power to destroy a kingdom.

I have learned this through both isolation and sorrow. My inheritance is a legacy of lies—they flow through my family like poison. Each new morning they become harder to hide.

But now my world is in turmoil. The Second Kingdom has already fallen. Demons rise from its ashes, crossing our borders to slaughter my people. Betrayal threatens to consume all I strive to defend. The Jeweled City is on the brink of war. Only my marriage to a stranger can slow its tide.

How can I choose between duty and love?


This book was even better than the first, and perhaps even better than anything I have read all year. It is a prequel to Phoenix Angel, and shows what Maggie and Lily's lives were like before, as Margariete and Esilwen, and even explains some of the events referred to at the end of Phoenix Angel. Sadly, Kyle was not in this at all, but we get to learn a great deal more about Carter, as well as Raeylan and Feralblade. And what we learned was fascinating. There are so many character revelations in this books, it continually surprised me. I had so many misconceptions before starting it, and I loved the way Amanda Gerry and Christy Hall laid it out for us.

Esilwen and Kirion

I have read many other YA fantasy lately, such as Grave Mercy, Bitterblue, and Throne of Glass, and they all disappointed me. They were also all very similar. But Guardian of Time was one of the most original YA fantasy I have read and I would even recommend it for adult fantasy readers. It had a highly developed magical system and amazingly complex mythology and world building. And the story was non-stop. Just when you think you may know where the story is going, another villain is introduced, another threat against Thyella, against the First Kingdom, or against a loved one. But it all flowed together perfectly and kept me reading.

Again, it focused on Margariete and Esilwen. I think this is meant to be both of their stories. Two incredible women as close as sisters, and their loves and losses, as they fight for the lives and freedoms of their world and others. And this book is not afraid to go dark, as it explores the darkest parts of a person's soul, what motivates evil, and how far someone is willing to go for what they believe in.

I can't even think of enough words to describe how amazing this was. I am completely captivated by the world of Shardwell and its stunning imagery. I cannot wait to find out what happens next, how Margariete meets Kyleren, how they end up in our world, and what Kirion will do next!

"Even after I lay in my tomb," he whispered, "I will continue to love you, Esilwen."

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Phoenix Angel by Amanda Gerry, Christy Hall (Shardwell #1)

Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Publication Date: January 21st 2012
POV: Alternating - Third-person, Past tense
My Rating: 4 out of 5


What is happening to us? I’ve asked this question a thousand times, but there is no answer.

I was a normal teenager, trudging my way through senior year with my best friend. Then a boy named Kyle Spencer came to Idaho Falls, and since then everything has fallen apart. Something mysterious has passed among the three of us. We’ve developed terrifying abilities—strange powers that separate us from normal people.

Even worse, someone—or something—has taken a deadly interest in us. We never know when they are going to strike, or how to protect ourselves. We don’t even know who they are.
All we know is that they want one of us alive, and we don’t know who. The others they want dead.

Which will I be?


I thoroughly enjoyed this book! At first I thought it seemed was familiar, just with enough differences to keep me hooked. But by the end I realized that it was actually like nothing I have read before.

It starts out as a normal high school paranormal romance. Strange things start happening to beautiful Maggie. Things she can't explain. Then a hot new guy shows up at school. This is when the guy would usually tell her that he can help her understand what's been happening to her. But he doesn't. Kyle is actually as confused as Maggie. After they meet he starts to develop super-human strength and speed. They try to make sense of their new world together, along with Maggie's best friend, Lily.
One of the things I loved most about this book was Maggie. She was like no other heroine I have read. Somehow I could still relate and understand her even though she was a complete bitch. She didn't accept crap from anyone. I have never had trauma in my life like Maggie, but I am extremely emotional and sensitive, so I can understand just needing to keep people out. And I was bullied in school so I admire her and wish that I had had the strength to fight back.

The book had alternating POVs between Maggie, Kyle, and Lily, but the focus was mostly on Maggie and Kyle for the first half, their tumultuous romance, the push and pull, and Maggie struggling to get over her bitterness enough to care about someone again. If this were a contemporary romance, that story alone would have been enough to keep me hooked. But that’s far from all there is to Phoenix Angel.

In the second half of the book, there are still POVs from Maggie, Kyle, and Lily, but the focus switches to Lily, and Carter is added to the mix. When Carter meets Lily, he develops powers as well, and now the four friends have to help each other, and avoid the mysterious figures that start appearing. I loved the feeling of the group working together, facing the unknown. As things become more dangerous for them with each passing day, we realize how much we don't know about them. Until the end, when worlds collide and they are forced to face their pasts. They aren't all who they seemed and friends and lovers could be torn apart.

The writing in this is absolutely amazing. It is beautiful and descriptive. When I first started the book I thought it was pretentious. But that was probably just because I had got used to the juvenile writing in most of the books I have been reading lately. At first I was stumbling over the big words, but after I got used to it I was loving the imagery and flow. Its hard to believe this is Amanda Gerry and Christy Hall's first book. The only other problem I had was with the cover. It was really confusing and I spent most of the book thinking I might have gotten the wrong book, or that it had been put in the wrong binding. The cover makes more sense after reading the second book, but it doesn't suit the first book at all.

Phoenix Angel has elements of contemporary and paranormal romance, as well as parallel-world fantasy. If those sound like the kind of genres you would enjoy reading, I really recommend this book!

“Sacrifice and devotion do not inherently save those you love; sometimes their chosen path will lead them past any hope of redemption.”

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