Tag Archives: fantasy romance

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Book Review: Stariel Quartet, by A. J. Lancaster

Before I get to the review, a quick housekeeping note. I’ve returned to university and am now working on a Ph.D. As such, the time I can give to reading fiction (my favorite thing) is sadly constricted. It will likely take me a little while to find my feet and my new normal. But at the moment, I’m experimenting with reading and reviewing series instead of individual books. (I even made a whole post asking for omnibus recommendations.) This makes for longer posts a lot of the time but also allows for more time between postings. But I also acknowledge that I don’t usually tend to be quite as detailed when I’m reviewing several books together.  So, I may not stick with it. But for now, expect series reviews more often than individual book reviews.

OK, on to the review.


I initially saw A.J. Lancaster‘s Stariel Quartet recommended on Tiktok. It was on my radar. So, when I saw book one, The Lord of Stariel, come up as a Kindle Freebie, I nabbed it. Then I bought the rest of the series (The Prince of Secrets, The Court of Mortals, The King of Faerie, and A Rake of His Own) one by one as I finished each preceding book.
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The Lord of Stariel is dead. Long live the Lord of Stariel. Whoever that is.

Everyone knows who the magical estate will choose for its next ruler. Or do they?

Will it be the lord’s eldest son, who he despised?

His favourite nephew, with the strongest magical land-sense?

His scandalous daughter, who ran away from home years ago to study illusion?

Hetta knows it won’t be her, and she’s glad of it. Returning home for her father’s funeral, all Hetta has to do is survive the family drama and avoid entanglements with irritatingly attractive local men until the Choosing. Then she can leave.

But whoever Stariel chooses will have bigger problems than eccentric relatives to deal with.

Winged, beautifully deadly problems.

For the first time in centuries, the fae are returning to the Mortal Realm, and only the Lord of Stariel can keep the estate safe.

In theory.

my review

I binged these books, reading them back to back with nary a breath between. So, I’m just going to go ahead and review them the same way. In a sentence, I adored this series. I will 100% be looking for more of Lancaster’s work.

I love a practical heroine, and Hetta is eminently practical. She’s also strong, loyal, brave, and witty. In fact, the whole cast (and the narrative itself) has a dry, witty character to it that I enjoyed. It startled more than one laugh out of me. I think it’s the narrative tone that I liked most about the books.

I also can’t tell you how much I loved the characters. Even the ones that I didn’t initially care for, such as Jack, I came to like in the end. (And the bonus book about Marius and Rake was a joy.) Family is important to each of them in their own way, and the reader feels this. I’d like to see a few other side characters get their happily-ever-afters.

The mystery was a little easy to predict, the villain overcome a tad too easily, and the pacing is a little off at times. But overall, I’m not sad to have read the series. In fact, I’ll miss it now that I’m finished.

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Other Reviews:

River.Me – Stariel Series Review

 

 

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Book Review: Night in His Eyes, by Emma Alisyn

Night in His Eyes (by Alisyn Fae/Emma Alisyn) was featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight some time back. So, when I saw a chance to nab an audio code for a copy, I took it.

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A war of Fae Houses. A Prince waking from darkness. A woman drenched in his blood.

Prince Renaud, my mother’s killer, is waking. The Court has not felt the full weight of an Old One in centuries, and it’s my fault.

I am Aerinne Capulette, Lady of House Faronne, and I will have my vengeance against House Montague and Renaud. But despite the ground war I’ve led since I was a child, we remain locked in bloody stalemate.

If the Prince takes the field against us, he will rip from my mind the secret that will shred any hope for peace, or victory.

He will kill me if he discovers the truth. . .

. . .sweet, foolish child. Your death is not what I desire. I have not waited, watched, and planned for centuries to let something as petty as a halfling girl’s vengeance keep me from claiming what is mine.

To protect you, and to ensure my reign, I will bend you to my will. I will slake this obsession with your blood and tears, and I will yield you to no one.

Let your House protest. Let my Court look aghast. They are nothing.

And you—you are my anchor.

We may be enemies, but your hatred only seduces my darkness.

my review

I’m torn about how I feel after listening to this book. On the one hand, it sets up an interesting world with interesting characters. I especially appreciate the mixture of Europeanesque fae lore with Kenyan culture and characteristics. Plus, the writing (and the narration) are perfectly functional.

On the other hand, the events of this book don’t seem to be anchored into any identifiable, over-arcing plot. I’ve finished it now, and other than the lust between the two characters, I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE PLOT WAS OR WILL BE GOING FORWARD. And that’s a pretty big deterrent when thinking about continuing into the next book and beyond.

night in his eyes photoI also don’t particularly consider it a romance. The power imbalance prohibits it. I sense this might be addressed at some point. But as of the end of this book, one is powerless because the other holds all the power in all situations.

I am undecided if I will continue the series. Maybe if I come across a free copy of book two, I’ll read it, but I can’t see putting any effort or money into acquiring it.


Other Reviews:

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Book Review: Sacrifice, by Vicky Walklate

I was given a free e-copy of Vicky Walklate‘s Sacrifice.

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Dragon gods rule the realm, demons lurk in the shadows and a sorcerer hides a dangerous secret. A war is brewing in Jothesia, and the gods have no idea.

Being selected as human sacrifice to the immortal dragon shifters is supposedly an honor, but rebellious Libby doesn’t see it that way. When the sacrificial ritual goes badly wrong, she finds herself in a reluctant alliance with eldest god Rhetahn. He’s grumpy, cynical and utterly exasperating …and she can’t get him out of her head.

Rhetahn knows there’s something wrong with this sacrifice, and it’s not just her infuriating stubbornness or the way she makes his jaded heart skip a beat. When misfortune befalls his brothers and renders him powerless, his only choice is to unite with Libby to seek answers.

Setting out on a dangerous quest across the realm, the compelling attraction between them is undeniable, yet doomed. To recover his magic, regain his strength and prevent the demons from seizing power, Rhetahn needs her blood. He must kill her at the end of their journey, even if it breaks his heart to do so.

But a terrible power lies hidden in Jothesia, one that could destroy everything the gods have built. Libby and Rhetahn’s forbidden relationship may be the realm’s only hope against utter ruin.

my review

Don’t judge a book by its cover, they said. It’ll be fine, they said. I said when I started this book that I didn’t care for the cover. But it has dragons in it, so I was going to give it a try. Having finished it, I can say that I didn’t like the book any more than the cover. But I will say that the cover accurately describes the heroine’s utter Mary Sue-ness to perfection.

This book was a great big fat MEH for me. It actually has an interesting world and lore. Unfortunately, what it ultimately is is a romance, and the romance FLOPPED. I mean splat, giant belly flop from the 15th floor flopped for me. Not only did I not enjoy the romantic aspect, but it also enraged me.

I understand that the author was trying to make her characters conflicted. They had a difficult thing to do. But the reality is that we had a 20-year-old virgin sacrifice being lusted over by a 3,000-year-old man who intended to kill her. And it is lust. He wants her body and the comfort a woman can offer him (and she’s the only one there). And I’m supposed to make a romance out of that skeeviness? No, it 100% did not make that leap for me.

And then, once the plot had decided they were a couple (suspension of disbelief be damned), she because such a limp-wristed Mary Sue that I just couldn’t even like her. All that backbone she sacrifice photostarted with? Gone, evaporated by his male-ness, I suppose. The plot just became more and more predictable as time went on. Then, as I was warned it would, it ended on a cliffhanger.

All in all, I’m just glad to be done with it. The writing is well-edited and mechanically fine. Those who enjoy a clean romance and a Mary Sue (which some do) will likely enjoy this. I’m just not that reader.


Other Reviews:

Sacrifice by Vicky Walklate (The Gods of Trivium, #1) #BookReview #Fantasy #Romance @vwalklate