Tag Archives: fantasy romance

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Book Review: Of Visions & Secrets, by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

I saw Kathryn Ann Kingsley‘s Of Visions & Secrets recommended over on Tiktok. So, I went to drop it on my Amazon wish list and happened to notice it was free that day. So, I nabbed a copy instead.
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The darkness took Emma’s brother. Now it yearns to claim her.

When Emma Mather’s twin brother, Elliot, goes missing from Arnsmouth University, she is determined to stop at nothing to find him. Yet as she follows the clues left behind, she learns that there are far more sinister monstrosities lurking in the shadows of her city than she could have ever imagined.

Elliot’s former teacher, Professor Raphael Saltonstall, may be Emma’s only hope in finding her brother. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for Emma to realize Rafe is hiding secrets of his own. Despite the sizzling attraction between them, Emma isn’t entirely sure if Rafe is a friend or foe.

As two opposing cults hunt her down for their own twisted agendas, Emma finds tendrils of darkness closing in from all around. Pulsating Things live in the darkness…wriggling in eager anticipation to take her.

If they have their way, they’ll consume her mind, soul…and body.

This was a surprise winner for me. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I loved how up front and ready Emma was. She put her authentic self right out there for the world to see and I appreciated it. I thought the world Interesting and characters engaging. They’re all so marvelously morally grey. The writing is clean and easy to read and I’m invested in what happens next.

I did wish for a little more certainty on the fate of the brother…and admittedly more tentacle action than we were given. The story really is a little slow to get going and I thought Emma lost a little of her assertive spark as soon as the romance started to build. But I will certainly be continuing the series.

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Book review: Red, by S.J. Sanders

I saw S.J. SandersRed recommended on Tiktok and purchased a copy for myself.
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There were certain truths everyone knew. Never wear red or any other bright color. Make as little sound as possible if one had to be outside the protection of the sanctuary settlements. And never, ever, go out in the wild places alone. The Ragoru, an alien species set down to live among them, dwell within the forests and everyone knows that they crave all things red.

Arie’s life has always been one of playing by the rules. She doesn’t draw attention to herself. She doesn’t leave her home without her hood that conceals her bright red hair. It is a secret from everyone, and her hood protects her secret so that she may continue to live safely within the village until one day that secret comes to light. Absconding into the woods soon becomes her only safety, and she will risk her very life into the care of the very dreaded beings that all people fear, the Ragoru, in hope of making it to her grandmother’s house in the citadel at the other side of the great forest.

When circumstances reveal them to not be the monsters of human imagination, but that they stir the ravenous beast within her, Arie finds that she is willing to risk far more to find a way to be with them forever. Even if that means severing ties with her grandmother, rejecting the human comforts of the citadel, and facing the horror of the Order of the Huntsmen.

my review

Meh. I actually really enjoyed the first half of this book. It is super formulaic and predictable. (I mean if, before reading the book, someone had asked me to write a generic outline based on this book’s blurb, I would have succeeded with 100% success.) There are NO surprises and NOTHING that you’re used to seeing in the genre is left out. Even the seemingly random events are just section 2, part b, subsection iii of the most commonly utilized industry outline (or so it seems). It’s your basic bitch, Why Choose fairy-tale retelling book. But hey, we read them because we enjoy them. So, predictable in the extreme, but also super cute. I really did enjoy watching the males come around. They’re all adorable in their own way.

I can’t really say the same for Arie though. She just kind of existed. And I honestly never got over my page-one question about why, if you could be exiled or killed for having red hair, you’d grow it out instead of cutting it off. I was really bothered by the idea that she walked around with a whole Merida-like head of hair hidden under a hood her whole life. Why would you endanger yourself like that? It was ridiculous in the extreme, but I decided to look over it. Despite that, I still found her a fairly bland heroine.

I’m wandering. My point was that despite being noting new to the genre I enjoyed it…up until the halfway mark. I even overlooked the editing mishaps. But after the halfway mark, when Sanders took the characters outside of their small story-line, the whole thing fell apart. Most notably the plotting fell apart and suddenly everything was too easy.

Three non-humans walked into a hostile human city for the first time and instantly found what might have been the only human who both wasn’t afraid of them and was willing/able to help them. Arie similarly was introduced to one person. She asked them for help and they said yes, etc. It didn’t even really feel like a story anymore, just a list of events with no emotional significance. By the time the final fight scene rolled around—which was won with ridiculous red photoease—I was done.

The book is also just too long. Whole sections could be cut easily. I’m thinking of the entire episode with the mutated humans and subsequent events, for example. All of it could have been cut wholesale for a tighter read, it contributes so little to the overall story.

So, to recap, fun if formulaic first half, lazy (and still formulaic) second half. I love the cover though!


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Book Review: The Dark King, by Gina L. Maxwell

I received a copy of Gina L. Maxwell‘s The Dark King through Netgalley.
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I thought a weekend away would be the perfect escape. Until I woke up married and trapped…by the king of the Dark Fae.

For Bryn Meara, a free trip to the exclusive and ultra-luxe Nightfall hotel and casino in Vegas should’ve been the perfect way to escape the debris of her crumbling career. But waking up from a martini-and-lust-fueled night to find herself married to Caiden Verran, the reclusive billionaire who owns the hotel and most of the city, isn’t the jackpot one would think. It seems her dark and sexy new husband is actual royalty—the fae king of the Night Court—and there’s an entire world beneath the veil of Vegas.

Whether light or shadow, the fae are a far cry from fairy tales, and now they’ve made Bryn a pawn in their dark games for power. And Caiden is the most dangerous of all—an intoxicating cocktail of sin and raw, insatiable hunger. She should run. But every night of passion pulls Bryn deeper into his strange and sinister world, until she’s no longer certain she wants to leave…even if she could.

Soooo, I didn’t love this. Granted, I didn’t hate it. But it elicited exactly zero feels from me or endeared itself to me in any way. Now, the writing is fine. It’s easy to read. The editing seems clean. So, this is largely a personal taste sort of ‘meh.’ I can acknowledge that it’s a finely written book, while also saying it wasn’t one to light me on fire.

I did actually like the characters. I especially liked that Bryn stands up for herself consistently. And the world seems interesting. My issues were that I just never truly felt Caiden and Bryn’s love. It’s instant and then we’re more told about it than shown it. I didn’t think that the BDSM aspects were well integrated into the plot. So, it always seemed to stand out to me as artificial. the dark king photoAnd it doesn’t live up to it’s own hype.

Caiden is supposed to be sooo dark and dangerous. He goes on and on about how she could never handle his kinks. Heck, the book is called The Dark King. But it’s actually quite sweet, the kink is on the mild side, and the book isn’t even that spicy, comparatively. So, I felt like it built up a promise it didn’t keep.

All in all, it’s a meh for me. I didn’t hate it. But I probably won’t remember it next week.


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One More Book: Review – The Dark King