Tag Archives: historical fantasy

BEWITCHING A HIGHLANDER

Book Review: Bewitching a Highlander, by Roma Cordon

I accepted a review copy of Roma Cordon‘s Bewitching a Highlander through Rockstar Book Tours. The book has also been featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, you can hop over there for further information, including an excerpt, author bio, the tour schedule, and a chance to win a copy of the book.

 

Defying all for the love of a bewitching lass.

Breena MacRae, a healer from Skye with a touch of witchery in her blood, embarks on a dangerous search for her missing father. She arrives on the Isle of Coll, seat of the vile Campbells. There, she encounters the debonair future chief to the Dunbar Clan, Egan, who rescues her from a Campbell sentry.

Egan Dunbar is on Coll to keep the peace between the feuding Campbells and Dunbars. But when he catches Breena in a lie, he agrees to help her find her father to pay back an old debt and get to the bottom of the secrets she’s hiding.

As their attraction for each ignites like a firestorm, Breena and Egan realize a future together could trigger deadly consequences—a clan war between the Campbells and the Dunbars. Is Egan willing to betray his clan for love, even though he knows Breena is keeping secrets from him? Can Breena trust him with her family secret and put those she loves at risk?

my review

This is one of those books that is really hard to review. Because, objectively, it’s fine. The writing is readable. (I read an ARC, so can’t comment on editing.) The characters seem likeable. The world holds together, etc. For the right reader this is a guaranteed 5-star read.

But, honestly, it was just a passable read for me, for reasons that are almost completely subjective. First, I picked this up for the witchery. Fantasy romance is one of my favorite genres. But the magic part of this book—the fantasy aspect—is very light. VERY LIGHT, practically non-existent. Which makes this much more a historical romance, than a historic fantasy romance. Which is fine, obviously, just not what I was looking for.

Second, I’m just not a huge fan of narration that is full of hyperbole, especially when it’s how characters characterize the romance. By which I mean when characters spend the whole book thinking super exaggerated thoughts about the other. Each is ‘the most’ this, or ‘the only’ that, or ‘the first/last’ whatever. I think it lacks nuance and subtlety. But I know some readers love it.

Plus, I think that if you took out all the repetition and that hyperbole, you’d be forced to acknowledge that very little actually happened in the book. And the one big life threatening thing that did happen, was completely random and not particularly well stitched into the rest of the plot. Similarly, the plot twist was super obvious. I predicted it before the 100 page mark.

Lastly, as far as I can tell, this is the author’s first book. (I can’t find any others, anyhow). But I spent this whole time I read Bewitching a Highlander thinking I’d missed a first book in the series. These two characters are meant to have met before, in events that are referenced. I thought they must have been side characters in another couple’s story. (That’s 100% how it read). But then I discovered there isn’t another book and was confused.

All in all, I know this sounds like a negative review. But it just wasn’t the book for me. For those who like this particular sort of book—mildly spicy, Scottish historical romance— this will be a winner. I’m certain of it. For me, it wasn’t what I was hoping for. But I’d read another Cordan book

bewitching a highlander photo


Other Reviews:

Bewitching A Highlander Blog Tour

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Book Review: Army of the Cursed, by Karim Soliman

I accepted a copy of Karim Soliman‘s Army of the Cursed for review, as part of Love Book Tours book tour.
army of the crused
Everybody knew the Cursed were coming.
Nobody knew how to defeat them.

The Goranians thought they were ready to face demons in battle. But when the foretold War of the Last Day begins, one fact becomes clear: the doom of Gorania is just a matter of time. Now its fate rests in the hands of a hapless trio.

By joining the mages’ guild, Leila cedes her title as the Crown Princess of Murase. But as she struggles with her lack of talent, the Army of the Cursed approaches her country. Leila will have to decide if she is ready to protect her loved ones, or she should abandon them and run for her life.

Nardine, the Crown Princess of Bermania, hears a rumor that her long-gone father was so close to finding a weapon against the immortal demons. While she investigates what has happened to his unfinished work, a rebellion threatens to tear apart her kingdom.

Far in the harsh northern lands of Skandivia, Halgrim starts a perilous journey to claim a birthright he has been denied because of a lie. If his journey goes according to plan, nothing will stand between him and his ultimate prize. Nothing, except the Army of the Cursed.

Can the three unite and put aside their differences before it is too late? The entire human race is already on the brink of extinction.

my review

I’m of two minds when it comes to this book. I enjoyed it. Never once while reading it did I feel like giving up, despite it being on the long side. The writing is quite good 99% of the time. I liked the characters. I liked the different types of interplay between the teen characters and the adults. I appreciate that this is a big world with many different cultures. And I liked the way the opposing armies both thought themself blessed and the other evil. Perspective matters. But I also had several complaints.

For one, I think the book is longer than need be. This is complicated by there being too many POV characters that the books cycles through; some of them given very little attention. This meant that sometimes I would come around to new character or back around to a character not seen for a while and be like, “Wait, who is this again?” But it also felt like characters just got dropped on occasion. Leila was notably ignored during any battle scene, for example (and this despite the fact that her knowledge in chemistry could have been quite useful). All of Halgrim’s family were often forgotten about for lengthy periods of time, etc.

I said the writing was good 99% of the time. That one percent is Soliman’s occasional tenancy to drop anachronisticly modern sounding phrases into the narrative or dialogue. It jarred me every time.

Lastly, almost all of the book’s action is during battles and, though they were well written, they got redundant after a while. Speaking of battles, as an aside—not even as a complaint, just as an observation—I have a comment on the cover. I like it. I’m guessing the girl is meant to be Nardine, since she is the princess most trained in martial arts. But not once in the entire book does a female set foot on a battlefield with the intent to engage. Not even Nardine. Several times queens are present overlooking a battle and a female mage or two lobs magic from afar, but not once does a female character actually fight among the soldiers. Which feels notable if you are going to have one trained to do so AND on the cover as if she is doing just that.

Actually, I think I have a comment on the blurb too (and this may be a bit spoilerish). It states, “…the doom of Gorania is just a matter of time. Now its fate rests in the hands of a hapless trio.” But that’s 100% not true of this book. I think it’s probably going to be true of this series. But until the the end of this book, it’s their parents who have all the agency and fight the foe. For the course of this book, the fate of the human race isn’t in the hands of the trio in the sense the blurb suggests.

All in all, however, I was more pleased than not. I’d probably pick up the second book to see where the series goes.

army of the cursed photo


Other Reviews:

Army of the Cursed by Karim Soliman

Army of the Cursed Review

army-of-the-cursed

Book Review: The Bright and Breaking Sea, by Chloe Neill

I borrowed an audio copy of Chloe Neill‘s The Bright and Breaking Sea through Hoopla (narrated by Danielle Cohen).

a bright and breaking sea

Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles’ Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte’s fleet. Her ship is small, but she’s fast- in part because of Kit’s magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.

Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn’t know him or his motives- and she’s dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who’s been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia.

Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall. . .

my review

I’m of two minds about this book. Both of them enjoyed the book, but one of them is less thrilled than the other. One mind found this a fun, rollicking sea adventure, liked the characters, the witticisms, and the clear writing. The other also enjoyed those same aspects, but acknowledges that the story and plot are exactly what you would expect them to be. It’s not that it’s not creative, but maybe a little formulaic in that there are so few surprises in the plotting and characterizations. Regardless, I imagine I’ll be back to read book two. Both minds liked it, after all.

the bright and breaking sea photo


Other Reviews:

Book Review: The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill

The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill