Tag Archives: self published

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Book Review: War Queen & War Mistress, by Jordyn Alexander

I picked up a copy of Jordyn Alexander‘s War Queen as an Amazon freebie, then purchased a copy of War Mistress. (I also preordered book three, War Maiden.)

the war brides of adrik covers

About War Bride:

Cursed at birth with fairy-like beauty, Queen Adalind has only ever known pain and death at the hands of men.

Always a prize to be coveted, she doesn’t know that she can trust any male. When Adalind must save her kingdom after the death of her cruel husband during a war he started with the nearby orc kingdom, the jaded queen offers herself up as a sacrifice. The orc king will receive a bride with magical beauty and she will save her subjects from more slaughter. What she doesn’t expect is to be attracted to her future husband or find him to an honorable orc.

King Rognar is merely seeking to end the war started by the humans, take his pound of flesh and go home.

What he is not expecting is to be challenged by a beautiful, politically savvy queen, who seems to offer him everything he could ever want. But as he gets to see the real woman beneath her icy exterior, he finds that what he truly wants is Adalind’s heart. As passion ignites between war queen photothem, can they trust each other and rule two kingdoms?

Or will all the forces that conspire against them tear them and their kingdoms, apart?


Honestly, this was a pleasant surprise. I picked the book up as an Amazon freebie, and the cover is doing it no favors. But I thought this to be one of the better orc romances I’ve read. Often, I want to like them more than I turn out to. But Alexander walks a thin line here with her hero. He’s the ‘great king,’ alpha of alphas among the orcs, etc. But he’s no alpha-hole. In fact, he’s the opposite, a man confident enough in himself, his power, and his position to be willing to bend and follow his mate’s lead. He is so amazingly careful of Adalind and I adored him.

Adalind, in turn, is a strong, resilient character. There are some trigger warnings on this one. But even I, who is generally very critical of rape’s use in fiction (I generally think it is far too often used as cheap, lazy plotting), have no issue with its use here. There is none on-page; it is integral to the plot, tactfully dealt with, and the resulting trauma wasn’t magiced away.

I did feel like the last quarter was somehow just not as tight and well-written as the first 3/4, though I don’t know that I could articulate why. (The villain’s POV probably has something to do with it.) But I’ve already bought book 2 and pre-ordered book three, which should tell you more about how I felt than anything else.

About War Mistress:

Pellia Santir has always had her choices taken from her, since she was a child.

Finally free from the abusive king she was forced to serve as mistress, Pellia is looking for a fresh start. A new path. And a new lover. When she is installed as Regent of Adrik alongside the quiet and brooding Verrick, she believes she has found that lover. If only she can convince him of that fact.

Verrick ka Roknir is an orc who has been burned by human women before.

Haunted by the memory of a treacherous past-mate, Verrick is determined to never be blinded by beauty again. Even if the flirtatious human regent is oh, so tempting. He resolves for his heart to be as stone, but the pretty human has a way of getting behind his defenses.

When fires break out in the south of the country, caused by an insidious force, Pellia and Verrick are put to the test.

war mistress photoCan they come together to save the country from those that threaten it and ignite the passion growing between them? Or will the enemy destroy them and the land they swore to protect?


War Mistress is fine, which is itself fine. But it is also disappointing because when I read book one, War Bride, I thought it something special. War Mistress is fine, but it didn’t have anything that struck me as particularly excellent or unusual. It is a fine orc romance. I mean, I liked the characters fine. The villian is super obvious with underwhelming and cliched motivation. But we’ve all read such a thousand times before. So, there’s no reason to complain about it more than elsewhere. So, it is fine. The romance borders on fated mates and, therefore, doesn’t particularly grow so much as just burgen with the characters’ proximity to one another. But again, that’s nothing new. So, it’s fine. The third-act breakup is predictable and too easily resolved. But third-act breakups are super common plot points. So, again, fine. All in all, this is a fine romantasy. If I hadn’t liked book one so much more than this one, I don’t think my enjoyment of this one would feel so tarnished in comparison. But I did. So this one just feels like a less polished, less interesting book.

Other Reviews:

Do You Dogear: War Queen, by Jordyn Alexander


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Book Review: Monsters of Ashwood, by Ariel Dawn

I picked up a copy of Ariel Dawn‘s Voices in the Dark as an Amazon freebie, and then purchased a copy of Whispers in the Woods.
monsters of Ashwood covers

A haunted house. A protective gargoyle. A past that controls the future.

For Jenna Hellsing, the sleepy little town of Ashwood, Oregon seems to be the perfect place to hide and start over, to quiet the demons, even if it’s in a house haunted by shadows… but the darkness isn’t ready to let her go.

As Jenna attempts to navigate her new life, will she be able to resist the voices of the past? Especially the ones she hears in the dark?

Degal’s heart is colder than stone. After all, he’s been separated from his mates for more than a century. The broody gargoyle has only one focus: To protect the legendary Ashwood Manor.

When a fearless young woman buys his home, can Degal find a way to ignore the undeniable bond he feels?

my review

I’m going to give this duology a single review since I read the books back to back, and they form one continuous story. Honestly, the two books combined are less than 350 pages, so I don’t know why the author bothered to break them in two. I know there’s the sell-more-books aspect. But finding standalone Why Choose romances is like finding a treasure. I wish more authors would write them, and here I see a perfect opportunity to do so squandered.

I have mixed feelings about this series. In one sense, I liked it a lot. I liked that the men of the harem have a real, deeply felt, and openly expressed relationship with one another. I liked the characters themselves. Since I finished book one and then bought book two, I obviously enjoyed spending time with them.

BUT I was hoping for so much more than this series delivered. There are some aspects of the story that seriously disappointed me. (This will be spoilerish, by the way.) I found the heroine bland. Honestly, among the three men’s history and established relationship, she felt very much like a late addition tag-along rather than a truly important addition. Honestly, I’m not even sure she felt like the main character of the book. Degal, in terms of page time and development, and Shadow, in terms of group dynamics, fit the bill a lot better.

But mostly, the author made some choices I thought were super cliched and predictable. At the tail end of book one, I had a premonition of where the story was going and made this note:

I’m going to be so disappointed if this book/series goes in the reincarnated lover direction. Let her be important as herself, not as Virginia 2.0. Please!

Well, to risk repeating myself, I was disappointed. It wasn’t straightforward reincarnation, but it’s close enough to fit the bill. I want a heroine that the men love FOR HER, not for what (or who) she is a reflection of.

The villain was incredibly obvious. It’s the only named character with no other obvious character role (best friend, work colleague, lover, etc.), and his motivation was one we’ve all seen a billion times before. It’s serious low-hanging fruit in the plotting department. I have to say the same about the FMC’s history of rape. *Yawn* So overused as to have been leeched of all emotional impact. Again, it’s low-hanging fruit plotting. It’s evidence of either incredible laziness or an author who has yet to mature and learn to imagine plot points for themselves instead of choosing them from pre-scripted cultural story arcs.

As a side note, I’m quite tolerant of purple prose. But if you are not, this might not be the book for you. It could also do with another editing pass. All in all, this wasn’t horrible. I like it well enough. But it left me with several unanswered questions and could have been so much more than it is.

monsters of ashwood duology

Other Reviews:

Voices In The Dark (Monsters of Ashwood Book 1) by Ariel Dawn – My Review

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Book Review: Forbidden Honor, by May Dawson

I picked up a copy of May Dawson‘s Forbidden Honor as an Amazon freebie.

forbidden honor cover

In my world, dragon shifters rule. Dragon shifters are always royals. They’re always male. They’re always assholes.

An orphaned servant like me? Everyone assumes on first shift, I’ll turn into a squirrel.

Instead, I grow wings. Breathe fire. Throw the world into chaos.

No one wants a girl in the Royal Dragon Guard. So I’m disguised as a man and sent off to military training.

The Dragon Royals are not a welcoming bunch. These princely scions of the four ruling families have been training to fight the plague-crazed Scourge since they were toddlers. Every girl in the city dreams of winning the heart of one of the dragon nobles, but they only care about each other.

Jaik, the cold-hearted hero who never smiles and never falters. Arren, who kills without mercy and guards his friends fiercely. Lynx and Branick, the twin spymasters with deadly swords. Talisyn, with the beautiful cruel mouth and endless bravery.

By night, I’m the servant they flirt with. I’m the one stealing Jaik’s heart and kissing Talisyn and antagonizing Arren. All the while, Branick and Lynx fret that I’m a spy, sent to destroy the Royals.

By day, I’m Lucien Finn, the man they despise and the dragon shifter they have to fight alongside.

These royals are determined to make me fall, and the princes play dirty. Can I ignore the pull they have on my heart and kick them off their thrones?

Will they break the maid… or kill the man? What will it do to us all when they finally discover the truth about who I truly am?

my review

I had mixed feelings about this book, but I mostly enjoyed it. I liked the characters well enough and the world seems interesting. But I also thought it had a little too much filler and far too strong of a ‘she’s a special snowflake who is not like other girls’ vibe. Plus, the men of the harem are given drastically uneven attention, though I suspect that is a matter of the neglected ones getting time in future books. All in all, I don’t regret reading it, but I probably won’t be continuing the series all the same.

Here’s the thing. I love the Why Choose genre, but it’s burning me out pretty quickly because of how series-heavy it is. This was book 1 of 6, and I’ve read enough such series to strongly suspect I’ll need to read all 6 books to reach any sort of satisfying conclusion (and each will end on a cliffhanger). I just am not ready (or in a position, time-wise) to commit to 5 more books. That’s not so much a criticism of the series as a comment on my condition in engaging with it. But it is what it is.

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Other Reviews:

What I’m Reading: May Dawson’s Dragon Royals series