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Book Review: Kiss of Darkness, by Taylor Aston White

I picked up a review copy of Taylor Aston White‘s Kiss of Darkness through Netgalley. It was also featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. You can hop over for an excerpt.

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He despises her… almost as much as his beast craves her.

Kyra’s seen and survived the worst things imaginable, all because of the magic she was born with. Trapped by her secret, she has no choice but to serve Councilman Gallagher or risk everything she has tried so hard to build. Because despite black magic being banned, her very survival depends on it.

When she’s commanded to summon a Daemon, a Breed notorious for their corruption and brutality, she’s torn between keeping her secret and doing the right thing.

Xander’s hate for black witches was notorious, but nothing frustrated him more than the one witch that brings trouble with a capital T. With dark amber eyes, and a controlled strength that fascinated his beast – the monster he’s cursed to share a soul – Xander will do anything to push her away.

So when he’s forced into protecting her, he must put aside his prejudice and ignore his growing desire that’s an insult to his past.

Because he’s had an entire childhood to remember why you can’t trust black witches.

And he definitely can’t trust Kyra Farzan.

my review

This was fine, not exceptional in any way, but entertaining enough. Before I get into any specifics I have to have one major gripe, and it’s one I feel like I’m making constantly.

This book is very clearly labeled Book 1 of the Curse of the Guardians series. That’s why I chose to read it. However, I made it about 20% in and put it aside, went over to Goodreads, and read the blurbs of the author’s other books to find out what Curse of the Guardians is a spin-off of. Because at that point, I was 100% sure that Kiss of Darkness is one. The characters had met previously, previous events are referenced, the world-building was sketchy (as if I was meant to already know it), there was a strong couple that was clearly from another story-line, there were even internal jokes between characters that the reader was obviously meant to understand.

Point blank, no argument, if I can tell a book is a spin-off because I can feel previous books are missing, the book does not stand alone well enough to be a new series. And in those scenarios I kiss of darkness photocall the ‘book 1’ label a lie. I am super tired of having this happen.

OK, that’s my big gripe. Outside of that, the book is fine. I liked that Kyra is strong, even as she’s put in impossible situations. I never really took to Xander though. He was just kind of a bland, generic paranormal romance hero. But the writing is easily readable. And while there wasn’t anything that stood out as stellar in the plot, it wasn’t all out bad either.


Other Reviews:

Archaeolibrarian: Kiss of Darkness

Book Him Danno: Kiss of Darkness

 

 

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Book Review: Edge of Magic, by Jayne Faith

I picked up a freebie e-copy of Jane Faith‘s Edge of Magic on Amazon, way back in 2020.

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My name is Tara Knightley, and I’m on the Fae mafia’s hit list. My childhood crush just rode back into town, too, and that may spell even bigger trouble . . .

My talent for sensing magical objects has made me a damn good professional thief for the past decade. But it’s also what got me into a blood oath with notorious Fae mob boss Grant Shaw.

My relationship with Shaw is rapidly souring, and I need to break free before it turns deadly. The solution? I must steal a magic skull from Shaw’s biggest rival and deliver it to him, and then he’ll nullify our blood oath.

Just as I’m set to go after the skull, my childhood best friend and crush, wolf shifter Judah McMahon, shows up asking for help. It’s been ten years since the falling out that ended our friendship, and I know I shouldn’t get involved.

But Judah’s life is threatened. How can I say no? The catch is, helping Judah will cost me the chance at freedom from Shaw . . . and possibly my life.

my review

I have very middle of the road feels about this book. On one hand, I liked the characters, the world seemed interesting, and—barring a few editing mishaps—the writing is pretty good.

On the other, the plot meanders. There is quite a lot of time dedicated to things that aren’t particularly plot relevant. (I’m thinking the knife throwing training session and, honestly, the whole sword side-quest.) It wasn’t until the very end that something resembling an actual single plot appeared.

The love interest is supposed to be super regretful for leaving her a decade ago and we’re expected to root for a re-ignition of romance. But I didn’t feel it. He had 10 years to come back, or just call/text/email. He’d even been in town several times. But he never contacted her until he needed something. I don’t feel any desire to see that romance bloom. How guilt-ridden and sorry could he truly be?

Further, I’ve gotten to an age that I’m just kind of done with plot in which women are in desperate financial straits and a man swoops in with his money/resources/connections and fixes everything for her. I think Faith needed to decide if she was writing a contemporary, second chance romance or a fantasy romance, because the whole Judah plot-line felt disconcertingly contemp romance and out of place in the fantasy plot. And it sure took up too much page time.

But worst of all, I’m 100% sick of reading books that don’t end. A cliffhanger in which some threads wrap up and others are left open is one thing. This book literally just abruptly stops. I edge of magic photoflipped the last page back and forwards because I hadn’t sensed any sort of drawing to a close and basically felt like I walked into a wall with the sudden, “Look for Echo of Bone, the next book in the Tara Knightley Series by Jayne Faith!” In fact, the plot looked to finally be starting to settle into a single trajectory and ramping up. So, the precipitous ending felt especially unforeseen and jarring.

So, meh. I’d probably read the next book if I found it free. But I feel no need to go buy it.


Other Reviews:

Edge of Magic by Jayne Faith – A Book Review

 

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Book Review: Forbidden, by Jewels Arthur

I picked up an e-copy of Jewels Arthur‘s Forbidden on Amazon the other day.

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When a little girl, all alone in the big bad woods, lets it slip that she’s on her way to visit her sick gran, I can’t help but take advantage. Don’t judge me. I’m hungry and let’s be real… What tastes better than a meal that doesn’t struggle—much.

Little do I know, my blood-thirsty plot is about to be foiled by a set of five werewolves that have decided to eat gran, take her place, and eat the little girl! I wish I had thought of that last bit myself.

The worst part is that I have been a lone vampire for years now so I have no one to watch my back. I am just easy prey to them and their beastly desires. If I can’t escape, I just may become victim to those desires and they are more than willing to huff and puff and blow my resolve away.

my review

Before I read this I couldn’t figure out how it had so many good reviews. It’s a little counterintuitive, but I understand now. Put simply, this is objectively bad. But in the absolute best way!

Years ago, before the time constraints of children, my now-husband and I used to do something called Good Wine/Bad Movie night. One of us would pick up a good bottle of wine (Mind you, we were young and broke. So, our idea of ‘good wine’ was probably suspect.) and the other would pick out a bad movie. The idea was that the more you drank the better the movie got. We forbidden photowatched a lot of B-grade sci-fi and questionable anime. But, my goodness, did we have fun with it.

If it were a movie, Forbidden would be a prime contender. It is bad. It’s ‘staying up until 2am covered in Cheetos dust and cheap wine with your best friend’ bad. It’s cringe at the dialogue and sudden, inexplicable changes in character attitudes bad. It’s porn with minimal plot bad. But it’s not trying to be anything else. Which means you can laugh with it, instead of at it, and bask in its badness. I just had a ton of fun with it and will absolutely try the rest of the series.


Other Reviews: