The Shadow Prince by Stacey O'Neale
Published by Phoenix Reign Publishing on 03 /25/14
Genres: Paranormal, YA Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Provided by Author
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Every sacrifice has consequences.
Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:
Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.
Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he's capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?
PJV Quickie: While only 74 pages, including the preview of MORTAL ENCHANTMENT, the novella, THE SHADOW PRINCE packed one hell of a punch. You wouldn’t believe that so much story could be told in that little amount of pages, but I could not put my iPad down! THE SHADOW PRINCE had me hooked from page one.
REVIEW: In the prequel to MORTAL ENCHANTMENT, O’Neale (shout out to Book Blogger turned author – hoorah!) introduces us to hottie, fire elemental, Rowan. Heir to the Fire Court throne, Rowan is pretty much a loner. His morals keep him away from his mother’s court because of her vicious and violent tendencies and his disagreement with the way the court is run, especially in how the Hounds, half-breed, shape-shifting, elementals, are treated. When Rowan is summoned to his mother’s court, because of her supposed abdication of the thrown, Rowan is at first suspicious, but then he begins thinking about all the changes he can make once he is in charge. When his mother gives him a task to complete before his coronation – kill the Air King’s daughter – Rowan knows he must push aside his morals for the greater good. His reign could end the slavery of hundreds, all he has to do is sacrifice one life…one innocent life.
If you’ve ever tried to come up with a crazy fantasy world, you’ll know how hard it is, then try to pack all that exposition within 74 pages and make sense…even harder. Then make it read well, without having a forced telling feel, where the author just recites facts, is even harder. THE SHADOW PRINCE is an amazing story, written well, with a unique story and intense plot. O’Neale is one hell of a storyteller. I was instantly drawn into this world of elemental courts and odd shape-shifters that were nothing more then slaves. She kept the world-building simple, choosing to leave aspects up to my imagination instead of describing everything. You are transported to the mythical Avalon with only a few short descriptions, yet it plays out in front of you. Rowan is faced with huge choices, moral dilemmas and life-changing decisions and it all plays out as real and logical. All of it setting the stage for what I can only believe will be a great first in series.
Then I have to go on to describe the unique out-the-box feel of this novella. The novella has both an adult flavoring, but a YA backbone. Much like you find in great authors like Cynthia Hand and Leigh Barduga. Maybe it is the fantasy aspect, but it was reminiscent of sexy Paranormal Romance series starts, like the Immortals After Dark. Rowan was just that much of an Alpha, even though he was only 16 when the story begins. You don’t find many YAs penned from the male POV, so that also had something to do with it. If you are a fan of great world-building, sexy male heroes and young adult fantasy and paranormal stories, you’ll get a kick out of Stacey O’Neale’s THE SHADOW PRINCE.
Recommendations: Recommended for a PG-13 crowd, because of mild violence and some mature themes.
The Courage to Love by Samantha Kane
Published by Ellora's Cave Publishing Inc on 2006-04-26
Genres: Erotica, Romance
Source: Amazon Freebie
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Brothers in Arms, Book One.Kate Collier is still recovering from a vicious rape and trying to make a success of her dress shop when Jason Randal and Anthony Richards return to London from the Continent, intent on winning her. She's known them for years, ever since they served with her late husband in the Peninsula against Napoleon. She'd been in love with them for almost that long. To discover they feel the same is a shock, but Kate isn't ready to turn her life back over to a man, or men.Jason and Tony prove hard to resist, however, especially when their close friendship blossoms into desire for each other as they make Kate's body burn with passion. The combination of their insatiable desire for her and their journey into a sexual relationship with one another is irresistible to Kate.A nightmare from her past tries to keep them apart, but the three long for a life together in spite of society's censure, and they will not be denied.Reader advisory: Contains male/male sex scenes.
PJV Quickie: Obviously I didn’t read the blurb well enough on this particular book to realize it was a Historical Romance, because, yeah I wouldn’t have purchased it. You know me, not a big historical fiction fan, especially historical romance/erotica. But, I’m glad I did, because this was a sexy and emotional read that I normally wouldn’t have expected in a menage novel. Overall a hot little number, with good writing and a strong plot to carry it through.
Review: THE COURAGE TO LOVE is about Kate Collier who was widowed and forced to be a mistress for the nobility and wealthy men to see herself through life. Her last “man” was a vicious one and used and abused Kate, basically forcing himself on her as party entertainment. When friends of her husband, Jason and Anthony return to London and look Kate up, she is standoffish and reserved, she isn’t the Kate that they fell in love with and swore to return to when they heard of her husbands passing. They know it will be tough going, but they have dreamed of marrying Kate and having a family with her – even if it is rather unconventional how they plan to live.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m not that big a fan of historical romance. This is mainly because the women are so restricted, I can’t get into the stories. I find it almost distressing how terribly boring their lives must have been and the overbearing nature of the men in that age isn’t something I would like to read about. But this wasn’t like that at all! The characters in this novel were quite different, probably stemming from the fact that this novel isn’t that historically accurate – but it made things enjoyable. Kate was strong-willed and independent. Jason and Anthony were sexy and lovable characters. I thought their pursuit of Kate was sexy and enjoyable to read. I also thought the side discovery of each other was also sexy and romantic.
Sexy and written well, what more can you ask for in a good erotica menage story?
Recommendations: You don’t have to be a big historical fan to enjoy this one, but you need to be into menage romances, since it is very prevalent in this tale. Highly sexually oriented, so this is Adults only, Rated NC17. There is m/m romance and m/f/m sexy time. Enjoy.
My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea Cameron
Published by Harlequin, HQN on January 28, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Love & Romance, New Adult
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The past will always find you.
Jos Archer was the girl with the perfect life; until the night it all came crashing down around her. Now, nine months later, she still hasn't begun to pick up the pieces. Even transferring to a new college and living under the watchful eye of her older sister, Renee, isn't enough to help her feel normal again.
And then she meets Dusty Sharp. For reasons Jos can't begin to fathom, the newly reformed campus bad boy seems determined to draw her out of her shell. And if she's not careful, his knowing green eyes and wicked smile will make her feel things she's no longer sure she deserves.
But even as Dusty coaxes Jos to open up about the past, he's hiding secrets of his own. Secrets about the night her old life fell apart. When the truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer together;or tear them apart for good?
PJV Quickie: I love New Adult books, but My Sweetest Escape missed the mark for me: Jos and her sister were just too unlikable and the “terrible secret” was just kind of ‘meh’. What saved this from being a DNF for me was the hero, Dusty, and Jos’ BFF, Hannah.
Joscelyn “Jos” Archer was a straight-laced people-pleaser for most of her life until something changed and she suddenly went a little wild almost a year ago. As a result of poor grades, she’s being forced by her parents to switch colleges and live with her sister Renee. Renee and her boyfriend are one of three couples who own a house together off campus; they’ve set up a room for Jos in the basement. Feeling like a prisoner in her new situation, she meets Dusty, a friend of the housemates. Even though she pushes him away, he won’t stay away, and his sexy attitude is hammering at her defenses.
Dusty Sharp is a former bad boy, but he’s gotten his act together and has some good friends. Hanging around at his friend Hunter’s house (Hunter is the hero in book 1, My Favorite Mistake), he meets Jos and is surprised at how beautiful she is. He’s determined to get around her defenses and find the girl her sister remembers, what he doesn’t count on is falling for the girl she is today.
As I said in my PJV quickie, My Sweetest Escape didn’t really work for me. I didn’t like Jos at all – she was mean and surly and just generally contentious. I couldn’t figure out why Dusty would keep coming back (although we do find out why at about 2/3 of the way in). It felt like Jos almost gave poor Dusty whiplash with her quick-changing mood swings and to me her character didn’t grow at all over the course of the story. Jos’s sister Renee wasn’t any better – she was more like a prison guard than a sister. And while I understand she was tasked by their parents with keeping Jos out of trouble, some of her rules and reactions to Jos seemed to be overreaction. I didn’t really have any thoughts one way or the other about Renee in the first book but I did not like her in My Sweetest Escape.
As a hero, Dusty was a great character – he refused to be put off by Jos and was a loyal friend to the housemates; I did get tired of the many references to his baggy pants though. As a couple, Jos and Dusty had a slow moving relationship, which kind of dragged due to “Secrets”. It just kind of meandered until… BAM! secrets exposed and instant relationship. The “Secrets”, while sad, were a bit of a let-down and too coincidental for this reader to find satisfactory as a plot device.
One bright spot was Jos’ friend Hannah, who despite her tragic history had a pretty positive outlook on life and was not like a lot of BFFs I’ve read recently that are selfish and ditch the heroine at the first sign of trouble. Hannah was there for Jos and their relationship was a good one. I don’t think I’ll continue this series, although if Hannah is the heroine next I may reconsider.
As I’ve mentioned, this book really wan’t for me, but if you like New Adult books with an angsty and tortured heroine, this may be a good fit for you.
Other New Adult books you might like:
Lingerie For Felons by Ros Baxter
Published by Harlequin Enterpises AU on March 1, 2014
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Provided by Author
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If there’s one universal truth, it’s this: You’re always wearing your worst underwear when you land in trouble.
Lola’s parents told her that everyone can make a difference. And she believed them. She’s been fighting the good fights since she was eleven years old. But at 23, Lola falls hard for an Australian stockbroker who thinks Doctors Without Borders is a porno and Joni Mitchell sounds like a harp seal being battered to death. She cuts him loose, but over the next fifteen years, through protests, misunderstandings, humiliating predicaments, and a number of poor underwear choices, their lives and paths continue to converge.
Along the way, Lola learns a few important life lessons: Never wear a red lace thong to a strip search. Make sure you take motion sickness pills if you’re going to the Southern Ocean to save the whales. And sometimes, Mr Right can be all wrong, and Mr Wrong just needs time to find the right path.
Funny, touching, emotional and political, Lingerie for Felons is Bridget Jones meets An Inconvenient Truth, about doing the right thing, finding the right person, and always thinking through your underwear choices.
PJV Quickie: The first few chapters of Lingerie For Felons didn’t exactly wow me. I guess I just wasn’t sure what to expect. What I was expecting was the typical romance novel, but that’s not what it was at all. Sure, there was a great romance there, under the surface; the main driving force, however, was the journey Lola went on to find out who she truly was. Once I realized that, I began to enjoy the story a lot more.
What can I say about the protagonist, Lola? At times she was beyond infuriating, going out of her way to be difficult or stubborn. I wanted to reach into the book and strangle her. Other times I found myself in awe of her never-ending drive to help change the world. It made me want to run out and volunteer. As Lola’s family said, “Everyone can make a difference, and together we can change the world.” Speaking of her family, I loved how quirky they were right from the start. Even when I wasn’t really into the novel, I thought her mom and dad were great. Their daughter was getting arrested and yet they couldn’t be more proud of her for standing up for what she believed in. Her sister, Emme, was also a big supporter, although she did so in a loud and not always helpful way. Her best friends, Heidi and Steve, were also a big part of her journey, and it was interesting to see how their lives changed over the 15 years as well.
The men in Lola’s life were essential to her story as well. First there was Wayne, her first love, who somehow wanted to be with her despite her intense stubborn streak (or maybe because of it). At first I couldn’t get over his name; petty I know, but I seriously don’t know any attractive people named Wayne. His saving grace is that he was Australian, and I’m a sucker for the accents. He seemed like a nice guy and he obviously felt something special for Lola. In my opinion though, we just didn’t get to know him well enough. We did get to ride along on their first dates and meeting his parents for the first time, through flashbacks, but after they broke up we didn’t get to see much of him. He only popped up when Lola got into trouble, which was about every 5 years. The only other guy she became semi-serious with was Clark. He was nice enough, but he was so strange; I spent most of the middle part of the novel trying to figure out if there just wasn’t any chemistry between them, or he was gay. Something great did come from their relationship, but I’ll leave that to you to find out when you read it.
The story did jump around a lot. Sometimes that can be very disorienting and confusing, but author Ros Baxter made an excellent choice of using bold headlines with each new section, detailing the date. Without them, I’m sure things would have been hard to follow.
Overall I enjoyed this book, yet I did have a few complaints. The first is that, while the characters were very witty and entertaining, I didn’t get involved with them. As weird as this may sound, when I finish a book I want to feel as though I just lost some best friends. If I truly connect with characters, I always feel a little depressed upon finishing; not completely pleasant, but it lets me know that I felt something for them. I didn’t have those feelings with this book. When I read the last page, I thought, “Huh, that was okay,”, and went about my day, not really thinking about the characters again until I sat down to write this review. The other complaint I have is about some of the dialogue words used. There was one page that contained “he/she sniffed” (in place of “he/she said”) three times. Another one that was used a lot was “purred”, and one time in particular seemed really out of context. The repetitiveness was annoying, but luckily it only occurred a few times throughout the course of the novel.
Lingerie For Felons felt more like chick lit to me than contemporary romance; that’s not a bad thing, I just wasn’t expecting it. I liked how the book spanned 15 years in Lola’s life, because it was interesting to see how she changed by the end. The few complaints I had kept me from rating it higher. I much preferred author Ros Baxter’s mermaid novel, Fish Out Of Water, but this was still a decent read.
Recommendations: If you’re looking for a book that’s lighter on the romance and heavier on the snark/wit, you might just enjoy Lingerie For Felons.
Well kids, today is Mardi Gras. Time to let your hair down, grab a cocktail and get naked in the streets in exchange for plastic beads that cost about .30¢. If you are not down for that, how about staying home with a book?
Here are some great books, written by New Orleans authors and about New Orleans:
- The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles #2) by Anne Rice
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
- A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
- The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches, #1) by Anne Rice
- The Awakening by Kate Chopin
- As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
- A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice
- A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
Best UF & PNR Books About New Orleans
- A Rush of Wings (The Maker’s Song, #1) by Adrian Phoenix
- Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock, #1) by Faith Hunter
- Night Pleasures (Dark-Hunter, #1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- Interview With The Vampire (The Vampire Chronicles, #1) by Anne Rice
- Royal Street (Sentinels of New Orleans, #1) by Suzanne Johnson
- Crux (Southern Arcana, #1) by Moira Rogers
- Masked by Moonlight (Moonlight, #1) by Nancy Gideon
- Infinity (Chronicles of Nick, #1) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
- The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches, #1) by Anne Rice
- Darkness Becomes Her (Gods & Monsters, #1) by Kelly Keaton
The Crown by Colleen Oakes
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, YA Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Provided by Author
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Not every fairytale has a happy ending.
This is the story of a princess who became a villain.
A Father’s Betrayal. A Kingdom with a Black Secret. A Princess Slowly Unraveling.
As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.
When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.
Part epic fantasy, part twisted fairy tale, this dazzling saga will have readers shivering as Dinahs furious nature sweeps Wonderland up in the maelstrom of her wrath.
Familiar characters such as Cheshire, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter make their appearance, enchanting readers with this new, dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
PJV Quickie: The most important thing I can tell you about QUEEN OF HEARTS is that it is a re-visioning, an adaptation, of Alice in Wonderland, which is probably more than obvious to anyone who has ever read that book or seen a film/tv adaptation. I love Alice, and I love adaptations of it because Wonderland is such a fantastic place I love to see how different authors interpret the world, the story and the characters. QUEEN OF HEARTS by Colleen Oakes didn’t live completely up to my high ideal for a few reasons, but it was still a really enjoyable book, I think I would have enjoyed it more had it not been an Alice adaptation.
Review: Dinah is the Crown Princess of Wonderland, one day she will ascend the throne as the Queen of Hearts that is if she can survive long enough to get there. Wonderland’s court is a perilous place, with her mother dead, her brother Mad, a bastard half-sister (the Duchess), an ineffectual wimp of a tutor, and an abusive father who hates her for some inexplicable reason (it’s not inexplicable to the audience, you soon discover that he is just a jerk, and that’s putting it mildly) Dinah is on her own and her world is falling apart at the seams. In Wonderland the law states that Dinah will ascend to throne, to share it with her Father, on her 18th birthday. With that momentous day fast approaching it becomes obvious to Dinah that someone doesn’t want that to happen, that they are out to get her, she suspects her Father’s slimy, sneaky, advisor Cheshire, but the truth when she discovers it, nearly drives her as mad as her brother.
Colleen Oakes’ takes a deliciously Wicked style approach to her adaptation by focusing on the story of the titular Queen of Hearts the same way Maguire tells the story of the Wicked Witch of the West. It’s like a comic book’s super hero origin story, except for the villain. Due to its nature of dealing with the story of how Dinah goes from innocent to villain it is a much darker story than its source material. For that reason one thought I had while reading it was, ‘Oh my gosh it’s like Lewis Carroll got together with GRRM and had a literary baby!’ Oakes’s Wonderland feels very Westerosi, and I actually really, really like that about it. Oakes does a fantastic job of humanizing a villain that has always been unsympathetic and hated, you really feel for Dinah and you want to root for her even though, like with the Star Wars prequels, you know that the end that is in store for her is anything but a happy one.
There were parts of the story that weren’t as successful as the characterization of the Queen however. The least successful part in my opinion was the mythos of Wonderland. Trying to make sense of the mythos in this story gets very hard very quickly. Dinah is as stated the titular Queen of Hearts that Alice battles in the source material, but within the mythos of the novel, Dinah, and her brother Charles are named for the so-called Wonderland Gods, Charles being Lewis Carroll’s real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and Dinah being the name of Alice’s cat. So how can these be the Wonderland Gods of old…if the adventures of Alice are supposed to take place during Dinah’s reign? That is something I really struggled with through the entirety of the novel, it just seems really inconsistent and unnecessarily convoluted.
Something else that didn’t work for me was the landscape of Wonderland, if I wasn’t being reminded constantlyby Oakes that QUEEN OF HEARTS takes place in Wonderland it would be easy to forget, because the landscape of this Wonderland bares absolutely no resemblance to the Wonderland that I am familiar with. That being said, as its own world it is absolutely fantastically imagined, rich, detailed, and unique (especially the Black Towers, I LOVED that part! And was also completely horrified by it, which is good!); it’s only when I try to force it into the frame of reference of Carroll’s Wonderland that I start to chafe. This is one of those adaptations where you almost have to forget that it is an adaptation and just appreciate it as a singular work of its own.
Overall feelings: I enjoyed the book, I wanted to love it as much as I love the source material and other adaptions like Frank Beddor’s Looking Glass Wars and A.G. Howard’s Splintered series, but I just didn’t love it quite that much. I love the characters, they are my favourite part, and the plot is perfect, it really is a true origin story, but because the world itself just doesn’t feel like Wonderland I just felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle the entire time. When I first finished it I felt like I loved it, but then the more I thought about it the more things kept springing to mind that made my love fade a little. But I did enjoy it and I am eagerly awaiting the next one, it just didn’t earn a spot on my favourites shelf.
Read this book if:
- You’re an Alice in Wonderland fan
- You enjoyed the Wicked books and their ilk
- You think villains can be sympathetic
Take a pass if:
- You don’t like adaptations/re-visions of classic stories
- You’re a Wonderland purist
- You’re looking for a love story or a happy ending
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- Loupe Duffy on The Shadow Prince by Stacey O’Neale #Review
- aishao1122 on #Review – The Courage to Love (Brothers in Arms, Book One)
- Patti (lovesfabromance) on My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea Cameron #Review
- Book Cove on Feature & Follow – #191 – Get Your Followers On!
- UTM_Reviews on Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott #Review
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