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Archive for the ‘Fantasy Romance’ Category

Description From Goodreads:
Hidden within Human society is an entrancing race of beings who look just like us. They are the Akataromai. Originating on Earth, they conceal themselves, blending within the Human population. Though they appear to be Human, mature Akataromai live for centuries and feed upon negative Human emotions. Angelina Quorra is an Akataromai, a Human-looking girl who might never die. But Angelina is unique among her people, absorbing pain as well as emotion and giving anyone who feeds her overwhelming pleasure. This is her story, told by the men who adore her. Her talent is called The Lustre, bringing her great fame, and great trouble.

THE LUSTRE, by Kate Policani
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ** 2 Stars
Kate Policani delivers an interesting twist on the “vampire”, but fails to deliver an interesting story. Told entirely from an external point of view, in passive voice, the characters and plot never resonated with me. I wanted to hear from Angelina, the actual protagonist, not just the secondary characters. The method of delivery detracted from the story itself, to the point that there almost wasn’t a story. It was like being in a conversation where the subject is sitting right next to you, and everyone is talking about her, around her, and over her, but no one is talking to her. Awkward.

Characters: ** 2 Stars
Angelina has the Lustre, an ability to not only take away negative human emotions, but to take away physical pain and replace it with orgasmic pleasure. Interesting to say the least. Yet somehow Angelina is vacant, almost empty of emotion herself. She just sails along, not really taking an active part in her own life. Instead, the men in her life are the active participants, likely due to the fact that they’re the ones telling her story, and they make her out to be a perfect angel, innocent and pure…boring.

Her husband, Luciano, seems nice enough, adopting her as his ward when she’s a preteen, and making sure that she doesn’t feel obligated to marry him when she comes of age (though that was the intention all along). However he’s as naive as a teenager despite being more than a hundred years old.

The villain, Jacque Trace, is greedy and selfish, but hardly evil. His actions are despicable, but he also tries to make Angelina happy, in his selfish way. I didn’t like the man, but neither did I hate him, and he wasn’t scary, malicious, or dangerous enough to engage me emotionally. Overall, he was…meh.

Plot: ** 2 Stars
The plot is unfortunately as vacant as Angelina herself. It was just one event after another, without a story arc that slowly builds to an exciting climax and then resolves to satisfying conclusion. There were a few exciting events, such as a killing and a kidnapping, but they fell flat because they were told in a passive voice.

Setting: ** 2 Stars
Like everything else, I wanted more from the setting. I needed a year or an era, a full five-sense description, just something more.

Romance: * 1 Stars
A twelve year old girl is taken from her parents to be a ward of a much older man, with the expectation that when she’s of age, she will marry him. While the author tried to make the match seem like love, it never felt right to me. There were verbal declarations of love, and Luciano was good to Angelina, but I never felt the fire, and with the initial set-up of their relationship, it always felt too easy, and a little bit wrong.

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy or Paranormal Romance: * 1 Stars
I’m actually not really sure how to classify The Lustre. It’s not traditional paranormal romance by any means, but there is romance, and it’s in a contemporary setting. The concept of the Akataromai was interesting and unique, but the story was bland, like saltine crackers. I want more action, more romance, more passion, and more pain in my fantasy.

Note: This review was requested by the author. The only compensation received was a free copy of the book.

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Description From Goodreads:

Months after moving to the mysterious city of Cognito, Silver is developing her gifts as a Mage, and learning how to live under new laws. Forced to give up her old life, she must now live in secret among the humans. She finally has hope of leading an ordinary life . . . until Logan Cross walks into it.

Their chance meeting leads her close to discovering the identity of the nameless Mage who once stole her light and discovered the unique power she possesses. That knowledge poses an unimaginable threat to Silver, fueling her search to find out who he is, before he finds her first.

Lives are at stake. Truths are revealed. And an unexpected passion ignites.

TWIST, by Dannika Dark

Available on Amazon

Review: **** 4 Stars

Dannika Dark does it again! TWIST was just as good as STERLING (Mageri Series: Book 1), with a new hero and love interest, ramped up action, and great plot advancement for the series arc.

WARNING: SOME MINOR SPOILERS. THEY WON’T RUIN THE STORY, BUT YOU’LL GET SOME INSIDE INFORMATION ALL THE SAME…

Characters: ***** 5 Stars

Once again, I fell in love with Silver and her entourage of protectors, but the new addition of Logan Cross was brilliant. First of all, he’s a Breed called a Chitah, and as you can imagine, he has some Cheetah-like qualities, including faint spots on his skin, a highly developed sense of smell, and a hunting instinct. His introduction as Silver’s kidnapper and a killer of Mage made for an interesting dynamic in their relationship, but Silver’s reliance on him felt more organic than her introductions to the men in STERLING. Logan is a bit of a wild-man, clearly not as civilized as the Mage, having never been human. He lives by his own set of rules, but his word, once given, will not be broken.

I was also glad to be reintroduced to Sunny, Silver’s best friend from her human life, and Knox, Adam’s friend and former mercenary. Together they add a nice side-plot to the story, and help round out Silver’s network of friends and supporters.

Plot: **** 4 Stars

As with STERLING, I felt the plot was complex and interesting, keeping me on my toes. However, there were a couple of plot points that felt forced, as if the author had to get from A to C, but didn’t quite know how to do it. For example, Silver was left alone at Justus’ house without any kind of protection while he and Simon traipse off on secret business. Given that there’s still a bad guy out there after Silver, I wouldn’t have expected him to just leave her all alone, and sure enough, something bad happens, and we’re introduced to Logan.

Setting: *** 3 Stars

Cognito doesn’t feel real to me, perhaps because Silver doesn’t get to spend a whole lot of time outside of Justus’ home, but I wanted more from the city. If it’s a Breed city, it should somehow be different and unique to the human cities. I needed more description and more integration of the city into the action when Silver was out and about.

Romance: **** 4 Stars

I really loved the introduction of Logan Cross into Silver’s life. He was a fantastic counterpoint to the other men; he’s more dangerous, yet he is also more considerate (in his way). I love the tension and heat between them, particularly since Logan comes into the story as an adversary, not a friend, and Silver fights with herself as she’s drawn to him. That being said, I was sad that Adam gave up so easily, and Simon simply didn’t do anything but flirt and give way. I wanted more tension between the men as they vied for Silver’s affection.

Genre – Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance: ***** 5 Stars

This story has a bit of everything, and it was nicely done. There’s club-hopping, detective work, chase scenes, kidnapping, violence, and even some mild S&M. There’s not a lot of sex, but in my opinion, that really worked as the tension built and relationships changed. I enjoyed every minute!


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*** BOOK GIVEAWAY ***   

Description From Goodreads:
Ezra Hawkins is going to change the world.

Although, honestly, there isn’t that much world left to change. After the Great War that nearly destroyed the Earth, mankind has been reduced to a single city: Sanctuary. Hidden from the ravages of the world, the last scions of humanity have eked out their existence through hard work and ingenuity, managing survival, maybe even a little happiness.

But Ezra Hawkins, last heir to the legacy of wormhole technology, will show them something that no human in over a thousand years has known: Hope.

This is a story of science against magic, of people who can bend the elements to their will and the shadowy forces that police them. And most of all, Wind-Scarred tells the tale of a young man desperate to learn the true nature of the past, and of a planet that has its own ideas about the future.

WIND-SCARRED, by Sky Corbelli
Available on Amazon

Review: **** 4 Stars
What a great start to a trilogy! I enjoyed Wind-Scarred immensely, though it did have a few hiccups, including a meandering plot and a romance that lacked finesse. But the overall story was good, the concept unique, and the characters incredibly well-developed. I’m looking forward to reading book 2, Water-Seer, now available on Amazon.

Characters: ***** 5 Stars
Ezra is brainy yet courageous, a scientist born into a family that controls the knowledge of wormhole technology. Swept into a secret society, Ezra handles himself with aplomb, but he’s still young, and a bit naive, especially in the ways of women. Galois “Gal” Doe arrives on scene as a party girl, but ultimately recruits Ezra to become an agent. She’s spunky and fun, and I wish we’d seen more of her throughout the story. The other characters, including Ezra’s “research team” each had their own personalities, which came through beautifully in the novel and added to the warmth and camaraderie in Ezra’s world.

Plot: *** 3 Stars
The author did a great job tying together science fiction and fantasy themes, creating a complex world with multiple moving parts, including layers of foreshadowing that carry through the entire novel and into book 2 (I hope, anyway!). Unfortunately, that’s also the story’s downfall, as the plot lacks focus. Some parts seemed to drag, while in others I wanted more detail. There were several sections that didn’t seem to be necessary to advance the story, leaving me feeling like I just had to get through them. However, the action, when it occurred, was well-drawn and kept me engaged, and the overall story was interesting and fun.

Setting: **** 4 Stars
I really liked the juxtaposition of the futuristic city with the rural anti-technology countryside. It made for a very unique story and helped pull through the dead periods of the plot.

Romance: ** 2 Stars
I loved the characters of Gal and Ezra, and they could have been a fun couple. Unfortunately, the romance was significantly under-developed. Gal and Ezra are thrown together, and for a very long time I thought that Gal was just toying with Ezra for some political, or even nefarious reason. She’s flirty and coy, but it felt, at best, like a surface infatuation, and the romance fell flat.

Genre – Futuristic Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
WIND-SCARRED is a unique cross-genre novel that does a great job bringing together both science-fiction and fantasy themes. I loved the “elementals” and the conflict between the futuristic technology and the rural, almost medieval, outside world.

In honor of my return to the blog, I’ll be giving away one Kindle copy of Wind-Scarred.  To enter, leave a comment with your name and do one of the following by May 4, 2012:

  1. Sign up to follow Enter The Portal via email or your own WordPress blog (box at right).
  2. Follow Enter The Portal via Twitter (@entertheportal).

Make sure to indicate in the comment which way you’re following! One random winner will be selected from all entries and announced on the blog shortly after the comment deadline.

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Description From Goodreads:
Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she’s determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades…

Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he’s going to need Audrey’s help…

FATE’S EDGE, by Ilona Andrews
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

This is the third book in the series:

Review: **** 4 Stars

FATE’S EDGE was exactly what I’ve come to expect from the author team of Ilona Andrews, a perfectly paced adventure with unique characters and a romance that leaves you breathless for more. I’ve read all three of the edge books at this point, and look forward to the continuation of the series. Each book is a stand-alone novel following one of the secondary characters from the other books. Ilona Andrews does a great job of weaving backstory where needed without ruining the other stories, meaning that you can actually read these out of order.

Characters: **** 4 Stars
Audrey and Kaldar are an unbeatable team. Both grifters with specialized skills, the duo quickly realizes that the attraction is more than professional. Audrey has brains and beauty, using both to her advantage to achieve her goals. It also doesn’t hurt that she has a magical ability to pick any lock ever designed. Kaldar has good looks and charm, plus an ability to change personalities at the drop of a hat. Magically, Fate shines on Kaldar and he will win just about any bet he makes. The secondary characters were the charming young brothers, George and Jack, from ON THE EDGE, showing how they’ve both grown up a bit since we last saw them. I particularly love Jack, the lynx changeling that has issues understanding the rest of humanity and controlling his temper.

Then there were the villains, which, unfortunately, lived up to my expectations of being rather one dimensional with no redeeming qualities. They’re simply evil monsters, with an outrageous lust for blood and lack of humanity. The Hand (the spy organization that they work for) trains them that way, but I’d like to see one of them surprise me by showing a little compassion, or something above a desire to maim and kill. However, they do each have their own motivations for their work, and skill sets that make them interesting within the story.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
Perfectly paced, the story kept my butt glued to the seat of my chair but still allowed for character development and a realistic romantic relationship. Without giving anything away, I loved that Audrey came the the rescue at the end, using her wit to outfox the enemy and win, although I would have liked the final climactic scene to have progressed from her perspective rather than Kaldar’s so that we could have gotten a better picture of what actually happened.

Setting: **** 4 Stars
I’ve knocked a star off on the setting not because of anything in particular that was bad, but because it was 100% expected as compared to the other novels in the series. The Edge is a deep dark wilderness, the Broken is our earth, and the Weird is a medieval magical realm. I would have liked a new climate or something completely out of expectation to create some interest in the setting.

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
Ilona Andrews excels at developing realistic romances that make sense to the story. Audrey and Kaldar are a wonderful match, but Audrey has reservations for good cause. As a result, they don’t jump into bed too quickly and the plot isn’t entirely centered around the sex scenes. Instead, Kaldar has to work to win Audrey’s acceptance, building to an intense moment together that had my heart pounding.

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy Romance: ***** 5 Stars
FATE’S EDGE has it all, an action packed story with a fantastic romance and well-developed characters. Ilona Andrews is a master of the genre. I highly recommend The Edge series and FATE’S EDGE in particular.

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Description From Goodreads:

Only one thing is certain: when Hallows’ Night comes, the Wild Hunt will ride – and it feeds on mortal blood.

Cat and her cousin Bee are caught in a maze of intrigue, treachery, and magic. Everyone seems to want something from them: the Cold Mages are trying to take them prisoner, and the warlord who wants to conquer all of Europa seems sure they have a special destiny to aid him whether they want to or not. Worse, hidden powers deep in the spirit world are rising, and they are the most dangerous of all. Cat must seek allies and figure out who she can trust in order to save the ones she loves. For if she doesn’t, everything will be lost.

COLD FIRE, by Kate Elliott
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T YET READ BOOK #1, COLD MAGIC

Review: ***** 5 Stars
COLD FIRE continues right where COLD MAGIC left off: Cat, Bee, and Rory at the law offices of Godwik and Clutch. I was slightly irritated that the story backtracked a little, but that’s only because I read it immediately following COLD MAGIC. I’m sure the rest of the world appreciated the refresher. In any case, COLD FIRE was a fast and furious continuation of the trilogy, and a perfect middle for the story arc. If only I didn’t have to wait for the conclusion!

In this second installment, Cat finally gets some real answers about her identity while fighting against the powers that seek to control her, which is pretty much everyone. The story starts in Adurnam, but the majority takes place in Expedition, the revolutionary city in the Caribbean, where Cat is forced to spy for the Master of the Wild Hunt or he will sacrifice Bee on Hallow’s Night. Meanwhile, Camjiata is back with his own plans for Cat and her cousin. There are so many layers of intrigue, it’s hard to believe that anyone is on her side. Even Bee betrays Cat on accident, and Cat herself unwittingly acts as the pawn in multiple schemes. Everyone has their own angle, and everyone seems to think that they can force Cat into their own plans. Cat struggles to break free, determined to make her own destiny and protect those that she loves.

Characters: **** 4 Stars
Everything I said in my review of COLD MAGIC still holds true. I would love to sit down with the main characters, and they felt so real to me that I almost thought I could! Andevai in particular grew as a character, and I was thrilled that he pursued Cat with such determination. I will say, however, that the Expedition natives felt a bit one-dimensional. They were secondary, but they felt stereotypical: the mother hen, the protective and distrustful friend, and the witless teenage sister. More could have been done to flesh them out and bring them into the story.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
With more twists than a mountain road, COLD FIRE kept the story moving. Betrayal after betrayal leaves Cat spinning, but she stays strong in the face of mounting problems. Overall, I thought this was a great follow-up to the first book, but there were a couple of issues that threw me out of the story for a moment (a very brief moment).

First, Cat is magically dropped off in the middle of the ocean near Salt Island, a quarantine zone for the salters. However, the Master of the Wild Hunt dropped her there because he has no ability to enter the area (hence his need for her to spy). It seemed contradictory that he didn’t have to send her back to Adurnam and force her to travel to Expedition on her own, but perhaps that’s why she was dropped in the ocean and not on land?

Second, when she finally arrives in the city of Expedition, she just happens to run into Andevai, 7 months later and halfway across the world from their last meeting. It was necessary for the story to have them in the same place at the same time, but the setup was a bit awkward.

Setting: ***** 5 Stars
As in COLD MAGIC, the alternate earth setting really worked for me. With the addition of Salt Island and Expedition, the world expanded and exploded with color, literally and figuratively. Given that it’s November, it made me wish I could hop on a plane and take a vacation on the beach!

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
Away from the mage houses and the Northern cold, Vai finally breaks through the cold mask he wears and reveals his true nature: a warm, sentimental heart that will fight to find and win Cat’s love. The two have to learn to trust each other, each overcoming their past and choosing to move forward together. It’s a slow process, with heartbreak along the way, but eventually they take the step that solidifies their bond. [Note: Kate Elliott has written a free bonus chapter from Vai’s point of view that was a wonderful look into his psyche during the critical…ah…adult moment. It’s available on her website, but don’t read it until you’ve finished the book!]

Genre – Multiple: ***** 5 Stars
Steampunk becomes more prominent in COLD FIRE, but the genres integrate even better as a result. Like COLD MAGIC, it’s a fantastic mash-up that is hard to categorize, but fun to read. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Description From Goodreads:

It is the dawn of a new age… The Industrial Revolution has begun, factories are springing up across the country, and new technologies are transforming in the cities. But the old ways do not die easy.

“I was not a bard or a djeli or an historian or a scribe and I was certainly not a sage, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t curious…”

Young Cat Barahal thinks she understands the world she lives in and her place in it, but in fact she is merely poised, unaware, on the brink of shattering events. Drawn into a labyrinth of politics involving blood, betrayal and old feuds, she will be forced to make an unexpected and perilous journey in order to discover the truth, not just about her own family but about an ancient secret lying at the heart of her world.

Cat and her cousin Bee are part of this revolution. Young women at college, learning of the science that will shape their future and ignorant of the magics that rule their families. But all of that will change when the Cold Mages come for Cat. New dangers lurk around every corner and hidden threats menace her every move. If blood can’t be trusted, who can you trust?

COLD MAGIC, by Kate Elliott
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ***** 5 Stars
COLD MAGIC is a fantastic cross-genre epic, bringing together themes from epic fantasy, romantic fantasy, steampunk, and alternative history to snare readers for hours. I was 100% sucked into this world, reading the first two 500+ page installments in less than a week. If the third was available, I’d be reading that one right now too!

Catherine Hassi Barahal is a young woman raised in a family known for its skill as merchants of information…in other words, spies. She’s trained to use a blade and keep secrets both for her family, but more importantly for herself. Born with unheard of abilities to disappear in plain site, hear beyond human ability, and see in the dark, Catherine is very much the Cat that everyone calls her. But her most important secret is one that even she doesn’t know. When the cold mage comes to claim her, Cat is drawn into a chaotic adventure that slowly reveals the truth about her history and lays the path of the future.

Characters: ***** 5 Stars
I adored the characters in COLD MAGIC. Cat is fully believable, and someone that I would probably be great friends with if I ever met her in person. She’s feisty and talks too much, but she’s also loyal, hard-working, and has a vulnerable core that endeared her to me. Her cousin, Beatrice (Bee), is similarly well-rounded. Also loyal, Bee is a much better actress and knows how to use her feminine charms to get what she wants. The two together make a perfect team. Meanwhile, the cold mage, Andevai (Vai), is just what he sounds: cold. He’s haughty and rude, paying little attention to the physical needs and emotional turmoil of his hapless bride. However, every once in awhile, you get a glimpse of the real man underneath the cold mask, and by the end of the book I have to admit I was rooting for him.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
Betrayed by her family and married off to the cold mage, Cat’s adventure is just beginning.  There are enough twists and turns to keep it interesting despite the length of the novel. I will admit that a few of the twists were obvious chapters in advance of their revelation, and occasionally I was frustrated that Cat wasn’t figuring things out faster, but it was never enough to make me want to put the book down, even for a moment!

Setting: ***** 5 Stars
The alternate earth setting is drawn with fine detail and attention to our earth’s history. Kate Elliott must have done a great deal of research in preparation for world building, because the quality of the descriptions and integration of backstory is unparalleled.

Romance: **** 4 Stars
I’m giving the romance less than 5 stars for one reason and one reason only: Cat, though confused about her feelings, still doesn’t trust or like Vai at the end of the book. I have a strong feeling this is going to change (okay, I already read the second installment, but I’m reviewing that separately) but I couldn’t give a full 5 stars when the romantic interest isn’t at least partially gratified by the end.  That being said, I loved the slow-build as Vai’s true nature is revealed, and Cat’s conflicting emotions. In the full arc of the trilogy, I expect great things from the two of them.

Genre – Multiple: ***** 5 Stars
This may be the first book I’ve read that crosses more than two genres. Certainly it’s epic fantasy: it’s a cross country adventure with magic and trolls and a parallel spiritworld.  It’s also steampunk with a conflict between the old magical order and the new technologies rising from the Amerikes. There’s a potential for a strong romance between Cat and Andevai, and the the novel also takes place in an “alternate earth” setting. Regardless, Kate Elliott does a wonderful job tying together these elements and creating a story that fits into all and none of these.

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Description From Amazon:

It all begins with a lost manuscript, a reluctant witch, and 1,500-year-old vampire. Dr. Diana Bishop has a really good reason for refusing to do magic: she is a direct descendant of the first woman executed in the Salem Witch Trials, and her parents cautioned her be discreet about her talents before they were murdered, presumably for having “too much power.” So it is purely by accident that Diana unlocks an enchanted long-lost manuscript (a book that all manner of supernatural creatures believe to hold the story of all origins and the secret of immortality) at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and finds herself in a race to prevent an interspecies war. A sparkling debut written by a historian and self-proclaimed oenophile, A Discovery of Witches is heady mix of history and magic, mythology, and love (cue the aforementioned vampire!), making for a luxurious, intoxicating, one-sitting read. –Daphne Durham

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, by Deborah Harkness
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ***** 5 Stars
Dr. Diana Bishop is a young professor studying the history of science, particularly alchemy.  It’s an ironic career choice, since the human alchemists of the past hoped to transform lead into gold and discover the elixir of life, arguably magical goals, and Diana is a witch who knows magic is real, but refuses to accept her heritage.

During a brief leave of absence from her position at Yale, Diana is researching the illuminated alchemical manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian library when she accidentally calls a bewitched manuscript from the stacks.  Still trying to avoid using magic in her scholarly efforts, Diana quickly studies the manuscript, then sends it back to the recesses of the library.  Unfortunately, calling the manuscript also calls the attention of the otherworld races.  As Diana is followed by daemons, threatened by witches, and watched by vampires, there’s only one creature that she feels she can trust, a 1,500 year-old vampire.

Matthew Clairmont, a scientist and fellow at Oxford, is also interested in the manuscript, but rather than making Diana feel uncomfortable or threatened, he protects and comforts her.  Unfortunately, as their friendship blooms, the other witches become increasingly angry, going so far as to call Diana a traitor and attempting to invade her mind to discover her secrets.  What began as a simple research project morphs into a race to save Diana’s life and discover the truth of the manuscript, the history of the otherworldly creatures, and the path of the future.

A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES is a fantastic debut novel by an actual historian of science.  The depth of knowledge is evident throughout the novel, and the craft is beautifully executed.  This was one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read in years!

Characters: ***** 5 Stars
The characters in A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES are fully developed and well-rounded.  They all have strengths and weaknesses, make occasional bad decisions, and generally act like real people.  Diana Bishop struggles between her heritage and her desire to succeed based on her academic merits.  She’s not a kick-ass heroine, she’s real.  She’s strong, loyal, and dedicated to her family and her career.  Matthew Clairmont is a 1,500 year-old vampire, something that should make him unbelievable in the real world, but somehow he works.  Slowly, over the course of the novel, Matthew’s extensive history is revealed along with the structure of the vampire world.  For once, the hero and heroine are not orphaned or abandoned or ostracised from their families.  Both Diana and Matthew have loving families that do their best to support and protect each other.  They have their struggles and conflicts, but again, they’re real characters with real problems, despite the fact that they’re witches and vampires.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
This is a long book, and it’s paced more like an epic fantasy rather than an urban or contemporary fantasy, which was delightfully unexpected when I first picked up the book.  The plot unfolds gradually, beginning with a single character and setting, and leading into the more complex themes of the novel.  My only complaint is that it’s a little too slow to get started.  It took a few chapters for me to become invested in the characters and the story, but once I was sucked in, there was no turning back.

Setting: ***** 5 Stars
Deborah Harkness must have spent a lot of time in the Bodleian, Oxford, and France.  It’s the only way to explain the depth she’s imbued into the setting of the novel.  The only setting I felt was a little lacking was the Bishop house, but that might have been because it kept magically adding rooms!

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
Diana and Matthew become involved slowly over the course of the novel, but their love seems to run deeper than the average fantasy couple.  They’re not perfect, and they each have to learn to accept the others faults and choose to be together, much like a real marriage.  There’s no sex in this story, at least not in the traditional American sense of the word, but the passion between them smolders all the same.

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
I loved A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES through and through.  As noted, the pacing is slower, more epic fantasy than contemporary, but it fit the story and allowed the author to create a depth that isn’t always present in urban or contemporary fantasy.  I would highly recommend this as a starter novel for newbies in the fantasy genre, as well as the long-time readers that enjoy taking their time with a book.

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