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Posts Tagged ‘5 Stars’

Description From Goodreads:

Ciela de Leon never wanted attention. It’s a pity no-one asked her.

Forced to begin her pilgrimage by the Temple of Life, she must become a water-seer or die trying. But when something precious is stolen from her, Ciela must fight alongside a group of terrifying mercenaries to get it back. Now everything she thought she knew about the world is thrown into doubt, and the questions just keep piling on. Who is Ezra Hawkins? What are the Children of Lightning plotting? How do waffles fit in to any of this? And if that wasn’t bad enough, she may just be falling in love with a mysterious warrior who knows far too much about life and death. There’s also the off chance that she’s destined to save the world.

In this exciting sequel to Wind-Scarred, Ciela must fight to discover the secrets hidden just beneath the surface, or be washed away by the tides of fate. Time is running out…

WATER-SEER, by Sky Luke Corbelli

Available on Amazon

Review: ***** 5 Stars
In this sequel to WIND-SCARRED, Sky Luke Corbelli delivers a thrilling tale of adventure, camaraderie, and even a little love. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, but the few complaints I had were fixed in WATER-SEER, making the sequel an even better novel. The plot was tight, the characters realistic, and the action intense as the story continues.

Characters: ***** 5 Stars
I loved Ciela de Leon! She’s a young healer out on her pilgrimage, taking sacred books to the Great Temple of Life in Silverfall. Ciela is confident in her healing skills and compassionate with the people around her, always willing to stop and lend a hand if someone is sick or injured. But when it comes to traveling on the road by herself, Ciela is less than thrilled, even intimidated by the path laid out before her. Even so, when the books are stolen from her, she throws herself into the chase, determined to reclaim them. Her moral strength and firm resolve, juxtaposed with her insecurity, made for a very interesting character.

I was also thrilled that we got to see more of Ezra, Sarah and Mat. The team continued to grow and evolve in this second installment, highlighting new and exciting facets of their personalities and expanded skill-sets.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
WATER-SEER was a much tighter novel than its predecessor. The plot stayed right on course, with some wonderful action sequences that kept me glued to my seat. Occurring entirely outside of Sanctuary, Ezra and his team are running from the Chancellor’s goons while seeking allies in the elemental groups. Meanwhile, Ciela joins their traveling party when their paths cross and they find themselves traveling in the same direction. There was more action, better integration of the science-fiction with the fantasy, and an overall better story arc with a fantastic twist near the end.

My only complaint was that the Epilogue closed on too much of a cliffhanger, literally stopping in the middle of a conversation, and it was unnecessary. Without the epilogue, the ending still would have been open-ended with many unanswered questions, but perhaps with a little less “what-the-…?” feeling.

Setting: ***** 5 Stars
The world outside of sanctuary is extremely well-developed and diverse. Each city that the group passes through is unique and vivid. I was easily able to imagine Silverfall with its flowing waters, and Theron with its impoverished people and tiered layout. I also loved the skystream, with its flying boats and pirates. Overall, really creative and fun!

Romance: **** 4 Stars
The relationship is slow to develop between Ciela and Matt, but it felt more realistic for its tempered pace. They seem to make a good couple, complementing each other’s skill sets and learning from one another. I particularly enjoyed it when Ciela was the hero, coming to Matt’s rescue, instead of the other way around.

Genre – Futuristic Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
WATER-SEER does a great job picking up where Wind-Scarred left off, and it remains a unique cross-genre novel that does a great job bringing together both science-fiction and fantasy themes. WATER-SEER is a bit more on the fantasy side than WIND-SCARRED was, but it works since the story is set entirely outside of Sanctuary. Ezra and his team still have many of the advanced technologies at their disposal, even though they are slowly being forced to function entirely within the confines of the outside world.

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:

There can only be one allegiance.
It’s her time to choose.

Some humans can see the fae. McKenzie Lewis can track them, reading the shadows they leave behind. But some shadows lead to danger. Others lead to lies.

A Houston college student trying to finish her degree, McKenzie has been working for the fae king for years, tracking vicious rebels who would claim the Realm. Her job isn’t her only secret. For just as long, she’s been in love with Kyol, the king’s sword-master—and relationships between humans and fae are forbidden.

But any hope for a normal life is shattered when she’s captured by Aren, the fierce and uncompromising rebel leader. He teaches her the forbidden fae language and tells her dark truths about the Court, all to persuade her to turn against the king. Time is running out, and as the fight starts to claim human lives, McKenzie has no choice but to decide once and for all whom to trust and where she ultimately stands in the face of a cataclysmic civil war.

THE SHADOW READER, by Sandy Williams
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ***** 5 Stars
THE SHADOW READER is an inspiring interpretation of the fae in contemporary fantasy. Thoroughly enjoyable, the tale follows McKenzie Lewis as she is kidnapped from her college final exam and thrust into the middle of a fae war. She’s always been on the side of the fae King Atroth, but as she learns more about the rebels around her, she comes to discover that all may not be what it seems.

There were a couple of relatively minor world-building issues that stretched the limits of my ability to suspend disbelief, but despite that, I was carried away by this book and enjoyed every minute of the read.

Characters: ***** 5 Stars
I loved all of the characters in THE SHADOW READER. Each had a unique voice and brought together a deep, well-developed cast. Even the secondary characters enhanced the story, moving beyond mere placeholders to full characters in their own right.

Don’t let the girl on the cover deceive you, McKenzie Lewis is an average human college student, except for the fact that she can see fae magic and read the path of their fissures – portals from one world to another. Most notably, she does not carry a sword. However, that doesn’t mean she isn’t kick-ass in her own right, stubborn and brave, trying to do the right thing without being deceived by the devious fae around her. She is the best shadow reader in the world, able to track the fae to within yards of their location after they jump through a fissure, making her a valuable asset to the King and a high-value target to the rebels.

Kyol is King Atroth’s sword-master, a cold warrior that softens only around McKenzie and loves her despite the King’s restriction that fae and humans cannot have a relationship. He does everything in his power to protect McKenzie, keeping her as far from the front lines of the war as possible and hiding her from the rebels, but eventually they catch up to her.

Aren is the rebel leader who finally manages to capture the shadow reader, but instead of killing her as he should in this brutal war, Aren tries to persuade her to see their side and learn the truth of the King and Kyol’s actions.

Plot: ***** 5 Stars
The plot was really well developed, with several twists and turns as McKenzie discovers more about the war, its origins, and her place in it. I especially enjoyed McKenzie’s internal conflict as she finds herself both sympathizing with the rebel cause (and its charismatic leader) and loyal to Kyol and the King. I couldn’t put the book down!

Setting: **** 4 Stars
Some of the world building threw me for a loop, sending me slightly out of the story to consider whether I could really believe the set-up. For example, when on Earth, the fae visibly show “chaos lusters”, bright lightning bolts of magic that dance across their skin. Only humans with the sight can see this magic, but the magic can jump from fae to human and back, a pleasurable sensation, apparently. The chaos lusters move faster when the fae is agitated or in pain, but why would the environmental magic be affected by mood? Similarly, human technology hurts the fae and drains their magic, regardless of what it’s made of, but I never understood why that would happen. I guess I like an explanation, even for the unexplainable.

However, the worlds themselves were really well developed, with great detail in the political situation, the atmosphere, and the scenery. I was drawn in and captivated by the world, not wanting to put the book down despite the few moments of distraction.

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
The love triangle between McKenzie, Kyol, and Aren is fantastic, despite Kyol not actually being present for most of the story. McKenzie is rightfully hesitant to trust Aren, her kidnapper. But Aren is immediately attracted to her and wants to keep her alive and safe. He works hard to make her see the rebel point of view, and change her opinion of him in the process. Kyol, on the other hand, has secretly held McKenzie’s heart for ten years and does everything in his power to bring her back to safety. McKenzie can’t help but think about him and struggles against her growing attraction to Aren in part due to loyalty to Kyol. There’s plenty of sexual tension between McKenzie and her two suitors, as well as plain old regular tension, but even though McKenzie eventually does make a choice, the novel is kept PG and the window is left open for further tension in future books.

Genre – Contemporary Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
A great combination of action, suspense, and adventure, with strong character development, makes this a great contemporary fantasy. For those that like a lot of heavy romance in their fantasy, this might not be a great pick for you, but the author brought something new and interesting to the genre with THE SHADOW READER. I look forward to the next installment!

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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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Description From Goodreads:

Mara Sheppard has no love for the Fae, but to free her brother from prison, she’ll do whatever the treacherous Queen Nalia asks. Even kidnap Dashael Rhyder, a womanizing thief.

She should have known the deal would go sour.

It’s almost too easy to bait and trap Dashael. Resisting his potent Fae allure isn’t. Especially since Nalia’s unexpected demand for a missing magical rune means Mara will have to hold strong far longer than she’d planned.

Dashael’s best shot at escaping? Seduce her. If he can survive a few dozen of his closest enemies out for blood and the queen’s scheme to make him her personal stud…he might just make it.

Then his game of seduction trips over a snag named Mara, and he falls. Hard. For a commitment-phobic thief, love might as well be a prison sentence. Yet the idea of losing her makes him miserable.

Mara can’t deny that her enemy has stolen her heart. But their love is about to be tested by a lifetime of secrets. The risk may not be worth it. Especially if a life together means death for one of them.

Warning, contains one or more of the following: Hot, sexy thieves, pain-in-the-butt sprites, handcuffs, intriguing new uses for a silk bed curtain, and scorching, shake-the-ceiling-tiles sex.

LOVER ENSLAVED, by Jodi Redford
Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Review: ***** 5 Stars
Dashael is fae, and a thief.  A double whammy against him, as far as Mara is concerned.  Not that it matters what she thinks, since she has to kidnap and bring him back to Queen Nalia in order to rescue her brother from the fairy prison.  Thus begins an adventure across two countries, with bounty hunters, long-lost brothers, poisonous toads, and see-thru dresses aplenty.

Characters: ***** 5 Stars
Mara is refreshingly normal.  A human with no special powers, she still manages to use her assets to their best advantage and come out ahead.  She’s quick on her feet and witty, more than up to the task of handling Dashael and his ego.  But Dashael grew on me throughout the story.  More than just a pretty face, he’s a man with a past and a story of his own.  You can’t help but root for the two of them to overcome the obstacles to be together.  The supporting characters are equally entertaining: a sprite named Piper who always says or does the wrong thing at the wrong time and irritates Mara to no end, a rival thief named Jerrick who’s not quite what he seems, a boutique owner who provides the missing pieces to the story and gives Mara some extra support right when she needs it, and several brainless thugs to keep things moving along.

Plot: ***** 5 Stars
While LOVER ENSLAVED follows the standard romance outline to some extent, there are enough plot twists to keep the reader from guessing too much in advance.  The pacing was fantastic, neither too slow nor too fast, and the overall story length was perfect.

Setting: **** 4 Stars
The author did a great job developing the world of the story, but I would have liked a little bit more background on the various races and their roles in the world.  The fae are clearly on top, but they aren’t all royalty, and humans are apparently at the bottom, but what exactly is the role of the sprites, except to irritate Mara?  I liked the level of description, however, as it was enough to provide a distinct vision of the world without bogging down the plot.

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
HOT!  Lust leads to sexual tension leads to love in this fantasy, and it’s perfect.  Dashael can’t resist Mara and does everything he can to seduce her, yet she manages to hold him off until neither can stand it any longer, despite the risks to their lives.

Genre – Romantic Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
This was a perfect romantic fantasy.  I couldn’t have asked for anything more!

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Description From Goodreads:

The severed head marked by a distinctive tattoo on its cheek should have been a Guild case, but dark instincts honed over hundreds of years of life compel the vampire Dmitri to take control. There is something twisted about this death, something that whispers of centuries long past…but Dmitri’s need to discover the truth is nothing to the vicious strength of his response to the hunter assigned to decipher the tattoo.

Savaged in a brutal attack that almost killed her, Honor is nowhere near ready to come face to face with the seductive vampire who is an archangel’s right hand, and who wears his cruelty as boldly as his lethal sensuality…the same vampire who has been her secret obsession since the day she was old enough to understand the inexplicable, violent emotions he aroused in her.

As desire turns into a dangerous compulsion that might destroy them both, it becomes clear the past will not stay buried. Something is hunting…and it will not stop until it brings a blood-soaked nightmare to life once more…

ARCHANGEL’S BLADE, by Nalini Singh
Available on Amazon andBarnes & Noble

Review: ***** 5 Stars
After surviving a brutal kidnapping and torture for months at the hands of a group of depraved vampires, Honor finds herself a changed woman.  No longer the confident hunter she was, Honor is forced to leave the safety of the Guild Academy and face a case requiring her unique skills, as well as the man that has drawn her attention, and obsession, for years.  Meanwhile, Dmitri finds himself drawn to Honor, unable to resist her strength of will and courage in the face of her fears.

Together, Honor and Dmitri investigate two cases, the person responsible for the severed head and tattoos, as well as the identities of Honor’s torturers.  As they work, Dmitri slowly rebuilds Honor’s confidence, while Honor protects Dmitri from himself, ensuring that he doesn’t cross the line into darkness after a thousand years as the Archangel’s Blade.

This is the fourth book in the Guild Hunter series, but you can almost get away without reading the others first.  The first three followed the Archangel Raphael and Guild Hunter Elena, introducing most of the side characters in ARCHANGEL’S BLADE.  However, since it stays pretty tightly focused on Dmitri and Honor, the background stories are less necessary.  I’ve read the other three books as well, and would highly recommend going back to read them first, but you could start here without missing too much.

This was a fantastic story, building a beautiful relationship through danger and overcoming deep emotional pain.  I loved every minute of it!

Characters: **** 4 Stars
Dmitri and Honor are perfect together.  Both broken, both in pain, yet able to come together to remind each other of the good in the world and in each other.  I loved them!  However, the side characters and villains are slightly less developed, detracting a bit from the mystery and action of the story.  The side characters appear in previous Guild Hunter novels, so you can learn more about them if you read the series in order, but I would have liked a little more depth from the villains.

Plot: **** 4 Stars
ARCHANGEL’S BLADE had a strong plot with two mysteries for the characters to solve.  It was really well paced, keeping the action high while the characters explored their relationship.  The only thing I would have asked for was a bit more danger toward the end, particularly for Honor.  While she overcomes a ton of emotional baggage, and plays an integral role in the climax, I wanted Dmitri to have to rescue her or save her at least a little, so that he could truly realize what it would cost him to lose her.

Setting: ***** 5 Stars
The author does a great job with the setting of the story, bringing to life each location in detail.

“The gates, tall and ornate and covered with dark green ivy, swung open with stately grace the instant the guard saw the car.  The drive was dappled in sun and shadow from the oak tress that lined it, and the house, when it came into view, spoke of another century – a heavy and ostentatious one.”

“A minute later, she ducked under the police tape to find herself looking at a scene more suited to a slaughterhouse than the chaotic, vivid  center of one of the most well-known cities in the world.  A thousand scents surrounded her – the sweet, sweet taste of sugar from the chocolatier across the street; coffee, bitter and rich, from the place on the corner; tobacco smoke and car exhaust mixed with the sour tang of human sweat – but none of it could overwhelm the ripe, wet smell of rotting flesh.”

Romance: ***** 5 Stars
Dmitri and Honor are perfect together.  Oh, wait, I already said that!  But they really are!  Dmitri is careful with Honor, pushing her to heal, but still respecting the damage that resulted from her torture.  There’s one scene in particular (which I won’t ruin for you) that nearly made my cry, when strong, proud Dmitri finds himself making amends to the woman he can’t live without.  The sex isn’t overdone, instead the author builds a foundation that naturally leads to a physical relationship.

Genre – Urban Fantasy: ***** 5 Stars
ARCHANGEL’S BLADE was the epitome of good urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  Plenty of action and danger, vampires and angels, mystical relationships, and of course an urban setting.  If you love urban fantasy and paranormal romance, you’ll love this book.

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