Back To You: Hurley Boys, Book 3

Back To YouAuthor: Lauren Dane
Book Name: Back To You
Series: Hurley Boys
Order: #3
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb: What won’t he do for a second chance?

Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn’t truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly’s finally ready to move on, and she’s planning to marry another man.

But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it.

Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish–and prideful–fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock-star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly’s beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he’s had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he’s the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there’s only one way to do it….

Review: This was my least favorite book of the series.  Normally, I’m a pretty big Lauren Dane fan, but I really struggled with this one.

First, I really wasn’t a huge fan of how either character came across.  Vaughan came across as lacking in any real personality and character.  What little did show was kinda spineless and a following along without any real will of his own sort of feel.  Kelly came across really off.  Based on the storyline, she’d been divorced for 8 years, but still incredibly bitter about the whole thing and hanging on to all of that hurt, yet is totally okay with letting it all go after she was able to voice it.  I get where the author was wanting to go with this, but I just didn’t feel that the way this was written.  I also totally hated Sharon (Vaughan’s mom) in this, but thought she had been an awesome character in other books.

I think that part of the reason I struggled with the characters in this book was the dialog and how it was presented.  I honestly don’t remember if the dialog in other books came across the same, but I don’t remember feeling as annoyed by it before.  Here, it felt thrown out there and ranty in places with random bits tossed in without any context for it.  It didn’t seem to really flow well.  There were lots of times I had to stop and reread portions before to see if I missed something because there was suddenly a conversation going on and I wasn’t sure how it even came up.

I really wanted to love this book as I have most of the others, but I just couldn’t.  This wasn’t awful, not by a long shot, but it really wasn’t all that great either.

 

Sugar’s Twice As Sweet: Sugar, Georgia, Book 1

Sugar's Twice As SweetAuthor: Marina Adair
Book Name: Sugar’s Twice As Sweet
Series: Sugar, Georgia
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  He’s trouble she doesn’t need . . .

Thanks to a cheating fiancé, Josephina Harrington’s perfect life just crashed and burned. Moving in with her overbearing parents is definitely not an option. No, she needs to prove she can make it on her own. And she will-by turning her great-aunt’s old plantation house into a destination getaway. She’s just not expecting her contractor to be so hands-on-and so totally irresistible.

. . . but everything she wants

Bad-boy golf champion Brett McGraw figured his hometown of Sugar, Georgia was the perfect place to lay low and get his life back up to par. The leggy blonde with a pint-sized pup is the kind of sweet ‘n sassy trouble he never saw coming. She doesn’t know a nut from a bolt and before long, he’s renovating her house . . . as she steals his heart. Can he convince Josephina that his womanizing ways are in the past and he’s ready for forever?

Review:  This was a cute, fun, lighthearted read.  The main characters were both pretty fun and believable and the chemistry between them definitely worked.  I liked the work up in how they managed to get together while still managing to keep things interesting.

I wasn’t a fan of the Old Lady Brigade.  Instead of them coming across as just ornery old biddies stirring up trouble, they really came across more of just down right nasty and mean.  The things they did weren’t funny little pranks, but really kind of hateful.  It was hard to believe that they were just doing that because they cared for Josephina’s Aunt and her memory.  That part of the story just didn’t quite work for me.  I’d like to say that it was easy enough to overlook as not being essential to the plot, but their behavior and attitudes were essential and knocked this down a notch for me.

The ending is pretty much predicable in standard romance novel fashion, but still fits into the overall feel of the book of keeping it on the lighter side of things.  Definitely a good one for when that is the mood you are looking for.

Hunter’s Prayer: Jill Kismet, Book 2

Hunter's PrayerAuthor: Lilith Saintcrow
Book Name: Hunter’s Prayer
Series: Jill Kismet
Order: #2
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Another night on the Nightside…An ancient evil looms over Santa Luz. Prostitutes are showing up dead and eviscerated. And Jill Kismet just might be able to get her revenge against an old enemy.
There’s just one problem. Someone wants Jill dead—again. And if they have to open up Hell itself to kill her, they will.
Sometimes, even when you’re Jill Kismet, you don’t have a prayer…

Review:  I had to drop the rating of this second book in the Jill Kismet series because it is just so intensely heavy and dark, it’s really kind of hard to plow through without anything relieving the tension.  Generally I can breeze through books, even really intense ones, and not once feel the need for a break.  I found myself setting this aside several times just to unwind a bit.  There is absolutely no levity or breaks in this story.

The breaks you should be getting, with the romantic parts, just aren’t breaks because there is even a lot of tension and intensity going on there.  Not that we really get to see an awful lot of that.  I was really thrown off by the fact that this book apparently takes place two years after the first one.  By doing that, the author took the easy way out with regards to the relationship between Saul and Jill because the reader never gets to experience it and see how they managed to work things out since how it ended in the first book wasn’t exactly clear or clean on the issue.  What interactions they do have leave a lot open and sometimes makes the reader feel like they missed something, like a whole book as the author just assumes the reader will get it or understand some obscure underlying meaning.  It just felt a bit off.  It doesn’t help that Saul seems more like a obedient puppy following along, rather than a strong partner.

Needless to say, I really wasn’t a fan of this one.  I’m not sure I will take the time to read the next one as this falls just a bit too far out of my interest zone with regards to the kinds of books I like, fantasy or no.  I think the writing itself is still pretty good, if you don’t mind some of the things that can be frustrating and the unrelieved hopelessness that permeates this, but it just isn’t really what I want or need in a book.

Dead Ice: Anita Blake Series, Book 24

Dead IceAuthor: Laurell K. Hamilton
Book Name: Dead Ice
Series: Anita Blake
Order: #24
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Anita Blake has the highest kill count of any vampire executioner in the country. She’s a U.S. Marshal who can raise zombies with the best of them. But ever since she and master vampire Jean-Claude went public with their engagement, all she is to anyone and everyone is Jean-Claude’s fiancée.

It’s wreaking havoc with her reputation as a hard ass—to some extent. Luckily, in professional circles, she’s still the go-to expert for zombie issues. And right now, the FBI is having one hell of a zombie issue.

Someone is producing zombie porn. Anita has seen her share of freaky undead fetishes, so this shouldn’t bother her. But the women being victimized aren’t just mindless, rotting corpses. Their souls are trapped behind their eyes, signaling voodoo of the blackest kind.

It’s the sort of case that can leave a mark on a person. And Anita’s own soul may not survive unscathed . . .

Review:  We get to see more of Anita Bad Ass in this book and not just Booty Call Anita, which is a huge improvement over the last book.  Bad Ass Anita is the Anita that drew me into this series in the first place, so I was really glad to see that here.

While we did get to see the mystical and police side of Anita, it felt a little like she wasn’t all that relevant to the investigation until it impacted her personal life.  It was also only about 1/3 of the content of the book.  All the rest focused on the relationship aspects of Anita’s life.  What mystical side we saw, either zombie raising, police related or even relationship wise, was still very minimal.

Earlier in the series, it was Anita’s uniqueness and powers that began to draw in the different people that she ended up in relationships with and the focus on the mystical aspects of those relationships helped to make the huge number of people she got involved with work.  It was a stretch, but it worked.

Now, after it has been mentioned in several books that she has way too many bed partners and should figure out a way to pair it down, especially since there is a need and desire to have commitment ceremonies and an actual wedding, we end up adding more, not narrowing it down.  What makes this even worse, is that these new people don’t have any kind of a mystical or emotional connection.  They are just being added in an effort to keep everyone satisfied in bed.  That alone takes away the believability of this huge poly group that supposedly has deep emotional and mystical connections and makes it more just a whole bunch of people who have sex with whoever they want for reasons not even remotely related to anything other than physical.

To top it all off, they are now being forced to try and add another person to the commitment aspect of the group to satisfy a prophecy.  In an effort to do this they are meeting with potentials to see who may work, not because there is anyone that they may care about, let alone love, but because they feel they have to.  This goes against what the characters claimed in previous books that they wouldn’t add anyone to the commitment/marriage that they didn’t love just to soothe hurt feelings.  It smacks of arranged marriages and breaks down the importance of what emotional relationships do exist.

I’m also not thrilled with the amount of pressure that seems to be put on Anita to have sex with so many people that she really doesn’t have any connection with.  She has become so much more the Booty Call Anita rather than the Bad Ass Anita.  I don’t know very many women that would feel all that good about themselves by being passed around as a sex object just so other people can get a power boost or political connections or via emotional blackmail just because they feel left out.  It is no longer about love and commitment or even mystical connections, it is just about sex.

I have really enjoyed a lot of the relationships that Anita has had in the past.  And like most fans, have my favorites, but with the direction the series seems to be taking, those relationships begin lacking in emotional depth and realism when so many other people start getting involved.  Especially when those people just do not seem to be involved for any real good reason other than to have another person to have sex with.

Also, when the focus of the story leans so far away from what we loved the most, Bad Ass Anita, her powerful nature and her close loves, towards so much more of these superfluous relationships and the petty drama that a good 50% of the story is no longer interesting, but tedious to read through, it lessens how much I like the characters I do like because they are so willing to put up with crap that anyone with an ounce of self worth would have walked away from a long time ago.  Asher, Jade and Domino are really good examples of characters that are really just whiny brats that like to throw little fits.  The fact that ANY of these supposedly strong characters are willing to continue to tolerate them makes me like them so much less than I did in the past.

This book was better than the last, absolutely, because we get to see more of what drew us in in the first place.  It was still a disappointment.  As a series, though, it is really starting to suffer in my opinion.  Part of what makes a really good piece of fiction work is the author’s ability to get the reader to suspend their disbelief and find that fiction to be real for the time they are reading the story.  As this series has moved forward, that suspension is breaking down more and more often.  There is only so much a reader is going to bend their brains, no matter how much they may want to, before it just no longer works for them.  Each book in this series is taking us closer and closer to that point.  Because I have loved so much of this series in the past, I’m really, really hoping that it gets redirected before it gets to that point.

Burned: Ignite Trilogy, Book 1

BurnedAuthor: Tara Sivec
Book Name: Burned
Series: Ignite Trilogy
Order: #1
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Seventeen years old when he broke my heart.

Seventeen days later when another picked up the pieces.

Seventeen years together.

Seventeen thousand problems.

Seventeen days of reliving my past and finding a new future.

Seventeen minutes until it all went up in flames.

Seventeen breaths until I took my last.

This is my story…and it’s going to burn.

Review:  When I first read the blurb about this book, I was intrigued.  Reading the prolog, was intensely dramatic, a deeper expansion of what the blurb hinted at and convinced me that it was going to be a deeply emotional and passionate read with a lot of pretty intense drama.  It definitely wasn’t going to be a typical hearts and flowers romance.  You knew there was potential for serious heart wrenching by the time the story would be over.  I was definitely hooked and anxious to dig in.

It only took about a chapter and a half for that impression to dissolve completely as the rest of the book didn’t even come close to living up to what the beginning set in place.  Instead of something that was intensely emotional and goose bump inducing, you got near the opposite.  I started skimming through several places, trying to get to what I was expecting and finding myself disappointed when it wasn’t there.

Finnely’s character came across as unemotional rather than, what I assume, was supposed to just be a done, over with and numb attitude created by living the life she’d lived with her husband. Something that would be understandable with that history, but something about her personality just didn’t quite make it work out that way.  She just seemed cold instead.  I also could never decide if she was actually supposed to be strong or incredibly, naively stupid in places.  Combined with the coldness, the character just felt really off.

The relationship she develops with Collin is purely sexual, not based on anything emotional at all.  With only a token attempt to put any interaction between those characters into a non-sexual context, it just underscores that impression.  Sure, the author talks about the emotion outside of the physical between the characters and, as a reader I really wanted to believe it, but it isn’t ever backed up with any actual action that the readers can connect with.  It is presented in a few paragraphs as an information dump rather than specific scenes or interactions.  It is done almost as an afterthought.  Sex does not automatically equal emotion and connection.  It can, absolutely, but I just didn’t pick that up with the way this book was written, because every single mention of thoughts about the other character is done solely as thoughts about the physical.

The reader knows from the very beginning that there is going to be something bad go down.  They don’t know exactly what or to what extent, but there is a huge lead up from the very start.  When the bad does happen, it is dramatic, but the resolution is somewhat pat and rather anticlimactic after all that lead up.  I expected something much more emotionally wrenching and didn’t get it.

The best part of this book was the prolog.  If the rest had been written to the level of that first part, then this would have been an amazing book, but it just didn’t live up to the potential that was set in the very beginning.

 

Tempest Rising: Jane True, Book 1

Tempest RisingAuthor: Nicole Peeler
Book Name: Tempest Rising
Series: Jane True
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  THE START OF A BRAND NEW URBAN FANTASY SET IN SMALL TOWN MAINE WHERE EVERYTHING IS NOT AS IT SHOULD BE…


Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn’t quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.


Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures alternatively terrifying, beautiful, and deadly- all of which perfectly describe her new “friend,” Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.


It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never-ever-rub the genie’s lamp.

Review:  This was a decent book, but there just wasn’t anything that stuck out at me that made it really good.  The main character is a bit on the flaky side. The romantic interest in the book kind of screams “Bad Idea” at me as it seems many of the motives for him to be interested are just not genuine and I cannot see how any kind of real relationship will ever develop that can be even remotely healthy.

There also seems to be a huge mixing of mythologies here that just don’t quite seem to work for me.  If you are going to break historically accepted thoughts on creatures or groups, then make that break work somehow.  It kind of feels like they were all just thrown in together without any rhyme or reason and the reader is expected to just accept that it works.  Sorry, it just didn’t for me.

Overall, the story wasn’t really bad, it just wasn’t really good either.  I’ll probably take the time to read the next book, but only when I’ve got time between books I’m waiting on.

Hard as a Rock: Gargoyles, Book 3

Hard as a RockAuthor: Christine Warren
Book Name: Hard as a Rock
Series: Gargoyles
Order: #3
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb: Wynn Powe comes from a long line of powerful women, and an equally long line of Wardens. Unfortunately, Wardens all over have gone missing—her brother included—just when the threat from the Order of Eternal Darkness has begun to rise. Now more than ever, humanity needs Guardians to stand between them and the ultimate evil, so Wynn has returned to Chicago to locate a Guardian of her own. But the Order of Eternal Darkness has beat her to the punch, and the statue she’s come to investigate has been blown to smithereens. An elusive enemy is on her trail… and this time, she’s on her own. It’s up to her, a woman with no training as a Warden, to summon a new Guardian to the fight.

Enter Knox. He may be a newly summoned Guardian, but he possesses all the skills and memories of his race…along with drop-dead, expertly-chiseled good looks. Bound to Wynn as his Warden, Knox vows to learn the truth about the destroyed Guardian—and protect Wynn at all costs. But he never could have imagined the fierce attraction that has taken hold of him, body and soul. Is his desire for Wynn worth the risk of being destroyed by the Order? The only thing he knows for sure is that he won’t go down without a fight. Nor will he pass up a night of pure blind passion…

Review:  This is another fun, sweet book in the Gargoyles series.  While it falls just a tiny bit on the too sweet and too perfect side, there is still enough of the harder stuff that the characters have to deal with and overcome.  They definitely aren’t perfect, nor does the book fall into the mistake of the miraculous ending which is what balances out some of that too light side and keeps everything really interesting.

I would recommend this as a read if someone is looking for something a little lighter after some really heavy reading but doesn’t want fluff.

Hotter Than Ever: Out of Uniform, Book 9

Hotter Than EverAuthor: Elle Kennedy
Book Name: Hotter Than Ever
Series: Out of Uniform
Order: #9
Genre: Erotic Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Claire McKinley has just experienced every bride’s nightmare. The groom is a no-show, and now she must face five hundred guests alone. Furious and humiliated, Claire seeks help from the most unlikely candidate—her almost-brother-in-law, who promptly whisks her away to his apartment in San Diego, where she can recover her pride in peace and quiet.

Dylan Wade is no fan of Claire’s, but no way can he leave the jilted bride in her time of need. Bringing her home seems like a good idea—until he remembers his new roommate. Dylan’s relationship with Aidan is…complicated. And with Claire thrown into the mix, life becomes even more…complicated.

Claire is blindsided by her attraction not only to Dylan, but also to Aidan, a man she’s just met. Soon they’re caught up in an all-consuming sexual storm they can’t fight even if they wanted to. Yet Claire wonders if it can last, or if she’s just setting herself up for more heartache.

Review:  For a steamy erotic romance, this has a decent story that is somewhat believable, but it stretches that ability almost to the breaking point.

A truly good erotic romance will have the reader completely entrenched in the story and catching their breath with the intensity level of the passion expressed in the scenes.  An okay one is pretty much just decent porn in written form.  This book falls into that second group.  It doesn’t make it bad, especially if that is what you are looking for.  If you were expecting something more engaging, then this probably isn’t the book for you.  It absolutely has the steam, but is more on the raunchy end of the spectrum.

I do think the presentation and handling of the menage’ relationship was done pretty well.  It falls a bit into the too perfect to believe category, but it just skirts it on the side of it still mostly working.

Really didn’t like the handling of the situation with the ex-fiance’/brother.  Sorry, but when there is that much wrong in any relationship, it just isn’t all that believable to have it all pretty much be washed over and okay in the end.  It just didn’t work at all for me.

Overall, a decent book when you are wanting something steamy, but not all that real or intense.

 

Don’t Tempt Me: Dawn Atkins

Don't Temp tMeAuthor: Dawn Atkins
Book Name: Don’t Tempt Me
Series:
Order:
Genre: Romance
Rating:  Good
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Boudoir photographer Samantha Sawyer is seeking the perfect guy to help her with a little project—one that involves willing captives. Or experimenting with edible goodies. Or… The tricky part is that the fuzzy face of her dream-man has morphed into that of her new assistant, Rick West—whose gaze tends to make Samantha spontaneously combust.

But Rick forces himself to walk away, just as Samantha’s about to draw him in. She’s actually part of an undercover assignment, and partaking in her erotic world—enticing as it is—only makes his deception worse. Because once he’s tempted, there’s no going back…

Review:  I was wanting something different than what has been on my reading list lately.  Something lighter, and on the sweet side.  This fit that pretty well.  It definitely fell on the sweet side, right dead on the line of being too sugary.

The story was pretty decent and mostly believable, though both characters felt just a tad bit too mushy for me.  The balance between strong and sweet is hard to achieve without being cold and hard or falling into mushy.  These characters didn’t really come across as all that strong to me.  They worked within the bounds of the story, but they weren’t the kinds of characters that I could fall in love with and why the story only rated a 3.

I like there to be a bit more depth in my romance stories than what this story had.  This one was pretty predictable from the beginning as to what you could expect for the entire book.  There really weren’t any surprises and that drops this into what I’d consider a cookie cutter romance.  Decent and not a total waste of time, but just not all that special either.

Dirty Magic: Prospero’s War, Book 1

Dirty MagicAuthor: Jaye Wells
Book Name: Dirty Magic
Series: Prospero’s War
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  IT’S DANGEROUS, ILLEGAL AND TWICE AS ADDICTIVE

The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.

Review:  This was a pretty decent book.  There were lots of little twists and turns that kept it from being predictable which was a nice change of pace for me.

With all the different books out there with magic as a foundation for the world, this book has a pretty different take on that theme.  It has more of a scientific/chemical focus as opposed to the traditional view of a truly mystical nature.  The mystical is still present, so it isn’t so far off the norm, but it just isn’t the main focus.

I’m not sure how much I like the characters.  While they are complex, I’m not sure yet what I think of the personalities I’ve seen so far.  I haven’t really seen enough to know if the main character, Kate, has the smarts or backbone to become a truly strong, likable character or not.  There have been hints that it is possible, but there were also a lot of hints that she may just be the type to buckle under the pressure of circumstances rather than being able to creatively work her way out of situations that appear to have a no win scenario.

The overall feel of this series leads me to think it may lean heavily towards the type that the main character is pretty much in a constant state of struggle.  While this book had some positive events for Kate, there were still a lot more downturns, especially when you thought you were just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m not a huge fan of the kinds of books that the characters just can’t ever seem to catch a break.

I’ve got the next one in the series on my list so I can see if that theory proves to be true or not.

 

Spider’s Revenge: Elemental Assassin, Book 5

Spiders RevengeAuthor: Jennifer Estep
Book Name: Tangled Threads
Series: Elemental Assassin
Order: #4
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Old habits die hard. And I plan on murdering someone before the night is through.

Killing used to be my regular gig, after all. Gin Blanco, aka the Spider, assassin-for-hire. And I was very good at it. Now, I’m ready to make the one hit that truly matters: Mab Monroe, the dangerous Fire elemental who murdered my family when I was thirteen. Oh, I don’t think the mission will be easy, but turns out it’s a bit more problematic than expected. The bitch knows I’m coming for her. So now I’m up against the army of lethal bounty hunters she hired to track me down. She also put a price on my baby sister’s head. Keeping Bria safe is my first priority. Taking Mab out is a close second. Good thing I’ve got my powerful Stone and Ice magic — and my irresistible lover Owen Grayson — to watch my back. This battle has been years in the making, and there’s a chance I won’t survive. But if I’m going down, then Mab’s coming with me … no matter what I have to do to make that happen.

Review: This one was a bit disappointing for me.  At book 5 in the series, you would think that every time we first crossed a character in the book that we no longer needed a full history of that character.  A small statement that addressed that history should be more than enough.  I get that since I’m reading these back to back, I have less need of a reminder of the previous stories, but a reader rarely ever needs a full on rehash of previous history past the first time or two in a series or if you haven’t seen a character in a long while.  By the time I was about a third of the way into the book, there had only been a couple of new events and they took up about a quarter of the content.  The rest was all back story.

It wasn’t even just the presentation of the characters that was redundant, but of the common places in the story like the Pork Pit, Northern Aggression and Jo-Jo’s place as well as the different runes the characters used, their purpose and symbolism and all that goes with it.  Again, this is book 5.  As readers, we have read all of this over and over again before.  We should already have really solid knowledge of all of this by now.  I gave it a bit of slack in the previous books because we do need reminders here and there, but for some reason there was just a bit of overkill with regards to the history repetition in this one.  It was even more frustrating because I was so impressed with the creative way history was introduced in the first books but that creativity just wasn’t present here.

This was also supposed to be the big confrontation book that all the other books had been leading up to at this point, the showdown with Mab.  While we absolutely get that, it just didn’t feel as if that confrontation was as dramatic or interesting as all the ones we’ve seen in previous books.  It left me wanting more and kind of feeling “That was it?”

One of the other things that bugged me was that it seemed as if we were seeing a totally different Gin in this book.  She has always been pretty strong and self assured in the past.  Sure there have been levels of doubt, but she has never really let that interfere with what she needed to get done.  In this book, that doubt nearly paralyzes her to the point that she makes several mistakes.  This is a huge situation for her character and it is understandable that there would be a lot more doubt involved, but the way it was handled just didn’t seem to fit what we’ve come to expect from her character.

I’ve mentioned before that I really love Owen’s character and when I read the blurb for this one, I thought we’d get to see a whole lot more of him and that he’d take on more of a true partner role for Gin, but that didn’t happen.  He comes across as more of a footnote rather than as a true supporting character.  It felt as though the great potential that had been developed for him in previous books kind of fizzled out in this one.

I wanted to give this a 4 rating, but I just couldn’t do it.  There were too many things about this one that wasn’t up to the standards set by the rest of the books in the series.  I still liked it, but it really kind of was just okay for me in comparison.

Sworn to Raise: Courtlight, Book 1

Sworn To RaiseAuthor: Terah Edun
Book Name: Sworn to Raise
Series: Courtlight
Order: #1
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Rating:  Okay
3+stars

 

Blurb:  Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the empire. But beneath her empire’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.

Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companions Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.

But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.

Review:  I don’t usually choose to read young adult books unless they are by an author that I already really enjoy, and often not even then, so picking up this book was unusual for me.  From what I could tell on Amazon, it isn’t actually classified as young adult, but based on the content of the story, it really can’t be considered an adult book.

The world this book was set in seems to be intriguing, but I didn’t feel as though there was really enough detail for me to really get more than just hints here and there of what could have been something incredible, which prevented me from really getting enveloped in that world.  There were even things that, on the surface, seemed a bit contradictory to what the world appeared to be.  In a magical, non-industrial type of world it is confusing to have mentions of things that lead the reader to think of modern or even steampunk types of things.  If those things are possible in that world, then it should be made clear, otherwise it is just confusing and difficult for a reader to imagine the world the characters live in.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a fan of fantasy books that take advantage of the fact that since there is magic in the world that there are utterly simple solutions to complex problems, ie… the miracle, magical fix.  This books has that and to me, that is kind of like cheating.  You don’t really have to be creative to solve a problem, just introduce a character that can just magically make the problem go away without any effort at all.

Lots of bits and information in this book left me confused as to what, not only the world was supposed to be like, but the real end purpose of the storyline.  Since this is a part of a series, the overall plot seemed really thin, like there were lots of incomplete thoughts and ideas running around it in.  I’m not sure if it is because this was geared to a younger audience that it lacked depth (one of the reasons I tend to shy away from the YA books), but it felt like it was missing a lot that could have made it so much richer and more engaging.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad book.  I think that the series may have potential, but because there were enough things that bothered me and kept me from getting immersed in the story, I may not take the time to read more in the series.  If I do, it will be when I just don’t have anything else I want to read on hand.