fantasy romance

The Problematic, Yet Entertaining “A Promise of Fire”

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A Promise of Fire by Amanada Bouchet
Sourcebooks Casablanca: August 2, 2016
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Source: Free From Publisher

I’d go there again!
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A Promise of Fire is one of those books that’s a bit tricky to review. On the one hand, it’s a bit of a problematic read considering that it’s a romance and the so-called hero kidnaps the heroine. On the other hand, I found it an entertaining read that I couldn’t peel my eyes away from. So keep in mind that you too may be frustrated by some character’s actions in A Promise of Fire but you will ultimately enjoy this one for being a breath of fresh air in the romance genre.

Catalia “Cat” Fisa is a psychic who works in a circus. Cat is also in hiding from the powerful Fisa family. Cat’s powers make her unique; she can sense when a person is lying, which makes her valuable as a political tool. Due to her ability to sense a lie (just one of many fantastical abilities) Cat is known as a Kingmaker. Since escaping the Fisa family Cat has successfully hidden her abilities and carved out a life for herself in the circus. Naturally, that life is not mean to be and Cat is kidnapped by the Sintan warlord Griffin who wants to use Cat’s ability to solidify his sister’s leadership after overthrowing the previous leaders of the Sinta and bringing in a non-magical leader. Enter magic and mayhem and things get complicated very quickly. (more…)

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A Promise of Fire: Romance, Thinly Disguised

27015399A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Sourcebooks Casablanca: August 2, 2016
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Source: Free from publisher

Beach Vacation
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Reading this book felt like eating too much candy and regretting it afterward.

It has all the romance tropes you could want (and probably more): a heroine with a terrible past and unique skills who has to hide from the world for political reasons, a hero who doesn’t tell her who he is for his own political reasons, a kidnapping, instant attraction, bickering between the hero and heroine, and gradual trust.

It’s set in a fantasy world, and the heroine, Cat, has run away from her family to avoid becoming like her ruthless, malicious, sadistic, abusive and power-hungry mother. She’s been with the circus since she was 15, until the day the local warlord, Beta Sinta – the most powerful man in the kingdom she’s visiting at the time – discovers her. They meet, sparks fly, he abducts her, and they learn to get along through forced closeness (he captures her with a magical rope she can’t escape from). He’s a decent guy, though, a good one, and completely alien to Cat, since she grew up surrounded by terrible people. So the abduction, kidnapping, and travel to his castle in another city is okay – because neither he nor his men mean her any harm. (more…)

The Bachelor Goes Beast Slaying in “The Great Hunt”

22428707The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
HarperTeen: March 8, 2016
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Source: Free From Publisher

Beach Vacation
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The Great Hunt is a romantic, historical fantasy, and as a romance, I thought this one was pretty good. However, there were several times I felt that suspension of disbelief was required and because I really couldn’t shut off the logical side of my brain, I had a hard time enjoying this one as much as it deserves.

There is a beast stalking the kingdom of Lochlanach. The commoners are being targeted and its only when the betrothed of the king’s niece is killed that the king finally decides to act. The king’s army can’t kill the beast, and the king is losing the support of his subjects. To gain the manpower to track and kill the beast, the king offers his eldest daughter, and heir to the throne as the prize. The hunter that successfully kills the beast wins Princess Aerity’s hand in marriage.

Entering the contest is Paxton Seabolt, a young man of nineteen that wants to kill the beast that is ravaging his people and avoid marriage to the presumably pampered princess. Alongside his brother and the other contestants, Paxton hunts for the beast only to discover that this is no natural beast; there is something otherworldly about it, something that will have huge repercussions for Lochlanach. (more…)

Chinese Dragons and Romance in “Dragons of Heaven”

dragons of heavenThe Dragons of Heaven, by Alyc Helms Angry Robot: June 2nd, 2015 (Fantasy)*

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The view was nice, but the food was bad (meh)**

In The Dragons of Heaven, Missy Masters is trying to live up to her grandfather’s legacy as Mr. Masters, one of the original superheroes of the mid-twentieth century. We are introduced to her present-day struggles to be taken seriously and to defeat a Chinatown crime boss in San Francisco. The narrative is split between the present-day and some time in Missy’s past. It’s also split between San Francisco and China. In one plot line, Missy is a superheroine fighting crime when mysterious magical walls spring up around all Chinatowns in the world, and around China itself. This launches Missy into the world-saving business, as she is the only person who can dissolve the walls. In the other, she travels to China to learn from a Dragon and become a better superheroine. (more…)

Magic & Romance in “The Shattered Court”

23281690The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott
Roc: April 28, 2015 (Fantasy Romance)*

I’d go there again!
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Lady Sophia Kendall is days away from coming into her power. As a noble born woman, and thirty-second in line for the throne, Sophia is a powerful commodity and will become even more of one if her magical abilities are strong. Before Sophia can be carefully initiated as a royal witch, Sophia is forced to flee the city with Lieutenant Cameron Mackenzie, who happens to be accompanying her in the city when the capital is attacked. Suddenly Sophia finds herself an unbound witch, more powerful than she ever imagined herself to be, and also more dangerous. One hasty wedding later, Sophia learns a lot about why witches are bound so quickly, but this knowledge might come at a price. (more…)

Return to Historic Portugal in “The Seat of Magic”

18693704The Seat of Magic by J. Kathleen Cheney
Roc: July 1st, 2014 (Historical Fantasy; Mystery)

I’d go there again! vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3vintagesuitcase3

A strange thing happened when I was reading The Seat of Magic. Despite feeling pretty mediocre about the first book, The Golden City, I totally fell in love with its follow up. The Seat of Magic was lush, romantic and mysterious and I couldn’t have been more engaged reading. I am so glad that I picked this one up. It would have been so easy to forget about this one since I wasn’t totally enthralled by book one, but the gorgeous cover grabbed my attention and I thought it was time to give this world another shot. I can’t remember what didn’t work for me the first time round, because I absolutely loved it in the second book.

The Seat of Magic picks up soon after the events of the first novel. Oriana has returned to her homeland, but has promised to return to the city. Duilio soon finds himself helping the police investigate another series of deaths; it seems that someone is killing non-humans, but to what end is anyone’s guess. While Duilio investigates these murders he can’t shake the feeling that Oriana is in danger, and after a daring rescue, Duilio and Oriana have to determine how the murders and her imprisonment is connected. (more…)

a problematic romance in The Fire Seer

22553346The Fire Seer by Amy Raby
Amy Raby: August 25th, 2014 (Fantasy Romance)*

False start (could not finish)**

The first thing that struck me about this book is: short riding pants?? I’m not much of a horseback rider, but that just seems scratchily uncomfortable.

My feelings hardly changed throughout the portion that I did read (I did not finish). Some phrasing was awkward, as in the instance of “five fingers,” which seemed a bit repetitive, since “fingers” implies all of them, does it not? Usually numbered fingers equal fewer than five. “Indignance” is not a word. [pause for double-check] Okay, apparently it is, but it’s archaic, and “indignation” would make more sense to more readers, I think. But those were the little things.

The really big deals I could not get over, the things that made me decide not to finish this book, are: the main character Taya, and the relationship between the Taya and the “hero,” Mandir.

(more…)

Comfort Reading

Whether it’s the dropping temperatures and coziness of an overstuffed armchair, a wool blanket, and a mug of tea; an increase in stress and busyness; or the sometimes unhappy effects of change (or, really, anything else) … there are reasons for comfort reading. It happens. Lately, it’s been happening to me. And so, instead of reading the new books I should be finishing for reviews, I’ve been reading new books and re-reading old ones that encourage escapism. Today’s post, then, is not a review – but a personal list of Top Ten Twelve Comfort Reads. In fact, some will be the ones I’ve read in this latest bout of comfort reading, while others are books I return to again, and again, and again. NB: Comfort reading may be enhanced when combined with comfort baking or comfort drinking. Urban paranormal fantasy is a huge draw for me right now. Recently, I’ve read and re-read the following, which may or may not have been influenced by my recent post on books with werewolves:

 

While I don’t read historical romance regularly, it does play a large role in comfort reading episodes. These two are among my new favorites:

When things get really bad, I usually turn to my favorite book EVER. It’s distinguished by a vivid historical setting, a superb romance, realistic and complex characters, a stubborn, independent, and intelligent heroine, and the best hero I’ve ever read.

If I’m feeling in the mood for science fiction, I turn to Sharon Lee and Steve Miller:

Fantasy (young adult fantasy, usually) works best when I want to resolve (or encourage) nostalgia:

Each time I go through a comfort reading phase, the books are different – slightly, or greatly – but there’s always a heavy amount of re-reading, romance, adventure, and happily ever afters. Do you go through comfort reading phases? What are the books (or characteristics, or authors) you turn to in stressful or nostalgic times?

The Fairy Tale Continues in “The Silver Pear”

23015946The Silver Pear by Michelle Diener
October 1, 2014 (Fantasy Romance)*

My rating: Liked the place, but the food was bad (2/5)

The Silver Pear is the second in Diener’s Dark Forest series. I had read the first installment, The Golden Apple, and I’m happy that I got to read the ending of the story, since I was left feeling that the central conflict was unresolved. Sorcerers were bent on gaining more power than they had a right to and Kayla, the heroine of The Golden Apple, was just gearing up to use her new found affinity for wild magic and take on the big bads. The Silver Pear shows readers how Kayla does this, and introduces another young heroine with special abilities of her own. (more…)

Master of Crows – Gothic Fantasy Romance That Shines

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Master of Crows by Grace Draven
Published in Darkly Dreaming: A Five Book Fantasy Romance Anthology, 2014 (Fantasy Romance)*

My Rating: I’ll definitely go there again, and soon! (4-4.5/5)

Martise of Asher, slave to a bishop in the Conclave, an organization of mage-priests, moves in with the renegade and lawless Master of Crows, an isolated mage who works magic that is forbidden to the Conclave. Her owner, Cumbria (and that was confusing, because no it’s not a county in England, and I kept thinking of him as a place) has sent her to spy on Silhara of Neith, the Master of Crows, since the god Corruption has just appeared in the sky in the form of a star. Everyone knows the god is looking for its avatar, and Cumbria suspects the Master of Crows is involved. Martise must find evidence that the latter is conspiring with the god to bring Corruption down to earth.

Her first impression of the place is one of a dilapidated and dangerous manor, empty but for a mute servant and the Master of Crows himself. The manor, with creaking and sagging stairs, cobwebs, and dark corridors, spooks Martise – but she is determined to succeed in order to win her freedom. Her slavery she keeps a secret, because Cumbria sent there as an apprentice mage, answering a request from Silhara to help him search for ways to defeat the god. If she reveals her true status, the game is up, and she’ll never win her freedom. (more…)