Violet Made of Thorns by: Gina Chen

Releases: July 26th, 2022


A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.

Storygraph.com

I received an ARC of this book, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.


Content Warnings: Death, self-harm, blood, gore, murder, racism, child abuse, violence, and some sexual scenes.


After reading the summary of this book, on Netgalley, I knew I wanted to dive in. I’m a sucker for fantasy novels that follow someone who’s labeled morally gray.

We meet Violet, the Kingdom seer, who works closely with the King to ensure peace and prosperity for their land. Everyone trusts her divination except for the crown Prince who’s determined to prevent her from continuing as Seer once he’s crowned King.

Since Violet was brought to the castle, when they were children, Prince Cyrus and her have fought loudly, and openly, for all to witness. Both stubborn they refuse to see eye to eye or find common ground. So when the King instructs Violet to grow close to Cyrus to ensure he believes her divination of meeting his true love, Violet’s at a bit of a loss.

I was fully invested, from the very start, and ended up reading this book in one day, practically in one sitting. The beginning and middle were strong and had me invested in Violet, her powers, and her potential friendship with Cyrus. I did find myself struggling to stay immersed the closer we got to the end though. The development of a tentative trust between Violet and Cyrus was shown throughout the book but the ending had it feeling a bit rushed, like one minute there was trust then immediately none, and then back to trust. I wish a little more time would have been spent on the ending for the back and forth to make more sense to me. This could honestly just be a me issue but I just felt like it didn’t line up with what all we’d learned previously.

The way the story ended has me hopeful that there will be another book. If this is a standalone I’d be sad, as I felt it didn’t tie up everything it should have. On either Goodreads or Storygraph, I saw something saying it was book one in an untitled duology so I’m hopeful that we’ll get another book.


About A Rogue by: Caroline Linden

Desperately Seeking Duke Book 1

It’s no love match…

Bianca Tate is horrified when her sister Cathy is obliged to accept an offer of marriage from Maximilian St. James, notorious rake. Defiantly she helps Cathy elope with her true love, and takes her sister’s place at the altar.

It’s not even the match that was made…

Perched on the lowest branch of his family tree, Max has relied on charm and cunning to survive. But an unexpected stroke of luck gives him an outside chance at a dukedom–and which Tate sister he weds hardly seems to matter.

But could it be the perfect match?

Married or not, Bianca is determined to protect her family’s prosperous ceramics business, even when Max shows an affinity for it–not to mention a dangerous ability to intrigue and tempt Bianca herself. And when Max realizes how beautiful and intelligent and desirable Bianca is, he’ll have to prove he’s no rogue, but the passionately devoted husband she craves…

storygraph.com

Content Warnings: Explicit sexual scenes.
Mention of: domestic abuse, forced institutionalization, gaslighting, alcohol abuse, physical abuse and neglect, loss of a parent, and poisoning [character was force-fed drugs to make them appear unwell mentally].


Last week I was sent a finished copy of ALL THE DUKE I NEED, by Avon for being one of their influencers, which is the third book in this series. Having not read either of the books before I decided to order them so I could fully immerse myself in the world Linden created.

Bianca loves her family and their earthenware pottery business. Constantly testing out new techniques and glazes Bianca someday dreams of running the family factory. Having a similar temperament to her father means she constantly butts heads with him when it comes to business and family decisions. So when her father agrees to marry off her sister, to a man they just met, Bianca is determined to prevent the wedding. Little does she know that Max’s determination to join their family and business means it doesn’t matter to him which sister ends up walking down the aisle to him.

From a young age, Max learned to value money and always plan ahead to ensure he never goes hungry again. Having met Bianca’s father, in London, and being fascinated by his business Max is determined to broker an alliance that will allow him to help their earthenware business fluorous. Although he was planning on marrying Cathy, the demur sister, as long as he’s able to marry one of Tate’s daughters, and join their business, Max will happily marry the passionate Bianca who isn’t afraid to state her mind.

This was such a fun historical romance to read through. I loved how the prologue introduced us to this story and world. From the start, I adored Bianca and Max. Starting off as strangers that really don’t like each other, to reluctant acquaintances, to friends, to lovers. I’m excited to read the other two books that are out, not sure if this will just be a trilogy or extend further, and see how the search for the next Duke of Carlyle continues.


The Library of the Unwritten by: A.J. Hackwith

In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing– a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

storygraph.com

Content Warnings: Murder, self-harm, bullying, suicidal thoughts, and mention of suicide.


I stumbled on the summary of this book late last spring and was fascinated with the idea. Sadly when it was gifted to me, for my birthday in July, I let it sit on my shelf unread until a few days ago. Wanting to read something somewhat different, but still, within the Fantasy genre, I decided to finally pick it up and dive in…and it did not disappoint.

This book is like nothing I’ve ever read before and I enjoyed every second of it! We follow four different perspectives as we journey through this book.

First, we meet Claire the current head librarian of the Unwritten Library who is very good at her job and keeps everything running as efficiently as she can. Claire has been the head Librarian for over thirty years and is rumored to have an entire wing dedicated to books she left unwritten during her time as a human.

We then meet Leto, a junior demon, who has been tasked with informing Claire of a runaway, unwritten, story that she’s been tasked to find and return. Leto is new to his position and is shocked when Claire informs him he’ll be traveling along with her to Earth to hunt down the runaway story.

Ramiel an angel and fallen Watcher is just going about his normal business of standing at the gates of Heaven and processing new souls when he’s met with a soul that’s carrying a suspicious scrap of paper, that seems to hold unknown power. When the soul informs him it’s a piece of the long-lost Devil’s Bible Ramiel finds himself tasked with hunting the rest of the book down. Having been barred from crossing the Gates of Heaven, since he sided with Lucifer before the War, he’s given the idea that he could reclaim his rightful place, and finally go home, if he completes his mission to collect the Devil’s Bible.

Brevity, Claire’s assistant and junior librarian, who also happens to be a former Muse, is being trained to someday take over the role of Head Librarian. No one knows exactly what causes Head Librarians to retire, or where exactly they all go, but there’s always someone training to take over whenever that happens. The longer Brevity trains under Claire she feels like she’s able to see past the strict and seemingly uncaring, exterior Claire presents to a kind and fearless person.

I won’t lie this book did take about a hundred, to a hundred and fifty, pages to finally feel firmly invested in the adventure. The lore I found deeply fascinating and the more I got to know the characters, through the different perspectives, then I found myself connecting and empathizing with them. This book is so fascinating and I can’t wait to read the other two books to see what journey, and adventure, we go on next!

If you’re looking for a unique fantasy that involved a library, heaven, hell, demons, humans, angels, and book characters brought to life…I highly suggest picking up this book and diving in!


A Broken Blade by: Melissa Blair

THE HALFLING SAGA BOOK 1

Keera is a killer. As the King’s Blade, she is the most talented spy in the kingdom. And the King’s favored assassin. When a mysterious figure called the Shadow starts making moves against the Crown, Keera is forced to hunt the masked menace down.

She crosses into the magical lands of the Fae, trying to discern if her enemy is Mortal, Elf, or a Halfling like her. But the Faeland is not what it seems, and neither is the Shadow. Keera is shocked by what she discovers and can’t help but wonder who her enemy truly is…

The King that destroyed her people? The Prince that tortures them? Or the Shadow that threatens her place at court?

As she searches for answers, Keera is haunted by a promise she made long ago. A promise not only to save herself but an entire kingdom.

storygraph.com

Content Warnings: Blood/gore, alcohol abuse/addiction, self-harm, suicidal ideations, depression, loss of a loved one, genocide, forced servitude/slavery, racism, and colonialism. Mention of assault, torture, and abuse.


If you’ve been on Booktok since at least last fall, you know that Melissa Blair had a chokehold on us, as everyone was desperate to read, and find out who wrote, this fantasy. From the moment the first video dropped we were all hooked on solving the mystery.

When the final reveal was announced Booktok was thrilled!

The way Melissa crafted Keera has me in awe. Keera is complex and feels broken, weighed down by the guilt of every innocent she’s been forced to kill. For years, as the King’s “Blade”, she’s been forced to hunt down countless Halflings, like herself, in order to appease the King’s quest to maintain power and control of the kingdom. A task she’s always hated but tries to use the little power she has to help, other halflings when she can.

Having had rebellious thoughts in her youth countless years of being forced to do the King’s bidding have led to Keera feeling hopeless and no longer holding regard for her own life. Every time she closes her eyes she sees visions of the countless people she’s murdered in the name of the King.

This book is so beautifully crafted I cannot wait to find out what happens next. I’m so excited to see that Melissa was given a 3 book contract with a publisher so she’ll be able to continue to craft this amazing story. I’m only sad because with the re-release of this book in August, through Union Square publishing, I’m not sure how long I’ll have to wait until we’re able to devour book two.

If you’re looking for a well-crafted Fantasy with a complex main character, of unknown origin, who will do whatever it takes to protect those under her care…I highly recommend picking this book up. This book was written, and dedicated, to Booktok and has so many tropes that we know and love along with a beautiful story that I can’t wait to delve deeper into!


Re-Releases August 2nd, 2022
through…
Union Square Publishing


Madness of the Horde King by: Zoey Draven

Horde Kings of Dakkar Book 3

They call him the Mad Horde King for a reason. Now, she’s his…

Over a year ago, I was ripped away from my human village to serve the Ghertun, a brutal enemy alien race. With the lives of my family at risk, I am tasked to deliver a message to the one place no human has ever gone before: the capital city of Dakkar.

Before I succeed, however, I am captured by a Horde King. A Horde King of the Dakkari, a merciless barbaric race, bred for war and violence, that rule over the hostile and unforgiving planet of Dakkar.

And this Horde King? He’s the most ruthless and insane of them all—with his scarred face, glowing red eyes, and his wicked, dark grin that hides an even darker past.

I am no one. I am quiet, meek, and fearful…and yet this fearsome king wants me in his furs. I tremble when he touches me but he awakens my desire, something I fear I’ll crave…all while I struggle to save my family.

Now the Mad Horde King has me in his possession…

I fear he never intends to let me go.

storygraph.com

Content Warnings: Death [human and animal], slavery, murder, violence, explicit sexual scenes, and mention of rape and sexual assault.


Vienne is a human whose family was taken as slaves, by the Ghertun. Forced to serve a Ghertun master, below the mountain the Ghertun’s call home, Vienne hasn’t seen the sky in over a year. When tasked with a seemingly impossible mission, to not only get into the capital of Dakkar but meet the leader with a message, Vienne knows she needs to succeed if she ever wishes to see her family again.

Davik, along with all the other Horde Kings, is called to the capital by their leader in order to discuss the growing threat of the Ghertun. For years Davik has lived knowing others call him the Mad King, thinking he’s unstable with a thirst for blood. Returning to the capital, and being away from his Horde, brings back bad memories which makes it hard for Davik to control his emotions.

So far I’ve been enjoying this series and have loved, and empathized with, each couple that’s been introduced. So far we’ve had three humans who become the wives, and mates, of Dakkari men…I’m interested to see if we get any non-human makes for any of the Horde Kings, which I would love.

I enjoy how each book teaches us more about the Dakkari culture without any mass info dumps. Even though I have other books I need to get to…I’m tempted to just jump right into book four.

If you’re looking for a fun barbarian romance series, that features alien men…look no further!


A Merry Little Meet Cute by: Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone

Releases: September 20th, 2022


I received an ARC of this book from Avon, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Cowritten by #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Murphy and USA Today bestselling author Sierra Simone—a steamy plus-size holiday rom-com about an adult film star who is semi-accidentally cast as a lead in a family-friendly Christmas movie, and the former bad-boy pop star she falls in love with.

Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.

Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.

But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.

And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.

storygraph.com

Content Warnings: Parent with bipolar disorder, loss of a parent, fatphobia, explicit sexual scenes, and discrimination/harassment/hate towards sex workers [not by the authors or main characters its discrimination the characters face by the media/strangers within the book].


When I first heard about this book, about a month ago, I knew that I needed to get my hands on it. I sped on over to Netgalley and hit request so fast, so when I logged on to my PC yesterday and it said I’d been approved for the ARC I was ECSTATIC! So judge all you want but I DEVOURED this Christmas book in April…and I feel no shame!

From the very start of this book, I was laughing out loud, giggling, and firmly invested. A huge fan of dual narrative I adored going back and forth between Bee and Nolan’s perspectives! I also love how the prologue perfectly set up the story but came from a 3rd narrative/perspective that was hilarious!

Bee has always loved performing, even though she’s faced a lot of discrimination, and disrespect, due to her being plus-sized. Having found confidence, community, and family while creating adult content online, Bee is enjoying life but always contemplates her childhood dream of taking on more mainstream roles. So when Bee’s producer calls and tells her he needs her to star in a Hope Channel production, with a list of rules to prevent anyone from connecting her to her online persona, though extremely nervous she decides to give it a shot.

Having grown up in the limelight Nolan knows what it feels like to live under a microscope. Being part of this Hope Channel movie could open doors, and opportunities that could ensure he has a steady income to support his family, and finally shed the bad boy image that’s always followed him. After his father passed Nolan felt the need to take care of his younger sister and mom. Being employed means having the medical insurance and money his family needs to ensure his sister finishes school, and his mother is able to get the doctor’s appointments and medication she needs for her bipolar disorder.

I loved that Bee has been a fan of Nolan’s since his boy band days and Nolan has been a fan of Bee since he first saw her profile on ClosedDoors, a few years ago, and is a top-tier member/supporter of hers. The fact that they both are fans, and longtime supporters, of each other without knowing is so cute!

It may be April but I devoured this Christmas book in less than 24 hours and now I’m just sad that I’ll have to wait, hopefully not super long, to jump into more books in this series. I’m excited to see what other love stories come out of this series, there are quite a few potentials, just based on all the different characters we meet in this book.

If you’re looking for a fun holiday romance between a hot/fat,/bisexual/sex worker and a reformed/sexy/bisexual/boy band man that also has great representation you’re going to want to pre-order this book right away!


Claimed by the Horde King by: Zoey Draven

Horde Kings of Dakkar Book 2

Captive of the Horde King Review

[Horde Kings of Dakkar Book 1]


She broke their laws. Now, he has come to punish her…

In my human settlement on the hostile plains of Dakkar, I am an outcast, a strange girl orphaned since birth, alone, and dreaming of a life I don’t have. I hunt to survive, though it is forbidden, though it breaks the strict Dakkari laws that we all must follow.

When my desperate actions catch the attention of a Dakkari horde king—a cold, powerful, and merciless warrior leader, with eyes like flint and a body like steel—he seeks to punish me…and he succeeds.

But then he does the unexpected.

Instead of taking my life, he claims me as his own.

He steals me from my village and brings me back to his battle-bred horde. There, I warm his bed. I make bargains with him on starry, cold nights. I look into his grey eyes and see not a monster, but a demon king who captures my soul.

But demons have a way of never letting go…and as the cold season descends upon Dakkar, I begin to wonder if I even want him to, even when it hurts.

storygraph.com

Content Warnings: Malnourishment, whipping, mention of sexual assault, death of an animal, and explicit sexual scenes.


I loved book one with the Khal Drogo vibes but I have to say I enjoyed book two more since we get dual narratives! Getting to hear all of Elle and Seerin’s inner thoughts was so much better than just having a single narrative.

In CLAIMED BY THE HORDE KING, we meet Elle who has led a rough life. Having lost both her parents at a young age she’s grown up being treated as an outsider in her own village. Constantly on the verge of starvation Elle has had to barter for food by using her skills of hunting. Every human on Dakkar knows that hunting has been forbidden, from them, and the punishment is death if caught but Elle has no other way, that she’s willing, to barter for necessary food.

Seerin has always felt pressure to ensure his horde is happy and safe since he was made a Horde King. Traditionally one is only made a Horde King if they come from a line of Kings and if they pass a series of trials. Seerin’s mother, who was a sex worker, caught the eye of their leader and convinced him to allow Seerin to take the trials even though he lacked the traditional lineage. Though he passed all the necessary tests, which means no one could ever take his title from him, Seerin feels pressure to ensure he never does anything that could cause shame, or harm, to his horde.

Though Elle and Seerin come from different cultures and species, they’re kindred souls who share a lot of the same experiences of feeling othered by those around them.

I adored this story so much, seeing Elle and Seerin open up to each other, learn to trust one another, and fall in love made me so happy. If you’re looking for an entry into alien romance, or if you have a thing for barbarian alpha men, I highly recommend giving this series a try!


Captive of the Horde King by: Zoey Draven

Horde Kings of Dakkar Book 1

She made a deal with the Dakkari devil. Now, he owns her.

On the unforgiving planet of Dakkar, I did what all the humans in our village did: kept my head down, worked to provide for my family, and I certainly didn’t break any Dakkari laws to risk inciting the alien race’s merciless wrath.

Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for my brother and one careless mistake brings a horde of the nomadic, barbarian Dakkari straight to our doorstep, led by their powerful horde king—a cold, ruthless, battle-scarred warrior demanding retribution.

In order to save my brother’s life, I do the unthinkable.

I sell myself to the horde king as his war prize. I agree to warm his furs, to travel with his horde across the wild lands of Dakkar, and to never see my family again.

But as I struggle with my new reality, I discover that the surly, mysterious, dominant horde king never intended for me to be his concubine…

He wants me as his queen.

amazon.com

Content Warnings: Kidnapping, blood, explicit sexual situations, branding, sexual assault, sexism, and murder. Mention of: rape, murder, and death of parents.


I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for barbarian romances, if it’s got Khal Drogo vibes you can just sign me right up! So when I was asking Janessa for more alien romance novels that had more of a barbarian/alphahole feel to them…this was one of her highest suggestions…and it did not disappoint.

In CAPTIVE OF THE HORDE KING we follow Luna, a human who sacrifices herself to a Horde King in order to save the life of her younger brother. Assuming she’ll be used as a concubine she is shocked to find the King has selected her to be his new Queen, to stand by his side while he oversees the protection of their horde.

Everything Luna had grown up hearing, about the Dakkari, is wrong and maybe, within the horde, she’s finally found a place she belongs. Will Luna learn to embrace this newfound feeling of freedom and happiness or will she let her prejudice and pride get in the way?

If you are wanting to read an incredible fun, and spicy, alien romance that gives off major Khal Drogo and Khalasar vibes I highly recommend giving this book a try. I absolutely loved this first installment of the HORDE KINGS OF DAKKAR series and look forward to reading more!


Lord of Population by: Elizabeth Stephens

Population Book 1

She thinks she can steal from me, the little human. Adorable. I can’t decide what will be more fun – the hunt, or what I will do to her when I catch her. And I will catch her. There is nowhere she can run.

Abel was of perfectly sound body and mind when she looted the Other’s corpse. He looked dead. Wait. Did he just smirk up at her? No. Definitely not…

Hiding out in an abandoned townhouse, Abel doesn’t expect to hear that same bloodsucking alien come knocking on her door or that, when trouble finds them, he might stand at her back, rather than stab her through it.

But when he offers to help her cross the ruined world of Population, Abel knows better than to believe him. Because when he looks at her, it’s with a hunger that seems to go beyond the taste of her blood and, when he asks for payment, he requires the one thing she can’t give up.

Her trust.

Run all you like, little human. The sword you carry won’t be enough to stop me from coming for you. You’re mine. Blood. Body. Heart.

* * * * * * * * * *Lord of Population is a relaunched and combined edition of Population and Saltlands, by the same author. The content therein remains the same.

storygraph.com

Content Warnings:
Graphic/detailed: Blood/gore, violence, murder, child abuse, captivity, torture, cheating, and death of a loved one.
Mention of: rape, sexual assault, pedophilia, child abuse, cannibalism, and death of loved ones.


I have a confession to make…I haven’t read many alien romance novels. Although they’ve achieved a huge wave of popularity, thanks to a few series going viral on Tiktok…I’ve only read a handful.

Gena Showalter’s Otherworld Assassins [which I desperately need her to write more off because 2 novels and 2 novellas just aren’t enough] and the first Alien Huntress novel is the extent of my alien romance knowledge. Trust me, Janessa almost lost my number after hearing this dark secret, and I’ve promised to start exploring more alien romance to make up for it.

Having heard some hype for this series, and its author, I knew that I wanted to give it a go. When I heard that Elizabeth is a master world builder, as well as a WOC, I knew right then I needed to jump in. So knowing nothing of the actual story, aside from the back of book description, I was excited to see where this story took us.

Set in our world, years after aliens invaded and took control of our planet, we meet a woman who has few memories of the world before, who fights hard to protect herself and those she cares. Having already lost so much to the aliens, and ruthless human gangs and scavengers, she follows a list of twelve strict rules…until she meets Kane.

From the information, the summary gives us I wrongly assumed this story would be a dual narrative going back and forth between the woman we meet and the alien that has her changing, and sometimes breaking, the very rules she uses to survive. Although this book does a great job of portraying emotions in other characters, emotions that even Abel, the woman we meet, isn’t able to understand herself, I really wish we had a dual narrative. It would have been great to hear Kane’s inner monologues during certain situations or to be able to fully understand his actions, and interactions, from a first-person perspective.

I love that the author gave the alien blood the ability to heal but makes sure to not fall victim to the horrible “magical healing” trope. Instead, she makes sure we know that the blood can only heal new wounds, that would naturally heal over time, just faster due to the ingestion of alien blood. Now don’t get me wrong some of the fights Abel survives I’m like damn…she really just walked away from that? Broken bones and cuts heal naturally, in general, so really the alien blood just speeds the process up so instead of being stuck in bed for weeks/months she’s only down for hours or a few days. So although the alien blood heals broken bones and cuts that Abel receives her deaf ear remains, as it was caused by an injury she was dealt years ago.

It was amazing to see so many references to Abel not having full hearing and sometimes struggling to hear words or sounds, that other characters could. Some authors have a bad habit of mentioning a disability/illness/neurodivergence when they introduce a character but then fail to show how it affects how they do/see things compared to their able-bodied/neurotypical companions.

I found myself deeply immersed, and invested, until just over halfway through the book when it felt like the story tried adding way more than it needed to. Reading this, at the same time as a friend, I started checking in with them to see if they felt the same sense of confusion that I did during the second half of the story. The beginning had a strong start but it feels like the second half added elements that created unnecessary conflicts and loose ends that are never fully tied up. There are two more books, in this series, that could potentially explain all the loose ends but I currently don’t see myself picking them up anytime soon.

Having enjoyed the world-building elements as well as having the main character be a badass WOC whose partially deaf, I look forward to reading more of Stephens’ work. Janessa has said great things about Elizabeth Stephen’s Xiveri Mates series which I’m excited to read, as Janessa has always given fantastic recommendations.


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