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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Flora Reviews... A Fire in the Blood by Amanda Ashley



Flora Reviews...
A Fire in the Blood 

Read: 18th – 19th April 2015
Format: Kindle
My Goodreads Rating:  3 Stars
The expected publication date for both paperback and ebook is 25th April 2017

So, before we get into what I thought about this book, I want you to know that I was lucky enough to be given a digital version of this book for free from the publisher (Kensington Books) via Netgally.com in exchange for an honest review.
 
Thanks for the advance copy.

...So what’s this book about?
A Fire in the Blood is a standalone novel of approximately 400 pages. I feel that the story is a classic paranormal romance and would happily sit in the young adult genre due to the lack of 18+ content.  

If you’ve read any of my reviews before, you’ll know, I don’t post spoilers of any kind or reveal any plot twists in my book reviews, so here’s what the official blurb has to say about the story:

“I see a man. He is old. Very old. He will come into your life in a moment of danger. He will watch over you and protect you.” The gypsy’s hand gripped Tessa’s tighter. “He will bring you death,” she whispered, her voice like the rustle of dry leaves. “And life.”

Ten years later, when Andrei Dinescu saves Tessa from a vicious attacker, she has no idea that the handsome stranger the gypsy fortune teller predicted is not a hunter but a seven-hundred-year-old vampire. Darkly powerful, unbelievably compelling, he is obviously pursuing Tessa, but is it her love he's after or her blood?


 ...So, what did I like about it?
Amanda Ashley is a new-to-me author and I enjoyed her easy to read, writing style. I never felt lost in this story; the first chapter sets up the world, introduces our leading lady, Tessa Blackburn, and the relevant background for the story.

The pace of this tale isn't fast or frantic and it’s definitely not dark or gritty but it does have suspense and oodles of romantic gestures.

The suspense comes from never knowing when or where Tessa will be attacked by vampires; her blood calls to them. I should mention that the scenes in the book where killings, fighting and hunting take place are never explicit or described using vivid imagery.

The romance element starts very soon after our romantic couple meet, which some reviews have frowned on but don’t we hear about people who experience life threatening incidents forming instant attachments? I think so. Where this book differs from so many others is the fact that our main character, Tessa, believes in (and practices) the Christian value of no sex before marriage, so it was a refreshing change to see the sexual relationship between her and Andrei, being allowed to develop over the chapters; I enjoy it when the physical side of a relationship is allowed to bloom gently, prolonging the sexual anticipation of when they will finally do the deed.

...So, ummm, was there anything I disliked about it?
I understand that this book is first and foremost a romance novel, focussing on the evolving relationship between Tessa and Andrei, however, I am disappointed that there wasn’t more made within the story about the mystery of Tessa’s blood. I would have loved them to research it more; why is it so special? Surely all the vampire hunters in town could be tapped for information, the internet maybe or a trusted witch, gypsy or shaman? I just found it a bit frustrating; researching the mystery could have added an extra dimension to the story.  

...So, basically what I’m saying is...
This is a good paranormal romance and I enjoyed it.  I would recommend this book if you like books in the young adult (YA) genre or sweet paranormal romances. If, however, you are looking for a dark and gritty vampire romance, then this isn’t for you.

So, has my review of A FIRE IN THE BLOOD sparked your interest? Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself, or to find out more about other books I’ve read, take a look at my profile on Goodreads.


Buy A FIRE IN THE BLOOD in the usual places including Amazon.com or through Amazon.co.uk
 
Visit AMANDA ASHLEY‘s own little corner of the web

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Flora Reviews... The Fallen Chronicles: Dark Angel by Amanda Jones



Flora Reviews...
The Fallen Chronicles: Dark Angel

Read: 9th – 15th April 2017
Format: Kindle
My Goodreads Rating:  4 Stars



 So, before we go any further I just want to tell you that I was lucky enough to be given a digital version of this book for free after making a request to the author via Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 

Thank you, Ms Jones!

...So what’s this book about?

This is basically a paranormal romance novel (approx 298 pages) which feels to me very much like an occult thriller; it features many paranormal characters including, of course, angels, demons and humans.  Dark Angel is the first book in Ms Jones’ new series The Fallen Chronicles. The series will follow the seven angels who were cast out of heaven for rising up against The Deity and causing a war; Asmodeus, Azazel, Baliel, Bataryal, Lucifer, Samael and Yetarel – now known as The Princes of Hell.

This book focuses on Lucifer Morningstar; when a human sells his soul to the devil, Lucifer is the one tasked with bringing that soul to Satan in Sheol (Hell). As my regular followers will know, I don’t post spoilers or reveal any plot twists in my book reviews so here’s what the official blurb has to say:


Katia may be a celebrated musician, but she'd always felt a little like an outsider looking in. Who knew that being abducted by a handsome stranger would set her on a crash course with her destiny...

Luc has spent an eternity keeping everyone and everything at a distance as an unstoppable darkness consumes his soul. Will his beautiful captive be his salvation, or will they both be consumed by the ultimate evil...


 ...So, what did I like about it?

I found this book very easy to read and liked Ms Jones’ writing style; the way she created a very unique interpretation of what Hell is and how she spun her tale. I like the fact that she brought humanity to Lucifer and his fallen angel brothers. My regular followers will know how I crave characters who are a complex amalgam of good and bad, dark and light; I feel it makes them all the more believable.  

I liked the fact that although the romance part of the story develops early, we don’t actually see Luc and Katia take their relationship to that physical level until later in the story. The sex scenes were not graphic or OTT but they still managed to convey the feelings of the characters while getting my temperature rising.

As well as our two main characters, Luc and Katia, we have a few important secondary characters too; I liked the way that Ms Jones wrote sections of every chapter from different character’s point of view without making the experience confusing.

Now, I must confess, there were scenes in this book that made me actually laugh out loud like a lunatic, being the soppy soul that I am it also made me shed a tear once or twice too but rest assured dear follower, the smiles did outweigh the tears.

...So, ummm, was there anything I disliked about it?

No, I didn’t dislike anything about the story or how it was told. No cliffhanger, so I’m a happy bunny.

I read some reviews that spoke of a few editing and grammar issues but nothing really jumped out enough for me to mention in the copy that I read. I remember a couple of times feeling a bit lost when a scene was being described but again not enough to mention specifically. I just wish that the cover was a real model rather than a drawn one.

...So, basically what I’m saying is...

I really enjoyed this book; it was a wild adventure that kept me reading from start to finish – I was hooked! I look forward to reading Broken Angel, book 2 in this series (we get a chapter 1 at the end of this book) and hope that eventually each of The Princes of Hell get their own book.

I recommend this to anyone who wants read a heart-warming romance with a thrilling story to boot that will keep them turning the pages from start to finish.

So, has my review of THE FALLEN CHRONICLES: DARK ANGEL sparked your interest? Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself, or to find out more about other books I’ve read, take a look at my profile on Goodreads.


Buy THE FALLEN CHRONICLES: DARK ANGEL on Amazon.com or through Amazon.co.uk

Visit AMANDA JONES own little corner of the web

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Flora Reviews... Valen (Guardians of Hades #2) by Felicity Heaton



Valen (Guardians of Hades #2) by Felicity Heaton

Read: 6th – 11th March 2017
Format: Kindle
My Goodreads Rating:  5 Stars

...So what’s this book about?

This is the second book in Felicity Heaton’s new paranormal romance series - Guardians Of Hades. This new series is about the sons of Hades, the Greek God of the Underworld, and his Goddess wife, Persephone; Ares, Valen, Daimon, Esher, Keras, Calisto and Marek. Each son has been charged with guarding one of the seven gates to the Underworld - which are located here on Earth - from the daemons who want to use them.

As the title suggests, this book features Valen who is the guardian of the Rome gate. It is a full length novel of 119,000 words and is set in our world, at this time.  I think that you have to have read the previous book (Ares) to fully enjoy this one, as many of the characters were introduced in the first book and the background story arc is continuing through this book too.

Now as my regular followers will know, I never post any spoilers or reveal plot twists in my reviews, so this is what the official blurb says about the plot:

Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Lightning, Valen was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai.

Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. Cursed by Zeus to never know love again, Valen has brought up barriers around his heart to protect it, but with each new barrier he creates, the dark hold his power has over him grows, becoming all he needs.

Until the night he finally crosses paths with the assassin who has been watching him from the shadows, a bewitching mortal possessing the name of an angel and the skills of a devil—a woman who awakens his passionate heart and stirs dangerous desires.

Eva has built a fearsome reputation for herself in Italy’s underworld, but her latest job in her beloved city of Rome has left her feeling that she has stepped into a dangerous world and this mission might end in her death—either at the hands of her mysteriously seductive client or by the blade of the wickedly alluring warrior who is her target.

As the threat from the daemons escalates and more than just the Rome gate becomes their target, will Valen be strong enough to face the fears in his heart and the ghosts of his past to claim everything he desires or will they lure him deeper under their spell and into the darkness?

As with most of Ms Heaton’s work, this book contains material of a sexual nature and some graphic violence and as such is only suitable for adults.


 ...So, what did I like about it?

I am already a big fan of Ms Heaton’s other series and love her writing style! Her world building is amazing; it is her mix of fantasy and reality that captures my attention right from the start. Her characters are never black or white, good or evil but a complex mix of positive and negative traits and emotions which they either have to embrace or overcome; Valen and Eva are no exception.

I have already mentioned in previous reviews how I love the way Ms Heaton makes the most explicit sexual scenes very romantic – I think she’s a very talented writer because, for me, a story is only really erotic if I’m emotionally connected to the characters involved, Ms Heaton gives her characters such depth that they do become real, but it’s not just her main characters, I find all of her characters complex, multifaceted and completely believable due to their very real human virtues and foibles even though most of them are mythical, paranormal beings; this includes our main protagonist here, Benares.  We were introduced to all the Hades sons in the previous book as well as Hades and Persephone themselves and learned a bit about them all; this book allowed us a closer look at some of the brothers’ characters. I am looking forward to getting to know them all throughout this series.

This story made me giggle, growl in frustration and shed a tear or two. Of course, I got caught up with the passion (who wouldn’t *blush*) but the tender insights into both Valen’s and Eva’s doubts, their feelings of “relationship unworthiness”  and the growth of their trust in each other’s love was heart-warming to read.

...So, ummm, was there anything I disliked about it?

Absolutely nothing! (Hence the 5 star review) ;-)

This is the second book in a new series, and as such, you must expect a cliffhanger or two in the general story arc that the series will take. However, for those of you like me who HATE huge cliff-hangers, rest assured, Ms Heaton doesn’t leave us hanging. Yes, there are main story arc questions that are left unanswered but the paranormal romance aspect between our two main characters is happily concluded in Ms Heaton’s signature style.

...So, basically what I’m saying is...

I really loved this paranormal romance tale. I read the Greek myths when I was younger and love that the thesis for this series has come from them (with Ms Heaton’s usual twist, of course). VALEN was a great read that engaged me from the start; making me smile, cry and feel all hot and bothered with well written erotic thrills, kick arse fight scenes and tons of romantic gestures.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading stories about the battle between one’s duty and heart, inner strength, the lengths we go for our siblings or those we love, and of course, it’s a must for those of us who adore tales about soul saving love. 

So, has my review of VALEN (Guardians of Hades #2) sparked your interest? Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself, or to find out more about other books I’ve read, take a look at my profile on Goodreads.


Buy VALEN (Guardians of Hades #2) in paperback or for your Kindle on Amazon.co.uk or through Amazon.com

(Of course, Valen is also available to download in e-book format from other online sites including: iBookstore, nook, KOBO, Google Play and All Romance eBooks.)

Visit FELICITY HEATON ‘s own little corner of the web.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Flora Reviews... "Once Upon A Curse: 17 Dark Faerie Tales"



Flora Reviews...
Once Upon A Curse: 17 Dark Faerie Tales

..So what’s this book about?
This book (approx 360 pages) is a collection of seventeen short stories and novellas by best-selling and award winning fantasy authors, with the common theme of being dark faerie tales. 

The official blurb says;

Seventeen magical stories from NY Times and USA Today best-sellers and award-winning authors that will entice you to the darker side of faerie tales.

More Grimm than Disney, in this collection you’ll find twists on Snow White, Hansel & Gretel, Rumplestilstskin, The Snow Queen, Cinderella, The Pied Piper, Alice in Wonderland, and Red Riding Hood, plus new tales paying homage to the old traditions.

Shadows cannot exist without light, however, and you’ll find enough happily-ever-afters to lift your spirits in this anthology full of adventure, dark powers, and ultimately the enduring power of true love.

I downloaded this Kindle version for just 99p from Amazon UK in the hope of finding some “new to me” authors while reading some new tales from a couple of existing favourites. I will give a brief review and rate each story, if you want to find out more about each author, just click on their name to be whisked away to their own little corner of the web.

Story 1 - YARROW, STURDY AND BRIGHT by Devon MonkSweet music cannot hide a wicked heart…
This really reminds me of those old dark fairy tales I used to read; The Brothers Grimm, old Welsh tales like the lightening tree, etc. I liked it - it had the same feel. I will be looking out for more from this author.
My Rating: 5 stars

Story 2 - FAE HORSE by Anthea SharpFaerie bargains can grant any desire, but be careful what you wish for.
I felt that this was neither a tale written in the old traditional style or modern. The story was set in times past but it was the language and writing style (sentence structure, etc) that left it adrift. I still enjoyed it but it felt lost compared to Story 1.
My Rating – 3 stars

Story 3 - THE QUEEN OF FROST AND DARKNESS by Christine Pope - Her heart is the only thing colder than a Russian winter….
I enjoyed this retelling of The Winter Witch or Snow Queen. It was a very short version and so wasn't as complex or as in depth as some other incarnations but it was still enjoyable.
My Rating - 3 stars

Story 4 - BONES by
Yasmine Galenorn - Sometimes, your most cherished dream can turn out to be a nightmare.
Wow! I really enjoyed this dark fairy tale; it reminded me of the Greek fairy tales that I read as a teen. I’ll be looking out for more from this author.
My Rating - 4 or 5 stars

Story 5 - MAGIC AFTER MIDNIGHT by C. GockelThe Wicked Stepmother is about to meet her match…
I am already a fan of Ms Cockel’s writing style and this didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed this tale; it would be a wonderful prequel novella should Ms Gockel wish to take the characters further (I would certainly read it). There have been many Cinderella re-writes but this comes from a new angle - think of this as Wicked (the Wizard of Oz re-write) in an urban fantasy setting...
My Rating - 4 or 5 stars

Story 6 - DANCE WITH THE DEVIL by Donna Augustine - When the devil makes a deal with a dancer, he gets more than he bargained for.
I really liked this one; it's very short but didn't feel rushed. What I liked the most is like all good fairy tales, just when you think you know where the story is going - it doesn't! ;-) I will be looking out for more stories by this author.
My Rating - 4 or 5 stars

Story 7 - NO GIFT OF WORDS by Annie Bellet - Never steal from a witch...
I am already a fan of Ms Bellet’s writing style and this didn’t disappoint. I really loved this tale - it felt & read like a traditional folk tale. Brilliant!"
My Rating - 5 stars

Story 8 - THE GRIM BROTHER by Audrey FayeNot all walks in the wood end well…
I liked this story. It is written as a memoir from the point of view of an old priest. You get clues as to who he was in his youth and I like the way you're lead to the final realisation.
My Rating - 3 or 4 stars

Story 9 - BEAUTY INSIDE BEAST by Danielle Monsch - Happily Ever After ain't guaranteed when Once Upon a Time is here.
This had potential, the beginnings of a good story (or series) but it kind of leaves you hanging - a lot. Not a good story to include in a box set like this as it feels more like a taster sample; the first 10 chapters of a book.
My Rating - 2 or 3 stars

Story 10 - DRAWN TO THE BRINK by Tara Maya - Sajiana's job is to hunt down monsters brought alive from paintings. She never expected to meet one so handsome... or to need his help.
It was good, I really liked it. Although this tale takes place as part of a series that I am unfamiliar with, I found the story and characters very easy to follow and believe in. What a fantastic premise for a fantasy world! I will look for more books in this series.
My Rating - 3 or 4 stars

Story 11 - FAESCORNED by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson - The Morrigan, Celtic goddess of war and strife, must relive a painful memory that reminds her of what she can never have.
I thought that this was a good story. This tale feels like an additional novella for an ongoing series and as such, there was obvious history and back-story that I was missing, having said that, I have read various stories within the Celtic mythologies and was familiar with this complex goddess so it was nice to read a bit of fantasy fiction that tried used this as it’s premise.
My Rating – 3 stars

Story 12 - THE VARIANCE COURT by
Alexia Purdy - Anna, a struggling college student, discovers a mysterious ring that turns her quiet life chaotic when the ring's magic doesn't do what it's told.
I didn't like this; not my cup of tea. I think this is an opening novella/short story for a new series. The premise to this story was not original and the execution was poor. My 11yr old niece writes stories and I felt that the writing style, execution of grammar and the construction of sentences/paragraphs/chapters as well as the general plot development here was of a similar standard. I felt no love for our main character, Anna, in fact she frustrated the hell out of me; I didn’t like her at all.
My Rating - 1 star

Story 13 - THE MORRIGAN by
Phaedra WeldonA young man discovers he has leprechaun blood – and is wanted by dark faerie forces.
I haven’t read any fantasy books starring leprechauns before… but I certainly loved this one. What a great urban fantasy tale. I found the writing style easy to read, the plot had a good pace and contained a great balance of tension, action with enough some mysteries were solved while other questions are left to be explored within future tales.
My Rating – 5 stars

Story 14 - ALICE by Julia Crane - A twisted tale of Alice and Wonderland. Facing madness and an ominous prophecy, Alice chooses to follow her heart despite knowing her world is about to change forever.
I liked this story; however it does end very abruptly with a tagline about the storyline continuing in “Down The Rabbit Hole”. As you can imagine, this story takes its premise from Alice in Wonderland, I did like the author's writing style and what's here was captivating but as this is more of a taster, I'm unable to comment on character or plot development
My Rating - 3 or 4 stars

Story 15 - STILL RED by Sabrina LockeWhen the Hunters come, can there be any escape?
I did like this dark, sometimes surreal, short story; it was good. The writing was beautifully crafted and very intelligent. It read like a cult classic; passionate, poignant but with a sprinkling of magic to leave you bewildered or awed depending on your interpretation.
My Rating – 3 or 4 stars

Story 16 - THE FINAL STRAW by Jennifer Blackstream - To banish a gold-spinning demon, first you must guess his name...
I enjoyed this story; Ms Blackstream took the premise from Rumpelstiltskin and made it her own. This is a lovely short story/novella which can be read as part of her Blood Prince and Blood Realm series. I found it easy to read and liked how the story developed.
My Rating - 3 or 4 stars

Story 17 - THE UNICORN HUNTER by Alethea KontisOnly Snow White knows what really happened in the forest…
I absolutely loved this story. I was completely transfixed from start to finish; the way the story was written and how the characters of the demon and the princess revealed themselves, their journey, the plot evolution and the poignant ending (yes, I blubbed). I will be looking out for more books from this author.
My Rating - 5 stars

...So, basically what I’m saying is...
This is a good box set.
I have enjoyed having this as an ongoing back-up, to be able to pick up and read when I’ve had a bit of free time. What I’m thrilled about is that I have found some new to me authors to check out and I’ve really loved reading 4 out of the 17 tales while only a couple of stories were not to my taste. I think that is quite rare for a collection of this size and price.
I think it’s got a nice assortment of different settings and sub-genres under the faerie tale themed umbrella to suit most tastes.

So, has my review of ONCE UPON A CURSE: 17 Dark Faerie Tales sparked your interest? Just click on any of the links below to check out the book yourself, or to find out more about other books I’ve read, take a look at my profile on Goodreads.

Buy ONCE UPON A CURSE: 17 Dark Faerie Tales on Amazon.co.uk or through Amazon.com