Stygian – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #27
Pages: 670

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Born before man recorded time, I lived for thousands of years, believing myself to be something I’m not.
Someone I’m not.
Lied to and betrayed by gods, Daimons, and Dark-Hunters, I’ve struggled to find my way in a world where I’ve been cursed since the moment a vengeful goddess prematurely ripped me from my mother and planted me into the womb of an innocent woman who thought me her son.
Trained as a slayer and predator, I’ve learned to fit in and stay low. To become a tool for evil. Until I was sent to kill the one woman I couldn’t. My hesitation cost her, her life.
Or so I thought. In an act of betrayal that makes all the others pale in comparison, I’ve learned that things are not what they seem in this world and that my Phoebe still lives.
Now I will have to travel into the very pits of Hades to try and save her, even as everyone around me attempts to steal what little soul I have left. There’s only one person at my back and I’m not sure I can trust her either, for she was born of an enemy race. Yet sometimes the road to redemption is one that singes us to our very core. And if I fail to find the answers I need to save Phoebe, more than just my wife will die.
We will lose the world. Both human and Daimon.
~Urian of the House of Aricles

I did it!! I did it!! I’m up-to-date with the Dark-Hunters saga!! *happy dance*. Only 33 more sagas to tackle! Sadly, I start much more than I finish, so it’s an impossible race against my To Be Read list. Well, sure steps and small victories. That’s the trick for a happy reader. I will start with the review now, before I lose myself into the metaphysical concepts of reading goals.

This is the book of Urian. Enough said! We follow the character through more than 11 thousand years. Since his weird birth, to the present time where he has to deal with the truth about Phoebe. A story about family, loss, survival and immortal love. A biography of one of the most charismatic characters of this saga!

This is a milestone book, like Acheron or Styxx; so is much longer than other Dark-Hunters books. But, while the other two were made for lovers of the saga, Stygian’s focus on lovers of Urian. If you don’t like the character, you won’t like the book. Story wise, there is not much to tell. All the focus of the book is on the former Daimon and his lengthy life. Yes, there is still a bit of the epic craziness we love; but if you think that is going to be the main course, you are meant to be disappointed. Even though Urian’s story is a lot of fun, I guess that could not be enough for some readers.

Gladly, it’s not my case. I love the character, so I have enjoyed every single page of this book. After the dragon trilogy that left me with a sour aftertaste, I needed something like this to boost my love for this saga. I have laughed, cried, bitten my nails, jumped in the bed, yelled at it… All the emotions you can imagine. I was eager to finish my work day to reunite with Urian and all the amazing characters that wander around his life. I’ve been team Urian 100%, to the point that I considered the Dark-Hunters my mortal enemies as well. It’s one of the things I have loved the most about Stygian. Getting to know a much deeper point of view of Apollite and Daimon life has made me more empathetic towards them. I know I shouldn’t give the time of day to people like Stryker, Urian, Davyn and the others, but I can’t help thinking they were the true heroes of the book.

I’m extremely happy with this book, but I must point out some of the weakest elements of it. Once we reach the present time, the story becomes a retelling of previous books. Not as heavy as with Illarion’s book; but there is a nice hunk invested in telling us again Wulf’s, Acheron’s, Styxx’s and Falcyn’s books. Thankfully, the author drops some “deleted scenes” and different points of view to tell us again the same thing; so it’s much more bearable than expected. And let’s be honest, those books are important to undertsand Urian’s story, so I guess some readers will be glad for the refresher.

The other part that makes me frown a little is the ending. I have a love/hate realtionship with it. On one hand, it’s a new dawn for the Dark-Hunters and the Daimons. One I’m eager to devour as soon as the next book is published. On the other hand, the part of the story about Phoebe feels a little too short. After the ending of Falcyn’s book, I was breathless with the revelation that Phoebe was still alive. I needed to know Urian’s reaction. But it takes 90% of this book to just reach the same point in the timeline where the previous book left us. It took so long, that I was afraid the resolution of that plot twist was going to be weak and easy. And, sadly, I wasn’t wrong. I don’t mean it was horrible, far from it! I just think it hasn’t made any justice to the cliffhanger we had after Dragonsworn.

I can’t finish without mentioning my recently discovered love towards a character that has been there for a while but never caught my attention that badly. I’m talking about Davyn. If I could make a wish related to this saga, that would be to get his book sooner rather than later. Or maybe the longer wait will make his story sweeter. Ugh! Sometimes being a reader feels like a constant fight against myself…

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2019 – Book Gallery

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Butterfly Assassin – Annabelle Jacobs

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Author: Annabelle Jacobs
Pages: 280

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Shifter Aaron Harper gets drawn into illegal underground fighting to keep an eye on his best friend. The thrill of the fight keeps him coming back for more, but discovery could mean imprisonment and banishment from their pack. Without a beta to watch over them, common sense takes a back seat.

Michael Archer of the Shifter Crimes Task Force is investigating recent murders. Despite the brutal cause of death pointing to the work of a shifter’s claws, instinct tells him a well-known nightclub owner is involved, but they have no proof.

Aaron and Michael’s paths cross after another body with the same injuries is discovered. With Aaron finding himself on the wrong side of the SCTF and Michael looking for a killer, any attraction between them is both ill-advised and unlikely. But fate has other ideas.

Annabelle Jacobs was a new author for me. She wasn’t in my radar and this book was pretty low on my TBR list. But this year I am following an ABC Challenge for Romance Books in a community for readers and when I had to pick the B letter this one was the first that caught my eye. So, by pure accident, I have found an unexpecred awesome book. It’s a standalone book, but it takes place in the same universe as her Regent’s Park Pack saga. I haven’t read those and I can promise there is no need of reading them to understand Butterfly Assassin.

We follow the story of Aaron, a shifter who has been hooked to the adrenaline rush of illegal fights. For a shifter they are even more illegal, so he has to hide his true nature and bleed as any human. Michael is a Detective for the SCTF, a police force specialized in dealing with shifters. When several humans connected to the mastermind of the illegal fights appear dead at the hands of a shifter, the path of both characters collide in more than one way…

If you are expecting a lot of romance and hot sex every other chapter (when there is a shifter in this genre, they tend to have an insatiable hunger for sex), you are not going to like the book. My greatest surprise with this book is that the author drags masterfully the dance of unexpected attraction between hugely different characters. The “no-so-subtle-check-out”, the “looks-that-melt-steel”, the “uy-sorry-I-didn’t-mean-to-touch-you” and much more slow burners that keep the readers on their toes cheering for a happy ending. No rush, more fun. Their exchanges made me smile every time and I hated when they were appart.

Besides, this is no the classic romance with a shifter and the dreadful fated mate. I’m so glad that the author has dropped that annoying cliché of the genre. Instead, she presents us with the concept of bonding and greater emotions for the werewolves. The fact that Aaron feels the connection with Michael in a higher emotional level doesn’t make him a possessive grunt. He expresses honestly his need of claiming the detective as his, but he is very tactful to avoid any kind of hurtful comment or action. He is so attentive, easy-going and fun. MIchael is one of the lucky ones!!

That slow cooked meal was being served little by little as the main plot of the story develops: the killings of humans at the hand of a shifter. The mystery is more or less 85% of the book and it’s pretty well written in general. But there are several  missteps or lost opportunities a long the way. For example, in the beginning of the book, the author falls in the trap to repeat herself too much. The same thing was told over and over again to different characters. The consequence is that the plot takes to much time to take off, but I would never say that is boring beacuse of that (the book is not boring at all). And there is another weird moment at the end of the book, when Blake and Aaron exchange some punches, that is missing something. Until that moment, Blake had no idea that one of the illegal fighters of his boos was a secret shifter. I was expecting a comment or something, but he doesn’t even blink…

This book has been much more than what I was expecting. It’s almost perfect. The Regent’s Park Pack saga is going to get a bump on my TBR list to see if I have found a new favourite author or if it was just this book.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Dragonsworn – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #26

Pages: 336

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There is nothing in the universe the cursed dragon, Falcyn, hates more than humanity . . . and in particular, Greek humans. In a war he wanted no part of, they systematically destroyed everything he’d ever cared for. Now he lies in seclusion, away from the world and waits for the day when evolution will finally rid him of the human vermin.

Medea was born the granddaughter of the Greek god Apollo, and among the first of his people that he cursed to die. But she will not let anyone rule her life. Not even her notorious grandfather. And when Apollo sends a new plague to destroy what remains of her people, she refuses to standby and watch him take everything she loves from her again.

This time, she knows of a secret weapon that can stop the ancient god and his army of demons. Once and for all. However, said device is in the hands of a dragon who wants nothing to do with politics, the gods, humanity, demons or Greek Apollites. And especially not her. He is the immovable object.

My enemy’s enemy . . .

When Apollo makes a strategic move that backfires, he forces Falcyn back into play. Now Medea either has the weapon she needs to save her people, or she’s unleashed total Armageddon. If she can’t find some way to control the dragon before it’s too late, Falcyn will be an even worse plague on the world than the one Apollo has set loose. But how can anyone control a demonic dragon whose sole birthright is total destruction?

It’s no secret that I thought that Dragonmark (the previous book) was a very weak reading. It scared the hell out of me, because it looked like Sherrilyn Kenyon was running out of ideas. To my relief, Dragonsworn is a much better book that erases some of the fears I had after reading Illarion’s no-book.

This time we follow the story of Falcyn, a dragon brother of Max and Illarion, and Medea, the daugther of the Daimon leaders. As we already knew, Apollo is a vengeful god who want to get rid of the Daimons making them fatally sick. Medea is looking for help and, thanks to her brother Urian, she learns about the curative capacities of a dragonstone. Too bad Falcyn’s stone is also craved by Morgen, one of the big bad wolfs of the Dark-Hunter Universe.

Even though I consider this book a leap forward from the previous one, it lacks emotion and good action. But that is just the consequence of making the good guys a bit more powerful in every book. By the 26th the main characters are gods with the ability to command armies of unbeatable demons or capable of snapping their fingers to solve their problems in a fast way (Thanos would be a mere novice among these guys!!). That means there is not really action, just a face-off to show who can muster more power without getting their hair undone. And even though everything seems a bit too easy, that doesn’t mean the pace is boring. On the contrary. One of the strengths of this book is the fast paced rhythm.

Another thing that is getting too old too fast is the multiple dimension hopping. Parallel dimensions are cool and all, but the last books in the Dark-Hunter saga and the Chronicles of Nick series have been an orgy of dimensional jumping that would give any reader a good headache in order no to get lost. I tend to feel more connected with the story in the books where most of the action takes place in our beloved mortal plane of Earth. But I must also confess that the thing I love most about Kenyon is her skill to bring the craziest elements to her stories and that sometimes means a lot of dimension hopping gathering the cream of the crop of the supernatural realms.

In my opinion, the main course of this book are the characters. And I don’t mean just Falcyn and Medea, which are OK, I mean all the rest. And being this a Dark-Hunter book, I would need about eight hands to count them all. In other books that could be a synonym of a disaster, but in a Dark-Hunter book it only means endless banter. That’s the main reason her characters are always so easy to fall in love with. They make the reader feel like one of them when they are gather in a group, no matter if big or small. No idea if that makes any sense, but it is how I feel.

The author even has time to drop a huge bomb for Urian (metaphorically speaking, of course, the former Daimon is quite well physically). I won’t reveal it over here, but I guess that what we are told will play a huge role in the next book, which is Urian’s book. I will try to read that one next month to be up-to-date with the main saga, so I can start thinking about the other series of Paranormal Romance I have started and abandoned…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Dragonmark – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #25

Pages: 344

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Centuries ago, Illarion was betrayed– a dragon made human against his will, then forced to serve humanity as a dragonmount in their army, and to fight for them in barbaric wars, even while he hated everything about them. Enslaved and separated from everyone he knew and from his own dragon brothers, he was forced into exile in a fey realm where he lost the only thing he ever really loved.

Now he has a chance to regain what’s been lost— to have the one thing he covets most. But only if he gives up his brothers and forsakes the oaths he holds most dear. Yet what terrifies him most isn’t the cost his happiness might incur, it’s the fact that there is just enough human in his dragon’s heart that he might actually be willing to pay it and betray everything and everyone– to see the entire world burn…

Twenty-five main books is a really big number and Kenyon is not stopping anytime soon. But so many books and so many on-going sagas are paying a toll. The price has been paid with Dragonmark, one of the weakest Dark-Hunter books I have ever read

This story is supposedly to be Illarion’s book (more on that later). He is one of the oldest dragons, a solitary creature until he met Edilyn, a human daughter of a demon. As it is very common with shapesifters, Illarion knew she was her mate. This book tries to tell the love story between the two of them…

I say try, because the plot of the book is developed in a pretty wierd fashion. We start in the past, with Illarion meeting Edilyn and her brother Virag. They fall in love and, as any normal couple, go to a demonic realm to fight The Morrigan. It goes pretty bad, pretty fast… Edilyn dies behind the scenes. One chapter she was there, the next she wasn’t. The book had barely begun and, suddenly, Illarion’s book mutates into Cadegan’s book (again!!). A huge chunk of this book is a retelling of Son of No One, where Illarion is mere supporting character.

But the travesty doesn’t end there. Illarion is rescued from the demonic plane and the plot travels to the present. I could barely believe what happened then… Kenyon retells us Max’s book, Dragonbane!! That was the previous one… I don’t have a great memory, but it is not so bad!! Almost 80% of Illarion’s book is not about Illarion. I think this story was just meant to fill some contractual obligation with the editorial, because I don’t understand why the author would do something like this on purpose. I hope this doesn’t happen again…

Is Illarion’s short story any good? The part in the past is pretty basic. Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Girl’s jerk of a brother steals from boy and all hell is set loose… It looked pretty interesting, actually. Virag (the brother) is a nice character that I want to meet again in the future. After the huge retellings, Illarion takes again the spotlight. If you remember, in Max’s book he joins Apollo’s gang to save his mate (yes, she didn’t really die). What happens after that is very short, but good; so, overall, the story is decent. The final revelation is SOOO sweet. I’m savouring it!!

Kenyon is lucky to have such an amazing (and huge) cast of characters. Thanks to them, even a poor book like this one can be enjoyable. Any other author would have got a strike on my chart, but I can’t really be that tough with her. I like her books too much. Let’s hope the next one makes me forget this book (another way to say I don’t want more retellings!!).

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2018 – Book Gallery

Dragonbane – Sherrilyn Kenyon

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Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Dark-Hunter #24

Pages: 320

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Out of all the mysterious boarders who call Sanctuary home, no one is more antisocial or withdrawn than Maxis Drago. But then, it’s hard to blend in with the modern world when you have a fifty foot wingspan.

Centuries ago, he was cursed by an enemy who swore to see him fall. An enemy who took everything from him and left him forever secluded.

But Fate is a bitch, with a wicked sense of humor. And when she throws old enemies together and threatens the wife he thought had died centuries ago, he comes back with a vengeance. Modern day New Orleans has become a battleground for the oldest of evils. And two dragons will hold the line, or go down in flames.

This is book 24 of the Dark-Hunter saga. 24!! And I’m not even up-to-date. This month, the 27th will be published. Some people may be tired of Kenyon’s crazy world, but I love it even more now that it has got so big. My intention was to catch up with this saga before the new release, but I have to be honest with myself and drop the dream. I like to mix my books to make the hobby more fun. I will catch up, of course, but I’m not in a hurry.

This book is the book of Maxis, the weredragon that has been living in Sanctuary for a long time. He was betrayed by his mate and left her. The dragon thought she was dead, but suddenly appears in Sanctuary looking for him. Unfortunately, she wasn’t alone. Her queen Nala is with her, a long time enemy of Maxis. Even though he thought Seraphine hated him, she doesn’t tell her queen that her mate is close. Everyone leaves except Sera and the make-up ride begins.

The story is rather simple. What is complex is the world that Kenyon has been building over the years, so there are a lot of pieces all over the table. Keeping track of everything could be daunting, but the author does her best to make the book easier for the reader. The cast is so big, that a big chunk of the book is just to introduce one character to another and build the relationship among them. If there is something I love about Kenyon’s style is her sense of humor and outstanding banter in the dialogs. That makes the reading such a wonderful experience. It’s like a Christmas dinner with a family (a rather huge one). It doesn’t matter how long you have been away… you are always welcome!!

That is why I can forigive Sherrilyn almost everything. I can even forgive that this book is a bit… lazy. Several times, she builds tension around a situation and then it ends abruptly: the rescue of Max’s children, the recovery of the Emerald Tablet, the escape of Sera and Max after the accidental stabbing… All those situations seemed pretty huge and dangerous, but they are resolved “behind the scenes”. As a reader, that left me a sour aftertaste. I wanted a big fight against the demons, but I guess that wasn’t in Kenyon’s plans. I was expecting more for those moments, so I’m a bit disappointed by them.

As always, the best part of the book are the characters. It’s obviously that she loves creating new pawns for her world and Im glad for it. In this case, Hadyn (Max’s son) is my favourite addition. I have no idea if she plans to make a book for him, but I hope there is one in the future!! Yeah, I have a weird crush even though we barely know him!!

My favourite moment of the book: the reunion between Nick and Acheron. It’s not a proper meeting, but they get to be in the same room and they behave!! They even exchange a few words!! As a huge fan of Ash and Nick, I am relieved to see that their friendship is not as dead as it seemed. Or maybe it was just that the situation called for adults and not kids throwing tantrums. Nah, I prefer the optimistic explanation. If there is something I have a huge respect for in the Dark-Hunter books is the optimism. It doesn’t matter if everything looks lost, there is always a light that the heroes can follow to triumph.

Obviously, they are going to need that light to face the Apollo and Kessar situation. Is there going to be a bloody conflict or will be resolved easily as the situations in this book? I’ll know the answer with the next one, which I plan to read this year if everything goes as planned.

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2018 – Book Gallery

The Phoenix Project – Jacquelyn Frank

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Author: Jacquelyn Frak
Series: Morphate #1

Pages: 142

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Held captive, Amara is subjected to bizarre experiments that test the limits of her sanity. But nothing prepares her for being locked away–naked–with a sexy ex-cop… after they’ve been pumped full of drugs that increase their sexual appetites to animalistic intensity…

Yes, I promise that is the blurb of the book. Honest!! That meager paragraph was enough to make me curious. I wanted to know how the author was going to deal with those animalistic instincts for her characters, I mean, that is a loaded gun. You can make a really hot book that makes you thirsty while reading. Or you can have a sex festival that makes you dizzy in all the wrong ways. This book is not one thing, nor the other. It’s a simple: meh!.

The story is about Amara, a woman with no resources who was kidnapped by mad scientists. They perform experiments on her on a daily basis. And she is not the only one. The baddies have a huge on-going operation that is hard to believe is a well kept secret. Nick is a cop that is investigating weird disappearances and he founds himself kidnapped for the same project as Amara. The doctors change their DNA and put them together to see what happens. They become morphates. Kind of a mix between a vampire and a shifter…

Some of those changes are: enhanced senses, strength and stamina, much greater sexual drive, claws, fangs and even penis enlargement… They become ferals in all the possible meanings. Which is the goal of such a change? No idea. The author never explains it. Do they want a supersolider or a sexual slave? The mix doesn’t make any sense… The mad doctor says they are getting closer to the ideal result, but I’m incapable of seeing how can the morphates be profitable. No one wants a lover so rough that could break your bones by accident… Or a soldier whose sexual appetite could make him mindless at any moment. So, no idea what this Pnoenix Project wants to achieve.

90% of the book is just plain sex. Very boring sex if you ask me. It’s too primitive, too rough and aggressive for my taste. There is not an ounce of eroticism in all the sex scenes of the book. And there are plenty… They weren’t bad per se, except for the last one. The author should have ignored the epilogue. In that last chapter, Nick has sex with Amara against her will. Yes. he rapes her. There is not another way to describe that. She didn’t want to have sex because it was period time and didn’t want any kid. Nick, to show that Amara can trust him, forces himself into her and rape her… I couldn’t believe what I was reading… The worst part is that Amara accepts Nick’s motives and forigves him… The epilogue ruins the book.

Even though it lacks story development everywhere, the book has some interesting foundations that could make the next books bearable. I would love to know more about the Dark Cities. It seems that in the future, a wall-loving politician decides to put walls around several cities of the USA to lock criminals from the rest of the country. Those are called the Dark Cities and the morphates are now the ones in charge to keep them in check. Why do I have the feeling is going to be a free buffet for them?

I know I was going to find something simple and blunt, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for such overwhelming lack of sweetness… I still don’t know if I will read the next books of this saga. I must admit I’m still curious…

 

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2018 – Book Gallery

Cloaked in Shadow – Ben Alderson

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Author: Ben Alderson
Series: The Dragori #1
Pages: 350

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Zacriah Trovirn is concerned with two things in life: hunting and dodging Petrer, the boy who broke his heart.

Heartbreak becomes a distant concern when Zacriah is taken to the Elven capital of Thessolina, where he is forced into King Dalior’s new legion of shapeshifters. But Zacriah isn’t a shapeshifter. In truth, he doesn’t know what he is.

Zacriah joins forces with new friends and they soon find themselves embroiled in a clash between the three Elven continents. With war looming on the horizon, Zacriah must learn to use his latent power to fight and protect those he loves before they are destroyed.

After reading several good reviews about this book, I decided to give it a chance. It seems that Ben Alderson is kind of famous as a book reviewer in the United Kingdom, but beyond that country he is unknown. That has never stopped me before, so this time wasn’t different. Just becuase I don’t know who he is, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t read his books. It sounds crazy, but I have been told that no long ago… Besides, it’s Epic Fantasy with an M/M couple. What else could I ask for? Actually, there are several things the book is lacking…

This book tells us the story of Zac, an elf who is keepig his air magic a secret. He, among many others, is invited to the capital to celebrate Prince Hadrian birthday. The food of that party was laced with a poison that doesn’t affect shifters, so the King can separate them from the rest. Zac is not a shifter, but his secret magic keep him from falling asleep as the rest of normal elves. The shifters are told that they have been chosen to become soldiers, because the kingdom is being attack by ruthless enemies. They are promised gold for their families, so Zac decides to remain silent and pretend he is a shifter. Quite a difficult task if you ask me. Of course, the very first day they are asked to shift into their animal persona to sort them by strength. When our main character is order to change, he refuses (duh!) and is sent to Prince Hadrian office.

There begins the main chunk of the book: the romance between Hadrian and Zac. There is much more romance in this story than in other Epic Fantasy books I have read, so maybe it won’t be your cup of tea if you are not a fan of that genre. It’s not heavy romance, but its presence is almost constant during the whole book. Hadrian and Zac team-up to unravel the mystery behind the enemy attacks, which are not what they seem. Obviously, they get to know each other and fall in love fast.

Being honest, that is exactly what I like the least about this book. There is zero chemistry among the two of them. The main culprit is Hadrian, a character that is pretty… boring. The author tries too hard to make him the perfect gentleman in shiny armor, but he lacks charisma everywhere. Besides, the Prince is the main reason that Zac’s life is in danger. Am I the only one that remembers the dreadful duel was Hadrian’s idea? The same duel that ruins Zac’s life forever? Because, Zac seems to have forgotten that part… Maybe I’m not being fair with the Prince. When I don’t like a character I can be too hard on them.

If you have read the blurb, you know there is a third name in the mix: Petrer. Now, this is the part that rubs me the wrong way. When we first meet that character, he is lovely. A bit cocky, but clearly worried about Zac’s well-being. Zac tries to ignore him, but we don’t get to know why until much later. Yes, Petrer cheated on him and that’s bad; but his behaviour didn’t match with a common cheater. There had to be something more about it. The problem: Hadrian. The author is so focused on making him the perfect guy, that everyone else has to be a bunch of jerks. In just a couple of sentences, Petrer changes from a caring person to a ridiculously cruel one. I liked that character a lot. What Ben does with him is totally unfair. I hope this character is redeemed in the following books, because is much more interesting than the boring Prince.

As you can see, this review is about the romance part. I have no issue about the epic fantasy part, except that it’s maybe too short. The author has established a nice world and the war that is brewing looks interesting enough, so I’ll pick the next book. Finger crossed for a nice fourth Dragori.

It’s a good start for a newbie. The story is ok, but the storytelling is kind of sloppy sometimes. It doesn’t fluid naturally. There are too many bursts of action instead of a regular dosis. All in all, enjoyable and a nice first step.

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2018 – Book Gallery