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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Review: Masks by Karen Chance ★★★★

Masks (Cassandra Palmer, #4.3)Masks by Karen Chance
Genre: Historical Fantasy/Paranormal
Series: Cassandra Palmer #4.3
Publication Date: April 1st 2014
Page Count: 406
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Buy Link: AMAZON

Synopsis: Fifteenth century Venice is a safe haven for the masterless dregs of the vampire world, a city where they can live without the fear of retribution for violating another’s territory.

Still, there are plenty of ways for a young vampire to die in the glittering city, a lesson that prince turned pauper Mircea Basarab must learn quickly. But there are opportunities, too—in the service of a secretive courtesan, in the bed of a beautiful senator, and in the hunt for an ancient assassin.

As a vendetta older than Venice itself comes to a climax, Mircea struggles to evade the dangers of his current life, to come to terms with his past, and to uncover the truth hidden behind a city of masks…

The Masks We Wear

A whole book from Mircea's POV? *le sigh* Is there a more dignified, refined, sophisticated man on the face of the fictional planet? I think not. And even here, in his humble vampiric beginnings, during the rags phase of his riches-to-rags-and-back-to-riches-again story, he was still the Mircea we know and love. Yay!

MASKS is kind of everything you're thinking it's going to be, and a bit more besides. Yes, I missed the mad-cap narration of my girl Cassie. Yes, I missed all the regular Cassandra Palmer World peeps. But Mircea is, in my opinion, Chance's most well-crafted creation. I would never accuse an author of playing favourites - I mean, my goodness, it would be like picking your favourite kid, surely - but if the time and effort spent establishing a character is any indication of favour, then... he's totally hers!

So what is MASKS about? Well, it's set 2 years after Mircea was cursed with vampirism. Long enough for him to get a grip on his initial uncontrolable urges, but not long enough to establish any kind of position within the vampire world. As a masterless vampire, Mircea is easy pickings for anyone in search of a new plaything. So he, and his trusty, still-currently-human tutor, Horatiu, head to Venice, a supposedly "free" area and haven for masterless or abandoned young vamps. Or that's what is says on the brochure, anyway. Unfortunately for Mircea, it seems they used a fair bit of poetic license with that word "free"...

You may notice the page count here. 400-some pages. This is most certainly not novella length or novella-like in its plotting. It's well-crafted and exciting, just like all KC's other books. It does have a completely different tone, thanks to it being from Mircea's POV, but I really feel like, having read, it, I understand his character, and also his relationship with the consul, a whole lot better. So it's absolutely worth a read for that sneak peak alone. And aside from that, it's just a good read. I suppose it could be read as a stand alone, but I'm not sure I would recommend it. Better for fans of the series to use it to meet the "real Mircea", than for new readers to try and sample the Cassandra Palmer series via this entry, because, like I said, the tone is so completely different from all the other books, it wouldn't be a good indicator of what's to come.

A suave and elegant 4 Stars ★★★★
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by:

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

ARC Review: The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski ★★★★★

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Publication Date: March 4th 2014
ISBN: 9780374384685
Page Count: 355
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Buy Link: AMAZON

Synopsis: Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Wow. Wow. And a bit more wow.

This was so good, you guys! And so different!

THE WINNER'S CURSE tells of a world  - very similar to our own, only with greatly differing traditions and histories - where, seemingly, the bad guys are winning. Kestrel, our heroine, is Valorian. The Valorians, lead by Kestrel's own father, enslaved the Herrani people about a decade ago after attacking and "colonising" their beautiful country. They now rule over them from the comfort of old Herrani mansions - which takes a special kind of audacity, right? - and use them as unpaid servants, often horribly mistreated.

You really can't help but put yourself in the place of each side of the argument in The Winner's Curse. What kind of master would I be if I were Valorian? How would my pride get me in trouble as a Herrani? And as I myself did this, I found I wasn't happy about the view from either side. When it comes to slavery and "owning" people, there are no nice easy answers or solutions. It's an impossible situation, with no hope of any happy endings that I can conceive. It was a real STOP and THINK book, that's for sure.

Plot wise, it starts out quite gently. There is a very slow and subtle building of a relationship between Herrani slave Arin and Valorian noble Kestrel. The author also shows slices of Valorian life, which is seemingly all balls, tea parties and garden games. Which kinda makes you want to slap them just a bit more. That they could be so obtuse as to be panicking about this season's colours while nearby, slaves are being beaten for dropping a spoon. Luckily for my sanity, Kestrel has about as much patience for that sort of nonsense as I do. All she wants to do is play her piano, and avoid her father's urgings to either join the military, or get married to a nice Valorian boy. Neither of which she wants to do.

As for Arin? Oyy. What a great character. He's most definitely a "still waters run deep"  type of young man. And you watch him and think, "You must be so angry! How can you act so calm?". And then... yeah. We find out.

The next book in this series has the potential to be completely explosive. There are so many turbulent feelings between Arin and Kestrel, and the new situations they're each in as The Winner's Curse closes... Surely they can only lead to heartache of the highest order? Well, one thing's for certain. I will be tuning in to find out! Eep!

5 Stars ★★★★★
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by:

Monday, 21 April 2014

ARC Review: The Highland Henchman by Amy Jarecki ★★★★

The Highland Henchman (Highland Force #2)The Highland Henchman by Amy Jarecki
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Highland Force #2
Publication Date: April 1st 2014
ISBN: 9781495947247
Page Count: 355
Rating: ★★★★
Review Copy: ARC
Reviewed by: Lynsey
Buy Link: AMAZON

Synopsis: Intent on winning a Lowlander’s tournament, Bran MacLeod travels south with his laird. All goes as planned, except spirited Miss Enya Ross continually distracts him, and in the oddest situations. With no business lusting after a baron’s daughter, Bran decides to return to Raasay—until his laird pledges Bran’s services in the fight to reinstate Mary, Queen of Scots to the throne.

Enya has no deference for the lines of nobility, or for the Great Divide that separates Lowlanders from Highlanders. The way Sir Bran’s eyes hunger for her ignites an internal fire Enya cannot quell. All her life she’s wanted adventure and excitement, but now her every thought is consumed with the rugged Highlander.

With all odds stacked against them, can their forbidden love withstand the tumult of war and the menace of betrayal?

All Bran

Amy Jarecki's name is quickly becoming synonymous in my mind with adorable Scottish heroes. The lay-down-my-life-for-you-in-a-heartbeat kind of hero. And this one is no different. Except, perhaps, that we're going a bit younger this time. Sweet young love- dawww! Our hero, Bran, I believe was only around 21, and the heroine, Enya, 18-19. Although the latter is nothing unusual in this genre since it would be unlikely any older would still be unmarried.

The couple face so many trials and obstacles in THE HIGHLAND HENCHMAN. They are really up against it at every turn. Some of the events are quite brutal as well, and really made me gasp and the unfairness of it all. It seems a simple henchman is not good enough to even look at a chief's daughter, and anything further than that? Completely unthinkable. But the thing about all star-crossed lovers stories is that the forbidden nature of it only seems to add to the wanting.

Bran was truly delicious as a leading man. Fans of the series so far will remember him from book one as the 12-year-old cabin boy who showed Anne her first bit of kindness. He's all grown up now, and has been an adopted son to the couple and Calum MacLeod's right-hand man for half his life. Still, he is very young, and not looking for love at all. In fact he's more interested in proving himself worthy of his new knightly title in the Highland games held by Enya's father. But we all know love works on its own schedule, and he is simply bowled over by Enya's beauty and spirit, and it's not long before his heart follows suit.

Enya was a fairly sweet-tempered heroine, with a nice dollop of tomboyish tendencies that really added to her allure. She's an excellent archer and loves to ride. I enjoyed her character and how fiercely she tries to protect Bran at all costs, even agaisnt her own kin.

All together, this was another wonderful instalment in this exciting series, with twists and turns enough to keep any reader entertained throughout. 4 Stars! ★★★★

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by:

{Cover Reveal} Hunger by Felicity Heaton

Hunger by Felicity Heaton
(Vampires Realm Romance Series, Book 8)

Synopsis: Betrayed by one of her own and turned into a vampire, hunter Eve is consumed by her hunger for vengeance and has spent five years surviving hell, driven to take the life of the man she once loved. But just as she is about to close in on the hunter-turned-vampire, an event is set in motion that threatens to see him slip beyond her grasp forever—the leader of her bloodline has sent an escort to bring her to the family’s mansion. To a nest of the very creatures she once hunted and loathes.

A vampire assassin hardened by centuries of service, Tor is a man of discipline and loyalty, never straying from his mission or the rules set out for him, and has purged all his weaknesses, including his emotions.

But the moment he meets the broken, fiery female he is to escort to Oslo, something dangerous awakens in him, something possessive and powerful, and when he is pulled into a deadly game of cat and mouse with the man who betrayed her, Tor discovers he will do anything to protect the woman slowly claiming his heart and give her the vengeance she desires—even break all the rules.

Can Eve embrace her new vampire nature in order to have her revenge and find a reason to live again in Tor? Can Tor and Eve stop the man who betrayed her and the deaths of thousands of innocents? Or will he succeed in creating a new army of hybrid vampires who will rise up against the purebloods?

Hunger is due for release in ebook and paperback on May 10th 2014 and will be available from all major online book retailers. Read the first chapter of Hunger at:

Pre-order your copy today from Apple iBooks / iTunes and Kobo Books:
Apple iTunes USA:
Apple iTunes UK:
Apple iTunes Australia:
Apple iTunes Canada:
Apple iTunes New Zealand:
Kobo Books:

More retail links will soon be available on Felicity Heaton’s website:

Join Felicity’s mailing list to receive a notification when Hunger is released, plus a sneak preview of the first 6 chapters of the book and chances to win a signed copy:

Add the book to your Goodreads shelf at:

Books in the Vampires Realm paranormal romance series:
Book 1: Prophecy: Child of Light
Book 2: Prophecy: Caelestis and Aurorea
Book 3: Prophecy: Dark Moon Rising
Book 3.1: Spellbound
Book 3.5: Reunion
Book 4: Seventh Circle
Book 5: Winter’s Kiss
Book 6: Hunter’s Moon
Book 7: Masquerade
Book 8: Hunger – Coming May 2014

Felicity Heaton is a USA Today and international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons!

If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places: