(Stone Circles # 0.5)
Spicy Romantic Fantasy, Steamy Fantasy, Prequel Novella
fated mates, fae romance, villain origin story
Note: This story is now available on KU. The version I read was a reader magnet and has some changes based on reader feedback.
This novella has some very steamy scenes towards the end and is for mature readers 18+ only.
This prequel to The Borderlands Princess is like ACOTAR meets The Witcher.
Of Smoke and Shadows is the intriguing backstory of the Fire Fae King in a forthcoming first book, author Ophelia Wells Langley’s Stone Circles series. It’s a series of vignettes of the moments that shaped Achill, beginning as a young, mateless prince afraid of his father. He quickly becomes brutal and has some hard life lessons that make him think twice.
There was spicy open door fae romance near the end, so if that’s your thing, the author has you covered! (And if not, consider yourself duly warned!) I also found Achill’s smoke magic interesting, especially since it’s considered substandard in his court. I’m curious how it will be used going forward.
Though not every period in Achill’s life had a full arc for his developing character (I wondered what happened while training with his uncle that changed him so much), the way the plot drops in on key moments very much reminded me of season 1 of The Witcher. The female characters were especially well-rendered, so I’m looking forward to reading The Borderlands Princess.
(Arcana of the Tarot #1)
Steamy romantic fantasy
Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book contains graphic love scenes and real-world violence, and is for mature readers only.
The Fool and the Sparrow is anything but ordinary.
Lyrical opening chapters from Kit, the actual Fool in the tarot deck living in the realm of Arcana, collide with the perspective of Thea, a trained assassin on the streets of Las Vegas. It’s amusing and surprising. The scenes in which Thea comes to terms with Kit’s supernatural self are particularly well-executed.
These two are drawn to each other by the universe. Their romance develops quickly and Kit makes Thea feel safe at last. But she also knows that feeling is fleeting: she’s trying to uncover the secret global organization that trained her.
If you like incredibly steamy, graphic love scenes, The Fool and the Sparrow has plenty for you. I felt like the ratio of romantic moments to love scenes was a bit too skewed for me by the end, but that’s my personal taste. (I like a more generous helping of romantic moments.)
Overall, this was a creative and completely different romance with action and tension besides. I read through it quickly!
Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review.
If your favorite parts of Guardian of Talons and Snares were the pursuit on the road and the developing, complicated romance between Aranya and Kai, you will love book two, Warrior of Blade and Dusk, as much as I did.
This was such a fun, exciting and satisfying conclusion. Truly action-packed, it takes the best parts of book one and amplifies them. Kai, for one, has softened a lot, without losing too much of his sparky edge. (Though we do see him requesting snuggles!)
The romance also kicks into high gear on this one. Araya also stays her plucky self, but continues to strengthen mentally. I love that an action and romance-forward story focuses so much on its character’s psychological development.
Though the series continues with the story of Princess Meiling, there were some scenes suggesting interesting storylines to come. I’m really looking forward to it!
(A novella of The Dryad Chronicles)
Steamy fantasy romance, The Little Mermaid retelling, fantasy novella
Note: I received an ARC and this is an honest, voluntary review. This book is a steamy open door fantasy romance for mature readers 18+ only.
It’s so nice to be back in Voreios, a land of mythology and community. It’s also a place where multiple mates are both fated and common, giving us another steamy MMF romance.
What I love most about Callie Pey’s work is the loving spirit each story contains. It keeps all the steam from feeling tawdry, with love scenes that often celebrate the bond. Cursed really captures the joy of finding who you’re meant to be with after wondering if you’d always be alone.
There are also The Little Mermaid-retelling vibes! The undersea world was interesting and made for a great climax to the story. Since this story ties into the Dryad Chronicles, there are some series spoilers, so be forewarned!
I enjoyed reading this novella and getting to know its characters.
(Stones & Curses #1)
Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure
slow-burn romance, portal realms, fae, jinn and other fantasy creatures
Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.
This book was a slam dunk for me! A smart-mouthed, resilient narrator, a magic underworld with dashes of both romantic fantasy and portal fantasy, AND a canine sidekick? Yes, please! I absolutely loved Wish Marked.
Fans of W.R. Gingell’s The City Between series (see my review of Between Jobs) will enjoy this one. Parts of it also reminded me of Ashley Shuttleworth’s A Dark and Hollow Star, plus Holly Black’s The Book of Night (though despite its stakes, Wish Marked manages to be less grim and gritty). This is a smart urban fantasy with interesting, hidden realms and a unique take on jinn and their magic.
One thing to consider: there is one heck of a cliffhanger at the end (the fun kind, though, that teases what the rest of the series will bring). I was thoroughly entertained by this read and have already preordered book two.
(The Fracture Pact #1)
Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy Adventure
fantasy heist, vampires, fantasy creatures, multi-POV
Note: I received a copy and this is an honest, voluntary review.
The Cursebound Thief is advertised as a good pick for Six of Crows fans (you can read about my Kaz Brekker obsession here) and it very much delivered for me! This book is all about suspense and the characters’ personalities. Just watch out for that darn cliffhanger that spoils some of the fun!
Full of snappy banter and extraordinarily well-balanced scenes with several speakers, this magical heist tale is set in the real world in modern times. Though I didn’t have a good sense of some of the characters’ personalities at first, overall they were distinctive and each character had their own way of interacting with the others. The perspectives were also balanced enough that I felt like I got to know everybody, though some secrets still lurked under the surface.
The stakes in The Cursebound Thief (mend the Fracture that seemingly destroyed magic) are set early, and the elaborate plot and road trip had me hooked. I only wish it had ended in a different place, though I guessed the cliffhanger was coming. This was a fun read with a complex world and lovable cast.
Now where is that book two?!
May 3, 2022
Horror, Speculative Fiction, Historical Fiction
forbidden romance, ghost story, haunting
This book hit all the right notes for me: historical, horror, ghost story and slow-burn romance. From the very beginning of this story, I wanted main character Beatriz to RUN from that house.
The Hacienda was enjoyable to read and full of lastingly creepy imagery (that scene with the doors slamming!). The romantic aspect was unexpected but almost felt logical, despite the danger. The good characters are oh-so human and sympathetic and the bad…I’ll leave you to figure them out. Note also that the story came to a close in a somewhat unusual place, so expect an open ending that will leave you with a sigh.
I highly recommend this book for spooky season, or a good entertaining scare that (probably) won’t cause you to lose sleep at night, unless you’re up reading late. That being said, I now think twice anytime I see glowing eyes at night (definitely a cat, right?!) or catch an optical illusion in the darkness.
Did you know Halloween is just the start of the spirits rising? In Irish tradition, from which Halloween (aka Oiche Samhain) originated, it was the day that marked the start of the dark half of the year. What we associate with October 31st happened every day for the next 6 months (minus the fun celebratory stuff).
October is a great month for indulging in horror films and spooky reads. But in the spirit (oh, puns!) of that tradition, here are some reads that will keep that spooky feeling going long after Halloween
(Besides my spicy The Legend of Sleepy Hollow retelling, Lord of the Hollow Court, of course! I mean I couldn’t not put in a little self-promo. I’m done now though, I swear!)
Caution: Some content may not be appropriate for all viewers/readers.
- The Year of the Witching, by Alexis Hendersen. Don’t go into the woods, Immanuelle! They’re full of witches…and her fate.
- The Hacienda, by Isabel Cañas. (review coming soon.) I loved this book and all its classic horror moments. From the time Beatriz arrives at her new home, I wanted to yell at her to run. Something is very, very wrong at the hacienda, and nobody wants to talk about it.
- Black Water Sister, by Zen Cho. Delve into the supernatural in this contemporary urban fantasy with an LGBTQ lead and plenty of interruptions from deities–including the main character’s recently deceased grandmother.
- Dracula, by Bram Stoker. To me, this is the ultimate horror novel! That ghost ship, though. *shivers* If you haven’t read this one yet, do yourself a favor. It’s also in the public domain, so you can find yourself a free copy!
- Conjure Women, by Afia Atakora. From slavery to reconstruction, what people can do to each other is the true horror. There’s also a peculiar child born into the settlement of former slaves in this story that jumps between time periods. There’s something spooky about those woods, and a constant feeling that something terrible is going to happen.
- Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Cassiopea Tun just met the Mayan God of Death–and he needs her help, whether she likes it or not. This story has surprising romance and plenty of heart as Cassiopea makes her journey across Mexico.
- Frozen Hearts and Death Magic, by Day Leitao. Necromancers, wicked magic users and curses, oh my! This is for those who like a big helping of romance with their spooky reads.
- Daughter of Shades, by Sylvia Mercedes. A venatrix, responsible for evicting demons, strikes out on her own with her wolf familiar, only to be forced to compete for a job and deal with dark magic way beyond her abilities.
- For the Wolf, by Hannah Whitten. Talk about spooky forests! The Wilderwood is semi-sentient and very magical. It also drinks the blood of those who keep it. With the threat of the trapped, wicked kings below and a character delving into dark magic for both the right and wrong reasons, this one hasplenty of spooky flavor.
- Of Roses and Rituals, by S.L. Prater. For fans of steamy romance, this one has a main character with some demons to contend with, literally and figuratively. As Fiona tries to help a cursed doctor keep demons from the mountains, she can’t resist wanting to be closer to him.
That’s it for my list! What books do you love to read during spooky season? If you have a recommendation, comment below!