Tag «forbidden love»

Trope Thursdays: Forbidden Love [8]

Trope Thursdays: A monthly feature where I look at various reading tropes. Each month I will pick a trope and examine all aspects of it. I’ll discuss the classic features of the trope, what I love (or hate) about it and share some books that use the trope in their plots.


Valentine’s Day being on Thursday this year was the perfect excuse to bring back this monthly feature!

The featured trope this week is perhaps my all time favourite romance trope. Now, it helps that it can be a little broad and encompass a variety of scenarios. But there is nothing better than some good ole sexual tension–and usually this trope delivers!

February’s Trope: Forbidden Romance

Definition:

Forbidden relationships can take many forms: Parents may forbid their children from engaging with certain friends or significant others; friends or family members may disapprove of our relationship partners; or we may fall in love with a coworker, supervisor, or someone who is already committed to a serious relationship. The obstacles to these relationships may be explicit or implied, but these obstacles may actually serve to strengthen our forbidden relationships.

~Psychology Today (“The Allure of Forbidden Relationships“)

 

Because it is Valentine’s Day, I’m sticking with the romantic side of forbidden relationships.

Common Features:

  • Possibly Dark love
  • Perhaps Taboo Love
  • Loyalty
  • Drama
  • Secrets
  • Workplace Romances
  • In Love with a Rival
  • In Love with a Partner
  • Family Rifts
  • Slow Burn
  • Perhaps Cheating

What I Like About The “Forbidden Love” Trope:

There are a lot of things I like about this trope! The main one is the sexual tension it brings to the story. There is just something about longing glances and the anticipation of that “big moment” when their feelings come crashing to the surface.

If you bothered to read the article I quoted above, you’ll see that it touches on another aspect I love about the forbidden relationship: the “forbidden obstacles” help to strengthen the relationship. For a romance/partnership to be a “win” for me, you have to convince me that these two belong together and share something more than just a mutual physical attraction. Forbidden romances provide those roadblocks that challenge couples as partners and as individuals and I find you get a much stronger, genuine relationship as a result.

What I Dislike About The “Forbidden Love” Trope:

Sometimes, these stories get caught up in the forbidden attraction and those opportunities for character growth get lost in the heated moment. Other times the petty drama gets in the way as well.

But my biggest worry when reading forbidden romances is the potential for unhealthy relationships. If those issues/reasons are addressed within the story, I’m more than happy. I do enjoy unconventional romances and sometimes those romances have their toxic moments. But I go in knowing that and it’s usually presented in a way to the reader that this isn’t an ideal relationship. However, not all author’s take that approach or use the opportunity to create that dialogue about what is good and bad about the relationship.

Books that Use the “Forbidden Romance” Trope Well:

When forbidden is in the title, it better live up to it…and this one certainly did! Not only did the “forbidden” element add a layer of suspense to the story, but it also made the story and characters richer. This one had me on the edge of my seat!

>>Standalone Review: The Forbidden

 

I avoided reading Forbidden for years because of the topic of incest, but once I finished it I immediately chided myself for such a colossal mistake! If you want a story that will put you through every type of emotion, this is the one for you.

>>Standalone Review: Forbidden

 

Others: Royally Series  |  Sweet Black Waves

Books that Didn’t Use the “Forbidden Romance” Trope Well:

I was really excited to see how a romance between the Genie and Aladdin would work in this retelling…but it flopped so hard for me. I truly saw no connection between these two besides attraction and in turn, that made me think less of them as characters their “feelings” motivate a lot of their actions. This was just a miss for me.

 

When I read the premise for Undone, I was excited to start it. But I promptly stopped reading at the 36% mark. Why? The romance was a little toxic and didn’t bring out the best in the characters. I quickly learned I like when both characters know they are embarking on a forbidden romance or both are oblivious to the off-limits nature of their relationship. Our hero just came across as slimy to me as a result and their lack of chemistry didn’t help any either.

>>Series Review: Disclosure

 

Others: The Cage  |  Bad Romance


Do you enjoy books with the “Forbidden Romance” Trope?

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DNF Series Review: Disclosure by R E Hunter

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 9: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Undone (from Goodreads):

Five years ago, Embry Jacobs ran…

She ran from a past that still hasn’t let her go, but her dream of becoming a lawyer is stronger than her fear of confronting that past. Embry’s sole focus is to get through law school—with the help of her best friend, Morgan—and make something of the broken girl she became. Not thinking about falling in love, being in a relationship or even entertaining the idea of romance, Embry is moving forward one day at a time.

Luke Brody is charming and sexy, and has a past of his own. He wants nothing more than to put his demons to rest and move on with his life. But, when Embry enters the picture, is he destined to repeat those same mistakes?

Blindsided by their instant attraction, neither Luke nor Embry are prepared for the feelings they’re developing. But will it all be for nothing?

Will they let their pasts destroy them, or will they risk everything to fight for their relationship when it all comes undone?

breakdown

Series: Disclosure
Author: R E Hunter
# of Books: 3 (Undone, Unbroken, Unburdened)
Book Order: Chronological (Undone & Unbroken) + Connected (Unburdened)
Complete?: No, Unburdened is slated for release
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: January 2014 – unknown
Source & Format: Own–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading Undone at 36%. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Again, I’ve had the duology boxset on my Kobo for awhile and I don’t know how I came across it. But I love books with secrets and the promises of a possibly forbidden romances but I was still a little hesitant to start the book. Nevertheless, I went in with a fresh mind and hoped for the best.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Older Characters ≠ Maturity–

Because Law School requires an undergraduate degree, you get older characters in your stories. More often than not, the New Adult Stories I read have characters in their earlier years of college or just about to graduate. So it was a bit of a special treat to have a slightly older cast.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean they are any more mature. If I didn’t know that they were in Law School (meaning they were 24+), I would have said they were just graduating high school. Not what I really wanted.

–Luke Seemed Slimy to Me–

I didn’t even know this was a stipulation for my forbidden romances (so thanks!) but I don’t like when the heroine is lied to flat out about her “forbidden partner”. I like when my characters know what they are doing is forbidden, when they are given that choice. Or both of them are ignorant of the fact and when they learn, they have to make a decision. There are few times that there are exceptions (it all depends on the plot) but this was not one of them.

Luke just seemed slimy to me because he knows what he is doing to Embry. Knows what he is setting her up for and he still can’t “resist knowing her”…which is a problem because:

–Lack of Chemistry–

I was just not feeling the chemistry between these two. There was definitely a mutual physical attraction but there didn’t seem to be anything else to their “connection”. Actually, I thought she had better chemistry with the classmate she sits beside than with Luke…not a good thing for a romance.

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I wasn’t enjoying this at 9% but decided to skim ahead and at the 36% mark, I knew this story wasn’t for me.

Series Rating: DNF

Undone DNF | Unbroken N/A | Unburdened N/A

overall

Not even the lure of forbidden love and secrets could keep me invested.

Read if You Like: forbidden romances, school romances
Avoid if You: want a stronger romance connection
similarreads

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Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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DNF Series Review: Words by Georgina Guthrie

DNF December Review Blitz — Day 5: I’m sharing my thoughts on some book series that I have marked as incomplete as I have never finished the first novel in the series. Find out why these weren’t for me:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Weight of Words (from Goodreads):

Aubrey Price is in the final months of her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. Bright, witty, and fiercely independent, Aubrey works part-time for the college dean and has her sights set on graduating with distinction. When she meets Dean Grant’s son, Daniel, the TA in her senior Shakespearean studies course, a shared love of the Bard’s works and an instant mutual attraction draw Aubrey and Daniel together. Unfortunately, a strict anti-fraternizing policy–made more perilous by a black mark on Daniel’s record–keeps them apart.

Against this academic backdrop, Aubrey and Daniel navigate their way through a steamy courtship, their forbidden romance aided, abetted, and sometimes thwarted by a colorful cast of friends, family, and classmates.

breakdown

Series: Words
Author: Georgina Guthrie
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a novella: #3.5 The Record of my Heart

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Unsure
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2013 – November 2014
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I stopped reading The Weight of Words (Book #1) at 29% (Start of Chapter 12). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was SUPER DUPER excited to start this series. It combined three of my favourite things: New Adult romance, Shakespeare and it’s set in Canada. Finding books set in Canada is hard and finding one set in an area I’m very familiar with is even rarer. And it integrates Shakespeare? Be still my heart!

What I Liked:

–Shakespeare–

I loved that each chapter had a quote from some work of Shakespeare and how it related to that chapter in some way or another. I also had some great reminiscing about the Shakespeare course I took in University. I mean, I didn’t have a good looking TA in the class but reading this reminded me how fun studying Shakespeare can be.

–The Setting–

While I never went to The University of Toronto (their my alma mater’s arch-rivals), I did live close to the campus when I lived in The Six. So I definitely knew some of the buildings and areas mentioned in the novel. It was really awesome to have a complete picture of the setting throughout the novel.

What I Didn’t Like:

–An Unbearably Slow Plot Line–

I was 30% into the novel and absolutely nothing of significance had happened. I mean that. These two had talked a handful of times and if you didn’t tell me they were into each other, I wouldn’t have known. Well, besides the fact that Aubrey lamented on and on about how hot Daniel was. I’m talking pages and pages of inner monologue. And that was in between moments of her hot and cold reactions towards her roommate. Snooze!

–Zero Chemistry–

It wasn’t hard to figure out that Aubrey was attracted to Daniel but I never felt the tension between them. If you are going to sell me on a forbidden romance, you have to give me the tension. I get that even if Daniel is interested, he has to play oblivious for a little while (and there are other circumstances). I love a slow burn romance but I felt zero chemistry between them. Even with their “witty” banter in the classroom I felt zero heat between them.

The first half of the novel is Aubrey’s POV and the second half is Daniel’s but I never made it that far. Perhaps having Daniel’s POV and thoughts earlier on would have helped establish that connection between them but I’m not sure.

–Aubrey is One Petty Girl–

Being inside Aubrey’s head frustrated me to no end. If she was in her first year of university, I could have forgiven her somewhat immature tendencies. But she was well into her forth year and did not impress me with her attitude or actions.

It was her actions towards her roommate that convinced me to stop reading this novel. I hated how she treated him and did so knowingly because of her infatuation with Daniel (who had showed zero interest in her BTW). Just ick!

Will I Finish It?

Nope. I read the synopsis for the next novel and noticed that this is going to be one long, dragged out romance and my interest just isn’t there.

Twilight Fanfiction?

This story started as Twilight fanfiction–something I didn’t know until I had decided to DNF the novel. It definitely has been reworked and edited and I might not have noticed. But once I realized that I saw the connections and parallels.

I’m not saying this as a negative thing about the book. I’ve read quite a few stories that have originated as fanfiction for Twilight and have enjoyed them. I just thought it was an interest fact about the series!

When to Read the Novella?

From what I researched about the novella it’s just some bonus content from Daniel’s POV from throughout the trilogy. So I think it is best to read it after you finished the entire trilogy.

Series Rating: DNF

The Weight of Words DNF | Better Deeds Than Words N/A | The Truest of Words N/A | [The Record of my Heart N/A]

overall

While there was a lot of positive attributes to this story, the characters and lack of chemistry between the leads killed this one for me. If you enjoy long romance stories that span several novels, check this out!

Read if You Like: Twilight fanfiction, slow romances, romance spanning multiple novels
Avoid if You: dislike immature characters, want more romantic tension

similarreads

  • Someone to Love by Addison Moore (Someone to Love Series #1)
  • Shame by Rachel Van Dyken (Ruin Trilogy #1)
  • After Math by Denise Grover Swank (Off the Subject Series #1)

Have you read this? Should I return to this series? Leave a comment!

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Series Review: Reverie by Monica Murphy

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for His Reverie (from Goodreads):

I knew from the moment I first saw her she was the one. The only girl I could ever want.
The only girl I could ever love.
She is light.
I am darkness.
She is innocent.
I’ve done too much.
She is good.
I am bad.
She is my every dream.
I should be her every nightmare.
We come from different worlds. She’s…perfect. And I’m…
Not.
Somehow she wants me anyway. So we’ll grasp at what we can. We’re going to make this summer count. She’s my secret. And I’m hers.
The problem with secrets is they never last for long. And when others discover we’re together, they’ll do whatever it takes to keep us apart. All I know is: I won’t let them.
Because Reverie Hale? She’s mine.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Reverie
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 2 (His Reverie, Her Destiny)
Book Order: Chronolgical
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm **spicy YA**
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: July 2014 – August 2014
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read pretty much anything by Monica Murphy so it’s no surprise that I had the first book sitting on my Kobo shortly after its release. And like many books I own, I don’t get around to them until years later (thought it’s no fault of their own).

I was eager to start this forbidden “New Adult” love story and I made sure to pick up the sequel from my library as my card was expiring to binge read the series.

The Concept:

First and foremost, I would classify this story as Young Adult and not necessarily “New Adult”. To me, “New Adult” stories take place the summer after high school to the first year after graduating college. These characters are still in high school and to me, it reads like your more dramatic YA contemporaries.

One thing I enjoyed about His Reverie is that it is mostly told through Nick’s POV with the occasional diary entry from Reverie along the way. It’s not often that you get a romance novel told solely (or close to) from the male POV so I enjoyed that fresh take.

The Plot:

This story centers itself on a very dramatic first love. Monica Murphy has a knack for writing dramatic YA and it definitely shows in this series. It reads almost like a soap opera but the characters are pretty grounded so it isn’t as over the top as you expect.

The Characters:

I really liked these two. Nick is trying to do his best given the crappy hand life has dealt him but his heart is in the right place. You really want to root for him after all the stuff he has gone through.

I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure about Reverie at the start. I’m not always the biggest fan of the “innocent” heroine and their accompanying naivety but she really grew on me as the series progressed. I think she has the best character development in the series of the two.

The Romance:

If you enjoy stories about all consuming first loves, this is one for you! I thought these two were cute together but I needed to see more substance to their relationship. To me, they are in lust not love for a majority of His Reverie. It’s a very insta-love connection, one that is mostly based in attractiveness and this unspoken connection. Later on in the book it is implied that they talk and bond over other things but I felt like their feelings developed much too fast for me to be completely convinced it’s true love.

Series Rating: 3/5

His Reverie 3/5 | Her Destiny 3/5

overall

If you like lots of drama in your YA contemporaries and stories about first loves, this is a great (and shorter) series to pick up!

Read if You Like: stories about first love, lots of drama, quicker reads
Avoid if You: dislike lots of drama

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readingchallenges   2018 Take Control

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Series Review: Royally by Emma Chase

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Royally Screwed (from Goodreads):

Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook, Crowned Prince of Wessco, aka His Royal Hotness, is wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, and unabashedly arrogant; hard not to be when people are constantly bowing down to you.

Then, one snowy night in Manhattan, the prince meets a dark haired beauty who doesn’t bow down. Instead, she throws a pie in his face.

Nicholas wants to find out if she tastes as good as her pie, and this heir apparent is used to getting what he wants.

Dating a prince isn’t what waitress Olivia Hammond ever imagined it would be.

There’s a disapproving queen, a wildly inappropriate spare heir, relentless paparazzi, and brutal public scrutiny. While they’ve traded in horse drawn carriages for Rolls Royces, and haven’t chopped anyone’s head off lately, the royals are far from accepting of this commoner.

But to Olivia, Nicholas is worth it.

Nicholas grew up with the whole world watching, and now Marriage Watch is in full force. In the end, Nicholas has to decide who he is and, more importantly, who he wants to be: a King… or the man who gets to love Olivia forever.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author, Fav Couple, 2018 Fav
Series: Royally Trilogy; Royals Trilogy; Royally

There is a Spin-Off Series titled The Bodyguards!

Author: Emma Chase
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)

There is a free novella: #2.5 Royally Raised

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events

Technically, Royally Yours (#4) is a prequel

Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Humour
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2016 – October 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook; Library–Audiobook (Royally Endowed); eARC (Royally Yours)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been eager to read another Emma Chase series since I finished Tangled years ago. She is one of those authors who never fails to make me laugh. She just has the total package when it comes to writing. The Legal Briefs didn’t interest me all that much (but I do have it on my TBR now because I just love her work) but when I saw she was writing a series about royals? Hell yes!

The Plot:

I really liked that all 3 books had a different plot style to them because each set of leads has a different flare to them. It’s hard to talk about them all without spoilers (particularly because the events in Royally Screwed heavily influence Royally Matched) but I’ll just say you’ll feel every emotion as you read. I laughed, I cried, I swooned.

For me, this whole series is just adult contemporary perfection. You’ve got great characters with great development. Heart-pounding romance and tension. A solid plot throughout. And you can’t forget the humour Emma Chase flawlessly infuses into her stories and her ability to make you cry just moments later. They’re just an absolute pleasure to read!

The Characters:

I loved all these characters. I loved how they were all uniquely complicated. I loved watching them grow as people. I loved their wit and humour. Basically, I loved them and they really made these novels awesome.

The Romance:

You know, all of these characters make my “Favourite Couples” list. They were everything I love in a romantic pair. Great communication, complementary personalities, a strong partnership. While they grow as people, so does the romance.

There’s plenty of heat and tension along the way as well. The chemistry between all the leads just leaps off the pages and it makes all the stories so addicting.

When to Read the Novella #2.5 Royally Raised?

I was a little worried that Royally Raised (which is a freebie novella at most eBook retailers) would have some spoilers for Royally Endowed (Book #3) but it doesn’t at all. It has spoilers for Books 1 & 2 but you really shouldn’t be reading a novella that’s set 20 years later before you read the actual stories of the characters it’s about. (Just sayin’)

Anyways, I read it after Royally Matched and I think that’s the perfect time to read it. It makes for an extended epilogue of sorts with the leads and it’s absolute perfection! Highly recommend!

My Audiobook Experience–Royally Endowed:

I did plan on reading Royally Matched as an audiobook as well but I already had a voice for Henry in my mind and the narrator for that audiobook didn’t sound like that. Thus, I opted for the eBook.

But I’m so, so glad I listened to the audiobook for Royally Endowed. It was absolutely fabulous! Shane East and Andi Arndt did an AMAZING job (they narrate the other novels as well and what I had listened to of Royally Matched was also great). The accent Shane did was the perfect blend of English and Scottish like the Wessco accent is described and it really helped me to get lost in the story. I highly recommend the audiobooks for this series!

updates

–November 1, 2018– Book #4: Royally Yours

I could have used 20 more chapters; I really didn’t want this one to end! I loved this prequel so much!

When should you read this prequel? I think you will enjoy it more if you’ve read all the other books in the series but you could easily read this before the other novels without any spoilers.

Read my Full Review here!

Series Rating: 5/5

Royally Screwed 5/5 | Royally Matched 5/5 | [Royally Raised 5/5] | Royally Endowed 5/5 | Royally Yours 5/5

overall

I see a lot of rereads with this series in the future. One of my all time favourite Adult Contemporary Romance Series EVER!

Read if You Like: romances involving royals, humour
Avoid if You: don’t enjoy romance novels

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Fresh Fridays: Sweet Black Waves (#1) by Kristina Pérez

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Sweet Black Waves Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Sweet Black Waves (from Goodreads):

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what’s right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she’s ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite YA New Series 2018
Series: Sweet Black Waves Trilogy
Author: Kristina Perez
# of Books: 3 (Sweet Black Waves, Wild Savage Stars, Book 3)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Wild Savage Stars, will be published in August 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Retelling
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Single
Publication Date: June 5, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Imprint Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I managed to snag one of the few “read now” copies of this book on Netgalley and I couldn’t wait to dive in. I love forbidden romance stories and you don’t get much more famous than the legend of Tristan and Isolde (unless you are Romeo and Juliet perhaps). I’ve read a lot of Romeo and Juliet inspired stories but not very many of Tristan Isolde. Perhaps the adulterous nature of their story turns people away? Regardless, I was very intrigued to see how Pérez would used the tale to highlight a character who isn’t a part of the famous duo.

What I Liked:

–Rich World Building–

It’s always readily apparent to me how much work an author has put into a story and when I was only a few chapters in, I knew how much research and thought Kristina Pérez had put into crafting this world. Not only is the world intricately crafted with its lush setting of magic and politics, but the weaving of the various Tristan and Isolde legends is beautifully done.

I know the gist of the various legends but there was still an element of anticipation in this novel as I waited to see how everything would unfold and it takes a great talent to do that with a novel that has been inspired by such a well known tale.

–The Layered Characters–

It really was the characters that sold this story for me. Everyone has so many layers to them, not just Branwen (though she is a fascinating lead to follow). This truly is a character driven story as I found there isn’t much else to the plot besides Branwen navigating her role in court as various obstacles appear along the way. Nevertheless, it is entertaining and for someone who loves political intrigue in her novels, I was a huge fan!

–The Romance–

I can’t ignore the romance when it is based on one of the most famous romances of all time. I don’t want to give much away, but all I will say is SWOON! I was a big fan!

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Discovered the Glossary at the Very End of Reading–

Not that this was a hard story to follow when it comes to the terms and the language used. I’ve studied Latin and French so I was able to figure it out quickly. But I always hate when I discover the glossary once I’ve finished the book…it’s one of the biggest issues I have with reading ebooks but alas, it wasn’t a huge deal here.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

GAH! What an ending! I’m so invested in all these characters that I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I personally don’t see how this will be a trilogy given the plot of just the first book alone so I know some major stuff must be on the way in order to get to that third novel.

My Rating: 5/5

Sweet Black Waves 5/5 | Wild Savage Stars TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Despite the somewhat muted plot (when you compare it to other fantasy and high fantasy novels), there was never a dull moment in this book. Personally, it reminded me a lot of Blackhearts with its similar focus on the characters and romance while working within a well known legend. Only this one is a fantasy story and involves more politics.

Read if You Like: fantasy, inspired by well known legends
Avoid if You: want more action

similarreads

  • Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman (Blackhearts Series #1)
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Graceling Realm #1)

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Blog Tour: The Amber Elixir (Two Realms Novella #1) by Ariella Moon

Synopsis for The Amber Elixir (from Goodreads):
Viviane, the new Lady of the Lake and High Priestess of Avalon, accepts a challenge from Merlin unaware her bold actions will have tragic consequences. Two of her priestesses are turned to stone. A forbidden love deserts her. Now alone, she has six young handmaidens to train and protect.

When Morgan le Fay demands assistance with a spell that could change the balance of power in the Two Realms, Viviane refuses her. But what if Morgan’s secret knowledge could restore the stone priestesses? Will an alliance prompt Viviane’s love to return? Or will the gamble cost her all she holds dear?

Other books in the series:
book3

breakdown

Series: Two Realms Trilogy / Two Realms Novellas
Author: Ariella Moon
# of Books: 2 (The Beltane Escape, The Viking Mist, Book 3)

There is a novella, The Amber Elixir. (Recommended to read after Book 1)

Book Order: Unsure
Complete?: No, The Viking Mist, is to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Magic, Arthurian Legend
Heat Rating: cold
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2016 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love Arthurian Legend! I even took a course about it for my English minor because I just love the whole idea of this epic story and world. When I saw that The Amber Elixir has a different take on the Arthurian world, I just had to see what was in store.

What I Liked:

–The World Building–

Ariella Moon has done a great job of weaving classic Arthurian elements and her own imaginings into this novella. It’s a really interesting blend of fantasy elements at play and I loved learning more as I read.

I think fans of classic fantasy novels will love the world we get here. It’s very complex and rich and completely captivates you.

–Weaving of Different Stories–

While the focus is mostly on Viviane and her role in the world, we get introduced to quite a few players and that just makes everything a little fuller and more complex. I like stories that have a lot going on; that have multiple storylines and characters involved and this one has it. I found this to be a very strong story and for its novella length, it reads more like a full novel.

–Viviane’s Forbidden Love–

While this isn’t a romance by any means, Vivane’s forbidden love does play a crucial role in Viviane’s development and actions. I’ll just say that I really liked why this was “forbidden” and how it upped the ante for this story.

What I Didn’t Like:

–That I Probably Should Have Read Book 1 First–

You can definitely read this novel without reading The Beltane Escape. It does a great job of tying the two together to get readers up to speed. It is noted on Ariella’s site she does recommend reading this novella after The Beltane Escape. My problem was that I didn’t know there was a Book 1 so I was a little confused during the prologue what was happening as I unaware we’ve been introduced to this world before.

But like I said, I quickly got up to speed and found myself immersed into this world as it does focus on other characters. And if anything, it made me curious to pick up The Beltane Escape 😉

 

My Rating: 3/5

The Beltane Escape N/A | [The Amber Elixir 3/5] | The Viking Mist TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall
Perfect for fans of stories involving Arthurian Legend and classic fantasy novels, this is a series you’ll want to read!

Read if You Like: Arthurian Legend, fantasy, magic
Avoid if You: dislike fantasy, want more romance

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Ariella Moon

Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her Two Realms Trilogy is a medieval fantasy adventure series. The Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances.

Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students that mistook her for a leaning post marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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Blog Tour: Spider by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Synopsis for Spider (from Goodreads):

He’s a British rock star.
And my stepbrother.
What can go wrong?

He called himself Spider. I just knew him as the sinfully gorgeous guy with eyes of fire that fate sat next to me on the airplane. I didn’t know who he really was…rock star…my stepbrother.

He kissed me because he thought we’d never see each other again. We would.

Everyone warned me about him.
They said he was ruthless and cold and screwed up.
They said he’d leave me with a hole in my heart.

Maybe I should have listened.
Maybe I should have built up a fortress to keep him out.
But I crumbled instead.

Some have said there’s an unbreakable thread that connects those who are destined to meet. If that’s true, then the moment he sat next to me, we were bound together forever.

He just had to figure it out before it’s too late…

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SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Ilsa Madden-Mills
Genre: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 13, 2017
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was first introduced to Ilsa Madden-Mills when I read her English Series last year. She totally won me over with her great blend of character growth and romance and she’s an author I’ve been keeping an eye on ever since.

When I read the synopsis for Spider, I HAD to read it! I love anything dealing with rockstars and the promise of a forbidden romance? Yeah, I’m a sucker! And given my previous experience with her work, I knew I was in for a solidly swoon-worthy romance.

The Plot:

This is simply a well crafted novel. All too often these forbidden romances get lost in the sexiness of the forbidden. You know what I mean: just sexy time after sexy time. But where Ilsa Madden-Mills succeeds in her stories–and this one in particular–is the balance between romance and character development. She devotes enough time to each to give you well rounded stories that you find yourself completely addicted to.

I also enjoyed the allusions to Jane Eyre. It isn’t a huge part of the novel but anyone familiar with the classic will see parallels here and there. The English student in me loves that type of stuff and Madden-Mills just does it all so flawlessly.

The Characters:

I really liked these two. Both are such strong–albeit flawed–characters and I loved watching them grow as the story progressed. I’ve encountered similar characters before but Rose and Spider definitely had a uniqueness to them. They have those rich backgrounds that bring their characters to life in a way I love in my romances.

I also liked that their growth wasn’t totally reliant on their relationship. They each grow in an independent way that I appreciated.

The Romance:

While I loved the chemistry these two had, I thought the spark was a little too “insta” for me. I get that this book is exploring the idea that people can be linked through a simple connection but I don’t like when there’s just “something about them” that makes the person want to change everything to be with the other. And I felt that was the case for Spider when he meets Rose. One look and he’s a goner.

I definitely got the attraction and I from their first encounter I could see how they would bring out the best in each other. But I wanted to see more of that. There isn’t a whole lot of time between them meeting on the plane and deciding to completely upend their lives to be together. As the characters evolved, I began to appreciate the romance more but I wanted that early stage of their relationship to be a little more substantial.

My Rating: 4/5

overall
This is a solid forbidden romance story that has a great focus on character growth instead of sexy times. (Though the sexual tension is brimming in this book!)

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, step-sibling relationships
Avoid if You: want more erotica based romance
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Ilsa Madden-Mills

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills writes about strong heroines and sexy alpha males that sometimes you just want to slap.

She’s addicted to dystopian books and all things fantasy, including unicorns and sword-wielding females. Other fascinations include frothy coffee beverages, dark chocolate, Instagram, Ian Somerhalder (seriously hot), astronomy (she’s a Gemini), and tattoos.

She has a degree in English and a Master’s in Education.

When she’s not pecking away on her computer, she shops for cool magnets and paints old furniture.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

 

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Series Review: Fortunate by Jessica Roe

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Because of Him (from Goodreads):

Blair Ackerman is a girl with crazy hair and a bad attitude. She’s a girl who doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She’s a girl with only a duffel bag and a car named Nancy to her name, and that’s okay by her. She’s tough because she has to be. Nobody gets inside her head, nobody gets inside her heart.

Silver is everything she’s never wanted. He’s a good guy, a smart guy, a guy who’s never met a girl like her before. He’s the kind of guy who loves history, who laughs at his own jokes, who kisses like a sinful dream. He’s the kind of guy who might just break down her walls and get inside her heart and make her feel.

Too bad he’s forbidden.

Because when Blair’s mom dies and she’s sent to live with the father she’s never met and a family that doesn’t want her, Blair and Silver cross paths in ways they never could have imagined, and they discover that even though they know they should, they can’t quite bring themselves to stay apart.

Opposites really do attract.

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Series: Fortunate
Author: Jessica Roe
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading List)

The novels that start with “Something” are longer novellas, not full novels.

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: More books are planned
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Single (Because of Him); Alternating (Falling For Him, onwards)
Publication Dates: December 2014 – ongoing
Source & Format: Own & Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Once again, who knows how this series crossed my radar but I bought Because of Him a few years ago and finally got around to it thanks to my 2017 #ShelfLove Reading Challenge. Which worked in my favour because by this point, my library got the rest of the novels in the series (minus one) and I could binge read the series.

I was drawn to Because of Him thanks to the line:

Blair and Silver cross paths in ways they never could have imagined, and they discover that even though they know they should, they can’t quite bring themselves to stay apart.

I love books with secrets and this one sounded juicy (though Goodreads spoiled it for me a bit when I saw the tags associated with the novel. Ugh.) so I couldn’t wait to find out what this forbidden love was.

The Plot:

What I really enjoyed about these books is that they have the right balance between character development and romance. You get to see these characters evolve and learn from their pasts in a way that is tied to the romance but not necessarily because of the romance. What I mean is that the leads don’t change who they are simply to get the “girl/guy”, rather they better themselves for themselves. I just love that.

I also like that you get integrated into the lives of the side characters–who eventually become the next novel’s leads. While you could definitely read these books as standalones, you get little hints of what is happening next (and where those past couples are now) and it makes you addicted to finding out the future holds for everyone.

The Characters:

I liked all of these characters. They all seemed very real and genuine to me. I easily got very invested in their stories which was great and had me eager for the next story.

The Romance:

All of these couples have fantastic chemistry: that is apparent from the start. Even when it seems like the romance might be based solely on physical chemistry, it evolves to be so much more. The best way I can describe it is as a slow burn romance that takes it time to reach the end goal but gives you enough along the way you aren’t deprived of those romantic moments you love.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I definitely have one character in mind that I want to see the story for so I’m excited for that to come!

Series Rating: 4/5

Because of Him 4/5 | Something Real 4/5 | Falling for Him 5/5 | Something True 4/5 | Nothing Like Him 3/5

overall

Definitely one of the most solid NA romance series I’ve ever read in terms of consistency. Each book on its own is great, filled with awesome characters and fantastic romance. Readers will definitely enjoy this one!

Read if You Like: NA romance, connected series
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike slow burn
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Single Sundays: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Forbidden (from Goodreads):

A new story of dangerous temptations from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the This Man trilogy.

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy-that instant chemistry that renders you weak in the knees. That is, until a night out brings her face to face with the dangerously sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her must be dangerous. She has no idea that he belongs to another. That he’s forbidden.

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Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve never read a Jodi Ellen Malpas novel but I know that she has a very strong and loyal fan base. So when I had the opportunity to read her latest novel, I knew I had to seize it.

It doesn’t hurt that this novel is billed as a “forbidden romance”. I LOVE forbidden/taboo romances. They have this edge of suspense to them that keeps me hooked thanks to all the secrets, drama and passion. I couldn’t wait to dive into this novel and see what was in store for me.

The Concept:

Let’s just say, I never saw what the “taboo” element was going to be and I loved that. When we had that big reveal, my mouth dropped and I muttered some curses because, damn, it’s a good one. It sucked me in like no one’s business.

The Plot:

While this story is a romance as its core, there is enough going on to keep the story moving and fresh. I never had a dull moment reading this novel. I was hooked.

The story has a great blend of being real and dramatic at the same time. The circumstances Annie and Jack find themselves in I think is fairly realistic. Some of the drama that accompanies it definitely has a dramatic flare but it just works so well with this story.

The Characters:

I really loved all the characters here. Malpas does a great job of bringing them to life and making you see their side of the situation. Did I agree with all their choices? No, but I could appreciate them and why they felt they had to make the choices they did.

The Romance:

One of the most important elements for me in a forbidden romance is that the novel has to convince me why these two should pursue their relationship despite all the obstacles in the way. I want to fall in love with these characters despite what they are doing–I want to root for them.

And this novel succeeded in that in every way!

I loved these two together–they have this phenomenal chemistry and connection–and I desperately wanted to see a positive outcome for them. And given the “forbidden” nature of this story, Malpas has done an amazing job to elicit that reaction from me.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

One of the best forbidden romances I’ve ever read. It kept me on the edge of my seat and had me totally invested in the outcome.

Read if You Like: forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike romantic dramas
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