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Series Review: The Collector by Amelia Wilde

Series Review: The Collector by Amelia Wilde

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 Dark Reign (from Goodreads):

Wealthy. Reclusive. Dangerous. Emerson LeBlanc doesn’t enter society much. He only ventures out in pursuit of new art for his collection. It starts with a haunting painting. Then he meets the artist…

Innocent Daphne Morelli is more exquisite than anything he’s ever seen. He becomes obsessed with her. It doesn’t matter that she’s a living, breathing person with her own hopes and dreams.

​​​​​​​She’ll be the perfect addition to his collection.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2022 Fave
Series: The Collector Trilogy | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Amelia Wilde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: minor (#1,#3) & major (#2))
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2021 – March 2022
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I went into this book with mixed expectations. For one thing, I was really excited to read Daphne Morelli’s story. It’s alluded to in Secret Beast (Beast of Bishop’s Landing) and I have been curious about it ever since. HOWEVER, I did not enjoy the Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series which is also written by Amelia Wilde so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel but I went in with an open mind…

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The first book in this series, Dark Reign, basically takes place over the span of the entire Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series so I highly recommend that you read that series first if you are trying to read the Midnight Dynasty Universe novels in the chronological order of events and don’t want to have that series be spoiled for you.

The Plot:

There was something so addicting about this series! There’s this edge of danger and suspense that just keeps building and building as the story progresses that I found to be so captivating.

Add to it the character evolution and I was sucked right into this series! I love dark, unconventional romance novels and this really fit that bill to a T.

I also liked that it showed a softer side to the Morelli family and in particular, Leo Morelli who is the hero in The Beast of Bishop’s Landing. While I didn’t love that series, I appreciated the weaving of that story–and Daphne’s perspective of the events–into Dark Reign (#1).

The Characters:

Emerson is a character unlike any other I’ve encountered before. Sure, he has a lot of tendencies of alpha billionaire heroes with tragic pasts you’ve read before, but there is also this unique vulnerability to him that slowly gets revealed to the reader. I could totally see why Daphne would become enthralled by him.

Daphne is the perfect character to compliment and drive Emerson’s character development. But she also has great character development throughout this series. I was captivated by their respective stories.

The Romance:

This isn’t a conventional love story by any means but I’m a sucker for a good dark romance and this is definitely a great one! The connection these two share just blew me away.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 5/5

Dark Reign 5/5 | Sweet Mercy 4.5/5 | Last Resort 5/5

overall

One of my favourite installments in the Midnight Dynasty Universe so far! I think some people won’t like the darker, unconventional romance but fans of romantic suspense will enjoy.

Read if You Like: romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike unorthodox romances
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Series Review: Hellfire Club by Becker Gray

Series Review: Hellfire Club by Becker Gray

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 Wicked Idol (from Goodreads):

The new girl doesn’t belong here.
So why can’t I stop thinking about her?

The daughter of the headmaster wants to ruin my school year before it’s even begun. Iris Briggs gets under my skin. With her demure skirts and braided hair, she flits around the periphery until she runs right into me, hot coffee soaking me as she looks up with wide, innocent eyes.

We start off scalding.
In the library, we reach lava levels.
And then in the city? She burns me to the ground.

I’m Keaton Constantine. My duty is to my family. At least, it was until I started unbraiding the good girl and realizing there’s more to life than duty.

breakdown

Series: Hellfire Club or Pembroke Prep | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Becker Gray
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2020 – December 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My intention with this series was just to read Wicked Idol (#1), since it featured a Constantine I had met earlier when reading various books in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, then return to read the rest of the series later. But I absolutely fell in love with this cast of characters and binged the rest of the series shortly after I finished the first book and never looked back.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

This series only briefly crosses into the Constantine vs Morelli battle in the first book, Wicked Idol. From then on, I’d say this series stands on its own though references to the power families are made throughout the series.

The Concept / The World:

This is one of the Young Adult/New Adult hybrid series where 18 year olds get in some heated (sexual) situations. I’d label it as New Adult based on the content even though it takes place at a high school aged boarding school.

The Plot:

This series reminded me of Gossip Girl (more so the TV series) where you follow the drama of the social elite, only its set entirely in a boarding school. The family drama you expect from wealthy families is there but so is the die-hard friendships that form between the youth of that echelon…and their enemies. You’ve got rich boys who can catch any girl but there is just that one girl that they truly want and so ensues a swoon-worthy hate-to-love-you romance.

Most of these books are labeled as the “high school bully trope” and I’d agree for the most part that it fits. It’s basically that idea that if someone pulls your pigtails they like you. I’ve read a lot more intense high school bully romances where the “heroes” do terrible things to there heroines but I’d say that intensity isn’t here. More like disagreements and misunderstandings than actual torture.

The Characters:

I honestly fell in love with this entire crew by the end of Wicked Idol (#1) and truthfully, they played a very small part in that book. But the little tidbits we got about the relationships and pasts intrigued me enough that I had to keep going. The comradery of true friendship was great to read about.

I liked that each character had layers to them and that they evolved as the story progressed. I thought between the romantic pairs that there was a great balance in allowing both characters to grow as the relationship grew. It never felt one-sided which I appreciated.

The Romance:

Normally, I’m not a fan of the alpha male and most of our male characters lean that way. However, I am a sucker for a boy who completely loves a girl, even if he doesn’t know (or show) it yet. Watching those guards fall down had my heart melting!

I also loved that the pairs were all great matches for each other and it was really reflected in their stories. The romances were very well developed and all worked well for me.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 4/5

Wicked Idol 5/5 | Callous Prince 4/5 | Brutal Blueblood 4/5 | Ruined Sinner 3/5 | Sweet Devil 5/5

overall

I couldn’t put these books down! I loved the friendships, the drama and the romance!

Read if You Like: high school bully, boarding schools
Avoid if You: dislike erotica
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Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

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 Hush, Hush (from Goodreads):
A SACRED OATH
A FALLEN ANGEL
A FORBIDDEN LOVE

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

breakdown

Series: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
# of Books: 4 (Hush, Hush; Crescendo; Silence; Finale)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Angels
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2009 – October 2012
Source & Format: Own-Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this series before I even knew about Goodreads or blogging. Back when my only source of novels was whatever I purchased from Chapters, I stumbled upon this when they had an Indigo Teen Club (or something) blog/page. It was my first “fallen angels” series and the one I compare to all others too.

The Concept / The World:

Back in 2009, fallen angels and vampires were surging for YA dominance. So while most books seemed to have the same foundations (mysterious, handsome hero; unknowing heroine), they each had their own unique quirks.

What appealed to me about the Hush, Hush Saga was the darker edge it seemed to have. I liked that it toyed with the idea that not all angels are “good” angels. It also toys with the idea of why angels come to Earth and what that can mean for the human population.

The Plot:

Hush, Hush takes your typical paranormal YA approach and focuses mostly on the romance. It’s exciting and fun to watch these two navigate their relationship nonetheless. It also sets up the foundation for the rest of the series by introducing the world of fallen angels and their role.

Crescendo and Silence are by far the strongest of the series. While the romance is still heavily featured, you get more twists and turns when it comes to the angels. These had me on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next.

I had high, high hopes for Finale. I honestly think I was scared to read it because, despite the fact that I pre-ordered it, I didn’t read it for nearly 4 years. I made sure I included as a priority novel for my 2016 Rock My TBR AND added it to my 2016 Make Me Read It Challenge in the hopes it would “force” me to read it.

Finale was a huge disappointment for me. It seemed to contain everything I dislike about YA–whiny heroines, and a subpar plot–something I thought this series was above. Perhaps 4 years between novels is just too, too much. I think if I read this when I should have, I would have enjoyed it more.

The Characters:

I really liked Nora as a character. When I first started this series, she was in a league of her own compared to the Bella Swans of the world. She didn’t become a co-dependent mess and actually used her brain. She remains pretty consistent throughout the series though I felt like she lost that unique flare in Finale.

I often hear complaints that Patch is a bit of a stalker in the first novel and so they find the romance creepy. In a way, I can agree though I never really got that impression. (Maybe I was young and naive?) I feel like as the series progresses, you understand more about Patch’s character and his motives, putting everything in perspective.

The Romance:

Like I said, how Nora and Patch’s romance comes to be is often the biggest complaint about this series. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it and really enjoyed it. I thought they were a nice compliment for each other, especially as the series progresses. It’s your typical YA romance but I feel like it’s a bit more on the mature/older YA side of things.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Hush, Hush 5/5 | Crescendo 5/5 | Silence 5/5  |  Finale 3/5

overall

This series will always have a special place in my heart, even though I was disappointed in the very last book. It’s definitely in my top favourite fallen angel themed novel of the YA genre.

Read if You Like: fallen angels, darker series
Avoid if You: more “alpha” male leads

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Series Review: Dark Dream Duet by Giana Darling

Series Review: Dark Dream Duet by Giana Darling

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 Dangerous Temptation (from Goodreads):

He arrives all dressed in black. Diamond cufflinks. A watch on his tanned wrist that cost more than we would ever see in a lifetime of work. He carries a single red rose for my mother.

Months later, Tiernan Morelli lays red roses on my mother’s grave. That same day, he tells me that he is my new guardian.

I should have known from the very start that he had more in common with the thorns than the rose. Now I know the truth: I’m a pawn in his dangerous game of revenge. I was too young and naive. Now it’s too late to save myself from his clutches.

I belong to him.

breakdown

Series: Dark Dream Duet | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Giana Darling
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella (#0.5): Bad Dream

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: minor)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2021 – January 2022
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After reading what seemed like a lot of Constantine novels from the Midnight Dynasty Universe, I wanted to return to the more dangerous side of the universe and read a Morelli novel. I had also just finished Lessons in Sin, another book in the universe that which also has an age-gap romance trope, but it didn’t really impress me. This sounded like it could right those wrongs for me so I was excited to start this series.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

When to read #0.5 Bad Dream:

Definitely read it before you start Dangerous Temptation (#1). It’s actually included at the start of that novel. But I think it does a good job of setting up the relationship between Bianca and Tiernan and how that connection first starts. And I think it does a better job than the first novel does at emphasizing the struggles Bianca has in her life.

The Plot:

Prior to starting this duet, I had just finished the Hellfire Club and Lessons in Sin. Those books are set in the Midnight Dynasty Universe but aren’t in the center of the family feuds and seem more like aside stories.

This duet brings you right back into the heat of the family drama. I thought it did a good job linking the previous character stories together (particularly the Hearts Trilogy), the family history and set the stage for the next phase of the Midnight Dynasty Universe.

I loved the blend of romance, danger and suspense. These books moved fast (perhaps too fast–I felt like the finale was slightly abrupt) but in a way that kept you reading because you needed to know what happened next.

The Characters:

At first, I felt like there was a bit of a disconnect between the Bianca we meet in the novella and the girl we first meet in Dangerous Temptation (#1). But she quickly won me over with her tenacity to save herself and her brother. She wise beyond her years and I forgot that she was only 17.

Tiernan is the black sheep of the Morelli family so he was a mystery to me. He really only makes a brief appearance in the Hearts Trilogy from what I remember — which is a fact that I kinda forgot about when I picked this book up. But I quickly fell for his backstory and loved how his character evolved as the story did.

The Romance:

I think some people will struggle with the age gap between Tiernan (age 30) and Bianca (age 17). I know I did. Sure, Bianca is an old soul at heart but I felt like she was a little too young. I get why she is that age for the sake of the dramatic plot but I think her being 20 would have helped a lot to remove some of that ick factor to me. I started to think of her as older anyways because I really did love the connection the two shared. It was easy for me to see why these two would love each other despite the forbidding elements keeping them apart.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 4/5

[Bad Dream 4/5] | Dangerous Temptation 4.5/5 | Beautiful Nightmare 4/5

overall

I loved my return to the darker side of the Midnight Dynasty Universe. I enjoyed the forbidden romance (some people certainly won’t) and the dangerous drama of the Constantine-Morelli feud.

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, family dynasties
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances

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Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

King of Scars Series is a spin-off of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows

breakdown

Series: King of Scars, Grishaverse

This is a spinoff of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 2019 – March 2021
Source & Format: Public Library—eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I adored Nikolai in the original Shadow and Bone Trilogy. He was one of my favourite characters so I was definitely ready to get a book dedicated solely to him. Nina was also a character I really grew to love in the Six of Crows Series (a series I enjoyed wayyy more than the Shadow and Bone Trilogy) and I couldn’t wait to see what was next in her story after a heart-wrenching conclusion in that series. So I was super excited to see what the blending of these two worlds would bring!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Bigger Picture Focused–

Shadow and Bone is very much focused on Alina and how she fits into the world. Whereas I felt like the approach here was how the world fits these characters. You get a lot of POVs along the way to give that bigger picture. And while that bigger picture and how it is all interconnected isn’t super obvious at the start, by the end the weaving of it all is intricate to say the least.

–More Politics–

I love books with complicated political strategies so I enjoyed watching all that come together. I felt like the focus was more on keeping the world afloat than keeping Alina afloat like the original trilogy did.
Whereas Six of Crows was more suspenseful with the heist aspect, I think the politics of the world here kept that tone going to a certain extent.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Dragged–

So I stopped and restarted King of Scars (#1) numerous times. Some of the time, life got in the way, other times, I got bored. I got especially bored in Rule of Wolves (#2). I felt like you could have cut out a lot of both books and made one solid book that kept the pace going.

–Nina’s Story–

I’m not sure what I wanted out of Nina in this series. She went through so much at the end of Six of Crows (it was hard to read the first few chapters here because her grief broke my heart). But a haphazard romance I didn’t even see coming because it happened with the snap of the fingers isn’t what I wanted for her. It seemed forced like it was trying to prove a point–and I’m not even sure what that point is. I’m not saying that Nina shouldn’t find love again or that I don’t like the idea of who her future partner could be; I just didn’t see how something that came across as maternal to me was romantic.

–Too Much Fan Service–

I kinda felt like things were included in here just to appease fans and it made the plot messy. So messy that it almost makes you wonder why we even bothered with the Shadow and Bone Trilogy with some of the events that happen.

And while I can appreciate the idea that not everything was perfect in the Grishaverse after Shadow and Bone Trilogy was completed (ie not a perfect utopia of a HEA), I think a different adversary would have helped to show that the world is far from being healed.

Series Rating: 3/5

King of Scars 3.5/5 | Rule of Wolves 3/5

overall

I think diehard Grishaverse fans will soak up every page of this series as they return to this rich world. But those looking for a solid plot, consistency amongst character development might be left wanting more.

Read if You Like: the Grishaverse, multiple POV
Avoid if You: dislike long books
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for King of Scars (from Goodreads):

Face your demons… or feed them.

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

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Series Review: Angel by L A Weatherly

Trilogy Termination: Angel by L A Weatherly

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 Angel Burn(from Goodreads):

They’re out for your soul.
And they don’t have heaven in mind…

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from.
But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems; least of all good and evil.

breakdown

Series: Angel Trilogy
Author: L A Weatherly
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Angels, Paranormal, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person + Third Person
Publication Dates: January 2010 – August 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Like many series I started in university many years ago, I don’t really remember how I discovered it. I assume it had something to do with the Angel Trend that was huge around that time (2010). Either way, I really enjoyed the first novel in the series and that enjoyment is what kept this series on my TBR for over 5 years after the finale was published.

The Concept / The World:

I always think back fondly on this series because it was one of the more unique Angel concepts I had come across. Angel stories are always about good angels vs bad angels (or one faction vs another) but here, nearly all angels are evil and humans are fighting for themselves. It’s a fresh take on the world.

Unfortunately, that cool premise gets overshadowed by your typical YA paranormal cliches and the like but at its core, this is a cool story.

The Plot:

I remember being totally engrossed in the first novel. I loved watching Alex and Willow navigate this new world and their budding feelings. It was a fun adventure that kept me on my toes.

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t remember much about the second novel (Angel Fire) other than the fact that it introduces a love triangle that seems to take over the entire novel. Ugh.

But despite a “meh” experience with the second book, I was eager to see this series completed and was determined to pick up the finale (Angel Fever) 5 years later. Only I was thrust back into a mundane plotline that seemed to be taking its sweet-ass time and a seemingly resolved love triangle that would resolve every chapter with new ire.

Which is why I DNF’d it at 25% and skipped to the last chapter to give myself some closure.

The Characters:

Willow is one of those “special snowflakes” combined with a “Mary Sue”. It wasn’t really apparent to me in the first novel but I definitely saw it in the third. She’s just becomes so wish-washy in her convictions and morphs into your stereotypical heroine of a paranormal YA series.

The rest of the cast fits into their typical roles with ease.

The Romance:

This started strong for me but the introduction of a useless love triangle really killed any positive feelings I had towards this.

Series Rating: 3/5

Angel Burn 4/5 | Angel Fire 3/5 | Angel Fever DNF

overall

Like many of the angel romances released around the same time, this series takes your typical cookie cutter pieces and assembles them for your average angel read.

Read if You Like: angels, YA paranormal reads
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, want more action

similarreads

  • Newsoul by Jodi Meadows (Newsoul Trilogy #1)
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush Saga #1)
  • A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (A Touch Trilogy #1)
  • Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

Final 4 Blitz: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

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 The Girl in the Steel Corset (from Goodreads):
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Series
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles
Author: Kady Cross (aka Kathryn Smith)
# of Books: 4 (View Full Reading Order here.)

There are 3 novellas: View Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2011 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first saw the cover of The Girl in the Steel Corset, in 2011 I was intrigued. By this point, my only exposure to Steampunk had been through the Infernal Devices Trilogy but it was a genre I was eager to explore deeper. So when I saw that The Girl in the Steel Corset was another YA Steampunk novel–I couldn’t wait to start it!

The Concept / The World:

What I love about Steampunk is the unique world the books are set in. I adore the mix of science fiction and history. It’s so much fun to read about! And this series is no different.

The very cool part of this series is the paranormal abilities of its lead characters. They remind me a bit of the X-men where you have this group of ragtime, unique characters who somehow create a family and a support system while kicking serious ass. It’s a blast watching them on their adventures to make London a safer place.

The Plot:

While each book has its own plot and focuses on a particular character or two, there is an overarching plot that links all the books together. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the series because it always feels like it is moving forward.

There’s romance, there’s action and there are many, many plot twists. I just love the unpredictable nature of these novels and they were a joy to read from start to finish…and super addicting!

The Characters:

This cast is awesome! Probably some of my favourite characters ever!

Not only are they all unique when it comes to their abilities but they are also unique in their personalities. It was a blast reading about them and uncovering more about each of them as the series progressed.

Finely is particularly noteworthy. As the series progressed, I worried she would lose herself in the typical female protagonist role when they meet a guy they like, but she never did. She was strong, kick-ass, independent but knew when to work together. Love her and the rest of her friends, particularly the females!

The Romance:

The romances in this series are great additions! While they aren’t a major focus of the plot, they add to it in a fabulous way that makes you want more!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Girl in the Steel Corset 4/5 | The Girl in the Clockwork Collar 4/5 | The Girl with the Iron Touch 4/5 | The Girl with the Wind-up Heart 5/5

overall

Might seem bizarre that a series I essentially gave 4 stars to is one of my favourites but I LOVE this world and I LOVE these characters. I think the only reason I gave these books 4/5 was the fact that they ended! I had to wait a long time for the next installment and I know if I read them in one go, they would all be 5/5!

Read if You Like: steampunk, action, friends who act like family
Avoid if You: dislike steampunk

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Forbidden by Stella Gray

Spin-Off Saturdays: Forbidden by Stella Gray

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Forbidden Series is a spin-off of the Broken Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: To Watch Author
Series: Forbidden, The Bellantis

This is a spinoff of the Broken Series.

Author: Stella Gray
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: May 2022 – August 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

There were still a few lingering plotlines from the Broken Series that I wanted to see resolved so I was really excited to spend more time with the Bellanti family. While I really thought Armani’s story would be next, I was excited to see what was in store for Marco, the brother who kinda took a backseat in the first series but was still a captivating character to read about.

Can you Read the Forbidden Trilogy Without Reading the Broken Trilogy?:

Yes, you could but I really think you get more out of it by reading the Broken Series first. There are a lot of overarching dramatic plotlines from that first series that become the main focus of this series so it helps to know what is going on and why. Plus: I feel like you really need that context (why the families hate each other) to amplify the forbidden romance as well.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Great Character Growth–

I’m uber impressed with the character depth Stella Gray packs into her stories! I really enjoyed watching both Marco and Karina grow and evolve as characters. Marco was one heck of a playboy in the previous series and seemed a little one-dimensional as a result. So I loved getting deeper into his character.

When I first started this series, I really worried that Karina would fall into the stereotypical sheltered virgin trope; but she also has a fantastic character story! To me, she is the star of this series. Her character development was one of my favourite aspects of this series.

–Romeo & Juliet Inspiration–

I’m a Shakespeare nerd so anything to do with the Bard gets bonus points. I loved all the allusions to the classic play but with a modern flare. It highlighted the forbidden element perfectly and pumped up the family drama perfectly!

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Not really. I always found myself compelled to read more. I can’t really pinpoint what is missing for me to make it a 5 star read. Maybe the pacing could have been a little better at the start of each novel? But I never struggled to finish these books.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While this trilogy is somewhat self-contained, I am really excited for Marco’s brother, Armani’s story!

Series Rating: 4/5

Forbidden Bride 4/5 | Forbidden War 4/5 | Forbidden Love 4/5

overall

These star-crossed lovers have me rooting for them all the way! Who doesn’t love a suspenseful family saga filled with love and danger?

Read if You Like: Romeo & Juliet inspired; forbidden love
Avoid if You: darker romances
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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Forbidden Bride (from Goodreads):

I was promised to a man my uncle chose… but I ran away with the enemy.

In this valley, my family name means something.
To some, protection. To others, destruction.
When a Bellanti stole my heart, he started a war.

A ring on my finger put a target on his back.

I hardly know the man I threw my life away for.
He looked like I imagined Mr. Darcy would.
He wrote me poetry.

But he’s locked me away exactly the way my uncle had.
Choosing him was my last taste of freedom.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire…

He will burn me alive either way.

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Series Review: Broken by Stella Gray

Series Review: Broken by Stella Gray

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 Broken Bride (from Goodreads):

I was sold to him to settle a debt… but Dante Bellanti never settles.

My father was always a gambling man.
Unfortunately, he never could pick winners.
When the wolves closed in, he chose himself, like always.

He traded his freedom… for mine.

He forced me to marry.
Now Dante Bellanti owns my body.
I’m just another possession for a man who already has too much.
So I won’t let him have my heart.

But you know what they say about gambling.

The house always wins.

And I’m at the mercy of the Bellantis…

breakdown

Series: Broken, The Bellantis

There is a Spin-off Series: Forbidden

Author: Stella Gray
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Dark
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2021 – November 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After bingeing what I could get my hands on in the Midnight Dynasty Series, I was craving my next big romance world and this series stumbled into my inbox. I love a good family drama saga and this one promised to be a great one as each Bellanti brother got their own series.

First Up is Dante – the heir of the empire.

The Concept / The World:

I thought this might be more Mafia romance in its approach. Lots of action and violence but that is not what this series is. Yes, there are some shady business deals and violence but it doesn’t litter every page. It’s very sophisticated and more a romance than anything else.

The Plot:

I love a good family drama with lingering family secrets and an edge of danger to it. And it’s not just Dante’s family who has the complicated family business. Frankie’s family and even Frankie herself has this mysterious aura about her that kept me hooked.

In Broken Bride (#1), I thought we were going to get alternating chapters between Dante and Frankie, but I liked that Frankie told the bulk of the story, leaving Dante as this mysterious enigma. It added to the suspense of the story and kept you from fully trusting Dante. Dante’s character gets more chapters in the later books which helps his character grow.

The rest of the series keeps adding layers to the story and I really love how some aspects carry over into the next Bellanti brother’s trilogy!

The Characters:

I really loved Frankie and Dante and the rest of their families. It was crazy how quickly I got attached to everyone! I love a good family saga and this has that!

The Romance:

I loved their banter and the slow burn, do they love or hate each other vibes. Lots of tension!

Series Rating: 4/5

Broken Bride 4/5 | Broken Vow 4/5 | Broken Trust 4/5

overall

Great for people who want a whole romantic universe to get invested in!

Read if You Like: overarching plotlines, family sagas, dark romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances

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Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

Series Review: Starcrossed Lovers by Jade West

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 Secret Beast (from Goodreads):

In a single moment, she becomes my obsession…

Elaine Constantine will be mine.
And her destruction is only my beginning.

I’ve known all my life that the Constantines deserved to be wiped from the face of the earth, only a smoking crater left where their mansion once stood. That’s my plan until I see her, the woman in gold with the sinful curves and the blonde curls. My will to dominate her runs as deep as the hate I have for her last name.

No matter how beautifully she bends beneath my hands, I’ll leave her shattered, a broken toy for her cruel family.

I’m a sadist, and she’s the object of my obsession.

breakdown

Series: Starcrossed Lovers | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Jade West
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: September 2020 – March 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I mentioned in my review of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing review, I deviated from the readers’ recommended reading order of the Midnight Dynasty Universe and read Leo’s book before Lucian’s.

Lucian was such a blip in the Cinderella Trilogy compared to Leo–who had a bigger role as a villain–that I wasn’t interested Lucian’s story as much. But in Book #3 of the Beast of Bishop’s Landing, Fallen Rose, Lucian’s heroine is revealed and I became obsessed with reading their story!

Needless to say, I immediately picked up this Romeo and Juliet inspired tale when I finished the other series!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

This trilogy is inspired by Romeo and Juliet but I’d say it is loosely so. Lucian and Elaine are from feuding families; have lots of cousins and there is quite a bit of death that follows in their wake. It isn’t a straight up modern retelling by any means but if you know the classic play, I’m sure you will see some similarities.

This story is super dark though and I think a lot of people will be uncomfortable with the subject matter. There’s a lot of sex (and high BDSM sex at that as Lucian is a sadist lover), lots of violence and some content that might be triggering to readers (abuse, self-harm). I think you really have to be a fan of darker romances to enjoy this and I wouldn’t recommend this book as the series to start with if you want to get into the dark romance genre.

I am a fan of dark contemporary romances and it took even me a while to get used to the obsessive nature of our two leads. However, I quickly became consumed with their story. I enjoyed the pursuit of the first book and watching them slowly realize how they were perfect for each other in the subsequent novel.

I really enjoyed Soulless (#2) which is why Relentless (#3) was such a letdown. It was really great until (I felt) it abruptly ended. It didn’t really resolve any of the major dramatic plotlines with the exception of their final relationship status. I kinda thought there would be a fourth book with the way it ended but there isn’t which makes its ending super open-ended. Having read the next recommended series (Beast of Bishop’s Landing) in the Midnight Dynasty Universe series, I know that there really isn’t much of a resolution there either. So I ended the series on a bitter note after enjoying it so much.

The Characters:

One of the unique elements to this Midnight Dynasty Universe is that different authors write the different series, yet all share the same characters as each other.

Lucian makes a brief appearance in the Cinderella Trilogy but he takes a backseat to his brother Leo (Beast of Bishop’s Landing). He’s a super intense person and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Normally, I don’t enjoy super alpha male heroes and Lucian is definitely an alpha–and a sadist at that. However, I feel like he is the first one to break when it comes to his feelings for Elaine and I love when the hero is the first to crack. As you start to know him and his past, you start to understand his character and appreciate why he is the way he is.

Elaine is also a complicated character and one that you don’t really see the true side of until you keep reading and start to peel back those layers. She’s feisty and strong in her own way which I always like in my heroines.

The Romance:

The tension between these two is down-right palpable the minute they set eyes on each other! They’ve got the forbidden romance of Romeo and Juliet fueling that flame which is always great. But they also have this great connection of understanding between them. They’re the perfect match for each other–even if they don’t realize that right away. They balance each other out and I could see why they are “starcrossed lovers”.

That being said, the romance is definitely dark and twisted. If you don’t enjoy high level BDSM–heavy emphasis on the SM part of that–then don’t pick this up!

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 4/5

Heartless 4/5 | Soulless 5/5 | Relentless 3/5

overall

Those who enjoy dark and twisted romances will devour this. But those who don’t enjoy BDSM in their novels or violence should stay away. Out of all the series in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, I’d say this is the darkest.

Read if You Like: erotica, dark romances, forbidden romance, violence
Avoid if You: dislike kink/BDSM, dislike dark romances

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