Thursday, 21 June 2018

REVIEW Bride of Fire Trilogy Books 1 and 2



Title: Hidden Embers (Book 1 Bride of Fire)

Author: Jane Burrelli

Release Date: 12/04/2018

Taglines: Can blazing passion melt a frosty heart?

An exiled princess, a forbidding lord and a bond that ties them together


Amazon.co.uk
Amazon





REVIEW


I have to admit that fantasy has not been my favourite genre for some time, although it used to be my passion when I was younger. The likes of David Eddings, Terry Brooks and Storm Constantine took me to new worlds, giving me a welcome break from this one. Since then I have swung the other way, preferring gritty realism and confronting the harsher elements of the world in which I live.

For me, although I can’t honestly say this work matches the complexities and skill of my favourites, most certainly reignites my passion for immersing myself in another world. The author has great skill in world building and her writing is smooth and well rounded, rather like Mira.

My biggest bugbear with all books, not only fantasy, is the development of character and dialogue. I can’t get into any book that doesn’t create vivid and well-developed characters, or that has immature dialogue. This book delivered in both categories. Even the minor characters are well rounded, and a rich supporting cast sets a background against which the main character grow and mature whilst keeping perfect consistency.

Whilst we didn’t get to see much of the fire world, there were enough hints to make it real in my mind to the extent I could understand how Mira reacted to the very different ice world, which was drawn very sharply and in keeping with its nature. Unlike many fantasy novels no attempt was made to explain every little detail. We still don’t know the intricacies of the politics and society of either nation, although there have been plenty of hints and snippets. That is not, in any way a flaw as I love the fact that I have not been presented with a slew of information. There are no major info dumps in this story and what information is imparted flows naturally.

My problem lies in the relationship between Zorren and Mira. I accept it is being presented as a D/s relationship and I have no problem with that per se. However, the heart of any true D/s relationship is mutual respect and consent. I did not feel that Zorren had any respect for Mira and wasn't interested in getting to know her or making her feel comfortable in an alien environment. Neither did I feel Mira was giving any meaningful consent to the abuse. I want to be clear that this is my issue and not necessarily a flaw in the writing. This is a barbarian world and a strictly patriarchal society, and that is something I will always kick back about.


All this being said, I very much enjoyed the story, the dynamics of the relationship and the advancement of character and situation. I would heartily recommend it to any lovers of fantasy or those who are undecided. It is definitely a good first dip of the toe into fantasy and is a very well crafted work.



Title: Playing With Fire (Book 2 Bride of Fire)

Author: Jane Burrelli

Release Date: 02/06/2018

Taglines: This princess isn't afraid to play with fire, are you?

An exiled princess, a forbidding lord and a bond that ties them together

Can Mira thaw Zorren's icy heart or will he lose her forever






Review


This series keeps getting better. I talked, in my review of the first book, about the author’s skill in world building and characterization, and she certainly came through in this one. The world building really is sublime. She showers us with delicious detail, with no noticeable info dumping at all. Everything from the place Mira lives, the people she meets, to the touching stories she stumbles across, are consistent and real. The heat of the forge, the icy chill of the city, the echoing silence of the practice grounds are all conveyed with realistic detail.

I felt very much as if I was following Mira through the maze of new experiences and meeting the people she met – some good and some bad. Even her fire-bending (yes, I went there), so alien and fantastical was dealt with in such a realistic fashion – it didn’t come easy, she had to practice, she wasn’t the greatest fire-bender ever.  The characterization was so good, I felt something about everyone, from the servant, to the poor family, the smith, the cook, everyone up to the Ice Lord himself.

Therein lies my problem with both books. I’m sure it won’t be a problem for very many people, but I just can’t slide by without commenting on the way Zorren treats Mira. I struggled to find anything to like in Zorren, and the mysterious incident in his past doesn’t, in my opinion, justify the way he acts in the present. I appreciate this is a barbarian society and Zorren is true to his archetype. In fact, I’m sure it’s something that will endear him to some people, just not to me.

With any other author, I might stop reading here because Zorren would be irredeemable, but if anyone can persuade me to forgive the unforgiveable it’s this author, so I will buckle in and hope for the best. Even if she can’t redeem Zorren, I know there will be rich detail, wonderful stories and Mira will have her happy ending.

All in all, the first two books of this series were, quite simply breathtaking. I haven’t read fantasy in a long time, and this book has reminded me what I’ve missed. It was so easy to read, so enthralling and even that fact I hate Zorren so much is testament to the skill of the writer and the power of the story.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the books to anyone who likes a great story with a good pinch of realism and a touch of magic.


Amazon Author Page UK
Amazon Author Page US


Excerpt


“Then by your own logic what shall your forfeit be for insulting my line and position?” My mouth gaped, realizing that I had been herded into a well laid trap with no reasonable defense. This time when I tugged my hands, Zorren let me go free. The blanket fell from my shoulders and the hairbrush I had been using clattered upon the floor.

You lay so much as a hand on me and I will scream until it wakes the deities themselves,” I snarled.

Zorren raised both brows. “You cannot have it both ways, your Highness, or are you a hypocrite?”

His words rankled and I did not care for them, or the truth they held. He sat back and folded his arms, watching as I paced back and forth like an agitated cat. I shook my head in vehement denial.

“You will not touch me.” Though my voice was not so strong and sure. “I am a princess.”

“Don’t be sure of that, Hellcat, actions have consequences.” Zorren reached for me and I neatly sidestepped him.

“I’ll scratch,” I warned, my eyes flashing while stepping back. Unfazed, Zorren rose to his feet. “I’ll bite.” Another step back, space rapidly shrinking. “I’ll fry you!”

White unsettling eyes never left me, not even for a second. “Duly noted,” Zorren drawled, stalking closer. “While you may scratch and bite the result will be the same. Your bottom over my knee growing steadily redder and redder.”

“You can’t do this.” I dashed around the other side of the bed. “I won't let you.”



Author Bio

When I realised that the world was not hiring for a ‘sarcastic but benign Supreme Ruler of the Universe’ I’ve decided to focus on my passion. By day I work in a UK company’s finance department and by night I become my alter ego Scribble Girl or as my good friends have affectionately dubbed me the 'sex author'. Always armed with a notepad and pen in the black hole I call a handbag, I have been writing never ending stories since the age of 11 and this all stemmed from my love of reading.

I love reading. Period!

I’m part of the Harry Potter generation and while waiting between books would literally devour any book I could get my hands on. Let’s put it this way J.K Rowling has a lot to answer for. I adore that there is no end in sight to where your own imagination can take you and that between the pages of a book you are transported to another world.

Happy Reading!



Stay Connected

Website
Amazon UK
Amazon US
Good Reads
Twitter
Facebook Page 
Instagram
Pintrest: 
Bookbub:


Books by the Same Author

Mustang Wild

Amazon.com:
Amazon.co.uk: 






Monday, 18 June 2018

Introducing The Von

Who are The Von?

The Von are a grunge band, fronted by Norwegian Viking, Erik Von Nordgren, and consisting of Erik, his best friend, Billy(drums), a school friend, Joey (Lead guitar) and his girlfriend, Daisy (bass guitar). Currently, they are practicing in Erik's garage to a small band of groupies, but they are going places.

When Erik meets Asher, Daisy's twin brother and fellow Brit, sparks fly - literally when a bored Asher plays with Erik's father's power tools during a practice session. What follows is a series of tit-for-tat incidents that end when Erik knocks Asher into the school pool during a fight and almost kills him.

Poor Billy, who has been in love with Erik since they fooled around as kids, is forced to watch what started as a bitter feud turn into something powerful and intense, while he's left on the sidelines watching a stranger capture the heart of the man he's crushed on for half his life.

The course of true love does not, of course, run smooth. Erik and Asher's on again; off again relationship burns hot and cold because Erik won't come out of the closet, and Asher refuses to hide anymore. What results is a train wreck, but a heck of a fascinating one.

Without further ado, lets meet the members of The Von and find out what all the fuss is about.

Erik Von Nordgren 



Okay, he's lost his head a bit, but that's hardly unusual for Erik!


Birthdate June 3 Sign: Gemini

Born to Norwegian parents, Erik is the first generation to be born in America. He is tall for his age, 6’3” and has light blond hair to his shoulders, light blue eyes, and a muscular build. He is the typical teenager; brash, rude, and full of himself. Ok, maybe not completely typical. He walks around school like he owns the place and keeps his friends very close; because he knows one day he’ll be a mega star and he’ll share the glory.

His love of music has been life-long. He’d sing along to everything he’d hear. Later, he discovered the grunge era of the late 90's, that he missed because he was too young. Throwing himself into it with a gusto, adopting the "look" and immersing himself in the music. He falls in love with alternative sounds, and emulates the grinding voice and grungy appearance, complete with attitude.

Erik is an only child, constantly in trouble but never anything serious. His parents are a little frosty, but his mother is his confidante when he needs to get something off his chest. He is closeted and secretly very afraid to come out publicly. Already, his locker has been broken into, and his tires slashed by kids suspecting his sexuality. His close friendship with Billy (his friend since the sandbox) just makes people even more suspicious.

When he was much younger, he was in love with and had a brief sexual relationship with Billy, but was so afraid of letting the truth out that he broke things off and he was banned from Billy’s house. They made up, but Billy’s parents still dislike him greatly.

Erik has a good heart, but is slow on the uptake. His head is usually in the clouds grinding out songs or dreaming of stardom. To that end, he forms his own band, named The Von, for his family name of Von Nordgren. He goads his buddy Billy, who is a fantastic drummer, into the band, as well as  his guitarist buddy Joey.  Joey has a new girlfriend, Daisy, who is a great guitarist in her own right, and the band is complete.


Daisy Berkley


(I wasn't able to find a citation. If anyone knows one please let me know and I will add. This photograph is for entertainment only as is not meant to convey any commercial intent and is widely shared on the internet.)

Birthday November 9th Star Sign Scorpio

Daisy has lived her entire life in her twin brother’s shadow. She absolutely adores him and every blow he’s received has hit her just as hard. She’s a tough nut and always has his back, even when she seems to spend half her time mediating between her brother and her parents. To be fair, they’ve all been through a lot because of Asher, but she can’t understand why they blame him so much for things that really weren’t his fault. He’s been on his last chance so many times, she’s worried that he might be pushing things too far this time.

The bright spot on her horizon is her new boyfriend Joey, and through him, the band. The Von. She’s not sure how to take the brash lead singer, Erik Von Nordgren, but the drummer, Billy, is sweet, and of course, there’s Joey. She’s happy to be able to showcase her guitar skills, honed on her many nights sitting with Asher or waiting for him, in one way or another. The neo-grunge band suits her down to the ground, with her sunny disposition and vintage style. She’s no one’s pushover though and anyone foolish enough to underestimate this English Rose will soon find out she’s got thorns.
 
William (Billy) Nathan Carp 


(I wasn't able to find a citation. If anyone knows one please let me know and I will add. This photograph is for entertainment only as is not meant to convey any commercial intent and is widely shared on the internet.)

Birthday March 12 Sign: Pisces

Billy is the only child of his parents, Barb and Tom Carp. They had planned on more, but he turned out to be their only baby. He is the love of their lives and they protect their soft-hearted son.

Billy is 5’10”, with green eyes. He has a slim build, but it is offset by his wild, wavy hair. He calls it his ‘fro. It is dark auburn red and wavy and often gets in his face. He wants to cut it at times, but he enjoys the look, so he keeps it.

He is an outgoing, sweet young man. His heart is huge and has been broken badly once already by his best friend, Erik. Yet, it is big enough to let him back in. He loves only one thing more than his folks and his friend, and that’s banging on the drums. He’s been playing since he was three years old and got his first kit at five, along with his first set of real drumsticks.

He joins his buddy Erik’s band to be near him again, and to also have the opportunity to go nuts without waking the neighbors and his parents at the same time. He’s a good boy for the most part, not in trouble much, and is loyal to the core.

Joseph David Miller


(I wasn't able to find a citation. If anyone knows one please let me know and I will add. This photograph is for entertainment only as is not meant to convey any commercial intent and is widely shared on the internet.)

Birthday July 31st

Sign: Leo

Joey is sometimes the quiet boy, and sometimes the party animal. He is enamored with his new girlfriend, Daisy Berkley and does all he can to keep her happy. He is a straight-A student, and the pride of his parents, who have three other children. His calm and quiet personality is often drowned out by the antics of his louder friends, such as Erik, whom he met over a year ago and was drawn to ever since he heard him sing at a high school talent contest. They were instant friends and Joey got to show off his guitar playing ability as well. Together with Erik’s bff Billy, whom Joey considers a very stand-up guy, they form the Von. Daisy makes it perfect.

In his off times, Joey is pretty reserved. With a large house and acreage, he is kept busy with household chores and tutoring his younger siblings. His best times are when his wild Irish cousin Connor comes to visit, and he introduces him to his new friends Erik and Billy.

Beyond music, Joey’s gift for organization and numbers keep his grades up, but his social skills keep his moral high. When the fur flies in the band, he’s usually the one to step in with reason.

Asher Berkley


(I wasn't able to find a citation. If anyone knows one please let me know and I will add. This photograph is for entertainment only as is not meant to convey any commercial intent and is widely shared on the internet.)

Birthday 9th November. Star Sign Scorpio

Although not part of the band, no introduction is complete without Asher, who tends to rival Erik in dominating whatever situation he might find himself in.

Asher is British through and through and never wanted to leave. He’s determined to hate America and everything in it, especially Americans. His only friend is his twin sister, Daisy and he’s not in any hurry to change that. Cursed with an extremely rare eye colour (lilac) instead of the normal blue of the rest of his family he’s had to fight all his life against people who were only too ready to call him “freak”.

He decided a long time ago that if the world wanted a freak he’d give them a freak. He started dressing to the image and the Goth style sucked him in. He quickly made it his own. Another decision that has served him well, was to learn to fight and fight well. He’s been taking lessons in martial arts since he was a pre-teen, although he’s never felt the need to compete or take his skills any further than his love of perfection dictates.

That was pretty much the end of his good decisions. Having fallen in with a bad crowd early in life, he’s got a fair bit of trouble under his belt and a history so dark his parents are at breaking point, and his sister’s a bundle of nerves. The Berkleys are as dysfunctional a family as you could wish to meet, and, although they used to be close, Asher's past has driven a wedge between them that has left  Mr Berkley, in particular, cold and uncompromising as far as his son is concerned.

Asher likes nothing better than to shock, to get in the blows before they fall on him. He’s a genderfluid vision in high heels, lace and leather, with bright blue streaks in his waist-length hair, and of course, his big, beautiful, bright purple eyes, that don’t miss a trick. He’s out and proud and as uncompromising as his father. The only thing that softens him is his art. He’s an amazing artist with a place in art college waiting and a summer job in a local gallery, which he hopes will open doors to hid dream career.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

RELEASE DAY REVIEW - The Recruit by Addison Albright


Title:  The Recruit
Author: Addison Albright
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Release Date: June 16, 2018
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: Novella / 69 pages in PDF / 22,181 words
Genre: Romance, Paranormal, Vampires, HEA, Gay, Bisexual, Contemporary, Bargain, Hope, Blood Mates

Add to Goodreads


Synopsis


Albert Manlii has walked this earth for more than two thousand years, but survival on his own was never easy. Now he leads a faction of highly organized vampires who carefully guard the secret of their existence. Unlike the old days, potential recruits are carefully selected and presented with an offer.

Phillip Brewer has weeks to live—if he lets his disease run its course. He doesn’t want to die, but given a choice, will his desire to live outweigh his concerns about the vampires’ ethics?

When the new recruit’s missteps are cause for concern, can Albert control the fallout, or will Phillip’s life once again be torn apart?

Excerpt


The man moved to the bench and raised a brow in a welcoming fashion, silently inviting Phillip to join him. Phillip shrugged. He’d planned to sit here anyway, so why not have a conversation with a pleasant man while he did it?

“My name’s Albert.” He held out a hand, and Phillip shook it. The hand felt cooler than Phillip expected for someone walking on a warm day, but not exceptionally so. Perhaps he had a fever himself, and that made the man’s hand seem cooler than normal.

“Phillip.” He didn’t elaborate. There wasn’t anything he could think of to add. Small talk eluded him.
“I’m pleased to meet you, Phillip.” Albert paused, as if gathering his thoughts.

“Likewise.” Phillip kept his reply simple. Oddly enough, something about the gravity of Albert’s demeanor gave him the impression the man had directed him to the bench with a purpose in mind that had nothing to do with idle chit-chat, so he might as well let the man control the conversation. Albert didn’t give off a crazed serial-killer vibe, not that it would matter at this point as long as whatever he chose to do didn’t add pain to Phillip’s death. Not likely he’d try anything like that in broad daylight with people around, anyway.

Albert looked directly into his eyes with a steady gaze. “Phillip, I want to show you something, and I ask that you keep an open mind and hear me out before reacting.”

Phillip sat back. He hadn’t developed any expectations for this conversation, but if he had, this direction wasn’t anything he would have considered.

“I think we can help each other,” Albert continued.

“I’m dying,” Phillip said. He would have thought his appearance made that apparent, but perhaps not. 
“Whatever you have in mind, I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to make a deal with you.”

“Please, hear me out.” Albert held out an arm. “This seems like an unusual request, I know, but I’d like you to examine my arm. Go ahead and touch it. I want you to assure yourself that it is, indeed, my real arm and not any kind of advanced prosthetic or makeup designed to create a special effect.”
Phillips eyes widened. “Unusual request” was putting it lightly. But what the hell, he might as well add an interesting interlude to his final hours—or minutes, if this man turned out to be a homicidal maniac.

He put both hands on the well-shaped forearm. He felt for a pulse at the wrist and found one. The hairs appeared natural and moved appropriately as Phillip ran his hand across them. Veins were visible where expected. Phillip manipulated the man’s fingers and wrist. The bones on the back of Albert’s hand, and tendons at the inside of his wrist, moved correctly, becoming more or less prominent when the hand flexed. Then he lightly pinched Albert’s skin in various places. It felt perfectly normal, although still slightly cooler than usual.

When Phillip withdrew his hands, Albert lowered his arm. “Are you satisfied that this is indeed my natural arm?”

“Yes.” Phillip eyed him warily.

“Remember, keep an open mind and maintain your composure. Give me the opportunity to explain what you’re about to see.”

Weirder and weirder. Phillip narrowed his eyes but remained curiously drawn to hearing this man out. 
“All right.”

Albert took a quick glance around, and Phillip followed his gaze. The people he’d noticed earlier were still in sight, but nobody new had appeared.

Phillip held his breath when a small razor blade appeared in Albert’s other hand. Albert slowly drew the blade across the arm Phillip had just examined, cutting deeply enough for the tissue to separate. There was no way it was a fake blade merely drawing atop his skin. He was cutting deeply, but the blood that appeared was black, not red, and the gash closed up within seconds as the razor dragged up the length of that forearm.

“What the hell.” Phillip gasped and fought to keep his respiration steady as he turned to stare at Albert’s face. He’d been so riveted by what was happening to the man’s arm, he’d neglected to check his expression. Had that hurt? Albert’s face was tight, so maybe, although his mask of calm quickly returned.

“Do you trust your own eyes?” Albert asked. The razor disappeared into a pocket, replaced by a cloth handkerchief, which he used to wipe the remaining dark fluid—blood?—from his arm.

“I’ll admit I’m drugged up, but nothing that would explain that.” He’d pointedly requested medication that would not cause him to hallucinate or overly diminish his ability to reason. There was no point dragging out his life if he couldn’t consciously enjoy it.

He’d seen plenty of street magic in his day. Sleight of hand, etcetera, but this transcended all of that. There was simply no logical explanation for what he’d just seen.

“You accept what you just witnessed at face value?”

Phillip pursed his lips a moment before replying. “Okay. Yes. Obviously, there’s something superhuman about you.” Or he wasn’t human at all. An alien maybe?

“That’s one way to put it,” Albert said. “I was once fully human, but now…no, not quite human anymore.”

Phillip sat still as he digested that comment. Albert had “once” been human. He’d also approached Phillip—seemingly sought him out—and he’d said, “I think we can help each other.” Was there more than one logical deduction to make here?

“Please.” Phillip swallowed as a shiver of hope drifted over his skin. “I need you to spell out what you meant—earlier. Before your demonstration.”

Albert smiled. It was the smile of a man who sensed he had his fish on the hook. “About helping each other?”

Phillip nodded.

“You don’t need to die yet. I’ve been walking this earth for more than two thousand years.” Albert spoke calmly as Phillip froze in place, clenching his hands at his belly.

Two thousand years? And he wanted to make a deal with Phillip?

Did Phillip want to? What was in it for him? Everlasting life, apparently. But would it be an existence he wanted? “Who are you? You’re immortal. But how?”

“Immortal in the sense that I, and others like me, won’t appear to become older beyond our age at the time of transition. Nor will we die of natural causes. We can be killed, though. You’ve witnessed my self-healing abilities, but anything that would instantly kill a human will kill me…us, too.”

“So, if I agreed, this cancer would disappear just like that?” Phillip snapped his fingers.

“Like all of our ‘supernatural’ capabilities, self-healing improves over time. As a new convert, you won’t immediately feel better. It’ll take about a day for you to feel one hundred percent.”

That was hardly a deterrent, but Albert was obviously holding back. What facilitated this “transition”? “You still haven’t answered the question. Who are your people?”

Albert hesitated for a moment before replying. “The word you’re searching for is ‘vampire.’”

Phillip burst out laughing. He didn’t know what the hell he’d been thinking Albert’s answer would be, but the existence of some kind of magical immortality potion was difficult enough to believe without throwing in something that absurd.

Albert’s revelation probably should have made Phillip run in the opposite direction—if he’d believed it, or made him angry—because really, what kind of person fucked with a dying man like that? But at least his final hours were diverting. “You had me going there for a while.”

Tilting his head to the side, Albert raised a single eyebrow as he continued to gaze at Phillip. “Not the usual reaction. Intriguing, though. You don’t believe me, do you?”

“Please,” Phillip scoffed and gestured toward the bright sun overhead.

Purchase

JMS Books, LLC | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes


Review

I enjoyed this book very much. Philip (or Neil) is a sweet character who goes from dying to damn near immortal in the space of a heartbeat and spends the rest of the book trying to process it and learn to become a modern vampire.

There are no monster in this book. The vampires are as civilized as can be and only kill people when they have to. This is one of the hardest things for Philip to comes to terms with and he doesn’t really trust them, right to the end.

There are so many things for new vampires to learn and we learn along with Philip in a fairly smooth way. There are times when it feels a little like preaching but there are no major info dumps and it all felt fairly natural. At the end of the day, when someone comes to a new situation he has to be given a lot of information in a small space of time and there are only so many ways you can space it out and make it sound incidental and natural. The author does this pretty well to be fair.

There are some lovely touches in the book, like Philip’s whole philosophy about dying and the fact that his love for the beauty of the world doesn’t turn bitter when he believes he’s about to leave it. 

There is a kind of romantic pragmatism about him that makes him na├»ve in some ways, even touching on idealistic, but grounded enough to embrace his new life – the good with the bad.

Although Albert, the two-thousand-year-old vampire who turns him, is a main character and is rounded enough to have some connection, he never felt as real as Philip did. There just weren’t the nuances that paint personality with realism. He wasn’t flat, by any means but the reader is left not caring about him as much as Philip. Put it this way, if Albert had died I’d have been…well damn, that’s sad. If Philip had died I’d have been…wtf you did not just do that. Noooo.

The peripheral characters were pretty much squarely part of the background, although I did like Marshall quite a bit. I think it’s inevitable with such a short book and a broad subject, the emphasis has to be on main characters and I think this book has come close to getting the balance right.

There were some nice touches, like the Star Wars movie and the lady with the dogs, and all in all it was an absorbing and entertaining read. There was no sex, of which I was glad, as it meant I didn’t have to skip through any pages, but there was plenty of sensuality and closeness between the characters.

I can definitely recommend this book for anyone who likes their vampires with a twist.

Meet the Author


Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay romance in contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal genres. She generally adds a subtle touch of humor, a smidgen of drama/angst, and a healthy dose of slice-of-life to her stories. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

Website | Facebook Page | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | eMail | Instagram | Facebook | Bookbub

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway