ARC Review | Lady Hotspur

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Lady Hotspur

Author: Tessa Gratton

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 592

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

Categories: Adult Fantasy, LGBTIA+, Shakespeare Henry IV Retelling, Romance, Political Intrigue

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry IVLady Hotspur continues the saga of Innis Lear, centuries later, as revolution, love, and a betrayal corrupt the descendants of two warring kingdoms.

Hal was once a knight, carefree and joyous, sworn to protect her future queen Banna Mora. But after a rebellion led by her own mother, Caleda, Hal is now the prince of Lionis, heir to the throne. The pressure of her crown and bloody memories of war plague her, as well as a need to shape her own destiny, no matter the cost.

Lady Hotspur, known as the Wolf of Aremoria for her temper and warcraft, never expected to be more than a weapon. She certainly never expected to fall in love with the fiery Hal or be blindsided by an angry Queen’s promise to remake the whole world in her own image—a plan Hotspur knows will lead to tragedy.

Banna Mora kept her life, but not her throne. Fleeing to Innis Lear to heal her heart and plot revenge, the stars and roots of Innis Lear will teach her that the only way to survive a burning world is to learn to breathe fire.

These three women, together or apart, are the ones who have the power to bring the once-powerful Aremoria back to life—or destroy it forever.

Thank you to Tor Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Did I request this book based on the cover? Uh, definite yes. I love the cover and the book blurb caught my interest too. Now, this is a companion novel to Tessa Gratton’s book, The Queens of Innis Lear which I never read. The book summary also says this is a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, which I never read also.

It took me a week to read this book. A week! Each time I read it, I was like, I’m only at 10%? Are you kidding me? So when I searched the title on Goodreads and saw it was a 592 page book, it made sense why I felt like I was getting nowhere in this story.

The story is told through three main perspectives: Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora. These three were a tight crew of Lady Knights who fought under King Rovassos until they rebelled and helped put Hal’s mother, the kings niece, on the throne. The first half of this story is set in Aremoria. The second half of this story takes place in Innis Lear and there we have a chapters from Rowan and Connelly. Later on we get a few other chapter perspectives from Charm.

This is a gender bent story where Dukes, Earls, Princes, and Kings are female. The story is centered around Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora as they try to decide who is the true ruler of Aremoria and if the prophecies about these three women will come true.

  • The gender bending aspect is awesome. Kings in Aremoria can be female. The women in Aremoria, especially the Lady Knights are bad ass soldiers, they love to fight, took pride in their leadership (well Hal had some issues) and fighting skills!
  • My heart is in Innis Lear. Aremoria felt like a regular kingdom, nothing special, but Innis Lear and it’s magic? I was immersed in that world. I liked when Hal, Hotspur, and Banna Mora who are battle ready soldiers, step into this magical land and start hearing nature all around them. Innis Lear has witches, wizards, prophecies, and ghosts even! The world building was fantastic.
  • This book is female infused all around, from the passionate lesbian relationship between Hal and Hotspur and yes there is sex in this book, lots of it actually. Hal and Hotspur’s relationship burns so fast and hard that it’s sad when it falls apart, but Hal had some issues to work through.
  • Out of all three women: Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora – Banna Mora’s story kept my attention more maybe because she blossoms on Innis Lear. Hal’s story arc has the most change in it though because she’s the life of the party but she hides behind her charming smile. Hal doesn’t believe in herself and she’s suffering from PTSD and drowns in her misery until she turns things around. As for Hotspur, she is the one in the middle of the two and must make some hard choices.
  • This book is long at almost 600 pages and the pacing constantly threw me off. It would be slow (the beginning) and then I’d be interested in a character, but then the perspective would change, then I’d lose interested again, and I’d put it down. It took me a week to read this! I almost gave up on it. The writing also would be rushed and abrupt and then it would be beautiful especially when it came to describing Innis Lear. I just felt like it didn’t flow well in some parts.
  • Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora had to make political marriages…to men. Sigh…so I was all about the lesbian, feminist take of this book and then they had to have sex with men and I was like…🤷🏻‍♀️. REALLY? Banna Mora had Rowan so I mean, go her…but Hal and Hotspur who are so in love had to do their royal duties. 😒 Obviously it’s royal politics and things work out in the end though, but still.
  • I wasn’t attached to any character. The trio of Hal, Hotspur and Banna Mora is a great dynamic, two opposing characters and one in the middle who will decide the fate of everyone. But I wasn’t attached to any of them. I was team Banna Mora though if I had to pick a side. But what made them good friends? Because they were knights together? Maybe more backstory of when they were knights together would have been good to set the foundation for their story.

This book wasn’t for me, there were parts I enjoyed, especially when the story was set in Innis Lear. The world building of Innis Lear is amazing, it’s what kept me reading the story and makes me consider reading The Queens of Innis Lear. This book will not be for everyone but it did have some bright spots in it. The story has prophecy, strong women, a lesbian love story and a straight one too. But for me it was all about the magic of Innis Lear, the rest of the story fell flat for me.

Book Review | When the Stars Lead to You

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: When the Stars Lead to You

Author: Ronni Davis

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 394

Categories: Romance, Depression, Suicide, Young Adult

Eighteen-year-old Devon longs for two things.

The stars.
And the boy she fell in love with last summer.

When Ashton breaks Devon’s heart at the end of the most romantic and magical summer ever, she thinks her heart will never heal again. But over the course of the following year, Devon finds herself slowly putting the broken pieces back together.

Now it’s senior year, and she’s determined to enjoy every moment of it as she prepares for a future studying the galaxies. That is, until Ashton shows up on the first day of school. Can she forgive him and open her heart again? Or are they doomed to repeat history?

From debut author, Ronni Davis, comes a stunning novel about passion, loss, and the power of first love. 

I chose this book as my YA Book of the Month choice for November. I wanted to read a contemporary YA book with romance and look at that cover. 🤩

Devon and Ashton meet one summer and it is insta-love, but at the end of summer it was also insta-heartbreak. Two years later, Devon is pretty much over him until Ashton ends up at her school. The feelings and memories come rushing back for both of them but Devon doesn’t want to get her heart broken again. Devon is at the top of her class with dreams of being an astrophysicist to study the stars! But Devon and Ashton get swept up in their feelings. Underneath it all though, Ashton isn’t so stable and Devon finds out the challenges in their relationship go below the surface.

  • The cover definitely caught my eye. I love the color palette and the title sounds romantic.
  • There is sex in this book, and I do like that Devon’s mom raised her in a sex positive environment. When Devon and Ashton are leading up having sex, Devon’s mom asks her questions. They have an honest relationship which is very refreshing and her mom hands her condoms and information. I love their trusting relationship.
  • There are deep subjects in this story, but it gets revealed slowly. Ashton deals with depression and it shows the impact of it on their relationship. It shows how Devon chose to help him and it threw off her focus at school. But the depression is talked about in this book and explained and that’s what stood out in this story. I think the therapy scenes for both Asthon AND Devon, was very impactful.
  • Devon is bi-racial and Ashton comes from a rich white family so there was some tension there that added challenges to their relationship. Ashton’s family had certain requirements for the girls he dated but I’m glad he stuck to Devon, at least…this time around.
  • I loved the parts in the book that went into Devon’s passion: astronomy. I thought those parts were fascinating.
  • Triggers: this is a trigger filled book because there is heartbreak, a death of a family member, depression and attempted suicide.
  • I struggled through the beginning and middle because I thought okay, another insta-love story with a break-up and here they go back together again but the story at least got better near the end. Unfortunately by then I was just reading to finish it but learning about Ashton’s depression really kept me in the story.
  • Although their love is all consuming (they think about marriage in the future) I felt detached from Devon and Ashton. Their romance was quick, getting back together was quick and I just didn’t get swept away in it like they did. There were sexy scenes that didn’t give me feels at all. I can’t pin point why but I think because I wasn’t invested in these two characters until way later in the book that it their relationship just fell flat for me. It might be the writing, these two characters don’t exactly pop off the page.
  • This is not a happy story. For the most part Devon’s main struggle outside of her relationship with Ashton is trying to get into the college she wants to attend. But Ashton…he has depression, on top of a dysfunctional family life and he hits rock bottom.
  • Devon being in a co-dependent relationship with Ashton was heartbreaking to see, maybe because we know it’s going to cause heartbreak again.

The best part of this book was learning about depression and what it would take to get Ashton in a better place. I felt sad most of the time reading this book but I’m glad Devon had such a supportive cast of family and friends. As for Ashton, I wanted to reach inside this book and help him, but he needed to do the therapy work himself, like he said. The depression and therapy scenes in this story are impactful, if you can handle reading about the subject. Overall, it was an okay book maybe I needed to be in the right mood to read it.

Book Review | Wintersong

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Wintersong (Winterstong, #1)

Author: S. Jae-Jones

Format: Paperback (owned)

Pages: 436

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Dark Fairytale

The last night of the year. Now the days of winter begin and the Goblin King rides abroad, searching for his bride….

All her life, Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, dangerous Goblin King. They’ve enraptured her mind and spirit and inspired her musical compositions. Now eighteen and helping to run her family’s inn, Liesel can’t help but feel that her musical dreams and childhood fantasies are slipping away.

But when her own sister is taken by the Goblin King, Liesl has no choice but to journey to the Underground to save her. Drawn to the strange, captivating world she finds–and the mysterious man who rules it–she soon faces an impossible decision. With time and the old laws working against her, Liesl must discover who she truly is before her fate is sealed.

Dark, romantic, and powerful, Wintersong will sweep you away into a world you won’t soon forget.

Wintersong is a perfect fall read and winter read actually, I mean it is called Wintersong.

When I heard this was part Labyrinth (one of my favorite movies) and Beauty and the Beast (one of my favorite Disney movies haha) I knew I had to read this…and I tried when it first published but for some reason it didn’t catch my interest at the time. I heard some good things about it lately and decided to give it another go and I can see how readers can be entranced by this story! And why didn’t anyone say it’s part Phantom of the Opera too? Without the opera of course.

In this dark, sexy and magical story, the Goblin King has been eyeing Liesl since she was a child. He is entranced with the untamed music that lives inside her and he sees someone who maybe can appreciate the wildness in him. We follow Liesl and learn how close she is with her exceptionally and musically talented brother. Whereas her beautiful and passionate sister, Kathe is left to her own devices. As Winter approaches she is reminded by her grandmother about the Goblin King coming to take a wife. When he steals Kathe away and makes a bargain with Liesl, she knows she has to win or pay the consequences. Who will Liesl choose? Her family, the Goblin King or herself?

  • This book is sexy…I mean, it has sex and though it’s not explicitly described because this is a YA book, I like that it went there because this is a dark attraction between a human and the Goblin king, who is basically fae and powerful. You can’t deny the connection between Liesl and the Goblin King.
  • This story is dark and the story telling is enchanting. The writing is lyrical and poetic. I loved the folklore Constanze told about the Goblin King, it’s that spooky fairytale, not the ones with a happily ever after. There is nothing very happy in this book, Liesl is consumed with music, so much so that it brings her absolute joy but she is obsessed about it. Same with the Goblin King and how he covets Liesl and her joy with music. They both desire and want but you also see it in Liesl’s family, her brother the musical virtuoso, her sister Kathe who dreams of finer things and a rich husband. This story explores desire, and what length one goes to attain them.
  • It’s interesting that the book ends with a Beethoven quote, because music is central to this story. I mean the Goblin King plays Liesl body like a violin (ahem-ahem 🔥🥵) – talk about sensual. But music IS sensual, it’s full of emotion and this story wove it’s enchantment on me like Beethoven’s music does (he’s my favorite). Liesl is a genius composer, her brother is a gifted violinist and the Goblin King is a musician as well.
  • The love story between Liesl and the Goblin King as mentioned is scintillating. It is full of dark desire and sweetness too, but tragic.
  • I enjoyed the games Liesl and the Goblin King would play because the stakes were high. It was interesting and maybe predictable what path she chooses but she did kind of give in pretty quick.
  • Liesl and the Goblin King…had that push and pull relationship that kind of made me crazy. I wanted them to make up their minds, especially when she decides to go all in and then he backs off. I understood why it was that way, but I also got tired of it too.
  • I would like to know more about the Goblin King. I know he is all mysterious but I was getting confused about how he is the Goblin King but his looks keep changing when he is with Liesl. She sees a boy of her age and then he looks like the fae he becomes. I mean her grandmother wanted to be the Goblin King’s wife at one point and I’m just hoping it wasn’t HIM has the Goblin King that time. 😅 Because…awkward. He is a fascinating character because he used to be human, worshipped God and brought some of those customs with him into the Underground. But I’d like to learn more about him.
  • The ending was…okay? I guess in a sense it was the right thing to do, but damn did I just want them to go all in and make it work. If I was Liesl, I’d be all about being the Goblin Queen and never leave and die a dark death. 🤷🏻‍♀️ I mean, the story was dramatic in every other aspect, might as well make the ending one too!
  • Triggers: mind manipulation (I mean, the Goblin King does mess with Liesl!)

Even with the few issues I had with the story, it wove its dark enchantment around me. I feel like I’ve been waiting so long for a story about the Goblin King (ever since Labyrinth) and wow, there haven’t been any that I remember reading about. I’m about to pick up the second book in the duology so stay tuned for my review on that one soon. If you like dark fairy-tales written in a poetic, lyrical style, you might want to give this one a try.

Book Review | The Beautiful

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Beautiful

Author: Renée Ahdieh

Format: Hardcover (owned)

Pages: 448

Categories: Paranormal Romance, Historical Fantasy, Young Adult

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

I finally read The Beautiful! I had ordered through the YA Book of the Month club and waited almost 3 weeks for it. Then when it came, it sat on my shelf as I had to get through some arcs and library books first. But I’m glad I waited, because the hype died down and also…the reviews were coming in disappointing. 😕 It helped lower my expectations and so now that I’ve finally read it I can say, I actually liked it a lot!

Celine Rousseau is a girl with a past. She’s left Paris and now lives at a convent in New Orleans and no one knows her secret. Celine falls into a mysterious crowd of people called the Court of Lions and is enticed by their decadent world of parties, and…magic. Celine has a feeling they are different, more than inhuman, but what?

But there is also a killer on the loose in the city and this killer keeps leaving bodies where Celine is usually present. Will Celine be able to resist the charms of this dark court, and can she uncover who this killer is before it’s too late for her and the ones she care about? Celine has stumbled upon something bigger than what she thinks she knows

  • I have loved vampires since L.J. Smith wrote The Vampire Diaries in 1991 and then Anne Rice and her decadent world of vampires in New Orleans with The Interview with the Vampires, then of course there’s Twilight (and yes sparking vampires did make me pause when I first read it but I enjoyed it all the same 😂) and then Vampire Academy. With that said…this book had all the dark danger that I love about the world of vampires.
  • I love the cliches – I know, I know, it’s all been said and done, but I love it. Give me the forbidden love trope, the love triangle trope even, and give me the bad boy hot vampires too! This story has it and it’s nothing new, but I enjoy it anyway.
  • The book is written in third person except for the killer’s perspective which is in first person. The killer gave us insight into their thoughts of revenge. I really liked the murder mystery and the twist at the end wasn’t something I expected at all, so I look forward to reading the sequel to see what happens there!
  • I love the setting of New Orleans. It shows it’s dark, decadent side but also gives us a little history of the time it’s set in, 1870. Of course this book made me hungry, but I didn’t know most of the french foods that was being described, but it sounded delicious!
  • I liked the characters: Celine has secrets and lives at the convent but she is not a timid girl – she actually questions if what she did in the past makes her evil, also at times she is reckless and a rebel. She likes to play with fire, regardless if she gets burned or not. Bastien, was exactly how I want my bad boy – beautiful, powerful, and trying hard to resist Celine but he can’t help himself. Odette, Arjun, Pippa, and Detective Grimaldi were also interesting characters that I hope we get to see more of in the sequel!
  • Triggers: murder, blood, violence, memories of sexual assault, curse words
  • Not gonna lie, there was a lot of french in this book that just went over my head.
  • Celine…haha yes I did put her in the “like” section because I did like her sass and her reckless bravery at times, but sometimes she was a bit too much. She wants to be miss independent and not fall for Bastien but what does she do? 💆🏻‍♀️ But I don’t blame her, he’s rich, powerful, young and gorgeous…and the sparks between them. But there is another guy involved who…well we shall see what happens in book two, but warning, love triangle red flags!!! I’m here for it though. 🙋🏻‍♀️
  • Cliffhanger ending…😩.

The Beautiful had everything I enjoy in a vampire story. It had mystery, danger, forbidden romance, a budding love triangle and the decadence of New Orleans. I mean it’s been so long I’ve read a vampire story that for me, even with all the cliches, I loved it! The ending left me wanting to read the sequel right away, like tomorrow would be good, haha. I look forward to reading the next book in this series!

ARC Review | Scared Little Rabbits

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Scared Little Rabbits

Author: A.V. Geiger

Format: eBooks (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: December 3, 2019

Categories: Technology, Augmented Reality, Romance, Young Adult, Suspense

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

We stand in a tight cluster, high above the lake. One-by-one, we made our way up the narrow trail from the edge of campus. Now, we wait shoulder to shoulder behind the police tape. Nineteen summer students.
All but one.

When Nora gets accepted into her dream summer program at the prestigious Winthrop Academy, she jumps at the chance to put her coding skills to use. But then a fellow student goes missing—and the tech trail for the crime leads back to Nora. With no one else to trust, Nora must race to uncover the truth and clear her name…or she might be the next to disappear.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Nora is a sixteen year old, coder who is accepted to a three weeks long summer program at Winthrop Academy. She’s a bit awkward in social situations and has trouble making friends. Nora has downloaded an app called InstaLove which is supposed to hook her up with someone special. Right away she runs into a fellow InstaLove player, Maddox, at Winthrop that she categorizes him as an InstaCrush in the game. But all is not what it seems at Winthrop and she doesn’t know who she can trust. Is Maddox really into her? Or is he still with his ex-girlfriend Eleanor who basically rules the school (but I mean, her parents own it)? Is Nora just a Scared Little Rabbit?

  • The story starts off with a mysterious incident which gives it a slightly dark vibe. We get a dual perspective from Nora and Maddox but also journal entries from Eleanor (Maddox’s ex). I was mistrustful of Maddox, and everyone else that Nora encountered at Winthrop Academy. I definitely enjoyed the suspense. The reveal in the end included lots of action, so that was my favorite part of the book.
  • The coding and technology information in this book is pretty legit. I think it’s fascinating that the story revolved around a dating app that uses augmented reality. As a mild gamer (like SO mild, my son and hubby are the gamers), and one who tried Pokemon Go (not my thing), having a dating app like that kind of scares me but can I see that being a reality for my kids, in their future? Oh for sure! My son’s VR games make me dizzy, so I don’t think I’d be someone who would want to wear a visor all the time to check out some potential hookup haha. But I can see the appeal for future generations I suppose. It’s obvious the author knows her coding and tech knowledge. 👏🏼
  • I liked seeing these characters, a lot of them girls 🙌🏼, so adept and confident at their coding skills. These girls at this summer program are smart, techy, innovative, okay most of them were mean girls or just weren’t nice to Nora (which sucked) but I do like that these girls were good at what they do. Maddox also was good looking AND smart, so that was good.
  • I guess it was obvious in the first chapters that this was going to be an insta-love story when it introduced Nora playing a game called InstaLove! 😂 So…if you aren’t into books with insta-love, this book is clearly one to stay clear of. It’s a three week summer program but Nora falls fast and hard for Maddox so fast. I felt bad for her at times, because clearly his situation was “complicated” with his ex-girlfriend who was Queen Bee on campus. That being said, I thought okay…it’s a crush, she’s sixteen, but…she was in LOVE and telling her parents that she needed to BE with Maddox and he was coming to visit her by the end of the story. 😳
  • Speaking of the ending…I thought it was abrupt. We barely get to know anyone’s parents in this book, but all of a sudden there is Nora and her mom having a scene at the end! It felt awkward.
  • Nora’s nickname given by the girls in the summer program got of my nerves. I understand it’s a “mean girls” type of story, but seriously, having them call her Lowercase, including Maddox, like really? That’s the guy who falling hard for? No. 🙄

Overall, I thought the story was fairly enjoyable especially when it came to the suspense and mystery aspect but it fell short for me in the romance department since I didn’t feel like Nora and Maddox’s connection was that deep. If you like a suspense story about technology and don’t mind some insta-love, then you might enjoy this one.

ARC Review | The Wickerlight

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Wickerlight (The Wren Hunt, #2)

Author: Mary Watson

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: November 26, 2019

Categories: Dark Urban Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Druids

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

It’s been two months since Zara’s sister Laila was found lifeless on the village green of the small Irish town Kilshamble, not a mark on her. Vicious rumors circle that she died of an overdose or committed suicide–but an autopsy finds no evidence.

Zara believes somebody must know what happened, and she throws herself headfirst into an investigation. But retracing her sister’s footsteps takes her to David, a member of an ancient magical faction called the judges. The judges are in the midst of an ancient feud with another faction called the augurs, and Zara quickly finds herself embroiled in a dangerous, twisted game. And if she isn’t careful on the path she’s treading, she could end up with the same fate as Laila.

Thank you to Bloomsbury YA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

FYI: I did not read The Wren Hunt and I should have. Luckily, The Wickerlight is so good as a standalone I didn’t get totally lost. I wasn’t sure what to expect and when I first started the book, I admit I put it down for a few weeks because I had to let it permeate in my head. I picked it up again recently and I finished it in one night. That was totally unexpected.

In The Wickerlight, we get to know this Irish town of Kilshamble, and wow, it is dark, mystery, mystical and magical but not in a happy glittery way. This story is told in dual POV. We meet Zara who’s sister Laila is dead and Zara wants to know how and why. Then there is David, who is a judge (no not the kind with a gavel), he is part of this magical world where augurs and judges are enemies, and there is a silent war between them. I missed a big chunk of David’s background by not reading The Wren Hunt, so read that first. Zara doesn’t know what she’s stumbled into when she digs for clues about Laila’s death, but soon it’s too late to turn back. Zara is learning that maybe Laila was right about magic.

  • I loved learning about the druids and Irish folklore in this story. We learn about the Augurs and Judges who basically hate each other – they have a complicated history.
  • This story is set in a modern world but the magic is so subtle that it fits so well, I love how it came together seamlessly. We are Zara, learning about the secrets of this town. Most of the magic is not as powerful as it was long ago but it works in the modern day world of this story. It’s nature, earth magic. Also the folklore stories about monsters in the forest – gives us a creepy background for this setting. 😳 I enjoyed the dark, eerie tone in this story!
  • The mystery of Laila’s death really kept me in this story. We stumble into this strange magical world that exists in Kilshamble. I love how Zara peels a layer slowly to find out something else about Laila. Laila’s words at the beginning of each chapter adds to the mystery as well! I wanted to find out what happened to Laila for Zara and her family’s sake. Their grief is palatable and this family has crumbled, it wasn’t tight to begin with but Laila’s death has basically broken their family apart. I felt for Zara and her mother. 🥺
  • Zara and Laila’s stories of the Horribles. I freaking loved it because it was their thing together and the stories made it perfectly okay to not be good and perfect all the time as long as you are not cruel, mean or hurtful. The Horribles were their shadow family and a coping mechanism I think because of their family situation.
  • David and Zara. David sounds like he was a jerk in The Wren Hunt and in The Wickerlight his character is fleshed out. He’s not a saint, his life is about pain, and feeling pressure from his dad. As for Zara she feels out of place in this new town, her family life wasn’t perfect to begin with and she carries guilt from Laila’s death. Her choice in the end was unexpected! And I really like their slow burn romance.
  • Obviously if you didn’t read The Wren Hunt like me…I was a little lost in the beginning and thank goodness for the glossary in the back of the book. I had to learn about the Augurs and Judges and once I did get settled in, it was smooth sailing from there.
  • There is a scene where David gets tortured – so trigger warnings: cutting. It’s not a trigger for me but even I got squeamish at the visuals of the scene. But this book IS dark, the judges do not mess around when it comes to discipline. 👀 The augurs have their own form of torture, but it didn’t involve cutting, just mind bending/mind control.
  • The business about hoarding words to make a law (like a spell) at times confused me, especially when it is introduced into the story. I think the idea is so poetic and the story is so lyrical that it went over my head at first. But then the practice grew on me, the way words are precious and how different words call to a person. I especially loved when David was hoarding words, haha, I mean that boy felt it!

The Wickerlight is an intriguing, lyrical, deliciously, darkly magical, unique story. It starts with grief and pulls you into the mystery of a death and this world of old magic. Definitely read The Wren Hunt first and then come lose yourself in The Wickerlight like I did.

{BLOG TOUR} | His to Defend by. Rhenna Morgan

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: His to Defend (NOLA Knights, #1)

Author: Rhenna Morgan

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publisher: Carina Press

Categories: Contemporary Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

His world. His rules. Her love.

Though his methods may be rough, when it comes to protecting what’s his, Russian vor Sergei Petrovyh’s heart is always in the right place. That’s never been more true than when the gorgeous Evette Labadie asks him for a job. He knows enough to keep his hands off someone as beloved by the locals as Evie, but there’s something about her that calls to him—no matter how badly he burns to make her his.

Don’t think Evie hasn’t noticed the powerful Russian mafia boss who makes her favorite diner a regular stop. How can she not? He’s as hot as his reputation is dangerous. But everyone in her struggling New Orleans neighborhood knows he’s the man to turn to. And right now she needs money to get her son out of trouble.

Her other needs—needs she knows damn well Sergei can more than satisfy—will have to wait.

Evie soon finds herself playing Cinderella to a man who, despite what people believe, is definitely more prince than villain. She can’t help falling deeper in love with each passing day. But when a turf war between Sergei and a rival brings violence to her doorstep, Evie must come to grips with loving a man who will do anything to defend her…or walk away from her best chance at a happily-ever-after of her very own.

Thank you to Carina Press and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read an eARC of this book.

Russian mob? A damsel in distress? New Orleans? This story is a contemporary adult fiction with a Cinderella vibe but much much MUCH more scintillating than the original story.

Evette Labadie is a sweet single mother with some challenges securing a job. She needs one right away to get funds to send her son to a private school. Sergei Petrovyh has a reputation in New Orleans as a mob boss kind of figure, with lots of connections. To hear Sergei say it, it’s a lifestyle, it’s bratva or a brotherhood. He has power, connections, money and will do whatever is necessary to protect his own and he has an eye on Evette. Evette asks Sergei to help her, and he does…and then some!

While the story is somewhat predictable: powerful man rescues woman in need, I don’t think it takes away from the story at all. It’s one of those stories that’s addicting if mobster romance is your thing. Their relationship does happen really quick with not a lot of resistance on her part. Evette does have some spunk in her, but deep down she is a sweetheart and gives in to her attraction to Sergei. As for Sergei…he is 🔥🔥🔥 in the bedroom and so soft and protective towards Evette outside of it. I mean, he does get his way at times because he is a powerful, alpha kind of man. But I like how he’s cautious and easy with her son Emerson as well.

Outside of their love story is a situation close to Evette that threatens Sergei and Evette’s lives. But hey…Sergei’s a powerful man. He takes care of it. 👀🕶

Overall this is an enjoyable, hot read, with sweetness, a little danger, lots of sexy moments, and a happily ever after!

Purchase your copy at Amazon:

About the Author:

A native Oklahoman, Rhenna Morgan is a certified romance junkie. Whether it’s
contemporary, paranormal, or fantasy you’re after, Rhenna’s stories pack romantic escape
full of new, exciting worlds, and strong, intuitive men who fight to keep the women they
want. For advance release news and exclusive content, sign up for her newsletter at You’ll also find all of her social links there, along with her
smoking hot inspiration boards.

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His to Defend – Blog Tour Schedule

October 14th

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Vivianna MacKade (Guest Post?)

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