Ronelle’s Favorites of 2016

I can’t believe we’re already looking at the closing act of 2016! It feels like just yesterday I was lamenting my lack of suitable swimwear and then the literal yesterday, I was dressing up as The Grim Reaper and escorting a Witch Doctor, Mavis from Hotel Transylvania, and a little Rainbow Dash around the neighborhood to collect candy. As for books, it’s been an…interesting year; I joined the ladies here at Red Hot Books, published my first novel, started my own blog, and got a whole new perspective on the weirdness that exists in the literary world. I found some new authors I’ll be following and read some passages that were just downright strange.

So, without further ado and in no particular order, here are my Favorites of 2016:

Master of Crows by Grace Draven
Adult Gothic/Dark Fantasy Romance

No, this isn’t a new release and no, I didn’t just read it for the first time this year, so why is it on this list? Because if it were a human man, I’d put my husband out on his ass and marry it in a heartbeat!

I love everything about this book and have lost track of how many times I’ve reread it. Ms. Draven has penned an epically beautiful dark fantasy romance that has all the elements of a masterpiece. Silhara, Martise, and Gurn were complex and had the depth of actual, real-life people. The world jumped off the page and the plot had me hooked from the jump. Silhara and Martise have become one of my favorite fantasy couples of all time.

Click to purchase: Master of Crows

Lord of the Fading Lands by C.L. Wilson
Adult Paranormal Fantasy Romance

I wasn’t sure about this one at first, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance. A little slow to start and occasionally bogged down in world-building, what emerged was an excellent start to what I hope will become a favorite series. I loved Ellysetta’s strength and determination to have what her heart desired, in spite of all the cultural obstacles. As for Rain Tairen Soul, I don’t normally go for the tortured, broody type, but he did it so well and his character evolved so much that I couldn’t help but love him.

And the scene towards the end? *fans self* Not intended for young audiences and reader discretion is advised.

Click to purchase: Lord of the Fading Lands

Fletcher by AJ Adams
Adult Dark Erotic Fantasy

Here is another one I’d leave my husband for if it were a person. Ware and Lind set fire to the pages from their very first meeting and I simply could not put this down to do functional adult things, like eating, sleeping, and interacting with others. (Apparently, “Go ‘way, reading!” doesn’t count as functional interaction.) This is very much erotica rather than romance, but the plot was solid and just as enthralling as the sex—and that isn’t something I can normally say about the genre.

Read it. Right now. No, seriously, put down whatever you’re doing and get this book. You can thank me later in the comment section.

Click to purchase: Fletcher

Her Demigod Complex by Abigail Owen
Adult Paranormal Romance (Shifters)

When I saw the first line of the description “In love with her demigod billionaire boss”, I was pretty sure I was about to read some 50 Shades of Grey knock-off. I went into this expecting plotless, mindless, cotton-candy fluff, but since I was looking for a literary palate-cleanser before going on to something more serious, I figured that might not be so bad.

Wow, did I get so much more than I was anticipating!

There was a surprising amount of plot here and the characters were quite likable. So much so, that other books in this collection are on my TBR list.

Click to purchase: Her Demigod Complex

Red Winter by Annette Marie
YA Fantasy Romance

This is one of those books that will leave you breathless, hopeful, and completely devastated in the best possible way. You’ll be yelling at the author to just “hurry up and finish the next one already!” so you can find out what happens to Shiro and Emi. Or at least, I did. This book ripped my heart out at times, but then somehow managed to kiss it better and put it back. I do not usually enjoy YA, but Red Winter is very much an exception to that rule. I highly recommend this to lovers of contemporary romance with a realistic fantasy setting (you think that’s an oxymoron now, but just wait). Actually, scratch that. I just highly recommend it.

Click to purchase: Red Winter

Here are a few more ‘favorites’:
Favorite squicky line: “Today, Dugald’s cock was like a tasty roasted sausage, hot and thick in her mouth. Would it steam if she withdrew?” –Alice Derwent’s ponderings in Desire in Tartan
Favorite squee line: “Lie with me, Martise.” –Silhara of Neith
Favorite expletive by a character: Pretty much everything out of Lind’s mouth, but “Go lick Tyr’s hairy balls, fat-gut!” stands out.
Favorite couple: This one was a tie between Silhara/Martise and Ware/Lind. Both have chemistry that’s almost electric and the sparks fly from their first meetings.
Favorite cover: Challenging Destiny by Cherie Colver

Review: Her Demigod Complex by Abigail Owen

her-demigod-complexReviewed by Ronelle

When Legendary Consultants assigned Lyleia Naiad (yes, she is what her surname implies) to work as an Executive Assistant for a billionaire businessman, she was given one directive – don’t fall in love with her boss. Evidently, that’s been an issue with his previous assistants, both male and female. It shouldn’t be a problem for Leia, though; as an ex-nymph, she has the unique ability to resist even god-level charm.

At least, until she met Castor Dioskouri. [Read more…]

Review: Hyacinth

Reviewed by Shelly
 

This one’s a little darker than its predecessor; the violence is a little more sinister, but the story is definitely better for it. Before I go on, you should know that I’m most likely going to reveal things from the first story as this a continuation and not independent so I would definitely suggest that you give Blue Violet a read first.

Selene has taken over as ruler of the Vyusher since the death of her evil twin brother Gideon, who if you remember was just as nutty as they come. She’s at a vulnerable stage in her life where she’s not able to control her own dreams. Thinking that the only way to protect her people is to get away from them, Selene decides to go away. After decades of hating her, Griffin — member of the Svatura — just wants to avoid Selene at all cost because of the role she played in his family’s death.

Selene’s powers are extraordinary, even to the Vyusher, and to her credit, she still has a compassionate and giving soul which is why Gideon was able to get away with doing to her what he did. Such a tool! I initially had quite a bit of trouble with her relationship with her brother, as their dynamics was really twisted and it just didn’t add up. Prepare yourself for that – wow! Again, such a tool he was. I thought the evolution of her character from even the first story was progressive (no wishy washy nonsense), understandable and increased my enjoyment of her.

The subtle nuances in Selene and Griffin’s relationship were handled well and paced wonderfully – enough to keep the pages turning late into the night. If you remember from the first story, she came to Griffin in his dreams and we find out a lot more of why she did that; more importantly we find out the story about the how and when she remembers Griffin and how she came to feel the way she did about him. I felt her pain – sucks loving dude when dude doesn’t like himself or you for the way he feels.

The relationship between Selene and Ellie was interesting and not unexpected in light of Ellie’s forgiving and loving nature. Without Ellie’s unfailing friendship, I know I wouldn’t have liked the story as much as I did. Because she’s had so little love and affection in her life, Ellie really filled that void of the sibling and it was sweet to watch the way Selene blossomed.

As unlikable as Griffin was written, it was hard not to like him. I could see him really trying to believe in something with his heart even when his memory and his eyes tell him different. After all the years of meeting only in their dreams, when they finally do meet, the connection he felt for and with Selene was instantaneous, mutual, and strong. It actually proved to be a bit too strong for him — on them both, really — making the acceptance and forgiveness that much more trying. It was hard to hate on Griffin knowing how both he and Ellie suffered without their parents. He did have to grow up, though, and watching him move through the motions of accepting Selene despite her past — so cute.

It was great catching up with Alex and his fiancé Ellie, those wonderful Jenners, Adelaide, and Nate. I think I might be crushing on Ramsey, the red-haired firestarter, just a teeny tiny bit. Lila, you better get your man before somebody else does. Even though this is YA themed (i.e. no sexy time) Owen does a credible job of capturing and keeping my attention from beginning to end. Can’t wait for the next one — not sure who it’s going to be, but I’m hoping it’s Lila’s story.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author for review 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Hyacinth
by Abigail Owen
Release Date: February 23, 2013
 

Review: Blue Violet

Reviewed by Shelly
 

Ellinore ‘Ellie’ Audrey is not just another high school student; she’s a girl with a secret that only her twin Griffin knows. In this first book of the series, both of these siblings have moved to Colorado from Texas in pursuit of what they believe to be more of their own kind. Once in Colorado, Ellie’s disguises herself as a high school student, allowing her to get close to the Jenners and the Pierces, who are undiscovered members of the Svatura. The Svatura are a ravaged and decimated group of gypsies who have some pretty cool, spectacular supernatural powers. While she’s doing some surveillance work at the high school, Ellie meets fellow Svatura, hunkalicious Alex Jenner.

Ellie’s power is that she’s able to morph into some inherent creatures (wolf, falcon, etc.) and use her twin brother’s, Griffin, mind reading ability. If you’re a fan of the X-Men series, Ellie’s powers remind me of Rogue’s ‘touch’ powers. When I started reading, I was a little nervous that this would be too similar in plot and I would have to give Owens the big what-for but I was pleasantly surprised to say that the premise was the only similarity that I found, thank goodness. And another prop – thanks for staying away from the formulaic werewolf plot (who doesn’t love a wolf pack?), so refreshing – but I digress. Once Ellie sets eyes on Alex she’s really intrigued and drawn to him but doesn’t see a future there because of what/who she is and who she believes Alex is. Alex’s ability to freeze objects from the miniscule to the ginormous is pretty awesome too. Again, he reminds me of the powers of X-Men’s Iceman, but like Ellie and Rogue, that’s where the similarities end. Alex and Ellie were a great couple, when they really get together and are able to get out of that teenager mentality. They’re going to rock the sheets, trust me on this.

The development of this story was precise and carefully done. There were a few places where I felt a lull but they were few and far between. I really liked Griffin. He seems to be a practical foil for Ellie’s sometimes hot-headedness. Even better, he’s got a few secrets that he’s been keeping from his twin. I’m hoping those will get flushed out in the upcoming novel (hopefully with Selene huh? insert plea). Oh, please! please! please! Tell me that Ramsey and Lila get together – I could feel the heat on my iPad. Owens has written this story so that many of our new friends can have their own story – very exciting there. Gabriel was in interesting character, I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of him.

Overall, I thought this story was well done and captivating. I found myself emotionally invested in each character, especially Ellie and Alex, but that’s because Owen has not written about Griffin, Selene, Adelaide, Nate, Ramsey and Lila and I can’t wait until she does.

Although there’s no sex –it’s pretty much a young adult theme– there was enough tension that I felt that Ellie and Alex were sexually compatible.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Blue Violet
by Abigail Owen
Release Date: August 19, 2012