Review: Bone Driven by Hailey Edwards

Reviewed by Jen

One day I will learn how to savor a good book like a fine glass of wine. One day, but not today.

I inhaled this book with the fervor of one finding oxygen on a dying planet. It took me a few chapters to remember everything that was going on, but once I got my bearings, it was all systems go. And it was over far too quickly.

As the story begins, the clock is ticking on Luce’s days with the police force. At the end of the last book, she was forced into an agreement to go work for the demon task force of the National Security Branch of the FBI. She is a woman of her word, but it’s breaking her heart to walk away from her partner and the life she’s worked so hard to build. Before she turns in her badge, though, she’s got one more assignment–and it’s a tough one– a string of deadly arsons with no apparent common thread. She must work to figure out what’s behind them, all while juggling her sick father, her complicated relationship with her coterie, and her feelings for Cole. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the looming threat of an attack by her sisters War and Famine. [Read more…]

Jen’s Favorites of 2017

For me, 2017 meant a lot of writing, moving (again!), and some new responsibilities at work. When you put all of that together, it equals less reading time for me than ever before. I came across a few stinkers (which I had to mark DNF despite my best efforts,) but I also added a few awesome books to my keeper-shelf.

Every year, Ilona Andrews tops my list. Part of me is embarrassed that I must be so predictable by now, but it’s not my fault. I swear if she ever writes something I don’t love, I’ll tell you the truth. In this case, it’s a two-fer in her Hidden Legacy series. White Hot and Wildfire came out really close together and that was a huge win for fans who had to wait an age after Burn For Me. These books feature such fantastic world building, awesome characters, and an exciting enemies-to-lovers romance that hit all my happy buttons. If you’re a Kate Daniels fan or heck, if you like UF/PNR at all… jump into this series with both feet. I promise you won’t regret it. [Read more…]

Review: Bayou Born by Hailey Edwards

Reviewed by Jen

It took me a little while to get into this book. It starts off a little slow and I wasn’t really sure where Hailey Edwards was going with it. And then I met Cole. Which, for me, is where the story really started to get interesting. Then it got more interesting. And more interesting. And by the end, I was ready to stalk the author on Twitter and beg for the next installment.

The story takes place in Canton, Mississippi. I have actually lived right outside of Canton and it was fun to get a few shout-outs to places that were a little familiar. However, it did not feel like the Canton I knew. For what it’s worth, the whole bayou southern feel was never one I got from living there. But this is fiction, so I just tucked that away and refused to let it interrupt my suspension of disbelief. [Read more…]

Review: A Veil of Secrets by Hailey Edwards

veil of secretsReviewed by Jen

I have been a fan of the Araneae Nation series since the beginning.  It consistently delivers interesting and unique storylines, set in a fascinating fantasy construct that grows a little bit more with every installment.  Each book has its own core couple to find love, but the romance is really secondary to the heroine’s journey. Often, I feel like I would have liked just a little more in the love-department. It seems like every book waits until the very last chapter to seal the deal (not just sexually, but emotionally too.) I’m more than a little ready to break from the formula, but I keep coming back to these books because they are so different from other series out there. And I like them. [Read more…]

Review: A Kiss of Venom by Hailey Edwards

kiss of venom edwardsReviewed by Jen

I really enjoyed this novella. I probably liked it more than any Araneae Nation story I have read in awhile.  The reason: it feels like the series went back to its roots. We’re taking a break from the plague and the zombie infection thing and we’re refocusing on Maven Loures’ clan.  Specifically, it’s the second chance at love story for her brother Armand and the only woman he has ever cared about. [Read more…]

Review: A Breath of Winter

breath of winterReviewed by Jen

I always enjoy coming back to this series.  The world building and the cultures represented are so unique and fascinating!  This wasn’t the strongest romance the Araneae Nation books have featured, but overall, I did like the story.

Remember that harbinger who was locked in the caves by her son, the villain in A Time of Dying? You know, the one who ended up eating him? Well, our heroine Zuri and her brothers are transporting the beastie to Erania as part of a mercenary job.  It’s a difficult task; one made even harder when Zuri is injured on the journey. [Read more…]

Review: A Time of Dying

time of dyingReviewed by Jen

Hailey Edwards continues to impress with this latest installment in her Araneae Nation series.  Not only do we have a solid romance, but we’re unraveling the source of the mysterious plague that’s been part of the series since book one.

Our heroine is Kaidi, a maven-in-waiting for her people.  She has only to marry the paladin she is betrothed to. Unfortunately, she knows a horrible secret about him… one no one would believe if she came forward; and that knowledge puts her life at risk. So she left behind her family and her people with a mission only she knows about.  You see, she has uncovered that the men killed by the plague can rise again, so she is seeking out the dead to cut off their heads to prevent them from reanimating.  That alone is a pretty tough story to swallow, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. [Read more…]

Review: A Cast of Shadows

Reviewed by Jen

I am definitely a fan of this series, but I have to say I was surprised when I realized who the hero of this story would be.  We first met Brynmor in A Feast of Souls, and to call him an unlikely hero would be an understatement.  He bought his wife. He killed her lover and ate his heart.  He gave her child away.  Oh, and he’s dead. (Did I mention he’s dead?) And sharing the body of a wolf with the animal’s permission.  Kind of hard to envision a happily ever after there.

Daraja is on a quest in the woods to seek her future when Brynmor’s pack mistakenly believes she has killed one of their own.  Brynmor is taken with her and wants to help her prove her innocence to the animals who want her dead.  He presents himself as a normal man tasked with caring for the wolves, and an attraction begins building between them.  But it’s only a matter of time before the truth of his situation comes out.

I won’t get into more detail because I don’t want to give the story away.  I will say that there were parts of the book that I enjoyed. I really like this world, though we only see it in a limited context in this novella.  It’s interesting to see Brynmor evolve and finally let go of all the hurt and leftover angst from his previous life.  And there is a surprising amount of sexual tension going on for a dead guy who sometimes shares a body with a big dog.

I did have a little bit of trouble with how easily Brynmor was able to take human form. It didn’t seem to gel with my understanding of how the whole body sharing thing worked.  And if he’s using the animal’s energy, it seemed like an awfully big drain for a long term arrangement.  I also felt like Daraja accepted the whole ghost thing rather easily.  I know the people in these stories are quite spiritual, but still…

Overall, it wasn’t quite the hit for me that the two full length novels were, mostly because of the nature of Brynmor’s existence.  But it was still an enjoyable read.

Rating: B-

*ARC provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
A Cast of Shadows
by Hailey Edwards
Release Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Samhain

Review: A Feast of Souls

Reviewed by Jen

I continue to be impressed with this great fantasy romance series.  I really enjoyed book one and this second installment is just as strong.  The world building is fresh and woven skillfully throughout the story.  The characters are well-drawn and easy to root for. And the romance really hits the spot, with just the right blend of emotional pull and sexual tension.

We first met our hero and heroine in A Hint of Frost. Mana is still in Araneidae territory, where she was brought after saving her cousin Rhys’s life.  Vaughn, Rhys’s half-brother, is supposed to escort her home.  Their journey takes on another layer when he is charged with bringing along Pascale for Mana’s people to watch over. The young woman has been sentenced to indentured servitude for her actions in the last book.  But a neighboring clan wants Pascale dead for killing their heir.  The threat from that clan makes the long trip, through icy terrain, even more dangerous.

Along the way, Mana –who can communicate with the dead– comes in contact with Vauhn’s father.  He has his own agenda.  The story follows Mana and Vaughn’s journey, first to her home… then to his.  The two have been attracted to one another for years, but the more time they spend together, the stronger their feelings become.  Mana fears giving in to her desires, since her people believe in soul mates and she never dreams Vaughn could be hers. So their feelings are forbidden, which of course makes them even more delicious.

Vaughn is very tough –and the heir to his people’s throne. But there is great vulnerability in him. He’s never felt first in anyone’s heart.  And Mana, well, she is innocent in the ways of love, but she is powerful and driven to do the right thing –even if means facing the deadly plague threatening Vaughn’s people.

There’s a lot happening in the story –too much to try to map out here– but it flowed together very well.  I felt so immersed in the world, the story, and the romance, that I did not want to put it down.   Simply put, I am a big fan of these books.  If you enjoy fantasy at all, I definitely recommend you give them a try.

Rating: A-

*ARC provided by author for review  

Click to purchase: Amazon
A Feast of Souls
by Hailey Edwards
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Publisher: Samhain

Review: Soul Weaver

Reviewed by Jen

The premise of this book intrigued me.  Our hero is a fallen angel who now harvests the souls of the wicked. Nathaniel is constantly exposed to the very worst of humanity.  It was only by chance that he happened upon the car accident destined to take Chloe’s life.  Even then, he had no inclination to interfere… until he saw the beauty of her soul as it tried to leave her body.  A soul so bright should have been bound for heaven, but she had no ties of love to help her pass over. Unable to simply let her spirit fade to nothing, Nathaniel cuts out a piece of his own soul and ties it to hers, tethering her spirit to her body.

It’s months before he sees her again. Unfortunately, his soul has darkened hers and now she is on his list of the damned.  He can’t let her suffer for his mistake, though.  So he thinks to enter her life as a human, long enough to help her make connections to the people around her. That way, when she does have to die, her spirit can finally go where it deserves. The problem is that Chloe is agoraphobic and that keeps her cut off from other people.

When they come face to face, their soul connection kicks in right away.  And the story follows their journey to love, while the clock ticks down to Chloe’s inevitable death.  There is much more to it: complications and secondary characters with supporting storylines. But the love story is the heart of the book.  It’s also where I was sadly underwhelmed.

Agoraphobia is a real mental illness and the concept of a main character with this problem is different. But it’s not exciting. It’s not sexy.  Chloe came across as weak to me as I got to know her character. She needs her hand held constantly and she is utterly naive about the outside world.  That makes it even more awkward when her relationship with Nathaniel advances at the speed of light.  She loses her virginity to a guy she’s known barely more than a week and the I Love You’s are right around the corner.  There wasn’t even much sexual tension to speak of… just an acknowledgement of an attraction and her ever-present anxiety.  The relationship fell flat, both in the sexual and the emotional realms.

Like I said, I liked the concept.  And I thought the resolution was cool.  But it wasn’t enough to make this one a good read for me. If you want to give Hailey Edwards a try, I definitely recommend A Hint of Frost over this one.

Rating: C-

*ARC Provided by NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
Soul Weaver
by Hailey Edwards
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Publisher: Forever (GCP)