Goodreads Monday: Druid’s Moon by Deniz Bevan

Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press

Date of Publication: September 20th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Fairytale Retelling, Fantasy

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N

Goodreads Synopsis:

Beauty to his Beast…

Lyne Vanlith, an archaeologist who seeks a logical explanation to any mystery, discovers an ancient Druidic curse on her first dig. When the signs foretold by the curse descend on her, Lyne can’t find a reasonable interpretation.

And that’s even before a Beast rescues her from a monstrous sea-creature. She drops a grateful kiss on the snout of the Beast, who transforms into a man, Frederick Cunnick, Baron of Lansladron. Lyne is meant to be Beauty to his Beast—and break the curse forever.

Now both spell keeper and monster are targeting Lyne. She must take up her legendary role, to defeat the curse and save Frederick—and herself. Instead of logic, for the first time, Lyne must trust her heart


“The Curse of the Octopus,” Lyne read, translating the Middle English script.

druid’s moon by deniz bevan

I didn’t pay attention when I read the blurb for Druid’s Moon. I skimmed it and accepted the book because it was a fantasy romance. But then I started reading and realized that it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. When that lightbulb flashed over my head, I did get excited. I have read many fairytale retellings, but I haven’t read one about Beauty and the Beast. So, I settled back and let myself be taken away by a tale as old as time.

Druid’s Moon, as I mentioned above, is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Lyne is an archaeologist who is excavating a cave on the shores of England. On her first day, she finds and sets loose a Druidic curse. She also discovers a giant Beast who lurks in the coast and wooded areas, preying upon sheep and campers for his Mistress. But it is who the Beast is that shocks her. Determined to break the curse, Lyne must battle an unseen horror that lurks beneath the ocean as well as a Druidess, who is determined to keep the Beast as is. Will Lyne win? Will the curse be broken for good? Or will Lyne fail?

Druid’s Moon is a medium-paced book with a flowing plotline. There were some areas where the book did lag a little, but it didn’t affect my reading.

I thought that Lyne was an interesting character to read. Her character growth throughout the book was excellent. She went from a sheltered woman who relied on logic to explain things to a woman who wasn’t as sheltered and understood that there was mystery, magic, and reasoning. I loved watching her gradual acceptance that she was Beauty. But once she accepted who and what she was, she was all in.

I didn’t connect as much to Frederick as I did to Lyne. He came across as too nice (if that is such a thing) when he was in human form. He also came across as resigned to going back to being the Beast. He didn’t even try to fight when the Druidess recaptured him. But he did show Lyne where the counterspell was, so, in his way, he did fight back.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I haven’t read a retelling about that particular fairy tale, so I was pretty excited about it. I will say that it was an exciting and imaginative retelling. I would have never expected a werewolf/Druid spin on fairytales. It did make it more interesting to read.

The fantasy angle of the book was well written. I wish that the author had gotten more in-depth about who Octopus/The Mistress was. The brief glimpses that the author gave weren’t enough for me!! The same goes for the Druidess and her spell. The author presented the background, but nothing gave me anything. I wanted meat. I wanted a reason more than what was provided. Instead, I had to settle for something that made me wish for more.

The romance angle also left me wanting more. It started as a semi-triangle that morphed into Instalove. I am not a fan of Instalove (even with this particular fairytale), and I felt that the romance did seem forced at times.

The end of Druid’s Moon was interesting. I liked how the author wrapped everything up. I was pleased with what happened. But I felt that some plotlines were left hanging. I was also not a fan of the epilogue.

I would recommend Druid’s Moon to anyone over 21. There is violence, mild language, and mild sexual situations.

First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts by Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Sylvia Nay, Katie Klein, Michael di Gesu, Templeton Moss, S.E. White, Denise Covey, and Sammi Spizziri

Publisher: Dancing Lemur Press

Date of publication: September 6th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Anthology

Purchase Links: Amazon | Alibris | Indigo | Kobo | Apple Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

The sweetness of first love…

Could a fiercely independent cop’s heart be stolen by the guy who makes her favorite doughnuts? Will a maid who used deceit to snare a mail-order husband get a dose of her own medicine? Can her handsome neighbor rescue a modern-day “princess” from a tenacious ex-boyfriend? Can two strangers in a rideshare be honest enough to fall in love for real? Can you remember your first love? How about your second? Third? Fourth?

Featuring the talents of Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Michael Di Gesu, Sylvia Ney, Katie Klein, Kim Elliott, Templeton Moss, S.E. White, Denise Covey, and Sammi Spizziri. Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will touch your heart and rekindle lost feelings. Prepare to return to that first love…


First Line:

“You ever been in love, McAllister?”

The Art of Making Doughnuts by Linda Budzinski/First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts Anthology

I normally do not review anthologies. Because they are made up of short stories, I find them hard to review. But, there are exceptions, and First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts falls under that category.

The tricky thing about writing reviews of anthologies is that I need to be able to keep track of what short story I am reviewing. Sometimes the stories blur together for me, and I can’t tell them apart. But, in First Love (I am shortening the title for this review), the stories were different enough to keep my attention. They also did not blur together (because they were different). This alone made this anthology very pleasurable to read.

All of these authors are new to me authors. Based on what I have read in this book, I am looking forward to reading more works by them!!

Now, onto the review of the stories. I am going to do the reviews a little differently than usual. I hope you like them. Before I get into the reviews, I want to add that all of these stories are clean. There is no sex in any of them. There is kissing, but that’s the extent of it.


The Art of Making Doughnuts:

What I liked:

  1. I enjoyed the back and forth between Gina (aka Mac) and Pete (aka Gus). The sparks were immediate, even if Mac didn’t want them.
  2. I loved that Mac played hard to get. She made Pete work for that first date.
  3. I loved how nerdy both Mac and Pete were. Mac was a history/jigsaw nerd, and Pete was a history nerd. It was awesome to read.

What I didn’t like:

  1. Pete hiding who he was. Not a great way to start a relationship.
  2. Mac after she found out who Pete was. He did try to apologize, and she was like, “NFW
  3. How Pete explained why he hid his identity. I was like,Nope; you need to apologize, boyfriend” (which he did)

My Heart Approves

What I Liked:

  1. I liked that Addy took the time to get to know the servants and understood how hard it was for them to get ready for a party at the last notice.
  2. How friendly everyone was to Addy. They made her feel at home.
  3. John’s declaration of love (and his observations) at the end of the book.

What I Didn’t Like

  1. Addy pretending to be someone she wasn’t. I got why she did it, but I wondered how long it would last (and the answer to that…not very long).
  2. Addy resorting to becoming a mail-order bride. I know it was a thing in the 1860s, but I can’t imagine marrying a man unseen.
  3. Instalove. I know it was common for the era, but I don’t like Instalove. It just doesn’t ring true to me.

How to Save a Princess

What I Liked:

  1. I liked that Laurette was thirsting over her next-door neighbor, Harrison. The scenarios she ran through in her head at the beginning of the book were pretty funny.
  2. How she dealt with her ex, Josh. She was firm, and she didn’t cave (even though he was embarrassing her)
  3. How Harrison saved her. He was amazing, and I loved that he was quick thinking (the whole improv conversation had me in stitches).

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Josh. He was one of the most annoying short story characters that I have read in a while.
  2. How Laurette initially dealt with Josh at the beginning of the story (including the story of their break-up)
  3. How Laurette didn’t take Harrison’s cues and almost ruined his rescue of her. I was internally beating my head off a wall and saying, “Laurette, you idiot, LISTEN to him.

My First Loves

What I Liked:

  1. The memories that Audrey and her boyfriend were remembering. They were so similar yet so different.
  2. It made me laugh and think about my relationship.
  3. Audrey having to sit through her boyfriend’s very poor memories of different girls at various points in his dating history.

What I Disliked:

  1. Audrey had to sit through her boyfriend’s memories and then correct him. I know I would have been a little peeved if that was me (considering all the other girls were her)
  2. Audrey having to tell her boyfriend nicely to be quiet at various points in the story. That irritated me.
  3. That was told in 2nd person. I just don’t like that writing style.

The Real Thing

What I Liked:

  1. Lola’s optimism about meeting Maxon for the first time.
  2. Jessalyn. She was the MVP of this story.
  3. Nando and his instant connection with Lola.

What I Disliked:

  1. Lola thinking that she had to hide who she was from Maxon.
  2. The Uber driver. The dude almost killed Nando and Lola during the ride to O’Hare Airport.
  3. Maxon. Uggh, he was so self-centered; it wasn’t even funny. I’m glad that Lola realized that.

Paper Faces

What I Liked:

  1. I haven’t read anything about the early 1900s (before the Wall Street Crash). So it was interesting to read what people were like back then.
  2. Helen’s loyalty to her family and friends….even when pressured to give up secrets.
  3. Helen working in what people at that time considered a man’s job (journalist).

What I Disliked:

  1. George pressuring Helen to find dirt on James and then throwing a fit when she refused to turn it over.
  2. James’s initial treatment of Helen at the beginning of the story. He was kind of a d-bag.
  3. How Helen’s cousin reacted when she heard what Helen found out. Back then, that was a big deal, but still. Grrr.

Oliver’s Girl

What I Liked

  1. Oliver’s relationship with his great-granddaughter. It was sweet to read.
  2. Oliver’s story about his first love with Francesca. It was adorable.
  3. The end. Oh my heart, I loved it

What I Disliked:

  1. Nothing. This story was one of the sweetest ones in the book.

Clyde and Coalesce

  1. Lizzie and Jane’s friendship. They were truly best friends, and I loved how they were always there for each other.
  2. The chemistry between Lizzie and Fitz. It was hot, hot, HOT!!
  3. The song at the end. I loved it!!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The band manager. He was a sourpuss who fed Charlie lies about Jane.
  2. How Charlie blew Jane off.
  3. Fitz and Lizzie’s confrontation. It needed to be done, but still, I didn’t like it.

Marmalade Sunset

What I Liked:

  1. Cora. She made the entire story.
  2. That it took place on the Greek Islands.
  3. The HEA.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The immediate backstory (Cora and Damon losing almost everyone they loved to COVID)
  2. Damon for the first half of the book. I get why he acted the way he did but still.
  3. What the author made me feel at the restaurant. I was ready to think one thing, and bam, a twist.

The Castle of Ohno

What I Liked:

  1. That Hippolyta took a chance. It is explained fairly early in the story but tied to the ending, so I can’t explain.
  2. Konrad. The author didn’t hide why he acted the way he did. Instead, it was explained (and it will be part of what I didn’t like). He was very damaged, and Hippolyta knew that.
  3. The ending.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Hippolyta’s backstory. I didn’t understand why she said she needed to escape. But the author did explain why at one point during the book.
  2. Konrad’s backstory. I was in tears reading it. A child with a deformity (he has a lobster hand…can’t remember what it is called) and who was sent to live alone. He lived with servants until he was 14/15 (might be younger), and then they took off. No wonder he acted the way he did!!
  3. The people of the village. They treated both Hippolyta and Konrad poorly. I didn’t like it.

I would recommend First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts to anyone over 16. There is mild violence, mild language, and no sex.

Shadowed Spirits (The Guardians: Book 4) by Reily Garrett

Publisher:

Date of publication: August 19th, 2022

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1 (review here)

Shadowed Origins—Book 2 (review here)

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Shadowed Spirits—Book 4

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

One man’s curse is another man’s weapon.

Genetic engineer Neah Haversham thought unlocking the code to her psychic gift would ease the way to blocking it, something she’d wanted since puberty.
Unable to turn off heightened senses means experiencing life on a different level. Shiya, her golden retriever, is the only companion tolerated.
Within months of finishing her studies, she learns the life she planned has vanished with the rescue of a sarcastic, hardheaded teen with an unprecedented ability.
Ouray Bernard is a healer and warrior, a Native American who uses his skills to train other uniquely talented individuals. When called to help the woman invading his dreams, he can’t refuse.
Loyalties collide as each defends their position in the battle against a secret society determined to dominate them all.


First Line:

Concrete is porous. Most people think it’s the same as cement.

Shadowed Spirits by Reily Garrett

I was immediately sucked into the book when I started reading Shadowed Spirits. I was thrilled that Ouray was getting his HEA, and I couldn’t wait to see who Neah was and what abilities her character would have. I wasn’t disappointed!!

Shadowed Spirits are the 4th book in The Guardians series. Technically, readers could read this book as a standalone mainly because the author does go over what happened in the previous books in the beginning. I would, however, strongly recommend reading the first three books before reading this one.

As noted in the first paragraph, Shadowed Spirits are the love story between Neah and Ouray. This book starts shortly after the last book’s events and introduces Neah. Neah is a genetic engineer coming close to cracking the code of not only her psychic gift but everyone like her psychic gifts. But Neah is on a mission from her mentor when the book starts. That mission is to rescue a gifted teenager from people who wish to harness her ability. But that mission goes sideways, and Neah finds herself joined to Ouray’s group. Determined to keep the teen safe and finish her research, Neah doesn’t have time for romance. But as she gets to know the group, Neah realizes that maybe her research wasn’t for the greater good and was selfish. When her research is stolen, and the teenager kidnapped, Neah must put aside everything she thinks about her gift and use it. Will Neah and the group be able to rescue the teen? Will Neah come to terms with her gift? And more importantly, will Neah and Ouray recognize their feelings for each other?

I liked Neah. From the minute she was introduced in the book, I was fascinated with her. Her gift was unique, and I could sympathize with her frustration with it. It must have been not very good to live with heightened senses. I understood why she went into genetic research. She wanted a way to turn it off. It made sense to me. She mildly annoys me when she refuses to listen to reason with her research (it could put people like her at risk). But other than that, I enjoyed her character.

I was super happy that Ouray got his love story. A little of his background was released, and I wish the author had released more of his background. He was a stabilizing force with Caspar and Neah once they overcame their initial distrust of him. Plus, he trained them (which they both needed). I enjoyed his character a lot.

I wasn’t expecting Caspar and her abilities. Just for the record, Caspar is not her real name. She got the nickname because of her ability. Caspar can phase through inanimate and animate objects. She reminded me of my almost 17-year-old daughter: headstrong, spunky, and with a heart of gold. She cared more than she let on. I also was in awe of her ability. The more the author released, the stronger it got. She phased through a mountain to escape the bad guys while holding Neah in one memorable scene. In another memorable scene, she could phase her hand through a chest and grab a heart in her hand as an intimidation tactic. I cannot wait to see where her story ends up.

The romance angle of Shadowed Spirits was very slight and almost overlooked. I didn’t feel Neah and Ouray liked each other that way until nearly the end of the book. And that was only after Christine’s vision that Neah saw herself with a black-haired toddler boy.

There were zero sex scenes in Shadowed Spirits. Ouray and Neah kiss, but it is towards the end of the book. Honestly, I liked it like that. I felt that sex would have taken away some of the storylines with everything going on.

The author very well wrote the plotline regarding Neah, her research, the two groups helping her, and the group kidnapping people with abilities. Some of those scenes were gripping, and I couldn’t put my book down. I also loved what happened with Pandora towards the end of the book. Let’s say that she deserved what she got.

The plotline centered around Neah; her background and her abilities were interesting. I did figure out who Neah was related to by the middle of the book. But, I was still surprised when the author made the grand reveal at the end. It did make sense.

The plotline centered around Caspar, her background and her abilities were well written. I enjoyed watching her character flesh out during the book. As I mentioned above, I was in awe of her abilities. She was one of the more powerful, gifted people I have read in the series. Her background is revealed at the end of the book. She found out where she came from and how she ended up in the foster system. The only thing that the author didn’t release was her true name.

The end of Shadowed Spirits was terrific. The author wrapped up Neah and Ouray’s storyline and part of Caspar’s. But she left all the rest open and threw in a shocking bit of information that made my mouth drop. I have a feeling I know who the next couple will be, but I’m not going to say.

I would recommend Shadowed Spirits to anyone over 21. There is no sex. There is language and violence. There are also scenes of people being held against their will and drugged and kidnapped.

Crosshairs by Felicity Ribero

Publisher: Brushfinch Publishing

Date of publication: August 15th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

They were from two different worlds.

Like two trains never crossing paths, they would have gone on without any shred of their lives coinciding. Until a late-night encounter brings them crashing into each other’s lives.

Cole, a small-time New York gun trafficker who has been unlucky for the better part of his life knows better than to dream of a better life. Jaded, exhausted and down on his luck, he struggles to deal with the reality of his choices.

Amidst dodging the keen attention of the authorities, and evading the sly notice of his crafty companions, he certainly has no patience to indulge a spoilt busy-body reporter with peas for brain and a hankering for danger. He thinks she’s crazy and wants nothing to do with her even if her smile takes his breath away and her presence soothes his wounds.

Samantha, on the other hand, is not letting go. She is a shark who has smelt blood and is honing in for the kill or the caresses.

But one thing is certain; Cole is a puzzle she is determined to unravel.
As the web of dark schemes and mysterious ploys thicken around them, passion flares to life, and so do other threats. These two are utterly defenseless against the attacks or the kisses.

Will they survive the imminent explosion that draws ever nearer or will these two finally get a chance to go after their fairytale romance?


First Line:

Oh no. Not today! I glance at my gold watch for the umpteenth time. 9:41 a.m.

Crosshairs by Felicity Ribero

When I read the blurb for Crosshairs, the blurb caught my interest. I was interested in how a romance between a small-time reporter and an arms dealer would turn out. I wasn’t disappointed. This book took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Crosshairs had an exciting plotline. Samantha is a reporter trying to get her big break. But her boss (and the other reporters) are holding her back and forcing her to do fashion articles. So, when she notices a black van being loaded by two shady individuals late at night, she starts investigating. Cole is an arms dealer who is tired of everything and wants a better life. But he knows that a person like him could never have a better life, so he keeps doing the one thing he knows, trafficking guns. A dirty ATF agent approaches Cole and pushes him between a rock and a hard place. Cole and Samantha’s paths cross when Samantha tracks Cole to his apartment and then to a bar. She convinces Cole to let her do an expose and expose the ATF agent. But what she (or Cole) was expecting was their instant attraction. Soon, it becomes a race against time when they discover the ATF agent’s true agenda. Can they stop him? Or will they become pawns in a much bigger game?

I am going to put up a trigger warning. I usually don’t do these, but I think there are some aspects of this book that warrants it. The triggers are parental death, drugs, prostitution, and child abuse (physical and emotional). So, if these trigger you, I suggest not reading this book.

Crosshairs had dual POVs. The chapters would flip between Samantha and Cole. The author did a great job of keeping the flow of the book constant throughout the POV changes. Another huge thing was that I didn’t get lost at any point in the book, even when the insane stuff started. Sometimes, I have difficulty following dual POVs, and I can get lost. So this was a huge thing for me.

I liked Samatha. She was stubborn as heck, and she was determined to get a story that would get her on the front page. She followed her instincts when she saw the black van and Cole loading boxes into it. She investigated and followed the clues to Cole’s apartment and then the bar. I loved how she automatically believed Cole and used her skills to dig up dirt on that agent. She was just amazing throughout the book.

I loved Cole. His backstory was sadder than Samantha’s, and the author didn’t hold anything back. His mother ran a brothel out of their house, and his father was a small-time crime lord. After his mother’s overdose, his father and his father’s clients abused him. Fast forward to the present day, he was dealing with the aftershocks of his childhood and his own decisions. From the minute he met Samantha, he was all about protecting her. But, at the same time, he realized that he couldn’t hold her back, and he let her do her investigating.

There is Instalove in Crosshairs. I am not a fan of Instalove, and when I encounter it in a book, I eye-rolled…hard. Usually, Instalove takes away from the book for me. But, in this book, there was so much going on that it didn’t. Did it annoy me? Yes, but it didn’t take away from the plotlines.

Cole and Samantha’s chemistry (sexual and otherwise) was off the charts. They had a spark from the first time they saw each other, and the author kept building it up until it exploded. That explosion led to one of the hottest sex scenes I have read to date!!

The main storyline in Crosshairs was the dirty ATF agent and how he targeted Cole and Samantha’s investigation. That agent gave me chills when reading his scenes. I didn’t understand why he had targeted Cole until the book’s end. That was when he let drop a couple of bombs that took my breath away.

Samantha’s reporting (and her use of spyware) was truly amazing. The dirt she was able to dig up on that agent was amazing. I liked that she did have a friend who was an ace hacker. That friend was able to fill in the blanks that Samantha’s investigating couldn’t uncover. It did put a huge target on her back, but that was something she was willing to do to help Cole.

I loved the ending of Crosshairs. The author threw in a couple of twists that hurt my heart because of what was implicated. After those twists, the author did wrap up Cole and Samantha’s storyline in a way that I loved. I loved that everyone nasty in the book got what was coming for them. But more importantly, I loved that Cole and Samantha got their HEA.

I would recommend Crosshairs to anyone over 21. There are graphic sex scenes, violence, and language. There are also scenes of remembering child abuse and a remembered drug overdose.

Once and Always (Blackhawk Security: Book 6) by Margaret Watson

Publisher: Dragonfly Press

Date of publication: August 2nd, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

Series: Blackhawk Security

With One Breath—Book 1 (review here)

Once Removed—Book 2 (review here)

Once Burned—Book 3 (review here)

Fool Me Once—Book 4 (review here)

Just This Once—Book 5 (review here)

Once and Always—Book 6

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Zoe was still in high school when she saw her father shot dead by a classmate obsessed with her, and then still a kid, witnessed the killer’s sentencing. A horrible tragedy, but now, thirteen years later, she’s thoroughly rebooted her life.

She’s the CEO of her own cyber security company, a celebrity in her field, and a speaker in high demand.

She’s just the kind of strong, self-reliant woman who can take care of herself in any situation.

Except the one she’s in.

She’s got a stalker.

And she already knows he’s a killer.

Given her background, Zoe knows instantly that she needs protection and she knows how to get it—her sister Mel’s the owner of Blackhawk Security.

But trust Mel to send Spence Flynn, the one agent Zoe can’t be alone with, but not because they don’t get along. It’s because attraction sizzles between the two of them like runaway electricity. And because they both know the last thing a body guard should do is get into a relationship with his principal.

It’s unethical and dangerous.

But how are they supposed to fight this thing? Spoiler: Good intentions suffer a knockout in the first round. And then, to the delight of the reader, the earth moves in the most delicious way.

Meanwhile, Zoe’s stalker is still sending her charms from a bracelet he stole from her thirteen years ago, the scariest being a heart he’s had engraved with both their names. Unnerving enough– and then he starts dropping off lunch for her, tailing her in a white Subaru, and trying to break into her condo.

Spence has his hands full in more than one way. And Zoe has a public appearance coming up. The perfect time for a stalker to strike.


First Line:

His heart racing, Ethan Davies slowed his steps as he neared Zoe’s locker.

Once and Always by Margaret Watson

If you have been following my blog long enough, I have a few authors I review regularly. Margaret Watson is one of them. I am a big fan of her books, and I always accept the invitation to review them when it comes to my email. When the invite for Once and Always appeared in my inbox, it was a no-brainer that I would accept.

Once and Always had an exciting plotline. At 18, Zoe witnessed her father killed by an obsessed classmate, and then she had to go through a trial. Thirteen years later, she has moved on with her life until she starts receiving packages. Those packages contain charms from a bracelet she lost around the time her father was killed, and only one person could have it—Ethan, her former stalker who killed her father. Contacting her sister, who owns Blackhawk Security, she is assigned a bodyguard until Ethan is caught. But when she sees who it is, she is slightly concerned. Zoe has been thirsting after Spence since he helped Nico the year before. The feelings are mutual, but Spence is there for a job: to protect Zoe from Ethan until he is caught. Will that happen? And will Zoe and Spence give in to their mutual attraction?

Once and Always is book 6 in the Blackhawk Security series. Once and Always can be read as a stand-alone book. But I suggest reading the first five books before picking this one up. That way, you know who the secondary characters are that are mentioned in Once and Always.

I will put a trigger warning on this review. The author did take great care to show sympathy and understanding for Ethan and made several references to mental illness reform (mainly about the facility he was held at for five years) and knowledge. There are mentions of attempted kidnapping. There are also talks about Ethan’s mental illness, and the author does show how he spiraled back into his delusions after his mother died. But, if these trigger you, I suggest not reading this book.


I did not expect to find sympathy for Ethan. The villains in most books are pure evil. But Ethan, well, he was different. The things he did to Zoe were terrible; there is no question about that, but knowing that he suffered a relapse after his mother’s death did soften my stance on him. The scenes in the cabin only cemented my opinion of him. I also liked that Zoe and Spence understood that after the fact. Their actions at the end of the book (which was discussed after the cabin) were proof of that.

I liked Zoe. She was a strong, opinionated, outspoken woman who knew her worth. Being a tech company CEO in an industry with few women shaped her. What also shaped her was what happened to her as a teenager. How could it not? I loved reading her scenes because she was always on point. She wasn’t afraid to share her feelings, even if she knew that the other person didn’t return them (the scene with Ron comes to mind, and a scene with Spence towards the end of the book).

I liked Spence, but I wanted to smack him at various times during the book. He was great at his job and would do anything to keep Zoe safe. But he wasn’t too good with personal skills or sharing his feelings. I did agree with him that they (him and Zoe) needed space, but I didn’t agree with how he phrased it. Also, I didn’t particularly appreciate how he treated Zoe after the scenes at the cabin. I talked out loud to the book and said, “Dude, you seriously didn’t say that to her!!” Spence had a lot of baggage he needed to lose, and I was afraid he would miss that ship with Zoe.

The secondary characters did make the book. These secondary characters flushed the book out and made the plotline more interesting to read.

I enjoyed the romance angle of Once and Always. There was a bit of Insta Love, but it was easy to overlook. It was an easy romance to read, and I liked knowing (well, for the most part) how Zoe and Spence would end up.

The sexual tension between Zoe and Spence was immediate from the beginning. It didn’t take long for them to end up in bed. The author raised the pressure by just having them look at each other. I loved it. I was a little meh about Zoe being a screamer during sex. She made Spence’s ears ring the first time she climaxed and every time after that. All I could think was, “What was her downstairs neighbors thinking” and “I hope the apartment is soundproof”….lol.

The mystery angle of Once and Always was also well written. It wasn’t too much of a mystery about who was sending the charms and why. The mystery, to me, was if Ethan would grab Zoe and when. The author gave several false leads, and I was kept on edge, wondering if it would happen.

The suspense angle was intertwined with the mystery angle. The author did a great job of keeping guessing at when (and if) Ethan was going to capture Zoe. I also was kept on edge by Spence and his decisions.

The end of Once and Always did bring tears to my eyes. While I was sad about how it ended, I loved how Zoe and Spence brought awareness to mental illness. I loved how the author wrapped up Zoe and Spence’s storyline. I am not sure who will be featured in book 7 (if there is a book 7), but if I had to guess, it would be Mel and her business partner. Either way, I am looking forward to it.

I would recommend Once and Always to anyone over 21. There are graphic sex, language, and violence. There are also the trigger warnings that I posted above.

This Time Next Summer by Moses Yuriyvich Mikheyev

Publisher: Moses Yuriyvich Mikheyev

Date of publication: April 5th, 2022

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

In his semi-autobiographical novel, This Time Next Summer, Mikheyev weaves a tender tale about love and loss, one that is distinctly personal and yet universally human.

She was beautifully broken. And his everything.

Hurt and scarred by every man in her life, Jasmine had vowed to never love again. Then she meets Avgust, and her broken heart resumes beating.

A romantic idealist who measures love by his poetry output, Avgust had given up on finding that elusive once-in-a-lifetime kind of love he’d always dreamed of. But the moment he spies Jasmine in a coffee shop, he knows unequivocally that she is his Her—the woman who will change his life.

It was the perfect love story.

Until the secrets and betrayals of the past threaten to break them apart.

Will their love be strong enough to save Jasmine from her past, and Avgust from his future?


First Line

A few hours later, when the two of them were back in the car, he held her hand and pressed it to his lips.

This Time Next Summer by Moses Yuriyvich Mikheyev

When I started reading This Time Next Summer, I thought it would be a cut-and-dry romance. You know the plotline:

  • Boy meets girl.
  • Falls in love, the girl breaks up with the boy.
  • They get back together and have their HEA.

Also, sprinkle in lots of sex, and boom, perfect romance novel. This book is not a cut-and-dry romance, and there is no HEA. Instead, this book focuses on two damaged people (one mentally and one physically), and their on/off-again romance. I was a little bleh about this book and will explain why later on in the review.

This Time Next Summer did have an interesting plotline. Avgust is a nurse and a want to be poet who has recently relocated to Seattle from Georgia. Jasmin is a Texas transplant who is in Seattle working on her degree. They meet when Avgust happens to go into a coffee shop that Jasmin is in, and the story takes off from there. But both Avgust and Jasmin are damaged. Avgust has a disease that has taken a toll on his heart. Jasmin is mentally impaired from her past (father and fiance left her). Can Avgust help heal Jasmin? Will Jasmin allow herself to be healed? And will Avgust heed his doctor’s advice about his heart?

I liked Avgust, but I found him too angsty in certain parts of the book. He was utterly obsessed with Jasmin and sometimes came across as stalkerish. He also rushed the relationship in my eyes, and his blind love of Jasmin was a little off-putting. I also didn’t understand why he didn’t tell Jasmin about his health issues upfront.

I wouldn’t say I liked Jasmin. She played games with Avgust’s head. “I want to be with you, but I don’t” got old. I did like that she was upfront with Avgust about how damaged she was, but at the same time, I eye-rolled at her inner monologue. Even her roommate thought she was ridiculous with the back and forth with Avgust.

The romance angle of the book didn’t do it for me. Like I mentioned above, I did think that Avgust came across as stalkerish in certain scenes. Also, I wouldn’t say I liked that Avgust immediately saw Jasmin and loved her. I usually don’t mind love at first sight tropes, but this one pushed my buttons. Mainly because of how Jasmin acted with Avgust during their on-again/off-again relationship.

There are sex scenes in this book, but only one is explicit. The explicit scene was when Avgust fingered Jasmin in the car and kept talking about how wet she was. Again, I was bleh about it.

The end of This Time Next Summer was heartbreaking. There is a twist in the plot that I didn’t see coming. It broke my heart and also made me livid with Jasmin. The scenes at the end of the book, at the fair, were sad, but my sadness was a little tempered. I can’t explain why (spoilers), but I did like how it came full circle. It was just the person it came full circle with that I wasn’t happy about.

I would recommend This Time Next Summer to anyone over 21. There are sexual situations, language, and mild violence.

I Let You Fall by Sara Downing

Publisher: Quilla Books

Date of publication: June 20th, 2022

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | Alibris | IndieBound

Goodreads Synopsis:

On a summer night in London, art teacher Eve Chapman finds herself in a hospital emergency room. She watches surgeons desperately operate on a young woman with a terrible head injury. But when the bandages are removed, Eve is horrified to find her own body on the operating table.

Trapped in a coma, Eve struggles to cope with the fact that no matter how hard she tries, her family and friends cannot see or hear her. But then she meets Luca Diaz, a handsome and comatose lawyer who can see her. He takes Eve under his wing and teaches her how to use her new abilities to help the living.

As the weeks pass, Eve struggles to find a way back to her body and to Nathan, the man she loves. But the more time she spends with Luca, the more she wonders if her old life is worth going back to at all.


First Line:

It’s joyful weather, a day for looking up rather than down, for seeing the blue of the sky, latticed with vapour trails, not the grime of the dusty pavements.

I Let You Fall by Sara Downing

I Let You Fall is one book that grabs you by your heartstrings and continuously yanks them throughout the book. I wasn’t expecting this book to have that kind of hold over me. I haven’t been this affected by a book in a while.

I Let You Fall has an interesting plotline. Eve finds herself in a hospital OR, watching a surgeon operating on a young woman with a horrible head injury. Wondering why she is there and why no one is talking to her, Eve follows the young woman to a room, where she makes a horrifying discovery. That young woman is her, and she is in a coma. Distraught, Eve doesn’t know how to cope until she meets a man who sees her and talks to her. That man is Luca and is also in a coma after being attacked by an ex-client. Luca explains to Eve that she can help people and teaches her how to use them. They also grow close, and Eve starts developing feelings for Luca, even though she has a boyfriend. Eve desperately wants to go back to her body and wake up. That is compounded when she loses Luca. Will Eve wake up? And more importantly, will she find Luca when she does?

I loved Eve in this book. I thought she dealt with the shock of seeing herself in a coma pretty well. If that had been me, I would have been freaking out, curled up on the floor crying. My only complaint was that she either refused or didn’t see how much of an idiot Nathan was (I will get to him in a bit). I loved how she embraced her abilities and pushed herself when testing them out. She made me cry a little bit when she comforted her family and friends who came to visit. But, what she did towards the end of the book made me love her.

I can’t say enough about Luca. He was there for Eve when she needed him. But he also gave her space to accept her new reality and adjust to it. He was her rock; later in the book, after Nathan did what he did. Also, I liked how the author connected him to several events before Eve’s accident. I was a little shocked when his storyline took the turn it did, but I expected it.

Let’s talk about Nathan (set to the tune of We Don’t Talk About Bruno). He was despicable. At first, I thought it was because of Eve’s accident, but when he started asking about how bad Eve’s scar would be, I started to dislike him. My dislike was cemented when he brought his side piece to Eve’s hospital room. My mouth dropped open, and I was like, “Oh hell no, he didn’t do that.” I was glad the author took him out of the storyline shortly afterward. He was just too much.

A secondary storyline starts right after Eve’s accident involving Ron, Susan, and their sons: George and Will. The storyline is sad, George is in kidney failure, and the stress affects everyone. I wondered how the author would connect their storyline to Eve’s. But, when she did, it was something that broke my heart and made me happy at the same time (two separate things happened).

The secondary characters also made the book. The nurses, the surgeons, Eve’s parents, and friends each left an impression on me.

I liked the author’s angle with Luca and Eve having abilities. It made the book more interesting to read. The author did start Eve off little (helping a woman with a husband who was dying) and worked up to the bigger events.

The romance angle was very subtle. I liked that the author chose to do that. Mainly because Luca and Eve were in comas and never met while awake but also because there was so much else going on. I felt that if the romance were more in your face, it would have taken away from everything else in the book.

The end of I Let You Fall was a tear-jerker. I loved how the author ended the book. I can’t get into it because of spoilers, but the ending was perfect (chef’s kiss). I couldn’t have asked for anything better than what happened.

I would recommend I Let You Fall to anyone over 16. There is mild language, some violence with some mild gore, and no sexual situations (even though Eve and Luca kiss a couple of times).

Meara: A Contemporary Fantasy Romance by Anya Wylde

Publisher:

Date of publication: May 31st, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

A whisper of someone like her being born has been discussed for aeons by the gods. The question is, who is she, and where is she?
Meara lives an ordinary life with her eccentric grandmother and three siblings in a small Georgian house in Dublin. On her eighteenth birthday, her little sister is kidnapped by an incredibly powerful man, and her entire world turns upside down.
Long hidden family secrets tumble out, and supernatural beings suddenly surround her. However, she thinks she is a side character, the hero’s friend, and the heroine’s sister. After all, her nature is more girl-next-door than a tortured soul with ninja fighting skills.
Her only desire is to get her sister back and keep her safe but to do so; she must battle dangerous beings and reign in her treacherous heart which has begun to beat for her family’s sworn enemy, a gorgeous demigod.


First Line:

The weather department said that the sudden startospheric warming event that caused the easterly winds to rush over and blanket Ireland in snow and ice was rare.

Meara: A Contemporary Fantasy Romance by Anya Wylde

When I was younger, I was very much into researching myths/fables/different Gods and Goddesses of the world. I was also fascinated with learning about the other mythological creatures/entities worldwide. So, when I realized that the author used a variety of gods/goddesses/mythical creatures/entities, I was intrigued. But this book is so much more than that, and once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down.

Meara had an interesting plotline. Meara is a girl who lives with her two older brothers, grandmother, and six-year-old sister in Ireland. Meara’s life is quiet and somewhat dull until the day of her 18th birthday. She has an accident while ice skating and, during her birthday party, her best friend tries to kill her sister. She finds out that she is from a long line of magical immortal beings, that her sister is part of a prophecy, and that prophecy has put a big target on her head. Everything comes to a head when a gorgeous demigod, Kamraan, kidnaps her sister. Determined to get her back, Meara is sucked into Kamraan’s world. Can Meara get her sister back and go back to the life she knew? Or will she become a pawn in a war that she didn’t know about and wanted no part of?

I loved Meara because of how real she felt to me. In every situation she was in, I could see myself (if I was 18, which was ages ago) doing the same thing. She wanted only to see the best in people, even when they proved otherwise. I felt that some of the people in the book did take advantage of her and her giving nature. I also thought that what Kamraan put her through for 90% of the book was awful, but I will discuss that later in the book. I loved when she finally found her backbone, but I did feel that the author could have done it earlier.

Kamraan was a colossal jerk for 95% of the book. I understood why at the beginning. There was a war, and Meara and Bree (her sister) were the enemies. But I didn’t appreciate his attitude and cruelty in the middle and towards the end of the book. At that point, he knew what was happening (Meara did not). He did try to justify his behavior during a pivotal scene at the end of the book, but still. Other than that, I liked him just fine. He was a devoted brother/son and did everything in his power (which was infinite) to keep Meara and Bree safe.

The secondary characters added extra depth to an already great storyline. I was disappointed with how a couple of them turned out (talk about a surprise), but it back up Meara/Kamraan’s storyline perfectly.

The romance angle of Meara was a slow burn. It was so slow that I wondered if Kamraan even had feelings for Meara. The romance did speed up once they were on the island, and it was full force by the end. There are no sexual situations, but the author laid on the sexual tension thick. I almost wished there was a sex scene so that tension would go down.

The fantasy angle of Meara was excellent. I loved how the author introduced Meara and her family’s powers and how she explained the different dimensions. Meara’s eyes fascinated me because they didn’t have an actual color and acted like a mood ring. White=fear, red=anger, green=jealousy; the list could go on.

As mentioned above, I loved that the author used the book’s different deities/mythological creatures and beings. It made for an enjoyable read for me (since I knew most of them were). It also reinforced that the gods/goddesses were inbred…lol. Meara carried the blood from everyone in her (including demons), and it was fun to watch her learn and interact with them.

Meara also showcased that family can be messy and complicated. Meara’s parents abandoned them when she was 12-13 years old. That left Meara to raise Bree (her brothers and grandmother were never around). It also left Meara with so much anger and bitterness towards her parents. I didn’t blame her for erupting on them the way she did; they deserved it.

The end of Meara was interesting. I liked how the author wrapped up the various storylines that were throughout the book and how she introduced new characters. She also introduced a new storyline (hopefully) that involves Meara, Kamraan, and their child. I will go out on a limb and say that there will be a book two because of how book 1 ended. I hope so!!

I would recommend Meara to anyone over 13. There is violence, mild language, and no sexual scenes (kissing scenes with Meara and Kamraan/Violet and Kamraan).

Together We Burn by Isabel Ibanez

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books

Date of publication: May 31st, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance, Dragons, Young Adult Fantasy

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see her father fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.

But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.

But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.

An ancient city plagued by dragons. A flamenco dancer determined to save her ancestral home. A dragon hunter refusing to teach her his ways. They don’t want each other, but they need each other, and without him her world will burn.


First Line:

My mother died screaming my name.

Together We Burn by Isabel Ibanez

I had been hearing a lot of hype around the blogoverse about Together We Burn before I got the invite to review it. With everything I had been hearing, I was very interested in reading it. So curious that I went and put it in my To Read pile. So when the publisher sent me the invite, I jumped on it. I am glad I did. This book was a great read!!

Together We Burn had an exciting plotline. Zarela is a flamenco dancer who lost her mother, a famous flamenco dancer when the dragon her father was fighting went rogue and burned everyone in the arena. Disaster strikes again when, during the 500th-anniversary show, another dragon broke free of his bonds and rained carnage on the arena. One of the dragon’s victims was Zarela’s father. He wasn’t killed but was severely injured. That left Zarela to deal with the backlash. Convinced it was sabotage, Zarela starts an investigation. She is also determined to return her family’s arena to its former glory. Her investigation into that day and her quest to bring the arena back are merged when she realizes that the attack was not random. Failing to convince the Dragon Guild that there was foul play behind the attack, Zarela is left with no choice but to fight the dragons herself. But, she only has days to learn. Can Zarela find out who is behind the attacks? Can she save her family’s arena? And more importantly, can Zarela learn to fight dragons and not get killed?

The plotline in Together We Burn moved slowly during the book’s first half. On the one hand, I liked it because it let me learn about Zarela’s background, the background of dragon fighting, and the tragedy of her mother’s death/the arena carnage. But on the other hand, the book started dragging by 40% of the book. But, after Zarela hires Arturo, the book picks up speed. By the end of the book, the plotline was super fast.

What I loved about this book was that the author included a glossary of the different types of dragons and other guilds in Hispalia. I can’t tell you how many times I used that glossary, and I wish every author would do something like that. I found it helpful while reading.

I liked Zarela. Even though she was devastated by what happened to her parents (and remember, it was two different occasions), she rose to the occasion. She was willing to do whatever it took to keep the arena afloat. That included learning how to fight dragons so she could keep her family’s arena. And that meant hiring a dragon hunter/ex-dragon fighter to teach how to survive in the arena. While doing that, she was also investigating what happened at the arena. I found her to be a very well-rounded character who surprised me.

Arturo didn’t become a central character until the middle of the book. He wanted nothing to do with Zarela at first. But, her stubbornness and resolve won him over. He was hard on her, which didn’t surprise me. He needed to teach her the basics of dragon fighting before the event that could save the arena. He also reluctantly became involved with her investigation into the events at the arena. He was instrumental in several key scenes towards the end of the book. The author wiped away doubts about him before the arena scenes at the end of the book.

Several memorable secondary characters breathed life into the book. They added additional depth to the storyline. I will not go into each one, but I enjoyed the flair they each added.

I loved how the author portrayed the dragons. She went from seeing them as ferocious creatures who lived to kill and maim to creatures who were misunderstood and wanted to be left alone. I loved it!!

The storyline with Zarela and the investigation was well written. I didn’t figure out who was behind everything until the author revealed that person. I was completely surprised by who it was and the reasons behind it.

The storyline with Zarela, Arturo, and learning how to fight dragons was interesting. I liked how Zarela convinced Arturo to work with her (the girl is stubborn). But, I also liked how Arturo showed Zarela a different side to dragons. The lessons made me wince, and Arturo was rough on Zarela. But considering she could die, he wasn’t harsh enough. And the twist to that plotline (what Zarela and Arturo figured out and used) was amazing!!

There was a romance angle in Together We Burn, but I was kind of meh about it. I liked that Zarela and Arturo got together but did the author need to discuss it? In my opinion, no.

The fantasy angle in Together We Burn was well written. I liked how the author chose to portray magic (both good and bad) along with dragons. That alone made me want to see more books written in this universe.

The end of Together We Burn was good. There were no twists (other than the dragon fight), and everyone did have their HEAs.

I would recommend Together We Burn to anyone over 16. There are sex and sexual situations (not graphic) and violence.

A Spark of Ash (Ember of Night: Book 3) by Molly E. Lee

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Entangled: Teen

Date of publication: May 24th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Paranormal

Series: Ember of Night

Ember of Night—Book 1 (review here)

Shadow of Light—Book 2

Spark of Ash—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Seven―the Divine beings meant to protect the world―just declared war. On me. They took Ray, my baby sister, and now they’re using my boyfriend to do their dirty work.

Well, screw that.

I may not be able to wipe them off the face of the earth now, but I know what can.

Thanks to an Ather connection, I know about the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world.

With the help of my new crew, we’re on the hunt. And with each located scroll, I face new battles, bloodier and harder than I’ve ever known before. But now the stakes are even higher, because Ray has always been my bright light in the darkness, and Draven is my hope when all seems lost, and if I don’t get them back?

Well, then I might just become the scariest legend the world has ever known.


First Line:

Harley giggled as I lean over her on the bed, laying a line of kisses down her neck.

Spark of Ash by Molly E. Lee

When I got the invite to review Spark of Ash, I almost didn’t accept it. I had read Ember of Night (and loved it) but didn’t get to read Shadow of Light. What ultimately made my mind up was that I was intrigued by the synopsis. I hoped the author would review what happened in Shadow of Light so I wouldn’t be lost. While that didn’t happen, I could still follow the plotline.

Spark of Ash is the 3rd (and final) book in the Ember of Night series. Readers cannot read this book as a standalone. I also strongly suggest reading the series in order.

Spark of Ash had an exciting plotline. Harley and Draven live peacefully on a plane in the Aether when Draven is kidnapped by the head of the Seven, brainwashed, and then kidnapped to kidnap Harley’s baby sister, Ray. Harley is given a quest that could save both Ray and Draven: She needs to find the Seven Scrolls. These scrolls, when united, can be used to counteract the Seven’s power. The scrolls are located in various parts of the Aether and Earth, and each comes with dangers. But Harley is determined to find them, even if that means facing the demons of her past. Can Harley find the scrolls? Can she counteract the Seven’s powers? Can she defeat the head of the Seven? Can she free Ray and Draven? And most importantly, can Harley get through to Draven? Or will she fail?

As I mentioned above, I almost didn’t accept the review invitation because I didn’t read Shadow of Light. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to follow the storyline. I was fortunate because the author briefly reviewed what happened in Shadow of Light before diving into Spark of Ash. Some parts confused me because I didn’t understand what was happening. But that was only for 3-4 scenes. The rest of the book flowed smoothly.

I loved Harley. She was a badass b*tch who would do anything for her family (found and otherwise). It was showcased when she didn’t hesitate to rescue Draven and Ray. She agreed to get the scrolls, knowing she could get hurt or even die. She was willing to risk everything to find them. I really can’t say anything bad about her.

I loved Draven, too, even though he spent 90% of the book with his memories wiped. He cared for Ray, even though he had no clue who she was. I wouldn’t say I liked seeing him as a mindless machine, though. After reading the first chapter and seeing how much he loved Harley and knowing he was in Ember of Night, I couldn’t come to terms with how he was in this book. But, once he got his memories back, man, he was something else.

The storyline with Harley and Cassiel looking for the scrolls was interesting. But I did feel slightly let down by how easy it was for Harley to get some of the scrolls. I was looking for more battles than what was shown. The only one that put me on edge was when Harley returned to her abusive stepfather’s house to get a scroll.

The storyline with Ray, Draven, and the Seven was interesting. I liked seeing how the Seven was splintering on the inside. I was curious about Ray and her abilities, but the author didn’t get into them. I am hoping for a book (or series) when Ray is a little older that will explore them. As I mentioned above, I wouldn’t say I liked seeing Draven without his memories, but that did serve its purpose.

The romance between Harley and Draven was terrific. It showcased that true love can overcome everything. I loved seeing Harley trying to reach Draven on so many levels while looking for the scrolls (thanks to the mate bond), and when she did, it was incredible!! I also liked seeing the beginning of a romance between Ryder and Wallace. Again, I hope for another series or a standalone book in this universe.

I thought the fantasy angle of the book was well written also. Having Hell (aka Aether) be a whole other dimension with layers was fascinating. Harley’s journey through those layers was eye-opening and made me want to read more about this universe.

There were several twists in the plot towards the end of the book. The one with a significant character broke my heart. I kept saying “Oh no, no, no!!!” when it was revealed what that person did. There was a twist with Harley that left me with my mouth open. Mainly because I couldn’t believe what Harley found out; not only did I not believe it, but I also couldn’t believe that this person had stayed in the shadows for so long. The biggest twist, though, was the end of the book. I did not expect it to go the way it did. It only made me want to read more from this universe.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the end of the book took me by surprise. Mainly because of everything that happened and was revealed. The author did wrap up Draven and Harley’s storyline, but I am hoping for more books in this universe.

I would recommend Spark of Ash for anyone over 16. There are mild sexual scenes (kissing but no sex), violence, and language.