paranormal romance

Waiting On Wednesday: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

WoW logo“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine. 

The Beautiful Ashes
Series: Broken Destiny #1
Author: 
Jeaniene Frost
Release Date: 
August 26th 2014
Publisher:
Harlequin
Genre(s):
Paranormal Romance, YA
Pre-order: 
Kobo

In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who’s bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn’t mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn’t: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

Ever since reading the first Night Huntress book I have loved Jeaniene Frost’s work! She is a fabulous author with amazing characters who have interesting, complex motivations driving them! And her worlds are a wonderful backdrop to watching the plot unfold! Pretty much I adore her and when I heard about this book I was so excited! I’m interested to see what, if much at all, changes with her working in YA. (Well, obviously there won’t be scandalous scenes like in some of her other books!) But I imagine that it will be fantastic! I have high hopes for this one!

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One Bite by Jennifer Blackstream

One Bite
Author: Jennifer Blackstream
Publisher: Skeleton Key Publishing
Series: Blood Prince #2
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance, Fantasy
Source: Author
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: fivestar

 

Irina is determined to continue her fight for freedom. Freedom for her from her evil sorceress stepmother, and freedom for every faction in the kingdom of Dacia. Unfortunately, her stepmother isn’t about to let that happen and she’s got a poisoned apple and a glass coffin with Irina’s name on them… 

Kirill is a vampire prince determined to be a vampire king. Unfortunately, his vampiric father has no intentions of vacating the throne anytime soon and the prophecy Kirill found hinting at a “Great New Kingdom” is proving tricky to translate. It doesn’t help that the beautiful woman he found unconscious in the woods seems determined to undermine his authority at every turn. He’d kill her himself if she didn’t have the strangest gift for soothing his bloodthirsty spirit. 

Even an undead mastermind can’t foresee everything. Seven dwarves. A poison apple. A glass coffin. It’s a strange and terrifying world when events can take a turn for the better or worse with just…One Bite.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author as part of a R2R in the Lovers of Paranormal Goodreads group. This doesn’t affect my review and the following is my honest opinion.

After reading Before Midnight my expectations for the second book in the Blood Prince series were high. Jennifer Blackstream met and then exceeded them! Yet again you were given a peek into the plans laid by a power the princes have no idea is pulling their strings. I’m growing more and more intrigued with each glimpse we’re given. What will the princes do if this outside force is ever made known to them? Considering some of their personalities I think the conclusion of this series will be explosive. Though, honestly, I’m not looking forward to the end; I’ve grown rather fond of the characters Ms. Blackstream has thus far introduced us to. I can only hope that once Blood Prince is over she’ll treat us to future stories involving the princes and their princesses!

Those are worries that can be saved for another day! There are still Blood Prince books to read!

One Bite is a retelling of the Snow White story with another paranormal twist: vampires! The kingdom of Dacia is one full of dark creatures and the royal family are among the darkest of them. I wasn’t expecting the addition of Russian folklore creatures and myths but Ms. Blackstream did a superb job of weaving them into her tale right alongside the Snow White elements. It seemed so natural and worked so well with her setting! While I liked the kingdom of the first book, Dacia really stuck with me. I’m a fan of darker fantasy with some horror elements to it and Dacia pushed all the right buttons for me in those regards. Along with the vibrant characters, the world made the book come to life for me. Irina, the heroine of the tale, is a strong young woman with noble goals and a kind heart as well as a cunning mind. From the start she held her own and I appreciated her determination and drive. As the book went on and we learned more of her heritage and history I found myself rooting for her more and more. And, considering the prince she sometimes acts in opposition to, that surprised me.

Kirill fits many of the archetypes that make me all but fall in love with a character. I have a fondness for schemers and social engineers and Kirill was both. He kept his ambitions in mind throughout the book and only, in a time of great duress, did he consider compromising them. Both he and Irina held onto their goals till the eleventh hour and the conflict it sparked between them was delightful to watch. In the end they found a solution that didn’t compromise them as characters and I love that. All too often you see characters in romance novels becoming a wholly different person to suit the needs of their significant others. To see Irina and Kirill grow to work together and flourish despite their differing views was one of the best parts of One Bite in my mind.

While I love this book and give it five out of five stars, I wish it had been longer. Like Before Midnight I feel that it would have benefited from more exploration of the characters and the world they live in. Maybe that’s just me being selfish and hopeful though as Ms. Blackstream told a fabulous tale that rivaled stories double the page count of One Bite. Still, I would very much have loved to learned more of Irina’s sorceress stepmother.  Serafina was an interesting character from the moment she swept onto the page. And then the hints at her Sleeping Beauty origins had me desperate for more. Perhaps one day Ms. Blackstream will write a stepmother series about the histories of the women we see opposing her princesses. (I would devour those books in a heartbeat.)

I highly recommend this book. As in stop reading this review and go out and get it already! If you love fairy tales steeped in political intrigue this one is for you.

Before Midnight by Jennifer Blackstream

Before Midnight
Author: Jennifer Blackstream
Publisher: Skeleton Key Publishing
Series: Blood Prince #1
Genre(s): Paranormal Romance, Fantasy,
Source: Author
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: fourstar

Loupe always dreamed of getting married. She yearned for a caring husband who would take her away from her servant-like existence at home with her stepmother and two stepsisters, a man who would love her forever. Those dreams ended the day she was bitten by a werewolf. Now she’s a mindless beast on the night of the full moon—a condition that forever prevents her from sharing a marriage bed. Not even the attentions of a handsome and endearingly strong prince can convince her that the life she wants is still possible. 

Etienne is a prince in need of a werewolf. A werewolf himself from birth, Etienne and his family have protected their kingdom with tooth and claw—literally—for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the spell of a well-meaning witch is slowly turning him human. Only the bite of a cursed werewolf, one who was not born with the beast inside, can save him from becoming human. He has no time for anything that will not lead him to a cure for the cure. Not even the beautiful maiden whose gentle nature soothes his soul can take his mind from his goal. 

Love cares little for the best laid plans or the impossible. A grand ball. The stroke of twelve. A magic “slipper.” All kinds of things can happen when you don’t leave the ball…Before Midnight.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author as part of a R2R in the Lovers of Paranormal Goodreads group. This doesn’t affect my review and the following is my honest opinion.

I started Before Midnight knowing it was inspired by the story of Cinderella (And looking forward to a retelling of the fairy tale!) so, unlike some other reviewers, it was actually the prologue that caught me off guard. I knew the series was interconnected but the way that Jennifer Blackstream chose to do so has me very intrigued. From the first sentence I was surprised – in a very good way – and the initial intrigue had me devouring the book itself.

And Cinderella meets werewolves? Sounds like a delicious combination to me!

The story of Loupe and Etienne shares some of the themes of the original Cinderella and while I feel like it could have been fine without them, I loved the idea of the ball and the twist Ms. Blackstream put on the slipper. I thought it was a very creative idea and retelling that was never predictable! The characters she created are intriguing (I am itching to know more about the other princes in the prologue!) and both Etienne and Loupe were dynamic in their own ways. You might argue that Loupe was timid and weak but I felt that the growth and development for her was logical and made sense considering her upbringing and history. She is a kind woman and what can I say, I’m a sucker for puppies and her empathy for them had me smiling. And a handsome prince playing with cute little animals? Extra points for the adorable! On the subject of  Etienne, he was a very interesting prince; I have a weakness for werewolves and Ms. Blackstream put a very fun spin on them with her first prince! His dual nature and his struggle to handle his emotions as a human left me wanting to know more of him.

My only gripes are that it wasn’t long enough which, in several parts, made it feel a little rushed. I wanted more of them both and more background to it all. Some of the scenes and some of the characters would have, in my opinion, benefited from more time on the page. Loupe’s stepmother had me wondering; I’d have liked to know just how she and Loupe’s father ended up together or more of where she comes from. My hope is that as the series builds we might have some answers to questions I’m left pondering.

Overall though it was a great read. A fun story with characters that interested me and left me hoping to see them again – even if only in brief snippets in later books. I recommend it; it was worth the read!