A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise Kova – Review

Published: August 19, 2021

Publisher: Silver Wing Press

Series: Married to Magic #2

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 344 (Kindle)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Synopsis:
She knew her hand in marriage would be sold. She had no idea a fae prince was the buyer.

Katria swore she’d never fall in love. She’s seen what “love” means through the cruelty of her family. So when she’s married off to the mysterious Lord Fenwood for a handsome price, all Katria wants is a better life than the one she’s leaving. Feelings are off the table.

But her new husband makes not falling in love difficult.

As their attraction begins to grow, so too do the oddities within her new life: strange rules, screams in the night, and attacks by fae that Katria never thought were real. When she witnesses a ritual not meant for human eyes, Katria finds herself spirited away to the land of Midscape.

Surviving the fae wilds as a human is hard enough. Katria must survive as a human who accidently pilfered the magic of ancient kings – magic a bloodthirsty king is ready to kill her for in order to keep his stolen throne – and her new husband is the rightful heir in hiding.

The power to save the fae is in her hands. But who will save her from a love she vowed never to feel?


Elise Kova has done it again! I’m absolutely loving these standalone fantasy romances that are set in the same world. This particular tale is described as a mix of Cinderella and the tale of Psyche and Eros and the beginning definitely has strong Cinderella themes. 

Katria is the unwanted stepdaughter and since her father disappeared at sea, her stepmother has only grown more inclined to abuse her. The final straw is when her stepmother springs a surprise marriage arrangement where her family will receive a substantial bride price and she’ll be stolen away to marry a mysterious lord. To her pleasant surprise, Katria finds a beautiful mansion near the woods but it comes with an unusual set of rules – don’t look upon her husband, don’t leave the grounds, and don’t leave her room at night no matter what she hears. All goes well until Katria finds a note from her husband and she follows him into the woods, interrupting a strange fae ritual where she is granted the magic that he had prepared for so long to reclaim. Thus begins Katria’s journey into the Fae lands and she can finally get to know Davien, the mystery man she married as he tries to claim the throne that should rightfully be his.

Katria is quite an easy character to empathize with and Davian, though frustrating at first, ends up being quite likable as well. There’s a nice cast of secondary characters, the evil king is a pretty standard jerk, and the settings were “fairy” cool. This story isn’t revolutionizing the genre, but I do think this series is one of the best in the fantasy romance category. I’ve read some that were ABSOLUTE TRASH (reviews forthcoming!) and Elise Kova is wayyy better than much of the competition! Admittedly, I’m fairly new to the genre but I’ve checked out a few of the more popular series that are garnering attention on TikTok and Bookstagram as well as a few that came recommended from a friend and I can safely say that this is one of my favorites.

My biggest peeve with this is that there are always extra chapters that aren’t in the books – you have to join the author’s mailing list and read them on her website. It’s super frustrating because they’ve been great and absolutely needed to be an epilogue chapter in the book!

The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey by Shawn Speakman – Review

Published: September 7, 2021

Publisher: Grim Oak Press

Series: The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Pages: 320 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Forever shamed for family actions a century earlier, Antiquity Grey is a young woman living in a far-future city of Erth. It is a life of danger and hardship, dragons and advanced technology.

But when she discovers an outlawed and operational mech buried in the sands of her planet, she realizes its secrets hold the power to reverse her family’s dishonor while challenging the Imperium’s off-world oppressive might.


This was purely a cover/title request and I don’t regret it at all! I mean, who can resist a book about a girl with an illegal mech trying to overthrow the oppressive ruling class? Certainly not me! 

Antiquity Grey is a headstrong, inquisitive girl and during one of her many explorations, she uncovers a mech in the desert. Turns out it was the mech that her grandmother had piloted during the war, but it was sabotaged and it appeared that she had fled the battle she was about to enter. Thus was Antiquity’s family grey-shamed, their name and power stripped and forgotten by all. 

Of course Antiquity pilots the found mech into the city to be seen by all. She naively thinks people will be happy, but it only terrifies them for the danger it presents. When she must flee for her life, she’s joined by two of her childhood friends and one of her enemies. They meet fascinating people along the way and must stay ahead of the ever-present danger that lurks behind them.

The Tempered Steel of Antiquity Grey is a good book somewhere between YA and Adult fantasy and will appeal to both audiences. The characters may be teens, but the plot is quite serious in nature and fortunately doesn’t have any of the YA tropes that can be a big turn off to some readers. While I didn’t immediately connect with the characters I did grow to like them as the story progressed and they became more three dimensional. I like the blend of sci-fi and fantasy elements – mechs, dragons, and oppressors who live in the stars made the story extra special. I’m not 100% I’ll continue on with the series, but this was pretty enjoyable.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming releases you’re excited about!

I am 100% fascinated by the synopsis for The Carnival of Ash. This is the story of Cadenza, an Italian city full of poets and librarians that never existed. Though the synopsis doesn’t give much away, I think it’s going to be full of political intrigue and lyrical prose. I suppose we’ll just have to wait until March 15, 2022 to find out!

Currently Reading: 9/13/21

Among Thieves by M.J. Kuhn
I ended up with an overabundance of new books to read in September, so I decided to pick this up on Audible instead of reading the eARC I got. So far it’s not bad, but I haven’t really clicked with any of the characters yet.

The Splinter King by Mike Brooks
I’ve been really looking forward to this and am thrilled that it’s only been 7 or 8 months since the release of the first book. I shouldn’t need a refresher and can’t wait to see where this exciting political fantasy goes!

I was hoping to get more reading done last week, but I came down with a stomach bug over the weekend 😦 Time to do some catching up this week!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme originally hosted on Breaking the Spine but has since linked up with “Can’t Wait Wednesday” at Wishful Endings now that the original creator is unable to host it anymore. This is a great way to share upcoming releases you’re excited about!

The Bone Orchard initially drew me in thanks to both the title and cover and then I stayed when I read that synopsis! Charm is a witch and concubine to the dying Emperor. He charges her to uncovering his murderer and choosing one of his awful sons to be the next Emperor once he passes. It sounds wonderfully dark and somewhat similar to some other books I’ve enjoyed recently. This will be released March 22, 2022.

The Forever King by Ben Galley – Review

Published: December 1, 2020

Publisher: BenGalley.com

Series: The Scalussen Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 664 (Paperback)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

Synopsis:
Revenge loves company.

Mithrid Fenn wants nothing to do with magick. Magick is a curse word, banned by the vast Arka Empire and punishable by death. Its purging has finally brought peace to war-torn Emaneska. Only a stubborn rebellion, led by the warlord Outlaw King, raids and pillages the empire’s northern fringes.

To cliff-brat Mithrid, this is an age of tranquility and childhood games. That is until an illegal spellbook washes up on her shores, and she finds herself thrust into a war she never knew existed.

Now hunted by daemons and mages, she is dragged inexorably north to Scalussen and its rebels fighting doggedly to preserve a memory of freedom. Mithrid holds no such ideals. She fights for revenge and nothing nobler. If spilling blood means helping the Outlaw King, then so be it. Even if it means all-out war.

The Forever King is the first book in a new trilogy – The Scalussen Chronicles – set in the dark and nordic world of The Emaneska Series. A breathless and emotional tale of revenge that crisscrosses a vast world, The Forever King is an epic fantasy ideal for fans of Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson and Mark Lawrence.


I was desperately in need of another audiobook to listen to and quite frankly this just sounded amazing. And it was! Fair warning, it is the beginning of a new series set in a world that Ben Galley has already established quite well in the completed Emaneska series. It is set years after that series (as far as I can determine) and follows new and old characters alike. It didn’t dampen my enjoyment whatsoever and I’m definitely going back to read the four books in the Emaneska series soon.

The Forever King follows Mithrid Fenn, a young girl who’s village was slaughtered when she and some young friends stumbled across a spell book in ship wreckage. Magic is outlawed in her kingdom and soldiers were sent to murder them and clean up the mess. She and several others from the village are taken north to Scalussen and the man they call the Forever King. He is one of the last Written – a type of mage who’s spellbook is inked into their skin – and is determined to bring down Emperor Malvus. Fardan, the Forever King, needs every available soldier he can get even if they need to be trained and if they have magic, then all the better. 

Mithrid is an understandably hostile character at first, trusting no one since soldier came and murdered her father and much of the rest of her village. She’s hesitant to trust Fardan and his allies because she’s heard nothing but terrible things about them her whole life and it just seems to good to be true. Surely, a place where you can freely come and go and be well fed can’t possibly exist? Despite this, she’s rather easy to root for and I wanted to see her succeed! Fardan is a man of immense power who doesn’t really want the infamous moniker of the Forever King. What a weight! He’s powerful, but also temperamental and it’s made very clear that he has never been nor ever will be perfect. It’s good to see a reasonably fallible yet likable leader. There are numerous secondary characters that move the story along and may become more important as things go along. I love all the different magical races, plus intelligent dragons make just about any story even cooler. 

The world building in this book is stellar. There’s tons of cool magical races, talking dragons, the epicness of the Written’s magic, demon princes, and piles of lore. It’s so well thought out and is brought to life brilliantly, especially in the audiobook format. I was rather taken by surprise when I ended up loving this. I didn’t expect to dislike it, it’s just a little unexpected (and great!) when a new favorite comes out of nowhere! I’m over here impatiently waiting to see when the audiobook for the sequel, Heavy Lies the Crown becomes available since the narration is done so well. I admit, I might be tempted to just pick up the print edition so I can find out what happens!

I think this could easily become a new favorite series/fantasy world. Scalussen and Emaneska seem to have so much to offer and I can’t wait to dig into the prequel series starting with The Written and see where the whole story begins.

A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair – Review

Published: May 25, 2020

Publisher: Scarlett St. Clair

Series: Hades & Persephone #1

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 358 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 2.5/5.0

Synopsis:
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.


OKAY, WOW. Fantasy Romance binge continues, but upon further consideration I may increase the rating of some other books I’ve read recently. This one was… well, it was fun and steamy but the main character is an idiot. There wouldn’t be much plot if she would stop being so disagreeable like 100% of the time and if either of the main characters could hold a conversation that didn’t devolve to idiocy.

Anyway, a summary. This is a Hades and Persephone retelling set in a modern day Greece where the gods have returned to Earth to walk among mortals. Mortals celebrate them and fawn over them like celebrities because, well, they are. Persephone is trying to escape from under her mother Demeter’s thumb and is pretending to be a mortal and attending university. She’s got a sweet journalism internship, an apartment with her best friend, and life is going pretty well. Until she ends up unintentionally making a bargain with Hades in one of his gambling dens. She must bring life to the Underworld and if she can’t she gets trapped there for half the year. 

The plot is largely minor struggles, with her bargain with Hades taking up the lead. She writes an article on how awful Hades is because of these bargains he makes with mortals and has a nasty experience with a co-worker. She also ends up dealing with her mother, who just reminds her that she’s useless without her borrowed magic. Because of course Persephone can’t just be a normal goddess – her powers are basically non-existent. It ultimately culminates with Persephone and Hades absolutely mad about one another and also frequently mad at one another.

Like I said, if they could have a mature conversation there wouldn’t be so many issues. Instead Hades is compulsively secretive and shady, playing up the broody Lord of the Dead aspect very well. Persephone is even worse, wildly jumping to conclusions like it’s an Olympic sport and refusing to listen to a whole sentence from Hades so that he might explain anything. In short, it’s not an example of a healthy relationship but MAN IT’S SO FUN TO READ. 

That’s literally the whole reason this book received the rating it did. Because it was unputdownable and ridiculously entertaining, also, there are some fantastic side characters. Hermes and Hecate and Lexa are brilliant and are by far my favorite characters. The worldbuilding seems really cool, but at this point it was a little shallow. I have tons of criticism about the book, clearly, but it was entertaining, had me emotionally invested in the characters and then I bought the second book and started reading right away.

*Forgive me if I’ve included any books from the second book here – I read them consecutively and they sort of blurred together a bit*

Song of the Forever Rains by E.J. Mellow

Published: July 1, 2021

Publisher: Montlake

Series: Mousai #1

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Pages: 424 (Paperback)

My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Synopsis:
From the award-winning author of the Dreamland series comes a new dark romantic fantasy about a young woman finding hope in her powers of destruction.


The Thief Kingdom is a place hidden within the world of Aadlior. Many whisper of its existence, but few have found this place, where magic and pleasure abound. There, the mysterious Thief King reigns supreme with the help of the Mousai, a trio of revered and feared sorceresses.

Larkyra Bassette may be the youngest of the Mousai, but when she sings her voice has the power to slay monsters. When it’s discovered the Duke of Lachlan is siphoning a poisonous drug from the Thief Kingdom and using it to abuse his tenants, Larkyra is offered her first solo mission to stop the duke. Eager to prove herself, Larkyra accepts by posing as the duke’s potential bride. But her plans grow complicated when she finds herself drawn to Lord Darius Mekenna, Lachlan’s rightful heir. Soon she suspects Darius has his own motivations for ridding Lachlan of the corrupt duke. Larkyra and Darius must learn to trust each other if there is to be any hope of saving the people of Lachlan—and themselves.

Welcome to the world of Aadilor, where lords and ladies can be murderers and thieves, and the most alluring notes are often the deadliest. Dare to listen?


I have been on a serious binge of books bought purely for their lovely covers and fantasy-romance aspects and this is the book that began it all. Song of the Forever Rains is the first in what I expect will be a trilogy, since this book and it’s sequel each have a different sister as the main character. This is Larkyra, the youngest sister’s story and what fun it was!

Larkyra Bassette is the youngest daughter of the Thief King, the mysterious man who runs the magical criminal underworld in Aadilor. She and her two sisters also make up the powerful magical trio known as the Mousai – they are renowned for their talents of singing, dancing, instrument playing, and destroying the minds of men. They lead an interesting double life, since the family is also quite well respected and powerful outside of their underworld since their dual lives are kept secret. 

Larkyra, having just come of age is to be sent on her first solo mission as one of the Mousai and, not so coincidentally, has just been engaged to a Duke. The same Duke that is stealing a poisonous magical drug from the Thief Kingdom. On this mission in a far country she also gets to spend a fair amount of time with the handsome Lord Darius MeKenna (the Duke’s stepson). 

The worldbuilding is quite interesting here – I love the different magics, I love the idea of this magical underworld, and the locales are fairly well described. There’s even sort of an access point to the realm of the dead and the keepers Achak, siblings who share a body, were brilliantly done. Tons of cool stuff going on here and it seems that the world will be fleshed out even further in the sequel.

I even quite liked the characters! Larkyra is clever and lovely, but clearly still young despite having grown up amidst such depravity and she makes some silly decisions. Her sisters seem interesting as side characters and Achak was really quite fascinating. Duke Lachlan, Larkyra’s betrothed, is an absolute monster of a man – a serial abuser who’s drug problem has only enhanced an already awful trait. And Darius Mekenna is of course handsome, though somewhat remote since he’s been brutally beaten by his stepfather for years. He’s clearly a good guy and is trying to save his kingdom and the people therein in any way he can. 

Overall it was a good story with good characters, but dang, the dialogue was SO awkward sometimes! The phrasing was so stiff and strange sometimes and I really think that listening to the audiobook exacerbated what I may have glossed over in the print edition. Despite being touted as a fantasy romance, it’s not all that romance heavy. Yes, there are a couple steamy scenes toward the end, but it’s mostly tension between the characters and them beginning to trust one another in a weird situation. There were occasions when I really wanted to get one with something more interesting, so I think the pacing could use a bit of work – perhaps it will improve in the next book. I’m definitely going to pick up the sequel, because hey, I just can’t resist a pretty cover and the promise of more powerful gals finding their soulmates sounds fun!