Kim’s Review of Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener – Blog Tour

dotsmdMichelle Diener popped on my radar about a year ago when I received a copy of her novel In A Treacherous Court.  I quickly became engrossed in the book and her ability to take me on a wild ride from start to finish.  When I heard she was publishing a book about the war between the British Empire and the Zulus (an African clan that is now KwaZulu-Natal) I was intrigued to say the least.

As the only survivor of a deadly shipwreck that took place off the coast of Zululand, Elizabeth Jones is rescued and saved by the Zulus, known as the people of the sky.  Raised by these people for the next six years, Elizabeth learns their ways and becomes one of them.  Her white skin becomes an asset after these six years, however, when the Zulu army faces an attempt by the Victorian empire to take over their lands in order to control a trade route.  Elizabeth is sent in to infiltrate the enemy camp as a spy, and there she meets Captain Jack Burdell.  Burdell finds out that she is a woman immediately, but allows Elizabeth to keep her cover (which he believes is a search for her missing brother) and has her pose as his batman in order to keep her from being discovered.  Time is running out, however, as war is growing inevitable between the two sides, and Elizabeth finds herself torn between the tribe she grew up with and the man she finds a growing attachment to.  What will she do?

The entire premise behind this story is great! Who doesn’t love an underdog story?  The Zulus are clearly the underdogs here, as they are set up in a war they have no choice but to fight in with inferior technology.  Knowing absolutely nothing about this conflict previously, I’ve been inspired to read up on the history behind this story and have found it quite fascinating.  So, it didn’t seem like much of a stretch to create an exciting story based on the history between these two groups.  The only downside to this story was the fact that I was often confused at parts.  I had to keep going back to earlier parts of the story to reorient myself, only to have it happen again.  This could be due to the fact that the story, being about a war, introduced a lot of characters and locations that moved quickly through the plot.  Other than this, however, the story was engaging and lively, and I really enjoyed Elizabeth’s passion for the Zulu people.  Her inner conflict over doing what is right for the Zulu people, while dealing with her growing feelings for Jack was written extremely well.  As the reader, you are definitely drawn in.  Her anxiety becomes your anxiety, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.  She fits the bill of a strong female heroine, something Diener is well  known for.  Her female characters are all much stronger than the men around them give credit for.  This simple fact is what keeps me coming back for Diener’s writing each and every time.  If you’re in the mood for an engaging book with a historical twist and a kickass heroine, definitely check out Daughter of the Sky.

3 out of 5 stars

This is my thirteenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener
Michelle Diener (2013)
Paperback: 342 pages
ISBN: 9780987417626

Special thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for my review copy! I’m just one stop on the blog tour for Daughter of the Sky!  You can check out all the other stops here!  For those of you on Twitter, follow the hashtag: #DaughterOfTheSkyVirtualTour

Daughter of the Sky Tour Banner FINAL

Kim’s Review of Death in the Floating City (Lady Emily Series #7) by Tasha Alexander

ditfcTowards the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 I was introduced to a character by the name of Lady Emily. She is a woman of the Victorian Era, a time when woman should be seen and not heard.  Lady Emily, however, is a woman who bucks that notion and delves into learning, reading, languages, art, geography, etc.  I found so much of myself in her at times that I flew through the first book of Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series And Only to DeceiveAfter falling head-over-heels in love with Alexander’s writing, characters, and settings I quickly made my way through the other five available books: A Poisoned Season, A Fatal Waltz, Tears of Pearl, Dangerous to Knowand A Crimson Warning (all links lead to my reviews).

In the latest installment of the Lady Emily series, Death In the Floating City, we follow Emily as her adventures take her to Italy for the first time.  Many years ago, Emily’s childhood arch nemesis  Emma Callum, shocked English society by eloping to Venice, Italy with her lover, an Italian count.  Despite their past, Emma has now turned to Emily for help as she finds herself entangled in a mystery that involves the death of her father-in-law and the disappearance of her husband.  Emily takes her up on the offer, and travels to Venice with her husband, Colin Hargreaves.  There, Emily discovers that there is more to this story than what meets the eye, and she finds that she must look to the past to solve this crime in the present day.

I’ve always been impressed with authors who can write 5+ books in a series and keep each one feeling fresh and new, while continuing to develop the characters and relationships in new and exciting ways.  Death in the Floating City is the seventh book in the Lady Emily series, yet it reads with the excitement and freshness of the first, And Only to Deceive.  It’s 100% due to Alexander’s talent as a writer.  Not only should she continue to write the Lady Emily series, but I think she should start writing travel books as well.  Her descriptions of Venice are astonishingly beautiful, stunning, and so visual.  At times I could close my eyes and completely see the scene she was painting for me.

When I read Alexander’s books I literally become so engulfed by them.  The characters’ sadness is my sadness, their happiness is my happiness as well.  By the time I got to the last few pages of the book my face hurt SO MUCH from smiling.  I walked around the whole day with just a goofy grin on my face because I was completely overwhelmed with happiness.  Books that can have that kind of effect on a person are my favorite.  It’s a clear indication that the writer got you enveloped in the story.  The added surprise to Death in the Floating City was a book within the book!  Not only do you become completely obsessed with the murder mystery, but you are fascinated by the tragedy that is Besina and Nicolo’s story.  I was slightly saddened that Colin was missing for large chunks of this book, but understood the reason for it once I got to the end.

I’m excited about the direction that the series is taking.  The decisions and discoveries made at the end of Death in the Floating City should create some interesting problems/conflicts to overcome in the next books of the series.  Book eight, Behind the Shattered Glass, is slated to release this upcoming October.

On a completely different side note, Elsie Lyons has been designing the covers of Alexander’s novels since book five (Dangerous to Know) and she needs a shout out. These covers are exquisite and to put it simply, I love them.

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my twelfth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander
Minotaur Books (2012)
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN: 9780312661762

Kim’s Review of The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon, Illustrated by Hoang Nguyen

theexileSo 2013 has turned into the year of the Outlander series for me.  I’ve made it through three of the main novels (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amberand Voyagerand am moving on to Gabaldon’s Lord John spin-off series before starting book four in the series, Drums of Autumn.  With all that being said, imagine my surprise when Todd and I went into our local Barnes & Noble and found an Outlander graphic novel in the bargain bin!! For $4 I got to be the lucky new parent of The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel.  Never has a person been more excited about a bargain than this one right here. 

The Exile is the first 1/3 of Outlander but told from Jamie’s perspective.  I won’t regurgitate the plot of Outlander myself, I’ll let Goodreads do it for me!

After too long an absence, Jamie Fraser is coming home to Scotland—but not without great trepidation. Though his beloved godfather, Murtagh, promised Jamie’s late parents he’d watch over their brash son, making good on that vow will be no easy task. There’s already a fat bounty on the young exile’s head, courtesy of Captain Black Jack Randall, the sadistic British officer who’s crossed paths—and swords—with Jamie in the past. And in the court of the mighty MacKenzie clan, Jamie is a pawn in the power struggle between his uncles: aging chieftain Colum, who demands his nephew’s loyalty—or his life—and Dougal, war chieftain of Clan MacKenzie, who’d sooner see Jamie put to the sword than anointed Colum’s heir.

And then there is Claire Randall—mysterious, beautiful, and strong-willed, who appears in Jamie’s life to stir his  compassion . . . and arouse his desire. 
 
But even as Jamie’s heart draws him to Claire, Murtagh is certain she’s been sent by the Old Ones, and Captain Randall accuses her of being a spy. Claire clearly has something to hide, though Jamie can’t believe she could pose him any danger. Still, he knows she is torn between two choices—a life with him, and whatever it is that draws her thoughts so often elsewhere. 

So I knew going into this that I would already love the story Gabaldon was telling.  Jamie and Claire’s story is truly one of my favorites…..ever. Like Darcy and Elizabeth level love.  Therefore I was incredibly surprised to see how weakly their story translated over into a graphic novel.  As I sit here writing this I’m not sure where the graphic novel fell short.  The illustrations I thought were perfectly suited for the story.  Nguyen is a wonderful artist and captured the imagery of the story magnificently.  It’s possible that because the Outlander book is so detailed and long and the graphic novel so much shorter, that description and story embellishment went missing.  The eBook of Outlander I read was 800+ pages while this graphic novel was 224.  That’s a small amount of pages/illustrations to translate nearly 300 pages of text to.

While it’s not sharing anything new to us plot-wise as readers, it was fun to get inside Jamie’s head for a short period of time.  To get his perspective on the speed and depth in which he fell in love with Claire adds a new dimension to their love.   I’ll admit, it was also great to see how far Murtagh was willing to go with his fierce loyalty to Jamie.  I think fans of the Outlander series will ultimately have the same response that I’ve had to this graphic novel: it’s ok.

3 out of 5 stars

This is my eleventh completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon, Illustrated by Hoang Nguyen
Random House (2010)
Hardcover: 224 pages
ISBN: 9780345505385

Kim’s Review of Voyager (Outlander #3) by Diana Gabaldon

10987As most of you know by now, I’ve been working my way through the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and enjoying them thoroughly.   You can see my review of Outlander (book 1) here and Dragonfly In Amber (book two) here.  Actually, “enjoying thoroughly” is a bit of an understatement; I love this series!  As I mentioned in my review of Dragonfly In Amber, there is quite a cliffhanger ending, so I was excited to move on to the next book in the series, Voyager, to see what happens to Jamie and Claire!

I’ve been sticking with the Goodreads plot summaries for this series, as there is too much that I could let slip! Plus with all the time-traveling elements I’m pretty sure I’d just confuse you with all I wanted to tell you! SO, once again, from Goodreads:

Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her… and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.

Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her…the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland… and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.

After the cliffhanger that ended Dragonfly in Amber I wasn’t sure my heart could take any more.  I needed a period of emotional mourning, stability, and recovery before I could pick up my shattered heart, begin book three, and risk it shattering all over again.  I can honestly say that the Outlander Series has taken me on a deep and tumultuous emotional journey that I’ve never felt with any other book/series I’ve read.  Sure I’ve had emotional reactions to books before, but I’ve never reacted quite the way I have with this series.  Voyager was no less of a riotous journey, but it’s told with such beauty and passion that you gladly go back for the laughter, tears, heartache, and smiles that Gabaldon’s prose brings.

As much as I love Jamie and Claire and their timeless love story, much praise has to be reigned on Gabaldon for all of the other intriguing things she adds into her novels.  In Voyager we’re given a glimpse into slave plantations and slave markets of the Caribbean in the late 1700’s.  We’re also given a lesson in Chinese culture and the deep seeded racism that existed for the Chinese people in Scotland and the surrounding countries.  There is a great depth to her works; depth that is obviously and meticulously well researched and presented in a way that adds to the plot as well as opens the eyes of the readers to what life was like back in the day.  Gabaldon pulls no punches in presenting what she finds.  All of it is not pleasant and I love that she doesn’t try to sugarcoat it and make it pleasing to read.  She respects history and for that I bow down to her.

With all this being said, it’s no wonder I keep going back for more in this series.  Every time I think Gabaldon won’t get any better, she blows away my expectations.  I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next in the series with Drums of Autumn, the fourth installment, especially considering that it takes place in my home country, America.  Look out for my review coming soon!

5 out of 5 stars

This is my tenth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
Random House (2004)
eBook: 1044 pages
ISBN: 9780440335153

Kim’s Guest Review of Return to Longbourn by Shannon Winslow

return-to-longbourn-by-shannon-winslow-2013Recently I was asked to write a review of Return to Longbourn by Shannon Winslow for my good friends at the Austenprose blog.  I happily obliged, knowing that this work has been one of the highlights of the past few weeks, and I couldn’t wait to get all my thoughts down on paper (well, you know what I mean).  So, if you’re in the mood for a sequel to Pride and Prejudice that focuses on Mary Bennett, head on over and check out my review.  Many thanks to both Shannon for the review copy and Laurel Ann for letting me post another guest review!

My review can be  found here.

This is my ninth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge.

This is my fifth completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge.

Kim’s Review of Sons and Daughters (Darcy and Fitzwilliam #2) by Karen Wasylowski

sddfI remember the first time I read Pride and Prejudice and chuckled to myself at the little tongue-in-cheek humor that Austen used.  Elizabeth’s observations and statements (especially about Mr. Collins) regarding those around her were always sure to get a rise out of me.  It’s this memory that makes me so happy that there is an author in the Austen fan fiction world that can continue to make me laugh with these characters.  Karen Wasylowski is this author and it was her first book, Darcy and Fitzwilliamthat really got me laughing.  Between the over-the-top (in a good way) personality of Lady Catherine and the hysterical brotherly relationship between Fitzwilliam and Darcy, I was hooked.  When offered the chance to review book two in the series Sons and Daughters I immediately said yes!  For who would ever turn down a chance to add humor to one’s life? 

From Goodreads:

Sons and Daughters, a sequel to Karen V. Wasylowski’s Darcy and Fitzwilliam (which was itself a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice), again follows the iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam. Now we see the two battling best friends as loving husbands and doting fathers, older and a bit wiser, making the sacrifices, the difficult (and frequently unpopular) decisions that men must make for the good of their families and we see their large brood of offspring – the ‘Fitzwilliam Mob’ – grow from childhood to adolescence then on into adulthood. Along the way, Darcy and Fitzwilliam are viewed by their children first as heroes, then as the enemy, but eventually as mortal human beings and the children’s adored champions once again.

I knew from reading book one of this series that I was in for some seriously funny stuff.  Wasylowski is a master at writing humor.  It’s obvious from the title that the Fitzwilliam and Darcy children play a large part in the plot.  Getting the opportunity to see Darcy and Fitz in parental roles was hilarious.  Especially Fitzwilliam! His brood runs roughshod all over him, especially his twin sons who are major practical jokers.  The only detraction I would have to list is the fact that there were so many characters, which caused some of the story lines to feel rushed and incomplete.  It was a little difficult to keep everything straight because of all the new characters, but once I got the hang of it all was well again.  I have to say that this was easy enough to overlook because of how well Wasylowski was able to hold my attention.  The combination of abundant humor and unique storylines was a delight to read and has cemented my interest in this series as a whole.  I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us in the future!

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my eighth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my third completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

Sons and Daughters by Karen Wasylowski
CreateSpace (2012)
Paperback 416 pages
ISBN: 9781480002913

Special thanks to Ms. Wasylowski for my review copy!

Kim’s Review of The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Tutor'sDaughter_mck.inddAs you may or may not know, I’m a huge Julie Klassen fan.  So far, I’ve reviewed The Silent Governess, The Apothecary’s Daughter, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall and last but not least, The Girl in the Gatehouse .  So, as you can see, I’m just slightly into her books.  When I heard she was coming out with a new book, The Tutor’s Daughter, can you guess how I acted? (I do admit, the previous four reviews may be a bit of a giveaway.)

Emma Smallwood, the daughter of a widowed father who ran a now-defunct academy, decides to cheer her father up by agreeing to travel with him to the Cornwall coast.  There, he is charged with instructing two sons of a baronet in their large manor home atop the cliffs.  At first, everything goes according to plan and Emma enjoys being in their new surroundings at the grand estate.  However, things soon begin to change and Emma begins to experience strange occurrences.  She hears the pianoforte playing in another room, only to find that no one is there.  She begins to receive strange notes, and discovers a toy soldier in her room on the floor, even though none of the boys is young enough to play with toy soldiers anymore.  Most chillingly, she finds a bloody hand print on her mirror!  Meanwhile, the baronet’s two older sons, Henry and Phillip, both have secrets of their own, and they struggle to hide them from Emma.  Both have known her since her childhood as they were former pupils at her father’s academy, and one seems to have found a new attraction to her.  Can Emma find out who is behind these chilling pranks?  What will she make of her new love interest?

I’m always impressed with Klassen’s ability to pay homage to classic literature with her novels while also creating unique and fascinating characters in her own right.  The Tutor’s Daughter is definitely an homage to Jane EyreNorthanger Abbey, and Pride and Prejudice.  Now that’s not to say that those are the only three books that have inspired her work, but the influence that these books had on Klassen is abundantly obvious in this work.  Emma herself is a blend of Jane Eyre and Catherine Morland, with a bit of Lizzie and Darcy mixed in.  She has the seriousness of Jane, the naive and adventurous spirit of Catherine, and a bit of the close-minded attitude that Darcy and Elizabeth have when forming first impressions about people.  It’s not only Emma that bears resemblance to characters of classic literature.  Her father is a bit like Mr. Bennet, Henry is a hybrid between Darcy and Mr. Tilney, and the list goes on and on.  She weaves characters, themes, and tidbits of plot from some of my favorite novels all while making it feel fresh and new.

I literally could not get enough of this book while I was reading it.  The book starts out at a normal pace, and before you realize it, things are happening rather rapidly.  Pieces of a puzzle that you didn’t even know existed begin coming together, and you’re left with a tale of intrigue, shipwrecks, smuggling, adventure, and how far the boundaries of love and family can be pushed and tested.  Of all of Klassen’s works so far, The Tudor’s Daughter feels like her masterpiece.  As much as I’ve loved all of her other books, this one truly shines on a pedestal all by itself.  The writing is crisp, clear, and absolutely mesmerizing, taking the reader to Cornwall and to Ebbington Manor itself.  This is definitely not a work to miss, and for those of you looking to be transported to a world full of rich characters, suspense, and an epic storyline, this is your book.

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my seventh completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers (2013)
eBook 416 pages
ISBN: 9780764210693

Kim’s Review of Loving Miss Darcy (Brides of Pemberley #2) by Nancy Kelley

lmdY’all know by now that I love Pride and Prejudice.  You also know that I love reading books that explore the lives of the characters from that wonderful work, and one of my favorite characters to explore happens to be Georgiana.  I always feel bad for her in the P&P fan fiction world, as she is often relegated to being a minor character, and never the heroine.  All this changes with Nancy Kelley’s second work in the Brides of Pemberley series, Loving Miss Darcy (for my review of the first work, His Good Opinion, click here).

Georgiana Darcy is conflicted.  On one hand she is elated that her brother, Fitzwilliam Darcy, and his lovely bride, Elizabeth, are happily married and fully in love.  On the other hand, her own personal love life is the complete opposite.  After the disastrous events that led her to almost elope with Wickham previously, she hasn’t had the drive to face another Season full of potential suitors in London.  Enter Richard Fitzwilliam, tasked by Darcy to watch over his little sister and find a suitable match for her.  The problem is that Richard feels that no one is deserving of Georgiana, even though they may be a perfectly good match.  Even Richard’s closest friends are no match for his stony demeanor.  Behind this mask, however, a growing attachment is forming, and it seems that Richard is keeping others out in the hopes that he may have a chance, however slight.  Will he give in to this growing attachment?  Will Georgiana return his feelings?

One major item that I have to commend Kelley on is her ability to portray the angst of the teenage mind via Georgiana.  Obviously, Georgiana is a teenager, and with that comes feelings of angst, confusion, and general awkwardness.  Kelley is able to tap into that mindset and describe Georgiana’s unwillingness to enter the Season due to a variety of factors, chief among them her trepidation at what others will think of the “Wickham scandal”.  On the opposite end of the spectrum is Richard, whose mindset is an unsettled war zone of nerves.  He is confused about his feelings for Georgiana, and cannot separate his duties as her guardian from his desire to want to be with her.  He also wonders if he should even voice his innermost feelings for her, as he fears that she will reject him due to the age gap between them, along with several other factors that keep his feelings in check.  Again, Kelley shows that she is in tune with her characters in writing Richard, and together with Georgiana, she made this story one that I couldn’t put down.  I can’t wait to read the story of Elizabeth’s sister, Kitty, next in the series.  If it’s as good as these other two works have been, I’m in for a treat!

5 out of 5 Stars

This is my second completed review for the Pride and  Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge

This is my sixth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Loving Miss Darcy by Nancy Kelley
Smokey Rose Press (2013)
eBook 244 pages
ISBN: 2940016048345

Special thanks to Ms. Kelley for my review copy!

Kim’s Review of Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon

dragonfly2bin2bamber2bmodernAs I stated in my review of the first book in the Outlander series, I never thought someone would replace Darcy as the leading man in my life.  That was before I met Jamie Fraser.  Then everything changed.  After reading Outlander I finally found out what all the fuss was about.  I needed more.  Jamie has everything I could ever ask for, and the story of Jamie and Claire kept me captivated from the get go.  So, where do we go from here?  On to book two: Dragonfly in Amber.

As the plot is fairly complex and involves time travel, I’ll let Goodreads do the talking here:

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones … about a love that transcends the boundaries of time … and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his….

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart … in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising … and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves….

I think the most important thing to say about this series is how multi-dimensional it is, not only on a genre level, but on an emotional level.  On a genre level, this is more than just a series about Jamie and Claire’s love, it’s about political upheaval in Scotland, witchcraft and women’s rights, honor, integrity, standing up for what you believe in, and accepting the repercussions of being/doing wrong.  This is a historical fiction novel at heart, but it’s also an adventure novel, a romance novel, and a science fiction novel.  There’s so much passion in Gabaldon’s writing and storytelling that it becomes difficult to find a place to begin speaking about why these books are so amazing.  I’ll admit, the book did move a bit slower than the first in the series, but there were a good number of surprises sprinkled throughout the plot that made the book seem fresh and intriguing.  That cliffhanger at the end?  Utter perfection.  Another integral part of this book (and this series in general) is how Gabaldon is able to manipulate the reader’s emotions.  It’s like an abusive relationship: she rips out your heart with amazingly heart-wrenching scenes and then puts it back together by restoring your faith in her characters, only to then repeat the cycle all over again!  Her ability to elicit such strong emotion in her readers is one of the reasons why she is such a phenomenal writer.  I strongly urge you to not only read this book, but the series as a whole.  I’ve heard amazing things about book three, Voyager, which I’ll be sure to finish in the coming weeks.  Look out for my review!

4 out of 5 stars

This is my fifth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my third completed review for the Color Coded Challenge

Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Random House (2001)
Paperback 752 pages
ISBN: 9780385335973

 

Kim’s Review of The Warrior Trilogy by Lara Adrian

 

……….wllYesterday was Valentine’s Day. What better way to celebrate (a day late) than reviewing some romance novels?  Last year I became entranced by Lord of Vengeance by Lara Adrian.  How can you go wrong with medieval knights? Seriously, knights fighting with swords over a woman’s honor? What wouldn’t I give to be one of those ladies?  Anyway, I chose to read Adrian’s Warrior Trilogy after Lord of Vengeance because of how fantastic Adrian’s medieval world was.  It was gritty, real, and showcased both the good and bad of that time period. And if I’m being honest, I also wanted more hot knights.

Book one of the trilogy is White Lion’s Lady. Plot summary from Goodreads:

Abducted on the way to her wedding, heiress Isabel de Lamere is unaware that the scoundrel planning to use her for his own gain is the cherished champion of her childhood: Griffin, the White Lion. Yet even as she discovers his treachery, Isabel cannot deny that Griffin lingers in her dreams, awakening the passion in her steadfast heart.

Then a twist of fate puts a price on both their heads, embroiling them in a life-and-death chase that will force Griffin to choose between his own freedom and his fierce desire for the woman who would redeem his noble spirit. But to reclaim his lost honor, the White Lion could lose Isabel forever. . . .

Who doesn’t love a good redemption story?  Griffin was Isabel’s knight in shining armor as a child, saving her from a wild boar in the woods.  From that moment on Isabel believes Griffin will grow to be the most deserving, honorable, and cherished knight there is.  When he kidnaps her off the highway ten years later and holds her  for ransom she quickly wonders what happened to him during the years of their separation.  She wonders how a boy who dwelt so much on doing good turned into this passionless, dark, empty soul of a man.  As she is forced into his company on their long journey to her fiance, she begins to understand more of the hardships he underwent during  their separation and how becoming this calm, calculating man was his way to survive.

To watch Griffin’s transformation back to the man he used to be was in a word, breathtaking.  The way he strives to become a good and honorable man/knight not only for Isabel but for himself too is a journey you won’t want to miss.  I sometimes lose interest in books where characters just change to appease their partners. What is the point of that?  I believe change to be something that should come from your own heart and mind, not those of another.  Because Adrian had Griffin transform mostly for himself  I give this work high marks!

Isabelle, on the other hand, is one of those characters that is literally good down to her bones.  She tries to see positive traits in everyone and always tries to have an optimistic point of view.  At times, this led her into bad situations and it was interesting to see how Adrian portrayed this characteristic in a negative and positive light.  It felt like a realistic approach to the character, and I’m glad that Adrian was able to give us another wonderful character to flesh out her work.  In all, this is one you definitely don’t want to miss.

5 out of 5 Stars

White Lion’s Lady by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 795 pages
ISBN: 2940014447201

blbBook two of the trilogy is Black Lion’s Bride.  Plot summary from Goodreads:

Daughter of the King of the Assassins, Zahirah was trained to be as deadly as she is beautiful. When she steals into the desert camp of the English army, she has one goal: to banish the crusaders from her homeland by murdering King Richard the Lionheart. Her deceptive strategy delivers her into the hands of the enemy–and puts her at the mercy of the dashing Black Lion, Sebastian of Montborne.

Fighting for peace in a dangerous, exotic land, Sebastian never dreamed that the tides of war would bring him a mysterious beauty in need of his protection. Nor could he guess that the lady who ignites his heart is the very enemy he has sworn to destroy on behalf of his king. Caught in a deadly game of passion and deception, their unbidden love could cost Sebastian and Zahirah their lives. . . .

Black Lion’s Bride was definitely my least favorite of the three.  It went downhill for me from the start, mainly due to the problems I had with Zahirah’s character. Let’s go through what we know of her. She’s the ONLY female Assassin of her kind and is apparently one of the BEST.  Well of course she’s one of the best. Who else but the best would be given the massive responsibility of assassinating King Richard?  Yet she’s barely able to defend herself, help in an ambush, etc.  Every time the reader is given a chance to witness her abilities, she flails and fails.  While the words say she should be strong and lethal, she comes off as weak and defenseless.  Basically, this made me lose faith in her as a character, and it made my reading experience fall flat.

I found the whole ending of the book to be a bit far-fetched and unbelievable.  Between the outcome of the plot to kill the king and the big secret Zahirah’s been keeping, etc, I was asked to suspend too much disbelief as a reader.  While the details of the book fell flat for me, the writing at its base was still strong.

2 out of 5 Stars

Black Lion’s Bride by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 847 pages
ISBN: 2940014447447

lovBook three of the trilogy is Lady of Valor. Plot summary from Goodreads:

Left a widow by her cruel husband’s death, Lady Emmalyn of Fallonmour is determined to control her own destiny, until her hard-won vows of independence are threatened by the mysterious warrior sent to protect her castle on order of the king. Emmalyn is now at the mercy of Sir Cabal, a feared knight known as Blackheart.

Skilled at war and hiding a tormented past, Cabal swears allegiance to no one but himself and his country. But once he meets Emmalyn, he finds his strength tested by this proud beauty who stirs his blood with desire, tempting him to defy his king and surrender his heart. . . .

Who doesn’t love a good redemption story?  Cabal has the blackest of hearts and a soul that is as devoid of emotion as a cold winter’s night.  He is the best mercenary and soldier that the King has at his disposal, due to Cabal’s emotionless personality.  When I started reading this book, I had no idea how Adrian would make this character redeemable and worth my time.  As she slowly gives the reader glimpses into his past, he becomes less of a blackened personality and more of a mysterious puzzle.  Emmalyn’s past, on the other hand, is given to us in a rather straightforward way, and her life is an open book.  Her story, most specifically her marriage to her first husband, is devastatingly cruel.  She is a battered woman before the term was ever coined.  Years of psychological and physical abuse took a toll on her and as such, she’s hesitant to trust or reveal her heart to anyone.  These two shells of people battling to become whole once again while struggling to understand new feelings of the heart are wonderful foundations for this work.  This was a great way to end the trilogy, and I’m glad I stuck with it until the end!

4 out of 5 Stars

Lady of Valor by Lara Adrian
Lara Adrian, LLC (2012)
eBook 853 pages
ISBN: 2940014436823

This is my fourth completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

This is my second completed review for the Color Coded Challenge