Hawthorne House series: two book reviews

Okay, everyone. First I need to apologize for having been so lax in my posting of late. Right now things have been running a bit roughly. Health challenges and changes in my full time job are making things a bit more difficult right now. So I haven’t often had the time or energy to focus on this blog along with everything else. I’ll continue to post as often as possible, but I likely won’t be doing nearly as much as I did last year.

Now on to the reviews. Don’t let my slightly critical reviewing deter you. Hawthorne House by Kristi Ann Hunter is my latest Regency novel addiction. It’s clean and a lot of fun. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves romance or historicals. You can read my thoughts on book 1 in the series here: A Noble Masquerade: a book review.

An Elegant Facade 

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This was probably my least favorite of the Hawthorne books. Mostly because much of this is scenes from A Noble Masquerade, only from Lady Georgina’s point of view. It was very interesting to see her take on things, and learn why she acts the way she does, but at times it can be slightly tedious.

All characters and descriptions in the story are well detailed and easy to picture in mind’s eye. Georgina goes from being a complete brat in the first two stories, to being a much more sympathetic and relateable character, though her ongoing obsession with title and status could get a bit grating. It was nice to finally see some growth from her. I just wish that growth would have taken a bit less time to come about, because it started to get a bit silly near the end.

Now please don’t let this slightly negative sounding review deter you from checking this book out. It is good and I did enjoy it, the author just spent way too much time rehashing book one from a different point of view, which made me want to skip forward a lot sometimes. If I had not read book 1 I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more.

My Rating: Four Flames

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An Uncommon Courtship

hawthorne house 2.jpg Finally, we get Lord Trent’s story! As the quirkiest of the family, Trent was my favorite of the Hawthorne siblings since the beginning.

Trent always planned to marry for love, but an accident and a scheming mother leave him wed to a virtual stranger: Adelaide Bell.

Both are frustrated and uncomfortable in this situation, having no idea what to do with each other, so Trent comes up with the idea to ‘court’ his wife. But his plan is fraught with problems that will either bring them together, or tear them apart.

This is a good tale about finding love even in the most difficult of situations. It’s a bit different from the previous two books as the main characters are already married, but it held my interest a lot better than the last book in the series.

Aside from getting to know Trent’s character a lot better, Adelaide herself was a great new addition that I hope to see more of in book 4. Her mother was unbelievably rotten, and I think that Adelaide handled things with a lot more aplomb than most of us. Her father though, was painfully underdeveloped. I really wish he had been better fleshed out. It could have made for a much more interesting dynamic.

My Rating: Five Flames

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Regina Silsby’s Phantom Militia: a book review

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Thomas J. Brodeur’s historical fiction saga continues in Regina Silsby’s Phantom Militia. The British army’s worst nightmare becomes a reality when rumors spread that the legendary ghost, Regina Silsby, has returned to defend pre-Revolution Boston. Rachel Winslow and her cousin work to keep the superstitions alive, leading the redcoats to believe that it is Regina who continues to foil their plans and that this time she is not alone. Even the brash Major Cauldon gets nervous as he sees his ranks thinning even as their fears heighten. Young adult readers will thrill at the daring feats and foibles in this

My Review:

In the first book in this series, an altercation with a couple of redcoats in a church cemetery accidentally brings the name Regina Silsby to everyone’s lips. Desperate to be rid of the oppressive English influence, Boston teenager Rachel Winslow takes advantage of the enemy’s superstitions and brings their worst fears to life, Donning mask and wig to become the terrifying ghost.

She was eventually found out and forced to flee the city. Now she’s come back, along with her cousin, to search for her missing brother in a city that is becoming increasingly dangerous. And this time, she has help.

I loved the first book in this series- Regina Silsby’s Secret War – but this sequel is so much better! Brodeur Spins a gripping yarn that combines historical facts and people with his own wild imaginative twists!

Rachel was a great character, strong and quiet. Smart too. She was always thinking ahead, anticipating her opponents surprisingly well. Certainly more than I ever would have! (Guess that means I’d make a terrible vigilante, yes?) Her cousin Sarah was a fun addition too, though she does sometimes need to learn to stay quiet!

The setting of pre-revolution Boston is beautifully described with all the smells, sounds, and other little details you wouldn’t always think of. And in contrast with many story portrayals, not all the redcoats are truly bad, nor is every patriot soldier good. The story shows that grey place in the middle quite well and beautifully showcases a strong christian message. The arguments on both sides were logical and well thought out.

The ending of the book, while complete, did leave an opening for possible future books. I really hope the author does eventually write more, because I would greatly love to read more about “Regina Silsby”.

My Rating:

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: Clean. only some very mild flirting.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs: Some wine is consumed.
Blood/violence: This story is set smack in the middle of the Revolutionary War. So yes, there are battles, death, shootings, chases, injuries, and some blood. The author writes it tastefully, but doesn’t shy away from the truths of the war either.

Amazon Kindle Link
Amazon Paperback Link

Happy Reading y’all!

A Noble Masquerade: a book review

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Description: 

Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.

When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity about her lack of suitors shifts into confusion at her growing feelings for two men–one she’s never met but whose words deeply resonate with her heart, and one she has come to depend on but whose behavior is more and more suspicious. When it becomes apparent state secrets are at risk and Marlow is right in the thick of the conflict, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.

My Review:

If anyone ever found out that Miranda Hawthorne was writing letters to a man she had never met, it would be an incredible scandal. Of course, she would never dare to send them. They’re journal entries of a sort, written to a school friend of her brother’s. From the stories Griffith has told her of Marsh, she sees a kindred spirit and fellow rebel. She has always felt constricted by society’s, and her mother’s, high expectations of her. The letters are her way of silently rebelling. But what happens when one of those heartfelt outpourings gets sent?

When the mistake of her brother’s new valet lands a letter in the hands of the Duke, she is ready to die of embarassment. But when her letter is answered, the two start up a regular corresondence. With her intrests growing, not just with Marshington but also with her brother’s mysterious valet, the truth becomes harder to discern. Both about her feelings, and the men she cares about.

I think Hunter’s books have officially rekindled my love of regency novels. Miranda was a solid charater, but so immensely stubborn that she could be a bit irritating at times. The Duke and the Valet I really can’t go into detail over without touching on major spoiler territory.

I absolutely loved the friendly antics and rivalry of the Hawthorne siblings, but the real scene stealers were the servants. The Duke of Marshington’s servants were quite unlike most typical regency novels. This odd mishmash of unusual, irreverent, and hopelessly romantic characters make for plenty of hijinks as they determinedly fight to throw the Duke and Lady Miranda together, and they have no trouble telling him what an idiot he can be either. I just wish we had seen more of them in the sequels.

The suspense was well played out too, even though I did figure things out before the heroes did, though that is fairly normal for me. I totally recommend this one to anyone looking for a good, sweet and clean romance.

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: clean
Drinking/drugs: some wine injested, but no drunkenness.
Language: clean
Blood/violence: a fight and some shooting. No blood.

Amazon Kindle Link
Amazon Paperback Link

Author Website
Author Facebook Page
Author Twitter Page

Happy Reading y’all!

Author Interview with Ronie Kendig!

 

Today I have the great pleasure of interviewing one of my all-time favorite authors: Ronie Kendig! Her books combine some of the most intensely real characters I have ever read with stunning un-put-downable action scenes.If y’all out there haven’t tried any of her books yet, you really should. You won’t regret it! 

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Author Bio:

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of a dozen novels. She grew up an Army brat. Now, she and her husband, an Army veteran, have an adventurous life in Northern Virginia with their children and a retired military working dog, VVolt N629. Ronie’s degree in Psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.

 

 

The Interview

What is your favorite hobby?
I would probably say crocheting or decorating.

Which do you prefer? Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
Um, depends. Haha. I think coffee as long as you’re talking Stabucks lattes. And tea – well, that’s pretty much always good. I’m not big on hot chocolate, though.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I’m a 2nd degree black belt in tae kwon do

What are the hardest scenes for you to write?
I think action scenes are tough because I really work them hard–I make sure every action has a reaction. Ever impact a resonance. They take a lot out of me, and I’ll rewrite them as many times as possible to get it right.
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Of all the characters you have written, do you have a favorite?
I do not – because each of them are a favorite for a different reason. I am really fond of Tox right now, but perhaps that’s because I’m immersed in his story still.

All your characters have an incredible amount of emotional depth. How do you write them so realistically?
I think that having a degree in psychology has really helped me a lot–and understanding people. I’ve got a sixth sense about people, and that drives my stories. I’ll never start a story without exploring the character first.

Are you an outliner, or a seat-of-your-pants writer?
Yes. Ha. Sorry, I’m not being difficult but there are times I plot and times run by the seat of my pants. Depends on the story and/or the demands of my publisher.

Is there anything specific that you hope readers take away from your writing?
You said in the question–HOPE. I want readers to see and believe there is ALWAYS hope, especially hope in Christ.
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What is one piece of advice you would like to give aspiring authors?
It’s very important to take the time to learn the ropes of writing, learn the rules and they why of those rules. It’s so easy to say, “they just don’t get my story,” or to want to push and be “edgy” or “real,” but perhaps that really means you are still growing into your authorial skin. Even with fifteen traditionally published novels, I know I still have a lot to learn, and I pray I never stop learning/growing. So, learn those rules. Master them. But in the end, down the road, don’t let them strangle your story or your voice.

 

Thank you so much, Ronie, for taking the time to do this interview with me! It was great having you!

Conspiracy of Silence: a book review

Author Website: Rapid Fire Fiction
Author Facebook Page

No Other Will Do: a book review

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Description: 

Men are optional. That’s the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight–and she knows just the one.

Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s plea arrives, he bolts to Harper’s Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.

As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

My Review:

No thanks to a rough past, demolition expert and former street kid Malachi Shaw might have a great deal of difficulty opening up to people, but he’ll always be there for them, especially his special childhood friend Emma Stone. Years ago she and her aunts gave him a home. Now she’s called him for help, and he’ll do everything in his power to stop the threat encroaching on her and a group of other innocent women.

The banker of Harper’s Station, Emma’s calling in life is protecting and helping the women of the town. The place is an all-woman society where they can escape their pasts, abuse, and men, to have the freedom they always wanted. But now threatening letters are showing up, and the danger is escalating.

Whitemeyer never fails to impress with her combination of sweeet romance and quirky characters. I loved them all, especially old Betty. I’d hate to be the one on the wrong end of her gun! Emma was such an endearing character wth an incredible depth of mercy and forgiveness. The idea of a woman-only town was a different setting from what I normally see in westerns, and it works wonderfully. I am eagerly anticipating the sequel: Heart on the Line, which will be the story of quiet, pistol wielding Grace, who we didn’t see nearly enough of in this book.

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: clean. Kissing only.
Language: clean
Drinking/drugs: clean
Blood/violence: a couple of fights, beatings, and some shooting. Very little blood.

Amazon Kindle Link
Amazon Paperback Link

Author Website
Author Facebook Page

Happy Reading y’all!

Conspiracy of Silence: a book review

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Description:

Four years after a tragic mission decimated his career and his team, Cole “Tox” Russell is persona non grata to the United States. And that’s fine–he just wants to be left alone. But when a dormant, centuries-old disease is unleashed, Tox is lured back into action.

Partnered with FBI agent Kasey Cortes, Tox has to pull together a team to begin a globe-spanning search for answers–and a cure. As their quest leads them from continent to continent, it slowly becomes clear they’re not just fighting a plague–but battling against an ancient secret society whose true goals remain hidden.

With time running out and opposition growing on every side, the key to everything may rest in an antique codex, the Crown of Jerusalem–but will Tox and his team be able to trust each other enough to break this century-spanning conspiracy of silence?

My Review: 

Cole “Toxic” Russell lives up to his name. Everyone who gets close seems to invariably get poisoned by his existence. After a massive snafu involving a very high profile target – with personal connections – Tox and his team are courtmartialed and imprisoned. Yet he is given one last chance to save his team. One job, then they’re free and he can disappear.

Four years later Tox gets hunted down by the very government who abandoned him, and they want him back.

Standing under the command of men he doesn’t trust, and with a team that hates him, Tox is expected to find a deadly bioweapon contained within a set of ancient religious artifacts before millions of people die.

Oh, man, where do I even begin?

Tox is a great character. Deeply flawed, seriously hurting and angry, but with a great heart beneath. Kasey, our main female lead, was also a lot of fun. As an FBI deception expert, nobody could get anything past her, the human lie detector. I’m a bit jealous of her “superpower”. Wish I had it. Life would be so much easier.

To also had a really great team, even if they were rather harsh with him sometimes. Okorie was my special favorite of that group. He’s Tox’s rock. Without him, I feel that things would really have begun to crumble.

No one writes military fiction like Ronie Kendig. In fact, I swear she gets better with every book. (Is that even possible?) She’s pretty much the only military fiction author I even bother to read anymore. Just like all the rest of her books, Conspiracy is non stop action from beginning to end. I was riveted to my seat from the time I picked it up. Only the consequences of not showing up for work on time could convince me to set it down – but I still brought it with me. Any breaks I got at work immediately saw me glued back to that book. I lost a lot of sleep too, thanks to it. Book 2 – Crown of Souls – can’t come fast enough for me!

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: Clean. One kiss.
Language: clean
Drinking/Drugs:  clean
Blood/violence: There is a great deal of violence in this book. several firefights and fistfights, chase scenes, and some death. Descriptions of blood are minimal. Worst part is the phosphorus weapon the villains use, a nasty piece that burns a person from the inside out. There was one fairly descriptive scene of that happening.

Amazon Kindle Link
Amazon Paperback Link

Author Website
Author Facebook Page
Author Twitter Page

Happy Reading y’all!

The Reward of Anavrea Blog Tour!

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We all like a reward, don’t we? But, not all rewards are what they appear. That’s the case in the latest installment of Rachel Rossano’s Theodoric Saga. Rachel created an intriguing Historical-like Christian Fantasy as she tells the tale of Jayne and Liam. Find out more and be sure to check out the giveaway!

About the Book

web2-rossano-reward-finalShe couldn’t hide forever.

A hard life taught Jayne to avoid men, powerful men most of all. When a new nobleman arrives to take over the vargar, she takes her family and hides. But the new baron seeks her out and makes her an offer she can’t refuse: protection. However, once they were sheltered behind the dark stone walls of the vargar, who would protect her from the new master?

His reward isn’t what it seems.

King Ireic of Anavrea charges Liam, a former bodyguard, with the task of retaking and taming a corner of the northern wilds. Upon arrival at Ashwyn Vargar, Liam finds challenges beyond his military experience. The keys to the vargar are missing and so are the field hands who should be harvesting the fields. Once he finds the keeper of the keys, she raises more questions than answers.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N2JATTB/

Short Review

Trust is a difficult thing for Jayne after being let down by every man in her life up to this point, with the exception of her brothers. Liam, newly made Lord of Ashwyn, desperately wants her to trust in him, but he doesn’t know how to win a girl who questions his motives and his every move. And to top it all off, their village is threatened with starvation and a neighboring Lord is determined to get the lands he believes to be his – through any underhanded means neessary.

Reward was a sweet new addition to Rossano’s Theodoric Saga series. While a bit short, all the characters are well developed and interesting. There were also got to see some fun cameos from main characters in past books.

Heat Ratings:

Romance: There is mention of a former nobleman’s mistresses and illegitimate children. The villian attempts to force a woman to marry him
Language: clean
Drinking/drugs: clean
Blood/violence: several fight scenes and some injuries. Very little blood.

About the Author

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Rachel Rossano is a happily married mother of three children. She spends her days teaching, mothering, and keeping the chaos at bay. After the little ones are in bed, she immerses herself in the fantasy worlds of her books. Tales of romance, adventure, and virtue set in a medieval fantasy world are her preference, but she also writes speculative fantasy and a bit of science fiction.

Giveaway

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Rachel is giving away one of her favorite CDs to listen to while she writes. If you’ve ever wondered what kind of music she likes to listen to, you can check out the CD on Amazon and then come back here and enter the giveaway. https://www.amazon.com/Piano-Guys/dp/B009EAO38C/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview

Rachel, hello and welcome to Ember’s Reviews! Why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself?

Hi! It is great to be here. Almost half my lifetime ago, I married my hubby. I am a homeschooling mother to three children who challenge me every day with their inquisitive minds. As an avid reader in my childhood, teenage years, and young adulthood, I have explored many different genres. Now with all the activities on my plate, I don’t get nearly enough time to read anymore.


Do you have a favorite hobby? (Besides writing ;-)) 
Reading, book cover design, and Lego Xbox 360 games are all my current hobbies, though I also do love a good movie. My favorite movie genres are old classics, old musicals, and superhero flicks.



What is your story’s spiritual theme?

Learning to trust God and others despite past and current pain.

Are you an outliner or a seat-of-your pants writer?
I fall somewhere in between. I plot far enough to know where I am going in the short term, for a few chapters ahead, and I have a decent idea of where I am headed in the end, but I don’t plot every little bit. My characters need room to be themselves and grow. It keeps the story organic and character driven, which I love.

What scenes were the hardest for you to write?


The highly emotional scenes where I need to get a number of things accomplished in one conversation. I also struggle when my brain/character throws me a curve ball that I didn’t plan. I usually have to stop and decide if I want to keep it or not.

Describe your book in five words.
Trust and love intertwine tightly.

What’s coming next?


For this series, there is one more book to come. The Servant of Anavrea is finished in rough draft, but it needs an intensive edit before it is even ready to be seen by beta readers. But it will have to wait.

The next novels on my writing desk are an unlikely pair. The next novel in the Novels of Rhynan series (set in a kingdom to the north of Anavrea) is about two-thirds finished. My other current WIP is a Science Fiction novel that is promising to be a long one. I am excited about both stories and eager to finish them.

 

Tour Schedule

January 2
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Intro and Book Review
Julie Coulter Bellon-Review
Bokerah-Guest Post

January 3
The Overactive Imagination-Guest Post
Queen of Random-Book Spotlight
Rachel Rossano’s Words-Book Spotlight

January 4
Stephany Tullis-Book Spotlight
Ember’s Reviews-Author Interview and Review

January 5
Frances Hoelsema-Book Spotlight
Laurel’s Leaves-Author Interview
Author Franky A Brown-Guest Post

January 6
Zerina Blossom’s Books-Review
Shout outs-Guest Post
God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae-Book Spotlight
Rebekah Lyn Book-Character Spotlight

January 7
Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner

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Most Anticipated Books of 2017

Happy New Year Everyone!

I had been planning to post a favorite books of 2016 list but unfortunately there was a bit of a mishap with the post and I lost it. So instead of looking to the past, let’s look to the future and what 2017 will bring. Unfortunately most of them don’t yet have covers, but I guess that’ll just have to be another fun thing to anticipate, right?

Now where to begin? There are just so many awesome books coming up that I hardly know where to start!  Unfortunately, if I tried to put every book I’m anticipating on this list it would be a mile long. So this is really only a handful of the books I’m counting the days ’til they release.

Exiles by Jaye L. Knight

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Deliver by Tricia Mingerink

(NO COVER)

Mercy’s King + Mercy’s Joy by Katy Huth Jones

(NO COVER)

Fierian and Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig

(NO COVER)

The Noble Servant + The Viscount’s Proposal by Melanie Dickerson

Fuego in the Night by Alicia A. Willis

(NO COVER)

The Wounded Shadow (Working Title) by Patrick W. Carr

(NO COVER)

Awakened by Morgan L. Busse

(NO COVER)

Unraveling by Sara Ella

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Into the Void by Joshua A. Johnson

(NO COVER)

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

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For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund

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An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

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Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy

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What about you? What are some of the books you are eagerly anticipating the release of in 2017?

 

Destroy: a book review

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Before the war, before the Blades, before the Leader…

There was a boy and a scullery maid and a secret shame.
One moonlit night of blood and knives destroyed their country and their lives forever.

The Leader failed to die, but will he also fail to lead?

My Review:

(Okay, for those of you who have not yet read Defy, I’ll attempt to avoid giving away any major spoilers. But no promises.)

One of the few characters – aside from the villains – that I never cared much for in the Blades series was The Leader. I knew of his past, sympathized with him a bit, but it was not quite enough to make me like him. In Destroy, we finally get his story, including several scenes from Defy from his point of view which show the real reasons he acted the way he did. By the end of this novella, I was actually able to like him and sympathize. And I do hope to see more of the development of his and Leith’s relationship in the upcoming novel: Deliver.

Destroy starts about a year before the usurper King Respen overtook Acktar. Here we finally get the chance to meet the parents of Brandi and Renna, as well as the royal family. After meeting the King and his heir, I almost didn’t feel so bad about Respen taking the throne. That probably sounds terrible, but while Respen was bad, at the same time, what disasters would that Prince Angus have brought down on Acktar if given the chance? In a weird and slightly twisted kind of way, it was almost rather a good thing that Respen made that coup. Just goes to show that God always has a plan. Even if it does not always look that way.

From the attack the story moves forward through time with glimpses of The Leader’s life as he struggles to live and to overcome both physical limitations and emotional ones, finds love in a place he never would have expected, and fights to forgive the man who wronged him.

Forgiveness is a huge theme in this book. Not just forgiving others, but also finding a way to forgive yourself. The Leader did a lot of things in his youth he is not proud of, hurt some people, and he struggles to get past that. In a way, he feels as though all that happened to him was a deserved punishment of sorts. He fears that he isn’t good enough, that he’ll make an even worse Leader than his predecessor. His fears are as crippling as the physical wounds he received, perhaps more. Only time will tell if he can overcome in time to save Acktar.

I highly recommend Destroy for all Blades of Acktar fans, and now I’m even more excited to get my hands on Deliver, though at the same time I’m a bit afraid to, because I don’t want to see this series end!

My Rating: Five Flames

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Heat Advisory:

Romance: Some kissing, one of which was forced. The main character and his brother’s carousing is briefly mentioned.
Language: Clean
Drinking/drugs: One minor character drank and was said to frequent the taverns. Tried to get Leader to, but was refused.
Blood/Violence: This was probably the bloodiest of the Blades books. The author writes it tastefully, but there are severe wounds and multiple murders as well as two battles and their aftermaths.

Amazon Kindle Link

Author Website
Author Facebook Page
Author Twitter Page

Happy Reading y’all!