Unbalanced by Courtney Shepard

BALANCED
Unbalanced by Courtney Shepard
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (226 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Daisy

Asha is fire.

Every generation four sisters with power over earth, air, fire, and water are born to fight against a fanatical, secret faith. The Order exists only to sacrifice the sisters for their power. With each success their strength and control grows. They have never failed, for their rule depends on it.

The sisters, separated at birth, are unaware of what hunts them…but they are coming.
A handsome stranger discovers Asha in hiding, and swears allegiance to her cause. She falls for him; though he is not who he says he is. Betrayed and imprisoned inside the Order, Asha is without her power for the first time in her life.

As the war heats up haunting secrets and true motivations are revealed, but the sisters must unite and override their instincts and trust the untrustworthy if they are to fight their terrifying destiny.

Elemental magic threads through this story in more than one way. The narrative focuses on the protagonist Asha – who controls the element of fire – as she meets her equally powerful sisters for the first time, and a dashing young man with blurry allegiances. The heat between these two is as fiery as her element, and as unpredictable.

Their blossoming romance is steely and confusing at first, particularly considering the circumstances Asha is being held under. However, the relationship doesn’t feel out of place here, only stunted and under suspicion. Later, it really comes into its own and there is a magical sex scene with all kinds of arcane power blowing around the room. I will say the sex scene was steamy, but it wasn’t a fully fledged drool-worthy affair and not every detail was spelled out. I also felt there was a slight disconnect between the emotions and the physicality of the event, but that may have been a personal disconnection. The scene would be perfect for those who like their romance heavy-light, and without too much vulgarity.

The plot itself is one in which the sisters and their companions are under threat of death from a mysterious, powerful force. There are subtexts of evil and good, with each side sure the other is in the wrong. By the end of the tale, I have swayed to one side in the debate but have seen no definitive facts of how the past came to be, or hints of how the future will play out. There is a lot of ambiguity, which I like. I feel future books will explore the truth and unveil the mystery of the history in greater detail. This may well take the form of dangerous country-hopping adventures, like the snippets of holiday/investigative snooping which take over the latter half of this book.

However, this unresolved ambiguity is also part of the reason I wasn’t completely satisfied by the ending to Unbalanced. It leaves the issue of this mysterious force attacking the protagonists mostly unexplored and little has been resolved.

Despite this, I can see this plot choice leaves room for a sequel, or three, with the other three sisters – Ivy, Mere and Avia – and their soon to be love interests. There’s a symmetry to this which I like and I love how the sisters are paired up, and the implied chemistry behind it, but this may be too predictable for some.

I feel that this book fits perfectly into the young adult and new adult market. It has similarities to the ‘Lorien Legacies’ books in terms of cared for and hidden away young, supernatural girls and boys coming into their own and battling a near unbeatable power.

If you like magical tales with dashes of romance and an almost certain sequel in the same world, pick this up. There are very few grammatical or editing issues, the narrative style is easy to read, and the characters are believable. Plus, who doesn’t love a good fire, air, earth and water tale?

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