Fairy Nuff by Jane Killick

FAIRY
Fairy Nuff by Jane Killick
Publisher: Windtree Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (233 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Wishing for everything…

…except what she really wants

Stuck in a fairy costume with magical powers, Julie “Nuff” Nuffield wishes for anything she wants. But when magic turns mischievous, a dishy doctor literally sweeps her off her feet — with a broom! — and a million pound coins trap her in her house, she must find a way out of the chaos. All while contemplating sleeping with her ex again. Sound unfair for a single woman battling through life? Or is it Fairy Nuff?

A fun story of one woman’s quest for love and search for the right wish to bring her happiness.

Julie can wish for anything she wants, but what does she really want?

I think that most people at one point in their lives have wished for magical powers of some sort, but no one expects it to actually happen. When Julie finds herself stuck in a fairy costume with magical powers, she’s understandably overwhelmed. At first she’s giddy with the knowledge of her newly discovered powers and is eager to test them out, but her excitement is short lived and it isn’t long before Julie simply wants to be rid of the costume and the powers. However, the costume seems to be stuck to her for a reason. Will Julie figure out the reason for her powers, or will she be a fairy forever?

I knew from the moment I read the title that Fairy Nuff was a book I had to read. I was in the mood for something funny and this tale certainly lived up to my expectations. Fairy Nuff is filled with laugh out loud moments. Ms. Killick managed to make the completely ridiculous predicaments Julie found herself in believable. While I was rolling with laughter for a good portion of the book, there were also some very touching and tender moments sprinkled throughout the story. The idea that being stuck in a magical fairy costume can teach a person some life lessons sounds outrageous, and yet it is completely true for Julie. I’m amazed at how much Julie’s life changed and how much she learned. Julie was forced to take a good look at her life and figure out what really mattered. I also think the costume protected Julie in a weird way. Before Julie became an unwilling fairy, she was headed down a path she would have ultimately regretted. Getting stuck in that costume might have been the best thing that ever happened to Julie.

I do think that the ending was a little abrupt. Throughout the book, Julie has some very promising and flirty encounters with a good looking guy. I would have liked to see even more interaction between Julie and the new man in her life. I think this would have made the ending more satisfying and left me with more hope for Julie’s romantic future.

I’m glad I was given the opportunity to read Fairy Nuff. Julie is a very likable character and her adventures provided me with a lot of laughs as I read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well written romantic comedy.

The Deepest Night by Kara Braden

NIGHT
The Deepest Night by Kara Braden
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (277 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

When everything you love is on the line…

The Isles of Scilly off the coast of England are remote, windswept and wild. They’re the perfect place for Ray Powell to recuperate after the toughest Afghanistan mission the military contractor has ever run. Except instead of the peace and quiet he so desperately needs, he’s faced with a beautiful American woman who instantly challenges his iron control.

It’s best to proceed with caution…

Seeking her own safe haven, Michelle Cole is intrigued and flustered by the intensely compelling and irresistible man.

As their cautious friendship slowly builds into simmering attraction, their hearts and souls are about to be broken open…if they’ll allow it.

The Deepest Night is a delightful “getting-to-know-you” romantic love story. Kara Braden lures the reader in to share this remarkable time with two mature adults who both have their doubts about commitment and true love. Day by day and night by night they inch along with uncertainty, but with desires that keep them disturbingly aware of each other in the supposedly closed Bed and Breakfast on the Isle of Scilly off the coast of England. Both Ray Powell and Michelle Cole are off their home territory. However, Ray has the advantage of having spent much of his childhood on Scilly.

Michelle has self-image issues as well as being conflicted about her future. She lost her bed and breakfast during a horrific hurricane in New York and, right along with it, she learned her partner and friend had been taking money from their business all along. She’s still reeling from both disasters.

Ray, a retired Royal Marine and now the vice president of a special security agency in the United States, treads lightly. He is not a relationship-commitment person, but Michelle sets his bruised and battered body sizzling. His special skills serve him well as he navigates the land mines in Michelle’s life to get to the “real” Michelle. His phone conversations with his partner and friend Preston are revealing and often humorous. While their business is fraught with danger, their friendship sparkles with comfortable trust and good-natured teasing. Preston has no qualms about giving Ray advice about Michelle.

Michelle’s own friend Vicky is also just full of advice for Michelle about the gorgeous, dangerous-looking hunk that showed up on the closed bed and breakfast doorstep, expecting his usual welcome. The irrepressible Vicky encourages a vacation fling for Michelle who she believes over thinking the situation. Just as it looks like she might take Vicky’s advice, Eleanor, Michelle’s multi-married and divorced mother shows up for a visit. The obstacles, the maneuvering, and the humor that comes from this unforeseen visit reveal much about the characters.

Kara Braden’s charming writing style weaves in beautiful description and engages the senses while all the time pulling the reader into the intimate emotions of the hero and heroine. She writes captivating romance without a lot of extra conflicts and complications thrown in. From start to finish, The Deepest Night is a believable, enticing love story and a joy to read.

Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page

ISLAS
Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (207 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own. She must discover the truth — before it’s too late.

Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween party séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact the spirit of her mother. But the séance receives a chilling reply.

SHE IS NOT DEAD.

Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.

Nothing can be kept secret from everyone forever.

At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of Isla. Her personality was described in great detail, but her flaws happened to be things that I find irritating. She definitely caught my attention, though, so I withheld further judgement until I got to know her better. I’m very glad I did this because Isla is the kind of protagonist who becomes more alluring the longer I spend with her. All of her flaws ended up making her a well-rounded, intriguing girl I was a little sad to say goodbye to.

Early on a section of dialogue mentioned that certain characters are much more sensitive to iron than they are to steel. This was confusing to me since steel is is made by smelting iron ore to remove impurities and make the metal stronger. I would have liked to have some sort of scientific or paranormal explanation for why this rule was the exact opposite of what I would have logically expected to be the case. It could have added a lot of depth to this part of the plot.

Isla’s close bond with Aunt Elizabeth brought warmth to this story. I’m a big fan of young adult fiction that treats adults with respect. By no means is Aunt Elizabeth perfect, but the unconditional love she has for her children and niece make me look forward to hearing more from her. She was a wonderful supporting character.

There were several instances when the pacing was uneven. The first few chapters were well paced and full of excitement, so I was surprised to find my interest flagging after that in large part because there were so many different things going simultaneously. While the subplots were interesting, some of them did have the tendency to steal the spotlight in situations when I would have rather learned more about the main plot.

The use of color in this book was interesting. Almost everyone agrees that red is an angry color and blue is a calm one. Ms. Page used these cultural assumptions in some pretty fun ways during the course of her tale. This wasn’t something I was at all expecting to occur, so seeing exactly where she went with them was even more amusing than it might have been otherwise.

Isla’s Inheritance made me smile. It’s a good choice for anyone who likes contemporary fantasy.

The Vineyard by Michael Hurley

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The Vineyard by Michael Hurley
Publisher: Ragbagger Press
Genre: Mainstream, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (373 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Dory Delano, Charlotte Harris, and Turner Graham have been drifting through life since their days as roommates at Smith College, ten years ago. Dory is resisting taking the reins of her family’s legacy and fortune even as she relishes the fabulous lifestyle it affords her in the fashionable seaside resort of Martha’s Vineyard. She invites her old friends to join her for a summer on the Vineyard in hopes of rediscovering the innocence of old days and healing new wounds. But hidden in their midst and unknown to all but a few, a reclusive—some say dangerous—fisherman wanders alone, fueling wild speculation about his purpose and his past. None of these women can imagine the events their encounter with the fisherman will set in motion, the shadow he will cast over their destinies, or the transformation that awaits the world they know.

THE VINEYARD is a spellbinding, beautifully written creation. The words are woven together like a tapestry that recounts the light, dark, and all the shades in between of the entwined lives of three women and the people that impacted their lives. The humanness, flaws, and foibles of the characters make the story remarkably poignant.

This is a story with many layers. It is about friendship love and maternal love, not a story of sexual romantic love. The sexual activity is not the soul mate, sweet, ecstasy kind. One memorable element of friendship love is how much a friend gives to save her friends from the self-destructive path they are on—a path that would have stolen their self-respect and sentenced them to a bleak future. It also reveals the pure love of one man who reaches out to help others and reaps tragic rewards. Another layer shows greed and selfness corrupting and influencing lives and subtly changing the culture of an island.

Three college roommates come together for a summer ten years after graduating. They’ve led very different lives, yet still have a strong connection with each other. During their stay on Martha’s Vineyard, their lifelong beliefs are tested to the limit. Rich, drifting-along Dory, the bereft mother Charlotte, and the still-searching-for-meaning-in-her-life Turner have their lives forever changed by “the fisherman.”

The subtle foreshadowing, moments of humor, and the many “what-ifs” enrich this compelling story about the good, bad and the ugly of humanity. Strong women, unsavory antagonists, and a tangled plot all come together to hold the reader’s attention in a firm grip from start to finish.

To this reader, the names for many of the characters are so much more than just names. They fit the characters’ personalities. Tripp, Turner, Smoke, and others tell so much about these characters and the part they play in the intricate plot. I personally had some special names for the bishop and priest and the sheriff. As I’ve mentioned, the characters are flawed—some a LOT more than others.

Another interesting little aside, the numbers tattooed on Charlotte’s arm and the little red light that shined through the hedges at night are seemingly just mentioned in passing, but each of them give the story another little unique element

Michael Hurley is a superb storyteller. THE VINEYARD is an attention-keeping novel to be enjoyed more than once.

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The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior by Megan Frampton

DUKE
The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior by Megan Frampton
Publisher: Avon/Harper Collins
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (384 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Bluet

All of London knows the Duke of Rutherford has position and wealth. They also whisper that he’s dissolute, devilish, and determinedly unwed. So why, everyone is asking, has he hired a governess?

When Miss Lily Russell crosses the threshold of the Duke of Rutherford’s stylish townhouse, she knows she has come face to face with sensual danger. For this is no doting papa. Rather, his behavior is scandalous, and his reputation rightly earned. And his pursuit of her is nearly irresistible—but resist she must for the sake of her pupil.

As for the duke himself, it was bad enough when his unknown child landed on his doorstep. Now Lily, with her unassuming beauty, has aroused his most wicked fantasies—and, shockingly, his desire to change his wanton ways. He’s determined to become worthy of her, and so he asks for her help in correcting his behavior.

But Lily has a secret, one that, if it becomes known, could change everything . . .

Poor Marcus! The newly titled Duke of Rutherford is bored and dissatisfied with his new station in life. Another night of debauchery has left him cold, and wanting a purpose, something other than acting ducal, marrying the proper person, and producing little dukes-to-be. He was third in line to inherit the title, and never expected that it would come to him. Just as Marcus is contemplating the direction his life has taken he’s presented with a real game changer. His daughter, Rose. Years ago, Marcus had a liaison with Rose’s mother, Fiona. Fiona has now died, and Rose has been sent to her father. He decides to keep Rose with him for now, and to hire a governess.

Lily Russell and her friends are trying to make a go of their new employment agency. When a request comes from the Duke of Rutherford, she knows this could be the making of them, if they are successful. Lily decides to take the position herself. When she meets the duke, she is immediately attracted to his good looks, and she loses her heart to the shaking, frightened little girl. Marcus is attracted to Lily, as well, but he’s come to the decision that he must change his ways, and certainly can’t have a relationship with his daughter’s governess. Of course, their close proximity and their chemistry play havoc with the best laid plans.

At first I decided that I didn’t like Marcus. There were specific reasons I felt that his character was beyond redemption but to explain would give away pivotal points of the story. However, Marcus’ heart melts almost from the beginning as he meets his daughter, and against what’s normally done, he brings her into his household. His desire to change his lifestyle and become a better person and a good father are admirable. The child, Rose, is a sweet and lovable character, without stealing the show. Lily is a likable character from the start. She’s funny and caring, yet sensible. I adored the witty encounters between Lily and Marcus, as well as their fascination with each other.

I love governess stories, and this one had more obstacles to a happy ever after than most. Society frowns upon nobles making unequal matches, and Lily is hiding a secret that makes her even more unsuitable. It’s also not the thing to keep your illegitimate child in your household. The way this was resolved with a grand gesture at the end was romantic and swoon worthy. This was my first book by Megan Frampton, and I will be sure to check out her back-list, and future releases. If you enjoy humor, redemption, and emotion in your romance, this book fits the bill, and I heartily recommend it.

A Highland Wolf Christmas by Terry Spear

CHRISTMAS
A Highland Wolf Christmas by Terry Spear
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casblanca
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Holiday
Length: Full Length (299 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Financial advisor Guthrie MacNeill isn’t a complete Scrooge—he just hates the enormous cost associated with the Christmas holiday season. Needless to say, when his pack hires a party planner to decorate the castle, he’s at his wit’s end. Until Calla Stewart arrives on the scene with her mistletoe in hand.

Calla has never had a client as difficult as Guthrie, but she’s determined to give the pack a Christmas season they will never forget—no matter how much it costs. But when her ex-fiancé begins stalking her and threatening her safety, Guthrie decides to loosen his grip on the purse strings and let out his inner Highland warrior wolf to protect her.

This was a one day read. It was fun, engaging and very much a holiday story, rich in tradition and filled with awesome descriptions of what the perfect gathering would look and feel like. Throw in a romance fraught with, and plagued by, external conflicts, and it makes this tale more substantial and worth spending some time with.

A Highland Wolf Christmas finally tackles Guthrie. In past books, he came across as a bit prissy in my estimation. Everything relates to money and he has an eagle eyed focus on the pack’s finances. Any expenses for frivolity seem to send him into fits. So, when a party planner whose job is to spend other people’s money gets taken under the protection of the pack, it seemed the hero shouldn’t give the party planner the time of day, right? Probably, except this person isn’t just anyone, it’s Calla. She was introduced in the last book as a secondary character with a slight problem. It’s not slight any longer and she made for a surprisingly perfect partner for tightwad, Guthrie. As for the hero, he shows the reader and Calla just how much of a highland warrior he is, sword and all. Guthrie is actually quite a delicious male specimen.

Calla is a successful self-made entrepreneur with a very busy business. One of my favorite scenes between her and Guthrie is when she factually states just how much money she makes, what she’s done with it and how she keeps track of it. I got the impression the hero was practically humming with appreciation – beauty and brains are a big turn on for him it seems and it’s at that moment I believe his fate was sealed. His wolf wants her, his human brain with all its reasoning tries to resist being attracted to Calla, but by being true to herself, is too much for even the man to resist. The journey from fight to fall is entertaining.

The darkness in the novel comes from her ex fiancé, Baird. I knew from the past book that he was a trouble maker and a bit of a brat. That was the tip of the iceberg. Also, I should reassure readers that even though I refer to the previous book regarding Calla and Baird, this is a standalone read. I was introduced to them earlier, was provided hints earlier, but it is in this book that the tale gets told and secrets are revealed 100%. This story is about Guthrie and Calla and the thorn in their side, Baird. And what a thorn he is. Just when I think he’s going to have a chance at redemption, just when he’s given a chance to change or at least go a different direction, the villain earns his Bad Guy star at every turn. The author finally convinced me he was bad to the bone. Those parts were well written and quite gripping.

For readers who like spice with their romance, Guthrie is no slouch. He woos and seduces Calla to my satisfaction. The scenes worked well and were well written.

On a personal note, reading A Highland Wolf Christmas at the time I read it was a breath of fresh air. I had tried to read another book, had gotten to page 95 and nothing happened. No plot movement, no excitement, and filled with shallow characters. Ugh. It was a slow dull hamster wheel of a read and I was bored out of my skull. I tossed that one aside and picked up Ms. Spear’s book and by page 79 I was totally, completely engaged in the story, loved the characters and was already treated to a possible abduction, a car crash, a sword fight and the stirrings of some serious hot feelings between the hero and heroine, and a shattered glass of milk. Ms. Spear is a master at making me CARE for her characters and makes me WANT to read about them. I truly am grateful for the skill and art she brings to each and every one of her stories and after trying to read that other book, this current novel refreshed my appreciation of Ms. Spear’s writing. I’m a very happy reader.

That being said, when I mentioned in the first paragraph about descriptions, I wasn’t kidding. Ms. Spear wants her readers WITH her characters as they shop at the mall, as they decorate the tree, the castle, and she describes the celebrations and traditions in great detail so readers get the full effect of the holiday season among a pack of werewolves. I think she was a bit too enthusiastic for my tastes but for readers who adore and revel in intricate details of a book’s character’s lives, then those parts should make them ecstatic. As for me, I was over-holidayed. It’s like a candy cane – I will eat a piece of it but I can’t eat the whole thing in one sitting. Like that.

All in all, A Highland Wolf Christmas is a story not to miss. Not just because it is a romance about two people in my favorite werewolf pack, but because it made me happy, made me feel good and spending time finally getting to know Guthrie and Calla was an enjoyable experience. The wrap up chapter was filled with so much positive, cheery and optimistic feelings that I couldn’t help but be pleased that I’d read it. I definitely recommend this book to all paranormal romance fans, fans of Ms. Spear or anyone looking for a holiday-themed adventure. Ms. Spear delivers romance satisfaction.

Forsaken by Sarah Ballance

FORSAKEN
Forsaken by Sarah Ballance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (101 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Her past is back to haunt her and this time, it s got a gun.

When Gage Lawton finds his brother shot to death on his back porch, every shred of evidence points to one person: Gage’s ex-lover, Riley Beckett. The only gun in town that fires a bullet of that caliber belongs to her.

Certain the shooting is payback for his part in the loss of her parents, he abandons his promise to stay out of her life and confronts her, his rage backed up with a revolver. Yet when she steps through the door, all thoughts of revenge burn to ashes.

A year after Riley unwillingly walked away from Gage, she enters her home to find him sitting in the dark, gun pointed at her head. One look into those achingly familiar blue eyes reminds her how wrong she was to let him go. But now there’s more standing between them than their heated past.

A twist of fate and a hail of sniper bullets puts them in the cross hairs of a killer, leaving Riley with just two slim options: trust her greatest betrayer, or face a murderer alone.

It hooked me from the start! This was a great read, a short but fairly well developed story that I really enjoyed.

This book had such a great opening, probably meant to pull the reader in and that is just what it did for me. Gage and Riley had an interesting backstory. It was young love until disaster struck and she turned away from him. Yet the feelings never went away for either of them. Gage comes running to her rescue the minute Riley is in danger.

The plot had an excellent setup with plenty of drama and a great mystery in this one. Conflict abounded here and the road to their happy ever after wasn’t easy. Someone had a vendetta and was trying to hurt both Riley and Gage. The story took a few turns and had a very twisted villain who took me by complete surprise. It was nice of the author to throw that extra edge in there.

I liked the writing style here because the story was so fast paced and eventful. I definitely liked the mystery and how the secrets kept playing out. I felt that the romance and the mystery were perfectly blended. I liked how easily Gage and Riley reconnected with each other, the second chance at love trope.

There was one thing that didn’t quite add up for me though. Where were the tears for the brother who took the bullet that was meant for Gage? It was barely mentioned despite being a catalyst that just happened. Just a few tears maybe. Still, I could overlook that because I wanted to. I was completely caught up in the romance of how love triumphed over all.

I liked it. It’s a great romantic mystery that I enjoyed a lot, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Deadly Influence by Lynde Lakes

DEADLY
Deadly Influence by Lynde Lakes
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (170 pages)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Thornapple

Laced with romantic intrigue, Air Force Intelligence Lieutenant Jay Corning, and his grandmother’s bodyguard, Lisa Dixon, struggle to keep their attraction for each other in check while they work together to uncover the evil soul trying to kill the strong-willed matriarch.

Danger closes in from the dark corners of the small community, stirring fears and steamy emotions. The heat rises at the Corning Estate, drawing Lisa and Jay closer, while a mysterious force threatens to drive them apart.

This is a very twisty story full of greedy, selfish characters, a cool grandmother, a hot military guy and a strong leading lady.

When Lisa’s career as a police officer didn’t work out, she goes into the private sector. She is now a bodyguard for an elderly woman someone wants dead. But, who? Why? Lisa begins to care for Meta just like she was her own grandmother. Meta’s two grandsons are another matter entirely. Dealing with Bud is a pain but when Meta’s other grandson, Jay arrives, Lisa finds him even more infuriating, and not only that, too attractive and not as easy to blow off as Bud.

Jay returns home from his military duties to see what has been going on with his grandmother after he is informed there has been an attempt on her life. He is very uneasy and angry to learn that the nurse, Lisa, has ensconced herself firmly into Meta’s life, and has even been included in his grandmother’s will. But when another attempt is made on Meta’s life, Jay gets an up close and personal introduction to the real Lisa…and a gold digger she is not.

Although there were some areas in the plot that were transparent in regards to the whodunit part of the story, there were still twist that took me by surprise. The action and shoot outs make up for any predictability. While the story was equal parts suspense and romance, Jay and Lisa’s saga was the best part for me. I couldn’t believe what was happening with them and wanted to somehow reach into the book and punch a certain master manipulator in the mouth. Grrrrr!!

What I liked the most about the story was the subtle message about our own individuality. Jay and Lisa had to come to the realization that they were nothing like their parents and didn’t need to worry about carrying their parent’s undesirable traits themselves.

This book was a quick and entertaining read and I would recommend to romantic suspense fans.

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson

WINTER
The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (357 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Imogen Robertson’s break-out novel – a deep, dark and opulent tale of Belle epoque Paris, and the secrets and dangers hidden beneath its luxurious facade. Maud Heighton came to Lafond’s famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels’ world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. Before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.

The Belle epoque–what a great time to be alive!

I love books set at the turn of the century. This was my favorite time to study art… and the clothes! Oh my. Imogen Robertson conveys the opulence and the decadence of the period well. Her writing is exciting and drew me in right away.

I have to admit, the book isn’t exceedingly complex, but for me that was okay. I liked immersing myself in the worlds of Yvette, Maud and Tanya. All three show different parts of society at the time. I rooted for all of them. Yvette was my favorite because she was the most realistic. She held her own and managed to keep her true background hidden. That took a lot of guts.

The scenes and characters are written beautifully. I felt like I was there with them, looking at the art and learning about the artists. I loved my time in Paris via this book.

There is a little bit of mystery to the story, but I wouldn’t classify the book as a mystery. It’s more of an air of mystery that adds to the story.

If you want to meet interesting characters, visit a lush Paris, and lose yourself for a few hours, then this might be the book you’ve been looking for.

Krystal’s Calling by Melissa Solorzano

KRYSTAL
Krystal’s Calling by Melissa Solorzano
Publisher: Forever More Publishing
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (142 pages)
Age Recommendation: 16+
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Krystal enters adulthood on her eighteenth birthday, and to have her life change forever as Mother Earth marks her as her daughter. Together Krystal and Courtney leave on a calling, unsure of where they’re going or what lays ahead.

Krystal awakens on her eighteenth birthday to discover her life will change forever. Mother Earth has decided to awaken something inside her that the realm is in need of, as dark forces seek to do harm.

As a half-elf, Krystal is now an adult and can make her own choices. Her first calling comes, and she must leave her home to start a journey she hopes will have her following in her father’s footsteps. With her best friend at her side, Krystal rides away from their childhood home to an unknown destination that could shape her destiny.

It’s much easier to focus on the freedom that comes with growing up than it is to think about all of the responsibilities that come with it. How will Krystal adjust to the new rules in her life?

One of the things I look for in a protagonist is someone whose faults could actually have a negative effect on the plot. Krystal definitely fits this bill. Knowing that she isn’t perfect, and, more importantly, that there’s a chance she could make a big mistake that unravels all of the good she’s trying to do was helpful. I liked what the author did with this character’s personality and development.

There was a lot of telling instead of showing in this novella. It was especially noticeable in the dialogue. I learned almost everything I know about Krystal’s importance to her people through conversations with her mother. It felt odd for these two characters to go into so much detail about this part of their lives when no one else was around because all of it was stuff their whole family had been aware of for a very long time.

I’ve always had the impression that elves are absolutely horrified by modern human technology, so it was intriguing to see something written about their race that was set in the present day. Ms. Solorzano struck a delicate balance between portraying the quiet, nature-loving elements of their culture that I’d expect to see while also showing how they might thrive in the twenty-first century.

Figuring out the most appropriate age recommendation was really tricky. Krystal acts much younger than her chronological age for reasons that I never figured out. The writing style included playful plot twists that are much more common in middle grade fiction, yet there were also explicit sexual content that I’ve only ever seen written for mature teens. It’s quite unusual to see these kinds of things included in the same book. I even briefly wondered if Krystal had some sort of learning or developmental disorder due to certain things that happen in the first few scenes. Had the author provided even a brief explanation of what was going on here, I would have felt comfortable giving this tale a higher rating.

If there’s one thing a decent villain needs to be, it’s legitimately dangerous. I was pleasantly surprised by just how frightening the villain in this story turned out to be. The threat to Krystal’s safety is made painfully obvious as the identity of her antagonist is exposed. There is no doubt here at all that this bad guy has terrible intentions.

Krystal’s Calling is a good choice for anyone who really enjoys fantasy stories about elves.