Review: Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade #3) by Jennifer Estep

Bright Blaze of MagicTitle: Bright Blaze of Magic
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Links:

Blurb:
Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I’m good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families–and kill every last Sinclair. What they don’t know is that I’m on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I’ve got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…

My Review:
Enthralling, engrossing read that had me riveted from page one.

I am almost embarrassed to admit that this is my first Jennifer Estep book. It sure as hell won’t be the last. When I got approved for this on Netgalley I fully intended on reading the first two books in the series, but I just didn’t have time. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to follow the story but major kudos to the author for skillfully blending reminders of what had happened previously, along with detailed explanations of the setting and plot which ensured I seamlessly picked up on the story. That said, I really want to read them now! I want to see how Devon and Lila’s relationship developed from their first encounter.

I adore the world building. Wow, so imaginative and creative, and totally immersive. So many different magical creatures. I also loved the sword-fighting battles and duel to the death.

I loved Lila and Devon, and indeed Felix and Deah too. Lila was a fantastic heroine. Gutsy, brave, very kick-ass, but she had a strong moral and emotional compass too. Well-rounded characterization overall. Devon was swoon-worthy in the extreme. I loved how he let Lila lead, and let her protect him. He was secure enough in his masculinity to allow her take center stage. It was so refreshing.

The romance was a little light for me, but that’s just personal preference. I love the romance arc to occupy a bigger chunk of the plot.

The story surrounding the family conflict was well written and there were plenty of action scenes and life-threatening moments that propelled the plot forward.

The writing was superb, pacing consistent for the most part (were a few scenes I felt dragged and/or were overly detailed that I skimmed) and the worldbuilding was complex but solidly developed.

All in all, this was a fantastic read, and I look forward to checking out more of this author’s work in the future.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This review will appear on my blog in due course.

Review: Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4) by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of ShadowsTitle: Queen of Shadows
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #4
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: fantasy
Links:

Blurb:
The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.

My Review:
This was a superb read, and hands-down the best of the series so far.

The plot was incredible; full of suspenseful twists and turns, and an imaginatively created fantasy world that I loved. The pacing was spot on, and even though it’s a big book, I never felt that any part dragged. The writing was great, as usual.

At this stage, the characters all seem so real to me, so much so that I feel quite intensely about them. There are minor inconsistencies with some of the characters, and there were plenty of times when a few of them really grated on my nerves, but that’s a side effect of being so invested in them and their stories. Honestly not a bad thing.

Aelin has really come into her own, and she was amazing in this book. Sharp, shrewd, brave, snarky, and cunning are all words that spring to mind. I adored her and Rowan in this book, and they are so perfect together. And Rowan is just perfect book boyfriend material. (Swooning.)

I disliked Chaol for most of this book, and I hated the fact that he was pinning so much blame on Aelin when he was the one who sent her away in the first place! He vented a lot of his own self-frustration in her direction which was massively unfair. Thankfully, he took his head out of his ass by the end of the book and redeemed himself.

I actually enjoyed Manon’s POV this time around, and the witchy sub-plot added depth and an additional layer which was lacking in Heir of Fire. I figured Elide was going to reappear though it’s still unclear what value she offers, or what role she will play.

Dorian. Poor Dorian. He has really been through the wringer. I hope he has what it takes to see this thing through, and that he’s not too damaged. I’m still intrigued to see how him and Aelin as a magical unit fit into the overall picture.

Aelin’s dark side still wriggles beneath the surface and I’m wondering if she is strong enough to fight it off in future books. There is definitely potential for her to turn to the dark side, and wouldn’t that be an interesting turn of events.

All in all, this was fantastic. I can’t wait to read the next instalment.

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and FuryTitle: A Court of Mist and Fury
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #2
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: fantasy/ fairytale retelling/ romance
Links:

Blurb:
The stunning sequel to Sarah J. Maas’ New York Times bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court – but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms – and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future – and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Review:
Wow. Just wow. Sheer Genius. Loved every minute of every page. I cannot believe I have to wait a YEAR to read the next one. Feel like dying because I need it NOW!

This was – hands down – the best read of 2016 so far for me. I seriously ADORE Sarah’s writing and the amazing worlds and characters she creates. The second installment in this series was even better than the first. It hooked me from the first word to the last word and I could’ve cried when I finished it. Even though it’s a decent length, I was greedy for more. More Feyre. And definitely more Rhys. OMG. Love Rhys so much. I liked him in the last book, even though he seemed cruel it was obvious he was trying to protect her. In this book, we find out why and how and I seriously wanted to project myself into this book and jump his bones. I thought I would spontaneously combust if they didn’t get it on and it took until 78% for them to share their true feelings and commit to a relationship; boy was it worth the wait. (Still fanning myself!)

This had everything I adore in a read and I just cannot get enough of this series or this author.

Amazing. Go read this series now!

A word of caution – this is New Adult and not suitable for young teens.

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and RosesTitle: A Court of Thorns and Roses
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Fantasy/ fairytale retelling/ Romance
Links:

Blurb:
When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin-one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin-and his world-forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this USA Today and #2 New York Times bestselling first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down, and features a teaser for the next book!

My Review:
Wow. What a fantastic read. Though it was a little slow at the start, I soon became completely immersed in this elaborate, addictive world that Sarah created. Loved Feyre and she is everything you could ask for in a lead character. Tamlin – swoon. Rhysand – bad boy swoon. Loved the romance. Great dialogue and lots of witty banter. Adored all the fantastical elements and the world-building was superb.
The second half of this book was explosive and so gripping – it was difficult to sit it down. One of the things I love most about this author is the fact that she writes books that are a decent length, so we get more story for our money which is awesome. I picked this up for 99p which was superb value. I’ve already ordered the next book and can’t wait until May to see where she takes the story next.

Review: Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

Sanctuary BayTitle: Sanctuary Bay
Author: Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
Series: standalone
Rating: 3.5 stars
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Links:

Blurb:
Will Sarah Merson’s shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.

My Review:
Actual Rating 3.5 Stars

I was so looking forward to reading this book as the blurb and cover are gorgeous, and I discovered that this book was written by the author of the Roswell series (which I loved when I was younger.)

Now that I’ve read it, I’m kinda struggling to sort my thoughts out. It was good, it was creative and imaginative, and I definitely became invested in the story, but there were things that I didn’t like as well which is why my rating isn’t higher.

Initially, I found it very difficult to connect with this story , and I actually put it down to read another book, unsure if I would come back to it. I did, and once I got beyond the 30 percent mark, I began to enjoy it. Now, it was extremely weird and confusing at times, and I didn’t like the cult aspect or the wolf-howling scenes (total cheese-fest.)

The second half of this book is a total rollercoaster read – so much is crammed in there that I had to stop and take stock a few times, but it was fast-paced and thrilling and full of mystery and suspense. Awesome.

Our MC, Sarah, was very weak at the start and quite insipid. By the end of the book I had warmed to her but her development wasn’t really logical or explicable. Ethan Steere was my favorite character and I felt the only one who had true depth. Now, when you realize what’s actually going on it explains some of the other characters strange behaviour and stiff dialogue, so I can forgive that as it works with the plot. Believable.

The revelations about what was really going on in Sanctuary Bay were fantastic, if a little underdeveloped at times. I thought the world building and writing were good.

The ending felt very rushed to me. It had a conclusion, and an epilogue, but to me there is another story in this and a few loose threads that weren’t developed. If a second book is released I would read it to see what happens next for Sarah and Ethan.

I’d like to thank St. Martins Press and Netgalley for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Review: The Assassin’s Blade (Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5) by Sarah J. Maas

The Assassin's bladeTitle: The Assassin’s Blade
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass 0.1-0.5
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Fantasy
Links:

Blurb:
Contains all five novellas.

Celaena Sardothien is Adarlan’s most feared assassin. As part of the Assassin’s Guild, her allegiance is to her master, Arobynn Hamel, yet Celaena listens to no one and trusts only her fellow killer-for-hire, Sam. In these action-packed novellas – together in one edition for the first time – Celaena embarks on five daring missions. They take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, where she fights to liberate slaves and seeks to avenge the tyrannous. But she is acting against Arobynn’s orders and could suffer an unimaginable punishment for such treachery. Will Celaena ever be truly free? Explore the dark underworld of this kick-ass heroine to find out.

My Review:
This was a fantastic read, and it definitely adds a lot to the series. I actually wish I’d read these novellas before book 1 as I think I’d have enjoyed reading that more going into it with a full understanding of the backstory.

1st novella – The Assassin and the Pirate Lord: Really enjoyed this story. Man, Celaena is so arrogant and full of herself. I think Rolfe is right in his assessment, and I suspect he may be the one to betray her. She seems to have made a formidable enemy. Loved Sam, and he was definitely the more mature, voice of reason. Can’t wait to see their romance develop. 5 stars.

2nd novella – The Assassin and the Healer. Loved it. Celaena has a good heart. Girl Power. 5 stars.

3rd novella – The Assassin and the Desert. My favourite read so far. Celaena has a good sense of right wrong. She should have kissed Ilias though! 5 stars

4th novella – The Assassin and the Underworld. Now we are getting to the good stuff. Arobynn is a slippery snake. Love Sam, and so happy they are finally free and together, but it’s bittersweet knowing what’s around the corner. 5 stars

5th novella – The Assassin and the Empire. Absolutely heart-breaking. I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried. Poor Sam. Poor Celaena. I hope she gets her revenge on Farran and Arobynn. I knew he wouldn’t be happy that she picked Sam. Totally rotten to the core. Hate him.

Overall, I absolutely loved these prequel novellas, and they have hooked me on this series more so than Book 1 did. I definitely feel like I have a greater understanding of what makes Celaena tick now, and it will be easier to relate to her as the series progresses. Dying to finish it now.

Blog Tour: The Head of Medusa (Elementals #3) by Michelle Madow

Medusa_TourBadge
Today is my stop during the blog tour for The Head of Medusa (Elementals #3) by Michelle Madow. Filled with magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance, Elementals 3: The Head of Medusa is the latest installment in Michelle Madow’s exciting Elementals series. Follow Nicole and her fellow Elementals as they journey to the end of the world, unsure of who to trust, and facing choices that will put their lives and the entire world at risk. Will they all survive the mission? And if they don’t, will the ones who do be able to find the strength to continue?

I’ll review the book today and there are some teasers, an excerpt and a tour wide giveaway!

MichelleMadow_TheHeadofMedusa_HRTitle: The Head of Medusa
Author: Michelle Madow
Series: Elementals #3
Genres: Fantasy/ mythology
Rating: 3.5 stars
Release Date: June 29, 2016
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing
Links:

The adventure began in the first book in the series, Elementals: The Prophecy of Shadows. Visit www.michellemadow.com to get the first Elementals book for FREE!

The Elementals series is available on Kindle Unlimited, so subscribers can read it for free.

Blurb:
The epic story of witches, gods, and monsters that USA Today called a “must read” continues in the third book of the Elementals series!

When Nicole Cassidy moved to a new town, she discovered that she was a witch descended from gods. But that was nothing compared to learning that it was up to her and four others with mysterious elemental powers to help save the world from the Titans, who would soon return to Earth.

Now her relationship with Blake — the fire Elemental — is finally heating up. But she must remain focused, because Typhon, one of the deadliest creatures in history, has escaped from the weakening prison world. Only one object can destroy him — the head of Medusa herself.

Follow the Elementals as they journey to the end of the Earth, facing choices that will put their lives and the entire world at risk. Will they all survive the mission? Find out in the riveting third book in the Elementals series, The Head of Medusa.

Medusa_PQ1

My Review:
Actual rating 3.5 stars.

The third installment in the Elementals series sees our gang setting out on another adventure, this time to Antartica to claim a sword they need to claim the Head of Medusa. This is all in an effort to stop the Titans from opening the portal from Kerberos and unleashing their special brand of hell on Earth.

Their adventures take them to movie star Flynn in LA where things really start to hit the fan!

The last third of this book was engrossing and that ending was awesome, even if I did predict who the traitor was and guessed that something was going to happen to X (no spoilers here!) from a reference made at the start of the book. The earlier twist involving one of the elementals came out of nowhere and it was a good surprise, but to be honest, I’m not overly connected to that character and I’m not hugely concerned over what happens to Y.

I loved that we had more romance in this one as I’ve felt it was lacking in the first two books. Nicole and Blake are so sweet together and I adored all the romantic moments and seeing their relationship develop. Blake is totally swoon-worthy. I did feel that the plot took a bit of a backseat in this one and not a hell of a lot happens until the fast-paced last portion.

Another thing I really like about this series is the greek mythology and how creatively Michelle has woven the mythology into the plot.

All in all, this was a decent continuation of the series. While I think this is a good series, I can’t say I’m blown away by it, but I’m definitely invested enough to want to continue. Particularly after that spectacular ending!

Thanks to the author and Barclay PR for providing an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Medusa_PQ2

Excerpt:
“What we’re about to do is scary. Terrifying, even. But we’ve been through things that were just as challenging. We slayed our first monster together in that cave, we escaped the Land of the Lotus Eaters when everyone there was trying to kill us, we blew up one of Scylla’s heads, we slayed the hydra, and we stole the Golden Sword of Athena from a goddess’s ice palace. No matter what challenges we face, we’ve always come out on top. Tonight won’t be any different. We’re the Elementals. We train together, we fight together, and we win together. And don’t any of you ever forget it.”

Medusa_PQ3

About the Author:
Michelle Madow writes fast-paced YA (young adult) fiction that will leave you turning the pages wanting more!

She grew up in Baltimore, and now lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she writes books for young adults. Some of her favorite things are: reading, traveling, pizza, time travel, Broadway musicals, and spending time with friends and family. Michelle went on a cross-country road trip from Florida to California and back to promote her books and to encourage high school students to embrace reading and writing. Someday, she hopes to travel the world for a year on a cruise ship.

Visit her website, www.michellemadow.com, to get books of Michelle’s for FREE!

Links:

Giveaway:
Michelle is offering up a fabulous prize during her Elementals 3: The Head of Medusa Virtual Tour event. One (1) lucky winner will receive a signed paperback copy of Elementals 1: The Prophecy of Shadows! To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas

Heir of FireTitle: Heir of Fire
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Fantasy
Links:

Blurb:
She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth…a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king’s assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

My Review:
I found the first half of this book very slow-paced and bogged down with unnecessary scenes. I also didn’t enjoy the witches point of view, and I feel that this element of the plot could have been relayed in far fewer chapters. I tended to skim much of them.

When I reached the 60% mark this book drastically improved. Finally, some action and the plot moved forward. The second half was full of action and suspense and I loved it.

Celaena is very depressed for a lot of this book, and her demons threaten to consume her. She refuses to face up to her reality, and she wants nothing to do with her legacy. Her relationship with Rowan was expertly written, and I really enjoyed watching them butt heads, tentatively growing closer, and gradually forming a bond.

I really felt Chaol’s pain and torment in this book, and he was so conflicted, but he still did the honorable thing. I hated that Dorian and Chaol were no longer friends, and glad that Dorian found comfort in Sorscha. I knew she was hiding secrets though I didn’t predict that end.

There was no romance in this book and that was disappointing. It’s all up in the air and I’m wondering where it’s leading.

I was wondering when the King was going to show his true colors, and when Celaena was going to go after Arobynn because neither of these subplots was explored in the last book.

In summary, I was a little disappointed in the first part of this book but the second half more than made up for it. I can’t wait to see how it all ends now.

Review: Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of MidnightTitle: Crown of Midnight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genres: Fantasy
Links:

Blurb:
“A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.

It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend.”

From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.

Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.

Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena’s world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie… and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

My Review:
I felt Crown of Midnight was a big improvement on the first book in the series, and I loved the creative, intricate, expertly interwoven plot. So much happens, and the mystery deepens.

I love the blending of magic and fantasy with political subterfuge and hints of rebellion.

The writing is excellent and it flows beautifully.

I warmed more to Celaena in this book, though that’s in part due to the prequel novellas which gave me greater insight into her character. The one aspect I didn’t like is how she treated the two love interests. She callously dismissed Dorian at the end of Book 1, and she barely gives him the time of day anymore. Her relationship with Chaol develops into a romantic relationship, as anticipated, and it was sweet for all of five minutes. Then it turns to crap overnight and they split up. I understand how she could be upset and angry over what happened, but she refused to talk to him or even listen to his side of the story, and that really irritated me. When she threw out “You will always be my enemy” I was confused, because surely she knew that starting into the relationship so why throw that about as a reason after the fact? Then she turns toward Dorian again, and it totally felt like she was using him, and I hated that he just let her.

Chaol and Dorian have been presented as good friends, yet she comes between them, and they talk around issues instead of discussing it upfront.

There’s a hint that she’s meant to be with the prince, so we’ll see.

I wasn’t surprised when her true identity was revealed – saw that coming a mile off, but it’s still a good twist.

Overall this was a superb read with a balanced mix of action and romance, even if the love triangle leaves me a little cold.

Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars

Review: Touched (Touched Saga #1) by Elisa S. Amore

TouchedTitle: Touched
Author: Elisa S. Amore
Series: Touched Saga #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Based on a Norwegian legend
A Sealed Fate
An Angel of Death
A Forbidden Love

“As seductive as Meet Joe Black. As mysterious as City of Angels. As powerful as Twilight.”

What are you willing to sacrifice when the only person who can save you is the same one who has to kill you?

After vampires and werewolves, after wizards and fallen angels, a new breed of Angels is here to usher you into their dark world. An ancient, deadly, inescapable race.
No one can see them. They’re shadows of destiny. They’re knights of death. They’re the Subterraneans and they’re here to claim our lives.
Commanded by a mysterious congregation called the Màsala, the Angels of Death ensure that each man’s destiny takes its due course on Earth.
But what happens when love intervenes?
Can an Angel of Death deny his own nature and challenge destiny?
Can love rebel against fate?

When Gemma’s eyes first meet the dark, piercing gaze of Evan James, an ominous shadow creeps into her life, ultimately leading her to face her destiny. She doesn’t realize Evan is one of Death’s soldiers and that Death is summoning her.
Her time is up: Gemma must die . . . and Evan has been sent to kill her.
But what if she’s the only one who can truly see him?

Against every rule. Against fate itself. Against everything and everyone. A story of forbidden love and star-crossed destinies.

Dark. Romantic. Dangerous.

Touched combines devastating passion and unconfessable secrets, heartrending decisions and deep emotions, giving life to a love story as intense as the feelings that unite Evan and Gemma, as inescapable as the destiny that looms over them . . .

My Review:
Touched is one of the most endearing romantic books I’ve ever read and one which totally took my breath away. Elisa S. Amore is a gifted writer and her prose is simply stunning. I was highlighting like a crazy person, as there is a multitude of sentences that are beautifully crafted. I adore her writing style and it’s clear she is naturally talented.

Gemma has lived in relative obscurity in Lake Placid with her hard-working diner-owning parents, and her two best friends – Peter and her books. She is an excellent student, who gets good grades and never gives her parents an ounce of trouble. She yearns to experience the type of sweeping, passionate romance she has read about in her books. She is completely oblivious to the fact that her BFF, Peter, is in love with her. He hasn’t said anything to her because he’s afraid of ruining their friendship.

One fateful day in the woods changes everything. There she sees someone she shouldn’t be able to: Evan, an Angel of Death who has been sent to kill her. Inexplicably drawn to one another, Touched is the story of their romance and how they deal with the obstacles and challenges to their love.

This book is so romantic. It goes beyond swoon-worthy, and heart-stopping, into a realm all on its own. While it could be argued that it’s insta-love, it’s actually not. Although they feel an instant connection or attraction, their love story is a slow, gradual sensual build-up that had me feeling everything Gemma and Evan felt. Which brings me nicely onto emotional complexity and characterisation. Both of which were superb in this book. It is told in both Gemma and Evan’s point of view, which I always love, and the emotions bled off the pages of my Kindle. I felt every emotion skin-deep, heart-deep. I felt the pain, heartache, joy, longing, and the frantic urgency to save one another. Be still my heart. Those sections, in particular, were stunningly written. So poetic. Beautiful.

Secondary characters are solidly developed too though I wish Peter hadn’t been relegated to such a small part by the end of the book.

I loved the concept of the Angels (Subterraneans) as Angels of Death or Executioners and the addition of Ginerva, a witch who is supposed to be their natural enemy. The fantasy aspect was well developed, and an original and fresh take on Angels mythology. And the overriding concept – how can you kill the one you love – hooked me in the first place. That and the stunning cover.

I did find parts of the inner monologue, in both Gemma and Evan’s sections, repetitive and in my opinion some of that could have been cut. I also didn’t like how dismissive Gemma was of Peter who was supposed to be her best friend. Once Evan appeared on the scene, she pretty much forgot all about him which wasn’t nice. The plot of this book is very reminiscent of Twilight, and though I love Twilight, and it wasn’t really a big issue, I wish it had been a little more original. Those are my only complaints, though, and they are minor because overall I really loved this book.

It’s obvious that Gemma has some kind of gift or power that I assume will become transparent as the series progresses. I can’t help wondering if she is a witch? Or descendent from a witch? Pure speculation on my part and I could be way off track. I’m intrigued to find out in later books!

Overall, this was a truly spell-binding read. If you adore gushing, heart-stopping romance, set within a well-developed fantasy world with complex characterisation and beautiful prose, then you will love Touched. I can’t wait for the next book and I hope it isn’t too long before it’s released.

Some of my fav quotes:

“My mom always said that sooner or later all those stories I read would muddle up my perception of the world, upsetting my mental equilibrium and blurring the line between reality and illusion until I lost my grip on things. She wasn’t all wrong; I’d always been a thousand miles from reality…”

“My eyes were lost in his and his in mine, exploring unknown places, and I feared I wouldn’t be able to contain the emotion that flooded through me.”

“You need to learn to seize the day. Shyness is a lasso that binds the wings each of us has. Only if you untie it can you fly.”

“And yet, why should it matter if an event was real or dreamed, if you really experienced it? No matter what you called it, it existed. It was an emotion you felt. A memory you kept.”

“From time to time a soft lock caressed her face and I found myself gazing at it ravenously, as captivated as thief staring at treasure.”

“You’re my world, Gemma. The only way I can lose everything is if I lose you. I’d rather be damned forever than live an eternity without you.”

Thanks to the author for providing a gift copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.