Book Review: Broken Prince

review-cover-broken princeTitle: Broken Prince [The Royals 2]

Author: Erin Watt

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Rating: 3 Stars (2.5)

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Description/Synopsis:

Reed Royal has it all—looks, status, money. The girls at his elite prep school line up to date him, the guys want to be him, but Reed never gave a damn about anyone but his family until Ella Harper walked into his life.

What started off as burning resentment and the need to make his father’s new ward suffer turned into something else entirely—keep Ella close. Keep Ella safe. But when one foolish mistake drives her out of Reed’s arms and brings chaos to the Royal household, Reed’s entire world begins to fall apart around him.

Ella doesn’t want him anymore. She says they’ll only destroy each other.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Much like the first book in the series, Broken Prince by Erin Watt left me feeling conflicted. Again, the technical aspects of the book were pretty spot-on. I didn’t run into a lot of grammatical errors, typos, or formatting issues. The narrative was clean and easy to read, and it was simple to get sucked into the story because of it—but the plotline and the characters were painful to experience. The romance between Ella and Reed felt so wrong because of the way they’d treated each other throughout the first book. Their relationship was unbelievably unhealthy.

On some levels, this book was possibly worse than the first. Not a lot happened other than pure fluff drama that’s so ridiculously overblown that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. The content was far from being YA appropriate, and the characters left me disgusted… and yet I kept reading. I guess I love drama.

I want to like this series because I’m being entertained, but the entertainment value is like watching a reality show about the Trumps: it’s gross and cringy, and completely unrelatable—but you watch it anyway just to see what’ll happen. Overall, I’m not impressed with this series thus far, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to a teen, but if you enjoy this kind of social abuse, drugs, sex, and scandal, you might find this entertaining.

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Book Review: Paper Princess

review-cover-paper princessTitle: Paper Princess [The Royals 1]

Author: Erin Watt

Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

From strip clubs and truck stops to southern coast mansions and prep schools, one girl tries to stay true to herself.

These Royals will ruin you…

Ella Harper is a survivor—a pragmatic optimist. She’s spent her whole life moving from town to town with her flighty mother, struggling to make ends meet and believing that someday she’ll climb out of the gutter. After her mother’s death, Ella is truly alone.

Until Callum Royal appears, plucking Ella out of poverty and tossing her into his posh mansion among his five sons who all hate her. Each Royal boy is more magnetic than the last, but none as captivating as Reed Royal, the boy who is determined to send her back to the slums she came from.

Reed doesn’t want her. He says she doesn’t belong with the Royals.

He might be right.

Wealth. Excess. Deception. It’s like nothing Ella has ever experienced, and if she’s going to survive her time in the Royal palace, she’ll need to learn to issue her own Royal decrees. 

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

To be honest, Paper Princess by Erin Watt and its entire series was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The writing was clean and easy to read, there weren’t a lot of typos or technical issues with the writing. I was sucked in by the easy narrative voice of Ella, who wasn’t just some simpering teen female lead… but there was so much wrong with the plot and how the romance was put together that I couldn’t help but be uncomfortable as I was reading it.

Reed and Ella’s other male benefactors were, for the most part, terrible people. They were privileged and narcissistic, and they often treated Ella like she was sub-human. Reed, the main male lead, was vindictive and cold, often cruel to Ella… and yet I was asked to believe that there was some hope that the two of them would fall madly in love. Their relationship was unhealthy from the start.

The book ended on an ugly note, and it pretty much summed up how I felt about the book in general. I didn’t like the characters, I was uncomfortable with the interactions between them, but at the same time, I couldn’t stop reading. It was a bit like watching a car crash filmed with exceptional slow-motion cinematography—pretty to watch, but you still can’t help but cringe.

Book Review: The Gates of Dawn

review-copy-the gates of dawnTitle: The Gates of Dawn [The Never Dawn 3]

Author: R.E. Palmer

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Banished to the surface, Noah and his team struggle to survive in the harsh climate and forced to make a difficult decision. In their quest to see the first dawn, they make a shocking discovery about their past that could help Noah bring Mother’s cruel regime to an end.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

There are not enough words in the English language to describe how much I’ve enjoyed The Never Dawn series by R.E. Palmer, or this latest addition to it. These books came across my desk from a relatively unknown author—and it was by sheer whim that I decided to pick them up for review. I am so glad that I did.

I adored this book. It was such a fantastic conclusion to one of the best YA Science Fiction Dystopian series I may have ever read. Though a bit darker than the two books that came before it, The Gates of Dawn by R.E. Palmer sucked me into the story right away and didn’t let up until the last page. I was saddened to put this book, and this series, down when the last sentence was read. I’ve grown to love and care for the many characters within its pages. I cheered when they triumphed, and gasped, disheartened when they were thwarted. There were many aspects of the story that surprised me and left me scrambling to read on to discover what would happen next. The ending, in particular, wasn’t one I saw coming—but at the same time, I’m not upset by it. Although it wasn’t the ending I expected or even wanted, it seemed fitting for Noah’s story. I read this book aloud with my daughter, and she fought tears the entire last chapter and epilogue of the story.

It broke our hearts, and I think we both agree that this series is one of the best series we’ve read between us. If you enjoy YA Science Fiction, or Dystopias, you need to pick up this book, and this series. It is so well crafted and well voiced—trust me when I say that you will not regret it.

Book Review: My Royal Temptation

review-cover-my royal temptationTitle: My Royal Temptation [Arrogant Heirs 1]

Author: Riley Pine, Jessa Rose

Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 2 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

I will never love.

I will not marry.

Happily ever after doesn’t exist in my kingdom.

I’m Prince Nikolai, Duke of Westcraven and heir apparent to the Edenvale throne. I’ve got rock hard abs, live hard, and f**k even harder. Life is a nonstop party until my father and evil stepmother hire Kate Winter, a prim and proper matchmaker, and give me an ultimatum: marry by my twenty-ninth birthday or they’ll hand my crown to the banished brother who once a betrayed me.

There’s no way in hell I’ll give my heart to any woman.

Because you cannot give what is broken beyond repair.

But what hides beneath Kate Winter’s ice queen exterior is a fiery redhead who likes it hot. She may have a sharp tongue in the throne room, but oh the things that tongue can do when no one else is looking.

That’s why I didn’t see it coming–Kate Winter enticing me, body and soul. Now she’s the only woman I want–and according to Royal Law, the woman forbidden to be my queen.

But I’m sure as hell no Prince Charming, and I’ve never been good at following rules.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

This book genuinely made me angry. I don’t often say that about a book, but in this case, it’s true. The story started off with an arrogant prince that was condescending, narcissistic, and womanizing. The main female lead was naïve and innocent, and if anything, the setup for their relationship was the best part of this book. It should have been an easy win for the author…

But the story was completely ruined by the execution. It was bad. Really bad. Everything about this book was unbelievable to the point of being absurd. Every time I thought “this can’t possibly get worse”, it did.

At one point there was a cut scene where the evil stepmother queen is declaring treason against the prince while standing outside a hospital room where the female lead’s grandmother is dying (having somehow known that the prince and the main female lead were there… even though the female lead had been “dead” just 15 minutes before in a dungeon—AND they’d snuck out unseen with the help of the mysterious unnamed bodyguard.) The press is there (who even had time to call them, let alone how did they get there so quickly?), and I just sat back and said… “what is this bull****?” It was nonsense. Don’t even get me started on the magical-lake-trial-of-true-love or how a kiss somehow bypassed poison… or the total Romeo & Juliet knock-off vibes of the dungeon scene.

*Takes deep, calming breaths*. In all seriousness, this book read like an erotica novel penned by a first-time author dabbling in fan-fiction living out their middle-school fantasies. I expected so much more from a book by this publisher. I hated this book, possibly more than any other romance book I’ve ever read. I feel like my time was wasted and I am incredibly disappointed. The book was poorly constructed, and frankly, I feel a bit insulted that the publisher tried to pass this off as a quality romantic read. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

Book Review: Barely Breathing

review-cover-barely breathingTitle: Barely Breathing [Shattered Souls Trilogy 1]

Author: Katerina Bray

Genre: Romance

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Take a Deep Breath
You can and will get through this.

Rock Bottom.

Is where I find myself, yet again.

I remember all the times I’ve stood alone, begging for help, praying for an answer, no longer knowing who I’d become and barely being able to breathe.

I. Will. Not. Let. Those. Memories. Stop. Me.

Knock me down, break my soul, and cause me pain, but I have always found the strength to pick myself up and stand tall again.

People assume I’m too fragile and incapable of functioning.

But surviving is part of my daily routine.

I, Ruby Bennett will start over as many times as it takes.

My past will not overpower my present.

It’s said the third time’s a charm.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I sadly only made it 3% into this book. I just couldn’t push myself to read any further. The narrative felt contrived; it was trying too hard to be poetic and mysterious and didn’t come across as genuine. The opening sequence was slow with lots of explanation thrown in, and it felt like it took forever to get through. As a Texan, I was irritated by the stereotypical trope of the realtor with the thick Texan drawl (btw, most people in Texas don’t have that accent). For all the words used, nothing seemed to be happening of any importance to the story itself in the first chapter, and when I got to the second chapter with Maeson’s gratuitous swearing, I was just done.

Maybe it’s just me, but I didn’t have the patience to sit through another chapter. I wasn’t drawn into the story. I wasn’t interested in where it was going or what was going to happen. I wasn’t sucked in by the characters. There may be someone out there that enjoys this book for more than I did, but it just wasn’t for me.

Book Review: Hers, Untamed

review-cover-hers untamedTitle: Hers, Untamed

Author: Anna Adler

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Rating: 3 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Alyssa Cressfield always wanted a pet—a big, sexy man who would look impressive on a leash. Now, she is finally ready to realize her dream. She visits a pet training center, intending to buy a trained pet. Instead she finds Jax, a fierce human-alien hybrid freshly caught from space, still untamed and unbroken. Alyssa has never encountered an untamed pet before. She can’t resist temptation; she must have him.

On Silenia, it is customary for humans to keep other intelligent species as pets and sex toys. Alyssa is kind at heart, but she is a product of her society and therefore sees nothing wrong with keeping a man in a cage against his will. Jax, on the other hand, is a space pirate who now finds himself wearing a collar and being treated like property. He has no intention of turning tame and obedient, and a battle of wills ensues. Jax and Alyssa quickly discover their undeniable chemistry, but is it enough to reconcile them? What happens when the pet breaks out of his cage?

Note to reader: This is a standalone novel featuring a romance between a human and a human-alien hybrid. While not dark, the story is set in a dystopian society and contains some raunchy sex scenes between the main characters. Recommended for mature readers.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I’m giving this story a rather tentative 3 stars. Here’s the thing: a lot of readers aren’t going to like this book. It’s firmly in the Erotic Fiction category—not romance as purported. There’s quite a bit of king, some taboo leanings, and there’s a lot of explicit sex. It’s going to be too much for some readers to handle, particularly if they go into the book expecting a romance. If those things don’t interest you, you’re going to want to move on.

That being said, I did have some gripes of my own. Although the level of kink and explicit sex in this book aren’t what I’m personally interested in, they don’t bother me. I read a lot of books, most of those falling squarely in the romance and erotica genres. What does bother me is the very clear association in this book with slavery and abuse. If this story took place in the real world, it wouldn’t be sexy—it’d be horrifying. There are many individuals in the book that are kidnapped, held against their will, mentally broken, and then forced to perform as pets for the wealthy. No matter how it’s justified in the book, it’s wrong. It’s hard for me to appreciate a book that relies on sex and romance to blind the reader to the fact that the main male lead has had his basic rights violated in this manner.

That being said, the book was well written. The romance was steamy, I adored the male lead as a character, and it had a happy ending. All of these are good things—but that doesn’t completely overshadow how intrinsically wrong the main premise of the story is. Even though I liked the book as a whole, I am very uncomfortable with the slavery aspect of its plotline. Because it’s fiction and everything worked out in the end, I’m willing to try to look past the less-than-savory aspects of the plot, but that doesn’t mean they don’t bother me. A lot of readers are not going to enjoy this book because of it.

Another thing I didn’t enjoy was the portrayal of the main female lead. Despite her purported intelligence and expertise, she came across as naïve, wanton, and rather airheaded. She was clever only when it served to thwart the main male lead, but refused to use her intellect to question her own society and their treatment of outside life forms. She questioned nothing that went against her own brainwashed utopian beliefs—and I find it hard to believe that someone so intelligent wouldn’t ask questions.

Overall, it was a fun read. There were definitely parts of the story I enjoyed and some I didn’t, but throughout, I was thoroughly entertained. This book isn’t for everyone. If you’re a sensitive reader, I’d recommend looking for something a bit more traditional, but if you enjoy a taste of the taboo, this is a safe way to be entertained for a few hours.

Book Review: Blessedly Bound

review-cover-blessedly boundTitle: Blessedly Bound [An Elemental Witch Trials Novel 1]

Author: Lucretia Stanhope

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy

Rating: 1 Star (DNF)

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Description/Synopsis:

Gwen Hensley finds herself pulled into something life altering when she inherits a sprawling manor from a grandmother she never knew. As a witch, she uses her gift of sight to experience her grandmother die in a brutal execution by flames. The vision is only the catalyst that tosses her into a mystery involving a killer with psychopathic tendencies and a vitriol for witches.

Seeking aid in unraveling the mystery, she discovers her familiar, Lewis, is wrapped up in her family curse that involves voodoo and a sacrifice of the first-born witch in each generation. The neighbor, Sebastian, her grandmother’s best friend and a familiar with his own haunted past, tugs her in intimate and magical ways, which both puts her in danger and a position to be more powerful than she ever dreamed possible.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I wanted to like this book, unfortunately, the story started painfully slow. The author spent a lot of time “telling” the reader what was happening rather than showing it. The characters spent a lot of time simply doing inane tasks and participating in small talk. By the time the book hit 10%, I was bored.

I pushed on, and at 16% in I gave up. The narrative was slow, wordy, and methodical in its descriptions. The characters spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation and simple tasks and yet the story didn’t seem to progress. Although the premise was interesting and the characters unique, I didn’t feel drawn in by the narrative.

Overall, I would say that it could be an interesting book for the right reader, and those out there with a higher tolerance for slow starts might end up really enjoying it, but it just didn’t hold my attention. I prefer more tension and quicker paced fiction.