Sex, not Love

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Coming off such a great series, I knew I needed something different. I knew I couldn’t do another paranormal fantasy because there are only a few authors that can go toe to toe with Ilona Andrews writing and they haven’t published anything new. So instead, I went with something a little raunchy and enjoyed the change of pace. And a warning to future readers, don’t start reading this book an hour before you need to go bed because you have work the next day. You are not going to want to put the book down.


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Author: Vi Keeland
Published: January 15, 2018
Pages: 300

Stars: 3 out of 5

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Synopsis:
My relationship with Hunter Delucia started backwards.

We met at a wedding—him sitting on the groom’s side, me sitting on the bride’s. Stealing glances at each other throughout the night, there was no denying an intense, mutual attraction.

I caught the bouquet; he caught the garter. Hunter held me tightly while we danced and suggested we explore the chemistry sparking between us. His blunt, dirty mouth should’ve turned me off. But for some crazy reason, it had the opposite effect on me.

We ended up back in my hotel room. The next morning, I headed home to New York leaving him behind in California with the wrong number.

I thought about him often, but after my last relationship, I’d sworn off of charming, cocky, gorgeous-as-sin men. A year later, Hunter and I met again at the birth of our friends’ baby. Our attraction hadn’t dulled one bit. After a whirlwind trip, he demanded a real phone number this time. So I left him with my mother’s—she could scare away any man with her talks of babies and marriage—and flew back home.

I’d thought it was funny, until the following week when he rang the bell at Mom’s house for Sunday night dinner. The crazy, gorgeous man had won over my mother and taken an eight-week assignment in my city. He proposed we spend that time screwing each other out of our systems.

Eight weeks of mind-blowing sex with no strings attached? What did I have to lose?

Nothing, I thought.
It’s just sex, not love.
But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

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Review:
Ok, before you say anything, I know the book starts off a little cheesy and might be over the top. But if you just go with it, I guarantee you will be smiling. Besides, that’s the fun part of books like these. Yes, the overarching plot is predictable: damaged sexy guy meets attractive woman, lots of hot sex, conflict and inevitable breakup, realization guy (sometimes woman) doesn’t actually want breakup, pleading forgiveness, happy ending. But this book is no exception. So why read it? Because it’s fun to get lost in the banter, sexual tension, and reading something that would never happen but would be fun if it did.

Before digging into this book, understand that this is not your typical romantic comedy. As always, Keeland delivers mouth watering alpha male with a sinfully cocky mouth. But the difference between this book and others is the amount of pain and heartache you have to endure.  I don’t typically enjoy reading books with this much heartache and part of my rating reflects that.

Hunter is cocky with a dirty mouth and let’s not forget sexy as hell. He’s aggressive, with a great body but he sends the worst mixed messages I have ever seen. He doesn’t want to be in a relationship but he wants to do everything one would do in a relationship. For example – having dinner/dates together, meeting/getting involved with her family, being monogamous, spending all your time together. So tell me how this isn’t a relationship? Oh right, this is what a relationship looks like when you have commitment phobia. A little hint – Hunters not the only one who has this..

Hunter’s character isn’t at all what I was expecting. He has this sweet side to him that surprisingly overpowers his dominant alpha male side. And the protective side of him is really cute. But like most characters we read in books similar to this, he is damaged. What happened to his brother is terrifying and horrible. But does that give him the right to peruse Natalia, make her fall in love him – all within 2 months – to then leave her because of some messed up logic? Regardless of his reasoning behind doing this, what he did to her was a dick move and the book lost a star because of it.

Natalia comes with a lot of baggage. Taking care of her step daughter, Izzy,  full time is not easy. Especially when her ex is in prison for running a Ponzi scheme and Izzy, being a typical 10th grader, hates everything about her. I can imagine it would be close to impossible having any kind of sex life being a single mom, living in New York City, and raising a teen. But she finds a way and the sex between her and Hunter is fun to read.

This book isn’t my favorite from Vi Keeland but I still enjoyed reading it. Parts of this book were predictable but overall there are unique aspects to the book. The romance is exciting and I love the sexual tension between Natalia and Hunter.

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Wildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3)

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I was a little hesitant going into this book. I wasn’t sure if this was one of those series that is best enjoyed with breaks in-between or if there was a possibility of burning out on this series.. But let me reassure you, this series has proven to be absolutely captivating. Wildfire is a page turner that you don’t want to put down. I really hope the fourth book doesn’t take long to publish!


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Author: Ilona Andrews
Published: July 25, 2017
Pages: 391

Stars: 5 out of 5

Other books in the series:
Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1)
White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2)

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Synopsis:
Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.

Review:
This book starts on a heavy note – Nevada has to inform her family that not only is her grandma trying to either kill her or use her, her family’s only hope is to expose themselves and form their own House. But before Nevada can even contemplate how to begin to have that conversation, Rynda Charles walks back into Nevada’s life. Not only is she Rogan’s ex-fiancée, she is also the daughter of Olivia Charles. In case you don’t remember from book two, Olivia Charles is the woman who killed Cornelius’s wife and later ended up being eaten alive by a swarm of rats. 

Rynda is a prime empath and keeping your emotions from her is impossible. She is also a dangerous woman, especially to Nevada. Not only is she beautiful and rich, but she plays a convincible damsel in distress, looking for someone to save her. And it doesn’t take her long to begin looking in Rogan’s direction. 

The dynamic between Rogan, Nevada, and Rynda is the perfect storm of jealousy and fear. On the one hand, there’s the uncertainty that is in every new relationship. That voice in the back of your mind always doubting the others feelings or if this relationship will last. Then throw in an attractive ex who is constantly throwing herself at your man. Perfect storm. I love how Nevada is always trying to take the high rode, trying not to read into things and truly trying to have faith that her and Rogan will make it through this hump. Andrews nailed this dynamic perfectly and I absolutely love it. 

One of my favorite passage:

She (Rynda) fell silent, then glanced at Bug. “Could you get me some coffee?”
“No” Bug said.
She blinked
“I’m a surveillance specialist, not a waiter,” Bugsaid, his dictation perfect, his voice flat. “The coffee is on the kitchen counter over there. Help yourself.”
She opened her mouth and closed it.
“Nevada?” Bug said.
Don’t do it, don’t do it…
“Would you like some coffee?”
“No thanks.” Ass
“Because I’ll totally get it for you.” 

Honestly the entire scene is amazing. This scene is just one example of Nevada taking the high road.

 I’ve read a few books by Andrews and all the heroines within her books have a similar yet unique voice. They are all strong, feisty, determined individuals. But they aren’t perfect, they make mistakes. They are all human and that’s the key. Andrews characters are easily relatable. You can see parts of yourself, your insecurities, in each of her books. Looking at Nevada’s character, she is everything listed above but she’s vulnerable, especially when it comes to Rogan. She tries hiding it but there’s no denying that it’s there. And I think this is part of what makes Andrews books so addicting. That and she’s a very gifted writer.

Here’s another quote I love:
“Come to dinner with me tonight and I’ll consider it.” Yes! “No, I don’t negotiate with terrorists.” “If you don’t go to dinner with me, I’ll have to do something drastic like stand by your window with a boom box blasting some idiotically sappy song.”

One of the things Ilona Andrews does best is character development. She doesn’t just create a surface character. No, she creates a character with such depth that there is no doubt you will either love or hate them with everything you’ve got. One of my favorite side characters is Grandma Frida. She is so feisty and protective of her family. I can’t help but think that everyone needs at least one person like Grandma Friday in their lives. 

Victoria, Nevada’s paternal grandmother, is savage and cruel. She can easily break anyone’s mind and leave them in pieces. She is feared and known as a monster. But things aren’t as cut and dry with Victoria. And honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about her. Yes, she is scary but I think she did what she thought she had to do. Was it right, no. But I think there is another side of her that we will see in the next book. Or at least I hope so.. 

One of the complicated issues that came up in this book is the sacrifice one makes when choosing love over the possibility of genetic incapability. When marring for love, you run the high risk that your genetics will create a child with sub-par to no abilities. Having a child with sub-par magical ability is devastating to any House. But having a child who doesn’t manifest any magical ability can destroy any house’s future. Rogan continues to bring this concern up with Nevada, insisting she will care if their children are less than Primes. This is just one of the many ways Rogan continues to try and protect Nevada. It takes a strong man to say and the very thing that will (in his mind) inevitably make the person he loves walk away from him.  

“He (Rogan) viewed this as the beginning of our end, but he came anyway.”

I just love Rogan’s character! The end of the book is, as expected, action packed and marvelous! And I’m pretty sure I know who Caesar is. Ilona Andrews didn’t spell it out for you but if you’re paying attention, I think it’s easy to connect the dots. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ruin anything by giving away spoilers.  

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. I can’t wait for the next one to come out!

White Hot (Hidden Legacy, #2)

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As you can imagine, after reading book one in the Hidden Legacy series, I couldn’t help but pick up the next book in the series. And I was not disappointed!! This series is quickly becoming one of my new favorites 🙂


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Author: Ilona Andrews
Published: May 30, 2017
Pages: 389

Stars: 4 out of 5

Other books in the series:
Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1)

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Synopsis:
Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …


Review:
Nevada has one rule that no matter what, she has to follow- At the end of the day, you have to be able to live with yourself, your choices. So when Cornelius comes asking for help in finding his wife’s murderer, Nevada couldn’t say no. Soon she finds herself once again working with Connor (aka Mad Rogan) and discovering a surprising new ally, Augustine. I enjoyed Augustine’s character more in this book, especially the bickering between him and Rogan. Although he still had his moments of greed, I no longer hate him. 

Nevada’s character continues to grown throughout the book. She’s still the strong independent woman we all fell in love with, but now she’s taking taking responsibility over mastering her powers. But does she go too far? When using her power, what’s the line between becoming a monster and getting the information she needs? 

Ilone shows us the side of Rogan we only saw small glimpses of last time. He’s still the dangerous dragon, but like Nevada said, we get to see his more human side. In the first book, we saw Connor’s form of courting Nevada. It doesn’t take long to realize Conner is done with the passive romantic gestures and ready to take control. Except his need of control is a far cry from normal.

As the sexual tension between Rogan and Nevada builds, the quick stolen moments between them are intense, hot,and leaves you starving for more. Just as Nevada is allowing herself to be open to love, the monstrous side of Rogan shows itself. Is this side of him enough to destroy everything between them?

This is one of those books I wish I could talk about every detail. But giving away that many secrets would ruin the book for you. My leaving thought is that this book was a delight to read! The epilogue definitely leaves you wanting more! I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1)

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First off, Ilona Andrews is a very gifted writer and once again she has written a magnificent book! If this is the first you have heard of this author, then you have a lot of catching up to do.  This is actually the second time reading this book. After the first time reading this book, I looked down at my notes and realized I didn’t have any.


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Author: Ilona Andrews
Published: October 28, 2014
Pages: 400

Stars: 5 out of 5

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Synopsis:
Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.


Review:
Rogan, aka Mad Rogan, is exceptionally powerful. His power is dangerous because in one moment he can make if feel as though he’s slowly caressing your skin, bringing you seconds away from one of the best orgasms you have ever felt. And then the next moment you are dead; all the while Rogan hasn’t moved a muscle. Talk about bad boy attraction. 

As Andrews was describing Connor, I was melting over every detail. The combination of sexy and danger is mouthwatering delicious! I loved Connors character! And his entrance in the book, not talking about the prologue, was fantastic. 

Nevada is a private investigator who has been working for the family business since she was a teenager. She also has the unique power to tell when someone is lying but shh, it’s a secret. I loved Nevada’s character!! She is strong, devoted to her family, and so completely lost. She has no idea how amazing she is or just how absent her life has been. One of the things I loved about Navada was even though she would be scared out of her mind, her hands/voice would be trembling, she would still stand strong. Definitely something to admire.  

Augustine is a prime (highest ranking) illusionist and owns the mortgage to Nevada’s family business. For the first time in five years he has an assignment for Nevada, apprehend Adam Pierce. Who is he? Adam Pierce is another bad boy type full of brooding sexuality. He is also a prime pyrokinetic, which makes him just as dangerous as Connor. Adam in many ways resembles both a sociopath and a spoiled brat who never matured past his moody teen years. Either way, he is the hot crazy type that you might admire from afar but get close and it’ll be the last thing you do.  

Nevada and Connors relationship is complicated. In the beginning, Nevada struggles between fighting her attraction and butting heads with Connor. That is until Adam makes a move that is unforgivable in Nevada’s eyes and she is pushed into partnering with Connor. Although Connor is the sexiest thing Nevada has ever seen, she realizes he is also the most dangerous and scariest person she knows. Throughout the book, she is fighting her attraction with every realization of what Conner is capable of.

I love the scene of Nevada and Connor stuck under the building. The twist and turns in this book keep these two in a perpetual state of a love-hate relationship. And when Connor has breakfast with Nevada and her family, I was chuckling and couldn’t get enough. It was the perfect combination of normal and bizarre. And I can’t even begin to describe the carnation scene. Let’s leave it as Conner is both complex and surprising. 

This is one of those books you don’t want to put down. Although the world building wasn’t as detailed as you normally get from Ilona Andrews, the plot is beyond captivating. This book has the right amount of action, flirtatious banter, and a realistic slightly flawed heroine. Perfect combination! 

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Nuts (Hudson Valley, #1)

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I’m not sure what I expected but this wasn’t it. Please take my review with a grain of salt. With over 15,000 reviews on GoodReads and an average star rating of 4 out of 5, my opinion of this book is not the norm. Maybe I’m in a reading slump I just need to try a new genre, I don’t know…


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Author: Alice Clayton
Published: October 20, 2015
Pages: 308

Stars: 1 out of 5

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Synopsis:
Roxie Callahan is a private chef to some of Hollywood’s wealthiest, and nastiest, calorie-counting wives. After a dairy disaster implodes her carefully crafted career in one fell ploop, she finds herself back home in upstate New York, bailing out her hippie mother and running the family diner.

When gorgeous local farmer Leo Maxwell delivers her a lovely bunch of organic walnuts, Roxie wonders if a summer back home isn’t such a bad idea after all. Leo is heavily involved in the sustainable slow food movement, and he likes to take his time. In all things. Roxie is determined to head back to the west coast as soon as summer ends, but will the pull of lazy fireflies and her very own Almanzo Wilder be enough to keep her home for good?

Salty. Spicy. Sweet. Nuts. Go on, grab a handful.

Review:
The book starts off slow and is full of drama. Roxie does a lot of complaining and has an off-putting personality. She obviously has some issues with her mom and is just angry.

I felt like the beginning of this book was all about how hard Roxie’s life was growing up, how terrible her Mother is, and how angry she is because her Mother is different. Not exactly something I want to read. And honestly, the book kind of felt boring.

But the worst for me is that I felt zero sympathy for the character. Instead, I felt as though she was ungrateful, snobby, and slightly abrasive.

I’m sorry but I couldn’t get into the book. Maybe I’ll try this book another time but until then, it goes into the DNF Graveyard…

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns, #1)

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This is one of those books where you are kind of frustrated with how clueless the main character is and some of the choices she makes.


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Author: Rae Carson
Published: September 20, 2011
Pages: 423

Stars: 2 out of 5

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Synopsis:
Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Review:
Lucero-Elisa (lets just call her Elisa) is only 16. There are times throughout the book where her character acts her age, but there are also times it’s easy to forget she is only 16. Elisa is over weight and an emotional eater. I can’t help with how off-putting Elisa’s character is in regards to food and how my own stomach turned with her eating habits. Maybe this is a nod to the authors ability to create such descriptive character that they are able to pull that strong of an emotion out of me. I don’t know about you but if I can’t connect with the characters on some level, it makes it extremely difficult for me to enjoy the book.    

Everything in the beginning is extremely secretive and I honestly had no idea what was going on. Everyone either treats Elisa with gentle hands and hides the truth from her. Or they try to sabotage her every move. This kind of plot frustrates me to no end. There are too many secrets to keep track of and the author doesn’t give enough information for the plot to make sense. 

King Alejandro de Vega (lets call him Alejandro) is older than Elisa and is king. After he marries Elisa, he does nothing but hide her and ask for her to spy on his court. I can’t help but feel sorry for Elisa. She is queen but he introduces her as a friend who will be staying indefinitely. While she yearns for his affection, Alejandro shows nothing but indifference. That is unless he wants something, then he touches her hand and turns on his boyish smile. Oh and did I mention he has a mistress.. Not cool Alejando, not cool 

But what really sickens me is Alejandro’s attraction for Elisa increases immensely once she loses weight. In fact the underlying message I received from this book is quite appalling. When Elisa is overweight, she is insecure, weak, and very similar to a mouse. But once she loses the weight, her character becomes powerful, respected, and she fits the role of queen. I don’t like the connection to weight and success. 

As the plot continues, Elisa’s life gets turned upside down and she meets Humberto. Humberto is a kind boy who sees true beauty in Elisa, regardless of how much she weighs. It doesn’t take long for Elisa to begin questioning her feelings for Alejandro and becoming closer to Humberto. I don’t want to say much but for how things turned out with Humberto, I can say I did not see that coming. I will admit I’m not heartbroken over the situation. I struggled to see his character going anywhere and to see him as anything other than a young boy.

With that said, there are some characters in this book who aren’t always who they seem to be. The author provides nice plot twists that are difficult to see coming. The plot has a strong religious pull, not at all what I was expecting. In fact, the religious push came close to overpowering the book. 

This is not a series I am interested in continuing. Although, it is refreshing to see an author not afraid to kill off key characters within their book. Ultimately, this book was too religious and I didn’t respect nor really like Elisa’s character. 

The Immortal Heights (The Elemental Trilogy, #3)

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I have really enjoyed this series! For me, it was one of those hidden gems. And I’ll be honest, my review of this book is not an in-depth one.  I started reading the book and next thing I knew, I was at the end and all I wrote were 3 sentences. That’s how captivating this book is!!


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Author: Sherry Thomas
Published: October 15, 2015
Pages: 432

Stars: 5 out of 5

Series:
The Burning Sky (Elemental Trilogy #1)
The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy, #2)

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Synopsis:
In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort…

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

Review:
This book doesn’t miss a beat and picks up exactly where the second one left off. And if you struggle remembering all the details from the previous book, no worries because the author does a fantastic job of reminding you. As normal, the writing style took me a little bit to get used to. But once I did, the book flowed effortlessly.

The heartache Titus and Iolanthe go through is hard to imagine. I wonder how painful it would be to know your loved one will die but not know how to stop it from happening. I’m impressed Thomas followed through and killed some of our most loved characters. Not every author is strong enough to do this. Although when I was reading the book, I was saddened by the loss, I do respect the author for making such a difficult decision. 

 The plot was fantastic, full of romance, black magic, and best yet it was unpredictable. You are going through the book believing one thing to only find out it was something completely different. 

It’s difficult to remember Titus is so young. His character comes off as such a romantic and someone who has experienced a lot in life. As much as his character has grown, Iolanthe as grown that much more. Starting this series as a scared girl, she has transformed into this strong, independent woman.

The ending wasn’t my favorite but overall I found it satisfying. I would recommend this series to anyone who loves Young Adult/Fantasy books.