Blood Vow – Black Dagger Legacy #2 – J.R. Ward

I had kind of given up on this series when it became Black Dagger Legacy, a continuation of Black Dagger Brotherhood, for a few reasons. The first and biggest was because I am not a fan of revisiting couples from other books who had already had their time in the spotlight and I would have liked to think of them as living happily ever after. I didn’t want to think of them ever struggling or having relationship problems again. The only one I ever wanted to revisit was Assail and Sola who didn’t get a happily ever after. The second reason is because I didn’t know the new protagonists who were young and didn’t have hundreds of years of tortured history like the Brothers had. They hadn’t been around as background characters like the other protagonists had to build up my curiosity and anticipation about them. It was almost as if J.R. Ward had lost interest in this series and had thought about ending it so she didn’t bother introducing these new guys before but then had to invent them to finish up the series. And the last reason I was giving up was because I didn’t like having two couples sharing a book. I was really just waiting for Layla’s and Xcor’s story and I was going to quit the series.

But I missed this series so I decided to give it another try. I read this book and am now invested in these new characters, the trainees into the Black Dagger Brotherhood. I didn’t realize until after I finished the book and went to J.R. Ward’s website that this book was supposed to have been read before The Chosen. Oops!

I immediately judged Axe to be a dickhole but changed my mind later as I empathized with his plight. He had a sad childhood.

I liked Elise but she was a little too much of a goody goody for me.

I also had a problem with the whole rich girl with a poor bad boy storyline because the last storyline between Craeg and Paradise was the exact same thing.

Besides those things, the book was intense. There was one part in the book where I was so engrossed and tense that I didn’t even know it until I got up and realized I had my muscles clenched.

This is why J.R. Ward is still one of my favorite paranormal romance writers.

The Unyielding – Call of Crows #3 – Shelly Laurenston

Ragnarok is about to be unleashed on to the world and there’s only one person who can stop it and that’s Erin Amsel. Wait! That can’t be right. She’s a total dick and likes to start trouble so she’s more likely to light the world on fire than save it…literally. One of her gifts is fire. She can withstand it to a degree and she can throw flames from her hands. She’s been chosen for all these reasons to go into the Nine Worlds to save the world.

Stieg is a Raven, a follower of Odin, who has been ordered to follow Erin to see what she is up to because the Ravens know she’s up to something. Stieg is not happy about his assignment. He cannot stand Erin Amsel who plays games with people just toess with their heads. She stabbed him in the leg before during a battle because he got in her way. Ugh! But he follows her anyway and ends up helping her when she gets herself into deep doo doo.

Erin is a Crow, a follower of Skuld, but unlike the other clans who are part of the Nine Clans who follow Norse gods, Crows aren’t from Viking blood. In fact, most of them descend from Viking slaves. They weren’t raised to fight for their god. No, they are women who are given a choice just after their brutal deaths to get a second life if they follow Skuld. Then they get wings and fight at night for Skuld.

Usually, I don’t like women like Erin but the author had me falling in love with her because she was just so crazy and most of the people she messes with deserve it.

I am really into the ongoing storyline of this series. Gullveig, a minor goddess I had never heard of before, is trying to start Ragnarok for some reason that I must have missed while reading this. She has the help of Hel, Loki’s daughter, who has loaned Gullveig the use of her Carrion who are disgusting winged creatures who are not only strong but have rotting flesh that can rot a human’s flesh too. Ew!

Erin has to go into the Nine Worlds to find a Surtr’s Sword which is guarded by Nidhogg, the dragon, because it may be the only thing that can kill Gullveig.

I have to admit that I am getting tired of the Gullveig angle to this story but, at the same time, I was wondering how the story would progress if they defeated Gullveig? What other Big Bad Ugly would replace her? Nidhogg? An Elf? Maybe even Hel? I, of course, can’t tell you who the next Baddy is but it did surprise me.

Now, I can’t wait to read the next book.

The Undoing – Call of Crows #2 – Shelly Laurenston

Although this series is entertaining in all its outrageousness, I get extremely annoyed with the constant petty physical fighting between clan members. I almost stopped reading this book because of it. I just think it’s immature and wastes time that could be spent on the plot. I do enjoy the scheming and snarkiness but the pigheaded fighting over stupid stuff wears on me.

Luckily, I decided to keep reading a little while longer because I really do like a lot of the characters and the storyline intrigued me enough to read further.ost of the infighting dwindled as the story intensified.

Jace became a Crow after her cult-leader husband killed and buried her. The goddess Skuld propositioned her to serve her for a second chance at life. She crawled out of the grave as her husband was shoveling dirt on her. She attacked him but was pulled off by member of another clan who also happens to be a federal agent. Her husband went to prison and  she divorced him. She is now a valued member of the Crows, women who serve Skuld.

Unfortunately, her ex knows to many people in high places and is out again and wants Jace back in his cult. This worries her but she’s got bigger things going on like banishing the evil goddess who has entered this realm and wants to bring the world to an end.

She has to work with another clan, the Protectors, to research how to fight this goddess. She finds herself falling for one of them, Danski Eriksen. He’s smart and a warrior.

I have to admit, I was more into the plot than the romance in this book which will continue in the next book. Onward!

The Unleashing – Call of Crows #1 – Shelly Laurenston

This book was a mixture of corniness and outrageous but something about it pulled me in and kept me reading. The author’s humor and the way the characters said and did hilarious but foul things reminded me of my friends and family. It probably wouldn’t appeal to polite company but polite company bores the hell out of me.

Kera is an ex-Marine who works at a coffee house until she gets stabbed to death in an alley. As she lay dying, the guy she thought was a homeless vet holds her and sends up a prayer to Skuld, a Norse god, to save her.

She has been given a second life. She now is part of the Crow Clan, women from all races who fight for Skuld. But she is having a hard time transitioning because the Crows thrive on chaos and ate unorganized. When she tries to organize them, they want none of it.

I really connected with a lot of the characters in this book and I appreciated that the main character, along with many of the other women, was a woman of color. More Paranormal Romances need to do this.

I went ahead and downloaded the next book in the series.

Assassin’s Gambit – Hearts and Thrones #1 – Amy Raby

Whoa! That was my first thought when I read the prologue. It started out in the middle of a sex scene where the protagonist kills the man she’s having sex with. I was debating on whether or not to continue reading but money is tight and books are expensive so I decided to keep reading.

I had just finished reading an excellent Young Adult Fantasy series and was looking for something similar so I looked into romantic fantasy and found several blogs with lists. This series was recommended on two lists so I tried it.

Vitala is an assassin who has trained since she was eight years old by the Obsidian Circle, an order of assassins and spies for the country of Riorca. She has been sent to kill the emperor of Kjall who has invited her to his palace because she is the world champion in Caturanga, a strategy game much like Chess but more difficult and complex.

The Obsidian Circle believes killing the emperor will throw Kjall into a civil war while nobles vie for the throne. But Vitala wonders if killing Lucien, the emperor, might put someone worse on the throne like Cassian, Lucien’s highest ranking military officer and a distant cousin. Heis middle-aged and has eyes for Lucien’s thirteen year old sister because it could put him on the throne if something happened to  Lucien. His goal is to obliterate Riorca but Lucien keeps him in check.

The story was okay but I think there should have been more background story building with secondary characters and political scheming to keep me interested in future books. As it stands, I didn’t connect with any of the background characters. I did with one but he was killed off early in the story. That left none.

I’m still debating on whether or not to buy the next book.

The Bitter Kingdom – Girl of Fire and Thorns #3 – Rae Carson

This book frustrated me. I felt there was too much detail or what I call “filler” in Elise’s travels–and she traveled a lot in this book. I think a lot of it could have been either cut out or shortened. Other than that, I enjoyed this final book of the trilogy.

Instead of just Elisa’s POV, we get Hector’s too while he is the prisoner of Franco, the Invierne assassin, and traveling through the freezing mountains. It was interesting to get his perspective.

Elisa and three of her friends are traveling not far behind, trying to rescue Hector before they reach Invierne, the enemy’s country. She’s tapped into her power now so she and Storm, an Invierno loyal to her, practice their new powers.

Elisa has to rescue Hector and has to figure out how to get her country of Joya d’Arena back from Conde Eduardo and General Luz-Manuel who have usurped it, risking civil war.

It is always hard to come to the end of a good series because I have the daunting task of finding a new series that will live up to it.

The Crown of Embers – Fire and Thorns #2 – Rae Carson

How unlucky in love can you be? Lucero-Elisa lost her husband and the man she loved in the last book.

She was the second born princess in her father’s kingdom so she was married off at the age of sixteen to King Alejandro of the not-so-near country of Joya d’Arena. He was handsome and kind but they never consummated the marriage because Alejandro had a mistress whom he was in love with. Oh, and he forgot to tell anyone in his country that he got married. Apparently, he married her because her father and sister needed to get her safely out of the country because she is the bearer of the Godstone and they agreed to send troops to Joya d’Arena to help Alejandro with his upcoming war with Invierne. One every hundred years someone is chosen by God to Bear the Godstone which is embedded into the stomach just below the skin. Each bearer has some kind of unknown destiny to fulfill. Some succeed and some don’t.

Her Godstone makes her a target of Invierne spies who seek to either kill her and take her stone or use her to win their war.

She was kidnapped by a maid named Cosmé who turned out to be a spy but not for Invierne but for the hill people of Basajuan, an ignored territory on the border of Invierne where it’s people are getting massacred by the fire-throwing magic wielders of Invierne called Animagi. Cosmé and her people believe Elisa’s destiny is to use her stone to somehow defeat the Animagi. Elisa decides to help them and fell in love with Cosmé’s brother Humberto who ended up getting killed in front of Elisa.

Fast forward to Elisa returning to Joya d’Arena only to have Invierne invade. Alejandro jumped in front of an Animagi when he flung his magic fire at Elisa. Elisa was finally able to tap into the power of her Godstone which turned all of the Animagi who invaded the city into dust but Alejandro died a few weeks later of his injuries. He signed a decree making her his heir which made her the queen.

In this book, Elisa is the queen over a broken kingdom. Her advisors are all working their own agendas and some are even working sneakily against her so she doesn’t know who to trust. She only has a few people she trusts: Ximena and Mara her two attendants, Father Nicandro, Father Alentin and the Captain of her royal guard, Hector.

She develops feeling for Hector who has been there for her since the first day she moved to Joya d’Arena. I just kept wondering when Hector was going to get the axe.

This book is another wild and scary adventure. A few interesting characters were introduced in this book but I don’t want to spoil too much for anyone who wants to read this trilogy so I won’t get into any of them here.