Monday, May 26, 2014

Jaye L. Knight - Resistance

Ilyon Chronicles 

By Jaye L. Knight

Available on Amazon

Product Description (from Amazon)

“Don’t you know? Animals like you have no soul.” 

Could God ever love a half-blood all of society looks upon with such fear and disdain? Jace once believed so, but when a tragic loss shatters the only peace he’s ever known, his faith crumbles as the nagging doubts he’s tried to put behind him descend on his grieving heart. With them come the haunting memories of the bloodstained past he longs to forget, but can never escape. 

Taken from home at a young age and raised to serve the emperor, Kyrin Altair lives every day under a dangerous pretense of loyalty. After her unique observation skills and perfect memory place her into direct service to the emperor, Kyrin finds herself in further jeopardy as it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her belief in Elôm, the one true God. 

Following the emperor’s declaration to enforce the worship of false gods under the penalty of death, many lives are endangered. But there are those willing to risk everything to take a stand and offer aid to the persecuted. With their lives traveling paths they never could have imagined, Jace and Kyrin must fight to overcome their own fears and conflicts with society as they become part of the resistance. 

(Christian Fantasy/Clean New Adult/No Magic)

About the Author (from Amazon)

Jaye L. Knight is a 25 year old independent author with a passion for writing Christian fantasy and clean NA fiction. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God's love shines as a light to offer hope.

Jaye is a homeschool graduate and has been penning stories since the age of eight. She was previously published as Molly Evangeline.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

Persecution. When I hear that word I think of either a Historical fiction set in Rome or WWII, maybe a contemporary set in China or the Middle East, perhaps even sci-fi, especially dystopias. Fantasy is certainly not what comes to mind.

I knew when Jaye, who previously wrote under the name Molly Evangeline, announced this series that I would love it. I have enjoyed every single one of her books I have read, and when she contacted me to ask if I wanted to review Resistance, I jumped at the opportunity.

None of my high expectations were disappointed. Instead, they were blown away.

The two main characters were Kyrin and Jace, and I'm not sure which one I preferred. Kyrin has the inability to forget anything – which places her in a position to work directly for the Emperor, and Jace is half ryrik – the most violent race in Ilyon, rumored to be the first to fall from grace. She is faced with keeping her faith in Elóm, which is what God is called in this world, secret, since her country is hostile to it. Jace and Rayad, the man who rescued him from the life as a gladiator, are on the run from the same government for belief in the same Elóm. Jace, however, is struggling with his belief, since it is a commonly held belief that ryriks have no souls, and therefore cannot be saved.

I may love Kyrin a little bit more, however. She's a twin, you see, and she and her brother, Kaden, are one of the best twinsets I've ever read about. They each have the other's back. He's so fiercely protective of her, while she tries her best to keep him out of trouble. I've said it before, but I don't mind saying it again. I love twins.

And then there was the worldbuilding. I loved Dolennar, the world of her Makilien Trilogy, but Ilyon was so fresh and unique. Most worlds, Dolennar included, are built on a Medieval Europe pattern, but Ilyon tastes more of Rome and China, and I don't see nearly enough of that. Instead of a few races that you mostly get to know on a general level, each of the peoples of Ilyon are fresh, new, and varied. Sure, we haven't met all of them, but I can tell that Jaye has put much work into developing them.

Characters and world aside, it was the message, the heart of the story that blew me away. I've read plenty of books about persecution, but very few are set in my favored genre of fantasy. And even fewer tell it with the power and grace that Jaye achieves in this book.

Plot? I've said with her trilogy that she's a master at plot twists, and while there weren't many plot twists in this book (though I'm sure that will change in future installments), this merging of fantasy and persecution left me at complete loss as to how everything might turn out. I don't think I was ever surprised, but there were plenty of times when I couldn't see how Jaye could bring them out of a difficulty. (And the only reason I knew she would was that it's the first book of a six volume series)

I'm at the edge of my seat in anticipation for the next book, but I'm afraid I'll have to wait at least another year for it.

Note: While it is a clean book, and violence is well-handled, the book is marketed towards older teens and those in their lower twenties, and I certainly wouldn't protest that decision. It deals with some pretty tough topics.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Christian, Persecution

Reading Level: Mature TEEN - high school to college 

Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: SUBTLE - hinted, but not explicit. The female “goddess” doesn't wear as much clothing as Kyrin would like her to, and she doesn't let her brother clean that side of the , there are allusions to the non-followers of Elóm doing stuff, but nothing is described. There was some kissing, but between side characters.
Jace is a former gladiator and half ryrik, which is an extremely violent race, and while he tries to suppress his natural instincts, he does get involved in some fights. Also, the Emperor is not beyond using violence to get what he wants.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Jack Lewis Baillot - Stretch of Loyalty

A Stretch of Loyalty
Because of Loyalty Trilogy

By Miss Jack Lewis Baillot

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon)

Prince Lachlan's only crime is that he is the youngest son of the king, a selfish man who took what he wanted no matter the cost. Now Lachlan's life is in danger because his father's last law was that the last of his sons left living will be the new king.

Lachlan's half brothers are determined to get rid of him first before they work on killing each other, but their plans are foiled when Lachlan is saved by a young girl named Magda. Knowing Lachlan would make a better ruler than any of his brothers, Magda flees into the wild, hoping to find help and safety for the boy in one of the neighboring kingdoms. Instead, all Magda finds is rejection.

But help might be closer then she thinks, and it comes in the form of a grumpy, one handed hermit, an elf with a sense of humor, and two dwarf brothers. Together, they might have a chance to save the boy - but what price do you pay to keep a stranger alive? Just how far are they willing to go to make sure he is kept safe?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Jack Lewis Baillot is the author of the Haphazardly Implausible series. She isn't impossible, just a bit unlikely.
You can learn more about her and her writing at her website.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I have the highest respect for this author ... I'm coauthoring a book with her, after all. I thoroughly expected to enjoy this book just as much as her Haphazardly books. However, while I found the theme of the book new and intriguing, the world building was very generic ... which isn't, in itself, a bad thing, but it mainly manifested in huge infodumps of description. The one unique people group that Jack created, I could never quite get a good mental image of because they were described as having the bodies of minotaurs and heads of wolves. I understood the wolf part ... but the body of a minotaur is basically the body of a really strong man. Unless, of course, she was using a different definition of minotaur, of which there was no sign of that in the text. Minotaurs weren't mentioned unless they used as comparison for this people group. 

Plot was great, except for the fact that they managed to run into every monster that wasn't supposed to exist anymore. The first time, it was exciting. The second time, interesting. But the third time ... it was just plain ridiculous and felt like a bid for more words. I also had some issues with the back story, especially concerning Magda's father ... and when, exactly, he died. Hopefully that will be explained in the sequel however. 

The characters were, I'm sure, wonderful, but I was unable to connect, partly because some of them relied on the stereotypes of the fantasy genre, and partly because I had trouble keeping conversations straight. Possibly, had I read the print version, it wouldn't have been so bad. But the kindle version is badly formatted, and I finally came to the conclusion that she must have uploaded a PDF file, which just goes wonky when it is translated into a Mobi. Also, Jack is very good at confusing homonyms. The first time she used "board" instead of "bored," it was funny, because they were on a boat and reminded me of roleplay I was in once. After that, all I could do was cringe every time it happened as I pictured the character described as a piece of lumber. Since I had had the privilege of editing the first few chapters, I had caught several ... but was disappointed to find that the chandelier was still spelled "Chandler." (I was pleased to find that she had corrected most of her then/than misuse, which had been my biggest issue with her first book.)

I am looking forward to the sequel. As I said, the theme was very good, and I honestly have no idea where Jack is going with it, which is always a good thing. Having read so many fantasy books, its hard to find one that I can't determine where the author plans to go with it. But this isn't the story of an epic war (not yet, anyways) it's the story of fugitives hiding a potential king. The message of the Creator is well handled, and I can thoroughly see Stefan's struggle with belief. Personally, I recommend a good combing for homonyms, and an upload in a doc format - from my experience, that's what talks to Kindle the best.

Note: There isn't any real magic in this book, so I recommend it to any fantasy fan who is squeamish about that part of the genre.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, quests, Christian

Reading Level: CHILD - children's literature to
TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at, although it is mentioned that the King, Lachlan's father, had a different mother for each of his four sons, and he gave up on marriage after his second wife.

Other: Lots of fighting, though not much description. The three older princes are trying to kill their youngest brother, and aren't very particular about who gets hurt in the process.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Molly Evangeline - Trust

Makilien Trilogy

By Molly Evangeline

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon)

Struggling to cope with the losses of battle, Makilien seeks to live each day in trust of Elohim's plans. As the conflict of hope and reality war in her mind, a sudden arrival changes everything, bringing to light a new scheme wrought by the remnant of Zirtan's men.
Finding herself witness to a shocking act of treachery, Makilien is thrust into the very center of the dangerous plans. Trust is something she must give carefully as those who appear trustworthy fail even as those she would least expect could hold the key to success. Can she and those around her secure their safety and freedom or will they find themselves outwitted by their enemy's final act of dominance?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Molly Evangeline is the oldest of three, all of whom are homeschool graduates. Since graduating she has actively pursued her writing career and is the author of the historical adventure series Pirates & Faith. She currently lives with her family in Wisconsin where she continues to focus on her writing and other creative endeavors.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

After receiving and reviewing the first two books of the trilogy, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation for book three. When it came out, it had a special introductory kindle price of 99 cents, and I just happened to have 99 cents in my Amazon gift card balance … so I snatched it up. I had it read within twenty-four hours. (The only book I can claim to have read within twenty-four hours its release)

And it's taken me … ten months to get around to writing the review. I really need to get on the ball with this reviewing business.

I approached this book with much trepidation. On one hand I already loved the world and most of the characters, and I really wanted to know what was up with the cliff hanger ending … but it was the last book in the trilogy, and I didn't want it to end. Also, I was left with a blah taste in my mouth from the last book's repetitiveness … and I didn't want to read the same book for the third time in a row.

I needn't have worried. This book was delightfully new, different, surprising, amazing, wonderful, and I'd almost come to like Makilien by the end of the book.

The book begins a year after the events of Courage. Unlike the previous two books, it began not in Reylaun, but in Elimar, where Makilien and Vonawyn are hiding behind a tree while strange men are shooting at them.

And they had thought the battle was over.

Things make even less sense when they discover that the orders given to the men are signed with a "V" rather than the "Z" that would have pointed to Zirtan. Someone is putting Zirtan's army back together and pestering them again.

On a more personal and emotional level, Makilien is still, after a year, trying to get over the fact that they hadn't been able to find a certain someone at the end of the great battle at the end of Courage. What's worse is that, just as she was beginning to accept that he has died, she has begun waking up in the middle of the night with strong urges to pray for him.

The plot twists in this book were amazing. Every time I thought I had everything figured out, it would take a new turn and I was left gasping for air. And every time it made complete sense! 

As for Characters, despite the fact that I never connected with Makilien, everyone else was superb. There were many old faces, many new faces, and no one felt out of place or forced upon me. One new person was the identical twin to one of the old characters a twist I absolutely loved. I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I love twins.

As for romance, Makilien's was beautiful. As for the other two, the one I had known about from book two still left me unsatisfied. I hadn't seen them together enough in Courage and they didn't get a single moment together in Trust until the epilogue. The new one, however, was sweet and sad. I hope he someday realizes that he can have a happily ever after, even if he had been a force for evil for so long. There was another one hinted at, and I liked the hint, but I would have preferred to see her and her people in person. Guess there wasn't time for it. And there are two characters that I strongly suspect will fall in love when she gets older. She's still seven right now, but he's an elf, so there's time.

My hugest qualm with this book is that the Jesus character, who had been so important in book one, received only one or two mentions. I admired the theme of trusting in God, or Elohim, but I would have liked His Son to have received more credit.

But everything else, every twist, every new character, every part of the theme of Trust was amazing. It was a perfect conclusion to the trilogy, and while I'd like more, I don't think the author plans to write more ... which is a pity unless you consider the fact that her upcoming Ilyon series is going to be twice as long and thrice as exciting!

Note: Highly recommended for teen girls who love fantasy but don't want the magic so often prevalent in the genre.

Genre/Theme: Christian Allegory, Fantasy, Adventure

Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - I think I remember some kissing, but that was it.
As with the former two books, there's war going on. People get killed trough various methods (including poisons), people are tortured, whipped, made slaves. It can be quite frightening at times.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Katie Comstock - Moonbeam


By Katie Comstock

Kindle Version Available

Product Description (from Amazon)

Moonbeam lives in the magical land of Glaucio. She is the daughter of Fiona, lead mare of the main herd on in the land. When Fiona is brutally killed by Abaddon, Moonbeam is thrust into command of the herd. She must battle against Abaddon and his evil forces using her innocence and a gift from Stardust. Abaddon wishes to kill Stardust, the stallion in charge of all the land. Moonbeam and her friend, Comet, must fight together with mares and stallions of other herds to prevent this. If Abaddon succeeds, the land of Glaucio will be cast into 300 years of darkness, evilness and despair.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Ever since I was little, I've enjoyed anything to do with reading or writing. Any book I could get my hands on I devoured. Writing proved to be a wonderful way to temporarily get out of doing my math. I didn't write very much until my Mom bought me the One Year Adventure Novel ( curriculum in the fall of 2009. This curriculum taught me how to come up with a compelling plot and characters. Through this curriculum, I've written two books, one of them in the process of being written and the other, Moonbeam. 
I have wonderful parents and four awesome younger siblings. When I'm not writing, I enjoy riding my horse, playing piano, ballet, reading and listening to music. I've been homeschooled since preschool and love the flexibility it gives me to be able to write more. 

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

This is a book which I wish I could have liked more than I did. I first heard of it through an interview she had with Landry's Academy, and it sparked my interest. Unfortunately, I failed to bookmark the book, and while I remembered the title and the author's first name, I forgot her last name … and searching “Moonbeam” and “Katie” didn't come up with anything.

And then I was reading through the backposts on the Homeschooled Authors blog – and there she was. I didn't have the money to buy the book at the time, but as soon as I did, I snatched up a kindle copy. I read it in a day.

As I stated before, I wish I could have liked it more than I did. It's not that it was a bad book – it was delightfully unique, and for the most part the horses acted like horses (one of my pet peeves in animal books is when you could say that they're human and not change a word in the book – I've read such books before). Also it's a Christian allegory, one of my two favorite flavors of Fantasy.

Yet for all of its charm, it fell flat for me. I knew when I picked it up that the author was only sixteen – it was one of the reasons I wanted to read it – but it showed. There was a lack of maturity to the writing (especially the conversations, which is a biggie with me) and many of the characters. There was nothing to set it apart from other allegories (other than the fact that it was about horses, rather than regular people), indeed, I found it rather predicable, having already read many books in the genre.

The story begins shortly after Moonbeam, the titular character, finds that Abbadon, the leader of the bay horses, has killed her mother. There are two colors of horses in this world. White horses follow Stardust, the Jesus figure of the book, and bay horses are those who are in rebellion against Stardust.

While she is still trying to come to grips with her mothers death, a new horse shows up, Daryn, a messenger of Stardust to tell her that a great war was being set in motion and to ask her and Comet, the stallion of their herd, to join them. Since her mother was the leader of the herd, Moonbeam is to follow in her footsteps … of course going to help means that she has to find a substitute for a while, but her friend, Ellipse, is perfect for the job.

Then they go with Daryn, train for the battle, meet new friends (the stallions and lead mares of other herds), and have the battle.

After that, I found it rather predictable, since I already knew that it was an allegory.

I really, really wanted to love this book. I enjoyed it, definitely, and the author shows lots of promise, so I will continue to read her books (I follow her blog, and while she hasn't published anything else, some of the books she's working on sound very interesting), but this one fell flat.

Note: This would be a good story for younger girls, maybe eight to twelve, who love horses, but don't mind it if it gets a bit scary.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Christian, Animals

Reading Level: CHILD - children's literature 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
Other: Fighting between horses, some death, but not much is described.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Alison Pensy - The Emerald Staff

The Emerald Staff
A Custodian Novel

By Alison Pensy

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon)

Publication Date: April 22, 2011
Faedra was enjoying the fact that everything was back to normal, well as normal as it could get when you had the ability to manipulate energy, were protector of an ancient Fae amulet, and lived with a fairy guardian 24/7. Her dad had even started dating. Yes, all was right again in Faedra’s world, or so she thought…

About the Author (from Amazon)

Alison was born and raised in England and grew up near a medieval city called Norwich, which is where much of the inspiration for her young adult books comes from. She has traveled extensively and the experiences and inspiration gained from that are priceless. 
Moving to the States in 2001, Alison started out in California, but the pace of life for a country girl was overwhelming and she eventually settled near a small town in mid Missouri with her menagerie of animals.
Alison also runs a tax and accounting business, which keeps her very busy during the day and especially for the first few months of the year where she goes into "headless chicken" mode.
Alison started writing a few years ago when she became so fed up with the real world, she decided to create her own. 
Alison also writes adult romance under the pen name Adrianna Blakeley.
O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

After I reviewed book 1 of the Custodian Novels, The Amulet, the author found my review and asked if I would like to read and review the next two books as well. I agreed, and she sent them to me.

Unfortunately, that was about the time that my life went crazy, so it's taken me a lot longer than I would have liked to get around to reviewing.

The book begins a few months after The Amulet, Faedra has begun to settle back into her life as the custodian, and has almost gained control of her Energy-manipulation power. All is going well, Faen, her Guardian and boyfriend, has started college with her, and her father has even started dating again!

She hasn't met the lucky lady yet, but her dad says that she'll be at the approaching Halloween party that they're hosting. Faedra is delighted … until the lady walks in the door. Turns out, it's the woman who killed her mother, and tried to kill Faedra in book one. Let's just say, Faedra takes exception.

Trying to control her energy power and not reveal to the whole party that she's not a normal human, she goes outside with Faen to blow some steam. However, Mr. Bennet and the girlfriend soon follow them and the girlfriend forces him to do a big reveal – he's not Faedra's real dad. Then she makes her dramatic exit, Mr. Bennet in tow. She leaves behind a black stone with a red dot in the center. If Faedra doesn't turn herself in before the stone is completely red, well let's just say she won't like the consequences.

Faedra decides to see if there's any way to rescue him. She travels back to the Faerie world and discovers that the only way of tracking her father's kidnapper is to find the Emerald Staff … which belongs to a dragon. Not only is finding him hard enough, but he won't give up the staff unless they return to him his only egg (which he lost in a bet when he was a younger dragon).

Overall, I liked this book. Tension was higher than the book before, but less mystery when it comes to the villain. There were many twists and turns, some of which I smelled coming, others caught me completely by surprise. The old characters are as charming as they were before, and the new ones were delightful. For the most part. There's one character that shows up at the end that's not so nice … but he was well done, nonetheless.

My one annoyance with this book was the fact that the main romance is a forbidden romance. It was fairly well done, and I already knew about it from the first book, so it wasn't so bad. Forbidden romances just annoy me, so no offense to the author. Also, one of the new characters, while he is charming, borders on the too charming. I liked him, felt sorry for him even (since he's the last of his kind), but I was slightly annoyed with him.

But apart from the romance, I really enjoyed the book. It's a very interesting twist on fairies, though not extremely radical.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Romance,

Reading Level:  TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity:  LOW - few mildly offensive words 
Sexuality:  MILD - descriptions of affection/desire There's quite a bit of kissing between Faedra and Faen, and there's one character who's described as having “thought with what's in his pants”Other: Lots of fighting, especially with magic. Nothing graphic, though.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sarah Holman - The Destiny of One

The Destiny of One
The Destiny Trilogy

By Sarah Holman

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon)

Destiny – it's a word that plagues Maria Morris. What does God want her to do with her life? Should she go to college or does God have other plans for her? When her parents go missing during a business trip, Maria embarks on a quest that will change her life forever. Trying to fight against an overbearing Milky Way Government, Maria travels to earth in search of a lost prince and some crown jewels. Her faith is tested, however, when a new law is passed. Will Maria be able to find her parents and the crown jewels before it's too late? Is she strong enough to stand up for her faith even if it means never seeing her family again? Most of all, will Maria discover her true Destiny?

About the Author (from Amazon)

Sarah Holman, a homeschool graduate, lives in central Texas. When not pursuing her passion of writing, she can be found taking long walks, reading, sewing or spending time with her family. You can find out more about her at her blog

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I stumbled upon this author from one of the other authors who she had interviewed on her Homeschooled Authors blog (Molly Evangeline, I believe), and her first book sounded good, and since it was only 99 cents, I bought it.

It took me a while to get into, unfortunately, but once I connected with Maria, figured out what was going on, I was hooked.

The Destiny of One takes place a few hundred years in the future. People have developed advanced space travel, and have figured out how to live on planets with hostile environments. (No aliens have been discovered, by the way.) The world has also gone back to monarchistic government, but the current king, Wyndemere II, is not friendly to Christians. In fact he is currently trying to pass a law that will force all Christians to be branded – much like the Jews were forced to wear stars during the Nazi period. (And manner in which Sarah told the back story was genius! Not info-dumpy at all!) A few decades before, earth had been ruled by an God-fearing king … but it had been attacked by Wydemere's predecessor, and the line lost.

Maria is a normal nineteen-year-old girl who lives on Mars. She's Christian, and currently at the crossroads of life and trying to figure out what God's plan for her life is. While visiting her grandparents (who live on earth), she and her grandmother are attacked by a ruffian at the park. Her grandfather then takes it upon himself to teach her and her brother some tricks in self defense with both laser gun and light saber – and she proves to be quite good.

And then it's back to Mars. While Maria continues to contemplate her future, they suddenly loose contact with her parents while they are away at their job. Her uncle then reveals to her that their family is the keeper of the hints to where earth's royal jewels – and true prince! – are hidden. And so she takes a quick rocket ship ride back to earth to find the jewels. Should be easy.

Even though sci-fi isn't usually my genre, I ended up really enjoying this book. The cast of characters were delightful, especially Quint! (I've heard tell that Quint is a universal favorite with the readers, though.) And the message was well done.

However, I do have two issues, both dealing with the plot.

One. The story is told using what I call the flashback hook, which is one of my literary pet peeves. The reason it took me so long to get into was that, there I was wondering if Maria's ID would go through the system and she would get to return to Mars and then – bam! – there I was on Mars at the true beginning of the book, with muddy clothing and colleges being the thing to worry about. It took me quite some time before I could convince myself to pick the book and reacquaint myself with the younger Maria.

Two. I never figured out why the crown jewels had to be found first. To me, the logical thing would have been to leave them where they are (if they haven't been found in this long, you can be pretty sure that they're going to be safe for quite some time more) and find the prince first. Crown jewels can be safely retrieved once there's a guy to wear them and a throne for him to sit on.

But apart from those two issues, I really enjoyed the book, and was quite eager to read the next two when I managed to get my hands on them. (Which I since have done, and I'll review them later.)

Genre/Theme: Christian, Sci-Fi

Reading Level: TEEN - upper elementary to middle school 
Profanity: NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality: NONE - not even hinted at 
Other: Quite a bit of fighting, some physical, some with laser guns. Maria gets a broken arm. Later, she is branded on the palm of her hand.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Rachel Rossano - Duty

A Novel of Rhynan

By Rachel Rossano

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description (from Amazon)

Duty to King

Tomas Dyrease, the newly made Earl of Irvaine and the
village of Wisenvale, owes his good fortune to his king and the recent civil war. When his benefactor demands Tomas marry the cousin of a noble, he obeys. However, no one warned him that she wasn’t a typical noblewoman.

Duty to Others

Brielle Solarius struggles to keep her village from starvation under the new Lord Wisten, her cousin. The men rode off to war and never returned. The remaining women and children face a dire winter if they do not find a solution soon. When she learns her cousin sold her into marriage to save his life, she isn’t surprised. However, she is taken aback by Lord Irvaine’s unpolished ways. Was this man a noble or a foot soldier?

Duty to Each Other

Bound by the words of their vows, they face a rough future. They must forge a marriage while battling betrayal, accusations of treason, and villains from the past. Survival depends on their precarious trust in each other. Failure could mean death.

About the Author (from Amazon)

Rachel Rossano is a constructor of sentences, a creator of metaphors, a painter of word pictures, and a storyteller. Or, at least she attempts to be one. Producing novels, novellas, and short stories, she endeavors to enchant, thrill, entertain, and amuse through her writing. Above all else, she attempts to glorify God with every tale.

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Kendra

I believe I have mentioned that I’m not usually one for the romance genre. However, I do find romances involving arranged marriages intriguing, so when the author, a fellow homeschooler, asked for reviewers for her newest release, I volunteered.

The story begins with Brielle’s discovery that her cousin has given her in marriage to the new lord of Irvaine. She isn’t too pleased with this, since she and her cousin have never gotten along. However, since the king is the one who gave the orders, she has no choice.

Tomas, her new husband, is a good man, though very rough around the edges. While he does insist that they show affection in public so that certain people don't get suspicious, he allows her her space when they're in private, allowing them to get to know each other.

Of course, once they are married, he must continue his journey to his new castle. That's when the plot starts thickening. A messenger follows them with the news that her village has been attacked and the women that had been in Brielle's charge are in danger - and Brielle's cousin is one of the attackers. When they reach Kyrenton, the capitol, more treachery awaits. The wife of the former Lord Irvaine is desperate to keep her position, and one of the lords had an old grudge against Tomas.

The book is fast paced, but there were only a few times that I became confused as to what was going on. I was impressed by how she handled delicate issues, and I was on the edge of my chair while Brielle was on trial because she was suspected to be in league with her cousin. The scene where Brielle is forced to take part in the big battle was well done and believable.

My only complaint is the fact that, while Brielle seems to have a strong faith in Kurios, which is what they call God in Rachel Rossano's world, I didn't feel that this faith was integral to the book. Yes she prayed to him often, but I felt that she relied more on duty and her own strength instead of that faith. However, that was just one drawback in an otherwise wonderful book.

Genre/Theme: Romance, historical fantasy

Reading Level:  Mature TEEN - high school to college 
Profanity:  NONE - no offensive language 
Sexuality:  MILD - descriptions of affection/desire – Frequent kissing between Brielle and Tomas, as well as mentioning of the marriage bed. The previous Lady Irvaine tries to seduce Tomas. It is mentioned that soldiers, after taking a city, have a tendency to take advantage of the pretty girls.
Other: There’s a war going on in this book. People fight. People die. Descriptions are kept to a minimum.

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