• Abbie Smith

I read The High Mountain Court last year, and I was super excited when I found out the sequel was already releasing.

To be honest, though, I read so much that I couldn't exactly remember what all happened in the first book. It took a minute for me to get my bearings and to understand that this novel was from the perspective of Remy's younger sister, Ruadora, or Rua.

One thing I think Mulford did a good job of was reminding the readers what happened in the prior book. Sequels are hard, y'all. You have to figure out what is okay to include and when it becomes too info dumpy, but I found that she gave just enough information to set up the characters.

I read a good part of this while I was still finishing House of Sky and Breath, so I didn't read a ton of the beginning in one chunk. Once I was able to sit down and focus on the story, however, it really picked up.

I adore authors that can blend multiple races of magic into one. It's a challenge, of course, but Mulford managed to do it seamlessly. In Okrith, there are humans, but there are also witches and fae, and some that are crosses of any of those races.

The reader can tell how much of her heart was put into developing the world and the story. Whereas The High Mountain Court was about regaining the past, The Witches' Blade was about finding redemption after darkness. Rua's done some stuff she's not proud of. She was also raised in an emotionally repressive society, so she was never properly taught how to feel her emotions and process them. Conceal, don't feel, Elsa.

While I did enjoy the romance, I didn't feel terribly invested in it from the start. I thought there were a couple of missed opportunities by the author toward the middle of the novel, but by the end, I was totally on board. I wanted to fight beside Rua as they took down the bad guys that tortured and killed witches.

I think my favorite thing about this series is how much it relies on the found family trope. That one is near and dear to my heart. I truly believe that friends are the family you choose.

I would highly recommend this one if you're looking for a new romantasy series, but definitely start with The High Mountain Court.


Yall. I am obsessed with this author. I'm only slightly ashamed of how much I love her writing. To the point that I placed an order at her local indie bookstore so I could get copies of all three of her currently published works.

I've previously reviewed the first two novels in this series: Written in the Stars and Hang the Moon.

Alexandria Bellefleur writes fun, flirty, contemporary queer romance. I knew based on prior readings that I'd love this novel. I've also been in a big second chance romance mood lately, so this was published at exactly the right time.

Margot, the best friend of Elle from Written in the Stars, suddenly finds herself without a roommate and the fifth wheel at every gathering. Her closest friends have all paired up. Annie and Brendan, the characters in Hang the Moon, are about to get married. When they meet with the wedding planner, Margot is equally horrified and delighted to learn that it's Olivia, her once flame and former best friend from high school.

When Olivia is forced out of her apartment, Margot offers up the spare room in her place, and shenanigans ensue.

I could never imagine what living with someone that I'm super attracted to, not to mention having a past with.

One thing I've learned that Bellefleur loves doing is placing her characters in incredibly embarrassing situations. In Hang the Moon, Annie had to pee when they were stuck on top of a ferris wheel. In Count Your Lucky Stars, Margot is on her way to the bathroom to have a little personal time with her favorite vibrating toy when they bump into each other and Olivia's cat bites the vibrator after its dropped on the floor.

I love authors that don't stray away from the cringe. It was such a hilarious moment.

I really, truly adore Bellefleur's writing, and I cannot wait until her next novel releases. If you're looking for heartwarming, funny, queer contemporary romance, definitely check out her work. I promise, you won't be disappointed!


  • Abbie Smith

In doing genre research to find books similar to Guns & Smoke, I came across Jake's Redemption. While the main plot is very different from G&S, I was excited to find a romance story set in a similar western-inspired world. Of note, this was a prequel for a larger series, but it was just as long as a novel.

I was a little confused in the beginning of reading this one. While it's absolutely acceptable to thrust a reader directly into the action, this one was almost jolting with how face you were thrown into it.

Jake gets captured in this woman eats woman world after hiding. After the end of the world as we know it, gender roles have changed. Women, due to some genetic mutation?, are now the stronger sex. Men are captured and abused, used for their bodies for breeding and working.

Seems like a pretty good premise. This is the type of world that people think feminists want, which isn't true at all. Equality. Not dominion.

So, Jake is captured while his best friend manages to escape. The story snaps forward in time. How long, I'm not exactly sure. But Jake has been beaten and abused and used and he's basically in a black cell. Someone comes along to offer him a temporary reprieve from his cell, saying an agreement was made with another slave owner to give him an opportunity to do manual labor as a foreman on a new farm. Cool. The story really should have started here, in my opinion.

This one has a pretty standard romance between Jake and Monica, the slave owner. She handles things much differently than what he's used to. Schulz spends a lot of time showing how Jake has managed to heal and grow, even though there's a constant deadline looming over their heads for him to go back to his original owner.

There were a few things I didn't necessarily like.

While yes, the romance is the main plot point, we didn't get nearly enough world building. I wanted to know what triggered this dystopian world. What made women have this mutation? How and why was a fear serum developed to deploy on men? I had a lot of questions.

The author had a habit of jumping ahead by days and weeks, then immediately going back and giving you a play by play of what she jumped over, instead of actually just writing it in the moment. It was jarring.

This story was clearly meant to set up the Angel Eyes series, as it felt like Jake talked more about his friend that left him the beginning, Bret, than himself. I understand being excited about writing another story, but for me, its really important to explore current characters and plotlines instead of just building up the later ones.

By the time the characters got together and most of the plot resolved, there was still a bunch of the novel left. I was exhausted. So I just kind of skimmed the last handful of chapters.

I did enjoy getting to see another dystopian/western romance, but I'm not sure that I'll keep reading in the series. I didn't get invested enough in the main characters for the series to keep going.