• Abbie Smith

I didn't think SJM could shake me anymore. I thought I could predict even the most outlandish twists.

I. Was. Wrong.

[MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD SO WATCH OUT]

In all honesty, I wasn't too crazy about House of Earth and Blood, the first novel in the Crescent City universe.

I didn't really have too many feelings about Bryce, the main character. She was okay, but in all honesty, I don't always like SJM's main characters. I felt for her the same I feel for Aelin from the Throne of Glass series: I'm here, I'm reading, but really I just care about the side characters.

That rings true here as well. I only read the second novel for one character: Ruhn Danaan.

And y'all. That man. He could get it. All the time.

If there's one thing I love, it's a morally gray bad boy with a heart of gold. Ruhn is that AND MORE in this novel.

So the main plot has to do with locating a missing kid believed to have special thunderbird powers, which is all and good, while trying to avoid political interference from the higher ups who have questionable morals. There are a lot of side plots, involving multiple characters, including the younger brother of Bryce's initial love interest, who is, unsurprisingly, in love with Bryce (yuck, let's stop doing this. not everyone has to love the main character).

So the romance from the first novel, Bryce and Hunt, is still going strong, even though they never had sex in the first novel. There was a very, very hot moment on a couch, but still, no payoff. That may be part of my dislike for the original. Who knows? They've made some sort of pact that they won't get physical until months later. Which, lets be real, that never sticks.

So while plot shit is going on, Ruhn has been tasked with reaching out to an undercover agent of the rebellion forces. He doesn't know who she is. She doesn't know who he is. But, over a period of weeks and months, the two find themselves attracted to one another.

Let me just say, SJM did a wonderful job redirecting our attention. I spent three-quarters of the book thinking it was one character, and when she showed that it wasn't, I had a freak out. My poor friend Liz had to deal with my bazillion text messages as I was trying to figure it out.

So, it turns out. This person that Ruhn has fallen for, who he's also fucked in this weird mind-bridge-dreamscape thing---IS A VILLAIN.

Of course it is. Mwahahahaha that's my kind of twist.

Either way, more plot shit happens, and Bryce, Hunt, and Ruhn end up captured by the Asteri--basically the big bad guys. In the end, Ruhn finds out the woman he loves is bad, spurns her while also showing some male dominance bullshit. Hunt sacrifices himself. And Bryce then TELEPORTS OUT OF MIDGARD.


But... where does she end up?

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LAST SPOILER WARNING. I'M SERIOUS, EXIT NOW!

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PRYTHIANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!

From the moment she's approached in this new world... I knew it. I KNEW IT. The way she described the person who found her, I was like... it's a bat boy. It has to be a bat boy. And it was. She's taken to a fancy manor house, which is Feyre and Rhysand's home in Velaris.

The book literally ends on "My name is Rhysand."

I was literally messaging my friend holy shit about ten thousand times because I was so shook.


This ending wasn't totally a surprise. If you've read the Throne of Glass series, you'll know that SJM hinted at crossing realities between her worlds when Aelin "fell" at the end of the series. She saw Rhysand and a pregnant Feyre, and Rhysand helped her coast the rest of way on her fall.


So. What happens next? Truly. Who the hell knows at this point.


I've heard the next release is Crescent City 3, which I'm torn about. Cause I really want my Azriel novel.


Highly, highly recommend to anyone who loves SJM's writing and her worlds. Even if you don't like her main characters, there really is something in all of her novels for everyone. I can't wait.


Thanks,

Abbie

  • Abbie Smith

I've been wanting to read this one for a while! I met Nicole through a mutual friend a few months ago and had the honor of beta reading one of her current works in progress. The woman is an amazing drafter, so I was super excited to read what she'd published so far!

I was intrigued from the beginning. The main character, Allie, wakes up in a world that is not so different from her own, but it's definitely not the same. The first thing she notices is the decorations in the bathroom she shares with her roommate have been changed to a previously unapproved color. This little detail stuck out to me. The rest of the opening is full of little moments like this. Things that don't quite make sense.

Then a man Allie doesn't know shows up, and he tries to kiss her. She freaks out. They take her to the hospital.

All of this happens relatively quickly.

The next time Allie wakes up, she's in the hospital practically on lock down. One thing I felt was super effective was limiting the story to Allie's perspective, because the reader was just as confused as the main character, but not to the point where they'd want to put the story down.

A woman breaks her out of the hospital and this is when Allie learns that she's special. She's a Walker. There are many realms and worlds out there that regular people don't know about, but Allie and Walkers like her, they can sense the frequencies between worlds and can travel to and from them.

What follows is an adventure to find out who is trying to murder her.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. My main complaint was the length. It was much longer than I would have liked. This story fell more into the speculative fiction genre than romance, so that certainly didn't help.

If you want to support an incredible indie author, chec out The Laws of Founding by Nicole McKeon. It is currently on Kindle Unlimited!!


Thanks,

Abbie

  • Abbie Smith

I have been on a bit of a crusade to find titles similar to Guns & Smoke. Well, dear readers, let me tell you: I have found it!

Thirst rules. Ignorance is power. Nothing is as it seems.

Centuries after the boom of the Industrial Revolution, sandstorms ravage the land, chivalry is dead, and the frills and frivolities of the Romantic Era are a distant memory.


Marshal Cunningham rules Sagebrush Canyon with lies and an iron fist. But after the horrors he wreaks on Jo’s family, she’ll do everything she can to expose the tyrant he truly is.


Just when Jo plans to make her move, the marshal plays a card of his own—his notoriously scandalous son, Clayton. As Jo and Clayton are forced together, painful truths are revealed, lines become blurred, and Jo must decide if she is willing to sacrifice her heart or Sagebrush for retribution.

***

First off, I must say, Pogue is fantastic at descriptive writing without overkill. In each scene, I felt like I was physically there, because I could see the settings, smell the air, taste the dust. I literally stopped at one point so I could highlight a particularly visceral scene that I am studying to enhance my own work.


From the start, the reader is thrown into the action. The main character, Jo, experiences the tragic loss of her mother, but that isn't the ending: it's only the beginning. Flash forward several years. Jo and her father run the farm that feeds the majority of Sagebrush. Water is king.


I loved Jo's cynical voice. I loved that she abhorred having to follow societal norms. While she'd never judge anyone who did, I admire that she wanted to be true to herself and went out of her way for it.


I love a romantic interest with shades of gray and questionable morales. Clayton was just that.


While Jo searches for truth, she and Clayton get thrown together in an engagement that neither of them truly want.


Full of gunslinging, wild west references, and unexpected romance, Dust and Shadow was one of my favorite reads so far this year.


I have two complaints: 1. that we didn't get more of Clayton's perspective. We would get multiple Jo chapters, then one Clayton and repeat the cycle. 2. the sex was fade to black. As a romance writer, I need the payoff of sex on the page.


That's not to say it wasn't a fantastical, fun story. I already have the second book on my shelves, and I can't wait to read it!.


If you're interested in learning more, check out this link.


Also, as a bonus, Lindsey is going to be offering a giveaway for a FREE e-book copy of Guns & Smoke in her newsletter on 4/19. Sign up here if you're interested!


Thanks,

Abbie