About iscm13

I'm a mom of 3 living in NYC who loves to read. When i'm not at work, or shuttling my kids around the city (since i'm sure you can imagine that it's hard to entertain little ones in a small apartment), i'm immersing myself in all things pop-culture, watching movies, or listening to music. One day I hope that i can get inspired enough with an original idea so that i can join the ranks of some of my favorite story tellers to bring to life a great tale - but so far, i'm more than happy to dive head first into a good story or 2.

Review: Darker (Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian #2) by E.L. James

Title: Darker
Author: EL James
Publisher/Year:  Knopf Doublbeday Publishing 11/28/17
Length:   560 Pages
Series:  Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian #2

Overview

Their scorching, sensual affair ended in heartbreak and recrimination, but Christian Grey cannot get Anastasia Steele out of his mind, or his blood. Determined to win her back, he tries to suppress his darkest desires and his need for complete control, and to love Ana on her own terms.

But the horrors of his childhood still haunt him, and Ana’s scheming boss, Jack Hyde, clearly wants her for himself. Can Christian’s confidant and therapist, Dr. Flynn, help him face down his demons? Or will the possessiveness of Elena, his seducer, and the deranged devotion of Leila, his former submissive, drag Christian down into the past?

And if Christian does win Ana back, can a man so dark and damaged ever hope to keep her?

My Thoughts

It’s been ages since i’ve read the series if i’m honest, but i actually recently came across Fifty Shades Darker on TV so it was nice to have this alternate POV come to life after i’ve seen it on the big screen.  All that being said, we fall right back into the story and world that Ms James crafted for us all those years ago, where we see how the roller coaster of life and romance for Christian and Ana unfolded.

There’s something to be said about getting into the head of Christian and having the story unfold from his POV since we’ve had the fortune to truly grasp it from Ana’s side before.  Where there was so much focus in the past on her innocence and how naive she was both in romance and in work, well we see the flip side of the confident and controlling Christian.  His life outside of her was so different and a mystery before, so we get to see some of what made him tick.

True to form we get a lot of the same romance, but instead of experiencing it like we have in the past we get to see it taken through control and dominance.  The scenes that we had before were from the girl who wanted hearts and flowers and this time we get to see them from the man who needs control and power in his life to thrive.  It gives the story a completely different feeling.

Personally i’m curious if we would ever get another story line from Ms James – something that didn’t revolve around the Fifty series, but i guess that’s likely something that we’ll have to wait on given that there’s still one more installment of the series that hasn’t been written from Christian’s side yet and i’d imagine that i’ts coming.  There’s so much heat and passion left to come out from this couple from Christian’s side of things for sure and i think that we would be lucky to get that culmination to the story since those of you that have read the original trilogy, i’m sure you recall all the craziness that goes on, and there’s bound to be a lot of angst and anxiety wrapped up in it.

On that note – have a happy thursday (a snowy one here at least) and enjoy!

Review: The Kings Guard (Fire & Thorns #0.7) by Rae Carson

Title: The King’s Guard
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 7/30/13
Length:   98 Pages
Series:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns #0.7

Overview

Hector of Ventierra is the youngest commander of the Royal Guard in his kingdom’s history. But before he was lord commander, he was a lowly squire. In this short fantasy novella, set in the world of The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Rae Carson introduces readers to Hector before he became the man Queen Elisa fell in love with. The King’s Guard also includes a teaser chapter for The Bitter Kingdom, the conclusion to the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

At fifteen years old, Hector is the youngest squire in the most elite military force in the country. And his first day is disastrous. Everyone assumes the only reason he was recruited is his close personal association with King Alejandro, not because he’s really earned it.

But Alejandro needs Hector for a secret mission, one that gives him the chance to prove to everyone—including himself—that he is worthy to be a Royal Guard. Hector must break into the ancient Fortress of Wind to retrieve something so important that the kingdom’s future depends on it. What Hector finds in the fortress will stretch his bond of friendship with his king near to breaking. And it will prepare him to become the fearsome warrior and lord commander Elisa will never let go.

My Thoughts

We’ve come to love and adore Hector through what we’ve seen in the main series that it’s really nice to see how he got his start, and how the friendships between him and his guards really took shape.  There was a bit of a teaser that he started out working for the king and Alejandro in a different capacity but it’s nice to see how that progressed into being leader of the Royal Guard.

What we get here is the point in time where Hector starts as a recruit for the guards – and how everyone knows that he’s probably too young and inexperienced to make the guards, but that he’s been shown favor by the kind and the royals and everyone resents that.

It’s not just the tale of being a recruit, but there’s also the piece of the story that we get when Rausora is pregnant and quite sick with the royal heir.  We know how that all ends up, but there’s actually a twist to the story that we didn’t quite get in the main series and it gives an interesting context to how things actually shaped up (that no one still knows about).

Hector is given a secret task and a chance to prove himself and that’s exactly what he does.  while the current head of the guards tries to muck it up for him, and people are out to murder him, well, we still get to see how he’s able to overcome and his natural ability to be a leader even at 15 is something to be impressed by.  All in all, a nice way to get to know him before Hector was the authority that we’ve come to love.  Enjoy!

Review: The Shattered Mountain (Fire & Thorns #0.6) by Rae Carson

Title: The Shattered Mountain
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher/Year:  Harper Collins 3/26/13
Length:   85 Pages
Series:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns #0.6

Overview

A short digital-only novella set in the world of The Girl of Fire and Thorns. While Princess Elisa was being forced across the desert by a band of rebel kidnappers, her future handmaiden, Mara, was fighting for survival as enemy sorcerers decimated the countryside. This is Mara’s story.

My Thoughts
Mara has long since been a key character in the entire series and it’s her turn to have a novella – to give us a sense of where her story began and how strong she truly is.  We knew her story before this novella – about how she and a boy named Julio had fallen in love and how she had plans to leave her village to be with him, but of course that all goes awry when the Inviernos come and attack her village.  So this is the story of her escape with a group of children and how they find the rebells, Elisa and get on the road to recovery.
It’s a nice novella since we get to see that Mara is strong in her own right – she’s smart and positive and motivating, yet she’s human and scared and doubts herself at every turn.  She’s got a skillset that proves itself to be incredibly helpful in this story and rolls over into how she aids Elisa throughout the trilogy.
There’s not much more depth to this though – as expected in an 80 page book, but at least you start to see how strong and tough she is which helps her weather what comes for her in the trilogy.  Enjoy!

Review: The Shadow Cats (The Girl of Fire and Thorns #0.5) by Rae Carson

Title: The Shadow Cats
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher/Year:  harper Collins 7/17/12
Length:   73 Pages
Series:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns #0.5

Overview

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. And it was not Alodia.

Alodia is the crown princess of the realm. The sister who knows how to rule, the one who is constantly reminded that she has not been marked for a grand destiny. But Alodia has plans, and she will be the greatest queen her people have ever known. So she travels—with her hopeless, naive, chosen sister—to a distant part of their land, to begin to secure her supporters. This region needs its princesses, for it is plagued with a curse; the crops don’t grow, spring doesn’t arrive, and a fierce jaguar stalks in the shadows, leaving behind only empty homes splashed with blood. If Alodia can save them, no one will be able to deny her strength and her sovereignty.

But what she discovers could change the fate of her kingdom, if not the entire world. And it will most certainly change her opinion of her younger sister.

My Thoughts

Well, too bad i didn’t realize that this was a prequel before i read the series although i’m not sure that it matters much to be honest.  What we have here is a quick novella giving us a glimpse into how it was determined that Elisa should marry Alejandro.   From the first book in the series we learned that Alodio the elder sister was the one destined for greatness in terms of politics in the royal family.  She’s beautiful and has been taught to run the kingdom from a young age, and that’s part of the plan that leads us into this novella.

Alodia has the best of intentions, trying to right some of the things that her father has done in neglecting the outer territories and she’s setting out to make things right and forming allies.  Elisa accompanies her and of course we get the sense that there’s not much that impresses Alodia about her sister.  What’s nice here is that we start to see the personality come out a bit in Elisa and we see that she’s strong and intelligent and once given a moment to prove that she’s got logical thoughts, ideas of grandeur are in her future.

This is both a set up for what we see in book one but also a hint at more than what we’ve really seen in the bigger series about Alodia’s motivations and what is really going on in her head.  She’s given more of a human side in this book and i think that we needed to see the sensitive side of her to really understand why she’s so cold and tough throughout the trilogy.  enjoy!

Review: The Bitter Kingdom (The Girl of Fire and Thorns #3) by Rae Carson

Title: The Bitter Kingdom
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher/Year:  harper Collins 8/26/14
Length:   448 Pages
Series:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns #3

Overview

In the deeply satisfying conclusion to the bestselling Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen Elisa travels into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion—a champion to those who have hated her most. Riveting, surprising, and achingly romantic, Rae Carson has spun a bold and powerful conclusion to her extraordinary trilogy.

My Thoughts

This finale of the trilogy gives us the story in 4 parts – each of them showing us a different stage in the end game here of freedom and happiness.  Elisa has the world on her shoulders – she’s got no choice but to try to find the answers to everyone’s questions – what she’s supposed to accomplish, how to make her land safe, how to be with the people she loves and how to secure a future for the world.  So much for a seventeen year old girl to accomplish right?

Throughout this 4 part journey we are taken across a variety of lands, learning to trust people that she’s not 100% sold on, and showing others that they have to question what they have known all their lives if they want to take risks and be successful.

What our author does a great job of here is weaving in existing characters to the plot while introducing new ones that really make a strong impact in unexpected ways.  Elisa finds herself being forced into considering marriage for the best intentions of Joya D’Arena yet she doesn’t really want that and everyone that comes to her has their own motivation.  She’s got her eye on someone else yet she’s afraid to admit it.  Then there’s the fact that she’s still being undermined at every turn from all of the people who were in place before Alejandro died.  They feel entitled and will be treasonous if it means that they get more power.

That leads to the journey that we go on with them.  Elisa sets plans in motions, trying to learn more about her power in the Godstone, trying to find the zafira which powers all the animagi with their stones, and i think that what we learn here is that when you rely on something so much, you forget that you really are powerful in yourself.

The remaining sections in this story takes us across lands where treaties are formed amongst Elisa’s sister Alodia and Cosme – they prove to be more valuable yet potentially less trusting than we thought.  The Inviernos have more secrets than we knew about – and their heritage starts to play an even bigger role in this story.  We learn to rely on one of their own for both knowledge and help – friendship and trust.

So all in all, where we are left at the end of this final installment is a place where we have hope – yet we are mourning because some of the most important and key places throughout the series are no longer with us.  While Elisa was successful in some of her endeavors, she has found herself quite unsuccessful in others and in a place where she never expected herself to be.  What the future holds is a big question that we’ll never get answered.  Enjoy!

Review: The Crown of Embers (Girl of Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson

Title: The Crown of Fire and Embers
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher/Year:  harper Collins 8/27/13
Length:   297 Pages
Series:  The Girl of Fire and Thorns #2

Overview

The second book in Rae Carson’s award-winning The Girl of Fire and Thorns fantasy trilogy, perfect for fans of Game of Thrones and Kristin Cashore. Tamora Pierce called the first book, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, “A unique and engrossing read!” A seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

In The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Elisa won the war. She saved her kingdom. But no one prepared her for how hard it is to recover from a battle, or to rule a people who still don’t trust her. She’s still fighting—against assassination attempts and more—and her enemies lie both outside her court and within it. So Elisa will cross the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. With her go a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with.

My Thoughts

While this series reminds me of several others that i’ve read, I’m still enjoying it quite a bit.  We have the continuation of Elisa’s journey – of the life that she’s found herself living now – where she’s the Queen and bearer of the Godstone, and the only one who can hope to make right all the troubles in the world.  Lots for a seventeen year old girl to be responsible for right?  Add in deceit, romance and lost friendships and you have quite the story.

We left off book one where Elisa was now that Queen of Joya D’Arena, her husband Alejandro was killed by the Animagi and she’s left to sort out what that means for herself and for the kingdom.  Elisa’s proven herself to be quite strong and capable so that’s where she’s starting things off.  She’s being led by those who think that they have more power than her though in the kingdom and that means that she has to prove herself worthy, while also trying to defend her people from the Inviernos – a people who were likely the first on the earth and have been trying to take back power and land.

This is an exhausting journey that we’re on, and we see the reappearances of several of the main characters from book one.  Cosme is now a Queen as you’ll recall from the first book, and she sends a delegation to Elisa and we see that they become incredibly valuable, especially when Elisa’s life is in danger time after time.  We also see Belen the traitor come back into the mix and his story gets more complicated each day.  We still don;t know if he can be trusted and that’s a big piece of this story.

The other plot lines are even better.  There’s a romance and a true love blooming for Elisa with someone who she’s not quite sure returns those feelings, and the same person that is perhaps being linked to her sister now in the hopes of another strong political bond.

If that weren’t enough, our author throws in another story line where we are learning more and more about teachings that were banned that may hold the secret to a lot of what everyone’s been fighting for.  So that means that Elisa and her crew are off on a search for a mythical land and power source in the hopes that they will come out on top.

Where we are left a t the end of this second book is a place where the friends are all split again – some by their own means and some were kidnapped.  We don’t know where things will end up, who’s going to be a true ally and who’s going to prove to be working for their own motivations.  We just know that Elisa must succeed or there will be nothing left for anyone to fight for.  So that means…..we have to move onto book 3 and see what comes of it all.  enjoy!

Review: Royal Pain (His Royal Hotness #1) by Tracy Wolff

Title: Royal Pain
Author: Tracy Wolff
Publisher/Year:  Random House Publishing 9/26/17
Length:   230 Pages
Series:  His Royal Hotness #1

Overview

He’s a womanizer. He’s cocky. He’s not exactly a prince. Only he technically is. Meet your new royal obsession in this addictive novel from New York Times bestselling author Tracy Wolff.

Being rich opens a lot of doors. When you’re rich and royal, those doors lead to a new bedroom every night. I should know. The tabloids call me His Royal Hotness, Prince Kian of Wildemar. Women across the world see me as a naughty fairy tale, an image I’m happy to indulge. As the spare to the heir, I’m the prince with none of the power . . . and all of the perks.

Then my twin brother is kidnapped, and suddenly I’m the one who could be king. The crown chasers start circling—and yet it’s a luscious waitress who catches my eye. With a smart mouth and the curves to back it up, Savannah Breslin is as brazen as I’d expect an American commoner to be.

But Savvy’s not interested in playing Cinderella. As sexy as she is, she’s no stranger to heartbreak. Besides, a nice guy wouldn’t drag her into all the drama that comes along with royalty. Lucky I’m not a nice guy. And, as it turns out, I might not even be her first prince. . . .

My Thoughts

This is a sweet story in the same vein as a bunch of others that i’ve read recently but all in all not bad.  light, sweet, romantic – so great for a post thanksgiving read.  What we have here is the first installment to a series that takes place in a fictional country called Wildemar where we have a set of twin princes who are quite different as expected and trying to live their lives as they have been laid out their entire lives.  We get to focus on Kian here, the younger twin who’s really more of the wild child and believes in fully living life to it’s fullest since he’s the ‘spare’.  So of course we get to see his antics, hear how he’s referred to as His Royal Hotness because he’s got a reputation and yet he’s still trying to be himself.  It’s not until tragedy strikes that we of course get to see how much of a mature brother and crown prince he can be.

That’s where Savvy comes into the story. Kian is in need of saving one night at a gala and she’s there to try to save him by getting him out of the claws of some crown chasers who want a piece of him.  Lucky for the two of them, there are instant sparks, but Savvy knows that it’s not a likely match both because of his reputation as well as the fact that she’s American.  If that’s the only thing standing in their way at least based on what we think, then readers are quite wrong.  the other shoe is about to drop.

Where the story goes from here is on the journey of Kian being forced to grow up when his brother is kidnapped and is missing for months – almost presumed dead.  Kian has to step into the shoes of the next in line to the throne, a position that he’s never wanted while also finding out what it’s like to truly fall in love with someone, something that he’s never really considered in the past with all his women.

Savvy on the other hand is a bit mysterious to us.  She’s a straight shooter – she tells it like it is, but there’s a huge secret that she is hiding that makes the story even more interesting.  While the romance between these 2 blooms, we soon learn that she’s got a past with Garrett, Kian’s twin, a relationship that was both secret in itself but quite intense to the point of love.  So that makes this all that much more complicated.

The journey that we have from then on is one where they have to decide if there’s something solid that can usurp the fact that Garrett was in the picture first. Then there’s the point that Kian keeps getting pulled into royal duties while also searching for his brother.  And Savvy finds herself in the position of being a secret again and wondering if it’s all worth it.

there’s so much that they are fighting to be together or to stay apart that you have to wonder what is going to be that final straw to force a resolution.  Regardless, we get a nice story here – one that’s not fully complete at the end of the book but i think we are taken to a point where you can get a sense of the drama to come.  So like i said, light, sweet read and something to keep you entertained as you come off the high from the holidays.  Enjoy!

Review: Wicked Torture (Stark World #3) by J Kenner

Title: Wicked Torture
Author: J Kenner
Publisher/Year:  EverAfter Romance 11/14/17
Length:   300 Pages
Series:  Stark World #3

Overview

He’s very good at being bad…

Outwardly, Noah Carter is riding high as Stark International’s newest tech genius. Inside, he’s still reeling from the death of his wife and daughter. For years, he’s thrown himself into his work, cutting himself off from emotional ties because they hurt too damn much. But when an old girlfriend walks back into his life, Noah realizes three things: That it’s time to heal. That Kiki is the woman he wants. And that he’ll do whatever it takes to convince her.

Aspiring singer Kiki Porter remembers Noah only too well. He’s the man who ripped her heart into tiny shreds—and then stomped on it. She’d believed he was the love of her life, but then he left, and his departure left her confused and reeling. Now he’s back, and pursuing her with a sensual relentlessness that leaves her breathless.

She wants him—she does. But even though she melts in his arms, how can she trust that this time he’ll stay? Especially when long buried secrets threaten their hope for a future together…

My Thoughts

I love this series – even the larger series and i think that there was so much build up to Noah’s background that it’s great to see it play out here.  His past continues to haunt him with the kidnapping and murder of his wife and child, but what we see is that his past was even worse.  He has another love – a true love that he had to walk away from because Darla had gotten pregnant.  So that’s where we are in this third book in the series.  their paths cross in Austin and life is turned upside down.

Kiki is back – and in Noah’s life in so many forms that he can’t even function.  He sees her in a bar singing, which was her passion back when he knew her, and now she’s doing it again right in front of him.  then there’s the fact that a day later she’s in front of him in his office of Stark Enterprises pitching a marketing plan.  They can’t seem to stay away from each other but know that being near each other is bad.  She’s got everything at stake here and he’s under a lot of pressure from Damien Stark to perform.

The story from here goes on a few different paths.  Everyone is afraid for Kiki that she will get sucked back into the world of Noah and get hurt again – get her heart broken and find herself beyond repair.  Noah on the other hand is as sure now as he was before that Kiki is for him, but he’s got so much baggage from the loss of his family that it’s hard to open up.

When they do allow themselves to try – we see that true to form of Ms Kenner our amazing author, that they are intensely connected.  There’s so much heat and passion there, the past speeds up and meets the present so fast and furious that it’s combustible and that’s exactly what happens.  So of course when things are going well and someone returns from the past, it all blows up.  Poof – gone.

I think that it’s one of the great things that our author is able to do.  She’s weaving this story that gives you hope up to a certain point and knows exactly what is needed to rip the rug out from under us.  There’s so much uncertainty in their lives and there’s even more with this past bit creeping in.  You want to root for them, but you also know that there’s so much more being discussed now.  So on that note, cold shower needed and i can’t wait to see what’s next in the series.  enjoy!

 

Review: Ours to Love (Wicked Lovers #7) by Shayla Black

Title: Ours to Love
Author: Shayla Black
Publisher/Year:  Penguin Publishing 5/7/13
Length:   400 Pages
Series:  Wicked Lovers #7

Overview

Between two brothers…

Xander Santiago spent years living it up as a billionaire playboy. Never given a chance to lead his family business in the boardroom, he became a master in the bedroom instead. His older brother, Javier, inherited the company and worked tirelessly to make it an empire. But while cutthroat corporate espionage took its toll on Javier, nothing was as devastating as the seemingly senseless murder of his wife. It propelled him into a year of punishing rage and guilt…until Xander came to his rescue.

Comes an irresistible woman…

Eager to rejuvenate Javier’s life, Xander shanghais him to Louisiana, where they meet beautiful London McLane. After a decade of tragedy and struggle, London is determined to make a fresh start—and these sexy billionaire brothers are more than willing to help. In every way. London is stunned to find herself open to every heated suggestion…and desperately hoping that her love will heal them.

And inescapable danger.

But a killer is watching, on a single-minded mission to destroy everything the Santiago brothers hold dear, especially London. As fear and desire collide, every passionate beat of her heart could be her last.

My Thoughts

Going into this 7th installment, i was wondering how we were going to get deep and meaningful stories for both Xander and Javier but of course our lovely author Ms Black was able to answer all those questions for me.  If you recall, we spend a lot of time with Xander back in the last book when Tyler and Del were getting their stuff sorted and we also got to see a bit of a tease into what’s going on with his brother Javier.  So we see how that all pays out.

We also got the teaser of London, Alyssa’s cousin when the ladies were looking for someone for Tyler to settle down with.  So it’s nice to see how her story unfolds as well.  She’s had a rough life, almost dying in a car accident years ago and living with the scars and trauma of it since then.  she’s trying to get her life back together and finding stability in Lafayette with her cousin and their network of friends who are also family.  She gets independence from her family, and she gets a job and some of her confidence back, and that’s all where the Santiago brothers come into play.

A chance meeting with Xander at Alyssa’s club shows London all that she’s been craving yet she has insecurities about herself and Xander that she’s not able to really make things happen as she wants.  She walks away, and is some how put into Javier’s path, for a job and to watch more sparks fly.

Javier’s trying to cope with the murder of his wife and all that’s going on in his life as well and he’s crashing and burning better than you could imagine.  he’s been taken to Lafayette in the hopes of a detox and restart of his life so that he can get his mind and company back on track.  Someone’s trying to get a hold of information from their secure database and that’s not a good thing at all in their line of business.

So the journey that we are taken on in this book is complicated.  Playboy Xander wants to be tamed, Javier needs to be saved from himself and London learns to stand on her own two feet.  What’s even better is that to go back to my original question – how do we get both stories for the brothers out, well it’s because we find ourselves in another little menage situation.  So, all the kinky and hot passion that you’ve been missing from the past few installments comes back to us fast and hard in this one.

The other bit that keeps things exciting is that we’re trying to sort out the connection to Javier’s wife’s killer and it’s going to much deeper and darker than we ever expected.  There’s so much tied to it that really starts to blow your mind that if you wanted substance outside of heat and passion, well you’ve got that in this book too.  So on that note, i can’t wait to see who’s next – i’m sure Thorpe is due to have his own story since he’s the DOM of the club that these guys seem to all like – so we can see how that plays out.  Enjoy!

Review: The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Girl of Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson

Title: The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Author: Rae Carson
Publisher/Year:  HarperCollins 8/21/12
Length:   320 Pages
Series:  Girl of Fire and Torns #1

Overview

The first book in the acclaimed and award-winning New York Times bestselling trilogy. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a remarkable novel full of adventure, sorcery, heartbreak, and power.

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, and 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 her to be 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. 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.

My Thoughts

Well, the summary above sort of gives you a sense of what this story is about, but really doesn’t give you at all the full picture of the journey that we’re about to embark on.  Yes Elisa is the second sister, the one who’s not beautiful in a standard sense (she’s fuller figured) and her older sister is the one being groomed to be queen, but Elisa is the bearer of the Godstone for the century and we get to see what that means for her since there are prophesies about what the bearer is supposed to do.  No one has truly seen the greatness completed aside from a few great tasks, so Elisa feels like she’s unworthy all around.  When she’s married off to the king of the largest domain, her sister gives her some great advice to act as the queen that she can be and everyone will follow.

So what we get is a coming of age story here of Elisa and what it means for Elisa to see her true potential both in herself and as someone who can lead others.  She’s hoping for a friendship with her new husband but he decides to keep her a secret to his people while also keeping his mistress, and that doesn’t bode well for a healthy relationship.  it’s only when Elisa is kidnapped after some discover that she’s got the Godstone that the story truly takes shape.

Elisa finds herself with a clan of travelers led by the ‘maid’ Cosme – and while trying to survive the desert with them, she not only sheds weight and becomes the lean beautiful one, she learns about herself in ways that she never knew, and that means that her future is completely open.

She’s poised to be great in the face of war, if only she understood what her future was supposed to be.  She’s devout, studying the writings of the past over and over again, and even gets her hands on some that her country has kept a secret from her which truly guides her down her path to success.  It’s nice to see that she’s open to putting the puzzle together of what she should be able to do, and realizes at the same time that she can’t do it alone.

Of course as we have come to expect in these types of books, there is war – there are people who use magic and those who use fire and weapons to overpower nations who have what they want.  we see that alliances were formed out of the wrong intentions and when we find out who’s lied to whom, it makes us really second guess who we can trust in this story.

The question that we have throughout this first installment is whether Elisa is strong enough and cunning enough to help save her ‘husband’s’ country – and if she even wants to.  She’s made sound and strong friendships with those who may not be on his side and she has started to realize that maybe there’s love elsewhere that she should be focused on.

All in all a great start to this series – i’m not entirely sure where it can go though given that we got a lot of closure in this first book, but i think that i’m going to continue on and see what comes next.  Enjoy!