First, my long overdue review of Rebekah Ganiere's novel Red the Were Hunter.
What if you were the key to an ancient prophecy that would begin to heal your lands, but fulfilling your destiny meant you had to turn your back on everything you'd been taught to believe in?
Redlynn of Volkzene, member of the Sisterhood of Red, is heartbroken to discover another girl kidnapped and her best friend slain by werewolves. Defying the head of her order, she sets out to kill the beast she believes responsible. The King of the Weres-- But there are worse things in Wolvenglen Forest than the wolves.
Adrian, reluctant heir to the throne of Wolvenglen, and his band of wolf brothers are bound to protect the humans; especially the Sisterhood. Finding Redlynn unconscious in his woods, awakens in him a passion he's never before experienced and a protective instinct that has him ready to turn on his own men. Problem is, a female is the last thing Adrian needs complicating his life.
But all is not as it seems in Wolvenglen Forest and to save the missing girls before time runs out, Redlynn and Adrian must move past their inner demons and learn to trust each other. In the search for vengeance however, sometimes you must give up what you desire most.
With her Fairelle series, author Rebekah Ganiere takes fairy tales and gives them an interesting twist. The aspect that drew me into this first book, a clever take on the Little Red Riding Hood tale, was heroine Redlynn, or "Red," herself. She's got an urban fantasy level of snarkiness and strength, but she doesn't hide from her emotions. She has her feelings and then moves on, or at least tries to when she meets Adrian, prince of the Weres, her sworn enemy. Ganiere does a great job with showing how their attraction turns to mutual affection on both physical and emotional levels in a way that keeps the reader guessing whether they'll get their happily-ever-after. The plot twists and turns are also interesting and unexpected. I ended up reading this one twice since I had to delay my review, and I enjoyed it both times, first because of that tension and the second time because of the gorgeous writing and storytelling. I didn't find myself getting frustrated with the characters (e.g., "Oh, just tell her already!") either time. In short, this is a fun book and definitely a series I'll be watching for.
Check out my interview of her two characters at this post from May.
Here's Rebekah's author website.
My rating: Five glasses of wine - a whole bottle!
Second, my equally overdue review of Anna Steffl's Solace Shattered:
One relic is lost in an act of fidelity when Paulus’s blessed sword falls into undeserving hands. One relic is won by testing the strength, endurance, and mercy of the champion who proves himself worthy of the Blue Eye. But two souls are shattered in the process. Though Arvana serves her penance by choosing a champion, the pure joy of a shacra evades her until a forbidden moment of tenderness. Will the single kiss endanger the fate of the world and destroy her heart’s longing for solace? This fascinating trilogy continues with greater stakes and deeper romance in an unforgettable fantasy world.
Like Redlynn, Arvana, the heroine of Solace Shattered, is trying hard to figure out her emotions as she works for the greater good. As in Seeking Solace, the first book in the Solace trilogy, Arvana, a "Solacian" nun, finds herself the object of male desire and attention, this time from the handsome Captain Degarius of Sarapost. To his credit, he's a lot less pushy than Prince Chane Lerouge of Acadia in the first book, and that, in turn, makes him more attractive to me as a reader. Still, I'm thinking Arvana has got to be the hottest nun ever to be earning all this male attention. Seriously, she'd win the nun beauty pageant, if there was a Solace version, hands-down. Possibly related: Captain Degarius is a leg man.
Seriously, though, author Anna Steffl does a great job of keeping her large cast of characters distinct from each other, and each is very well drawn. Even her minor villain Miss Gallivere was somewhat sympathetic. I mean, really, the poor girl has one job, to make a good marital match, and she keeps getting thwarted by a freaking nun. I was relieved that the narrative generally stayed in one place, the Acadian capital of Shacra Paulus, this time, although it's apparent that the Orlandians are getting frisky, and the Gherians are as freaky as ever. Sadly there were no dragons this time. This book definitely raises the personal and professional stakes for its heroes - reluctant and otherwise - and I'm excited all three volumes in the series are available for free ebook download right now from the author' website because I'm totally getting the third one once I post this review.
By the way, she has a really useful "who's who" of characters if you lose track between books.
My rating: Four glasses of wine plus a cheese plate.
Disclosure: I received review copies of both books for free from the authors.