Book Review: The Winter King by C.L. Wilson

91G-t5phdNL._SL1500_Synopsis:

Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when Falcon, the prince of Summerlea, stole Wynter’s bride and murdered his young brother, Wynter vows vengeance. Calling upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart, he gathers his armies and marches against Summerlea, crushing their armies and spreading icy winter in his wake. After three long, bitter years of battle, Summerlea is defeated and Wynter comes to the heart of the kingdom to issue his terms for their surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth of love and melt the Ice Heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King. The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will turn her out in the ice and snow of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters. All the while, Wynter will enjoy the vengeance of knowing the Summer King will suffer each day without his beloved daughter(s), as Wynter suffers each day without his own beloved brother. The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of which he is not so fond. Blamed as a child for the death of her beloved mother, Khamsin Coruscate, the forgotten princess of Summerlea, has spent her life hidden from the world like an embarrassing secret. Dressed in cast-off gowns and left to her own devices, with only the determination of her loyal nursemaid to ensure she receives the education befitting an Heir to the Summer Throne, Khamsin haunts the abandoned towers and gardens of Summerlea’s royal palace, close to her beloved late mother’s treasures, and waits for the day her father will recognize her as a Princess of the Rose. But though she dreams of the valor and sacrifices of ancient Summerlea heroes and pines for paternal love that will never come, Khamsin is no sweet, gentle, helpless princess-in-a-tower. She is a fiercely passionate creature with a volatile, rebellious temper that is often as reckless and destructive as the dangerous forces of her weathergift, the power of storms. Together will their stormy personalities be able to meld or will their powers destroy not only their love but the whole world?

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About the Author: cl_wilson_web

C. L. WILSON grew up camping and waterskiing across America, from Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, CO, to Lake Gaston on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to Georgia’s Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. When she wasn’t waterskiing and camping on family vacations, you could usually find her with a book in one hand and a sketch pad in the other—either reading, writing stories, or drawing. Sometime around the ninth grade, she decided she was better at drawing her pictures with words than paints and charcoals, and she set aside her sketchpad to focus entirely on writing. Wilson is active in Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA), her local chapter of Romance Writers of America. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys golfing, swimming, reading, playing video games with her children, and spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid collector (her husband says pack rat!), and she’s the proud owner of an extensive collection of Dept. 56 Dickens and North Pole villages, unicorns, Lladro figurines, and mint condition comic books. Wilson currently resides with her husband, their three wonderful children, and their little black cat, Oreo, in a secluded ranch community less than thirty miles away from the crystalline waters and sugar-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key on Florida’s gulf coast.

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My Review:

This book was a lovely escape into a romantic fantasy world; it was kind of like a cross between Game of Thrones and a historical romance. I loved the supernatural element and the set up between the two kingdoms was almost Shakespearean.

From a writer’s perspective, it was put together beautifully and built the world around the reader without effort or force. It felt almost fairytale like in its storytelling, and drew you in really quickly. My only criticism, and this is just me, is that the relationship did the typical romance to and fro – he deceives her, she lies to him, they hate each other (a little too much) he’s a bit of a brute, she’s a bit too precious… And I’d have liked to have seen a less tired romance formula used, as the rest of the book was original and enthralling.

The front cover is beautiful too – it really sets off both characters and will do really well on the virtual and physical book shelves alike.

Overall, I’d give The Winter King, 4 out of 5 stars – feeling like reality is getting you down? Then pick up this book and sink into an epic fantasy love story.

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Book Review: The Dark Huntsman by Jessica Aspen

dark_huntsman_jessica_aspen_kindle_embedSynopsis:

An evil queen, a dangerous man, and a witch, tangled together in a tale of Snow White…

Desperate to save the last of her family from the murderous Faery Queen, Trina Mac Elvy weaves a spell of entrapment. But instead of a common soldier, the queen has released the Dark Huntsman, a full blooded fae with lethal powers.

Caged for treason, Logan Ni Brennan, is ready to do anything to win free of the manipulative queen, even if it includes running a last errand for her…murdering a witch. The sight of Trina, ready to fight despite the odds, gives him another option: use the witch as a chess piece, put the queen’s son on the throne, and bring down the queen forever.

As the queen slides into insanity and her closest advisor makes plans to succeed to the throne, Logan secrets Trina away in the enchanted forest and makes a decisive move in his dangerous game of manipulation. But the gaming tables of fate turn on him, and when Trina’s life is threatened he discovers he risks more than his freedom…he risks his heart.

Dare to enter Jessica Aspen’s world of steamy, fantasy romance in her new twisted fairy tale trilogy: Tales of the Black Court…

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About the Author: jessica

Jessica Aspen has always wanted to be spirited away to a world inhabited by elves, were-wolves and sexy men who walk on the dark side of the knife. Luckily, she’s able to explore her fantasy side and delve into new worlds by writing paranormal romance. She loves indulging in dark chocolate, reading eclectic novels, and dreaming of ocean vacations, but instead spends most of her time, writing, walking the dog, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies.

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My Review:

Once upon a time there was a steamy faerie re-telling of Snow White…Playing with fairy tales has never been so popular – but can prove dangerous to an author. After all, taking a story that has been told to death, can be boring for readers. The Dark Huntsman is a fantastic example of a book that is just enough different to capture the reader, but just enough true to the original Snow White story to make you feel comfortable.

I really enjoyed this book. It puts the Faerie back into the fairy tales and gives us interesting characters that really push the boundaries of the traditional. It’s certainly not a YA or even a NA read and I’d recommend to over 18s only. It’s also part of a new series, which promises to take our childhood favourites and make them hot enough to inspire and entertain an adult audience.

From a writer’s perspective, the plot moved along nicely, and although I don’t tend to like third person narrative, it was very effective in this book. For once though, I actually preferred the male character over the female one. Trina got a bit annoying after a while, but Logan seemed to be more rounded out as a character. My only issue with the book is that fairy tales have been over-used of late, and a good piece of writing could get lost amongst the dross – although to be honest, it’s the chance all us authors take when we send our little literary soldiers out into the world.

The front cover is very pretty, but as Logan is equally involved in the story telling, I would have liked to see him on their too – after all it is a romance and it always feels right to have both protagonists on the cover.

Overall I’d give The Dark Huntsman 4 out 5 – definitely worth curling up by the fire with on a cold winter night

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List of Romance Genres

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I just can’t stay away from those lists!

My two top genres are horror and paranormal romance and as I’ve already covered horror genres, I thought I’d do the same for romance. Looking at the list, the explanations tend to be a little obvious, so rather than patronize you with over-blown explanations, I’ve kept it brief and included links to examples where necessary.

Adventure Romance:

Strong hero, even stronger heroine. These face paced and full of danger and can be set anytime and anywhere. Happily Ever After OR HEA is preferred here by most publishers, but as always, do read each publisher’s guidelines carefully when submitting.

Chick-lit:

Relatively new genre, these are romances with a dash of humor and HEA (happily ever-after ending) is more flexible here. It’s a bit cliched but think Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding.

Contemporary/ Main Stream:

Not to point out the obvious, but this is set in the present and will date quickly. HEA is optional. So many authors and examples here, as they are set in the normal world, with natural human characters.

Dark Fantasy:

This combines elements of supernatural abilities and paranormal creatures. It goes a little beyond the normal sword and magic fantasy romps, but can also have quite serious themes. A good example of this is the WindLegends series by Charlotte Boyett-Compo. HEA here is optional.

Erotic Romance:

Not to be confused with Erotica, Erotic Romance focuses on the development of romantic relationships through sex making it a consistent theme through the story. The sex is not there for titillation sake but should be so bound into the story line that taking it out would ruin the plot. HEA is a necessity here.

Erotica:

Shall I just say it… Fifty Shades of Grey. Although there’s a case that E L James’ novels should be sitting in Erotic Romance, as the main character’s relationship is both cemented and complicated through sex. I personally think that the amount of it required to show this is less that what was shoe-horned in. You’ve also got a lot more license in Erotica to delve into the darker/ more fetish related practices here. A great example of well written Erotica is Liliana Hart’s Erotic Fairy Tale books. HEA is optional, although I think still preferred by most publishers.

Fantasy:

Like Fantasy in general there are both saga and political elements involved with this genre. Game of Thrones is a classic example of a good fantasy. When adding this element into your romantic mix though, you have to be careful. It’s a strong genre and can easily over power your romance. It’s kind of like banana in a smoothie, it doesn’t matter what other fruit you put in there, if you throw in a banana – it only taste of banana! HEA is optional.

Futuristic/ Sci-Fi:

Strangely Stephanie Meyer’s The Host comes to mind. Set in the not too distant future, and with a strong theme of ‘love will conquer all’ and an emphasis on the deep love of both family and partners. This is a great genre to really let your imagination run wild. You can create your own world and therefor tailor the situation to the needs of your romance. HEA is not always found in these worlds, but personally I’d always try for it.

Gothic:

I think we’re on the verge of a comeback for Gothic Romance. Often described as brooding and dark, a classic example would be Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Check back at my horror genre list for more info on Gothic Blue Books.

Historical:

Not hard to work out what these ones are all about, but tread carefully, some time periods are just simply not interesting so won’t appeal to either readers or publishers. Lots of information and authors can be found on Historical Romance Writers.

Medical:

Novels in this genre centre on characters in the medical profession and even have their own Mills & Boon line. These books reached their peak in the 1960s but still have a place in modern romance, especially if mixed with other genres. Vampire doctors and werewolf surgeons?

Military:

Don’t just stick to the obvious on this one. Think sexy assassins and sassy bounty hunters – also don’t be afraid to throw in the supernatural on this one too. Kaylea Cross does this genre justice and she also has some great suspense romances too. Usually a HEA here, or Happily Ever After For Now – again check guidelines.

Mystery/Thriller/ Suspense:

Danger abound in this genre. There’s usually something to solve either a murder or another crime. These can get pretty dark and HEA is optional.

Paranormal:

My personal favourite. I love reading them and writing them. They’ve never been so popular and have even morphed into Dark Romance too. The best example, and one of my fav authors, is Keri Arthur, although some of her books also drop into other genres listed here too.

Regency Romance:

The Regency period was between 1811 to 1820 and although strictly a Historical Romance, is so popular that it has a genre all to itself.  For a massive list of books see Regency Reads.

Time-Travel:

I shy away from time travel in my stories, as its hard to keep a good grip on what’s going on. If you tackle this one you have to be ubber vigilant with your plotting. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a strong example of this genre.

Urban Fantasy:

So, as per the horror list, this is supernatural elements within an industrial/ town/ city setting. I personally love these as the setting itself makes the paranormal aspect slightly more believable. Lots of examples here, however there’s a really comprehensive anthology aptly called The Urban Fantasy Anthology which would give you a great selection of authors such as: Kelley Armstrong, Holly Black & Patricia Briggs.

Young Adult:

The Young Adult category was introduced in 1983 and includes all the above, but for a younger audience. We’ve spoken a number of times about this genre and of course the most obvious and popular example for this genre is The Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer.

 

There are probably hundreds of more genres for romance, after all, its one of today’s most popular reads. If I’ve missed any off this list, please feel free to leave a comment with the addition, a description and links to good examples.