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on September 13, 2013
The good: The world that the book was set in was intriguing. I constantly wanted to know more, and really enjoyed the obviously thorough worldbuilding of the author.

The not so good: It took a very long time to get to any sort of action. I really enjoy a lot of character development, but it seemed like the first 30% of the story involved getting the main characters in bed, then another 60% keeping them there, and just 10% of action at the very end. The word choices of the author were decidedly weird. It's like someone told her that ending a bit of dialog with "she said" was against the rules. Every single piece of dialog ended with either the character having "gushed, husked, squealed, or hushed". I had to look it up after husked followed so many statements, but it IS the second definition. After that, I looked up hushed, because I've never heard someone use it like so: "I love you," she hushed. Turns out that hushed is not synonymous with whispering. I hate to nitpick, because I did like the world enough to read the whole book, but it took a long time for me to be able to overlook these bizarre word choices. Also, languishing and lavishing are different, and you should never languish someone's lips with kisses. There was far more sex scenes than I anticipated in a New Adult book, to the point that I started to feel like it was getting in the way of the story. I think this might be the first book by this author, and I might try another one. I'd like it if the characters were a bit more two dimensional. They were all a bit sweet and ... well, just not really strong enough. Maybe that will come as they age? But for a bunch of college grads, they really reminded me of the 15 yr olds you read about in most books, only with sex.

Overall it was very interesting, and I will likely look at another book by this author, hopefully after she finds a good editor.
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on June 28, 2013
I was asked to read an advance copy of the book and share feedback on it. As a guy, romance novels are typically not my primary choice, but the fantasy and sci-fi elements were very appealing. What surprised me most about the book was the depth of development the characters underwent during the storytelling. Though the characters were 'gifted', they were both believable and likable. The romantic relationship of Rainer and Emily is very intense already without the dark forces that seem to be gathering on the horizon. This book is a very enjoyable read and will leave you concerned about the welfare of the people you have come to know. I will be grabbing the next volume when it comes out to see how my new 'friends' continue to reward the emotional investment I have made so far.
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on September 19, 2013
The story line is interesting. I liked the characters depth and emotional make up. I did not enjoyed the prolonged sex scenes. The book would have been more tasteful if the multi page sex scenes were toned down and there were less of them. This would be a five star read except for the porn scenes. I really enjoyed the book once i started skipping the sex scenes. I am no prude by i think your sex scenes are by a horny young writer with too much sex on the brain.
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on July 6, 2013
Every once in a while you find a new author that just gets it. They know how to create a world and characters that are not only believable but cause the reader to be genuinely concerned for them. This debut book from Jillian Neal does all that and more. Its a wonderfully written story that leaves you wanting more. This book has amazing character development with an original story line that sinks its teeth into you from the first page. Cannot wait for the next book in the series to see what happens in "The Realm."
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on July 3, 2014
This book will grip you from word one and pull you so far into The Realm, you'll be wishing you were gifted like all of the book's characters! First and foremost, the writing is amazing. Jillian has a way with words where you don't just read them, you feel them. Her character development and introduction to her characters is mind-blowing. You begin to know these people on a level that makes them seem real. That is a very mighty task for an author to accomplish and Jillian does it with ease. I cannot even think of a book I have read (and I've read a lot!) that has had such in-depth description on each personality. Each person has their own alluring backstory. You will love reading about each and every one of them.

In addition to the great descriptive writing, the plots are intertwined with romance, suspense, and excitement. Ranier and Emily's love affair is sweet and heartfelt but is also molten hot and only builds hotter as the book progresses. And their love story has a spin that is not so common in the romance novel world. Their love has been long-standing. They have loved each other since they were little kids and their extenuating circumstances add to the uniqueness of their romance. Although they are young (early 20s), their love is deep and very real... and VERY steamy. Ranier and Emily know each other better than they know themselves but they both dive into the new world of taking their relationship to the next level. Jillian does a fantastic job of pulling us into their mind frames and reminds us just how out-of-this-world exciting it is to explore our sensual selves with the ones we love. I would not characterize this book as 'young adult' even though the two main characters are young adults. The scenes continue to build and it reads like a hot romance. I would not want my daughters to read this as teenagers. Yes, it's THAT hot.

Along with this book's wonderful writing, amazing character development, and hot love scenes, it also has a dramatic and suspenseful plotline. The evil Wretchkinsides and the entire Interfeci Criminal Organization is a constant looming danger to all of the Gifted Realm's main characters. No one is safe.

The 'gifted' storyline is intriguing and each of the character's powers and gifts add even more to what is already a great book. If you're looking for something new, fresh, and original, this series is definitely for you!

I have read all of the books in this series. They just keep getting better and better! I am chomping at the bit to get my hands on the next one!
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on June 22, 2015
3.5 stars to this one and the disclaimer that I know the author and would consider her a friend.

As always, I'm going to skip the plot summary. While I had a bit of a hard time relating to the main characters in this book because of their youth, I'm completely fascinated by the world Neal has built. It's intricate but sensible, detailed but comprehensible, and completely engrossing. Further, it's fascinating to see these gifted young adults deal with the same types of issues those in the non-magical world must face. I'm intrigued by the many threads woven through this story and interested to see how the series develops. If you're a fan of new adult or fantasy/para, definitely give it a look.
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on November 14, 2015
I kept going back and forth wanting to red this book or not - then decided what the heck - and so glad I did. I really enjoyed this book and didn't want it to end - there was a couple of spots in the book that seemed to be repeats but other than that I enjoyed - Can't wait to move on to the next one
Thank you Jillian Neal for a really good read.
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on July 27, 2015
I enjoyed reading this first novel I purchased from Jillian Neal. Intense. I so enjoy characters that have a past. The sexual need between Ranier and Emily was so consuming, I felt as if I was Emily. Love and lust sometimes has a way of blinding us to danger around. Danger that can destroy us.
I can't wait to read the rest of this series.
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VINE VOICEon April 28, 2014
This book was not quite what I expected. As the first in the series there was a lot of world and character building - setting the stage for the story. But it seemed like that was all it was. I just couldn't seem to figure out what the big conflict was for the story. Almost the whole book was about the two couples trying to be "together" and all the doubts and insecurities they experienced trying to make this happen. I thik it would have been nice to this once or twice, but not for the majority of a 400+ page book.

It wasn't until the last 10% or so that I really got a fee for what was going to be happening - it still hadn't happened yet until the last few pages. I love character and world building, descriptive passages, and anticipation. This one took it too far for me though.

There were some things I really liked, too. In the beginning, we are introduced to our main characters and part of the world history as they are taking their last final exam at college. The essay questions Rainer was answering and a bit of his internal dialog about them were a great way to introduce The Gifted political system and some of both the character and the world history.

I'm hoping that book two will be a little more interesting. I'm curious to see what the last few pages of the book will lead to now that we have what I think is our major conflict. I do enjoy to concept of their energy. It's not exactly magic, more of a way of manipulating the world around them. .

*This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
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on September 15, 2013
Within the Realm is a very unique and interesting story that hooks the reader right away and leaves you anxious for the squeal.
My favorite aspect of this book has to be the devotion between Rainer and Emily & Logan and Adeline! I love the complete and total lack of a love triangle! Also this isn't your typical magical book where everyone is casting spells, which makes it a really fun and original read. There were so many times in this book where I was really laughing out loud!
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