Let's face facts here. Romance novels are either full of romance and love or sex, but this one walks a fine line between the sex and... well, not romance. Our heroine, Afina finds herself hiding out from the standard evil overlord, Vladimir Barbu who is, well, I'm not sure who he is, while she raises her sister's daughter. He wants to be the king or something, and then there's the evil something or other who trains assassins who are usually kidnapped boys. And Barbu wants Afina- at first I assume dead, hence sending out the assassins, but then he wants her to be his bride, maybe? Because she has magical powers although she apparently doesn't know she has them, or what releases them. It's a romance/sex novel, guess what releases them. And then there's Xavian, one of said assassins, do you bet he kills Afina or falls madly in lust? Hmm?
There is also secret family, an extra character or twelve who seem fairly wasted and enough fight scenes to satisfy the bloodthirsty. Meanwhile, I was busy trying to imagine traveling on horseback for days with a toddler. Sounds like the vacation from hell. Guess it's a lucky thing that one of the killer assassins likes to moonlight as an au pair, so the child virtually disappears from the second half of the book.
But it's a fine book if you can read the phrase- `traitor in my trewes', over and over and not snicker, and if you think a man who can only think of sex when he sees his beloved as romantic. Personally, I got to the point that I wanted to spray him with a water hose to calm him down.
I think the author was wise to set this story in an imaginary world so that she could pull paranormal creatures in at will, and not follow any sort of historical path while still using tropes we find familiar, such as the evil number one being named Vladimir. I just wonder if an extra bad guy thrown into the mix may have spread the story a little thin. And don't expect the characters to do the smart thing or the reasonable thing, just put your brain in neutral and read.
The idea behind this novel intrigued me, so I quickly added it to my Vine list. When it came, I instantly started to read it;however, I quickly began to lose interest. While the concept of the story with a hero assassin is exciting, the characters themselves fell flat.
Our hero, Xavian, is a top assassin who was stolen as a child and raised to be a killing machine by an evil man. After learning to kill effectively, he manages to escape, and he now just kills for hire. After being hired to bring in our heroine, Xavian decides to investigate before bringing her in. He is instantly attracted to her and decides to keep her. This sounds like a good premise for a romance novel. Where this author fell short was getting me to care about the characters themselves. I just didn't feel connected to them or feel like I understood why they did and said the things that they did. I am all for love at first sight stories, but the author just didn't pull it off in this novel. On a different note, I was a little confused, at first, with all the crazy names and many characters. This wasn't a big deal, but it made this a little bit more difficult read.
Overall, I loved the premise, but I just didn't care enough about the characters to continue this series. If you are still intrigued, pick it up at your library.
Overall, this is a good read. The plot is complicated, there are a LOT of people to keep track of, but it's interesting and the setting is fascinating.
Here comes the big "however". So this is supposed to be a romance, love and mushy stuff and all that, but it seemed to me anyway to be mostly about lust and sex. Every time Xavian looks at her all he can think about are the various ways he could be having sex right with her. I'm all for passion, but it got to the point of being ridiculous.
Because there are so many characters to keep track of - there is not much character development. A lot of them are glossed over, you are introduced but you never hear from them again, and if you do it's pretty much just to check in. Right now they're doing this. Don't really learn much regarding motivation and any back story is pretty much just about our two main characters.
I loved the idea of this story, but honestly thought the author bit off a little more than she could chew. Seemed "heavy" and didn't flow as well as it could've. Still a good read, keeps you interested and entertained, but I would say this is more of a book you rent from the library than one you add to your own personal library...if that makes sense.
Well, I picked this up based on it's recommendation that my previous reading choices are heavily in Fantasy with wizards and alternate universes, etc. This book also had the audacity to tout itself to fans of George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice & Fire" series. Those are the readers who need to stay the furthest away from Coreene Callahan's books for reasons that will be glaringly obvious from the first few pages based entirely on her writing style.
Secondly, this is primarily a romance/bodice ripper in the truest sense of the term. A lot of clothes were sacrificed in this book for the sake of pulsating passion and/or attempted rape. Indeed the hero, Xavian "stiffens" right from the beginning when he first lays eyes on Afina and rides that high level of arousal all the way to the "awshucks" happy ending.
My gripes with this story, really has nothing to do with the story itself. The author faithfully follows the formula for writing a successful romance novel as faithfully as theWriting a Romance Novel For Dummies guidelines provide. i.e. the hero with a troubled psyche afraid to be close to anyone, a trembling heroine with overwhelming and confusing awakened desires who eventually loses control after she is "rescued" multiple times. And a bad guy with every possible bad whim on his mind. Quite frankly, this is what sells and this is what we want to read to take our minds off of our real lives.
No my gripes were with the writing. The story takes place in Transylvania in 1331 AD to be precise and yet every single character, no matter their rank in life spoke as tho' they were in Regency England.
It drove me nuts!
I'm a huge fan of Historical novels in general and there are some very good ones out there with a touch of romance and plenty of action, Roberta Gellis' fantastic Roselynde Chronicles come to mind. And yes, I realize that every author has to start somewhere. But setting the tone and developing the voice of a character is essential.
Ms.Callahan has no difficulty in following guidelines for story telling so hopefully she will eventually find the editor or writing coach that will help past that hump.
on August 4, 2014
What kind of book is this supposed to be? Historical Fiction Sex or Fantasy Sex? Romance Sex? Maybe Si Fi Sex? Set in 1300's Transylvania, bad guy named Vladimir, assassin squads, Christ. Then we have priestesses and goddesses and dragons and telepathy. Strong men that can get out of every scrape thrown at them, yet cannot control the "traitor in their trewes" nor their desire for rough sex all the while crying about how much they love and adore their partner. Oral sex advice from a dragon. Really??
Boring, repetitive; way too much time spent on tedious sex scenes and even more on boring tedious repetitive dialogue.
on February 4, 2013
It's incredibly rare for me to not finish a work of fiction. But 3/4 of the way through, when an entirely new plot development emerged, I just didn't care enough about it to finish. There were too many unrealistic plot holes for me.
The main female character, Afina, has a daughter, but the daughter's existence seems to be there simply to cause the main male character, Xavian, to think that Afina isn't a virgin. The two-year old child is conveniently compliant or absent throughout the 3/4 of the novel that I read. The market scenes are interesting, but while it's described as a cesspool of humanity within it a dressmaker with bountiful, beautiful fabrics and gracious manners is situated. Such unrealistic descriptions spoiled the unfolding narrative for me.
The whole sex-awakens-magical-powers and sex-needed-for-recuperation-after-using-magical-powers plot device, simply seemed ridiculous to me. As well, the story has splintered spirituality. While it takes place in the early 1300's in Eastern Europe, and there's lots exclamations of "Jesu" and "Christ" as well as references to needing a priest so Xavian and Afina can marry, the main spirituality of the novel focuses on The Goddess, Afina and Xavian's interaction with her, and sex required for healthy/balanced magical powers. The dichotomy was simply there, but never addressed or explained. Well, what is the reality of this world? By the time it's revealed that there is a brewing conflict between The Goddess and the King of the Underworld (of whom the reader had never heard beforehand) is revealed, I had no motivation to want to learn about this new plot development, which seemed like the beginning of a whole 'nother book. To care about this new development, I would have had to care about The Goddess, which having read 75% of the book, I didn't have.
It's too bad, really. After getting past the first pages of overwritten character introspection that hindered the action narration, I enjoyed the character development, many elements of the plot development and the unveiling of the novel's world. I loved that there is a whole lot more to this book that just "I lust for you, but I'll deny that it's love!" -- however, there is lots of that too. This story line had lots of potential, but the plot development is too rambling with too many discrepancies. I returned my Kindle edition after reading 75%.
on December 10, 2013
A good tale. Hot sex and all ruined with fake period language. Too much and at times inappropriate . Made me want to scream, took away from the story. If I could have done a word search and deleted all the mayhaps, tis, and ayes it would have been a good escape from reality read. Girl has magic but needs a mate to keep it and her alive. And not any mate but of course a hot warrior type. Made Thor look like a pansy. But really the author had no clue about Middle Age language. The over use of mayhaps did not change or add to the book. Just annoyed me. It is a story of goddess, magic, dragons and doesn't need the idiotic phrases that really are not from the Middle Ages. The author needs to read Chaucer if she wants true middle English. But as my tag says who really cares. I didn't finish cause one more mayhap and I'd be in a tis. I will not buy another book in this series.
I tried really hard to get into this book because the description really intrigued me, but after reading the first few chapters several times (I'd get bored, then come back to the book later and have to start again), I've decided to give up on it.
It suffered from several problems. I don't think it's clear what kind of book it's trying to be? I thought it was romance, but it's not really (although, it may turn out that way!). The book swings back and forth between "well, that's way too expected," and "HUH???". And finally, for me, the characters are under developed, which ultimately is why I couldn't get interested.
If sex is your primary purpose, this could be a win for you, but for good plot and character development, I'd recommend looking elsewhere.
on December 17, 2012
On the run for two years, Afina hides from the warlord Vladimir Barbu and his brutality. But when the fiercest assassin is sent after her, Afina's days of freedom may be numbered. Xavian was taken from his family at a young age. Beaten and molded into a killing machine, he defied his cruel master and broke free. Wishing to save boys from the same fate, the bounty he'd receive for handing over Afina would secure that dream but Xavian isn't the monster everyone, including himself, thinks he is. One look, one touch from the beautiful and fearless priestess has Xavian wishing for things he believes he doesn't deserve.
I was a little worried that Afina would be sassy but always in need of saving. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Afina is high priestess and in order for Vladimir to receive the title of King, she must support him and say her magical amulet, and the goddess it represents, supports him. Refusing to be forced into submission, Afina goes into hiding and is successful until Xavian. Even once captured, Afina doesn't give up. She fights every step of the way and I welcomed not just her stubbornness but also her strong, caring spirit and refusal to throw in the towel.
Xavian may be a highly trained and feared assassin but he has a heart under all those weapons and muscles. Claiming to need her healing powers for his fortified sanctuary for the children he's rescued from his former master, Xavian kidnaps Afina to keep her safe from Vladimir. If it wasn't for Afina standing up to him, I would have thought Xavian was too much of a caveman but she kept him from dominating her. The man is alpha to his scarred core but I didn't feel he crossed into being overbearing, something I can't tolerate. Rather, he's a strong protector with a ferocity that makes lesser men cower while having vulnerability Afina only gets to see. An excellent hero.
Afina takes charge in the romance department. Xavian has the familiar mindset of "I crave her yet I don't deserve her" but once Afina has her heart set on it, he doesn't stand a chance. She's up for the challenge and when he gives in to what he knows is right, Xavian is a sexual beast. Very hot and there are emotions behind it. Maybe not as much as they claimed to feel but it was going in that direction.
There are a few things happening at once. In addition to Vladimir hunting Afina, Xavian's escape isn't sitting well with his formal master and he wants to make an example out of him. Also, there's divine intervention that will expand throughout the series plus a surprise family revelation early on. Seems like a lot but each is woven into Afina and Xavian's story very well and it feels like nothing is forced to fit.
Gritty and dark with suspense and romance, Coreene Callahan starts her new series off right. I fell in love with the characters, including a few supporting ones I hope will get their own books, and the story had me hooked. There is magic involved but it's not over done and the dragons are great alongside the warriors. I look forward to see how everything unfolds as the series continues.
on March 29, 2013
Having read all the Fury series I was not sure quite to expect with this vastly different book. Wow was I pleasantly surprised. This one harks back to the old style sword and sorcery novels of the past. Though set in Transilvania and using lots of references to Drack type names there are no Vampires (well yet, I am sure she has her options opened for the rest of the series). It is sort of a historical paranormal book full of action, adventure, romance and a bit of sex. Everything is well written and just moves along at a pace which lets us get to know the characters, understand their relationships, and learn to like them a lot.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure fantasy and even to the romance readers out there. Can't wait for the next book in the series which I already have on pre-order