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Showing 1-10 of 31 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 43 reviews
on October 31, 2014
I went back and forth about whether to give this book 3 stars, or 4, but towards the end I found myself near to tears, and that was the deal breaker.

FYI, I can't help but look at romance in a practical, realist sense. I prefer the nitty gritty, the hard truths, and the tales that skim the Earth's soil, not Heaven's clouds. That's just something to keep in mind whilst reading this review. That shouldn't alarm you. This is the second lesbian fiction novel that I've read, and I greatly enjoyed it. Still, I'd like to be honest with this review...

So for the "bad" points first:

There were a few things about the book that had me rolling my eyes. For instance, the physical perfection of the protagonists. Even when they're disheveled, they're beautiful. EVERYbody either recognizes their beauty, or desires them. This book's cast consists of royalty and those who serve them, so maybe this was to be expected. The rich are commonly made to appear handsome and stunning in fiction. Steamy romance novels especially do all this, I know, but there's a reason I don't read those all that much anymore. Second, the constant high energy of desire between Darry and Jessa got to be a bit much here and there. Later they try to explain a reason for this, but even so, I half expected them to orgasm just from hearing the other sneeze. To see them resist their desires for so long had me thinking that the art of resisting temptation ought to be a damn Olympic sport! The song "Jizz In My Pants" comes to mind... I also got a little tired of hearing about Jessa's curves or Darry's dimple.

Moving away from the depiction of Jessa and Darry's growing love, I wanted the concepts of "majik" explored in more detail, and was disappointed when it wasn't given a bigger role, save to further their relationship. I wanted the antagonists to have a stronger presence throughout the story. Despite the political games going on, the real conflict seemed to rest between just Jessa and Darry finally coming together. That moment was certainly the climax, and the last 30% of the book (which I can say with some precision as I'd read a Kindle version) was all just falling action. There was no real dénouement, in my opinion, given all that was still left unresolved at the end.

And now for the good:

All of the above points were small irritations that pricked at first before being entirely ignored in the face of all else. I was just enjoying the story too much, and things like puffed up idealism became a humorous thing versus an unbearable trait of the story. The dialogue in Nightshade was great, even when Jessa and Darry started to get sappy with one another. Shea Godfrey has clear wit and insight, and more than once her beautiful depictions of the characters had me floored. They were people you couldn't help but love, couldn't help but pity, and some, could do nothing else but hate. She also knows how to set up a scene, lighting the characters environment in your mind so vividly as to make you think you were watching it at the theaters. Initially I wasn't impressed with her setting, because the world of Nightshade (while solid) was clearly taken from our world and just given a twist and new names. But further reading showed me greater depth as to the natures of Lyoness and Arravan culture, and it was very interesting (and perhaps why I was so disappointed that things like majik, or the world beyond the palaces, or the complex social games were playing second to the constant longing of the protagonists.)

Given the ending of Nightshade, I'm guessing that Shea Godfrey intends to continue the story. For all that I have said above, I cannot wait to read its sequel.
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on December 23, 2014
I really enjoyed the first part of this book immensely. The initial set up and the dynamics between the characters are great. But then the book just abruptly ends with several plotlines still left hanging. It's never really made clear why the eldest brother of one of the two main deuteragonists, Princess Darrius, hates her. It's made very clear from the beginning of the book the Malcolm views his sister as a disgrace, but while at first we're led to believe it's because of homophobia, we're later treated to a scene of him having sex with a man. So his hatred just becomes a mystery that's never solved. It's also never made clear why he wants to be rid of Darrius so badly. There are several times where it's insinuated that Darrius would be a hindrance to his plans for the future, but we're never told why she would be such a threat to him. She is last in line to the throne, being the youngest, so there doesn't seem to be any logical reason to view her as a threat? The other main deuteragonist, Princess Jessa-Sirrah, also has a brother who is plotting something, but his plot just sort of drops off. We're told that he's planning to send an assassin after his sister, but then the book just ends before that goes anywhere. There's also a really underdeveloped plotline about majik and a prophecy that never really goes anywhere.

Overall I found the ending very unsatisfying. It seems a real shame for Darrius to cut ties with her entire family because of her brother and father's actions. It's made abundantly clear that the rest of the family love and accept her and are going to be torn apart after she leaves. It's made all the more bitter when we're shown that her father is truly repentant for what he did to her, and was mostly influenced by grief and the poisonous lies of his son Malcolm. The ending almost feels like a victory for the bad guys, because getting rid of Darrius was what Malcolm wanted all along. This book feels like it really needs a sequel, because I don't think it can stand alone as it is. Would've gotten a higher rating from me if not for the screwball ending.
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on November 10, 2013
Great characters, and storyline, but as become the norm for a Bold Stroke Book, the author has been coached to end the story before it's true conclusion, forcing the reader to purchase yet another book to discover the outcome. This book doesn't stand on it's own, which is the mark of a good book, even if it is part of a series. In a well written series a reader can pick any one of the books and read it on its own and find a good story with closure. Then that reader will search out the others in the series to explore that world even more for their enjoyment. I feel Radclyffe and Bold Stroke Books encourages their authors to cut off their books before a more natural conclusion so a reader will have to buy the next book, and by doing so she doesn't trust her author's talent to create a world that readers would come back to of their own free will. The motto of Bold Strokes seems to be about the almighty dollar rather than good literature. Mind you, while I am a voracious reader and have the money to support that, I don't appreciate the obvious manipulation of the audience. I find it a turn-off and have begun to think twice before purchasing a book published by Bold Stroke Books.
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on March 12, 2015
I fell in love with both Darrius and Jessa. Usually I like one half of a couple more than the other but not this time both of them were equally captivating for different reasons. What I really loved though was that we were able to witness them falling in love and it was so very sweet. Darry tells Jessa that they should be friends and they get to know one another while Jessa is there as a potential bride for Darrys brother. The story is fantastic it has true love, friendship, family drama, courtly intrigue, and magic. What more could you ask for?
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on July 23, 2014
To begin, the way this book was written was great. Just the right amount of detail not too much, not too little. The author really let's you into the lives of the character and you really become invested. Can't wait for the next book in the series. Not sure if the authors first language isn't English, but no matter because the way she writes is wonderful. Some expressions are hard to understand the first time you read them, especially when jessa is speaking in a different language, but this doesn't take away from the story and you get the jist of what she is saying. Absolutely loved Darry's character. So strong. All in all, I would definitely recommend this to a friend looking for a good lesbian read, even if fantasy isn't your thing. Ps, there a few good sex scenes too ;)
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on February 18, 2012
Nightshade grabs the reader's attention first by describing how a brutal and corrupt patriarchy might behave. Thereafter, an insistence that lesbians deserve the right to express their sexuality without fear dominates the story. Ms. Godfrey's character Darry, an openly `backwards' princess, makes this point with stormy élan. Through her eyes the reader learns how politics and bigotry can turn the world into a vicious place for anyone who deviates from orthodoxy.

Darry also discovers Jessa, a foreign princess trapped by the machinations of a royal succession. The two women dance their courtship from shadow to shadow as wheels of destruction turn all around. No danger can stop them, however, from eventually falling in love and celebrating it with vibrant passion. Then their secret escapes and the time for hard choices arrives.

Somebody out there surely has said that the act of analysis somehow damages art, and I think my paragraphs are no exception. I must add that Ms. Godfry's words never convey crude advocacy. The voices of her characters are unified by a powerful sincerity that permits no cynicism.

This book receives only four stars because of its ending. Ms. Godfrey might have pulled back just a little on other plot elements and given her work a better sense of closure with the same word count. Hopefully, there will be a sequel to Nightshade.

Anthony Baus is the author of Earth Mother's Grace.
Earth Mother's Grace
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on June 17, 2013
One of the best books I've ever read. The characters and story was well thought out, it pulled you in with the first page and didn't let go even at the last page. I won't say the end because it can't be, here are things left undone. I'd like to know what happened with the characters and see the story line to its conclusion. So to the author PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE come out with the second part of this book PLEASE don't let it became one of those unfinished book because it deserves better than that. Once more its a great book that should be read even if you don't read or like lesbian books its just that good. You can only rate up to five stars but I'm rating it all the stars of a clear nights sky!!!!!!!
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on May 16, 2011
If you're looking for heroines of substance, character, and that build this grand kingdom around you with magic and love I suggest this book. (No corny story line if that's what one thinks of when they think of magic.) I'd like to start by saying I loved this novel. I'm anticipating another, but the story closed with possibilities...

The book is narrated in both Darry and Jessa (Princesses from different kingdoms) that come together by other forces and find each other. The love story is a focus of course (but there's a lot of plot and characters to this novel); it's done so well thats subtle but one can obviously read the angst and tension between the two as time goes by and their love for each other grows. It's a beautiful thing to read.

I as a reader am coming from a place where I've read a good number of novels, lesbian fantasy, drama, etc and this is one of my favorites. The characters stay with you and I'm so glad I found it.
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on July 3, 2015
In my opinion, this is absolutely the best lesbian fantasy book I have read. The world and characters are varied and full, and despite some oddities in dialogue choices(i think a few too many characters use the same phrases) it flows well and ends with joy, however bittersweet. I can't wait to read the second book, though at the same time I'm afraid of what Jessa and Darry will have to face next!
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on November 24, 2016
I loved this book and on to the next book. If anyone has ever read the Deryni Chronicles the style of this book is somewhat reminiscent of that series. The way the author described everything I felt like I was there. Loved it!!
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