Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep (Review)


Title: Tangled Threads by Jennifer Estep
Published: April 26th 2011 by Pocket Books
Page Count: 357
Where’d I Get It: Purchase
Rating: 4 stars

I’d rather face a dozen lethal assassins any night than deal with something as tricky, convoluted, and fragile as my feelings.

But here I am. Gin Blanco, the semi-retired assassin known as the Spider. Hovering outside sexy businessman Owen Grayson’s front door like a nervous teenage girl. One thing I like about Owen: he doesn’t shy away from my past—or my present. And right now I have a bull’s-eye on my forehead.

Cold-blooded Fire elemental Mab Monroe has hired one of the smartest assassins in the business to trap me. Elektra LaFleur is skilled and efficient, with deadly electrical elemental magic as potent as my own Ice and Stone powers. Which means there’s a fifty-fifty chance one of us won’t survive this battle. I intend to kill LaFleur—or die trying—because Mab wants the assassin to take out my baby sister, Detective Bria Coolidge, too.

The only problem is, Bria has no idea I’m her long-lost sibling . . . or that I’m the murderer she’s been chasing through Ashland for weeks. And what Bria doesn’t know just might get us both dead. . . .

There were two short stories before this one, one from Jo-Jo’s point of view that was kind of adorable, because of Jo-Jo’s penchant for seeing the future (albeit rarely, or without much hubbub). The other was from Bria’s point of view and was mostly an internalized struggle between wanting to find Genevive and knowing she’s the Spider whilst also being an upstanding cop. There was also a chunk in there involving an illegal white slave trafficking bit in there, but while it gave the story an edge, wasn’t the main point. I certainly enjoyed Jo-Jo’s point of view better than Bria’s, but Bria was more of a broken record after the Donovan Caine stuff.

Anyway, that aside, the timeline in the book is now approaching Christmas, close to it. I think we started in early fall? Maybe? The entire series has covered such a short time in Gin’s actual life. She is systematically taking out Mab’s minions, and being a general thorn in the older elemental’s side.

On one such run, she discovers a setup, that Mab has hired an assassin named Elektra LaFluer to do away with Gin. Unraveling that involves protecting Roslyn’s bartender, Vinnie, rescuing his daughter and then going after LaFluer, herself, before she gets Gin and then goes after Bria, who’s next on her and Mab’s hitlist.

I was glad to see Gin up against another assassin this time around. Our last battle with someone of her particular occupation and skillset was Brutus, and he bit it without much fanfare. Though, I neither appreciated the descriptions of LaFluer, nor how the woman was portrayed. She was set as someone sadistic, quick to anger, constantly wearing green (the green matched her electrical elemental power- green? really? not like blue or something?). It was clear that Gin was going to do away with her, but not going to have a problem with it. I’d hoped for someone more multi-faceted, like Gin. Gin battling someone with the same sort of depth of character would be more interesting than just a bland, standard villain role.

Gin also opens up to her sister Bria about her real identity, and they are slowly trying to work through that. It’s still not clear what route Bria will take with it, but so far they’ve forged an awkward friendship.

Owen is still in the picture. He’s become Gin’s personal blacksmith, making her new weapons as a Christmas gift. Personally, I would have preferred something less suited for my literal job, but whatever, Gin thought it was a good gift. Owen is still kind of one dimensional as a romance, but whatever. Maybe he’ll open up here eventually.

Anyway, the fourth installment was still decent. I enjoyed it quite a bit. These books are sure growing on me. Gin is my favorite soul food cooking cinnamon roll who could actually kill you.


Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves


Title: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Published: March 28th 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 416
Where’d I Get It: Physical Arc via Publisher
Rating: 2 stars

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

A copy of this showed up at my house from the publisher, quite the surprise. I was pretty excited. Unfortunately, the book itself didn’t quite live up to that excitement. 

It started off really slow. Anna Arden is of the elite class, and the rest of her family are magic users, or Luminate. For some reason, Anna herself doesn’t seem to have the magic, and has been labeled Barren by the council. The book starts off with her being head over hills for this dude, flirting with him unchaperoned in a room of the house, kissing him with fervor in a dark garden during a party. That’s also not the only boy in the book she kisses. Her cousin plants one on her mouth and flusters her, plus her impending romance with Gábor ensures that he kisses her more than once.

The plot actually starts when Anna destroys her sister’s debut into society by literally warping and squashing her coming out spell, the spell that would show her ability and get her education, job and marriage prospects. Good job there, Anna. Therefore, in order to wait for this scandal to blow over, Anna is sent to Hungary with her grandma.

Most of the characters in this book have alarmingly complicated names, and some are actual historical figures. We’re thrown into a Hungary in the midst of a rebellion, where the people want to rule themselves, and not be ruled by their magical overlords. The Circle holds all the magic, and only piecemeals it out to the rich and powerful, even then limiting how much they can use. Those born poor but adept at magic are not ever given the chance to wield it.

One bit of spooky prose, and Anna finds herself hanging out with some Romani. She makes friends with one of the Romani boys, Gábor, and observes that they know how to do magic without the need of the Circle’s ceremony to awaken magic. She asks him to teach her, and he originally says no, eventually giving in and teaching her magic. Anna can’t even master the Romani magic, unable to grasp even the basics of it. She does, however, break any spells cast near her, setting part of the Romani camp on fire, to which they respond by banishing Gábor and packing up and leaving.

From the beginning of the book, the rebellion has wanted Anna to destroy the Binding that keeps magic for the rich, return magic to the masses. Gábor doesn’t want her to, but literally everyone else in the book is 100% on board with this plan, unless they’re rich and entitled. So, for the rest of the book, Anna spends most of the time going into the dimension of the binding and deciding if she’s going to possibly break the spell or not. The thing is, the binding is full of unearthly creatures, creatures that are full of malice, and some that are full of grace and gifts, and Anna has to decide if she wants to open that Pandora’s box, as well as the one that would allow people untrained in magic to use it, potentially killing themselves without proper guidance as the magic eats them from the inside.

The rebellion continues unabated as Anna makes her choice, and also learns that she’s literally the most super special of special people out there, which was hinted at in the beginning of the book but not confirmed until the book was almost over. So far, it’s not too Mary Sue-ish, but also seems easy to get around now that she knows how to do so?

Honestly, knowing nothing of any Hungarian rebellions, I have nothing to say on that aspect. I do know that the book itself was just so-so for me. It moved along so slow and even when some exciting things happened, it had that problem where the prose was so flowery, that it didn’t convey much urgency and so even the exciting parts of the book were set on that same plodding word path as the entire rest of the book. Whether she was sitting talking to her grandma or stabbing someone, the tone was the same, so I never sensed any urgency or really connected with anything that was happening.

Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep (Review)


Title: Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep
Published: May 25th 2010 by Pocket Books
Page Count: 400
Where’d I Get It: Purchase
Rating: 3 stars (Maybe like 2.5. I’m not sure.)

Curiosity is definitely going to get me dead one of these days. Probably real soon.

I’m Gin Blanco.

You might know me as the Spider, the most feared assassin in the South. I’m retired now, but trouble still has a way of finding me. Like the other day when two punks tried to rob my popular barbecue joint, the Pork Pit. Then there was the barrage of gunfire on the restaurant. Only, for once, those kill shots weren’t aimed at me. They were meant for Violet Fox. Ever since I agreed to help Violet and her grandfather protect their property from an evil coalmining tycoon, I’m beginning to wonder if I’m really retired. So is Detective Donovan Caine. The only honest cop in Ashland is having a real hard time reconciling his attraction to me with his Boy Scout mentality. And I can barely keep my hands off his sexy body. What can I say? I’m a Stone elemental with a little Ice magic thrown in, but my heart isn’t made of solid rock. Luckily, Gin Blanco always gets her man . . . dead or alive.


The short story, Web of Death, in between this book and the other one felt, for lack of a better way to describe it, as though that was supposed to be the beginning of this novel and the author scrapped it, but instead of throwing it away, just kept it as a little extra something something. I’m fine with that, I suppose, considering how the plot for this book played out.

Gin’s now in charge of the Pork Pit, and with it all the problems that having an establishment in not quite the bad part of town brings with it. She gets on the bad side of Mab Monroe’s lawyer when his troublemaking son tries to steal from her and she takes matters into her own hands. Granted, that’s just the small time plot for this book, leading into the main dish, but also potentially causing issues in later books, considering how she dealt with the problem.

The main thing Gin is dealing with is Fletcher’s legacy and his former best friend, who is being worked over by a coal mining dwarf businessman. The threats go too far when they’re centered at the man’s granddaughter, and Gin steps in, offers to deal with the coal miner, Tobias Dawson.

This is where everything gets a little far fetched. Donavon Caine is still around as the love interest, and Gin is still pining for him. They end up boning in the rain this time, but only after Gin somehow convinced the squeaky clean cop to break into Dawson’s mining operations. No, the cop hasn’t changed his view on Gin, though he was holding out hope once she said she was retired that things could be different. Nope, he’s still the lamest excuse for a romantic interest I’ve seen.

The one thing the romance scenes have going for them is they do make an effort to have safe sex, which is not something regularly seen in, well, most media. So, kudos for that, keeping expectations on safety first and proving that that can also be attractive and sexy.

Oh! And Gin gets a new love interest! His name is Owen and he also has super special colored eyes. This time they’re violet. I know that because the prose told me probably about seven times and he’s only in like three chapters. I don’t know where that romance is going, if anywhere, but anyone is better than Donavan Caine.

Okay, off of boners and back to the plot for a minute. I found the entire premise a little far-fetched. And this is coming from an urban fantasy novel. It’s pretty hard to get far-fetched at that point, but this book felt that way to me. A lot of the plot was just meh and totally undeserving of Gin’s time or attention. The entire thing where some big money mogul is going to bully someone off their family’s land? I get that Ashland is supposed to be like an urban fantasy, contemporary wild west where the law is corrupt and you make your own way, but man, it was hard to swallow this time around.

Then there was a whole chunk of plot where Gin had to pretend to be a prostitute to get close to Tobias Dawson to kill him. None of that went the right way and she both somehow hid a body on the super dangerous Mab Monroe’s property, didn’t lose her blonde wig after getting punched unconscious and drug around (I bet it’s also a lace front fantasy. Someone, please get me those magic wigs for cosplaying, thanks.) and didn’t get immediately murdered by either Mab Monroe or Tobias Dawson. Like, none of that logically makes sense, but I guess I’ll give it to her? I don’t know. It was just like waaaaaaaaay too out there.

Then the final showdown between Tobias Dawson. I get that that’s where the author wanted it to be, but why would he bring her there? Why would he just allow her to mess everything up? He didn’t seem that dumb. I don’t know, this final showdown was way less intense or interesting than the previous one with Alexis.

Whatever. So, this book was a little weird and not a very strong showing overall for either Gin or plot. But, I’m still in love with Gin and Jessie says that it really picks up soon. So, I’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt and just place this weird plot back in the hole Gin so conveniently made for it with her special stone magic.

Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep


Title: Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep
Published: January 26th 2010 by Pocket Books
Page Count: 395
Where’d I Get It: Purchase
Rating: 4 stars

My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider. I’m the most feared assassin in the South — when I’m not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don’t use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I’m out for revenge. And I’ll exterminate anyone who gets in my way — good or bad. I may look hot, but I’m still one of the bad guys. Which is why I’m in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I’m battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction… especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

It’s taken me so long to even pick these books up. What a mistake. I enjoyed the first one immensely and can’t wait to jump into the rest. You can expect me to be here in Urban Fantasy Appalachia for awhile.

I will admit, halfway through reading this book, I took a deep breath, stopped and went immediately to find the novellas (most of which are free on the author’s website, praise the powers that be!). So, I read those before going back to the book. I will include small blurbs about those as well, but I would consider them more vignettes than novellas. They were still great additions to the overall storyline.

Poison is from a young Finn’s point of view, illustrating his feelings about having a new person in the family who overshadows him, culminating in his feelings for Gin shifting when she protects him from an early demise. Web of Deceit is from Flecher’s point of view, a look at Gin’s first assassination contract and overwhelming feelings for Gin herself, the job, and their (still yet mysteriously) intertwined past. Spider’s Bargain was about Gin’s job killing Caine’s partner, which is the main romance conflict in the book. Overall, the novellas themselves didn’t take away from the book, but the book could also have been read without them. It just added some extra words and interesting tidbits overall.

I will admit. I was burned out on paranormal romance and urban fantasy pretty early (reading Anita Blake in high school will do that to you), and so switched over to Ann Aguirre and then young adult books. I’m glad to be coming back and reading more of the genre now. It’s really just what I needed, something familiar but fun.

Gin’s an assassin. She has latent elemental powers which allow her to control stone and is also less adept at ice magic. The magical system in this book overall is very interesting. What people can do with their elemental affinities is varied and keeps you guessing, yet never feels overwhelming or gimmicky. She is hired to take out a man who has been accused of embezzling funds.

She is hired to take out a man who has been accused of embezzling funds. The money is too good to pass up, and so Gin takes it, even though she a) just got back from a job, and b) really could use a vacation. Her handler and father figure, Fletcher wants her to retire, but hey, the money is still too good to pass up. She could retire immediately with this payout. So, Gin takes it the job, and that’s when everything goes pear shaped. Double-crossed, on the run from the law, with Fletcher dead, Gin has to clear her name and get revenge.

The book itself takes a logical path, information gathering and so forth. There’s some close calls, and an unlikely romance with the grumpiest police officer, Donavan Caine, who has to battle with his feelings for Gin, and his need to get revenge on his partner’s killer, who also happens to be Gin. It’s the perfect cocktail for a rage boner. I can’t wait to see what comes next with them.

This book was just fun urban fantasy. I had a good time reading it. I liked Gin’s somewhat lax sense of fashion, her crass sense of humor, her weird sexual monologs about tight pants. Really, I just enjoyed the whole package and I’m going to go start the next one right now.

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley (Review)


Title: The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Published: August 2nd 2011 by Berkley
Page Count: 338
Where’d I Get It: Purchase (Audiobook)
Rating: 3 stars

The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family–rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn’t be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them–of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He’s also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama–an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her.

I listened to this on audiobook and it took me way longer than it probably should because I kept setting it aside for podcasts about murder (like I do). So, honestly, how long it took me to get through this book is not really indicative to how much I enjoyed the book. I just get so wrapped up in murder sometimes.

Really, though, if I was reading this in paperback or on my Kindle I probably would have read it much faster. That being said, this was one of the first times I’ve listened to a romance novel on audio. I’ve done urban fantasy, but nothing with the breadth of bawdy bedroom scenes that this had. Nothing quite like listening to erotic literature on some Bluetooth headphones while your kids are in the room. I suppose the same could be said about listening to it in public or just generally around people. It’s a little weird. Anyway, I got over that hurdle by the end of the book. It was all par for the course by then.

The narrator was nice to listen to. She had a soothing voice and did the Scottish accent well. I actually don’t have any complaints about her at all. Top notch. I wonder if she does the rest of the series or not?

The book itself is rather predictable on many accounts. Lord Ian Mackenzie has Aspberger’s Syndrome. It manifests in plenty of little ways. He can’t meet people’s eyes. He has perfect recall. He’s often a bit of a weirdo in social situations. And, yes, the main romance plot is for someone to teach him to love, which the book does really well. While Ian Mackenzie originally sees Beth Ackerley as a conquest, albeit one that deserved preferential and deferential treatment, he eventually learns to get over his fears and his disability and love her.

Beth Ackerley herself is a widow of a vicar, given an immense dowry by an old woman she cared for in the woman’s last days. Ian Mackenzie is set on snatching her up as wife, both because he finds her pleasant, and to keep the men of low standing from taking advantage of her new found money. Beth’s already found love once in her life, and though thrown into a whirlwind of romance and bedroom acrobatics with Ian, she finds herself falling for the man, and his family, vowing to keep them safe with all her power.

Outside of the romance itself, there’s also a murder mystery that needs to be solved, involving Ian MacKenzie himself, his brother Hart and some ladies of the night. There’s a few twists and turns, but most of the mystery itself is as predictable as the romance plot, considering there’s some pretty obvious culprits.

As my first foray into Jennifer Ashley’s work, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I loved a good chunk of the characters mentioned and introduced in the novel. I very rarely find that the small snippets in books of other characters spur me into a great love for them, at least until they get their own books, but Jennifer Ashely has set up Lady Isabella and Mac’s relationship so well that I honestly can’t wait to have the time to dive into Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage.  

Winter Halo by Keri Arthur (Review)


Title: Winter Halo by Keri Arthur
Published: December 6th 2016 by Signet
Page Count: 339
Where’d I Get It: Purchase

When the bombs that stopped the species war tore holes in the veil between worlds, they allowed entry to the Others. Now, a hundred years later, humans and shifters alike live in artificially lit cities designed to keep the darkness at bay….

The humanoid supersoldiers known as the déchet were almost eradicated by the war. Ever since, Tiger has tried to live her life in peace in hiding. But in the wake of her discovery that Central City’s children are being kidnapped and experimented on, Tiger’s conscience won’t let her look the other way.

The key to saving them lies within the walls of a pharmaceutical company called Winter Halo. But as she learns more about the facility, Tiger’s mission is derailed by a complication: Winter Halo’s female security guards are being systematically attacked by an unknown force.

Now Tiger must summon all her gifts to stop those responsible for both atrocities—no matter the cost to herself…

With as much as I loved the first Outcast novel, City of Light, I’m sad to say that I was only so-so on its sequel. There were a lot of contributing factors to this cause, and that’s super disappointing because the concept for this series is like nothing I’ve ever encountered before, a seamless blend of dystopian, science fiction, urban fantasy, and a little bit of paranormal romance.

The beginning of this book is really slow. A lot of the same as the last book, investigating rifts, talking about saving children, feeling sad about saving children, talking to ghosts. There’s a bit of new plot involved, but not an awful lot. Despite the action involved, the first part is pretty dull.

When Tig finally gets into Winter Halo, the book gets slightly more interesting. At this point, the book itself feels like there’s simultaneously not enough happening and too much happening at the same time. Tig is basically balancing two plots at once. She’s infiltrating Winter Halo as a regular employee, but at the same time boning Winter Halo’s accountant as a completely different individual. At least with the last book, the romance and the investigation were all basically one thread to follow. This separation makes the book disjointed and disorderly. Yes, I know that, technically, her sexual life is also an investigation into the same organization, but it doesn’t FEEL like it’s on the same wavelength. Her relationship with the mark will obviously continue into the next installment, though I’m not sure how useful he will be at that point, having been fired from his job that she wanted information about.

There’s also some awful, what feels like, inconsistencies with the ghosts this time around.  In the last book, they had limited power, limited access to poltergeist activities, without significant numbers or rest. In this book, it just seems like they’re picking up weapons and bashing everyone over the head without any consequences at all. Yeah, it makes for a significantly easy way to move the plot forward when the heroine is stuck, but what about the already established world rules? *grumble, grumble*

There’s a lot of revelations in this book, some more interesting than others. The dynamic between Jonas and Tig being one of the more interesting ones. They’re finally expressing their feelings for each other, even if it, ultimately, doesn’t go physical. At least they’re not beating around the bush about it. Yeah, they’ve got some prejudices to get through, but at least they’re doing the thing and being adults about it. I mean, yeah, they did almost die together and possibly mixed DNA and powers, but at least that spurred them through their feelings.

Cat and Bear, despite the earlier indication where I was bashing on them for doing more stuff, are absolutely way more fleshed out in this book. They have more personality and are more independent, and help Tiger out a lot more than in the previous book (and they helped a lot). It was nice seeing them as individuals and not just ‘the ghosts’ that always hung around.

All right, so we’ve established that this book didn’t really do it for me this time around. I’m goign to just log this under sequel syndrome and hope that the next one is better. They found no children in this one, and they’re still out there and Tig is still looking for them, so hopefully that means that the series will be continuing soonish rather than later or never. Here’s hoping it only gets better here on out. I’m not giving up on it.

When our Worlds Collide by Kellie Wallace [Review]




Title: When our Worlds Collide by Kellie Wallace
Published: January 3rd 2017 by Limitless Publishing
Page Count: 282
Where’d I Get It: Quirky Blind Date (eARC)
Rating: 2 stars

As one city’s fate hangs in the balance, a woman’s destiny is about to be determined…

Amira Frost is forced to watch her home be invaded by the warmonger state, Argos. Divided into multiple class zones, the city’s once peaceful existence is threatened.
When an opportunity arises for Amira to get close to the General, she accepts with the hope that her new position as his personal food taster can help reclaim the municipality, but she is pulled deeper into his regime than she initially anticipated.

For every controlling force, a resistance is born…

The Ravens’ elusive leader, Grayson Roe, has one goal—to lead the resistance to victory against the barbaric military. Dedicated and ruthless, he sets out to use Amira to their advantage by offering her a proposal she’s unable to refuse.
Nothing will stop him from regaining control over his city and its people—not even the dark haired beauty whose loyalty seems questionable.

A city threatens to fall and a decision needs to be made…

As the battle rages, Amira is caught between two opposing forces and reevaluates her allegiance when her loyalty is tested. Her home is under attack, her friends and family are dying, and she is faced with a grueling decision that has the power to save or bring down an entire city.

When worlds collide, she must choose between saving her home or surrendering to the one man who threatens to destroy it all—including her.


I participated this month in something called Quirky Blind Date with A Book, hosted by The Quirky Bibliophile and helped by one of my buddies from that time we used to go to Wizard Rock stuff, The Unapologetic Book Addict . Jenn was actually the one to introduce me to it and this is my first month participating. The basic premise is you get several sentence long descriptions of books and pick one, and then you get that book for an honest review. It’s a great idea, honestly, and a fun way to be introduced to indie authors.

Okay, as for the book itself. Let’s see if I can get out a review that makes sense, because golly, I think I’m coming down with something.

Our main character’s name is Amira, the seaside country she lives in has been overtaken by a regime of Argos soldiers. The leader of these soldiers, General Knox, a large man who kills on a whim, occupies a hastily built complex with the rest of his soldiers. Amira’s family, her father working in government, her mother hating the occupation and the government for allowing it, and her little brother, live in a well to do area well above a regular station for Amira’s father’s line of work. When this is pointed out to Amira, she’s also given the choice to become a food taster for the General or see her family moved to the slums.

She of course accepts, because how could you not, and is joined by three other girls as food tasters for the General to make sure his meals aren’t sabotaged. When tasting goes awry, Amira is whisked away unexpectedly to be General Knox’s new secretary. From there she’s whisked even farther, recruited by Grayson Roe, leader of the resistance to ferry information and poison General Knox.

The book continues, with Amira debating to herself about killing a man, while General Knox tries to actively pursue her for a liaison. This is where I feel the book starts getting rushed and falls apart. There’s a lot to tell and characters’ motivations, feelings, and general traits get lost in the jumble.

Amira finds herself in relationships with both men, and learns things about them that neither seem to sway her feelings one way or another, and the eventual fights that break out are inconsequential and go exactly the way you think they should.

Case and point for this characterization issue. At the beginning of the book it’s clear that Meg, Grayson Roe’s second in command, is smitten with him. As the book progresses, you’re just supposed to remember that without being intricately told, and the subsequent short scenes become muddled and awkward. When Meg confronts Roe about Amira, nude, basically throwing herself at him, it sounds hollow and weak. Grayson dismisses her within the paragraph. When Meg then tries to kill Amira to get her love, she is no longer painted as the friend-zoned, spurned lover, but just another plot obstacle that is there to try and hamper Amira.

General Knox also suffers from this, painted as a hard man who kills anyone who defies him, he finds Amira after the ultimate betrayal and only kind of chokes her out, never finishes her off. I feel like he would, were he not forced to spare her via plot.

The sex scenes in this book were awkward at best. I’ve read some clinically bad, some euphemistically lacking, and somewhere the author clearly needs a thesaurus and to stop using ‘spilling’, but these were straddling the line between 50s pan away and an actual sex scene and seemed to “blah, blah, blah” and pick up whenever the author so choose. I’m still unsure if anyone but Knox orgasmed (once for sure) and the flowery imagery got so jumbled at points that in one scene I wasn’t sure if Greyson Roe was just humping her leg or what, because she left abruptly, but I’m unsure at which point during the sexytimes?

Anyway, I guess I just expected a lot more from this book and didn’t get it. It does have a lot of potential. Maybe if it was more than one book? Maybe if it were longer? It didn’t even reach 300 pages. I don’t know. As is, it didn’t do it for me.