Book Review: The Dark Awakening by D.L Blade

If you like romantic plots that are kind of messy, this book is for you. I found the constant choices between all the guys for Mercy to be sort of long-suffering and a little dull, but I’m not big on overarching romantic plots.

What I did like, however, and why I rate this book highly: is the plot. The Salem Witch plot is something I have always found overdone and, frankly, a little irritating, but D.L Blades spin on this left me wanting more. There are so many players in this book and people beyond the shadows pulling Mercy’s strings that it left me hungry for more.

I really wish the plot would’ve been focused on more instead of making Caleb a cocky romantic interest. He was much more interesting as a mysterious love from Mercy’s past where they couldn’t be together. Then, when Dorian showed up I was more than happy to entertain some romantic subplot, but eventually, that too became a huge pain point for me.

There were a lot of times I ended up being pulled out of the narrative by choppy or short sentences or phrases that made me stop and pulled me out of the story, but the nuggets of intense prose and excellent writing pulled me back in. Though I will say this, I wish the plot with Mercy’s mother had gotten more attention. I felt like that got resolved a little too easily.

Plus, there was a lot of slut-shaming and bullying of girls not in the character’s immediate friend group and that really turns me off in a lot of books. I stuck through it, however, and I’m glad I did.

Let’s talk about the ending. I won’t spoil anything for anyone reading my review, but I will say that the ending was AMAZING. When I read it I immediately knew I was going to read the second book in the series. So I have to say I’m very interested in where this series is going.

Overall rating: ★★★
(3/5 Stars. )

Rating breakdown:

Prose: ??‍♀️??‍♀️
Plot: ??
Characterization: ?‍♀️?‍♀️
Boredom meter: ???

More about The Dark Awakening

I stepped quickly to the side to walk by him, but he moved into my path, blocking me from going any further.

“Mercy, relax. I’m not going to hurt you.”

Everything around me froze in place and my heart stopped in its tracks. He knows me.

How did he know my real name?

Just as Mercy pieces her life back together after a vicious attack, she notices a stranger lingering in the shadows, and watching her every move.

Mercy isn’t certain if what she’s seeing is real, but when Mercy crashes her car on the side of the road, she’s rescued by a handsome and mysterious man named Caleb, who she finds herself both drawn to, and afraid of.

Caleb reveals to Mercy that she’s strongly linked to an ancient coven; the roots slowly dragging her back to Salem. He also claims to be in love with her, but can she trust him?

This story takes you on a journey of magic, secrets, betrayal, and abduction, in a world filled with witches, vampires and werewolves, which Mercy and her friends never knew existed.

Mercy must discover who she truly is, and find the powers within her to save mankind.

Review: Never Letting Go by Liv Devereaux

This was very, very short and read like an unedited Wattpad story. I really like that Devereaux continues to write f/f and LGBT fiction, but I can’t help but think that this sort of writing is a little detrimental to the community.

As an LGBT author myself, I am all for supporting other people who write for the community and Devereaux is not a bad author. On the contrary, I do enjoy a lot of their work, but I find myself wishing they could be a little better.

This story was over in the blink of an eye, though I did like the narrative of two estranged lovers coming back together, I wish Devereaux would have explored this further in a longer story. I know we get the explanation toward the end as to what happened between them and how they ended up like this, but it all felt really flat.

I fully believe Devereaux has an incredible talent that they have yet to explore fully and will continue to read and advocate for their books with a little bit of constructive criticism thrown in. Keep writing, Devereaux, you’re out here fighting the good fight and filling the world with so much needed wlw representation.

I look forward to the next project I read by you.

Overall rating: ★★★
(3/5 Stars)

Rating breakdown:
Prose: ??
Plot: ????
Boredom meter: ??

I would like to see better characterization and prose writing from Devereaux in the future.

Book Reviews: Fight or Flight by Liv Devereaux

This book was really interesting. Initially, I debated hard on giving it a higher rating, but I didn’t really like how this was a very thinly veiled fanfiction for the Freeform show “The Fosters” with a few of the names and situations changed.

In all honesty, the book wasn’t that bad. It was better (and longer) than the first I read of Liv Devereaux’s work, More Than Friends, but Devereaux could have done a little bit of a better job separating her narrative from the ongoing narrative of The Fosters.

There is nothing wrong with writing fanfiction, especially if it leads you to pursue a career as a writer (of gay fiction, especially. I see you, Devereaux), but I personally would prefer something a little more original. That is not to say that Fight or Flight is a direct copy of what happened in The Fosters, it isn’t, but it follows the narrative very VERY closely in a way that made it hard for me to see the characters as anything other than the ones featured in the show.

All that being said, I found the relationship between Hayden and Cameron to be an interesting one. A lot of the prose was missing a good bit of description, something I found eternally irritating, but it did make for a quick read. It also makes a lot of sense considering this was so obviously based on a fanfiction that there would be a good amount of description missing (as that is the writing style of fanfiction authors, something I know intimately).

I would actually recommend this book to anyone who likes quick, cute reads for WLW and lesbian romance. I genuinely did enjoy the book despite all its shortcomings and look forward to reading as much as I can by Liv Devereaux.

Overall rating:
3/5 stars

Rating breakdown

Prose: ???

Plot: ?️?️?️?️

Characterization: ??

Boredom meter: ???

The story had it’s moments that were heartwarming, but ultimately I found myself trying to finish it ASAP so I could move on to something else.

More about Fight or Flight

Cameron Hale had it all. A high school sophomore that was well on her way to being the best swimmer on the swim team, had excellent grades, and an amazing family. To anyone else, Cameron’s life was perfect. And it was. That was until this past summer when Cameron’s life changed forever. One night with one boy that she could never forget, as much as she wanted to. 

When Cameron starts buying Adderall from Hayden, the new girl in school, she’ll send herself down a spiral that will end in her having to make a choice. Does she fight and confront her demons? Or does she run and suffer the turmoil of knowing the boy that raped her is getting away with it?

Read it here, on Amazon

Book Review: The Witches of Dark Hollow Ridge by Rena Marin

The Witches of Dark Hollow Ridge was a great read!

In my opinion, there is so much lead up to the actual plot that felt a bit unnecessary, but I actually really enjoyed this book. The romance between Sadie and Dorian felt really underdeveloped, though. It seemed a little like it was thrown in there as an afterthought, when in reality Sadie’s relationship to her “coven” and her younger sisters was a lot more interesting.

Instead, I got a story where I had to follow a lot of (red herring) threads and an uninspired romantic plot to get to the meat of it. The most interesting things in the book were the betrayal of the coven, Cleo’s plot, and the High Priestess arc which I genuinely enjoyed. 

However, take everything I say with a grain of salt because if romance isn’t a long, pining slow-burn I have an intensely difficult time getting into it. So, if you like quick romances I would recommend this story. 

I rated this 4 stars, though because the actual plot of the story is really gripping. I intensely enjoyed the plot with Cleo and Ebony. Though, I imagined the characters a lot differently in my head. Ebony’s description was a huge surprise for me. 

I also intensely loved the relationship between Victoria, Veronica, and Vivian. Even though for most of the book I confused Veronica and Victoria because the names are very similar and it took me awhile to figure out which of them I needed to be angry at. (Short answer: both)

I hope the second book in the series will focus more on the coven and also better explain the relationship between Sadie and Dorian. Also less whining about how often the younglings were lied to. I get it, it sucks, but I got it the first 3 times you were outraged, Sadie. You don’t need to keep repeating it.

I’m also really interested to see how Sadie will grow as a person and as a leader throughout this series. I was heartbroken at the ending for obvious reasons (You broke my whole heart, Rena Marin, and you know why) and I know Sadie is heartbroken too. I wonder how that will change her in the future. 

Overall rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5 Stars. )

Rating breakdown:
Prose: ????
Plot: ???
Characterization: ?‍♀️?‍♀️?‍♀️
Boredom meter: ?????

I look forward to reading more from this world.

Book Review: Now or Never by Lucy Smoke

**This Review Contains Spoilers For Now or Never Book One and Study Break**

This book was easier to get into than Smoke’s previous book, Daimon. I’m not a fan of Reverse Harem, but I am a fan of supporting authors. While a lot of the description in this book weighed heavily on the purple prose side, I gave Smoke the benefit of the doubt and continued reading. 

The book itself is evenly paced. Though It didn’t sit well with me how often one of the boys joined the main character in her bed. Harlow in and of herself is a trope of every female I’ve ever read in romance with one key difference. She does seem to genuinely care about helping other people. 

The main mystery in the book, if you can call it that, sort of left me wanting. The “job” they did seemed to go by far too quickly. We didn’t get to see Harlow shine and show off some of her intelligence. Despite the book playing up her intellect from the very beginning. 

The guys are very similar in stature and description and that left me confused a lot because I often didn’t know which man she was referring to. I know there’s diversity among them with Bellamy being Native American, but men are much more diverse than skin color. I would liked to have seen some differences in their personalities and outward appearance. Not all men are tall and lean with endless muscles. 

At this point I’ve read several of Lucy Smoke’s books because she shows promise as a writer. I have noticed in many of her Reverse Harem titles that the boys are strikingly similar and not just among the books they’re in, but also across series as well. In her novella “Study Break” Dexter Jones, who bears an extreme likeness to Knix in Now or Never, tells the main female character, Jamie, that he will “spank her” if she doesn’t stop saying bad things about herself. Knix also tells Harlow he will “spank her” if she doesn’t stop saying negative things about herself. 

Smoke seems to zero in one one man in the series to be their main character’s “focal point” despite there being three+ other men there that the character needs to pay attention to. In Now or Never this man is Knix. He is so obviously well-suited for Harlow and Smoke intentionally writes him this way. However, despite this, Harlow continues to pine over the other guys and worries about this hurting their feelings. 

This didn’t make sense to me. Harlow has never considered a poly lifestyle for herself and based on this evidence instead of her wondering if this is okay for her to kiss all these guys who are already in a well-established friendship, shouldn’t she be agonizing over which one she should choose? 

A lot of other reviewers have been praising Smoke up and down for writing Harlow as a “strong female character”, when there’s no such thing. There are only well-written female characters and poorly-written female characters. In reality, Smoke seems to write her female characters through the “male-gaze”. She uses tropes like “She doesn’t know she’s beautiful” and “these men have to save her”, not to mention, Now or Never wouldn’t even pass a simple Bechdel Test. 

Harlow is a girl who randomly starts following a bunch of older men around because they claimed to be from an organization they couldn’t tell her anything about and they immediately started paying for her bills. Why? Harlow never questions this in any real way. Not to mention her only female friend exists to talk to Harlow about “the boys” or just relationships or men in general. That’s not a healthy relationship with another female.

Harlow also doesn’t once talk to “the boys” about the reality of the situation they’re in. She leaves so much unsaid, yet still decides to join their group, “Iris”, despite ¾ of them kissing her and she never once brings that up. I know Harlow is new to being Poly, but communication is key. This could potentially come back to blow up in her face and ruin the dynamic of the group. This is something she should have considered prior to joining. Instead, she negated to even bring it up.

Despite all of this, Lucy Smoke has a lot of potential. I look forward to seeing new works from her and seeing her grow as a writer. Well done, Lucy :).