A Free Dreamer Review: Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

At age eighteen, when they become marriageable, all royal children in the Thousand Kingdoms must either go questing to rescue another royal or be hidden away to await rescue themselves. Some go the traditional route of princes rescuing princesses, but not all princes want to be rescuers…and some would rather rescue other princes.

Then there’s Prince Gerald, who has no interest in getting married at all. When he refuses to choose a role as either rescuer or rescuee, his royal parents choose for him and have him magicked away to a distant tower to await a spouse.

Gerald, however, is having none of it. He recruits his guardian dragon and a would-be rescuer and soon the trio is dashing to all corners of the united kingdoms on a quest to overturn the entire system.

“Royal Rescue” presents a delightful twist on the common damsel in distress trope and since I love tropes turned on their head, I jumped at the chance to read this book. I’m happy to say it was a very enjoyable experience.

I’m glad the author went with a more serious route, instead of comic relief. Gerald’s experiences aren’t always easy or happy, but they make sense.

I might not be asexual, aromantic or live in a world full of royals and magic, but society still expects me to marry and have kids, which I don’t want. The way A. Alex Logan described Gerald’s feelings on the matter were exactly the same as mine. It’s just so frustrating to have to explain yourself over and over and over again to each and every single person who has no business sticking their nose in your affairs in the first place. So, even though Gerald and I might not have much in common on a superficial level, I found him to be extremely relatable and likable.

Also, there’s a dragon. A sentient dragon, that’s capable of human speech and complex thought processes and yet its personality is completely different from humans. That was a prime example of a very well developed secondary character right at the beginning of the book. And the dragon didn’t remain the only three dimensional secondary character. Gerald’s eventually surrounded by a group of people and each and every one of them felt like a real individual. There was really only one person who didn’t get enough on-page time for my liking. Mikkel, one of the other royals, seemed like a very interesting person.

I absolutely loved the actual story of “Royal Rescue”. The marriage system is actually quite liberal for royals. The young people can choose if they want to be rescued by someone or go rescuing somebody themselves and the gender of the rescuer/rescuee doesn’t matter at all. Homo- and bisexuality is just as normal as heterosexuality and no problem at all. In fact, Gerald has two mothers and one of them actively asks him which gender he’d prefer to be rescued by. There are no arranged marriages, everybody gets a choice. You might even get away with marrying a commoner, as long as it’s True Love. But as the story progresses, we learn that it’s actually still quite restrictive and doesn’t account for people who aren’t interested in marriage at all.

The author did a really good job at unfolding a wild adventure with real depth and pretty solid world building. I still would have liked just a bit more world building and a bit more focus on the guardians of the towers.

Overall, “Royal Rescue” is a truly brilliant book, not only for lovers of YA Fantasy. Just don’t go into this expecting a “normal romance”. Gerald is aromantic and that doesn’t change.

There is potential for a second part, but the book also works as a standalone. I, for one, would love a sequel.

The cover by Natasha Snow looks good and fits the story, even if the flying creatures remind me of dinosaurs and not dragons.

Sales links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: April 8th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139781950412419
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Royal Rescue by A. Alex Logan

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

 

At age eighteen, when they become marriageable, all royal children in the Thousand Kingdoms must either go questing to rescue another royal or be hidden away to await rescue themselves. Some go the traditional route of princes rescuing princesses, but not all princes want to be rescuers…and some would rather rescue other princes.

Then there’s Prince Gerald, who has no interest in getting married at all. When he refuses to choose a role as either rescuer or rescuee, his royal parents choose for him and have him magicked away to a distant tower to await a spouse.

Gerald, however, is having none of it. He recruits his guardian dragon and a would-be rescuer and soon the trio is dashing to all corners of the united kingdoms on a quest to overturn the entire system.

Well, I just love this story!  New author and new fantasy story all in one.  Love it when that happens.  Especially when the author manages to take several standard fantasy elements and give them their own take.  Here Logan uses the familiar knight quest/damsel in distress/rescue as a major element, along with the dragon that guards the tower.  And promptly turns all said elements on their narrative heads to my total entertainment and joy.

It starts with Prince Gerald, who’s mothers, the Queens want him to get married.  That’s right the Queens.  In this world, the many kingdoms have apparently long come accustomed to various sexualities and their pairings.  Marriages made between men, women, gender fluid people…like Princex…all good and accepted.  But there’s one last huge area not understood or even thought of….that of being asexual.  That is Gerald and his current problem because he doesn’t want to get married and can’t seem to get anyone to listen to him to understand exactly why this is so deeply affecting him.  He doesn’t feel the way they do.  He doesn’t understand everyone being a “sexual” being nor does he want a sexual marriage and that’s want is being forced on him and whoever he marries.

Logan, using Gerald as our point of view, brings us into his heart, mind, and frustration over the lack of empathy and the poignancy of his situation.  Which only gets worse.  Then unexpectedly through Gerald’s kindness and intelligence, gets better.  For not only himself, but for several species that had been forced into servitude, including dragons, and wholes generations of new young royals coming of age.  In other words, Gerald and a small group of friends become heroes.

And it will start by Gerald saving himself.  Really, doesn’t get any better than that.

Logan does a superb job of world building, crafting the characters and creating the rigid political structures that have led to the situation all have found themselves in.  I found myself totally invested in every aspect of this story.  I was rooting for them all to succeed while admiring different aspects of the author’s storytelling.

There is a small group of royal friends and a sapient dragon, several quests of their own making, and a remarkable ending.  Yes, this is a character and troop of characters to root for.  Especially as I thought the author did an excellent job with bringing Gerald’s pain and frustration over his asexuality to light to those around him, including the readers.  What hurt and was perhaps realistic was still a matter of total understanding from those closest to Gerald at the end of his asexuality.  That he might not ever get all the approval or total acceptance he was hoping for.  That it would have to be enough…for now.

And it was.  You have to read the book to understand that.  There’s hope and Gerald was leaving to go where he wanted, on a path of his own making.  Sort of perfect.  Just like this story.

Yes, I definitely recommend this story for YA fantasy lovers or just lovers of fantasy.  There is no heat level as you can imagine.  But lots of adventure and plenty to cheer about.  Dragons and heroes or every sort!

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  I think Natasha Snow is just nailing her covers including this one.  Perfect from the dragon to the setting. Love it.

Sales links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: April 8th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139781950412419
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Dragon Magic by Megan Derr

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Four strangers. A shared moment long forgotten. A bond forged in desperation.

On the first day of the Festival of Counting, the beginning of the royal census that takes place every ten years, the royal city is filled to overflowing. Everyone is happy, excited, and proud to be counted amongst those who live in the glorious kingdom of Orhanis.

Then a demon strikes, killing thousands in mere seconds and leveling the city. As the royal castle burns, only four men remain to drive the demon away—and in their desperation, accidentally bind themselves together in a legendary Oath, unable to part ways until they find and kill the demon once and for all.

Mahzan, the King’s Jester, an orphan who clawed his way to the top and hides a fearsome magic… Sule, the notorious North Captain, who sacrificed everything to live as a strong, capable, highly respected man… Cemal, a priest who traveled the continent bent on revenge and now lives lost… and Binhadi, the mercurial shadow mage with a dark history and bloody ties to the throne…

Four men used to standing apart, standing alone, who must learn to stand together if they hope to save themselves and all of Orhanis.

When it comes to fantasy, Megan Derr is  one of my go to authors.  I love her marvelous ability to transport me out of the mundane and into realms where dragons soar,  wounded mage’s seek reparation and love, and unique bands of warriors go forth on sagas that have continued to live on in my heart and mind long past those words…The End in book after book.

In Dragon Magic Megan Derr brings together another unusual band of mages.  This time, they will form not only a working relationship but a romantic one between the four of them.  Not something of a norm in her stories. Or in the stories I normally read because I haven’t found many authors that make a  polyamorous relationship work within a storyline to my tastes.  Here, among four strong mages, who fight the bonds between them from the beginning, watching the emotional ties form, along with the lust and love feels natural.  It helps that they can “feel” each others thoughts and emotions, so the instinctual walls  others erect start breaking down or are broken between the four of them from the start, laying their “secrets” out before the others.

Derr switches the story back and forth between the emotional vulnerability and revelations that is happening between the four as they become a true “family” and the perilous state they find themselves in while searching out the demons and those responsible for the destruction of the Capitol.  I expected to “like” one of the characters more than the rest, maybe Mahzan or Sule, but each mages here is a little broken each in their own way.  Each strong as well.  Turned out I loved them equally.  Semal and Binahdi  no less than Mahzan and Sule.  What great characters all.

The only thing that kept this from a 5 stars story was the odd little out of timeline break at the end.  I understand why the author did it but it still felt jarring.  And honestly asked more questions than it answered.  I didn’t need it.  And in my opinion the story didn’t either.  But that’s just me.

Either way, if you are a lover of high fantasy, Megan Derr or both,  Dragon Magic is a book you won’t want to miss.  And yes, once again she has created some wonderful demons for our mages to fight against.  Can’t miss out on those either!  Put this and this wonderful band of mages on your TBR list today!  I highly recommend it!

Cover art:Phillip Lloyd Simpson.  It’s colorful.  Don’t know that it’s my favorite of Megan Derr’s covers.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: March 28th 2018 by Less Than Three Press
ISBN139781684312016
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Lila Review: The Heart of the Lost Star by Megan Derr

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Kamir is on the verge of losing everything. Knowing full well he can’t meet the ultimatum his parents have issued, he instead finally puts in motion his plans to live completely independent of them. His plans are interrupted, however, by the unexpected return of his despised ex-husband—and thrown even further into upheaval when he ends up comforting the man he’s secretly loved for years.

Jader may not know where he comes from, but he knows where he belongs and what he wants—until he helps rescue some stranded Bentan travelers, one of whom look almost exactly like Jader, throwing his life and everything he thought he knew into tumult. Scared and overwhelmed, Jader flees—and lands unexpectedly in the arms of a man he’s always seen, but never really noticed.

 

The Heart of the Lost Star brings two lonely men together despite their differences. They come from different stations in life and have achieved success through hard work. They complement each other and understand their need for independence and to have space to take their own decisions.

 

Some of those decisions put them at odds with their families, the court, and those around them that want to control their lives or feel the need to look down at them due to their circumstances. Throughout the story, we experience how they deal with all this and the future they built, separate and as a couple.

 

This is an unorthodox romance story since the characters spent more time apart than together. Even so, their relationship works and we get invested in their journeys. We do follow their courtship from the distance and that allows the reader to experience, in real time, what the characters did.

 

The differences between genders and nonbinary characters are shown a bit more in this installment. I need to admit that I didn’t realize them during the first two books in the series. The author did an excellent job integrating all the information between the culture and world-build. Every small detail added to the overall feeling of place in the story.

 

We also get updates about the previous couples and they do play a recurring role. Also, we learn more about the relationship between the kingdoms and their geography, politics, and culture. And during the story, as it is to be expected, we get small hints about the next story in the series, The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon.

 

The cover by John Coulthart follows the style of the previous two books. It’s beautiful and it fits the story to perfection, showing us a profile view of Jader and Benta.

 

Sale Links: LT3 | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

 

Book Details:

 

ebook, 320 pages
Published: August 23, 2017, by Less Than Three Press
ISBN: 1684310601 (ISBN13: 9781684310609)
Edition Language: English

 

Series: Tales of the High Court
Book #1: The High King’s Golden Tongue
Book #2: The Pirate of Fathoms Deep
Book #3: The Heart of the Lost Star

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Obsidian Moons (Obsidian #2) by Jon Keys

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

obsidian-moonsSequel to Obsidian Sun

After achieving the impossible and releasing their people from the Varas slavers, Anan and Terja, a spellweaver and spellspinner, start the arduous journey back to their homeland. A winter trek across the grasslands is dangerous enough, but the traitor, Xain, is tasked with recapturing the slaves, and failure will mean his death. As added insurance, the Varas High Regent hires a Triad of legendary Ubica assassins and assigns a full regiment of his personal guards, along with their captain, to the task. Their mission is clear: recapture the escaped Talac slaves destined for the Varas pleasure houses—and the bed of the High Regent—at any cost.

The newly freed Talac travel toward their homelands with the full knowledge they are likely being pursued. The flight westward is fraught with new and unexpected dangers as Anan and Terja struggle to save their tribe. The battle for shelter, food, and a way to defend themselves becomes an all-consuming task, but they are reminded by the avatars of their gods that all is not as it appears.

The sequel to the amazing fantasy epic Obsidian Sun (Obsidian #1), Obsidian Moons, enlarges on the peoples, cultures and religions of the world that Jon Keys started in his first story.  In Obsidian Sun, we met Anan, a spellweaver  and Terja a spellspinner of the Talac people and followed them on a tale of blood revenge and rescue while learning about their culture, their religion, their part of the world and yes, their enemy, the Varas, a frightening people.

Keys forgot nothing in building up his universe from the grasses and insects to the climates.  It was an jaw-dropping bit of artistry and the story laid on top of it was just as incredible.  Even more amazing for being his first published novel.

Now comes  Obsidian Moons.  How does it stand up?

Very well.

While I jumped into the first story immediately, this novel took a bit to get into.  Keys re-accounts some of the past history for readers unfamiliar with his tale (by no means should you skip the first story, this is not a standalone).  It felt denser, less forward moving in the narrative than the first. Of course the first started with a massacre, so that’s hard to top.

But while I was getting reacquainted with all the familiar characters, the wonderfully magical and fascinating like Anan, Terja and the Talac (even Xain, that traitor), Keys starts introducing his new elements here.  Again all marvelous additions to his world building.  Keys brings in other cultures, religions, magic even. Keys gives us a triad of contract assassins from Ubica to hunt the escaped Talac (a vocabulary is supplied in the front which is maybe not necessary but definitely worth checking out), and a wild mountain tribe Meke, a separated tribe that…well, that part of the story is better left to the saga, and more. Each addition comes fully established, down to the clothes they wear, the weapons they carry, and the deities they worship. All blended so smoothly into the narrative that its seamless.

While the enemy is hunting for the escaped Talac, we see the growth in both Anan and Terja, individually and in their relationship that was born out of a blood revenge oath.  Yes, there is multiple points of view here but it works and never feels too jumbled or too much to keep track of.  In fact, sometimes I wished for less because this is a scary, daunting, and pain-filled journey.   Not without cost of life.  Some of those voices will be lost.

It won’t take long to get back into this saga and these people as they are hunted across some of the harshest terrain this world has to offer.  Jon Keys brings it all vividly to life. Every snow bound  step, all the predators after them.  The loss of hope, and the hope found once more.  Its  an incredible story.  And it ends just as another journey is about to begin.  I can’t wait for that novel and that story too.

Jon Keys has an incredible saga here.  One you should put on your TBR list if you are a lover of fantasy.  Or of love and hope.  Its an amazing tale.  Start with Obsidian Sun and then come here to Obsidian Moons.  I highly recommend them both.

Cover Artist: Paul Richmond. I loved the first cover.  Found that one amazing.  This one doesn’t live up to that one’s standards imo.

Sales Links

        

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: September 12th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1634777182 (ISBN13: 9781634777186)
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series Obsidian – add to your Goodreads shelf here:

ObsidianSunFS