Anna Edwards-Redemption

Anna Edwards has very comfortably moved into my must read author category. I will read anything that she puts out right now, and her backlog is on my TBR list. Have I talked about what my TBR looks like? Yeah, it’s that bad. Anyway, Anna has written a story in the Cavalieri Della Morte series. I think that Redemption is book #10, if Amazon can be trusted. I haven’t read all 10 yet, but the ones I haven’t read are on my list. If only I didn’t have to sleep or make money. Darn real life getting all up in my way.

Anna has given us the story of Gawain and his lady love, Megan. Gawain is Arthur’s nephew. His mom is Arthur’s sister, and Arthur has acted as his father figure since his 16th birthday when his dad just went one step too far. Arthur sends Gawain out on righteous kills, especially on jobs where he is rescuing women who are being trafficked.

Megan is from Stockholm, and two years ago, she went missing. The reason that she went missing is that she was out celebrating her birthday and was abducted and sold. Now, she’s learned to be quiet and do everything her owner M wants her to do. And usually, what he wants is for her to hurt and suffer. And that is exactly what she has done for the past two years. She’s covered in burns, scars, and has unhealed broken bones. Her mind is sorta there and she trusts no one, including the men who come in to rescue her. She’s pretty sure that they are a test from M.

Redemption is defined as being saved or saving someone from sin and evil, and as the action of gaining back or repurchasing something or clearing a debt. And the title works really well in both definitions of the word and for multiple characters. Gaining that redemption is really important and I think that these characters wouldn’t have worked well in any other setting.

I really like Gawain. Even though he’s an assassin and should be this hardened killer kind of person, there’s something very tender about him. It’s not that he’s an innocent, in any way, shape, or form, but there’s just something very sweet about him. I can’t put my finger directly on it though. I really like how patient he is with Megan, and how he wants to make sure that she’s safe. He goes out of his way to do things that will make her happy and help her have some good memories.

I like how strong Megan really is. Even though her mind kinda got fucked up while she was being held by M, she’s still very strong. Of course, when you are in a crazy fucked up situation your brain is going to do what it can to help you, and that can include your brain deciding to give you an out and help to block out happier things that happened prior to the trauma. But even then, she managed to keep a core of herself there, even if it was buried treasure. I like how it wasn’t an insta-love situation, but that it took a little time, because it gave Megan and Gawain time to become friends before anything else happened.

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I loved the tea party. That was seriously above and beyond, and so freaking romantic.

OK, that’s all on this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Anna Edwards-A Father’s Insistence

A Father’s Insistence is the last book in the Dark Sovereignty series, and damn, did Anna save the best for last. I mean, it’s not like the other two were bad, because they weren’t and they packed a punch, but this one was the TKO. It left with me with all the feelings and all the things to say. But first, let’s talk about the story.

Joanna was one of the women who was presented to Nicolas, but he didn’t choose her, which left her to be sold. She was sold to a terrible man who spent a year breaking her down, raping her, training her, and doing all manner of terrible things. Finally, he tells her that he has a plan. He’s going to marry her to his son, she’s going to give him a son, and he will raise that son to take over the Oakfield Society.

Then there’s Theodore, whose sister Victoria was given to Nicolas and who he ultimately married and her best friend Tamara, who Theodore saw as a little sister, who went and married William, Nicolas’ little brother. His father has told him about the society, generally, and told Theo that Victoria and Tamara are brainwashed and that Nicolas and William are terrible men who are abusing the women. Which, you know, they totally aren’t, but the old Viscount isn’t happy with the way that Nicolas is taking the Society. Theo keeps trying to see his sister and Tamara to whisk them away to safety, even as they tell him that he’s wrong. Then, one night, Theo gets drugged and wakes up in a house where his father shows him a very thin, obviously abused woman, covered in bruises, and says her name is Joanna and that Theo needs to marry her to save her from Nicolas and William.

So, the man who bought Joanna and tortured her for a year is Theo’s dad. He’s fucking twisted, and considering what Nicolas’ dad was like and what the society got up to, that’s saying something. I personally think that he was more evil than the old Duke was. And again, that’s saying something. I mean, not only was he pretty much evil incarnate, I think that he was also more than a little crazy. His cheese done slipped his cracker. I’m sure there is some British-ism that describes the same thing, but I don’t know it. Anyway, cheese and cracker no longer meet. I don’t think they are even in the same postal code anymore.

Joanna is strong AF. I really like her a lot. She’s a survivor, even if she doesn’t think that she is. It’s there though. Just the fact that lasted a year under the crazy man’s rules and came out of it as sane as she did says a whole helluva lot about her. I also like that she questions everything that happens and that she says. She knows what’s right and what’s wrong, and even as she makes the decisions that she does, she knows what she should and shouldn’t do. I understand completely why she does everything that she does because I would totally do the same thing in her situation. I don’t think that anything she may or may not have done at this point can really be held against her by anyone because of what happened to her. Not that I’m excusing her, but you get what I mean.

I really spent a lot of the book pretty sure that Theo is a fucking idiot. And I will stand by that. I will argue with almost anyone about it. He listened to his father a little too much and didn’t use whatever brains he may have been given. When his sister and Tamara were telling him things, he chose to ignore them, and chose to believe what his father said, all evidence to the contrary. I think he must not have thought a whole lot of his sister and Tamara. I mean, I would think that Tamara, at the very least, would be strong enough to be able to get away, if she really wanted to. He really just didn’t give the ladies enough credit, which was stupid on his part, if you ask me. Joanna does help him, so he ought to thank heaven for her for so many reasons.

I cried and yelled at this book. There were some parts that made me so blasted mad, sometimes at Theo and definitely at his father. I love how strong all three of the ladies in this book are, and really admire them for all their strength and gumption.

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I loved the epilogue. That was just wonderful. I love the new society and who signed the charter for it.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one. Go check out all of Anna’s wonderful books. Happy reading!

Anna Edwards-Blaire’s World: Oliver

Blaire’s World is a shared world set of 7 books. They are all based in the world that Anita Gray created with her book Blaire, but they can all be read as a standalone. There may be some mild spoilers to Blaire or Blaire 2, but you don’t have to have read those books in order to read the Blaire’s World books. They don’t have to read in any particular order. However, I highly recommend reading the Blaire books, just because I think that they are great books. Six of the books are coming out on 2/26, but Demetrius will be coming out later in the year, for personal reasons.

Anna Edwards’ Oliver is the last of the Blaire’s World books released today.

Oliver is a character we’ve brushed up against before. He was loaned out to work with Maksim, which meant he knew Blaire. But now, he’s back with his own Pakhan, who almost makes Maksim look warm and fuzzy. Almost.

Oliver was born in England, but it turns out his dad was a member of the Russian Mafia who tried to run, and when Oliver was 8, they caught up to him, and Oliver then was taken into the Mafia and made to do terrible things. Twenty years later, he’s been made avtoritet, which leaves him second only to Victor, the Pakhan.

Amaya is the daughter of a man in a Mexican cartel. Her dad is trying to get in with Victor, so he’s giving her to him. Amaya thinks it’s just a loan, which has happened many times before, but nope, circumstances conspire to make it a permanent thing.

When Oliver and Amaya first meet each other’s eyes, sparks flew. Too bad that nothing could happen, because she now belongs to Victor, as does Oliver.

I love Anna Edwards, and I definitely love what she puts her characters through. She isn’t nice to them, not at all, but she also doesn’t completely destroy them. It makes the story really interesting, and it can make it hard for me to figure out what is going on. There are times I like nice, predictable books, ones that I can just figure out easy, but not all the time. Give me a good book with some twists and turns and make me not able to figure it out? Yeah, I’m a happy girl. And that’s what happened here. It isn’t the twistiest book I’ve ever read, and it isn’t the darkest of the Blaire’s World books, but the dark and the twists are there. And frankly, I think adding in more of either of those things would have ruined the careful balance that Anna worked here.

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OMG, the Jacob’s Ladder that Oliver has? I’ve heard good things about those, as long as the right kind of jewelry is used. I would think that they could tear a person up, otherwise.

I did find Victor to be a huge hypocrite when it came to dealing with the guy who raped his niece, especially since you know he probably had no problem getting his dick wet in a young girl like that.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Anna Edwards-Tainted Reasoning

Tainted Reasoning is the second book in Anna Edwards’ Dark Sovereignty series. This book is not a standalone. You have to have read the first book, Legacy of Succession, in order to know what’s going on in this one. (Check out my review here.) There will be things that spoil the first book in this review. It’s just the way of things when it comes to a trilogy. I will try to keep it down as much as possible, but it isn’t always possible, so be aware of that, and read accordingly.

The first book was the story of Nicholas and Victoria and how they are going to change their part of the world. In that book, we met Tamara, who is Victoria’s best friend. They are so close that they basically consider themselves like sisters. Victoria has lived vicariously through Tamara during all the years her father kept her sequestered. Now Tamara has graduated from Cambridge and is a brand new lawyer, and she’s bound and determined to go take care of her friend Victoria, who was given to Nicholas so that her father could have a better position in society. Poor him, it must be so hard to be rich and a Viscount. Poor, poor man.

We also met William is Nicholas’ younger brother, the spare in the heir and the spare situation. He’s spent his life being hidden away by the evil bastard that was his father. That’s because William is autistic, and the old Duke didn’t want to be “embarrassed” by his “weird” son. Yeah. Ask me what I think of that. Anyway, now that Nicholas is Duke, William has a lot of freedom, but he worries. He worries about being wired wrong or being just not right, and having all that darkness inside of him. (Which brings up the whole nature v. nurture thing.) (protip: being autistic doesn’t make anyone wrong or weird or anything. Don’t go there.)

Anyway, Tamara is on a crusade. She’s going to go rescue Victoria and get her away from the evil clutches of Nicholas. She knows some of what happened, and she knows that her very best friend has been in a seriously bad place. So, away to Oakfield Hall. When she meets Nicholas, she promptly applies her knee to his nuts because she hears Victoria screaming, and she comes out with a torn shirt while Nicholas is trying to fasten his trousers. At which point Victoria tells Tamara that it’s all good, and William explains that they are in the honeymoon phase and they are busy fucking like bunnies and that Nicholas often has his dick in Victoria’s pussy. And that is actually what he says, and there’s just something about that phrase that just made me laugh out loud. It was so fucking funny, especially as Nicholas is currently sitting on a chair with a bag of ice sitting on the said member.

William is pretty much massively turned on by Tamara doing that, and seriously, who wouldn’t be. It’s pretty awesome. He decides that he really likes Tamara. It’s a good thing that she’s going to be staying and helping the three of them with their task of taking down the society.

I love Tamara. From the very first, we see how strong she is, how loyal she is, and how far she is willing to go to protect those whom she loves. She is ferocious, and when it comes to being all lawyer-ish, she will take you down. But, she’s also incredibly loving. With all the people she loves or cares for, she takes care of them and does what she can to make sure that they feel good.

I also love William. There are a lot of reasons for it, but one of them is that there is a dearth of heroes (or anti-heroes) who are autistic, and yet, autism is becoming more and more prevalent. It’s really nice to see a man who is autistic falling in love, dealing with his world, and figuring out what he wants to do after being trapped. His autism may not look like the autism that someone you love has, but no one person has every single aspect of autism. Everyone is different. I love William’s bluntness. I can relate to anyone in the book who gets embarrassed by what he says when he says it. But, I still like it.

I can’t wait for the next book. The way that this one sets up the next book is going to be fantastic. I’m really excited for it.

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OMG, the chase scene. The hottest thing evah. I mean, damn. That was soooo everything.

OK, that’s all I have to say about this one today. Go check out the whole series. Happy reading!

Just Breathe

This anthology is more than a collection of excellent stories by excellent authors, it’s also a way to support To Write Love on Her Arms. I’ve talked about them before. They are an organization that helps support people who are dealing with self-harm and suicidal ideations, among other things. This is such a great organization. Even if you only want one or two of the stories in Just Breathe, you should definitely buy it to support TWLOHA.

Before I get further into my review, I want to warn people that the stories in this book all deal with mental illnesses of some shape or form. There are things in these stories which may trigger you. Please be aware of that and read responsibly.

All of the stories are pretty short, so if you only have a moment here or there to read, you should have no problem finding one that will fit. Because they are short, you are going to basically get my reaction to each story. For most of them, if I were to put anything about them in the review, it would totally spoil the story. So, here we go.

Missy Ann-Forbidden Sorrows-Grief

Missy Ann was a new author to me, and I’ll be looking up more of her work. Grief is hard to deal with at the best of times, and is highly individual. In most cases, you and your grief can be acknowledged, but what happens when it can’t be? It’s not anything I’ve ever thought of before, and wow, Missy brought it to life so vividly.

Anna Edwards-Grounded-Anxiety

I deal with an anxiety disorder and Anna’s story rang so true for me. It was very much like what can go through my head when I feel out of control. It was a great story. And, it looks like it’s the start of a new series, when Anna gets the rights back to it. I can’t wait to see it.

Michelle Brown-Little Lies-Self-Harm

Michelle is still a pretty new writer, but damn, the girl has some serious chops. Self-harm is a very, very touchy subject and has to be handled just right. If you go too far one way, you end up sensationalizing it, if you go too far the other way, you end up making it not believable. Michelle walked that line perfectly. Not so much that it’s glorified, but just at the point where you can understand why Lindsey does what she does. Self-harm was the very reason that TWLOHA was created, so I felt like this one was so important.

K.S. Marshall-Wreckage-Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder

PMDD is PMS with roid rage. As the hormones in a woman’s body ramp up for ovulation and menstruation, they can have an effect on the woman even at the best of times. But brain and body chemistry being what it is, sometimes the best of times isn’t what happens. K.S. Marshall explored that really, really well. You are inside her heroine’s head as these changes are happening to her and she can’t figure out what’s going on. It’s kind of chilling, but in a good way.

Livia Grant-Purged-Eating Disorder

If you’ve read any of the Black Light books, you’ve probably run across Khloe and Ryder before. It’s no secret in their book that Khloe, a big time movie star, has a history with an eating disorder. What Livia’s story shows so well is that dealing with something like an eating disorder is that it isn’t as easy as one day being cured. There are always going to be things that can trigger you and it’s something you are always going to have to be diligent at fighting, and sometimes that fight is really, really hard.

Yolanda Olson-Sickness in the Sunrise-Erotomania

Erotomania generally happens to women, and it’s when they believe that someone who is of a higher status than they are is in love with them. For example, Yolanda’s story. Yolanda is one of my favorite authors when I want dark, creepy, and chilling, as well as beautiful. Her characters are always so real to me. Just like you can reach out and touch them. That’s no different when it comes to this one. You can feel what’s going on in Dice’s head and why her thoughts make perfect sense.

Natalie Bennett-Ashes to Ashes-Depression

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say with this one. It got deep inside me and moved me. I had to take a break and read something completely different after reading this one. It was so… Yeah.

Dani Rene-Tattered Pieces-Abuse

The one thing we always ask when we talk about people who are in domestic violence situations is why did they stay? Why didn’t they leave the first time, the fifth time, the twentieth time? The thing is, the question isn’t that simple, and the answer is nowhere even near that simple. I could probably write a thousand words on that alone, and it wouldn’t even come near answering anything. And I wouldn’t have gotten it anywhere near as good as what Dani said. I hope that this is the start of a series, because it looks like it could be. I want more of Toni’s story. I’m rooting for her.

Jennifer Bene-Cocoon-Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Jennifer managed to write a story that is very true to her storytelling while still exploring OCD. People who have OCD have rituals that they have to follow or their world ends, and that’s not really an exaggeration. That’s the way it will feel, at the very least. Amy was an interesting character and Colton was tortured in so many ways. Such an excellent story and a viewpoint of OCD that most people won’t ever see.

Ally Vance-Ignite-Pyromania

Fire can be very pretty. But, for most of us, pretty is as far as it gets. For people who are pyromaniacs, it’s like their lifeblood. Ally showed that really well. I’ll never look at wooden matches the same way again. Nor, I think, will I ever look at a bonfire the same way.

Murphy Wallace-Hostile Takeover-Split Personality

Murphy Wallace is another new to me author. And another one I’ll be tracking down more of. This was really intriguing to me. I’m not sure how to describe it or even to talk about how it made me feel. I really enjoyed it though.

Jane Anthony-The Row-Addiction

Addiction is a serious illness. Too many people want to see it as some kind of moral failure or something, but that’s not the way it works. Jane’s Trinity fights with addiction, and when you see her backstory, you see why. I thought that Jane did so well. Trinity and King made me cry.

Ashleigh Giannoccaro-Awake-Insomnia

When I was reading Ashleigh’s story, it was both kind of creepy and engrossing. I mean, yeah. I’m hoping any of her insomniacs stay right away from me, please and thank you.

Skye Callahan-Unbearable-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

When you go through a traumatic incident, there are changes that are made to your brain’s chemistry and your body. Those changes can trigger PTSD. And there’s no way of telling who is going to have it and who isn’t. Two people who went through the exact same event may not both have PTSD, and if they do, they might not be triggered in the same way. Skye handled the subject really well, and explained it in ways that many people don’t necessarily hear.

Toni Lemay-Loops-Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect is something that was totally new to me. Basically, it has to do with alternate realities and the way that your brain makes memories. That’s probably a way too simplistic description, but it’s what I got from in when I looked it up. If I had more time to research it, I would probably be able to come up with something more, but I tend to fall down the rabbit hole when I start researching things. I will probably be looking into this more when I have a chance because Toni made it sound really interesting, and I want to see how it works.

I want to applaud all these authors for writing about these mental illnesses. I don’t know how many of these talented people deal with the subjects they wrote about, but they handled all of them really well. People who are mentally ill aren’t always handled well in fiction, let alone real life, and the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses makes it hard for those of us who are mentally ill to get the help that they need. We are made to feel bad because our brain don’t work the same way that other people’s brains do, and are shamed because we have to take medication to get through our days. I’m very open about the fact that I’m mentally ill and that I take medication to help me be stable. My thought is that if I’m open about it, maybe that fact can help one person get the help that they need. Also, the more we talk about it, the less the stigma is going to be there.

OK, that’s all I have to say today. You really need to get this.

And because I hate to post anything without a picture, here’s a fogbow.

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Claire Marta & Anna Edwards-Beauty’s War

Oh, these two. When they got together to write this book, they completely did something completely awesome. Beauty’s War blew me right the fuck away and left me gasping. Before we get started, let me just say I love this title. It means different things, depending on where you put the emphasis and what way you are thinking of. I love those kinds of titles, you know. Word play is so awesome, and I appreciate it so much.

Claire and Anna are taking on Roman mythology and modernizing it. I really like the way that they are doing it and spin that they are putting on it. Basically, you have two sides of the eternal war between good and evil. On one side, Jupiter and his sons, Mars, Apollo, and Hercules. On the side of evil, Pluto and his minions. Only these minions aren’t cute and yellow and probably don’t like bananas. The way that it works is gods and goddesses still walk among us, but not all of them know who they are. The goal, of both sides, is to find the gods and goddesses before the other side does. Pluto wants to either kill them or turn them evil, while Jupiter wants to save them and bring them back to their glory. If the deity in disguise dies, then they are reincarnated, but each time it happens, they add on the trauma of that death and their memories slip a little bit further into their deepest unconscious.

And to add to all that, Jupiter and his sons own and run one law practice in Rome while Pluto runs another, and they are frequently legal adversaries as well, as what opens this book shows. Pluto has been trying to get off a truly vile man while Mars has been trying to get him put behind bars. Sadly, Pluto prevails at this point. (Boooooo, hissssss)

While this is going on in one part of Rome, outside the Coliseum, very British Vicky and her best friend Susan are having a girls’ vacation. Vicky loves to draw, sketch, paint, and create art, Susan tolerates her doing it, but get bored watching her do it. So, when Susan asks if Vicky is done drawing the Coliseum, Vicky says sure, and they go off to get pizza. One of my favorite kinds too, margherita. Across the crowded restaurant, Mars and Vicky catch each other’s eyes and the connection is sizzling.

Mars immediately disappears off to tell his dad that he thinks he found another goddess, and Jupiter tells him to become her friend. I love Mars’ interior dialogue at this point where he is saying that he’s the God of War, not the God of Making Friends. That was hilarious, if you ask me. But, Mars pops into where he senses Vicky and manages to save Susan from a couple of lechs by saying he was there for their 3some. Again, I laughed. Spoiler, there wasn’t a 3some.

There are a lot of really terrible things that go on in this book. This isn’t really a nice, light, and fluffy romance. This is gritty and dark and occasionally tortured romance. Poor Vicky has a seriously shitty time of it. Seriously shitty. OTOH, I think Vicky is pretty damn fierce from the very beginning, just to deal with everything, and only gets more so. I think that she’s definitely Mars’ match. I like Mars too. I think that he’s a little arrogant sometimes, but, you know, god. What are you supposed to do? I think he sometimes gets blinded by what he wants versus what needs to be done, but I can see why he got that way when he did. I can’t wait to see what these two talented ladies come up with next in the series.

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OMFG, what they do to poor Vicky. And not just once. I think Claire and Anna must’ve really hated her. Maybe they knew a Vicky who really pissed them off at some point because, damn. I mean, just damn.

I feel sorry for Bellona. I don’t excuse her actions, but I would probably have done the same thing in her place, but I still feel sorry for her. She was put in such a difficult place and loving someone more than they love you is always painful.

OK, that’s all for this one. Go check it out! Happy reading!

Anna Edwards-Shattered Fears

Shattered Fears is the latest in Anna’s Glacial Blood books. They follow the Glacial Blood pack, which is an anamoly in their world because it is a mixed species pack. It’s led by a polar bear, and has wolves, wild dogs, lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!

Isobel and Zane grew up together, and fell madly in love as they grew older. They were each other’s first everything. Shortly after they lost their virginity to each other, Zane left. Isobel is certain that he left because of her and that she just wasn’t enough for him, and has spent the years since in kind of a half-life. However, that’s not the real reason that Zane left. He had perfectly good reasons to do so. You see, Isobel’s father hates shifters, and Zane is a bear shifter.

While shifters aren’t public knowledge, Isobel’s father, who is a senator, is just positive that they are out there. He’s constantly decrying the existance of shifters and telling everyone how horrible they are and how animalistic they are. He’s trying to drum up fear, and he’s not as good at it as he might otherwise be. Most people laugh at him because it sounds utterly ridiculous. But Isobel knows better. She once saw Zane shift and she knows that shifters are real. She’s not telling her father though. He doesn’t need to know.

For 5 long years, Zane has been suffering away from his mate and miserable. He watches over Isobel from afar, and is friends with her brother, so he at least knows some of what’s going on in her life. Her brother, who has stayed in contact with Zane, tells Zane he needs to tell Isobel that he’s moved on and that she needs to move on. The problem is, Isobel knows him way too well and tells him that he’s full of all kinds of shit.

While each of these books is a standalone in that each couple has their own story and it is complete at the end of the book, each book is part of a larger story arc that develops more and more as the books go on. That larger storyline involves Nuka, the twin brother of Kas, the Alpha of the Glacial Blood pack, wanting to destroy his brother’s pack and rule the world. You know, your basic evil plan. And he’s willing to do just about anything he can to make it happen. He will lie, steal, manipulate, and be an overall asshole to get what he wants.

I love Isobel. I love that she’s willing and able to call Zane on his bullshit. He took her choices away and she has no problem with telling him that. She’s also willing to stand up for what she believes and to do what she thinks is the right thing. Is it always the right thing? Well, no, but no one is perfect, and the important part is that she tries to do what she thinks is right. Zane is very protective and very strong, personality-wise. However, that protectiveness is what led to 5 years of misery and honey-addiction. But to be fair, he was really young when he made his decision, and it’s really easy to make the not-greatest decisions ever when you are still a teenager. I know that I made some really shitty choices back them. I like the two of them together. I think that they take each other’s weaknesses and patch them up and make each other better. I think that they are definitely a couple to watch.

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OMG, Isobel’s dad wants to talk about shifters not being human? You can’t tell me that he’s human. He may be a people, but he’s not a human. Who does that to their own child? There is no way that I could ever do that to my child. You have to be well and truly sick in the head to do that.

Nuka is an evil, evil, evil person. Twisting that poor young woman around the way that he does. Ugh. I mean, yeah, he’s the bad guy, so he’s evil, but ugh.

OK, that’s all I have to say on this one, except to say that I think that Isobel’s brother may be involved in the next book. Go hit up the Zon for this. Happy reading!