Phoenix Unbound (The Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven – Review

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About Phoenix Unbound

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.

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Review of Phoenix Unbound

Phoenix Unbound lived up to all my very high expectations. First, there is a dark situation that the hero and heroine must rise above, with so many obstacles thrown in their way. The greatest obstacle is the Krael Empire itself, with it’s iron fisted grip on the people, its decadent ways and total disregard for the people that they rule. Slave gladiator fighting and horrible burning sacrifices, which they delicately dub the ‘Rites of Spring’, make the Empire so easy to hate.

I enjoyed all the little things that were thrown in to describe the people and culture of both Azarion’s and Gilene’s people. The dyes that Gilene’s people make. Their clothing and food. The talented horse riders among Azarion’s people, the Savatar. The Savatar berry gathering excursion. The barrows, with the supernatural experiences that go with them.

Another thing I liked is that there is no love lost between Gilene and Azarion from the beginning. Azarion’s use of Gilene to reclaim his birthright means Gilene is forced to go to his homeland instead of hers. She is not happy. Not happy at all. It will take a long time for them to appreciate each other. In the meantime, as the reader, I liked both of these character even if they did not like each other. Both had a sense of responsibility to their people. I wanted them to overcome their differences and figure out a way to get together, even if it seemed pretty impossible. It is those impossible situations that make for such a good story.

Speaking of impossible, the Krael Empire seems quite impossible to defeat.  They have all the power at the beginning.  But the series title is Fallen Empire, so it is not a spoiler to say that our hero and heroine will go up against the Empire, each in a way that reflects their own strengths. The ending, was very satisfying. Even though this is the first book of a series, you don’t get that feeling at all. Phoenix Unbound is a complete story with no loose ends. Which also makes me happy!

I think it is fair to say that Grace Draven has much talent. Including Phoenix Unbound, I have read 8 books by Ms. Draven and everyone of them is a winner. If you enjoy fantasy with a generous dose of romance, you cannot go wrong with this author.

Through NetGalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Treacherous is the Night by Anna Lee Huber – Review

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About Treacherous is the Night

In 1919 England, in the shadow of The Great War, many look to the spirit world for answers. But it will take an all too earthbound intrigue to draw in the discerning heroine of Anna Lee Huber’s latest mystery . . .

It’s not that Verity Kent doesn’t sympathize with those eager to make contact with lost loved ones. After all, she once believed herself a war widow. But now that she’s discovered Sidney is very much alive, Verity is having enough trouble connecting with her estranged husband, never mind the dead. Still, at a friend’s behest, Verity attends a séance, where she encounters the man who still looms between her and Sidney—and a medium who channels a woman Verity once worked with in the Secret Service. Refusing to believe her former fellow spy is dead, Verity is determined to uncover the source of the spiritualist’s top secret revelation.

Then the medium is murdered—and Verity’s investigation is suddenly thwarted. Even Secret Service agents she once trusted turn their backs on her. Undaunted, Verity heads to war-torn Belgium, with Sidney by her side. But as they draw ever closer to the danger, Verity wonders if she’s about to learn the true meaning of till death do us part . . .

Review
of Treacherous is the Night

Treacherous is the Night is an historical mystery that takes place after the end of the war to end all wars – World War I. A traumatic time in Europe, the effects of the war are far reaching and when Verity Kent is ‘visited’ by the spirit of her wartime friend, she knows someone is lying and is determined to find the truth.

Riding along with Verity, in her quest to discover the facts behind the message, is her husband Sidney. They find Belgium devastated by the war and full of both friends and foes. The investigation takes many unexpected detours and turns up more than just a lost friend. The mystery is complex and the solving of it very satisfying. The twists and turns made this book very difficult to put down.

But there is more than a mystery going on in Treacherous is the Night. Since Sidney’s return from the war, his relationship with Verity has been strained. Uncertain of their future together, Verity knows they are both keeping so many secrets from each other. While the investigation takes them on a trek through war-ravaged Belgium, Sidney and Verity chisel away at the war-built wall that stands between them. The trip will be one of many discoveries. This correlation between the war-torn land and the relationship between the not-so-happy couple lead me to the conclusion that Treacherous is the Night is an ode to the survivors of war.

Not only those survivors that fought directly in the war, but also the families of soldiers, as well as those working tirelessly for their country. When the war is over, there is still so much to be dealt with by so many people. The restoration of the land, cities and homes destroyed by war. The physical healing of bodies injured by war. But by far the greatest healing has to be mental. For soldiers trying to return to their old way of life. For the spouses and families adjusting to the changes in the soldier that just came home. For soldiers adjusting to the changes in their loved ones. Post war can never be like it was before the strife started.

By the end of the book, there is hope for Verity and Sidney, just as there is hope for everyone else recovering from the upheaval of war. The positive ending was just what I needed to appreciate everything this book encompasses. Mystery, suspense, love, and hope.

Through NetGalley, the publisher provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Embrace the Passion – Pets in Space 3 is Coming Soon!

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Pets in Space 3 will be here in one month! I love these collections of SciFi Romance combined with special animals. Pets! Both predecessors to this volume were full of great stories (reviews here and here).  And the price is very reasonable.

This is a combination that cannot be denied!

Anthology Blurb:

Pets in Space™ is back! Join us as we unveil eleven original, never-before-published action-filled romances that will heat your blood and warm your heart! New York Times, USA Today and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, Anna Hackett, Ruby Lionsdrake, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Carol Van Natta, Tiffany Roberts, Alexis Glynn Latner, E D Walker, JC Hay, and Kyndra Hatch combine their love for Science Fiction Romance and pets to bring readers sexy, action-packed romances while helping our favorite charity. Proud supporters of Hero-Dogs.org, Pets in Space™ authors have donated over $4,400 in the past two years to help place specially trained dogs with veterans. Open your hearts and grab your limited release copy of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space™ 3 today!

Release Date: October 9, 2017 (Pre-order now!)
Number of Pages: a lot!
Word Count: (we’ll get back to you on that one)
Publisher: Cats, Dogs and Otherworldly Creatures
Formats Available: ebook only
Price: $4.99
Cover Artist: Fiona Jade
Pet Illustrations: Nyssa Juneau

OVERVIEW OF STORIES

OPERATION ARK: Project Enterprise Series
By Pauline Baird Jones
A not quite routine mission to return rescued prisoners to their home worlds turns deadly for unlikely allies, a USMC Sergeant and a raised-by-robots pirate. Is the Sergeant’s unusual pet the wild card that will save or doom them?

CATS OF WAR: A Central Galactic Concordance Novella
by Carol Van Natta
A disgraced military Sub-Captain, a repair technician with secrets, and two special cats must save the day when trouble erupts at an important factory.

HUNTER OF THE TIDE: The Kraken #3
By Tiffany Roberts
Nearly broke by betrayal, a human discovers solace—and a chance for love—among the creatures he once hunted, but he must overcome prejudice and inhibition to claim the female he desires.

SHADOW OF THE PAST
By JC Hay
On a world of perpetual night, an aging ranger and a widowed veterinarian need to put aside their past to protect a pack of wolves… and their future.

AFTER THE FALL
By Kyndra Hatch
The Invaders took everything worth living for. Could an Invader show him how to live again?

HEART OF THE CAT: Sarafin Warriors Series
By S.E. Smith
Can love bridge the gap between a wounded alien warrior and the reclusive human woman who holds the future of his species inside her?

DESERT HUNTER: Galactic Gladiators Series
By Anna Hackett
Among the desert sands of an alien world, a man with secrets to hide finds himself face to face with the one woman who can bring him to his knees.

QUASHI: Mandrake Company Series
By Ruby Lionsdrake
Alien fur balls, a handsome doctor, and a little white lie create havoc for a young woman who only wanted a job.

STAR CRUISE: MYSTERY DANCER: The Sectors SF Romance Series
By Veronica Scott
A long-lost princess and her three-eyed cat seek refuge on the Nebula Zephyr only to catch the attention of an inquisitive Security Officer.

STARWAY
By Alexis Glynn Latner
A lonely interstellar pilot and a passenger’s mistreated consort find each other in an interstellar hotel that offers everything to satisfy its guests’ desires—even desires they didn’t know they had.

THE BAJO CATS OF ANTEROS XII
By E D Walker
Two ex-lovers, stranded in space, have to save a pair of kittens with hazardous powers before the local drug cartel catches up to them.

Pets in Space 3 Links

Want more information about this exciting book?

Website: https://www.petsinspaceantho.com
Pets in Space™ Anthology Store: https://www.petsinspaceantho.com/store/
Newsletter Signup: http://www.petsinspaceantho.com/stay-in-touch/ or https://www.petsinspaceantho.com (Everyone who subscribes to our newsletter will receive an exclusive, original and FREE Pets in Space™ 3 Coloring Book. This coloring book is only available with our newsletter.)
Pets in Space™ Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PetsInSpace/