Book Review: The Clown

The Clown by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


There is no way out and Cora has finally accepted her fate. Stuck in an “inversion”–a pocket dimension–her attraction for a dangerous man deepens. But, acceptance does not mean peace and there are other dangers in the form of smiling faces. 

The writing in this story is phenomenal. Kingsley has always captured my heart by the poetic way she strings words together. It is modern, dark, but also classic in a “creepy-vintage-circus” way that I love. 

Cora continues to be my favorite in this series. I am really attached to her and love the way she handles situations. She is growing as a character and really blooming into her new role in the Faire. I also love how organic and sweet her interactions are with Clown. Although his intentions are vague and ominous, his POV was a welcome addition to the story. 

As for Simon? His wicked antics were amped UP. The reader is reminded again that he is not a “good” man and he is very much still insane. There were moments where I was turned off by his toxic behavior but Kingsley still does a good job stating that these behaviors are NOT right but this is who he is. Despite this, he proved to have other sides that were soft and fluffy. 

The first two books did not have any sex in them but this book seems to have made up for that fact. The heat level is REAL my friends. If you were wondering when that was going to happen… trust me, you will find it here. However, I was a little disappointed by how it all led to that moment. The first two books were leading up to this and yet, it fell a little flat to me. 

I personally read romance for the romance and not the sex and there was an abundance of it. But for those who look for that in your books, it was… NOT vanilla to say the least. Despite this, I still enjoyed it and understand that this is an adult book, a DARK one at that, and those who want that HEAT will be very pleased. 

Plot-wise, there was not a whole lot going on besides Cora and Simon’s relationship. I really like that but I found that I was not devouring this one as much as the first two. The ending, however, was great and I was pleased by the outcome.

In all, I enjoyed it and will come back for more.


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Favorite Quote

“First of all, I’m not your boss. Second of all, I’m not stupid enough to waste my breath. And third, I don’t want to fix you, Simon.” She snickered. “Anybody who looks at you and goes, ‘he’s just moody and misunderstood, I can fix him with a little casual sex,’ needs to get their own freaking head examined.” She set down her coffee mug. “I know exactly who you are. Do I approve of your puppets? No. But I didn’t go into this naïve. Whatever the hell ‘this’ is.”

Book Blurb

A friendly face and laughing heart…will be what tears her soul apart.

Finally accepting that there would be no leaving Harrow Faire, Cora sets out to try to find her new way of life as part of the Family. With that comes her slow acceptance of her attraction toward and, even worse, her feelings for the Puppeteer.

But just as things seemed to be falling into a pattern, things turn upside down—seemingly literally—as Harrow Faire enters “the Inversion.” And her troubles don’t end there when the mute Clown takes a keen interest in her. One that she doesn’t understand until it’s too late.

Mr. Harrow took her from her life to become the Contortionist. But it seems…the Faire itself has other plans.
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If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Clown—book three of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

ARC Review: Bloodscourge

Bloodscourge by Sydney Winward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Elisabeta is a skilled thief, forced to live off of her plunders and stolen goods. When her twin brother hears word that there is a treasure worth more than gold, she sets out to take it. However, the treasure is hidden in the vampire city and the captain of the guard holds the key. As a human, going into the vampire city is like going into the den of lions but she will do whatever it takes to obtain it, even if it means seducing the brute Dracula.

From the beginning, I was captivated. Call me old school, but I love a good vampire story and this did not disappoint. The author’s take on vampires is unique with bits of familiarity: no sunlight or reflections here.

I was also very happy about Dracula. Even though he is not your traditional “I vant to suck your blood” kind of Dracula, I could tell that the author did her research and was making nods to the man who inspired the myth and legend: Vlad the impaler. I loved seeing bits of that history in this version. Not only that, he is a big brute that you cannot help but love. He is a little rough around the edges with a squishy, soft interior for those he calls his family.

His interactions with Elisabeta are simply delectable. Her sassy attitude mixes well with his “tough guy” exterior and they have awesome chemistry together. This book is filled with flirting and “almost” moments that make you squeal and sigh.

I also really liked Elisabeta as a character. Although she is very flawed and may make decisions that you want to pull your hair out over, you cannot help but feel for her and her situation. Without giving too much away, I appreciated how the author handles abuse and how abuse victims may act under certain circumstances. It is not always pretty but it’s real.

In all, I loved this book and I am excited to read the next installment.

For those who love vampires and who want to see a fresh, new take on them and Dracula will love this story. If you also love romance, emotional rollercoasters, and happy endings, this is the book for you.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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Content Warning

Behind the door sex scene, and themes of abuse and child death.

Buy The Book

Bloodscourge will be available on March 1, 2021

Buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books

Favorite Quote

“Now look what you did,” he said quietly. “You just broke the rules.”

Panic clutched her from the inside out. “What? I thought the Game had no rules.”

“Not that game,” he said, rolling his eyes. Her breath hitched as he trailed his thumb across her bottom lip. “This one. Distracting me in battle.”

She trembled beneath his touch. He had never looked at her that way before, with an intense passion seeping from his eyes. Warmth spread from her toes to her fingertips to her heart and to her lips that desperately wanted to be kissed. Right then, seducing him no longer mattered because she couldn’t do it. She didn’t want to use him for her own personal gains. But what did matter was how close he was, close enough to feel his breath on her skin.

Book Blurb

Fate has given her a second chance. The only things Elisabeta knows how to do is lie, cheat, and swindle. When her brother learns of a treasure worth kingdoms lying in the heart of Ichor Knell, the great vampire city, he sends her to steal it. However, the key to the treasury is safeguarded by the captain of the guard, a brute named Dracula.

Dracula cannot resist the beautiful and mysterious Elisabeta. As danger erupts in Ichor Knell, he is forced into a precarious position to resist the evil within the city and to protect his family and the woman he cares for immensely.

Despite the connection he feels for her, the secrets she hides could be deadly to them both. Will the truth tie them for eternity or set them on a path of destruction?

Book Review: Contortionist

The Contortionist by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cora lives a mundane life, plagued by chronic pain. All of her dreams and goals have been put to a halt and she resigns herself to a boring job that she’s overqualified for. But when a certain circus comes to town, Cora wishes to relive some of her childhood joy. However, things are not what they seem and something strange lurks within. 

Read this just in time for Valentine’s Day weekend. Kathryn Ann Kingsley has captivated me again with this dark, horror romance. I have not read any circus themed books before and boy was I missing out. Kingsley crafts a tale that perfectly blends mystery and creepiness that devoured me whole.

Cora is an extremely likable and sympathetic character. Her voice throughout the story was well-balanced and interesting to read. I was also impressed by the way her chronic pain was portrayed throughout the story. I myself do not suffer from any chronic pain, but I have a brother in law who does. I applaud the author for the raw, and honest portrayal of such afflictions. 

And the Puppeteer? Oooh! Talk about creepy. This character is deliciously insane with a mysterious past that I am dying to read about. I love that his possessiveness of Cora turns her off and she is ready to GTFO. All of their interactions together felt real. There was never a moment where I rolled my eyes and said, “girl, really?” Cora is very level-headed and she knows danger when she sees it. She is not stupid and she reacts like a normal person. 

However, I am genuinely curious to see how their relationship develops in the sequel. I finished the book in one day and I downloaded the sequel equally as fast. I cannot wait. 

To end, all I have to say is, “don’t go through the dark path!”

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Content Warning

Dark, creepy shenanigans. But, otherwise clean read.

Favorite quote

Not all monsters needed a scary backdrop to be terrifying. In fact, some were more frightening without one.

Book Blurb

Come one, come all, to Harrow Faire…and greet your sweetest nightmare.

Cora Glass’s humdrum existence as a bank teller flips upside down when a long-abandoned circus mysteriously returns to life. But the entry fee to this big top show is far more than Cora bargained for.

A deal struck.
A soul…stuck.

As Harrow Faire shines a spotlight on Cora, she discovers there are far more secrets in that three-ring nightmare than she could possibly imagine. Trapped in the world of the fiendish and alluring man known as the Puppeteer, Cora finds herself caught in a war between him and the reclusive Mr. Harrow. Both parties will stop at nothing—even murder—to get what they want.

And what they want…is her.

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If you’re drawn to compelling villains and sinister love stories, The Contortionist—book one of the Harrow Faire series by Kathryn Ann Kingsley—is your next book obsession! Dark fantasy and occult horror blend seamlessly with romance in this gripping page-turner!

Most Romantic Movie

I thought long and hard about this topic. I kept thinking about all the romantic films and books I have watched/read and had a difficult time determining which was the “most” romantic. However, there was one film that I had watched recently that I could not get out of my head.

Despite how you may feel about this film, I believe that the 2005 Pride and Prejudice is one of the most romantic movies I have ever watched.

Here is why:

The Music

Have you listened to the soundtrack recently?

There is something most… utterly enchanting and calming about that score. Even after watching it for the first time, there was something so nostalgic and beautiful that transported me to a far-off dreamy place.

I fall in love every time.

The Cinematography

Not only does the film sound good, it looks just as breathtaking. I mean…

C’mon:

The aesthetic just exudes romance.

Everything Else…

And by that I mean:

When they look at each other and then everyone else in the room just disappears! *sigh*

That hand flex. Okay?

Gosh.

Let me tell you…

I swooned.

Not many movies have made me feel the same way as Mr. Darcy doing something as mundane as walking in the early dawn to meet his Elizabeth.

I rest my case.

Honorable Mention

Another film that made me feel similarly (score, cinematography, etc.) is this beautiful movie:

Just… gorgeous.

And the music? Just as magical.

I highly recommend it.

Let me know what romantic movies or books you love too. Each Wednesday, Long and Short Reviews hosts a weekly “blog hop”. For more details on how to participate, please click here.

Book Review: The Unseen Heir

The Unseen Heir by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Against all odds, Leisa has returned to her kingdom, bent on warning those she loves of the dangers beyond their borders. She carries a promise to return to the man who once guarded over her but unforeseen obstacles keep them apart… but for how long?

As soon as I finished the first book, The Faceless Mage, I downloaded the sequel and devoured it in one day. I was hooked.

I loved the first book for its slow-burn story filled with political intrigue but the sequel is packed with twists and turns and exciting action. I could not put the book down and I was excited to read what our lovable characters would do next.

Leisa is a great character who is determined to do her part. She does not back down even when she could be in danger. Her fierce bravery and loyalty were admirable characteristics and I wanted to see her succeed. Kyrion on the other hand is just a big, lovable hunk. I love his character arc and was pleased that he learned something valuable at the end as well.

One of my favorite things about this book is how intense the chemistry between the characters are. Even though it is a clean read, the author does a fantastic job at building these electric “almost” moments that reduced me into an internally squealing middle-schooler.

There were many moments where I was like Jake from Adventure Time:

You know it’s good when you’re anticipating that kiss scene. But, I applaud the author for making those “will they?” scenes into a swoon fest that I’ll treasure forever.

Overall, I am thoroughly impressed by this author and this series and will be looking forward to the third book that will be coming out later this year.


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Favorite Quote

How did you know it was me?” For a split second, a tiny smile curved Kyrion’s lips, and it almost stopped Leisa’s heart. He was gorgeous even when he frowned, but when he smiled? He was irresistible. “I told you before,” he said. “I will always recognize you. No matter what face you wear.” “But—” “Always.” His eyes held hers firmly, allowing no room for doubt. No room for anything but her quickening pulse and the rush of blood to her cheeks. Oh, heaven help her, but he was dangerous. And not just with a blade.

Book Blurb

Against all odds, Leisa has returned home to Farhall with news of Garimore’s treachery.

But her reception is far from the hero’s welcome she imagined. Instead, she finds herself a prisoner—to the growing fears and suspicions of a man she once considered a father.

To escape, she must forsake everything she once believed in, and leave behind all hope of answers about her past. But if she stays, it means betraying the fragile trust of the man who saved her life in Garimore.

Torn between her duty and her debt, Leisa is forced to flee with Kyrion, leaving behind the only home she can remember for the uncertain sanctuary of Dunmaren—Kingdom of Shadows, home of the night elves. There Leisa must confront her growing feelings for Kyrion, her fear of her own power, and the hostility of a people on the brink of war.

When dire news arrives from Farhall, both Leisa and Kyrion must decide where their ultimate loyalties lie. Can Kyrion find a path to peace that does not require him to give up the only woman he has ever loved? Or will Leisa have no choice but to save the kingdom she still loves at the cost of her own heart?

If you love adventure, mystery, and slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance, discover the Legends of Abreia, a new romantic fantasy series for fans of Sylvia Mercedes, Miranda Honfleur and Shari L. Tapscott!

Book Review: The Faceless Mage

The Faceless Mage by Kenley Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When a bodyguard is tasked to masquerade as a Princess, she is given her own bodyguard–a brooding, silent, and dangerous force to be reckoned with. 

The Faceless Mage is the slow-burn fantasy romance that has every one of my boxes ticked. 

Large, stoic bodyguard?

Strong lead protagonist?

Slow-burn to the Gods?

Oh. And Magic?

I had added this book to my “to be read” list for a while after seeing it in my advertisements on Facebook. I pushed it off for other books in my never-ending TBR list but I wish I hadn’t put it off. 

This book just clicked with me. It is the kind of romance that pulled me in and I couldn’t stop until I reached the end. It was so fulfilling that I had to buy the sequel immediately. 

Was the book perfect? No. But, what it might have lacked, it made up for with interesting characters with crazy chemistry and swoon-worthy interactions. Even more importantly, this story delved into themes of choosing your own path and self-discovery.

To put it simply, I loved this book. I would recommend it 100% and cannot give it enough praise. 


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Favorite Quote

But courage was a language they could both understand, and hers never faltered. Neither did her compassion, and that was perhaps the most difficult thing of all. Because amid the darkness of his desire for revenge, he, too, felt compassion— for this lonely human with nothing to cling to but her duty to a kingdom that had been so blithely willing to risk her life.

Book Blurb

Leisa’s ambitions used to be simple. Guard the princess. Hide her magic. Wait for her family to return.

But all of that changes when her king demands that she use her unique abilities to spy on the rival kingdom of Garimore.

Alone, far from home, and living a lie that grows more perilous by the day, Leisa’s task is complicated by her most dangerous enemy yet—the masked assassin known only as the Raven.

Everyone in the Five Thrones knows to fear him, but the Raven is not what Leisa expected. As silent as he is lethal, he provokes her curiosity as much as her fear, and hides secrets she’s determined to learn.

When her already precarious mission takes a deadly turn, Leisa must evade the Raven himself if she is to succeed. It’s never been done before, but Leisa is nothing if not stubborn. And if she doesn’t become the first to escape his blade, her entire kingdom will pay the price—in blood. 

A Few of my Favorite Things

Here are a few of my favorite things:

Makeup

Growing up, I did not wear a lot of makeup. Even though I wanted to wear it so badly, I was VERY self-conscious in high school. I dreaded having anyone point out that I was wearing mascara or that heaven forbid, my lips were a different shade than my natural color. After gaining some more confidence in college, I decided I wanted to learn how to do it and clicked on a YouTube tutorial. I have become a fan ever since and have even dabbled in SFX makeup. I am no pro, but I love taking my time and enjoying the process. It is very calming and I love how creative I can get.

Dressing Up

I suppose this kind of goes hand in hand with makeup but I love to dress up. I love finding formal events to go to and wear a long, pretty gown. I have dragged my husband to a few of these events but he has always been a good trooper about it. We even had an event we were going to go to last year but then Covid hit. I cannot wait until that is over. It’ll be nice to be able to go out again.

A Phantom of the Opera masquerade event (2017)

Long Drives

As simple as it sounds, I love just sitting in the car with the people I love. Whether it be with my husband or friends, I have made great memories just sitting and talking with my favorite people.

Musicals

I love, love, love… (and did I mention LOVE?) musicals. I love going inside a theatre and enjoying a live performance. The energy I feel from the actors is just so magical. Some of my favorites are The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Wicked, Aida, Jekyll and Hyde, Sweeny Todd and so many more.

Boba

So Yummy

I am pretty particular when it comes to “treats”. For some reason, I cannot tolerate a lot of sugar or certain types of desserts. It usually means that I look like that stuck up health freak or the party pooper when I turn down ice-cream and cake. But, one thing that I love to treat myself with is boba. I have found a new place called It’s Boba Time and they have a delicious frosty milk honey boba drink that is killer.

Books

Of course, I could not forget about books. Books are magical and have been a place of escape, wonder, magic, and inspiration. I do not know how I could have gotten this far as a writer without the many books that have led me here. I mostly love romance–historical, paranormal, and fantasy, but I will delve into others when it tickles my fancy


There you have it–some of my favorite things. Tell me what some of your favorite things are! Each Wednesday, Long and Short Reviews hosts a weekly “blog hop”. For more details on how to participate, please click here.

Book Review: Yours, Sterling

Yours, Sterling by Sydney Winward

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When Kathleen has been arranged to marry a boyish-looking king, she is more than disappointed. However, when war threatens them both, will it tear their relationship apart or drive them closer together?

Sterling, the teddy bear

Some days all I want is a short and sweet romance to placate my inner romantic. Yours, Sterling is exactly that: a charming novella that satisfied the craving. From beginning to end, I was captivated by this arrangement between Kathleen, the feisty princess, and Sterling, the awkward Prince. Their odd match made me giggle and smile as they interacted.

As the story progressed, I sympathized with both characters. Even though Kathleen can lose her temper, her feelings were valid, and Sterling is a big, naïve teddy bear worth rooting for.

The ugly duckling

I also want to point out that I do not read many romances where the male romantic interest starts out as the “ugly duckling”. Usually, stories like that are centered around the woman and so it was both refreshing and quite realistic. I have met many young men who still look like they’re 14 when they’re actually 18 so I loved that the author delved into this dynamic more with a romance.

In all, I would recommend this novella. There were many “awww” worthy moments and if you are looking for an easy-breezy, sweet afternoon read, this is the book for you.

If you would like to download the story for free, check it out here



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Favorite Quote

“Look at you!” she exclaimed, holding him at arm’s length. “You’re not a boy anymore.”

More guffawing from the soldiers.

Sterling rolled his eyes. “That’s just what every man wants to hear from his wife…” he muttered.

Her smile blossomed as she glanced down at her feet. Quietly to herself, she added, “I can wear heels again.”

Book Blurb

A young king. A hopeful bride. A war threatens to tear them apart. He’s determined to keep them together.

An arranged marriage to a younger man wasn’t what Kathleen de Clare had in mind for her future, but after an assassination attempt on their wedding day, a war tears them apart. She must fight for their future together, or watch it fall apart completely.

A Movie That Influenced My Life

Weekly Blogging Challenge: A Movie that influenced my Life

I cannot pick one movie. I have to pick three:

Now, hold on, hold that thought. I know what some of you might be thinking:

Oh. The books are better than the movies! The movies left out this and that and the movies do not even give justice to this character and…

Lord of the Rings Readers

I hear you. I really do.

And for someone who has never read the books, I do not understand how cool the books are.

BUT.

This is a big but.

Not only do I believe in artistic license and liberties directors should have, I also believe the movies influenced many young audience members like myself.

I remembered being enthralled with every moment when I was seven years old. The scenery of the shire stole my heart and the beautiful landscapes of Rivendell come to life on screen stole my breath. And the music… oh the music can still bring tears to my eyes.

All because of a story of a brave little hobbit named Frodo Baggins.

I can go on and on about my love for Frodo. I did so recently with my friends on Discord, lol. But I will not let you all suffer that passionate rant this time. There is too much to say in one little blog post.

So, I will say this:

These movies had given me hope and an escape when I was going through a very difficult time when I was little. When my family of four had no where to go and were sharing a cramped space with other family members, I had these movies to look forward to.

I would share it with my friends and try to convince them of how cool it was. Some did not believe me since it was a “grown-up” movie but they relented when I suggested we pretend to be riders of Rohan coming to aid the battle at Helm’s Deep.

I saw the last movie when I was nine years old and I was moved to tears.

I still am, in fact. I watch these movies often with my husband and the same scenes still make me teary-eyed.

In all, I think the most important things I learned from these films were the classic themes of friendship, good vs. evil, bearing burdens, and learning that not all wounds will heal in our lifetime. These are the lessons that I carry close to my heart and try to remember when I feel like I am overwhelmed and cannot go on.

There is always hope even in the darkest of times, just like Sam said when talking to Frodo in the Two Towers:

Frodo : I can’t do this, Sam.

Sam : I know.
It’s all wrong
By rights we shouldn’t even be here.
But we are.
It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.


And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.

That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.

Samwise Gamgee

Even to this day, I carry that with me through these dark, and troubling times. So much has happened this past year but I am holding onto hope that there will be a better future.

Regardless of how you feel about the films yourself, I hope that these messages resonate with you too.

Tell me what film/tv show/ or book influenced you. Each Wednesday, Long and Short Reviews hosts a weekly “blog hop”. For more details on how to participate, please click here.

Book Review: Curse of Dracula

Curse of Dracula by Kathryn Ann Kingsley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have only read one of Kathryn Ann Kingsley’s books and I am a big fan of the way she writes. There is something beautiful and gothic in her prose that sucks me into her stories.

This book in particular was a sequel I have been meaning to read for months and I finally got around to it. I was really excited to finish Dracula’s tale and find out what happens after our protagonist is left seeing the horror he is capable of.

At first, I was excited because the book started off very strong and picked up right where the first one ended. Our protagonist is left with a very interesting internal conflict that is highlighted throughout the story. Her relationship with Dracula and how she feels about him was the most fascinating aspect of the book, hands down.

Mordecai to Bella

However, I was not a huge fan of one of the side plotlines concerning Bella. I really liked her as a character in the first book, but I was left confused about her motivations in this one. Although the author attempts to explain why she chooses to do what she does, I could not help but think of the other facets of the situation. For example, why was her relationship with the other two vampire hunters not thought of in all aspects? Why was the only reason Bella changed was because of the unfair societal expectations on her? Although the topics and themes of sexism, sexuality, and women’s roles were impeccably explored, I wish that there was more complexity to the situation other than, “You are a woman that has been treated unfairly. Come join me in the dark side.”

In other words, I wish that there was more of an internal struggle to turn her life upside-down. I also wish she had considered the career she had built as a monster hunter. She had been training and killing monsters for years. Certainly that should at least be considered and not thrown away so easily?

Other than that, I was pleasantly surprised by Maxine’s choice and was happy with the outcome. I did not think it needed a “happily ever after” ending but, if you were afraid of not having one, do not fret. It does end with both Maxine and Dracula living that HEA that many are fond of.

To conclude, I liked this book. But, I did not like it as much as the first one.

I gave it a 3.5 star rating but rounded it to 4 stars. It is a dark tale with dark themes but there was never any moment where the lines of assault are “blurred”. The author makes sure that every sexual act is given verbal consent and I greatly appreciate and give kudos for. That is one line I will never be willing to compromise as a reader and I give praise to the author for handling precarious situations with grace.

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Content Warning:

18+ book. There are several explicit sex scenes.

Favorite Quote

Humanity is its own downfall. No one else is to blame for their plight. Ignorance is their greatest sin.

Book Blurb

Maxine Parker expected to lose her life when the Vampire King swept through her city like a plague. She did not expect to lose her heart to him as well.

Caught between her desire to protect the living and her love for Dracula, she suddenly finds herself the enemy of the hunters who had once been her allies.

As the Vampire King unleashes his army of the damned and turns Boston into a sea of carnage, she must decide if she can love the monster for what he is, or if she must be the one to end his bloody crusade through history once and for all…