Back in November this fantasy anthology was released – November 13th – and today is the day I’ll be sharing my reviews/thoughts/feelings on the four short stories inside this Fantasy anthology.
One of the authors, Amanda Bouchet, approached me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing this anthology that she had co-written alongside 3 other authors: Grace Draven, Jeffe Kennedy and Jennifer Estep. Of course I accepted immediately because
1. It’s Amanda Bouchet and I want to read everything that she writes – yes, even down to her grocery list 😉 I am that obsessed with her amazing writing, lol.
2. I already read and loved some of Grace Draven’s work as well so GIMME MORE.
3. It’s always a good time to get myself acquainted with new to me authors as well so Jeffe Kennedy & Jennifer Estep; I’m ready to get acquainted with your writing!
4. It’s a fantasy anthology and I love reading fantasy, especially combined with adult romance, like these specific stories.
Reading and reviewing short stories/anthologies is always kind of tricky I think and you really need to go into reading these with an open mind, because you obviously can’t expect it to be As in depth developed as a full length book would be for example. So I always try to go in with a blanco mind as much as possible and try not to set my expectations too high haha. Curious about which stories are to be found in this anthology? Continue reading…
BY JENNIFER ESTEP
An assassin at a renaissance faire. What could possibly go wrong? Everything, if you’re Gin Blanco. This Spider is trapped in someone else’s icy web—and it seems like they don’t want her to leave the faire alive . . .
⇒ REVIEW ⇐
Overall, I think this was an enjoyable read from this new-to-me-author. Even though I wasn’t familiar with this world yet – it’s set in a world the author has written a series about already; the Elemental Assassin’s series – I had no problem getting myself aquatinted with the characters present. I kind of really liked them all right from the start. But I do feel like this story would’ve been even more enjoyable when I would’ve been already familiar with these specific characters and this world since there’s not really any character development and world building going on in a novella like this one. Despite that, there was enough written about the settings that it was easy enough to visualize it all.
It’s an enticing story-line filled with some fun dialogues between the main character and some of her friends – I instantly wanted to know them better so I’m definitely planning on adding the series to my tbr. Our main character is an Assassin which had me intrigued right away. She can kick some ass but she’s not overly sassy and/or arrogant in this story, which is nice for a change I think since a lot of female assassin’s nowadays are always quite arrogant, lol haha. The novella is set at a Winter renaissance fare – this is the Winter story obviously hihi – which I thought was quite cool and I liked reading about the magic part of this world – the bits and pieces that were talked about in the novella – and really want to read more about it now.
This novella was a good opportunity for the author to give the already existing fans of the series something extra as well as having the perfect opportunity here to also recruit some potentially new readers. It was a fun story with some subtle fantasy elements woven into it and a great in-between-read.
A CURSE FOR SPRING
BY AMANDA BOUCHET
A malevolent spell strangles the kingdom of Leathen in catastrophic drought. Prince Daric must break the curse before his people starve. A once-mighty goddess trapped in a human body might be the key—but saving his kingdom could mean losing all that he loves.
⇒ REVIEW ⇐
This was one of my most anticipated short stories in this anthology, since Amanda is a fave author of mine. I can’t get enough of her writing so when an opportunity presents itself that I can read something written by her, I grab it with both hands. This story set around ‘Spring’ was wonderful, absolutely wonderful!
Prince Daric – can I just take a moment here and swoon over how amazing he is? I have a weak spot for Princes, can’t help myself haha and Daric is exactly what you’d want in a Prince – and his family have been under a curse that has withheld Spring rains from their land every year no matter how much prayer and supplication they make to the goddess, Braylian. Out of desperation, Daric as a young boy standing in front of Braylian’s Cauldron, calls her daughter, Spring, bringing her into his world. Now grown up and the best of friends and perhaps more, Daric and Rain, the once goddess and now a magical human, are being forced into an untenable situation caused by the decidedly evil Queen of a nearby kingdom. Daric and Rain would give anything, make any sacrifice, to avoid this heartbreaking fate.
Daric and Rain’s romance development is so amazingly well written – I love these two so much together! They complement each other’s personalities perfectly. I love that there was friendship present first between these two characters and that this has gradually developed into them feeling more towards each other. Both wait until it’s basically too late to act upon their feelings but they also can’t let each other go which provides for such intense and emotional scenes. They won’t accept what fate has brought them now, so they decide to ‘fight’, take things in their own hands and try to make their own future, while also helping Prince Daric’s kingdom getting rid of this curse.
Their journey is filled with adventure, failure, success, heartbreak and hope. There’s a good plot present as well as a beautifully developed sexy romance – I think it’s amazing how much depth there is to this romance. Reading their romance development was such a joy and it had me feeling all the feels!
So it basically had everything I was looking forward to reading about: Amanda’s writing, fantasy and a sexy romance. Amanda’s writing is enthralling and captivating, as always and she just has so much talent I think, when it comes to creating beautiful worlds like these – because even though it’s a short story there’s definitely some great world building going on here – with the magic, myths and fantasy elements she adds to it all. The characters are, as always, so very lovable and so well developed, especially seeing it’s a short story. I’m amazed!
I loved getting lost into this world and go on an adventure with these characters. I find it amazing to see how an author is able to have me feeling all the feels when reading a short story like this one. I love Amanda’s full-length books incredibly much, but this short story is definitely not inferior to the full-length novels. I think it’s just incredible when an author is able to write a short story that has depth like this one has and is so well developed like this one is, without having the feeling you’re missing out on things you know? Amanda definitely succeeded in doing this!
THE DRAGONS OF SUMMER
BY JEFFE KENNEDY
As unofficial consort to the High Queen, former mercenary Harlan Konyngrr faces a challenge worse than looming war and fearsome dragons. His long-held secrets threaten what he loves most—and he must make a choice between vows to two women.
⇒ REVIEW ⇐
This is a tough one to review I think. In general, I loved a lot about this short story; the characters were really interesting and what I’ve read of the world so far was really interesting as well. The story-line was intriguing and it was a really fast-paced read because I was enthralled by the author’s writing. The writing is so good! I loved the fantasy elements a lot, I mean: Dragons! So awesome!
But in this one it was also really palpable that it was a novella set in a world in which the author already published full length books of already and that was a bit of a shame to me as well since I haven’t read the series yet > the Twelve Kingdom series. I wanted to get in on all the details as much as possible in this story because I was really liking this read, but when there’s talk of things that have happened in the past – in prior written books – I was really bummed out that I hadn’t read about that yet myself because I kind of felt like I missed out on stuff in a way that means that I think there would’ve been even more depth to my reading experience if I was up to date on the history of these characters prior to the moment in this novella. I think the fans of the series are going to be thrilled with this short story – yeah, I just took the liberty of making assumptions here haha because it really does feel like this is a great addition to the series because of the way I reacted to this novella; loving it.
So yeah, despite the fact that it was palpable to me that I missed out on history stuff regarding the characters and the story-line, reading this short story had me engrossed right from the start. I really hope I can get around to buy and read the first book (and preferable the ones that come after it as well) soon! Queen Ursula and Harlan are characters I see myself falling in love with when I get around to read the other books in the series because what I’ve read about them now in this short story was already really addictive.
A WILDERNESS OF GLASS
BY GRACE DRAVEN
The stretch of sea known as The Gray rules the lives of those in the village of Ancilar, including widow Brida Gazi. In the aftermath of an autumn storm, Brida discovers one of the sea’s secrets cast onto the shore—a discovery that will change her world, mend her soul, and put her in the greatest danger she’s ever faced.
⇒ REVIEW ⇐
OhMyGod, What an amazing read I just experienced! This was utterly amazing! A story set in the world of the Kai’s (Wraith Kings series), but in this novella it focuses on mermaids/merman, and is set in a part of this world I wasn’t familiar with yet. And what I love most of all is that even though it’s part of an already existing world, you don’t have to be familiar with it to comprehend everything that’s happening in this book and is being talked about and shown to us. So this is a story that’s really ‘accessible’ to anyone and a perfect way to get yourself introduced to this author’s writing if you haven’t read her before. And it’s a perfect read to anyone who already is familiar with this author and just wants to thoroughly enjoy more of her writing. This short novella delivers on all fronts!
I really couldn’t be happier; this was such a wonderful surprise of a read! Grace has such a beautiful way with words. Her world buildings and settings are always so well done, the characters are so interesting, the plot is interesting, there’s depth and there’s an incredibly addictive romance present and it’s just a-ma-zing to see how she was able to balance everything out so perfectly in a short story like this. I was mesmerized with this setting right from the start. The Mermaids/mermen are so very interesting and I can’t help wanting MORE after reading this novella. I’d love to read an entire series about these characters, I really do! *looks pleadingly towards Grace
My inner little Mermaid-fangirl was feeling ecstatic! Some elements in the story-line were lightly inspired by the Little Mermaid, it felt like, but written and presented in a unique and original way that I haven’t seen before, like; everything gets turned upside down and is being presented in a way that’s perfectly fitting to an adult romance story – just epic! And the writing… Yeah, I’m a sucker for this author’s writing. I love the build-up and the romantic tension woven into it all as well and lets talk about her sex scenes, because truly: they are phenomenal – and just as well balanced out as the rest of the story is. It definitely isn’t solely focused on the romance, but What is present is just really well developed.
This short story exceeded my expectations. There was depth to the story and the characters – there was even more then enough room present for minor characters to enter the stage, the settings were so very awesome, the plot in the story was really well balanced out with the other story elements and is so very interesting, there’s amazing writing – as I’ve come to expect of this author – and the romance is so frigging swoon worthy and HOT AF. So yeah; this story had everything I could’ve wanted beforehand, and so much more 〉I mean: MERMAIDS!
| CONCLUSION |
I did have preferences regarding some stories; Some were a bit more enjoyable than others to me for example. But overall, there wasn’t a single one I didn’t like reading so that’s something I’m really happy with since I can be quite skittish when it comes to reading short stories haha – I’ve read a lot of disappointing ones in the past so It’s always quite an adventure when I start reading new-to-me short stories hihi.
I was already familiar with Amanda Bouchet’s writing and Grace Draven’s as well so I’m glad to see their writing was as amazing as always – was expecting that though, to be honest haha. My expectations for the stories written by these two authors in particular were set high – sorry authors, but that’s just because your writing has been amazing so far haha so it’s a compliment really, of course! – and it’s always a joy to see stories live up to the expectations as these ones did, and even exceed them. It was a real treat to read these short stories written by them!
I also really liked getting to know the two new-to-me authors Jeffe Kennedy and Jennifer Estep. The Estep story, Winter’s Web, was enticing enough for me to wanting to add some of her first books in series to my tbr and I’m excited to read them in the future. Same goes for Jeffe Kennedy. I’m really glad to have ‘bumped’ into these authors because their books look like reads I’d really enjoy and I’m glad I’ve gotten acquainted with their writing by reading these short stories – I’m having trouble choosing which series I want to start reading first haha. Bookworm struggles, right?
If you like reading anthologies and if you like reading them with some fantasy/paranormal elements added to it, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a go. Each story has some great settings and I love how they revolve around the four Seasons. The stories and settings of each author are really diverse, which I really liked, and reading them is a perfect way to get yourself acquainted with the writing of these – maybe new to you? – authors. Even though I normally not often read anthologies, this one had me really excited and makes me want to read more anthologies in the future.
Thank you for reading!
This anthology was send to me by the authors in exchange for me leaving honest reviews on the novella’s – my opinion is not compromised whatsoever because of this. I always write down my honest opinions on the stories I read, no matter how I ‘got’ the books – as arcs through publishers and authors or self-bought books. I want to send a huge thank you to all of the authors who participated in this anthology for writing these stories and for making me able to read them!