Monday, February 1, 2021

Beneath the Keep (The Queen of the Tearling, #0) by Erika Johansen

Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Series: The Queen of the Tearling
Publisher: Dutton (February 2, 2021)
Hardcover: 448 pages
ISBN-10: 1524742724
ISBN-13: 978-1524742720
Author's Website: n/a
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my review. Please note this series is not for the faint of heart. Please also note that there is rape, pedophilia, incest, and just about any other vice you can imagine included in this series. If any of those would cause you anguish to read, then this is probably not be the series for you. Also, as I read an eARC all quotes are subject to change and/or removal prior to publishing, therefore, they will need to be checked against the published version. As I bought this one, I'll try to go back and alter what I used, if needed, after doing a quick verification.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

"The stars change. The moon falls. The tide surges, then ebbs. Seventeen Ships went over the horizon, all of them bound for the better world. One ship sank; innumerable sorrows arose. Sixteen ships landed, and the Tearling was born. William Tear fell. William Tear fell. Willian Tear was the True King. The one who saved them all. He fell, and the kingdom fell with him.(...) The harvest. Yes, you will reap. The moon falls, the stars rise. They shift and change! The True Queen Comes! I see her! The queen who will be! The one who saves us all. The queen of spades! The victory of ships! She comes! I see her! I see--"

The kingdom has been suffering from drought for the past two years with no end in sight. Food and water are becoming scarce, and famine is not out of the question. The chasm between rich and poor is wide, and it's no surprise who will survive if things don't improve. The people are beginning to show their discontent, and a new group has emerged causing the current monarchy much grief.  

The prophecy of the "True Queen" is not an new one, but an old one. In order for the prophecy to come to fruition certain things must come to pass. Three individuals will have key roles in making that prophecy come true...

Elyssa is a princess with views very different from that of her mother. She wishes for change.

Lazarus is said to be the greatest fighter in the kingdom and hopes for change.  

While not planned, Aislinn's not going to just sit around wishing or hoping for change, she's willing to sacrifice all for it.

Magic, Sorcery, a kingdom on the brink, and a prophecy about a queen that will save them all...
This is the prequel to The Queen of the Tearling series and, I must confess, I got hooked. I hadn't read the previous books of the series and, after finishing this one, I read them all--one right after the other. The first two chronological books ('Beneath the Keep' and 'The Queen of the Tearling') are my favorites. 'Beneath the Keep' tells the story of The Mace's, aka. Lazarus', story and how he became the man we see later in the series. It also gives us an intimate view into Kelsea's mom's, Elyssa's, life. For those of you that have read the latter books in the series prior to reading this book and think you know everything there is to know about these two characters, think again. There are twists and turns to the tale you'll never see coming. There are also some inconsistencies between the latter stories and this book that I chalk up to the saying once used by Winston Churchill, "for history is written by the victors and framed according to the prejudices and bias existing on their side." In this case, perhaps, it would be more apt to say it's written by those who outlast the others. 

Elyssa is a very likable character who comes across as strong yet somewhat gullible. She wants to make the kingdom a better place for all, but dark magic is afoot. She's hopeful, but also a realist. She hopes to right her mother's wrong, but knows that will not be an easy task. In a way, she reminded me a little of the fairy godmother in Sleeping Beauty whose hands are tied against evil, but does what little she can to alter the outcome for the chance at a better future. 

The Mace, aka Lazarus, aka Christian, is also a very likable character. He's loyal to a fault, wiser than he realizes, and people tend to expect more from him then he does of himself. I loved learning his story and seeing him grow as an individual. He is one of my favorite characters in the series. To endure what he did and turn out the way he does is admirable.

Aislinn rises to any occasion she finds herself in. When things don't go as she wishes and knock her down, she dusts herself off and stands up again--tall. She doesn't wait for someone to rescue her, she rescues herself and others when she can. She isn't perfect, but I could totally understand where she was coming from even if I didn't agree with everything she did.  

I couldn't help but give this one 5 out of 5 roses. The story is suspenseful, surprising, complicated, layered, and addictive. I connected with Elyssa on so many levels while The Mace earned my respect. I wish Aislinn played a bigger role in the latter books, but totally understand her importance overall in the series. To anyone who loved the series when it first came out, I would definitely recommend reading this prequel. I really enjoyed it. It is fashioned after the first book, 'The Queen of the Tearling', and fills in some of the holes that were left at the end of the series--including who Kelsea's father really was. I'm foregoing my romance rating because, in my humble opinion, there really wasn't one, although, there is a pair of starcrossed lovers included in it. If you haven't yet guessed, I absolutely loved this tale. In fact, I ended up buying this book and another one in the series to support the author. Yes, I tend to put my money where my mouth is. lol :)  Please note that there is rape, pedophilia, incest, and just about any other vice you can imagine included in this series. If any of those would cause you anguish to read, then this is probably not be the series for you. 
(The below links will transport you to Amazon. Please note these are affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost for you.)

Order of The Queen of the Tearling series:

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Worst Duke in the World (The Penhallow Dynasty, #5) by Lisa Berne

Title:  The Worst Duke in the World

Classification: Adult Fiction

Genre: Historical Romance

Series: The Penhallow Dynasty, #5

 Publisher : Avon (January 12, 2021)

Format: Paperback; 416 pages

ISBN-10 : 006285237X

ISBN-13 : 978-0062852373

Author's Website:

Notes:  I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Please note that as I read an ARC, any quotes listed are subject to change, they will need to be checked and verified against the final version.

Jane Kent was looking for a life line. All her known relatives were gone--passing from one various ailment after another. After exhausting all her options she was grasping at straws and felt they were all slipping through her hands. As she'd been packing up the house where she and her Great-grandmother had resided, she came across a letter hidden in an old, crumbling chapbook. A letter that might help her find the missing link in her family tree. A link that could find her the one things she needed the most--family. So with a whisper of a prayer, she packed up her meager belongings and made the trip from Nantwich to Somerset County, England. If this didn't pan out she had only three pounds and  a sixpence to her name. As she stood on the porch of an intimidating vast old house, gazing with considerable uneasiness at the massive door of dark knotted wood and the polished knocker which was just a little above her eye-level she knocked and awaited her fate. Little did she know her life was about to change in ways she'd never imagine.

Anthony, the Duke of Radcliffe is a widower with one son. His sister has deemed it necessary for him to marry again to produce a spare to his heir. She believes it's his duty to make sure the long illustrious  line of the dukedom lives on. He, however, has no plans to do so. He'd done his duty once and as far as he was concerned those long and dreadful five years of marriage had extracted more than its fair share of duty from him. If that, according to his sister, made him the "worst duke in the world," then so be it. When he meets his neighbor's great-granddaughter, Ms. Kent, however, he starts to wonder... what if? 

This was the fifth book in The Penhallow Dynasty series. If you haven't read the rest of the series, don't worry. You won't feel lost. Jane is linked to the Penshallows in a rather direct, yet roundabout way. You don't need to know the previous characters or stories to get into this one. It stands completely on its own.

This was a sweet and lovely romance which slowly builds from a budding friendship into something much more. Jane was raised outside London society, and does not feel she's missed much except for the knowing of her grandfather's half of the family. She's the type who'd rather frolic around the countryside in sensible boots than dance the night away at a society ball dressed to the nines. She's also very good at reading people and smarter than most would think despite her lack of a proper education. When her great-grandmother decides to play matchmaker, Jane decides she wants it all, as well she should, and won't settle for anything less than love.

Anthony is not your typical run of the mill type of duke. He was raised to be a second son and was bedridden for several years as a child. He's a bit shy, awkward, and self conscious around others and, truth be told, doesn't really care for polite society. When his eldest brother passed, he wasn't prepared to step into his shoes. His father, however, demanded it. Now, with his father gone, Anthony is determined to live life on his own terms. Marriage isn't part of his plan, but when he meets Jane he starts to warm to the idea of partnering himself with her. He needs, however, to work through a lot of emotional baggage, if that is even possible, before he can fully commit to anyone. 

Overall, I gave this novel 4 out of 5 roses. I loved that while Jane was out of her element, she managed to hold her own with the ton, and knew her self worth. I liked how she made Anthony a better version of himself, and I adored the scenes which included Wakefield, the duke's son. There was a ton of humor as well as a nod or two to other books. See if you can find the 'Charlotte's Web' reference. With all the craziness and madness going on in the world, this was just the book I needed. The romance in it simmered for a while before coming to a slow boil. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice. This one left me with a grin on my face and a smile in my heart. 

Order of The Penhallow Dynasty series:
(The below links will transport you to Amazon. Please note these are affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost for you.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...