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Imagine Weekly 8/31: Time Flies

Sunday, August 31, 2014
Imagine Weekly is a weekly feature where we share a summary of what has taken place on the blog the previous week and show off books that we got.

The past several weeks have been really busy, and I didn't get around to preparing a mailbox post. My brother went off to college, my boyfriend came up to visit week (so I didn't get much if any reading in), and then I had my first week of classes! I'm starting my senior (and final) year at college, which means I need to start thinking about real life. So much going on. I can't believe how time flies!


I received for review:

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowen (Goodreads | Amazon)
The Child Returns by Kristen Taber (Goodreads | Amazon)

Generation 18 by Keri Arthur (Goodreads | Amazon)
Penumbra by Keri Arthur (Goodreads | Amazon)
House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter (Goodreads | Amazon)

The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost (Goodreads | Amazon)
Who R U Really? by Margo Kelly (Goodreads | Amazon)
The 100 by Kass Morgan (Goodreads | Amazon)
Day 21 by Kass Morgan (Goodreads | Amazon)

Thanks to Harlequin, Harper Collins, Kristen Taber, Little Brown, Merit Press, Random House, and Simon & Schuster
* Check out more book hauls through Stacking the Shelves at Tynga's Reviews and The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer *

Last Week on the Blog


This Week on the Blog

  • The Hundred-Foot Journey (movie review)
  • Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither (review)
  • The Forever Watch by David B. Ramirez (review)
  • Beatrice's Top Five Methods to Catching a Guy's Heart (Guest Post)
  • The Mist by Stephen King

What did you get this week? Leave a link in the comments section, and we'll check out your week's haul!

Review: The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Golden Lily
Richelle Mead

Series: Bloodlines #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Hardback: 352 Pages
Publication: June 12, 2012
by Razorbill


Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

Sydney would love to go to college, but instead, she’s been sent into hiding at a posh boarding school in Palm Springs, California–tasked with protecting Moroi princess Jill Dragomir from assassins who want to throw the Moroi court into civil war. Formerly in disgrace, Sydney is now praised for her loyalty and obedience, and held up as the model of an exemplary Alchemist.

But the closer she grows to Jill, Eddie, and especially Adrian, the more she finds herself questioning her age–old Alchemist beliefs, her idea of family, and the sense of what it means to truly belong. Her world becomes even more complicated when magical experiments show Sydney may hold the key to prevent becoming Strigoi—the fiercest vampires, the ones who don’t die. But it’s her fear of being just that—special, magical, powerful—that scares her more than anything. Equally daunting is her new romance with Brayden, a cute, brainy guy who seems to be her match in every way. Yet, as perfect as he seems, Sydney finds herself being drawn to someone else—someone forbidden to her.

When a shocking secret threatens to tear the vampire world apart, Sydney’s loyalties are suddenly tested more than ever before. She wonders how she's supposed to strike a balance between the principles and dogmas she's been taught, and what her instincts are now telling her.

Should she trust the Alchemists—or her heart?


I love the Bloodlines series so very much. I've been waiting to read the sequels to Bloodlines because I loved the book so much and didn't want to have to wait for the next installments, but I just recently purchased the Vampire Academy series and have been in a VA love mood . . . and I couldn't resist. I decided to purchase the Bloodlines books while I was at it.

And now I'm dying from Adrian-Sydney love overflow.

Which is unusual because I usually read books more for the plot than the romance factor. In Bloodlines, however, I find myself wanting to see Sydney and Adrian together more often than I think about the other various subplots stirring. I just love seeing the two together. They are by far two of the most compelling characters in the VA world, and I find myself relating more to them than Rose and Dimitri. I feel like R&D are like heroes that we can look up to and admire. Though R&D have their own insecurities and vulnerabilities, Sydney and Adrian are more down-to-earth and relatable. I love how comfortable they are with each other and see a lot of potential for them to fill in much-needed roles in each other's lives.

The Golden Lily expands on plotlines that emerged in Bloodlines. We see more of Sydney adapting to her new social life and high school customs (as well as her vampire friends), more witchcraft, and more intrigue in the vampire world. Not to mention her learning about romance. (Teeheehee.) I'm especially interested in seeing how the witchcraft element plays a role in later installments. I would've been totally fine if it hadn't come out, but now it has, I want to see how it factors into the larger VA world. It was cool to see that one thing I'd predicted (hint: related to Trey) came true in here, though it was disappointing that it wasn't explored more. Which brings me to my next point.

My only problem is that there is a lot going on in this novel what with Sydney dealing with problems on so many fronts. This means that characters come and go a lot of the time without any apparent pattern to it. This wasn't enough to disrupt my enjoyment of the story, but it was noticeable. Another, smaller thing is. . . with Vampire Academy, I could see where the titles were coming from, but it's harder for me to tell why the Bloodlines books are called what they are. Anyone have a theory on why this book is called The Golden Lily? For some reason, the cover made me think that Zoe was going to make an appearance in this book with a lily tattoo, but that doesn't happen here.

Overall, this is another fantastic edition to the Bloodlines series. As always, Richelle Mead's writing kept me entranced from start to finish. . . and left me with a nasty hook at the end that has me feeling all sorts of things. Okay, I've already read The Indigo Spell (because I couldn't stop reading long enough to write a review—I couldn't NOT read it after that ending) and am looking forward to reading The Fiery Heart as soon as my copy arrives. I've heard such great things about it!

Additional Information
  1. Bloodlines
  2. The Golden Lily
  3. The Indigo Spell
  4. The Fiery Heart
  5. Silver Shadows
  6. The Ruby Circle
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  • Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
  • Kissing
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Review: Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite

Friday, August 29, 2014

Exquisite Corpse
Poppy Z. Brite

Genre: LGBQTHorror
Paperback: 240 Pages
Publication: 1996
by Scribner Paperback Fiction


To serial slayer Andrew Compton, murder is an art, the most intimate art. After feigning his own death to escape from prison, Compton makes his way to the United States with the sole ambition of bringing his "art" to new heights. Tortured by his own perverse desires, and drawn to possess and destroy young boys, Compton inadvertently joins forces with Jay Byrne, a dissolute playboy who has pushed his "art" to limits even Compton hadn't previously imagined. Together, Compton and Byrne set their sights on an exquisite young Vietnamese-American runaway, Tran, whom they deem to be the perfect victim.

Swiftly moving from the grimy streets of London's Piccadilly Circus to the decadence of the New Orleans French Quarter, and punctuated by rants from radio talk show host Lush Rimbaud, a.k.a. Luke Ransom, Tran's ex-lover, who is dying of AIDS and who intends to wreak ultimate havoc before leaving this world. Exquisite Corpse unfolds into a labyrinth of murder and love. Ultimately all four characters converge on a singular bloody night after which their lives will be irrevocably changed — or terminated.


We can probably agree that I’m sort of the horror girl on here, since I tend to review darker and spookier books. That being said, I have to admit that this is the first novel that has legitimately made me feel squeamish while reading.

Once again, Brite proves why he is my favorite author through the use of his prose. His descriptions of both London and New Orleans are rich and decadent, an amazing feat considering the focus is on seedy areas in the cities like bars, a prison, and a really creepy mansion. Despite the luxuriousness of it at moments, the prose flows very well and doesn't slow you down while reading. If anything, the reader might choose to slow down in order to fully savor a description of Vietnamese food or indulge in a character's appreciation of a cold glass of beer.

As seems to be standard fare for Brite, the novel alternates between four perspectives, each following a different character. What's unique in this book is that we get a nested narrator, a first person narrative within a group of other narratives. In this particular novel, our nested narrator is a British serial killer named Andrew Compton (based on real life serial killer, Dennis Nilsen).

The characters and relationships between them are well done. Though I didn't find him as charismatic as Andrew, Jay (based on American serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer) was interesting to look at since his narrative is in the third person and provides another perspective on a serial killer. Andrew, whose narrative is the only first person one, allows you to look into the mind of a killer, and together with Jay, gives a fuller scope on the mechanics of a murderous mind. I wasn't a huge fan of Tran, but I liked the flashbacks we got of his relationship and eventual breakup with Luke, who I really did like and found to be the most sympathetic character of the four. I also have to give a special little shout-out to a minor character named Soren. I thought he was positively adorable and really wished he could've had a bigger role in the book.

The interesting thing about this book is that our narrator is more of a traditional antagonist, being a murderer. Despite his tendency towards gore and mayhem, Andrew is actually characterized as very eloquent and remarkably intelligent. Much like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, Andrew is not only charismatic and smart but also sophisticated and rather cultured, and you can't help but follow along on his adventure. Even though I found myself squeezing my eyes shut at moments when it got really gruesome, I kept on reading because I was curious as to what he would do later on in the novel.

Honestly, this novel felt too short. Now, I know a lot of you are probably wondering why I would want more gore and mayhem when there is more than enough in the book as is. However, in order to fully enjoy it, you have to put aside all of the torture and murder and look at it more as a case study on serial killers. Looking at it in that vein, you could see how the story could be expanded. Even though we get it in brief flashbacks thrown in throughout the novel, I thought we could see more on how Andrew and Jay got started as murderers, in particular Andrew since he was actually arrested and put in jail.

Going off of that, the novel ended too abruptly for me. What happens to Andrew isn’t entirely clear, and I wanted to see how Luke is affected by the aftermath of the climax. And, of course, I wanted more Soren. As is, we get the unclear ending and an incredibly brief epilogue. The epilogue didn't make much sense to me and felt more like the beginning of another chapter. The whole book could've been expanded in my mind, not only giving us a richer background on Andrew and Jay, but also a more satisfying (or at least clearer) ending.

I’ve probably already stressed this a lot, but this book isn’t for sensitive readers, just based on the premise. I can admit that there were moments when I had to take a break before going on because the scenes would get so gory. But if you’re willing to overlook all the blood and guts, this is a genuinely fascinating look at and into the mind of serial killers.

Additional Information

  • N/A

Similar Books
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  • Strong language
  • Murder
  • Gore
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  • Graphic depictions of torture

Things to Consider As You Think About Graduation

Thursday, August 28, 2014
With the academic year coming upon us, I thought it'd be a great time to talk about these fantastic nonfiction books that give suggestions on things for high school and college students to consider as they enter new stages of their lives. Having been in these places recently, I found these books to be very relatable to my life and something I could have used when I entered college.

77 Things You Absolutely Have to Do Before You Finish College
Halley Bondy, James Lloyd (Illustrations)

Genre: Nonfiction   Paperback: 192 Pages
Publication: March 11, 2014 by Zest Books

College is about way more than just frats and finals: It’s also a time when students can learn new skills, encounter different cultures, test out potential careers, and take a stab at something new just because it sounds cool. And in order to leave college a better, smarter, and more interesting person than you were when you started out, all you need is an open mind, a willing spirit, and (of course) this book! The 77 entries included here cover everything from negotiating the terms of an apartment rental to attending a school-sponsored lecture event to hosting a movie marathon – and supplemental sidebars provide bonus tips for doing everything cheaply and well. (Oh, but remember: The most important thing to do? Graduate!)

As a college student, I find this book highly relatable to me. Given the title, I expected a fun, goofy book that lists a bunch of random things that one should do in college and was looking to find a couple of outrageous things to do before I graduate. To a certain extent, it does deliver that, but it's also so much more.

77 Things (the college ed.) is divided into seven sections with eleven suggestions each. The sections are as follow: (1) Around the pad [aka. your room / home], (2) Getting Out and About on Your Own, (3) Taking Advantage of School, (4) Being Social, (5) Body and Health, (6) Spoil Yourself, (7) For the Future. As you can see from this list, it isn't just about going out and doing something outrageous and memorable before you enter the "real world." While it does encourage us to put ourselves out there and try new things, it also reminds us to take care of our health and to also look for opportunities to further our future.

For example, it suggests taking a physical. This in particular stood out to me because I can't remember the last time I went to the doctor for a regular checkup. Things like this are more easily remembered for children when we need to get shots all the time, but as we get older we forget to do things like this. Nowadays, I usually just go to the doctor when I have an immediate problem. This book reminded me that sometimes we need to take steps to ensure problems do not happen in the first place—or at least to catch them in the early stages.

Other suggestions include ways of getting to know people and also exploiting your college's resources. Among other things that you may not have thought about. I recommend this book as a great resouce for students with ideas on what to do while they're in college, and I strongly recommend trying them out. This is a book that I could have used my freshman year when I didn't yet know how to take full advantage of what college life had to offer me.

A copy was provided by Zest Books for review

Undecided: Navigating Life and Learning After High School
Genevieve Morgan

Genre: Nonfiction   Paperback: 256 Pages
Publication: April 8, 2014 by Zest Books

For high school students all over the country, figuring out what to do after graduation is a major question. For many, the logical answer is continuing their education, whether in a training program, a community college, or a four-year university. But no matter what the path, the preparation can be overwhelming, and it's hard to know where to start. That's where Undecided comes in! This comprehensive handbook outlines the different options available to teens after high school and provides suggestions on how to follow each path efficiently and successfully. It covers everything from SAT preparation and personal statements to trade school pros and cons and advice on how to prepare for life in the military. Full of checklists, anecdotes, brainstorming activities, and journal exercises, Undecided leaves no stone unturned and no option unconsidered. So settle in, keep an open mind, and find the future that really works for you!

Undecided is another great resources for post-HS students. In comparison to 77 Things, which gives suggestions on how to round out your college life, Undecided is a bit broader in scope. As the title implies, it's about exploring the different choices available to you after graduating from high school.

I like how this book is divided neatly into differently sections that flow into one another, giving readers a sampling of different paths to take. The first section is about exploring what you love to do. It provides some quizzes and different points to consider when thinking about what you want to do with your life. The next couple sections are about different potential paths to follow after graduating from HS, such as higher education (4-year vs. 2-year colleges, trade schools, and studying abroad) or going into some kind of service (like military, civil, and foreign service). There's also information about internships, going to work, and getting a life after HS.

The author has clearly done her research on the various topics and gives detailed information under various subheadings that detail things you need to know when taking on a certain occupation. For example, she doesn't just compare four-year versus two-year colleges. She explores them in further detail, going so far as to explain what makes an Ivy school and Ivy school and what differentiates different kinds of Ivies. There is also information on other schools and what they have to offer students. I seriously wish that I had this book before I decided which college to attend because I really could have used this information during the college application process.

While I spent a litle more time talking about a portion of the college section, that was mostly to give you a feel for what this book is about and the detail that it goes into. There is a wealth of information in the other sections as well. This is a fantastic book for HS students starting to think about what they want to do after graduating and who aren't sure about what they want out of life. I can also see this being useful for college students also thinking about the next step after school. Parents too can benefit from this book in helping their children decide what they want to do after graduation.

A copy was provided by Zest Books for review

Review: The Dolls by Kiki Sullivan

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Dolls
Kiki Sullivan

Series: The Dolls #1
Genre: YA CrimeMysteryParanormal
Paperback: 384 Pages
Publication: September 2, 2014
by Balzer + Bray


Eveny Cheval just moved back to Louisiana after spending her childhood in New York with her aunt Bea. Eveny hasn’t seen her hometown since her mother’s suicide fourteen years ago, and her memories couldn’t have prepared her for what she encounters. Because pristine, perfectly manicured Carrefour has a dark side full of intrigue, betrayal, and lies—and Eveny quickly finds herself at the center of it all.

Enter Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre, and their group of rich, sexy friends known as the Dolls. From sipping champagne at lunch to hooking up with the hottest boys, Peregrine and Chloe have everything—including an explanation for what’s going on in Carrefour. And Eveny doesn’t trust them one bit.

But after murder strikes and Eveny discovers that everything she believes about herself, her family, and her life is a lie, she must turn to the Dolls for answers. Something’s wrong in paradise, and it’s up to Eveny, Chloe, and Peregrine to save Carrefour and make it right.

◆ An ARC was provided by Harper Collins for review ◆

Eveny Cheval's life is turned upside down when she and her Aunt Bea move away from their New York home just before her seventeenth birthday. She soon meets the Dolls and joins them because they're a group of mysterious, impossibly gorgeous, privileged teenagers that rule Carrefour. From them, she learns that she is one of three Queens who possess the power of Zandra. Her life seems to be going well. But beneath the wealth and charm, Carrefour is hiding a secret, one that leads to murder and the dark truth about Eveny and her past.

The Dolls are like the Mean Girls. Peregrine is the typical high school mean girl who needs to be the center of spotlight. Chloe goes along with what Peregrine wants and can’t think for herself. All they talk about is their looks and boys. And they always get what they want. Eveny is shallow and impossible to connect with. She clings to the hot guy who doesn’t really interact with her. For her, it seems that her world will end if he doesn’t eat lunch with her, and she even starts dreaming about him. The romance is very clichéd and has no chemistry.

The storyline is intriguing at the beginning. After the initial excitement about the mysteries hiding in Carrefour, however, the pacing slows down. While there are enough mysteries to keep the pages turning, the murder mystery ends up being predictable, and there wasn't enough going on to keep me invested in the characters. If you enjoyed Mean Girls, you might also like The Dolls. Otherwise, you might want to skip this one.

Additional Information
  • N/A
Similar Movies
  • Mean Girls

Review: The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Beautiful Ashes
Jeaniene Frost

Series: Broken Destiny #1
Genre: NA Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 304 Pages
Publication: August 26, 2014
by Harlequin


In a world of shadows, anything is possible. Except escaping your fate.

Ever since she was a child, Ivy has been gripped by visions of strange realms just beyond her own. But when her sister goes missing, Ivy discovers the truth is far worse—her hallucinations are real, and her sister is trapped in a parallel realm. And the one person who believes her is the dangerously attractive guy who's bound by an ancient legacy to betray her.

Adrian might have turned his back on those who raised him, but that doesn't mean he can change his fate…no matter how strong a pull he feels toward Ivy. Together they search for the powerful relic that can save her sister, but Adrian knows what Ivy doesn't: that every step brings Ivy closer to the truth about her own destiny, and a war that could doom the world. Sooner or later, it will be Ivy on one side and Adrian on the other. And nothing but ashes in between…

◆ A copy was provided by Harlequin for review ◆

The Beautiful Ashes presents a haunting world on the brink of a supernatural war. Ivy's situation feels reminiscent of that of Aislinn from Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series. Both have been able to see the supernatural world for as long as they can remember, and once they find themselves entangled in it, there is no escape for them. This is a dark and dangerous world that you cannot escape once you've entered it.

That said, while the world is one that many may find intriguing, however, the characters are a hit or a miss in this one. Ivy has a character that's pretty out there. One minute, she's calm and collected—and proud of herself for it. The next, she's a raging inferno. This is evident not just in her emotions but how she acts around people. She vascillates between feeling the hots for Adrian and reminding herself that he's a deranged psychopath, not to mention someone who essentially kidnaps her. And with Zach, she alternates between hating on him for not being there in her time of need and reminding herself that his boss (God) lets everything happen for a greater purpose. She can also be pretty manipulative, oftentimes so that she can go off and do something stupid and reckless. Besides the fact that there's little character stability in Ivy, I just couldn't like her because of the way she's so quick to change her mind about people without thinking about the possible reasons for them doing whatever they did that offended her.

Romance-wise, I just couldn't feel it. I think if events progressed differently I might have liked Adrian, but the way things are worked against him. First, he kidnaps Ivy, and almost immediately it's apparent that they're hot for each other. While Ivy eventually learns that he's a good guy, it just feels so wrong. I couldn't get rid of the creeps I felt. Maybe it's because of the "forbidden romance" vibe I later got. Maybe it's because it's all about the hots, and I don't see Ivy and Adrian getting in some good bonding time. Nevertheless, while it wasn't for me, I can totally see people loving Ivy and Adrian's characters and cheering them on.

What kept me reading on is the world building. The idea of the demon world being interconnected with and drawing upon resources from the human world is really cool, and I enjoyed exploring the different sections of the demon world with Ivy. The world of demons is grotesque and horrifying yet awe-inspiring at the same time. It's impressive how much they've managed to do with what they have. I wish that the demons and their world were better characterized because it's definitely by far the most fascinating part of the novel—for me at least. And while the plot was fairly predictable, it was solid and accomplished what it set out to do, and I appreciate how it has a solid conclusion while setting the stage for the next stage at the same time.

The Beautiful Ashes is a book that I can see people either falling madly in love with or having to put down because they can't connect with the characters or the world. If you're interested in the premise but don't like the world so much, I'd recommend checking out The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams. It too features another world connected to our world with doorways, and it too features a girl who gets kidnapped and finds herself strongly attracted to her kidnapper—but there's more world building and character development. It didn't feel like insta-love like with Ivy and Adrian (though there is a reason given for the connection they feel). The primary differences are  that The Shadow Reader has more of an urban fantasy feel and the supernatural creatures are the fae instead of demons and angels.

I do have a warning to give about The Beautiful Ashes. The characters, primarily Ivy and Adrian, do say some pretty offensive things. They say whatever comes to mind, and they aren't afraid of offending anyone—demons and angels alike. They also seem to think that God should fix their problems for them and not let such suffering as they have seen in the demon realms go on. At one point, Ivy does admit a belief that God lets things happen for a reason, but for the most part she does seem bitter about what happens. And she isn't afraid to let His messenger know that. . . which results in some very irreverant comments. Some of the things said really shocked me. If you're a Christian, you might want to take this into consideration before you pick this one up. I know that it's a fictional work, but if it's something you'd take great offense to, I probably wouldn't read The Beautiful Ashes on the basis that Ivy is the main character, and you'll be seeing a lot of her.

Overall, I did enjoy this novel in spite of my inability to connect with the main characters. The writing flows well, and the world is interesting. And it might have me convinced to pick up the second installment when it comes out.

Additional Information
  1. The Beautiful Ashes
  • Kissing, making out
  • Violence

About the Author

Jeaniene Frost is the New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author of the Night Huntress series, the Night Prince series, and the upcoming Broken Destiny series. To date, foreign rights for her novels have sold to twenty different countries. Jeaniene lives in North Carolina with her husband Matthew, who long ago accepted that she rarely cooks and always sleeps in on the weekends. Aside from writing, Jeaniene enjoys reading, poetry, watching movies with her husband, exploring old cemeteries, spelunking and traveling – by car. Airplanes, children, and cook books frighten her.

Connect with Jeaniene
Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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Review: Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan

Monday, August 25, 2014

Maid of Deception
Jennifer McGowan

Series: Maids of Honor #2
Genre: Historical
Hardback: 416 Pages
Publication: August 26, 2014
by Simon & Schuster BFYR


Beatrice Knowles is a Maid of Honor, one of Queen Elizabeth I’s secret protectors. Known for her uncanny ability to manipulate men’s hearts, Beatrice has proven herself to be a valuable asset in the Queen’s court—or so she thinks. It has been three weeks since the Maids thwarted a plot to overthrow the Queen, and Beatrice is preparing to wed her betrothed, Lord Cavanaugh. However, her plans come to a crashing halt as rumors of a brewing Scottish rebellion spread among the court.

Beatrice’s new assignment is to infiltrate the visiting Scottish delegation using her subtle arts in persuasion. The mission seems simple enough, until the Queen pairs Beatrice with the worst of the lot—Alasdair MacLeod. Beatrice cannot help but think that the Queen is purposefully setting her up for failure. But Alasdair could be the key to unlocking the truth about the rebellion….and her own heart. Caught in a web of ever-more-twisting lies, Beatrice must rise up among the Maids of Honor and prove what she’s known all along: In a court filled with deception and danger, love may be the deadliest weapon of all.

◆ An ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster for review ◆

Maid of Deception is a book to be read for the characters. I say this because the story doesn't really play up the historical setting, and the plot wasn't focused. Admittedly, the characters could have been fleshed out more, but they're definitely the centerpiece in the novel. Each maid of honor has a unique personality and skill that makes her invaluable for the queen's services. Beatrice is the maid of deception, the one who specializes in court politics and ferreting out secrets.

For someone who is supposed to know about everything going on at court, Beatrice is surprisingly naïve and blind to things she doesn't want to see. For example, she seems to believe that her father is out to ruin her life and doesn't trust him to run the family estate. She also seems to believe that she needs to be in control of everything. In spite of this, she's a pretty likable character with her own insecurities. I actually would have liked her vulnerabilities to be played up more. While some things are mentioned, there isn't a lot of elaboration, and it resulted in some surprises when Beatrice acts contrary to what I'd come to expect of her.

I did have a serious problem with the romance. In the early days, when Alasdair is trying to get Beatrice to pay attention to him, he gets really intrusive—eyeing her inappropriately and even, at times, touching her inappropriately and getting into her private space. There are times as well when they kiss that he acts overpowering, dominating her with his physical strength. Now, I have no problem with this when a couple is in a serious, exclusive relationship, but he acts domineering and intrusive at a time when she makes it clear that she has no interest in him whatsoever. I don't find this romantic but rather very, very disturbing. So though I found Alasdair quite charming later on in the book when a friendship blooms between him and Beatrice, and it becomes apparent he's not just some boorish outlander in search of a conquest, I didn't ever find myself letting my guard down around him.

This isn't a book I'd recommend if you're really interested in the time period. I'm not a medieval England expert, but there seem to be a lot of inconsistencies in the mannerisms of the people and the time period. I'm definitely glad the people don't use "period talk" (I'd be at such a loss trying to understsand what they say!), but I do expect some degree of historical accuracy in a historical fiction as well as a greater attempt at world building so that readers can get a feel for the time period. As it is, it feels like the time period was chosen for the romantic feel. I wouldn't read it for the spy aspect either. There isn't much intrigue to the plot. Rather, it feels like Beatrice moves forward from one event to another. The only solid resolution I feel we get is with Beatrice's heart.

For all my complaints, the writing did flow smoothly, and the different maids of honor are compelling in their own right. I would be potentially interested in reading the next installment. I recommend Maid of Deception to readers looking for a YA historical romance with a dominating male alpha figure.

Additional Information
  1. Maid of Secrets
  2. Maid of Deception
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