Hidden: Rapunzel's Story Review (Destined #2)

Hidden: Rapunzel's Story (Destined, #2)

Zel is a mage with the Touch. If she touches someone, she can drain the life out of them. She has been under the control of an evil witch for years, and she can’t leave because the witch holds her True Name. Anything her mistress tells her to do, she has to do it. Every time she tries to escape she is caught and punished for it. When she isn’t trapped in her Tower, she is forced to murder people at her mistress’ demands.

When a man randomly climbs up to her tower, Zel knows she will be punished when he is found. But she just can’t force him to go away when he is willing to help her. No one has shown her kindness in years, but he wants to help her escape.

I have to be honest, I never felt much towards the Rapunzel story as a child. It was one of my least favorite tales, some girl up in a castle all her life and then BAM prince to take her away. I didn’t even like Tangled when it came out! But I definitely gained a fondness for the story after reading this retelling of the book.

Zel can take care of herself, and she would leave the castle if her mistress ever gave the chance. She has tried to escape multiple times, but she just can’t break free of her true name being used. The man who comes into her castle can help her create a plan to escape, but she still has to be the one to do it herself. She has to be able to build up the strength to fight back. She has to think of herself as worthy of being saved before she can save herself. Eventually, the man isn’t even helping her to escape much, but instead he is more like the princess in the castle, waiting for Zel to return from another one of her expeditions.

This book also explains a lot of the things that made Zel act the way she did in Fated. I never really understood why Zel was so scared of being caught at the bakery, but once you see her body count in Hidden, you know the danger. There are entire clans after Zel who would want to do to her family what she did to theirs, they do not care that Zel wasn’t even in control of her body as she killed people.

This book moved smoothly, and I was excited to keep reading as I was in the thick of it. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen to Zel next, and I finished both books 2 and 3 in the same day while commuting to work! This Destined series will draw you in and will not let you go until you hear the stories of all these girls.

I would recommend this series to anyone looking for a new fairytale retelling series.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Fated: Cinderella's Story Review (Destined #1)

Fated: Cinderella's Story (Destined, #1)

Ella is the only non-mage in her household. Her stepmother Zel has to stay hidden because she is a powerful mage. She was under the control of someone who held her True Name and was forced to kill many with her powers in the past, so she has many enemies. Now that Zel has two twin daughters who are also mages, she has to make sure that she and her girls stay hidden. If Zel is arrested, the family will be torn apart. So Ella does all in her power to keep the bakery running to support her family. She is also studying at the Royal Academy to try to get a better job to move her family out of the small apartment at the bakery. A mage named Weslan shows up at the bakery looking for protection, and his staying at the bakery threatens Ella’s family’s safety. When a bomb goes off during her final exam and she is hurt, her chance for graduation goes out the window. Ella has to pick up the pieces of her life and find a new way to protect her family.

I have run this blog for 3 years now, and I have read countless fairytales and fairytale retellings throughout my entire life. Something just always draws me to these stories of love and fantasy. I can say, hands down, that this is the best fairy tale retelling series I have ever read. At first I was thinking it would be second only to Court of Thorns and Roses, but the other books in this series continued the fairy tale retelling theme, and it quickly bumped its way up to first place for that category.

Ella isn’t your typical Cinderalla. Zel isn’t cruel to her. She isn’t forced to work for her stepsisters. She does all the work that she does simply because she loves her family and would do anything for them. She wants to get a job by graduating from the Royal Academy so that they can live more comfortably. She would work every day that she lived if it meant that they were safe, and she wouldn’t let anyone get in between her and her family. This is what made her so admirable to me. Family came first, in everything, and she was willing to work hard to keep them safe, even if it stressed her out.

I would also say that this fairy tale retelling deviates some from the original story, which I enjoyed a lot. There is an entire story about Mages versus those with no powers. Those who hold the True names of mages can force them to do their bidding, which means that the Mage population is greatly oppressed in this world. This story is woven delicately in and out of the original Cinderella tale, to make a unique and powerful one of its own. This is what made it my favorite fairytale retelling of all time, and that’s how this book dragged me out of my reading slump.

This story flows perfectly from scene to scene. I don’t believe that the POV ever shifted from Ella, but if it did, it wasn’t confusing in any way and fit right into the rest of the story. There were no dead points in the story or characters that I found to be irritating, so everything made for a very pleasant read.

I won’t spoil anything else as this book was a quick read for me and I don’t want to give any major plot points away. I would recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy novels or who wants to read a fairytale retelling. This entire series is free through Kindle Unlimited, and book 6 is coming out this year, so I am extra excited to see what Kaylin Lee has in store!

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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Freya Snow #13: Pandora Review

Pandora (Freya Snow Book 13)

Freya knew she was going to be the Queen of the Underworld because her father was the king, but she knew she had time until her father would die and she would have to take that position. When her father gets sick and reveals that he is dying, Freya is distraught. Not only does she have to deal with her father being gone, she has to deal with maintaining order in the Underworld as she transitions from Princess to Queen. On top of all that, Freya’s mother is back in her life and Pandora’s Box has to be closed, and Alex is back in her life after several years of being with the Enhanced.

This book truly shows how Freya has grown throughout the series. At first she was a teenaged foster child, unsure of herself but eventually sure that she had a crush on her friend Damon. Then, she was in her late teens and gaining her powers as an Angel, and falling for an Enhanced human named Alex. Now she is in her 20s, happily married to Damon, and preparing to name her fiancée Alex as her heartbond. She thought that everything was going well with her life, but now her father dies and her mother is back as a ghost. When she was a teenager, she hated her mother for leaving her on Earth as a baby and not helping bring her back to her father, the King. Now, she is a Queen, older than her mother who is frozen as a 19 y/o ghost, and she has lost both of her parents. I am unsure of how close we are to the end of the Freya Snow series, but this book seems like a perfect setup for the end. Freya is finally reaching the peak of her powers, and she even has all of her true loves by her side. It is truly a beautiful thing to read.

I also enjoyed how Alex was woven into the story. Damon and Freya are both autistic, but Alex is not. There are some things that Alex picks up on that Damon and Freya would not. There are some connections that Damon and Freya have that Alex is not a part of, whether it be magical or just emotional. But she still manages to fit into their dynamic. I’m unsure if Damon and Alex are ever going to have a romantic relationship or if they will always just be connected through Freya, but I am happy either way. The only thing I was confused about was how Jan would weave into this story. She is technically still with Alex, but Alex is living with Freya in the Demon World. I hope this is cleared up in the next few Freya Snow or Engineered Rebel books!

I finished this book quickly as I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next with some of my favorite characters. This book didn’t end off on the best note though, and I can’t wait to find out what happens to Freya and her friends/family/lovers in the next installment of this series. Everything is at the point where all the side series are crossing over with the main Freya Snow novels, and it is really unique to be able to see what the side characters are also doing while Freya is going through this time in her life. I would definitely suggest to check out the Engineered Rebel and Royal Cleaners series if you are enjoying this series!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an adult LGBT+ romance novel.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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The Royal Cleaner #6: Exiled Review

Exiled (The Royal Cleaner, #6)

Seph, Gregor, and Caroline have been exiled from the Demon World. Persephone or Seph has to get used to life in the human world, where she doesn’t have the position of queen that she has prepared for since she was born. This gives her time to deal with feelings that she has been pushing away for years, and face the fact that she might have a crush on someone. Gregor and Caroline no longer have to be fake married, which gives Mina and Caroline the chance to marry one another. Gregor is also free to pursue his own romantic interests, and he might have his eyes on a certain man on Earth.

I am interested in the new couples that were introduced in this installment of the series. I knew that Mina and Caroline would always be together, but I was worried that Gregor would never get the chance to be happy as he didn’t have a secret boyfriend on the side of his political marriage to Caroline, but he had his chance in this book! I also thought that Seph would be important, but I just didn’t see how she fit into the Royal Cleaner series until this book. Without spoiling anything, I am happy with how her story turned out as well.

Honestly, this felt like the shortest Royal Cleaner book I have read so far. I loved it so much that I finished it all in one morning on my way to work and then switched directly to the next book in the series. I think that it was the lack of action that truly drew me into this book. I feel like I never got the chance to get close to the characters in the Royal Cleaner series in this way because the books were so packed with action. This slower-paced story focused more on the domestic side of the characters as Mina and Caroline are still spending time with their children including the young twins while Gregor and Seph have to get used to living like humans rather than Demon royalty.

I can’t wait to review the next book in this series to discuss more spoilers about these characters! Just know that things really start to heat up towards the end of this book.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an adult fantasy novel with LGBT+ and neurodiverse characters.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books.

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The Angel Eyes #0: Jake’s Redemption Review

Jake's Redemption (The Angel Eyes #0)

In this universe, there was a war of men vs. women many years prior. The women won and can enslave the men, and most women show the men no mercy. Marriage is outlawed, and women are meant to just make use of the many male slaves that are around. Jake has been tortured for years under Darla and doesn’t think that he will ever be able to be happy again. When a woman named Monica offers him a job on her ranch, he is worried that he might be going to a fate worse than Darla. When Monica treats him like a human instead of a slave, Jake doesn’t know how to react. Soon, he finds himself falling for her, but he doesn’t know if he can love again.

Wow, I have never read a book quite like this one. So often have I seen a book with female slave/damsel in distress being saved by the male protagonist, but never the reverse. Monica doesn’t believe in slavery, but many women at the time did. Jake had resigned himself to his fate with Darla, but Monica shows him that life could be happy again. He cannot be fully free from Darla because she is constantly keeping tabs on him, but he will be somewhat free on Monica’s ranch until his contract is up.

I also loved how this book shows that both men and women can be traumatized. In many books, men go through trauma and automatically want to go back to having people all over them. Jake doesn’t even want to be hugged by a woman after the horrors he has gone through with Darla, and Monica respects that. When others on the ranch do not respect his wishes, Monica speaks out against it. He has to heal just like anyone else, he isn’t some sort of emotionless being who bounces back after years of torture after seeing a pretty woman or something. Jake needed a time and place to heal, and Monica’s ranch gave him this space.

The romance wasn’t the main focus of this book in my opinion. Jake’s healing was the main focus, which I truly appreciated. Even though the cover looked very sensual, nothing happened until Jake was truly ready to move to that stage of a relationship. When the romance did occur, it was very slow. The characters weren’t just having sex like in some adult romance novels, they truly loved one another and worshipped each other.

To think that this book is a prequel to the rest of the series that hasn’t even come out yet is astonishing. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Angel Eyes series. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a new NA dystopian romance novel.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books.

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Flowers and Keyboards #2: The Other Dress Review

The Other Dress (Flowers and Keyboards 2)

The Other Dress by Emmy Engberts is the second book in her Flowers and Keyboards series about video games, anime, and LGBT+ couples. Elliot works up the nerve to cosplay as an outgoing character named Aoi from Magical Princess Club! At a convention, and he falls for a girl who is cosplaying as Sakura. Izzy is trans, and she enjoys cosplaying as female characters to get more in touch with her true female self. Most people can’t even tell that she is trans now, but she still suffers from dysphoria and uses dressmaking to cope with it. When she meets Elliot at the convention, she is surprised to see how much fun they have together. But she isn’t sure if she can date Elliot or even tell him that she is trans because of the negative reactions she has had from people she has cared about in the past.

At first, before I knew that Izzy was trans, I thought that Elliot was going to come out as being trans because he was so happy to cosplay as a girl. But I found it a way better storyline that Elliot was completely fine with his masculine identity, but he just enjoyed cosplaying as girls from time to time. I have never, and I mean never seen a guy so comfortable with himself in fiction before, and honestly it was really empowering to see. Girls may sometimes dress in typical “guy” clothing in books, but you don’t usually see guys dressing in typical “girl” clothing in books unless they are going to come out as something. Guys can have fun dressing however they want without having to justify themselves just as girls can, and I love Engberts for showing this.

I also liked how Izzy and Elliot were friends before they truly started to fall for one another. Another thing that I really enjoy about Emmy Engberts’ romance novels, there may be somewhat insta-attraction but there is no insta-love “I would literally die for this person” going on. Even though the characters may be high school aged, don’t have that annoying YA couple feel where they don’t really match but fall for each other head over heels. Izzy and Elliot are a perfect match but they still go slowly until they feel comfortable enough around each other to even start dating.

Also, if you liked the characters from the first novel in the Flowers and Keyboards series, they aren’t completely forgotten in this book! I can’t wait to see the next book in this series and meet the new couple.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new YA romance novel to read.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 books

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