Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) by Brandon Sanderson

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ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review.

1.) The Way of Kings ★★★★★
2.) Words of Radiance ★★★★★
2.5) Edgedancer ★★★★

“You cannot have my pain”

I am so sorry this review is a month late! With the holidays and the start of this new year, my life has just been a little hectic to write a review that does this amazing book and series justice! But hopefully this will sing even an ounce of the praise that this epic fantasy series deserves, because this third installment was nothing short of a masterpiece.

Also, I’m going to try to write this review spoiler free, but I am very sorry if I accidentally say a little something that could perhaps be considered a spoiler. I mean, these three books are massive, and this story is so heavy, I apologize in advance if I slip up. I know I won’t say anything major, but please use caution, or maybe pass on my review, if you would like to start The Way of Kings completely blind. And I also think it is important to note that it is very important to read the novella, Edgedancer, before reading Oathbringer, too!

This is a huge scale, epic fantasy, that is massive not only in size, but in content. Roshar is divided into ten mini/major kingdoms, that are self-governed. Alethkar is the largest kingdom on Roshar, and where most our main characters come from.

There is a battle going on for all of Roshar. The Parshendi, who live in the middle of the Shattered Plains, are being led by some ancient beings to gain more land and to free their enslaved relatives. They also have war waged on them for assassinating a king.

The Stormlight Archive world is unlike anything else in literature. First off, unforgiving Highstorms are constantly happening around the world of Roshar. Highstorms provide Stormlight, which is an energy that the people keep in different gemstones, which have a super vast array of different uses. And because this story surrounds wars on many different fronts, it makes sense that these Highstorms also help power some pretty powerful and unique weapons, armor, and even some magical companions.

We mostly follow three main characters, even though these books have extremely large casts! Each of the characters you’ll be introduced to, you’ll easily love, or easily love to hate. These are some of the best and most fleshed out characters I’ve ever read.

Dalinar – This whole series truly starts when Dalinar’s brother, the King himself, is murdered in cold blood. Dalinar is also a Highprince of Alethkar. Dalinar has struggled throughout all of these books, trying to remember a past that is too dark for him to remember. In my very humble opinion, Oathbringer is Dalinar’s book. Him and his family are truly the focal point, and Dalinars character arch, both past and present, made me feel more emotions than I have words for.

Kaladin – Once an apprentice surgeon, once a solider, once a slave, once a head guard, always a natural born leader, but now… so much more. Kaladin’s story has been such a beautiful story to watch unfold, and I know it’s nowhere close to being done. Kaladin has very much struggled with his self-worth, but I think he is truly starting to realize how much he belongs, and how sometimes it is worth it to take a chance, even if you’ve regretted it in the past. Also, if I don’t see a flute being played anytime soon… I’m going to explode with anticipation.

Shallan – My feminist icon cinnamon roll. I will never understand people who say that Brandon Sanderson cannot write female characters. Shallan, and her journey, is one of the most inspiring things in this entire series. She is daughter of a recently deceased Brightlord. Then, studied under Jasnah Kholin, Dalinar’s niece. She will forever and always be an artist. And she is constantly growing more and more with her powers and as a person. On top of all this, I love the representation she shows/gives as an abuse survivor.

And even though I personally feel like these are the main three, there are so many amazing characters in this world. Jasnah is forever and always my queen. Adolin has completely stolen my heart in every way imaginable. Syl is everything I’ve ever wanted in literature, but I probably don’t deserve her. Pattern made me cry from laughing probably about 20 times with “NO MATING!” Hoid is probably going to end up my favorite character in all of literature, or at least the Cosmere. And I’ll forever be begging for more Szeth chapters, because no amount will ever be enough.

“To love the journey is to accept no such end. I have found, through painful experience, that the most important step a person can take is always the next one.”

The heart of this story is oppression, but Oathbringer really focuses on what happens when you realize you’ve been the one oppressing on lands that you thought were your own. Some pretty heavy parallels to our world, if I do say so myself.

The bones of this story are religion, and what people from all walks of life are willing to do in the name of their God(s). I’ve said this in many reviews, but religion is equally the best and worst thing in this world. Religion can bring love, and acceptance, and peace, but never has a war been fought that hasn’t somehow been about religion. Brandon Sanderson is a very religious man, but the way he writes about people who choose not to believe is so wonderfully done.

“The question,’ she replied, ‘is not whether you will love, hurt, dream, and die. It is what you will love, why you will hurt, when you will dream, and how you will die. This is your choice. You cannot pick the destination, only the path.”

The theme of this story is and always will ultimately be love. The love of lovers, the love of family, the love of friends, the love of ourselves, the love of clans, the love of our soldiers, the love of our God(s). Oathbringer truly feels like a love letter to found families and how true, unconditional love can change the world, always. Like, I know that sounds somewhat corny for this epic fantasy series, but it’s the damn truth. Love will always be the biggest driving force, and this is proven time and time again in this series, but truly highlighted in Oathbringer.

I know Brandon Sanderson gets a lot of hate for a ten-year-old, ignorant statement he made. And I’ll never defend or make excuses for what he said; it was wrong, but I do believe he has changed his views and no longer feels/thinks like that.

As for the representation in this book, Oathbringer has a m/m relationship that warms my heart so very much! We also get a POV from a disabled woman who is in a wheelchair, who also happens to have the best bird companion ever. And this book heavily deals with grief and trauma. Dalinar, in my opinion, very much is living with PTSD and we find out a lot about his past in this book. You know, the past he desperately wanted to never remember. My heart broke for him over and over in this book, but I think the portrayal of his grief was expertly done and it meant a lot to me. Brandon Sanderson has also stated that Renarin is on the autism spectrum, which is awesome representation we rarely see in high fantasy.

Content warnings for severe depression, suicide, war themes, physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, violence, murder, and gore. This is a very heavy book, that doesn’t shy away from brutal things, and that constantly talks about wars, and duels, and battles. Please, use caution if these things are not for you.

I finished this book on Christmas day, and I couldn’t have asked for a better gift. This series just brings me so much love and joy. I honestly feel like it is Brandon Sanderson’s best work to date, and I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to wait until the next installment. I truly believe this is a once in a lifetime series, and I feel so blessed to be able to experience it. Perfection.

“Life breaks us, Teft. Then we fill the cracks with something stronger.”


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Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo

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“I imagine all wars look the same to those who die in them.”

First off, Leigh Bardugo is honestly the queen of writing and I’m not sure what any of us did to deserve her, but I am forever and always going to count her as a blessing. This story is so beautifully written, and I had to tab so many pages with powerful quotes. Leigh also always writes diverse casts that I fall instantly in love with. Like, when do I get a full book about Nim? Because I need that in my life immediately.

Diana – White, Wonder Woman herself, obviously a total badass.
Alia – Black, a Warbringer, a confirmed angel in my eyes, Jason’s sister.
Jason – Black, Alia’s brother, has helped raise Alia since their parent’s death.
Nim – Indian, my queer baby, chubby, my sarcastic queen.
Theo – Brazilian, Jason’s best friend, funny, must be protected at all costs.

Beautiful art by Jen Bartel, my celebrity crush. *swoons forever*

So, this book really starts off with a bang *wink*, when a ship explodes near Themyscira, the island where the Amazons live and there is no fear of war or conflict. But on Themyscira, only strong woman, who have proven themselves during their human life, can reside. Well, except Diana, who has been made her from the ground itself by her mother and the queen of the island. Even though Diana’s mother loves her with all her being, a few of the other women are hesitant to accept her, because they feel she hasn’t “proven herself.” And one of the only rules of Themyscira is that no human is ever allowed to step foot on its shores.

But Diana witnesses the ship explosion, and finds a lone survivor that she can’t help but rescue and bring back to Themyscira. But the island feels the human’s presence, and starts to attack itself. Diana then seeks out an Oracle who tells her the options she has, and the paths she can take, to save not only her island, but the world itself.

We are then swept away on a tale that spans from New York City to Greece, from humans to ancient Gods, about powerful girls, unconditional friendships, and the cruelness of men. But the heart of this story is friendship, and how unconditional love from the people you choose to call family is the most powerful force in the world. And the found family in this makes me weep with happiness. I truly love these characters.

“Who tells those stories? Tales of vengeful goddesses who wager in human lives for vanity’s sake? Of course men believe a woman’s power must lie in the fineness of her features, the shapeliness of her limbs. You know better, Daughter of Earth.”

There is also a wonderful discussion about privilege that is brought up throughout this entire book. And how no amount of money will ever be able to alter how people will see your skin color and/or perceive your culture, how no amount of money will never erase oppression, and how discrimination happens in every single economic level in our society, regardless of what people who can’t see passed their white privilege say. I loved this constantly being brought up, and some of these experiences that were talked about are exactly what marginalized teens need to read, and see, and understand that they are perfect the way they are, but our world is just an ugly place that hopefully won’t be so ugly with their generation.

“It’s the people who never learn the word impossible who make history, because they’re the ones who keep trying.”

I will also continue on with the series with Batman by Marie Lu! But, sadly and ultimately, I just don’t think superhero books are for me. I totally enjoyed reading this, but something just kept me from loving it, so I’m going to blame it on that. I still think this is a very worthwhile and important read, and I’m so happy that I finally was able to get around to it!

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Buddy read with Destiny and the rest of Life & Lit (DM Destiny for a FB invite)! ❤

Kissing Tolstoy (Dear Professor #1) by Penny Reid

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“If Russian literature and tragic novels had taught me one thing it was this: disappointment and heartache might be around the next corner. But adventure, love, joy, and happiness—the living of a rich, meaningful life—was now.”

Holy adorable, this was the cutest. This is a fluffy, but sexy, short, little romance, that centers around two people and their love for Russian literature!

And before I even start this review, let me state that this is a book about a relationship between a college student and her professor. And there is a ten-year age gap. Yet, the power imbalance is constantly brought up and discussed in a super healthy way. Like, I was so impressed with the way it was handled. But I know this trope isn’t for everyone, and I know it makes a lot of readers uncomfortable, so I just want everyone to be aware that this element is in this story.

Also, this book has a few spoilers for War and Peace and Anna Karenina, so use caution if you haven’t already been exposed to major storylines from those novels.

This story starts out with our main character, Anna, coaxing herself to email a guy who her friend is trying to set her up with. After a swift moment of confidence, Anna sends the email, but soon becomes an anxious ball of nerves when she actually has to show up for the blind date. One thing leads to another, and after a very awkward encounter, Anna flees the date.

Then, months later, and unbeknownst to her, the guy she awkwardly fled from teaches the hard to get into Russian Lit class that she’s finally gotten into. More awkwardness, humor, angst, and romance ensue.

Plus, there is some good rep in this short little story, too. Our main character is biracial (Nigerian) and has pretty severe anxiety that is shown throughout this book.

Also, there are honestly some really good philosophical discussions in here, too. Like, this is a smart book and I felt so much enjoyment just learning about these two characters, and their thought processes, their morals, their values, their beliefs, and just their honest opinions on books. Don’t get me wrong, I loved their relationship, but I loved watching their friendship even more maybe.

“Don’t worry, the world will always need art, and artists, and literature. Just like it will always need industry and medicine. One is not more or less important than the other…”

And beyond anything else I could say that would maybe entice you to pick this book up; this book is about a girl who loves books, and reading, and stories. Books are a constant theme of this novella, and this truly reads like a love letter to literature. I mean, how could that not appeal to anyone who is taking the time to read this review?

“… I’d held myself in check and hadn’t (yet) thrown myself at Luca and his big . . . library.”

This was my first Penny Reid novel, but it won’t be my last. This novella blew me away and I cannot wait to see what else she has instore for us with this series. The writing was great, the humor was actually funny, the romance was swoon worthy, and the story was a joy to read.

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Everless by Sara Holland

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ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Maybe I would have really enjoyed this if I hadn’t read so much YA Fantasy. Maybe a younger Melanie would have ate this up and asked for seconds. Sadly, I’m just at the point in my life where I feel like I’ve read this all before.

And the aspect of this story that is really cool and different is the everyone’s lifespan is their currency. In this world, you can bind your blood to iron to make coins. And they come in amounts of hours to years. Now this is absolutely amazing, and I love the concept completely, but my friend, Em, pointed out how similar it is to the movie In Time starring Justin Timberlake and I just couldn’t unsee the similarities.

The last negative thing I’ll say is that the romance isn’t very compelling, swoon-worthy, or even that good. It was very obvious, over the top, and added nothing to the story for me. And towards the end of this book, there was an opportunity for the main character to be like “I love and choose myself!” or even “I love and choose my family!” but instead it reads like she’s just picking another boy, and it felt so ungodly bad to read. Like, a rotten cherry on a mediocre sundae, you know?

But I don’t think this is a “bad” book per say. And I don’t feel like the author is directly copying In Time or is breaking any copyright laws or anything along those lines. This just wasn’t the book for me, personally, but there are ton of high reviews for this book so maybe take my review with a grain of salt.

As for a synopsis, this is a story about a girl that has lived her life running from her past. Her and her father once lived in Everless, where her father worked as a blacksmith and she was able to play with the two royal brothers. But after an almost tragic incident, her and her father were forced to flee, in hopes to forever live their life in hiding.

But the cost of living is expensive, and it’s exceptionally pricey if you pay in the currency of your life. Wanting to protect her father, our main protagonist, Jules, runs away to Everless to work among the people her father has continuously warned her against ever seeing again. Jules tries to stay undercover half the time, but the other half she literally doesn’t listen, or care, or forgets, or something. But regardless, we get thrown into a world of lies and deceit, and prophecies and old story book tales.

Overall and again, I didn’t think was a terrible book by any means, it just felt like the same YA Fantasy story to me. Plus, it had an opportunity to be very powerful to young girls, and it just ended up reading like you always have to love a boy. Plus, I honestly couldn’t care less about any of the characters. Like, they felt so one dimensional to me, and Jules was the worst undercover character I’ve probably ever read about, despite her father’s very serious warnings. Again, I’m very much in the minority with my feelings towards this book, so hopefully if you pick it up you will enjoy it a lot more than I did.

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Buddy read with Destiny, Em, & Elise! ❤

The Top 12 Books I Must Read in 2018

Okay, I hate using words like “must” but these are the twelve books (one for each month of the year) that I’d really like to check off my TBR in 2018! None of these are 2018 publications, all of these are considered “backlisted”, and all of these are books that I’ve had on my TBR for far too long. Yet, honestly, all these books intrigue and excite me and I have high hopes for my enjoyment reading for all twelve of these.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I’m currently reading this with Paloma and we are both really enjoying it! This story is about a group of kids that are attending a very prestigious school in New England and who are all a part of a very elite group that had a love for everything Greek. The prologue gives us a glimpse into what happens to them, and how one of them gets murdered, and the rest of the story is watching the tale unfold by a very unreliable narrator.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
This is very obviously a classic, and in my goals for 2018 post, I spoke about how one of my goals is to simply read a classic this year. The basic premise is “Orphaned Jane Eyre grows up in the home of her heartless aunt, where she endures loneliness and cruelty, and at a charity school with a harsh regime.” Yet, the main reason I want to read this is because of the next book on this list. And I might read this with Alexis over at The Sloth Reader.

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
This was on so many people who I trusts’ “best of 2016” lists and I’ve been eyeing it every since. And this is a loose retelling of Jane Eyre, but in this version Jane is a serial killer. Like, please, take all my money.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
I made two impulsive purchases on December 31st, 2017 and this was one of them. First off, holy beauty at this cover. Second, I am 99% sure I am going to devour and love this with everything that I am. Lastly, I need to read this before Circe comes out, because I am again 99% positive that that book is going to make my “best of 2018” list. Oh, and this is the story of the fall of Troy that centers around Achilles and Patroclus and their love for one another. Be still, my everything.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
And this was the second impulse buy of mine on December 31st, 2017. And apparently this is a very hetero-baiting title, because every queer friend I have is singing this book’s praises nonstop. I couldn’t resist buying and reading it for myself. And I believe this is a tale about a woman, Evelyn Hugo, being interviewed about her past relationships that have taken place over the span of her life.

The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere #2) by Meg Elison
Okay, I’m a terrible person and I cannot believe I didn’t read this in 2017. But let’s be real, my mental health was not in the best place to be reading about a book where after an apocalypse happens, and when 99% of the female population gets wiped out, but only 98% of the male population does, and where women are being sold as the hottest commodities would have probably made it a lot worse. But the first book in this series, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, was my favorite read of 2016, so I have to get to this most likely masterpiece of a book this year!

Now I Rise (The Conqueror’s Saga #2) by Kiersten White
Okay, so I read and three stared And I Darken. I thought it was a good read, but one of the main characters just drove me past the point of frustration. Well, also many of my friends (and my girl gang consisting of Destiny, Em, & Elise) have promised me that that character doesn’t have a big influence over this story, and that this second installment is very much worth reading. So yeah, if I don’t like it, I’m blaming all of them.

The Queen and the Cure (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles #2) by Amy Harmon
I read and loved The Bird and the Sword in 2017, and I still can’t believe I didn’t get to this last year. This is a high fantasy story that is very heavy of the romance, and it’s honestly a gift to the world. I wish more people would read The Bird and the Sword so I could gush with them about how amazing it was. But then again, I’m the slacker that hasn’t read book two yet.

A Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred #1) by Joanna Shupe
Okay guys, hear me out. I did get this sent to me from a publicist, but she is a friend of him who has recently switch jobs and how works for Avon! So, this feels sort of like a gift, and I always like to read the books that people gift me. Plus, I’m totally trying to get more into historical romance anyways, so this might be a pretty good start for me regardless. Oh, and the MC’s last name is Parker! *wink* And I believe this is totally a marriage of convenience story, and you all know I love those.

The Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us #1) by Emily Skrutskie
This one is 99.9% for Elise, but it also sounds amazing too. I mean, I’m pretty sure it’s about lesbian pirates battling sea monsters, and what else do I really need to read about?

Hideaway (Devil’s Night #2) by Penelope Douglas
Okay, so this is an erotic new adult series and I read book one, Corrupt, last year and it became my very favorite enemies to lovers book in the world. I do want to stress that this series is filled with very dark themes that I know won’t be for everyone. But basically in Corrupt, we follow a girl who is finally starting her own life, yet there are four guys from her past that are wanting to take revenge on her for something that happened years ago, but she has no idea what. She starts to fall for one of the guys, lots of angst ensues, and this book had some of my favorite sex scenes of all time. So yeah, I can’t wait to start book two in this series, especially if I feel a reading slump coming on!

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
This book is probably the one I need to get to the most, just because I’ve honestly put it off for two years and now I have an ARC copy of book two. But thanks to the beautiful Destiny, I now actually own a physical copy of this, so I think I will be way more apt to pick it up. Also, this is supposed to be about three sisters, all with different magical abilities, fighting for the sole spot on the throne. And that sounds amazing, even though I do think this is a pretty polarizing book in general.

And I do believe that is twelve! Hopefully I can knock these out, and even more so hopefully, I hope to love them all. I should be able to do one a month, but I would honestly be so proud of myself if I could read all of these way before December 2018, so I’d feel even less pressure! I hope you guys enjoyed, and I wish you all the happiest of reading today, 2018, and forever! ❄☃💙

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Body of The Crime (Blackest Gold #2) by R. Scarlett

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1.) Vein Of Love ★★

“Love is a weapon; it’s a weakness.”

This is book two of a series all about demons and the wicked world they try to hide from humans. This book stars a young 19-year-old girl, Molly, who is the victim of a 300-year-old contract that was set up by her ancestors. The contract promises Molly, who was born with ancient daemon (unlike demon) powers beyond her control, to marry a demon of a very prestigious demon house. She is also promised to give him an heir eventually, but he has to have sex with her, AKA mate her, so no other demon can pursue Molly, since she is a very rare commodity that would make any demon mate even more powerful.

Tensley is the demon who is promised to Molly. And he comes from a very powerful line of demons, yet because of a mistake his brother made years and years ago, his family is desperate to prove their worth and value to the rest of the demons. And obviously Molly is the perfect claim to (more) fame.

In this second book, Tensley and Molly’s relationship has actually developed into something pretty adorable. Even though Tensley has only known this scary, cut-throat world, where demons are never allowed to show anything other than anger and rage, Tensley proves over and over that he is soft and capable of giving and receiving unconditional love. Tensley is such a good male love interested because he is very dominant without ever reading/feeling like toxic male masculinity.

“Demons don´t love-they destroy.”

And I feel like the struggle and growth between both Tensley and Molly are so believable. I love seeing them grow as people, above the discriminations and hate of their people, yet also seeing them grow together to wreak havoc on anyone who stands in their way of being together. I mean, hopefully!

But content warnings for attempted rape, lots of talk/threats of rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and just violence in general. This book never felt that dark to me, but this is a story about a forced marriage, while a demon will gain an immense amount of power if he takes her virginity.

Also, because I know most of you follow me for my fantasy reviews, I always feel it necessary to state that I rate erotic books differently than other books! I know many of the relationships are toxic and problematic and I completely understand that they wouldn’t be the healthiest and/or most ideal of starts for people in real life, but I love steamy reads and I rate them purely off my enjoyment, and I truly did enjoy this second installment, and I absolutely cannot wait to read the next! I honestly have the highest of hopes and predict this series will just get better and better.

Overall, I really enjoyed this and it was such a fast and addicting read. And I feel so happy that I was able to start my 2018 off with this engrossing and captivating PNR! I read this in two sittings and it took everything in my power (and me looking at my TBR of ARCs for the month) to not immediately pick up A Bow of Thorns!

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Blood Vow (Black Dagger Legacy #2) by J.R. Ward

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1.) Blood Kiss ★★★★

Okay, so December wasn’t the best reading month for me. I’ll be completely upfront and honest, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert put me in a terrible reading slump. I was blaming being busy, and/or the holiday season, but then I read this book in like twenty-four hours and realized that I just needed to read a good book that I actually wanted to read, and Blood Vow was honestly the perfect pick. I enjoyed this immensely and I feel so thankful that it is the last book I read in 2017!

Even though Blood Vow is a second book in a series, it’s a spin-off series to the Black Dagger Brotherhood which is publishing its sixteenth book in 2018. It’s a huge series that I love with all my heart, but I completely understand that it’s quite the task to catch up to be able to read this series.

Basically, in the Black Dagger Brotherhood we follow a bunch of powerful vampires, that are in an elite group that protects humans, vampires, angels, and a bunch of other paranormal entities, and they all live in this big mansion, and they all are one big family that’s just saving the world. Well, in this series, Black Dagger Legacy, we get to see a younger generation as recruits, trying to join the elite protection force. And since this is book two, the cast is narrowed down to six trainees.

The trainee that is the star of this book is Axe, who is kind of your token bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks character, while he is falling for a girl who he feels is out of his league. And it’s not just any girl, but Axe’s fellow classmate’s cousin. This is just a trope that JR Ward loves to write, but honestly, she does it so well, I’m not even going to complain, but just take note that it is there.

Elise is from a powerful and wealthy vampire house, but after the horrible tragedy that happened in BOOK ONE, her family is being extra protective of her. All Elise wants to do is to be able to finish her college degree, but her father is making it rather difficult. That is, until he hires Axe to be her bodyguard to watch over her. (I bet you guys didn’t see that coming! *wink*)

We also follow Mary and Rhage’s adoption story with Bitty, and it was a completely joy to read! I mean, just in general I think that BDB really showcases the importance and power of found families all the time, but this book has such a moving and wonderful discussion on adoption. I loved this subplot so much. This is truly a story about how blood is only blood and how we all have the power to love and pick our family. Yet, it also showcases how sometimes sharing blood with someone who is not so great doesn’t mean that everyone you share blood with is not so great. I can’t tell you how much I love this storyline and how much I can’t wait to read all about Ruhn, who I believe is gay or bi and I’m living for it.

Overall, I just love this world that JR Ward has crafted. She is the absolute queen of PNR and she continues to impress me with stories that feel new and fresh constantly. Also, she still writes some of the best sex scenes I’ve ever read, and you best believe that I was clutching my pearls reading that bonding scene. Lord, help me. I can’t wait for book three, Blood Fury, to drop on January 9th!

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