Review: A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer #2) by Laura Thalassa

Review: A Strange Hymn (The Bargainer #2) by Laura ThalassaA Strange Hymn by Laura Thalassa
Series: The Bargainer #2
May 27, 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Also in this series: Rhapsodic
Also by this author: Rhapsodic

Siren and soulmate to the King of Night, Callypso Lillis survived the clutches of Karnon, the mad king, and his twisted prison. But the nightmare isn’t over. Callie wears the physical reminders of her time as a captive, and mounting evidence suggests the Thief of Souls is still out there.

When a fae celebration thrusts Callie and her mate, Desmond Flynn, into the Kingdom of Flora, they take their investigation with them. But under the bright lights and striking blooms of the realm, they find there are more immediate issues to deal with. No place is more uniquely savage than the great fae halls, and no amount of bargains can save Callie from royal intrigues.

Fairies play dangerous games. Some want love, some want vengeance, some want flesh, and some want things too unspeakable to utter. One thing is for sure: no one is who they appear to be. Not even Des, who only grows more enigmatic with every passing secret.

But the Kingdom of Flora has its own secrets, from bleeding trees to branded slaves and missing guards. Something is stirring in the land of all that grows, and if Callie isn’t careful, it will claim everything and everyone she loves—and her along with it.

The obsession continues.

If you didn’t see my reviews for Rhapsodic, book one in The Bargainer series, you can go read me gush >here<. If you did see it, you know that I fecking loved it. A whole lot. It’s my favorite book of 2017 so far. That said, I had very high expectations for A Strange Hymn.

Mostly, it lived up to those expectations.

Cassie and Des have to travel to the Flora realm for peace making and to continue the investigation of the sleeping warriors, missing men and creepy ass children. This really allowed the level of fairy treachery and trickery to be raised quite a bit – and I loved it all. There is little better I like in a fantasy than deceitful fairies, this story gave me plenty.

The romance was still hot and heavy, not over the top or graphic, yet a very strong aspect of the story itself. The reader really gets to know Des better in this part of the story. His background is slowly revealed. Slowly is the key word there. While I understand Des is a secretive and reserved dude, the pace of the story sometimes lagged for me with him. I didn’t always understand his reluctance to share information with Callie. Though, every time he did, you fell that more in love with his vulnerable side and that made up for some of it.

As for the actual mystery they are trying to solve… In Rhapsodic, I truly fell in love with how incredibly creepy this plot line played out. I missed that in A Strange Hymn. The new elements that were revealed are still quite unique and I was entertained and enthralled by them. I just wasn’t as fearful of them, if that makes sense.

So, those were issues for me. The pacing at times and the change in creep factor. However, the last 15% of the book had me obsessed all over again and that’s where I stand now. Obsessed. Waiting. Obsessively waiting.

I still strongly recommend this series. Thalassa is a strong story teller with a refreshing perspective on adult romantic fantasy that I think many readers would enjoy.



About Laura Thalassa

Born and raised in Fresno, California, Laura Thalassa spent her childhood cooking up fantastic tales with her best friend. Lucky for her overactive imagination, she also happened to love writing. She now spends her days penning everything from paranormal romance to young adult novels.

Laura Thalassa lives in sunny Santa Barbara, California with her husband, author Dan Rix.

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Review: Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1) by Laura Thalassa

Review: Rhapsodic (The Bargainer #1) by Laura ThalassaRhapsodic by Laura Thalassa
Series: The Bargainer #1
November 15, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 326
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Length: 9hours 46minutes
Also in this series: A Strange Hymn
Also by this author: A Strange Hymn
Amazon US

Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want... at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.

If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one.

Can we talk about this book for a minute? We really, really need to.

Rhapsodic is like…the perfect cup of coffee. You’re out to breakfast and the waitress pours your first cup. Then, you painstakingly add just the right amount of cream and/or sugar or honey or cinnamon or whatever additives you use to make that coffee JUST RIGHT.

Rhapsodic is that cup. It’s fantasy, complete with all the sexiest and most evil supernatural creatures you could want. It’s romance at it’s heartbreaking-ly best. It’s humorous, but never in a cheesy or over the top way. As if that all was not enough, it’s singed with this absolutely creepy, deliciously horrific plot line that kind of just scares the shit right out of you. Boom – perfect cup of java.

I guzzled it right up and am waiting for my refill.

Teach me again how to be someone’s nightmare.

Shall we take a quick break from my gushing to learn a little bit about the story? Sigh…I suppose.

Most of Rhapsodic is written in both the present and flashbacks to the past. We first meet Callie as a teenager, in deep trouble. With little option, she calls on the one person that can save her. The Bargainer (Des). Not a man you want to owe favors to if you can help it, but Callie really sees no other way out.

Seven years later, he’s popping back into her life and ready to collect on that favor and the many, many others she asked for in the year they first met. Some debts will be easy to repay, others will put her life in danger.

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of bouncing between past and present. However, it really worked here. Those bits gave us the foundation for Callie and Des’ relationship and how it’s really a second chance romance of sorts. It adds so much to the level of emotions this story produces from the reader and gives you a sense of Callie’s struggles, insecurities and current state of raw stubbornness to never be a victim again. I couldn’t help but love this girl.

Hell couldn’t give me a more wicked man; heaven couldn’t give me a more perfect moment.

Now, Des. Shit. This guy. Melted me. Utter goo, I tell you. He’s so dark and dangerous but when you get his honeyed moments, they are sweeter than sweet. Toothache sweet. I just wanted to lick those moments!

And the villain – ahhh, loved it! Thalassa wrote that like it came straight out of a horror book. It’s Fantasy, yes, but at it’s most disturbing. I don’t want to give anything away but the synopsis mentions missing warriors being brought back catatonic and with a baby at the breast. Creepy, yeah? Much more than you think.  The images now implanted in my head from this story are vividly disturbing. Of course, that only makes me love it more. Anyway…not only does Callie have to help solve this mystery but she has to survive a similar fate.

If you’re a romance reader that will generally shy away from Fantasy or even Urban Fantasy, due to lack of the sexy – have no fear. Rhapsodic has you covered. In spades. The sexual tension is spot on, the actual ‘get down’ moments were as well. Again – perfect cup of coffee!

I love you. I’ve loved you from the beginning. And I will love you long after the last stars dies. I will love you until the end of darkness itself.

Quick note on the audiobook, as I both read and listened, Susannah Jones nailed the narration. Could not have picked a better person! Not only do I want to binge all of Thalassa’s books now, but I want to binge all Jones’ narrations as well.


About Laura Thalassa

Born and raised in Fresno, California, Laura Thalassa spent her childhood cooking up fantastic tales with her best friend. Lucky for her overactive imagination, she also happened to love writing. She now spends her days penning everything from paranormal romance to young adult novels.

Laura Thalassa lives in sunny Santa Barbara, California with her husband, author Dan Rix.

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Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Review: Illegal Contact by Santino HassellIllegal Contact by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #1
Published by Intermix August 15, 2017
Genres: M/M Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Copy for Honest Review
Amazon US

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

This was my first Hasell novel. Honestly, he wasn’t even on my radar until this year’s RT Convention when *someone* practically begged me for an ARC copy of this book that happened to be in a goody bag I received. I’m a nice girl and I gave up that copy. Only later to regret it when I started hearing such great things. But thankfully, I was still able to snag a galley and I now I don’t have to hate that *someone* for tricking me out of my book! 😉

Illegal Contact starts out with a pretty rough character, Gavin. A pro football player who’s found himself on house arrest for a season. He’s not very likeable to start. Unless, you like the cold and bossy type. I do. Noah is a complete contrast to Gavin and when he shows up to interview for Gavin’s PA position, I immediately liked the balance between the two. They both push each other’s buttons but always seem to learn something about themselves in the process.

While there is an immediate attraction between the two, the romantic relationship is slow to start. For many reasons. Noah doesn’t know Gavin is a bisexual. The public sure as Hell doesn’t know that Gavin is bisexual. Then, there is that whole boss/employee thing. When it does take a turn though…damn, man. It’s hot as fuck but also so freaking sweet. Seeing a big, strong personality completely softened by a man who just plain makes him better is something you can’t help but swoon over.

After about the first 25% (which was maybe just a tad slow for me) of this book, it became so hard to put down. I really enjoyed both of these characters and even their side kicks. I’m definitely looking for my next Hassell read, his combination of steam, emotion and life complexities hit the spot!


About Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

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Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Review: Nevernight by Jay KristoffNevernight by Jay Kristoff
Published by St. Martin's Griffin Genres: Fantasy, Dark
Pages: 448
Format: eBook, Paperback
Source: Purchased
Amazon US

Nevernight is the first in an epic new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author, Jay Kristoff.

In a land where three suns almost never set, a fledgling killer joins a school of assassins, seeking vengeance against the powers who destroyed her family.

Daughter of an executed traitor, Mia Corvere is barely able to escape her father’s failed rebellion with her life. Alone and friendless, she hides in a city built from the bones of a dead god, hunted by the Senate and her father’s former comrades. But her gift for speaking with the shadows leads her to the door of a retired killer, and a future she never imagined.

Now, a sixteen year old Mia is apprenticed to the deadliest flock of assassins in the entire Republic ― the Red Church. Treachery and trials await her with the Church’s halls, and to fail is to die. But if she survives to initiation, Mia will be inducted among the chosen of the Lady of Blessed Murder, and one step closer to the only thing she desires.


Nevernight is far from a romance but nevertheless I felt myself completely romanticizing the fantasy, relentless bloodlust, and intricate characters!  The depth to each and every character was so dimensional I could have fell in love with the book for that single reason alone!
Sentence after sentence felt like a love letter of sorts, one that I never wanted to end. And in a way it hasn’t, this is only book one and two more installments are still to come.  
A little forewarning however, if you do not like dark reads and are squeamish with the occasional throat slashing, this is not for you. But if you do… THEN READ THIS BOOK! I promise you will fall deep into the dark and in love with this story and all things Mia. 
Mia Corvere is a 16 year old assassin who just paid her tithe to be accepted in The Red Church. Basically if there were an Ivy League school for killers without a doubt The Red Church is it.  She is set out on a clear path to become a Blade and a devout killer Blessed under the Mother to kill the men who left her and so many others orphaned.  Sounds simple enough right, you would think, but simple isn’t even an afterthought in this case. 
Newly in a house of killers she is finding that everything is much more than what it seems, and becoming a Blade is more than just about her own revenge. Mia begins questioning how much of herself she is willing to compromise not that she has the highest morals to begin with to be honest (and that’s just a singular reason of why I love her so much gentlefriends).  I have a hard time with heroines at one time or another in any and every book but for what seems like the first time in awhile I loved MIA CORVERE through every damn chapter!  Sure she will have respiratory problems by the time she is 21 from all the smoking she does but hey you can’t win them all.  Summed up I would have to say she is like a mixture of Juno (just not pregnant), Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), and of course an essence that is all her own complete with a forever present crudeness.  
I know I said this isn’t a romance and I stand by that but there is an unspoken connection Mia shares with another character and their entanglements make for a hot scandal!  Although, I loved the relationship she had with just about every character where it was friendly or not. 
Alliances are made with deviant intentions, crimes are committed with out right brutality, and at the end of it all everything seems justified in the most unlikely of ways.  And I promise you by the end all you will NEED is the second book! 
Lastly I have to say this book was so well written and thoughtful, the follow through of not only the current happenings but the back story were so sophisticated.  Jay Kristoff made everything so easy to visualize and the foot notes added a flare that I am not used to, but as you can guess, I LOVED IT.  In the mean time till book two is out I plan on binging on this authors back log like my life depends on it!  




About Jay Kristoff

Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE, THE ILLUMINAE FILES and THE LOTUS WAR. He is the winner of four Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over thirty countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are. He is 6’7 and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

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