Friday, May 15, 2009

Jean Johnson - The Mage - Sons of Destiny Series 8

“The Eight Son shall set them free:
Act in Hope and act in love
Draw down your powers from above
Set your Brothers to their call
When Mage has wed, you will be all.

Eight brothers, born in four sets of twins, two years apart to the day – they fulfill the Curse of Eight Prophecy. Though no longer trapped in exile, their growing family faces new problems. The worst of those troubles now falls upon the last of the Sons of Destiny…

Hope, Morganen's foretold bride, has finally arrived on the island. She hasn't been telling the full truth about herself, and the consequences will stretch further than even she anticipates. Just as Morgan gets used to Hope's Revelation, new enemies arrive on the Isle, seeking to steal away the brothers' chance at creating a new nation. During the attack, an old foe resurfaces and strikes amid the confusion, kidnapping the final bride-to-be.

Either Morg will rescue Hope and help his family complete the Prophecies of the Seer Draganna and the last Duchess of Nightfall, carving a new kingdom in the process...or their enemies will be free to slaughter them all....”

From the start it was clear that this series would only be eight parts long and with the release of the Mage the end of the Sons of Destiny series is finally known. Therefore with mixed emotions I picked up my copy of The Mage, I really wanted to know Morg’s story because he is one of my favorite characters in the series and of course how the series would end. At the same time I felt a bit sad because it was also the last time I would return to Jean Johnson’s world, Nightfall Isle and those sexy twins.

The story begins with a flashback, we get to know Hope better (Morg’s destined bride-to-be), who she really is and how she met Kelly. As some readers might already have guessed, Hope is not from Kelly’s world. This flashback covers a time period of five years, the years that Hope spent on Earth and explains how she got there.

Hope is actually the Duchess Haupanea of Nightfall who lived 200 years earlier on Nightfall and then magically disappeared. Now that she is back she has no intentions to claim her Duchy again, she wants to be a chocolatier. It is hilarious to read how she and Kelly devour their chocolate while the others don’t even know what chocolate is. Hope is levelheaded, practical and smart but also a bit insecure for once again she has to start her life all over again. First on Earth and now on Nightfall, for the Nightfall she once knew is gone. She also used to be a Seer for the God Nauvea, but it looks like her Goddess has forsaken her.

As the youngest brother, Morg has some insecurities of his own; he feels he is just plain looking in comparison with his brothers. He is the even-tempered one, the reasonable one, the diplomat of the family, except when it comes to Hope he cannot think straight and is jealous. He is in love with her but is astonished when he discovers who Hope really is and all of a sudden he feels like he doesn’t know the woman he loves at all. He feels hurt that she did not take him into her confidence about something so significant as who she really is. Hope has to make up for that, but he soon finds out that she still is the Hope who he fell in love with.

The Mage is by far the most romantic part of the series. For two-third of the story the courting between Morg and Hope takes center stage, there is lots of witty banter going on between the two of them that made me smile, the incident with the shorts is hilarious and Hope gives Morg a piece of her mind about it. The love scenes are provocative erotic and sensual, they involve a lot of food and liquid chocolate and they made my heart beat faster and faster. What woman wouldn’t want to trade places with Hope when Morg licks off the chocolate from her body! These scenes certainly put my imagination in overdrive.


“Hope found herself quickly overwhelmed. Morganen didn’t just kiss her as a man who wanted a woman; he kissed her as if she could give a drowning man his breath, a starving man his food.”

“Well, am I as good as chocolate? Or am I even better?”

The one thing I noticed immediately is that there is a lot more interaction between the characters and less lengthy descriptions of certain things than in part 7 The Flame. The oh so familiar bickering between the brothers, their typical humor and rivalry is uplifting. All the characters we come to love and know pass in review, but the spotlight really is on Morg, Hope and Kelly. The witty banter between the characters, the humor and the love scenes make this story a fluent and fast-paced read.

After 200 pages the pace of the story changes and the overarching plotline takes over. It is in the last part of the book that all the plotlines come together and get unraveled. Basically the grand finale of the Sons of Destiny series is split in two. An old enemy resurfaces suddenly and kidnaps Hope, time is running out and now Kelly has no choice then to send Morg to his old homeland Katan to diplomatic solve the issue and to get Hope back safely. Only Katan does not co-operate and now we get to see how powerful Morg really is. At the same time Kelly has to start the resurrection of the Convocation of the Gods to get the approval of the Gods to become an incipient kingdom. There are too many schemes and attacks going on to delay it any longer.

But for me the end was not the big bang I was waiting for. It is not spectacular; all the plotlines come together and get unraveled neatly. The convocation of the Gods is funny and witty, it is quite a happening for all Nightfallers, it is Nightfall’s history in the making. But the end is too smooth; all the threats from the past are solved to simple. Yes, it is all obvious and it all makes sense but for my taste is it solved too easily. The other thing I struggled with was that in the end Morg became more and more interesting and that his new found position in life raises more questions for me than answers. The entire end is just not spectacular enough to satisfy all my cravings, it would have been nice to read an epilogue in which we return to Nightfall a couple of years later to see how everyone is doing.

Though perhaps I put my expectations for the end too high, The Mage is still a great and enjoyable read and Morg & Hope are fantastic characters. The story is rich and layered because of the storylines and previous parts in the series, the characters have grown more rounded with each part and I will miss all of them! Jean Johnson has created a world that is unique and entrancing. The Corvis twins have earned their permanent place on my bookshelves and I will always have a soft spot for Jean Johnson’s Sons of Destiny series.

4 stars

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kathryne Kennedy - Enchanting the Beast - Relics of Merlin 3

It is the year 1861, where magic rules Victorian England, where the amount of magic you possess is based on your rank, where commoners don’t own any magic, where shape-shifters are immune to magic and therefore see through every spell crafted by the peerage to maintain their superior social status. This makes them unloved by all but the Crown. For the Crown needs the shifters to protect the relics of Merlin, these relics each contain a magic so strong that it cannot be equaled by any other kind of magic. If a relic ends up in the wrong hands the outcome will be incalculable, therefore they must stay hidden and forgotten.

Sir Nicodemus (Nico) Wulfson, Baronet of Grimspell Castle, has come to London to seek help for his brother Roy who is being haunted by ghosts. Nico does not believe in ghosts but his brother’s health is at stake and so he is looking for a convincing charlatan who can help his brother. Phil seems to be exactly the person he has been looking for and he quickly secures her help. But the instant attraction he feels for her makes the wolf in him roar and now he is haunted too for he cannot think about anything else but making her his own, his mate.

Lady Philomena (Phil) Radcliff has always been a bit of a misfit among the peerage for she can see and talk to ghosts. She earns her living with séances and she cannot refuse Nico’s generous offer. So she packs her things and leaves for Grimspell Castle to hunt the ghosts who disturb the peace at the castle. She soon discovers that the ghosts are upset about something and that she is not only the hunter but also the prey of one very persistent, drop dead gorgeous wolf that wants to claim and mate her...

Every once in a while you get addicted to a series that truly stands out in the crowd between the many historical, paranormal and other romance series out there. Kathryne Kennedy’s Relics of Merlin series is such a series. It has this unique vibe; it is refreshing and totally addictive to read. Part 1, Enchanting the Lady, got me hooked on this series, Double Enchantment made the addiction worse and as expected, this part Enchanting the Beast, had me spellbound once again.

Phil is a beautiful lady, 40 years of age. She is independent, headstrong and bold. She is also considerate, courteous, a bit lonely and she always wanted to be a mother. The men in her life couldn’t handle her talent and always left and over the years her wish to be blessed with children of her own evaporated. Never in her life has she felt the attraction she now feels for Nico, but she struggles with the age difference. She is afraid that Nico’s infatuation with her is only temporary and she uses the age gap as a shield to protect herself from being hurt again. But by doing so she denies herself what she wants most, to be loved by someone.

As a baronet Nico is a shape-shifter. He is tall, handsome, has beautiful multicolored hair and has this devastating wolfish smile. He acts and moves like a predator, this makes him very intimidating but all of this comes natural to him for his were-form is a wolf. As the alpha male of his pack he emanates masculine, raw power but he is also gentle, tender and protective. His past still haunts him every night and the beast in him is fighting to get a hold on him. Phil soothes the wolf in him and makes him feel peaceful. Nico and Phil’s interactions are intense, sizzling and dynamic.


“What are you?” He didn’t ask what she meant. “Surely you ‘ve guessed? My were-form is a wolf, Lady Philomena Radcliff. I eat young girls for dinner.” And he turned on his heel and left. Phil shuddered to think of what he did to older women.

Although Nico and Phil steal the spotlight, there really is a variety of energetic secondary characters that all add their own unique input. The story is really soaked with a multi-colored collection of shape-shifters. Many different were-forms pass in review, the villagers, Nico’s pack-members and Sarah who is Phil’s loyal servant, they all are shape-shifters. Then there is Tup, the ghost of a street kid, he is also Phil’s spiritual guide. He will steal your heart. Phil is convinced he needs her for a reason but it is really Phil who needs Tup but she does not realize that. Another character that caught my eye is Edwina, the wife of Roy. She is really an annoying and spoiled young woman.

I must admit that I expected a similar story based on the previous parts in the series and although I liked it right away it took me a bit by surprise. One big contrast is that this story takes place in the country and not the city. The plotline is also built up differently; the relic does not appear until ¾ of the story. While reading I was wondering when the relic would emerge, I realized later that it was there the whole time, only it is very well hidden in the storyline. A murder complicates things further for the main characters and spice up the story even more, the romance plot develops slowly but believable despite the age gap. All these plotlines are linked and brought together perfectly in the end. The end was spectacular, surprising and satisfying.

Kathryne Kennedy knows how to pen down a historical setting and blends this effortlessly with magic, myth, suspense and romance. By doing so she gives the whole story a fairy-like vibe and the many magical creatures like the stickmen who live in the enchanted forest and the hay-fairies add to this vibe. Kathryne Kennedy keeps you spellbound with her fluent writing, lively and witty dialogues and rounded characters.

Enchanting the Beast is bewitching, fast-paced, action-filled and moving. Once again, Kathryne Kennedy has delivered an outstanding part in the Relics of Merlin series. I truly enjoyed reading it and I am curious what she will dish out in future parts. It will be a long wait for the next part.

Enchanting the Beast is sure to enchant you for it is a phenomenal read!

4,5 stars