The Book Barrio

A Blog for Fantasy and Romance Readers


2 Stars

Review: Sebring by Kristen Ashley


Sebring by Kristen Ashley

Genre: Modern Romance


Nick Sebring has revenge issues. An evil gangster caused the death of his ex-girlfriend, and he wants to take that gangster down. So he woos the gangster’s daughter, Olivia Shade, with the hopes that he’ll get her to trust him and reveal the family secrets. But since this is a Kristen Ashley novel, he falls in love with his enemy’s daughter instead.

I must say that I have followed this author ever since I first discovered the Fantasyland series, and really liked it. You see, when you first experience reading a Kristen Ashley novel, it’s like being a dog from the mountains that suddenly gets its first city experience. Her writing style is light and fun. The heroines are full of nutty personality. And no matter how lengthy and stretched out the story is, you just can’t look away and keep asking for more. Her books are like never ending Happily Ever Afters that you binge read on all the time. That being said, it is unfortunate that this book is the book that makes me want to not read another Kristen Ashley book.

Instead of the usual can-i-please-have-more reaction, I just felt sick of it in the I-can’t-eat-my-favorite-food-anymore way. I’ve read all the other books by this author. And the writing is always superb. But I just did not find anything different or interesting in this book. It is like every other book that she has written. The plot seems like all the other plots she has written. The hero and heroine are just similar to her other characters, except with different names. Nothing makes these characters different. The book is good in the way that a novel by Kristen Ashley is good. It has her unique style and all. But it’s definitely not her best work, and it’s too similar to her past work that I should have just re-read her past work instead.

Rating: 2 Stars 😦



Review: Midnight Burning by Karissa Laurel

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance 25327426


Solina Mundy lives a quiet life, running the family bakery in her small North Carolina hometown. But one night, she suffers a vivid nightmare in which a wolfish beast is devouring her twin brother, who lives in Alaska. The next morning, police notify her that Mani is dead. Driven to learn the truth, Solina heads for the Land of the Midnight Sun. Once there, she begins to suspect Mani’s friends know more about his death than they’ve let on. Skyla, an ex-Marine, is the only one willing to help her.

As Solina and Skyla delve into the mystery surrounding Mani’s death, Solina is stunned to learn that her own life is tied to Mani’s friends, his death, and the fate of the entire world. If she can’t learn to control her newfound gifts and keep her friends safe, a long-lost dominion over mortals will rise again, and everything she knows will fall into darkness.


Solina Mundy’s twin brother was violently murdered. Four months later, Solina decides to visit Siqiniq to pack up her brother’s belongings and to find out about his murderer. Solina has been having these visions that are connected to the things that actually happen in her life, and one of these visions is of her brother being viciously attacked by a wolf.

Her brother’s death’s investigation is leading nowhere, so Solina takes matters into her own hands and tries to find the killer. Her late brother’s coworkers Skyla and Val help her with this. Thorin, who runs the outdoor adventure store her bro used to work at, mysteriously warns her to stop what she’s doing and go home.

The first part is more like a clue hunt, with one clue leading to another and bringing Solina closer to learning who the killer is. When Solina and Skyla delve further into their investigation, Solina’s place gets trashed, and she gets attacked by a wolf during a kayaking adventure. She also reveals some other special abilities that she didn’t know she had.

Now for the spoilery part.

Turns out Thorin and Val have some Norse mythology roots and are descendants of Odin and Thor. Somehow, the deaths of Solina and her brother may lead to another apocalypse. So then Val and Thorin have to protect her in a love triangle way. There’s also a villain who wants to bring about the apocalypse by killing Solina.

And then suddenly Solina gets kidnapped by the Valkyries who want to give her some free training because she has zero fighting skills. At that point, I really really wanted to give up and not finish the book.

I think Solina just loses track of her goals  halfway through the story. She says that she wants to bring her brother’s death to justice but believes some assumptions based on some mythological analogies with their names. Yes, they just assume the identity of the her brother’s killer, without much concrete evidence to support it. We don’t even learn much about her brother, so we don’t feel her grief and pain over that death.

I know I sound a bit like a mess and its because a lot of things didn’t add up. Like why Solina’s place was trashed if the bad guys’ goal was to kill her. Or why Val and Thorin let her go on investigating when they knew what was going on all along. Or why a group of warrior females would have the time and resources to give our heroine some free combat training out of nowhere. The climax didn’t really feel like a climax at all. I don’t feel like we ever got to that moment of absolute despair and desperation before the final battle. Too many questions and not enough struggle to make it believable.

If there’s one thing that was done well, it would have to be the love triangle. There is enough tension between Thorin, Val and Solina. Thorin’s a real hunk. He’s more like the quiet brooding type, while Val’s the playboy flirty persona.

The premise is really interesting. I’ve never read a book based on Norse myths. The references to Thor, Loki and Odin are really interesting. My main beef is that there are inconsistencies in both plot and character. Sometimes, the dots just don’t connect.

Rating: 2 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Review: Dragons Realm by Tessa Dawn

Genre: Fantasy, Romance 27006898


Mina Louvet is a fighter, a human with a powerful will to survive in a world dominated by warlocks, soul-eaters, and shifters. Identified by the king’s witch as one of the rare, invaluable females in Dragons Realm who can give birth to a dragon’s son, she was stolen from her parents as a child and taken to the Keep to be reared in the ways of the Ahavi. As one of the few, the elect ~ the Sklavos Ahavi ~ Mina is expected to feed her master’s fire, reanimate his blood, and above all else, give him strong dragon offspring: children who will one day rise to power. But Mina, to her great misfortune, is far too intelligent for her own good: She has a stubborn sense of justice, and she is wholly incapable of blind submission.

Dante Dragona is as cunning as he is lethal, as methodical as he is dangerous, and as terrifying as he is powerful. As the eldest of three dragon princes, he is destined to succeed his merciless father to the throne of Castle Dragon. But first he must do his duty to the Realm by governing one of its harsh, unforgiving districts and claiming a Sklavos Ahavi. Hardened by the sadistic abuse he endured as a child and shaped by the tragic suicide of his twin, the prince lives only to fulfill his obligations to the monarchy: to maintain law and order in a bestial land, to contain its magical inhabitants, and to keep the kingdom safe from its mortal enemies, the Lycanian shifters across the sea. Like all primordial dragons, he rules with an iron fist, dominates with absolute power, and punishes with fire. Those who oppose him die a swift and brutal death ~ subject, enemy, or slave ~ the Realm has no tolerance for weakness.

When the iron resolve of a dragon prince clashes with the stubborn will of a slave, bonds will be broken, alliances will be tested, and a kingdom will be set ablaze.


When I read about the plot involving dragons and arranged marriages, I was really curious to see where the story would lead. This is my first time to try this author so I came in with no expectations.

Mina, one of the Sklavos Ahavi, is foretold to be able to produce male heir dragons. For this reason, she is taken from her family and groomed to be one the wives of the royal princes. She is not content about her lot as a prized broodmare for dragons, and would escape if she could.

From the first meeting, Mina feels a strong connection towards the eldest dragon prince, Dante. However they will have to wait for five months until the autumn festival wherein the King will choose the brides for each prince.

Both Mina and Dante fell a bit flat for me. Mina fit the typical romance heroine stereotype – headstrong, beautiful, submissive, willing to stupidly put herself in danger and be rescued. While Dante had a uber alpha thing going on, his “beast” needed to assert its dominance all the time. He was all, “You are mine,” to Mina.

The plot was well paced enough that I was able to keep on reading. However I felt that some of the events of the book weren’t really that believable. For example, Mina’s sister got kidnapped and sold into slavery. Even though Mina is one of the kingdom’s prized brides, she was able to easily escape the palace to spy on slave traders, and learn of her sister’s whereabouts. Mina would put herself in danger and Dante would be there to save her at the right time.

I also wanted more details about the world, its laws, the politics and the war going on. Some parts felt rushed to me. I just felt that there was a lack of balance between romance and fantasy elements, and the characters.

Rating: 2 Stars

Amazon | Goodreads

Review: Blood Call by Lilith Saintcrow

Genre: Romantic Thriller with a supernatural twist


Anna Caldwell has spent the last few days in a blur. She’s seen her brother’s dead body, witnessed the shooting of innocent civilians, and been shot at herself. Now she has nowhere to turn—and only one person she can possibly call.

Since Anna dumped him, it seems waiting is all Josiah Wolfe has done. Now, she’s calling, and she needs his help—or rather, the “talents” she once ran away from. As a liquidation agent, Josiah knows everything about getting out of tough situations. He’ll get whatever she’s carrying to the proper authorities, then settle down to making sure she doesn’t leave him again.

But the story Anna’s stumbled into is far bigger than even Josiah suspects. Anna wants to survive, Josiah wants Anna back, and the powerful people chasing her want the only thing worth killing for—immortality. An ancient evil has been trapped, a woman is in danger, and the world is going to see just how far a liquidation agent will go…


The book starts with Anna on the run from the people who killed her brother. She has nobody to go to except Josiah, her ex-boyfriend and also an assassin for hire. Together, they run away from the enemies and try to figure out what Anna’s brother stumbled on.

Anna is shocked and hurting for most of the book. It is understandable for someone in her situation to be like that. And Josiah was an asshole at first but then his protective instincts kicked in and then he was all alpha-protect mode. I really didn’t feel much of the chemistry between them, probably because Anna was such a helpless damsel in distress. It was full of those “Are you okay?” dialogues followed by protective hugs and then more running.

Also, they go about solving the mystery of why the bad guys killed Anna’s brother by just running away and escaping until finally everything is laid out for them. The most interesting part of the part of the story is the supernatural twist. The action was okay, but not gripping.

Blood Call was engaging enough for me to be able to read on to the finish line. But at the end of the day, the characters fell flat, the romance felt forced, and the mystery wasn’t worth solving.

Rating: 2 stars

Amazon | Goodreads

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