Trickery: Five Alphas are five times hotter!

Trickery Curse of the Gods by Jane Washington and Jaymin Eve. A Fantasy Reverse Harem.

Review: Trickery (Curse of the Gods 1)

by Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington
narrated by Vanessa Moyen

Pick it up on Amazon**

This book was not at all what I expected. It was so much better! It instantly became one of those series that I recommend to everyone, whether they asked for it or not.

Based on the publisher’s summary I expected a pushover silly girl and some cruel slave driver alphas. Silly me!

I have listened to Jaymin Eve’s “Supernatural Prison” series**, so I could have known better. But hey, I like being positively surprised. It beats getting disappointed.

After tagging this book on Goodreads I found out that we call this obscure Romance subgenre “Reverse Harem”. Sounds good, right? That’s what I thought. Originally I had expected that we pair one of our five Abcurse brothers off in each of the five books. Instead, the story is entirely focussed on our heroine Willa who simply gets ALL the Abcurses! Whuuut??

The story takes place in a full fantasy setting, in the land of Minatsol, where we have three groups of beings: the dwellers, lowly servants without any special abilities; the sols, magical beings hoping to ascend; and the gods who live in Topia. Now, Willa is just a dweller, and a particularly bad one at that. She seems to be cursed by the gods. And she stumbles and falls through life causing chaos and accidents wherever she goes. However, she is not at all a pushover or silly. She actually holds her head high and accepts herself the way she is, not caring much at all what anyone else thinks, even if it’s sols or gods. She meets anyone head-on. I believe the right words to describe her are: “She does everything with panache”.

With my background of High Fantasy, I admit, I was at first unsure how to feel about a full fantasy setting with modern language. I was wondering if at some point it would feel too sci-fi or the language would seem silly. But it all worked seamlessly and I was fully immersed in the story after a few minutes already. This is, I’m sure at least partly, due to Vanessa Moyen filling Willa with so much life. I could picture her strutting through her village, stumbling over something, righting herself and just strutting on, head held high! The narration is so fitting in portraying Willa as someone who remains light-hearted despite her serious and dangerous life as part of the slave/servant class. I also liked the male voices and the accents Vanessa Moyen uses for some characters. They seem fitting and it’s pretty easy to keep characters apart during dialogues.

This book made me a bit of a Vanessa Moyen fangirl and I will definitely pick up more books narrated by her.

One more thing I find noteworthy: In this first part Jaymin Eve and Jane Washington didn’t go for the usual Messiah story. There was no: “But you shouldn’t be able to do that!”. While I have only finished books 1 – 3 of the series, I get the impression that Willa gets nothing handed to her and has to work hard for everything she achieves (or… you know… trick herself there while going through a lot of physical pain and a little bit of embarrassment). She doesn’t seem to be a Messiah and is definitely not a Mary Sue.

So, if you at all like Fantasy, do pick this up! I will definitely finish this series and am very much looking forward to the last part coming out as an audiobook.

Publisher’s summary

Willa Knight: Dweller. Slave. Non-magical being.

In Minatsol, being a dweller means that you are literally no better than dirt. In fact, dirt might actually be more useful than Willa. Her life will be one of servitude to the sols, the magic-blessed beings who could one day be chosen to become gods.

At least her outer village is far removed from the cities of the sols, and she won’t ever be forced to present herself to them… Until one small mistake changes everything, and Willa is awarded a position to serve at Blesswood, the top sol academy in the world – a position that she definitely did not earn.

Under the sudden, watchful eye of the gods, she will be tasked to serve the Abcurse brothers, five sols built of arrogance, perfection, and power. They are almost gods themselves, and under their service, she is either going to end up sentenced to death, or else they are going to ruin her so badly that she will wish for it.

Either way, she is in trouble.

Oooh-Factor:

This is a tricky one (see what I did there? 😀 ). There is a lot of sexual tension, but no explicit scenes. It’s also at no point awkward that the five guys are brothers, don’t worry!

Audio-Factor:

Audiobook > Book
Vanessa Moyen is Willa!!

Pick it up here:

All 5 parts of this series are “read for free” with Kindle Unlimited:
Trickery**, Persuasion**, Seduction**, Strength**, and Pain**.
Books 1-4 are out on audio and they all have Whispersync deals. So you can pick up the audiobook cheaper when you get the ebook.
Currently, book 3 is in the Audible Romance Package**.

If this series alone doesn’t convince you, read my guide why you should definitely subscribe to Kindle Unlimited or the Audible Romance Package: HERE.

Introductions – The Academy: A world without girls…

Review of: Introductions: The Academy Ghost Bird Series 1 by C. L. Stone. Audiobook edition narrated by Natalie Eaton.This is Reverse Harem Young Adult.

Review: Introductions: The Academy Ghost Bird Series 1

by C. L. Stone
narrated by Natalie Eaton

Pick it up on Amazon**
A friend of mine on Facebook suggested a buddy-read (or rather: a buddy-listen) and due to my “I want to read more awesome Reverse Harem stories”-journey we ended up with this one. I have many, but not very coherent thoughts about this book…

The big question we were both wondering about was: “If I had read this book when I was 16, would I have loved it?” And it’s difficult to answer that.

The whole set-up of a mistreated, lonely girl finding this amazing group of friends who all happen to be super hot, super smart guys is kind of touching. And at no point was I bored.

To stay fair it is also important to note that this book is called “Introductions” and is the first part in a series. But I still didn’t expect that it would feel almost like a collection of short stories of this girl meeting each of those strapping young men. There is really no bigger story arc. It’s just one boy after the other meeting her, flirting with her, making her feel better about herself.

I can honestly say that 16-year-old me would have absolutely loved having a group of seven guys as my friends. And that was the charm of this book. But that was also all it had to offer. And even 16-year-old me would probably have been disappointed or weirded out by the lack of any storyline or any explanation why these guys all accepted this girl just like that and befriended her warmly 1 minute after meeting her.

Then there’s this other thing and I’m most certainly not the first to be unimpressed with this. Sang is constantly told that she’s “not like other girls” and “so different”. And in the whole book there’s not a single nice girl in sight. Her sister is a bit of a bitch. The one guy’s sister is young and doesn’t talk. At school a girl looks at her angrily because of her hot guy posse. They all get about 10 seconds to 1 minute of interaction.

Is it really necessary to put this message into books for YA readers that all other girls suck? That it’s best to be “different from other girls”? I get where C.L. Stone is coming from. Everyone wants to be a special snowflake. And especially victims of bullying will feel a connection to this. (I did.) But it’s really not ideal to not have a single other likable girl in the entire book.

My buddy-listener said: “At least have a girl say hi to her or something cause I don’t think all girls will just leave her be.” And that it’s a world without females. And it’s true. It’s only our one “special” girl and a bunch of model/superhero guys and their teachers. Hmm…..

The narration by Natalie Eaton was great though. Her intonations and voices were spot-on and she really transported the different emotions of Sang.

So, overall, this is a series I would maybe continue at some point. But mostly because it’s like watching a train wreck. You just can’t look away even though or because it’s awful. It was weirdly entertaining. But it’s definitely not a series I’d recommend to teenage girls.

 

Publisher’s summary
From USA Today best-selling author CL Stone, listen to Introductions, the first book in The Academy Ghost Bird Series.

With an agoraphobic mother and a barely-there father, Sang abhors the isolation keeping her in the shadows. The only thing Sang craves is a fresh start and to be accepted as ordinary by her peers, because for her being different meant being cast out alone. When her family moves to a new school district, Sang infiltrates a group of boys nearly perfect in every way. Grateful for an influence outside of her parents’ negativity, she quickly bonds with the boys, hoping to blend in and learn from them what it means to have a natural relationship with friends.

Only the boys have secrets of their own and they’ll do anything to keep her safe from the knowledge of the mysterious Academy that they’ve sworn allegiance to. Bit by bit, Sang discovers that her friends are far from the normalcy she expected. Will her loyalty change when she’s forced to remain in the dark, or will she accept that she’s traded one house of secrets for another? Meet Kota, Victor, Silas, Nathan, Gabriel, Luke, and North in a story about differences and loyalty, truth and mystery, friendships, and heart-throbbing intimacy. The Academy, ever vigilant.

 

 

Oooh-Factor:

Tingly Young Adult 🙂

 

Audio-Factor:

Audiobook > Book
Natalie Eaton did a wonderful, emotional narration.

 

Pick it up here:

Audible audiobook “Introductions”**

You can currently pick up the e-book** to Introductions: The Academy Ghost Bird Series 1 for free and buy the audiobook as a cheap Whispersync upgrade.