Harkworth Hall, by L. S. Johnson

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4 stars

 

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It’s hard to craft such a full story in so few pages. One with such awesome character development and plot twists. I positively loved this from start to finish.

 

Caroline Daniels, a young woman whose ambitions defy the stereotypes of her era, gets sucked into a bizarre mystery that has just the right amount of supernatural.

 

The storytelling and writing style felt well-adapted to mimic a journal or something written in 1752 England. Very well researched, I felt. The world was just as alive as the narrative.

 

I absolutely adored the characters and their relationships. I was especially fond of the love story managed through all the life-threatening detective work. It felt paced right, the characters had chemistry—anyone who reads my reviews knows that I critique the romantic subplot harshly. This one gets the highest praised for how well-executed it was.

 

Best news of my life: there’s going to be a follow-up. I. Can’t. Wait.

 

Buy it here!

 

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The Rashade’, by R. Tran

Mara is the only woman allowed in the League, a fighters guild for men only. She’s dedicated her life to tracking down the man that killed her father. Good news! She’s finally on his trail!

 
Things started slow. About halfway through they pick up and the story itself gets real good.

 
What stood out to me about the novel was the world building. As the reader progressed with Mara, they get introduced to two very distinct cultures. Complete opposites, at that. Mara goes from a male-dominated society to a female-dominated one. What surprised me the most was that both of those cultures were at peace with each other. Transitioning between the two takes some crafty deception. Despite that, there’s a general feeling of mutual respect.

 
I liked the characters and, for the most part, their characterization. Given the constraints of the society created, the women were well-written. They didn’t exactly conform to stereotypes, and that sold me.

 
There were some things I had difficulty with. Like the frequency of the marriages without knowing a person, but still throwing ‘love’ around. I tried to take them with the cultures of societies present, which made things a little easier. I almost want to say that part of the reason is because things jumped around a lot and so time felt a little distorted. It did serve to further the internal conflict of both the plot and character development. So, there was that. And I can say that I enjoyed the main romantic subplot.

 
A lot of the story gets told through dialogue. It gets awkward and clunky real easy. Since there was so much, it seemed forced sometimes. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a huge fan of the story construction. There was enough conflict to go around, both internal and external. All the characters got their turn in the spotlight. There wasn’t one specific character that needed saving. There wasn’t one character to do all the saving. Learning curves for fighting and interactions were appropriate, and the development was noticeable.

 
The reader gets to learn about the characters and world little by little instead of getting told everything all at once. And most of the characters get their fair share. Description lacked in some areas. The narrative broke up in weird ways.

 
I did like this novel, even if there is editing needed. It doesn’t feel as polished as it should. Even with that, though, the story is one that will gradually suck the reader in and keep them.

 
Buy it here!