Book review: RED SISTER by Mark Lawrence

It’s not until you’re broken that you find your sharpest edge

51lnAAPhJjLI really enjoyed RED SISTER, even though I don’t tend to go in for fantasy novels where the character spends large amounts of time training or studying. As such, I found the middle of the story a little slow. However, Mark Lawrence’s superb writing style more than makes up for this!

This novel follows the story of Nona, a girl ‘convicted of murder, guilty of worse’, who ends up training with the deadly nuns of ‘The Sisters of Mercy’. Along the way, Nona tries to hide a deadly secret about the past from her friends and the sisters of the order, while she hunts for the truth about who she really is.

The thing I loved the most about this book was the world building. This is a unique, gritty and beautifully drawn fantasy world – a land locked in an advancing ice-age under a dying sun, and a moon that will soon drop from the sky. The inhabitants have found ways to keep the ice back for the moment but they all know they live under the shadow of approaching doom. This knowledge colours their entire world. This was defnitely the most exciting element of RED SISTER for me, and I will pick up the sequel for this alone!

I also love the way Mark Lawrence writes, he has a lyrical, easy-to-read style that sucks you in.

The magic system and the Sisters of Mercy are credible and uniquely drawn, and I enjoyed Nona’s journey of discovery. The plot was good, with a few twists and turns to keep the reader on their toes, although as I mentioned earlier the long sections where we follow Nona during her training did slow the pace of the book (for me).

You’d think a story about a group of girls training to become killer nuns would place this novel in the YA category, but this novel most definitely is not Young Adult. Dark, edgy, violent, and compelling, RED SISTER is an absorbing read.

Check this novel out on Amazon.

Grace Draven’s new Fantasy Romance is coming

We’ll have to wait till September 2018 for it—but Penguin Random House have finally released the details about Grace Draven’s new romantic fantasy: PHOENIX UNBOUND.

It’s looks epic! Here’s the cover:


Here’s what the novel is about …

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.

Preorder on Amazon!

As you might have guessed, I’ve already preordered my copy! I’m a huge Grace Draven fan—frankly there aren’t enough fantasy authors like her out there. Here’s why I feel her books are better than many other fantasy romance novels I’ve read.

  1. Her writing is beautiful: she has a lyrical almost fairy-tale style, and creates a magical sense of place.
  2. Her books are truly character-driven: even if an epic fantasy novel has great characters, few of them are really ‘character-driven’. By its nature, fantasy tends to be plot driven, as forces outside our characters control throw them into adventures. However, Grace Draven manages to rein in the scope and approaches fantasy through the way romance authors approach storytelling. Her novels have epic qualities but what matters most is the internal journey of the characters.
  3. Her books are emotional: she really knows how to create deeply emotional stories that hook readers in. We really care about what happens to her characters.
  4. Her books are about great love: yes, they’re steamy, but Grace Draven’s books focus on the developing romance between two characters, and a deep and enduring love. She uses classic romance tropes in her works but subverts them beautifully, giving us a unique story.

Have you found another author that writes in a similar vein to Grace Draven—please let me know if you have. I love this type of fantasy, so I’d be keen to read their books too! 🙂

Cover reveal for THE LOST SWALLOW

Work continues on Book #2 in the Light and Darkness series. Meanwhile … the novel now has a cover! 🙂



She is a bodyguard, and he is an enchanter—together they must protect a young woman with the power to save their world. Epic adventure and romance collide in this emotional romantic fantasy.

Plucked from the sewers as a child, Mira was raised to become part of The Swallow Guard: an elite group of female bodyguards who protect the royal family. Years later, she spends her days catering to the whims of a spoiled precocious princess.

But when war comes to their kingdom, the queen gives her daughter’s guardian an important task. If she manages to escort Princess Ninia to safety, Mira will earn her freedom.

Far to the north, Asher—an enchanter in the Order of Light and Darkness—begins a journey to intercept the princess and her protector. He must help them cross a border now crawling with enemy soldiers. Yet he does not expect to meet such a sheltered childish princess, or such a fierce and distractingly attractive guardian.

There is far more to Princess Ninia than meets the eye.

When Mira discovers that her charge possesses a rare gift that could save their war-torn world, she must join forces with the aloof loner sent to help them or she will never win her freedom. With the enemy close behind, Mira and Asher realize the only way to get the princess to safety is through the heart of danger.

Update on Book #2 in the Light & Darkness series

Book #2 now has a name: THE LOST SWALLOW. I’m now 20% into the manuscript, and with other writing projects out of the way (two Historical Romances set in Dark Ages Britain and Scotland), I can now focus my attention on my Epic Fantasy Romance series once more (happy dance!).

Naturally … I’m excited about THE LOST SWALLOW.

The first installment, RULED BY SHADOWS, was a coming of age story about a young woman who must face her greatest fears in order to save her world. It’s an epic journey, both physically and emotionally. However, this tale is darker. It’s about a renewal of hope, of redemption. Lilia (the heroine of Book #1) starts off fragile and gains strength as the story progresses whereas the heroine of Book #2, Mira is more streetwise. Her story is more about a lost soul finding her purpose.

Orphaned, Mira starts life scrounging a living on the streets of Veldoras before the Queen of Thûn plucks her out of the gutter and gives her the chance of a new life. Only such generosity comes at a price … 

Here’s a sneak peek at the PROLOGUE to give you an idea what’s coming. Enjoy!


THE GIRL DUG her hand into the mud, her fingers fastening around a small, round object. The slimy river silt gave up its treasures reluctantly, and made an obscene sucking sound as she pulled her find free.

Mira straightened up, her bare feet sinking into the cold mud. She held the caked object aloft, squinting at it in the bright noon light. Disappointment pricked at her when she wiped away the grime to find a smooth, pale-pink surface underneath. It was a seashell, a pretty conch, but not something that would earn her a meal.

The shell wouldn’t even buy her a crumb of bread.

Mira’s stomach growled, reminding her that she needed to find something she could barter for food—enough to take the edge off the hunger that clawed at her belly and made her legs tremble underneath her.

Inhaling deeply, Mira stuffed the shell into the pocket of her filthy leather vest and looked about her. She stood up to her ankles in sludge, around five feet from the edge of the Brinewater Canal, the sun glinting on the dark river flats. A hump-backed bridge made of pitted grey stone reared to her left. The Bridge of the North Wind was a good spot for mudlarking, for this was one of the richer areas of the city—and wealthy folk crossing the bridge might accidently drop something valuable into the mud.

Mira wasn’t alone here. A scattering of other Mudlarks—children who combed the riverbed at low-tide looking for treasures—picked through the mud around her. Like Mira, they were a scrawny, filthy bunch; clad in rags with eyes too big for their thin faces.

Mira sighed. Standing here feeling sorry for herself wouldn’t buy her a hot meal. She was about to bend down once more, when she spied the roof of a gilded carriage as it rumbled onto the Bridge of the North Wind.

She watched its passage, her gaze tracking it across the bridge’s arch … and when the carriage stopped half-way, a smile stretched across Mira’s face.

A nobleman had come for some easy entertainment.

She watched two individuals—a young man and woman—climb out of the carriage. They made a fine couple: he was tall with long black hair, a dashing cape hanging from his broad shoulders; and she was slender with hair the color of gold, wearing a becoming jade dress.

Mira stared at the woman, transfixed; she looked like a princess from one of the stories her mother had told her. It seemed like a lifetime ago, those nights when Mira’s mother would sit next to her by the fire and tell her tales of ladies and lords, warriors and enchanters, and great adventures. Both Mira’s parents had died, taken by the Grey Ravage four years earlier. Now, at the age of ten, Mira survived by scavenging a living on the streets and waterways of Veldoras.

The man sauntered to the edge of the bridge and cast a smirk over his shoulder at his companion, beckoning her to him.

Smiling coyly, the young woman approached the walled side of the bridge. She looked down, her gaze sweeping over the collection of urchins picking through the mud below, and her pretty nose wrinkled. The stench of the canal at low-tide, the eye-watering odor of rotting weed and refuse, was a smell that offended many of the citizens of ‘The City of Tides’ as Veldoras was known. However, Mira had lived amongst the stench for so long now that she barely noticed it.

The man dug into the pocket of his jerkin and pulled something forth, before leaning out over the edge of the bridge. “Children,” he cried out, grinning. “Come give us some sport!”

And with that, he flicked the object he held high into the air and watched it plummet toward the muddy flats below.

Mira watched it to, caught the glimmer of yellow that told her he had just thrown a gold talent, and felt her empty belly contract.

A gold talent was a fortune, enough to buy her food for a week.

Time slowed. Desperation soared within Mira when she realized that she was not standing where the coin would fall. Rowan, a weedy boy of her age, had been scavenging directly under the bridge would catch it. Realizing his good fortune, Rowan let out a whoop and reached out his thin arms toward the coin, his face screwing up in concentration.

Mira dove for him.

Rowan caught the talent, an instant before Mira collided with him. The two of them went down in a tangle of limbs.

“No!” Rowan wailed. “It’s mine!”

But Mira ignored him—so deep was her desperation that all she could think about was the hot soup, the fresh bread, and the wedges of salty cheese that gold talent could buy her. She didn’t care about Rowan, or about the other Mudlarks.

No one needed that money as much as she did.

Rowan fought her, his limbs flailing, but one vicious, bony knee to the belly brought him down. She heard the boy’s breath rush out of him, as he sank into the mud. Then, she pried the coin out of his hand.

A moment later, she was on her feet and running as fast as her trembling legs could carry her. The sucking mud slowed her down but a few strides took her to the banks of the canal, and the row of mildewed stone steps that led up to the embankment above.
Her foot hit the first step and she heard a howl behind her, followed by a string of filthy curses.

Rowan was coming after her.

Hope you enjoyed the preview of THE LOST SWALLOW. There will also be a cover reveal for the novel coming soon!

RULED BY SHADOWS 99 cent offer!

Usually priced at US$3.99, Book #1 of the Light and Darkness series (Kindle edition) is available at 99 cents for a limited time only— don’t miss out! At 330 action-packed pages, this Epic Fantasy novel (written under my pen-name Jayne Castel) is a fantastic deal.

What’s RULED BY SHADOWS about?

An unforgettable Epic Fantasy adventure brimming with action, emotion and romance–for readers who loved Throne of Glass! 

“If I could give this more than 5 stars I would. This was an exciting, action-packed and emotion-filled tale.” ★★★★★

In a land ruled by shadows, the fate of all lies in the hands of a girl who is afraid of the dark.

Tired of living a small life, Lilia makes a fresh start by moving to a bustling port. Only when a handsome, enigmatic stranger walks into the tavern where she works as a cook–and leaves a charm-stone in her safekeeping–her neat, ordered world crumbles.

What appears to be a humble hag stone–used by folk to ward off evil spirits–is in reality a powerful talisman. One that a secret brotherhood has spent five-hundred years searching for.

Life will never be the same for Lilia again.

Her shadow begins behaving strangely–and when The Shade Brotherhood come after her, Lilia must leave her sleepy isle to embark on an epic journey into danger, discovery … and love.

The shadows are deepening and an ancient evil risks being unleashed upon the world. Lilia must face the darkness, and her own fears–or there will be no going home.

Get your 99 cent copy today!

Meanwhile … work continues on Book #2! 

The second installment of the Light and Darkness series now has a name: THE LOST SWALLOW.

I’m 20% into the manuscript, and love being able to return to the world of The Four Kingdoms of Serran. It’s also great to further develop characters introduced in Book #1: Asher and Ryana especially. I’m bringing in some new protagonists as well, and some exciting plot twists!

THE LOST SWALLOW is the story of Mira and Asher. She’s a streetwise bodyguard. He’s a jaded enchanter of the order of Light and Darkness. Both loners, outsiders, Mira and Asher meet in the shadow of an escalating war that threatens to tear their world apart. When a chance comes to end the conflict, they both choose to embark on a journey into the heart of danger … one they are likely never to return from.

Sounds great … but I haven’t read Book #1 of the series yet

Here’s your chance—get your 99 cent copy of RULED BY SHADOWS.

Happy reading!

Looking for Epic Fantasy with great romance?

I know I am! The problem is, these books aren’t often easy to find.

This issue lies with how some online bookstores and bloggers define Epic Fantasy Romance. These books tend to get confused with, and put in the same category as, other types of fantasy romance: alternative history, vampire, werewolf or shifter paranormals. Epic Fantasy Romance can also get lumped with Young Adult Fantasy Romance, and although some of these do span genres, many aren’t actually Epic Fantasy Romance.

What is Epic Fantasy Romance?

They’re set in a fantasy world that’s not our own, has extensive world-building and features magic and/or fantastic beasts and monsters. So, this means you have a big book with the scope of the classics such as The Lord of the Rings, or Game of Thrones … but you also have a dominant central romance story that centers around the developing love between a couple that always ends in a HEA ‘Happily Ever After’.

Readers of Epic Fantasy Romance love the tropes of epic fantasy (e.g. coming of age, quest, darkness threatening the world etc.), but they also love the tropes of romance (e.g. friends to lovers, enemies become lovers, love triangle, HEA etc.)

How to find good Epic Fantasy Romance for adults

Goodreads is a great source for hunting down these novels in this genre. I’ve found many news reads this way:

There are a number of good sites, which feature Epic Fantasy Romance novels, or forums where readers suggest great books they’ve read in the genre:

  • Epic Fantasy Romance – a website where authors of this genre can list their books.
  • SFF World – a forum where readers suggest and discuss their favorite Epic Fantasy Romances
  • Best Fantasy Books – a guide of the best romantic fantasy novels.
  • Library Thing – a discussion about romance plots in fantasy novels that are actually good!

What are the best Epic Fantasy Romances I’ve read?

I’ve got a my favorite Epic Fantasy novels (I wrote a blog post about them), but here are those that are specifically Epic Fantasy Romances that I’ve really enjoyed.

Poison Study (Study series) by Maria V. Snyder

Fantastic, character-driven fantasy about a young woman sentenced to death but given a second chance as a food taster. The only problem is it’s for a commander trying someone’s trying to kill!

Daughter of the Forest (The Sevenwaters Trilogy) by Juliet Marillier

This isn’t strictly Epic Fantasy (as it’s a Historical Fantasy Romance set in our world), but I just had to include it! The story of a brave young woman, who sets out an epic journey to save her brothers.

Radiance (The Wraith King series) by Grace Draven

An arranged marriage between a man and woman of vastly different races and cultures, set against the backdrop of political treachery.

Master of Crows (Master of Crows series) by Grace Draven

The enthralling, passionate story of Martise and Silhara – she’s a spy and he’s a mage – and together they fight to stop a god who risks destroying their world.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass) by Sarah J. Maas

The exciting first book of a gripping series, about an assassin and a world under threat.

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses) by Sarah J. Maas

An emotional Epic Fantasy romance series that takes unexpected directions. Feyre, a huntress, accidentally kills a beast in a forest, and starts off a chain of events that will change her life forever.

I’m constantly on the look out for more Epic Fantasy Romances to dive into – so if you have a suggestion, please let me know!

Update: Check out Part #2 to this blog post, with more of my favourite Epic Fantasy Romances.



How to be a productive writer

I’m a highly productive writer. Since I started self-publishing I’ve written and published 15 novels (between my two author names: Jayne Castel and Sam J. Charlton).

I started self-publishing in 2012, but had published my first Epic Fantasy novel (The Children of Isador) in 2007.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had a few people tell me I’m ‘a machine’ … as if I sit there at the computer for 12 hours a day, churning out stories.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

For one thing, I have a day job. I run my own copy-writing business, so a large chunk of my day is taken up with that. Plus, I have a life and hobbies. I’m getting married soon, am learning French, and am planning to spend 6-months working in the UK next year. I love reading, cooking and going for long walks.

And, these days (unless I’m on a tight-deadline) I don’t write fiction at the weekends.

I published three novels last year, and am on schedule for publishing four this year. They’re all full-length novels … and one of this year’s novels in a 112,000 word Epic Fantasy! My Historicals aren’t short either, usually ranging between 70,000-80,000 words.

So when do I fit in my writing?

“There was a girl called Sam, and she always had a plan.” My sister once wrote this in a birthday card for me. I laughed at the time, and I still smile when I remember it … because it’s true! I’m not a perfectionist personality type … I just like to fit a lot in! There’s so much do and enjoy in life, I don’t want to waste a moment of it.

It takes practice … creating a writing plan and sticking to it. I’ve had periods where I write loads and then end up exhausted and burned out. Then, I’ve had other periods where life keeps interrupting.

But recently, I’ve hit upon a method that really works for me. All it requires is you to sit down with a cup of coffee, a notepad, pen and your diary (paper or electronic).

The reason why this approach works is that there’s nothing extreme about it. It’s about breaking down a book into bite-sized chunks.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Decide on the length of your novel. Let’s say you want to finish a 80,000 word manuscript (a pretty decent length for most genres).
  2. Break this down into eight 10,000 word chunks. This means you have 8 weeks to write this. You goal is 10,000 words per week.
  3. Break those 10,000 words down to a daily goal. Let’s say you’re not writing at weekends, so divide 10,000 by 5.
  4. That’s a goal of 2,000 words per day.
  5. Now, if you write around 1,000 words per hour (as I do … I’m not that fast, many authors write much faster than this), that means you just need 2 hours free to write per day.
  6. Give yourself some wriggle room. You probably aren’t going to write solidly for 2 hours. You’ll want to read yesterday’s chapter, do some planning, or go grab something to drink half-way through. So give yourself three hours.
  7. I write every afternoon from 2-5pm. My day-job takes up my mornings, and then I exercise, have lunch and chat with my fiance. Realistically, it’s around 2pm before I actually get down to writing.
  8. Go into your diary and mark out the weeks you will be writing. Take into account any holidays you’ve got coming up, any commitments that mean you won’t be able to make your word count. Go ahead and mark out the times you will be writing. If you don’t write it down, you won’t stick to it!
  9. Following this method, you can successfully complete a full manuscript in just two months. The important thing is to stop when you reach your daily or weekly word count. You might feel like you could write forever one day, and punch out 2,000 words in an hour. Great. Stop there and go and walk your dog. This is an important aspect of this method. It’s so easy (I’ve done it) to burn yourself out writing. Better to stop when you could keep going, so that you can’t wait to write again the next day.
  10. There you have it. Each week, you tick off another 10,000 words, and inch a little bit further toward your goal. This method makes you focus on the little bit of road before you. You move ahead, one step at a time, and don’t get discouraged about how much more you’ve got to write.

Writing a novel is a marathon, not a sprint!

Using this method, I’ve currently got three manuscripts on the go! The first, a Historical Romance set in 7th Century Northumbria, is scheduled to have the first draft done by early November. The second, another Historical Romance set in 4th Century Scotland, will have the first draft done by Christmas. The third project, Book #2 in my Epic Fantasy Romance will have 40,000 words written by the end of this year (a good start on a 100,000 word manuscript). I know all of this, because I’ve planned it out … and I’m sticking to the schedule.

Now I can hear your objections already.

You’re lucky, Sam, you have the afternoons off to write. I don’t! I work 9-5pm. I hear you … but I haven’t always worked freelance … and when I had a full-time job I would write on the train, squeeze in half an hour at lunch-time, set aside an hour after dinner, and do some writing at the weekends. If you’ve got a full-time job, try and do a little bit over seven days: that’s 1,428 words per day (which even with a bit of wriggle room you should be able to do in 2 hours).

Still say you don’t have time?

I can’t carve it out for you. The reality is that sitting down and actually writing a novel is HARD WORK. You’ve really got to have the inner core of motivation that drives you. You’re going to have to sacrifice some time you’d use for other things. However, that said, all of us have ‘dead time’ during our day. Time when we vege-out in front of the TV or mindlessly surf the internet and social media. Seek out ‘dead time’ in your day and use it for writing. It all adds up!

Before you know it, you’ll have that first draft done!

What about you … do you have any tips on how to get more productive with your writing. Please share in the comments below!


Some of my favorite Epic Fantasy reads

I love writing … but I’m also an avid Epic Fantasy reader too. I’ve recently started reading more Fantasy Romance – as I’ve made a shift to that genre as an author – but still have a passion for the classics!

Aside from The Lord of the Rings, and The Song of Fire and Ice series – true epic fantasy classics that need no introduction – here are a few other good reads from the last couple of years, that I’d recommend.

Name of the WIndThe Kingkiller Chronicle (Patrick Rothfuss)
The Name of the Wind (Book #1)
The Wise Man’s Fear (Book #2)

Truly ‘epic’ fantasy, the Kingkiller Chronicle series is a great read for anyone who loves traditional epic fantasy. Both books are ‘door-stoppers’ – immersing the reader in a richly drawn world. It’s the story of a talented young man, with a great destiny. I must admit I preferred the first book, to the second. That said, it’s a gripping series that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy.

Read my reviews for these books on Goodreads to find out my thoughts on this series:
The Name of the Wind
The Wise Man’s Fear

Emperor of thornsThe Broken Empire Series (Mark Lawrence)
Prince of Thorns (Book #1)
King of Thorns (Book #2)
Emperor of Thorns (Book #3)

This epic fantasy is a compelling, ‘dark’ series that’s a little different from others in the genre. The main character is an ‘anti-hero’ – a damaged, violent and immoral young man named Jorg. I don’t usually go in for dark fantasy, but this series is so well-written and beautifully crafted that I would highly recommend this series as well.

Although I didn’t review the first two books (I did rate each of them 5 stars), you can read my review for Book #3 on Goodreads:
Emperor of Thorns

Prince of foolsThe Red Queen’s War (Mark Lawrence)
The Prince of Fools
The Liar’s Key
The Wheel of Osheim

In many ways, I enjoyed Mark Lawrence’s second series – set in the same world as the Broken Empire series – even the first. It follows a feckless, playboy prince on an incredible adventure.

Read my reviews on Goodreads
Prince of Fools
The Liar’s Key
The Wheel of Osheim

Blood songRaven’s Shadow (Anthony Ryan)
Blood Song (Book #1)
Tower Lord (Book #2)

Traditional epic fantasy adventure that’s fast-moving and beautifully written. It’s the story of a young man, abandoned by his father in a harsh order, where he must become a great warrior – or die trying. I enjoyed both novels in the series so far, although the story hasn’t taken the direction I’d expected…

Read my reviews on Goodreads, for more details about these books:
Blood Song
Tower Lord

I could go on… Being a voracious reader, I have chewed my through many more books than these! However, if you love epic fantasy, and are looking for some good books to get lost in, why not give one of the above a try?

Book review: Tower of Dawn, by Sarah J. Maas

31450852I really enjoyed aspects of Tower of Dawn – especially the setting. As usual, Sarah J. Maas writes really well, and brings her world to life brilliantly. Her characters are vividly drawn and sympathetic, and the plot is very clever, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing.

This novel is a deviation from the main plot – following Chaol and Nesryn’s journey to seek support for the cause to the north, and find a cure for his paralysis. I didn’t have a problem with this, as it was enjoyable to get a break from Aelin’s story.

Amazon blurb:

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

My favorite bits:

– The setting: loved the empire with its distinct, believable culture
– The section set in the mountains and the Darghul Fells … pretty exciting!
– The writing: it just flows and is easy to get swept away
– The big reveals near the end … although I’d kind of guessed most of them, but it was exciting nonetheless
– The scene when the princess gets dumped in the pool … she definitely had it coming!

My least fav bits:

– The mid-point: the story dragged a little in the middle, too much talking and too little action for my liking
– The romances: I adore a good love story, but both of the romances in this story didn’t grab me. Not to go into too much detail here, to avoid spoilers, but one of the romances was a bit underwhelming, lacking tension, and the other was a overplayed … and just went on and on. Romance is difficult to get right, especially in an action-driven Epic Fantasy, but done well it can really lift the story…

Despite these niggles though, I really enjoyed returning to the vivid world of Sarah J. Maas, and can’t wait for the next book!

**** Four stars

Work begins on Book Two…

With RULED BY SHADOWS finally released, I’m about to start work on Book Two of the Light and Darkness series.

The title and cover are still ‘work in progress’ but I have the story outlined and will be embarking on the first few chapters next week. Since this is a new series for me—and a new genre—it’s important I crack on with the next volume. Give readers something to look forward to!

Book #2 follows on with the Epic Fantasy storyline that will take three novels to complete—however, like the first book there’s a standalone love story.

Here’s what the next book is about:


Light and Darkness_2_COVER TEASERShe earned her own freedom—but now she fights for the freedom of all.

Mira has never been the master of her own destiny. Plucked from the sewers of Valdoras as a child, she was raised to become part of The Swallow Guard: an elite group of female bodyguards trained to protect the royal family.

Years later she wants for nothing but her life feels empty … meaningless.

Everything changes with the arrival of war. When the kingdom is attacked by southern invaders, the queen offers her a chance to start a new life. If she manages to smuggle the king’s youngest daughter to safety in the north, Mira will earn her freedom.

But Mira soon realizes that with freedom comes responsibility.

Far to the north, she meets Asher: an enchanter in the Order of Light and Darkness. Despite her attraction to him, Asher is also her mirror—an unwelcome one. Like her, his life has been devoted to serving others … and like Mira, he’s learned to hide his true feelings well.

Yet neither of them can escape the path set before them.

When a chance comes to end the war which risks tearing their world apart, both Mira and Asher choose to embark on a journey into the heart of danger … one they are likely never to return from.


Follow my journey and get exclusive updates

If you’d like to receive updates about the next book in the Light and Darkness series—plus receive exclusive deleted scenes and short-stories connected with the story—make sure you sign up to my Epic Fantasy Romance mailing list. 🙂