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In a land where two countries have been torn by war for generations, Princess Jessa is sent as a peace offering to the country of Arravan, understanding all too well that she is being sacrificed upon the altar of her father’s ambitions—and condemned to an uncertain and possibly short-lived future, if the machinations of her own family are any indication. But what she finds In a land where two countries have been torn by war for generations, Princess Jessa is sent as a peace offering to the country of Arravan, understanding all too well that she is being sacrificed upon the altar of her father’s ambitions—and condemned to an uncertain and possibly short-lived future, if the machinations of her own family are any indication. But what she finds at Blackstone Keep is most certainly not what she expects, and for a daughter of royal blood who has known little of freedom and even less of love, the members of the Durand family are proving to be a very pleasant riddle to be solved—the youngest daughter, Darrius Durand, is the most surprising of all. A captain in the King’s elite guard and filled with humor and good nature, Darry’s considerable charms pull Jessa rather happily into an unexpected friendship that quickly becomes something more, promising passion and the fulfillment of her deepest desires. Jessa and Darry’s relationship threatens the fragile peace, and the future of two countries might very well hang in the balance. When family secrets and hidden agendas begin to surface, as well as an ancient majik that Jessa has been preparing to use since the day she was born, a prophecy is set in motion that will thrust both lands into a bloody war of revenge and retribution—a war that love alone will not be able to stop.


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In a land where two countries have been torn by war for generations, Princess Jessa is sent as a peace offering to the country of Arravan, understanding all too well that she is being sacrificed upon the altar of her father’s ambitions—and condemned to an uncertain and possibly short-lived future, if the machinations of her own family are any indication. But what she finds In a land where two countries have been torn by war for generations, Princess Jessa is sent as a peace offering to the country of Arravan, understanding all too well that she is being sacrificed upon the altar of her father’s ambitions—and condemned to an uncertain and possibly short-lived future, if the machinations of her own family are any indication. But what she finds at Blackstone Keep is most certainly not what she expects, and for a daughter of royal blood who has known little of freedom and even less of love, the members of the Durand family are proving to be a very pleasant riddle to be solved—the youngest daughter, Darrius Durand, is the most surprising of all. A captain in the King’s elite guard and filled with humor and good nature, Darry’s considerable charms pull Jessa rather happily into an unexpected friendship that quickly becomes something more, promising passion and the fulfillment of her deepest desires. Jessa and Darry’s relationship threatens the fragile peace, and the future of two countries might very well hang in the balance. When family secrets and hidden agendas begin to surface, as well as an ancient majik that Jessa has been preparing to use since the day she was born, a prophecy is set in motion that will thrust both lands into a bloody war of revenge and retribution—a war that love alone will not be able to stop.

30 review for Nightshade

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laylah Hunter

    We need to talk a lot more about intersectionality in the queer romance genre(s), and we also need to critically examine the assumptions underlying our worldbuilding when we take our stories into spec fic territory. These are, I think, two facets of the same need: to critically examine what we're saying along the way to "they lived happily ever after." The things this book was saying about race—unintentionally, I'm almost certain—were not comfortable to read. Jessa's culture seems to be a hash of We need to talk a lot more about intersectionality in the queer romance genre(s), and we also need to critically examine the assumptions underlying our worldbuilding when we take our stories into spec fic territory. These are, I think, two facets of the same need: to critically examine what we're saying along the way to "they lived happily ever after." The things this book was saying about race—unintentionally, I'm almost certain—were not comfortable to read. Jessa's culture seems to be a hash of stereotypes of brown people, making her the exotic, modest (but oh so sensual) damsel who's been ill-treated by her viciously misogynist father & brothers; she wears both saris and burkas and smells at all times of jasmine, and the sway of her hips in her silk garments is so stunning everyone notices it. Her father is a tyrant who murdered her mother for failing to bear him a son (though he had a dozen of those already from prior wives). Her brothers universally enjoy scheming, bloodsports, and rape. How fortunate that she's being bartered away in marriage to the lush green country where the white people live! Where men still have all the power and nobody questions it, but because they're not feeding people to dogs it's no longer a problem! Except if you're the lesbian ("backwards") youngest child of the king, in which case you appear to be a carefree rake who charms everyone and has a full complement of "manly" talents, until such time as the plot requires you to be oppressed. At which time it turns out there has been simmering discrimination and entirely unexamined, sourceless homophobia lurking conveniently in the wings the whole time. It just makes me tired. Can't we tell love stories without doing all this narrative collateral damage? Can't we build worlds without importing the ugly attitudes of our own as if they're universal truth that would flourish anywhere people did? I liked the girls who were falling for each other in this book. I thought they were sweet and had good chemistry. But I couldn't get comfortable with the milieu surrounding them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Fatima

    Was I the only reader utterly horrified by the racist overtones and abundance of abusive language in this book? The world building is lazy and badly researched, and I found the mishmash of various cultures extremely offensive. Why would Jessa wear a sari and a burka at the same time? Why does Jessa's household--apparently set in a South Asian inspired culture--contain Arabic names not commonly used in that region? Aside from finding the characters unlikeable, I'm dismayed at the textual racism i Was I the only reader utterly horrified by the racist overtones and abundance of abusive language in this book? The world building is lazy and badly researched, and I found the mishmash of various cultures extremely offensive. Why would Jessa wear a sari and a burka at the same time? Why does Jessa's household--apparently set in a South Asian inspired culture--contain Arabic names not commonly used in that region? Aside from finding the characters unlikeable, I'm dismayed at the textual racism in the narrative. What an orientalist nightmare.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ted

    2019 re read because book 3 came out recently. This is a brilliant book. Absolutely loved it. Can't think of a single negative thing. Enthralling. Well paced. Multilayered MC's and well defined secondaries. Great world building on top of it all. Just fantastic. Set my tags since a few years ago I wasn't doing that yet. Original review below makes me chuckle... while still true. ---------------------------- Holy crap that's a great book. Like. For reals. 2019 re read because book 3 came out recently. This is a brilliant book. Absolutely loved it. Can't think of a single negative thing. Enthralling. Well paced. Multilayered MC's and well defined secondaries. Great world building on top of it all. Just fantastic. Set my tags since a few years ago I wasn't doing that yet. Original review below makes me chuckle... while still true. ---------------------------- Holy crap that's a great book. Like. For reals.

  4. 4 out of 5

    KA

    This was chock full of racist tropes and stereotypes. I was excited about a non-white lgbtq protagonist, but Jessa is the product of an offensive mish-mash of cultures (she wears a sari and a burqa at the same time??). Her father and brothers are cartoonishly cruel and misogynistic. They mostly just sit around making rape-y comments, plotting to take over the throne, and laughing while their attack dogs rip people to shreds. ALL 12 OF THEM. (Brothers, not dogs.) They treat Jessa like livestock, This was chock full of racist tropes and stereotypes. I was excited about a non-white lgbtq protagonist, but Jessa is the product of an offensive mish-mash of cultures (she wears a sari and a burqa at the same time??). Her father and brothers are cartoonishly cruel and misogynistic. They mostly just sit around making rape-y comments, plotting to take over the throne, and laughing while their attack dogs rip people to shreds. ALL 12 OF THEM. (Brothers, not dogs.) They treat Jessa like livestock, trying to marry her off to another royal family as part of some political chess game. Luckily this royal family is white, and therefore more enlightened and accepting, and they save Jessa from her oppressive family by showing her kindness for the first time in her life! The only non-white person in this book who isn't violent and sexist and evil is Jessa's nurse, who is a wise elderly witch who says a lot of cryptic things like "I can feel your majik along my bones, child." The love story was sweet in parts, but even that was tainted by the 'brazen, comfortable-with-her-sexuality white feminist teaches oppressed girl what freedom means' trope. Also, the writing was super cheesy and overwrought to the point of making zero sense. It might not have been so bad if the same phrases weren't recycled over and over, which I guess is hard not to do when your protagonists are flooded with desire every time they lay eyes on one another, which must be utterly exhausting. I felt exhausted just reading about it. Please Jessa, don't look at her! Or laugh or even breathe, because then I'll have to read two paragraphs about how Darry's face flushes and her breath quickens and she feels moistness in her lady parts. Which, by the way, "pleasure bled downward, lighting within her thighs" is not very sexy?? Especially when it's used multiple times. Just a thought.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This is the sort of lesbian high fantasy I've been yearning for! So many lesbian fantasy books are either too-fluffy fairy tale re-tellings or super-dark paranormal stories with bleak endings. I'd been wondering where the sword-and-sorcery epics with tangled family trees and dark magical secrets were being kept, and this book delivered on so many levels. We're thrown right into a plot of political intrigue when Princess Jessa's bloodthirsty, ruthless father, the King of Lyoness, releases her from This is the sort of lesbian high fantasy I've been yearning for! So many lesbian fantasy books are either too-fluffy fairy tale re-tellings or super-dark paranormal stories with bleak endings. I'd been wondering where the sword-and-sorcery epics with tangled family trees and dark magical secrets were being kept, and this book delivered on so many levels. We're thrown right into a plot of political intrigue when Princess Jessa's bloodthirsty, ruthless father, the King of Lyoness, releases her from behind her always-closed palace walls and sends her to the lush neighboring kingdom of Arravan to marry Malcolm Durand, the eldest prince. Jessa, terrified from years of seclusion and abuse from her father and 12 brothers, is welcomed warmly to Arravan by Queen Cecealia, Princess Emmalyn, and the youngest daughter, Princess Darrius. As Jessa grows closer to the royal family, she finds herself falling in love with the "backwards" princess, coming into her own majik powers that simmer in her blood, and realizing that Malcolm doesn't plan to marry her at all. This book has one of the best romantic build-ups of all time. Jessa may she shy and unsure, but she's also warm and kind and quick, never backing down from a joke or retort. She makes a perfect match for the glowing, beloved Darrius, who, despite her shameful tendencies towards women, is adored by her family and her group of close-knit male friends. Darrius has the characterization that is normally quite hard to master in female characters--she's the spoiled golden child of an indulgent family, but in the end, she is inherently different in ways both obvious (her sexuality, her male dress) and hidden (which we slowly discover). She's funny and self-deprecating while still being strong and confident in her skills. She's a powerful warrior, a loyal friend, an excellent dancer, and a surprisingly adept needlepoint. Hell, I dare anyone to not fall in love with her. I certainly did. The slow, steamy courtship between the two women is the heart of the novel, and when they work to set one another free of the constraints placed on them both by society and themselves, it really does feel like magic. But a good fantasy isn't complete without a great big cast of characters, and this book has a ton of them. I loved the king and queen of Arravan, even when they realize their painful mistakes in raising their spirited daughter. They are not two-dimensional evil monarchs, they're a mother and father, and they love their children. I loved Darrius' relationships with her siblings, especially her sister Emmalyn, because so many other authors would choose to have the sisters be at each other's necks rather then be close allies, and I love the warmth and affection between them. I really adored Darrius' relationship with her band of lost souls and misfits, her Boys, especially her best friend Bentley, a bastard son of a noble. Even Jessa, whose loneliness is a hallmark of her character, has her gentle old nursemaid Radha to care for her and guide her spirituality. The villainous characters are less interesting, but sometimes it's alright that the heroes get all the limelight. Jessa's brother Joaquin is a conniving, cutthroat rapist whose last words in the book (view spoiler)[are a literal plot to murder Jessa, which is left as a cliffhanger for the next book (hide spoiler)] , and Darrius' uptight older brother Malcolm is scheming and shrewd and, in a surprising twist, (view spoiler)[also a homosexual who is in a secret relationship with his trusted adviser even as he tells off Darrius to her face about her backwards ways. Of course, the Evil Gay trope is nothing new, but I'll let this one slide since it really drives home his hypocrisy towards his sister (hide spoiler)] . All of these men are huge threats to Darrius and Jessa due to their lineage and gender alone, but in the end, they're not super memorable. I have a feeling the political plot is really going to come to a boil in the next book, which I'm excited for. There are a lot of twists in this book, a lot of things you don't necessarily see coming, but it's also a tender romance, something to get lost in as you race across fields on valiant steeds or watch a beautiful woman perform a sensual dance at a fancy ball. It feels familiar, but not dull. The complex relationships between family members, lovers, and friends elevates this book to a great high fantasy statues. Though this is a five-star read for me, I can understand a lot of reviewers' issues with the race aspects of the book. I don't necessarily agree that the white Darry was the one to "liberate" the poor brown princess (I think they liberated each other), I was rolling my eyes a little at the mish-mash of Arabic/Indian/Muslim stereotypes regarding Jessa's dress and mannerisms. But on the other hand, the white characters as well as the race-coded characters were also deeply flawed in their homophobia and patriarchal culture, and their misdeeds did not go unpunished. So some of the writing was a little lazy, and I expect more from an author who obviously cares about her characters. Proceed with this in mind and let's hope that Godfrey shed some of those lazy character choices in her future books, because despite these flaws, this was a really excellent high fantasy book and one of my favorite lesfic books of the year.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Reed

    This my first review on goodreads, and I'm writing it because anything less than 4 stars I feel deserves an explanation. Let me start by saying that I liked this book and was torn between 3 and 4 stars, but because of the critiques I have, I couldn't give it the same 4-star rating as others on my shelf. So, the negatives: The biggest negative is the racist themes. The opening chapters were, frankly, uncomfortable to read. Jessa is from a brutal, unforgiving kingdom with cultural elements inspired This my first review on goodreads, and I'm writing it because anything less than 4 stars I feel deserves an explanation. Let me start by saying that I liked this book and was torn between 3 and 4 stars, but because of the critiques I have, I couldn't give it the same 4-star rating as others on my shelf. So, the negatives: The biggest negative is the racist themes. The opening chapters were, frankly, uncomfortable to read. Jessa is from a brutal, unforgiving kingdom with cultural elements inspired by South Asian countries, and every POC except for Jessa and her 'caretaker' is a vile and/or violent person. It's less cringe-worthy after those opening chapters, but only because Jessa travels to the more pleasant 'white' kingdom. Another negative is that at times the writing was confusing. While incredibly descriptive and full of imagery, sometimes the set up for scenes or steps between actions were missing. One of the smaller examples being two characters eyeing each other as one enters from across the room, and then speaking words face-to-face without any narration of them actually walking to each other. It's not book-ruining, but I did find my brain a few times telling me to just roll with it. My last complaint (which is maybe a little bit spoilery) (view spoiler)[ is that the author spent the whole book building up to the huge schemes all the men were plotting to further their own stations, so that you think the climax of the book will be the protags overcoming these evil plots, only for there to be no resolution on that front. I believe there's a sequel, so maybe it's been left to be dealt with then? But as this books ends, it leaves no inclination that the tension I spent pages reading about will or did serve any purpose. (hide spoiler)] So what's there to like? First of all, I fell in love with Darry at her introduction, and her bromance with her best friend Bentley is the kind of teasing but ride-or-die friendship I love to read about. Also, Darry and Jessa were perfect together. Their conversations had me laughing/smiling and the sexual tension between them was just the kind of slow burn I needed. It's been a while since I've had actual physical reactions to the tension between characters, and it felt so, so good. Overall, this book isn't perfect, but it was a well-paced read and the romance was sweet.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Arien

    4.8 stars. Loved it to bits. The world building is good, the characters complex and multifaceted, there is some magic but it's toned down and is quite unique in the way it's interwoven into the story, well written for sure. The book is slow at first and a little bit hard to get into with how the language is used but when it gets going it rarely stops, I was on the edge of my seat at multiple points in the book. And I grew to like the quirky language, too in the end. Nightshade is more of a love s 4.8 stars. Loved it to bits. The world building is good, the characters complex and multifaceted, there is some magic but it's toned down and is quite unique in the way it's interwoven into the story, well written for sure. The book is slow at first and a little bit hard to get into with how the language is used but when it gets going it rarely stops, I was on the edge of my seat at multiple points in the book. And I grew to like the quirky language, too in the end. Nightshade is more of a love story than a fantasy epic. The family relations and love between the characters are at the forefront. While political subterfuge and machinations are still a big part of the story, most of it is about the characters and their love be it familial or romantic. Unfortunately love and hate often go hand in hand so there's a lot of well developed family drama. Usually I don't like for both main characters to be otherworldly beautiful, it makes them unrelatable and cheapens the attraction. Of course they wan't each other, they're basically living goddesses. But it didn't bother me too much this time around because their relationship is handled properly. It started of as friendship and went from there and I found the execution of it to be handled well. I thank the old gods and the new it wasn't another case of insta love. I also appreciated that every paragraph was needed in this book, there is no grind, no pointless side stories that have no relation to the main story line. Everything is connected and interwoven like a good book should be. Lately that has not been the case with my reading so I'm glad I finally started this book that does it how it's supposed to be done. It's written masterfully and I always appreciate that. I'd write more about how much I enjoyed this book but I need to buy the sequel and read it NOW. Meanwhile you should give this at least a try. It's damn good book for sure.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Loved this!!! About to start the second one!

  9. 4 out of 5

    M

    Gosh, what a great book! As a first book this is an incredibly assured work. Fantasy is surprisingly hard to write well, as far to often authors fall into standard tropes and ignore the basic need for interesting character, background and story arc. I loved the main characters and all the machinations going on in the background. The world building is interesting and I hope that in the next book that the wider world beyond the respective palaces will be fleshed out. Be warned that this was a surpris Gosh, what a great book! As a first book this is an incredibly assured work. Fantasy is surprisingly hard to write well, as far to often authors fall into standard tropes and ignore the basic need for interesting character, background and story arc. I loved the main characters and all the machinations going on in the background. The world building is interesting and I hope that in the next book that the wider world beyond the respective palaces will be fleshed out. Be warned that this was a surprisingly hot read, pleasantly surprising, but I have to admit it was not what I had expected.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Voronwer

    This book gets somewhere between a three and a four from me. I would have been with four without a doubt if it hadn't been for the very abrupt ending. Is the author planning a sequel? Because that's how it feels at least. The writing style gets a bit confusing at times. I enjoyed it for the most part, but there are scenes where I just don't understand what the hell is going on. And then there is the rather jarring modern cursewords suddenly popping up while most of the speech is rather old fashio This book gets somewhere between a three and a four from me. I would have been with four without a doubt if it hadn't been for the very abrupt ending. Is the author planning a sequel? Because that's how it feels at least. The writing style gets a bit confusing at times. I enjoyed it for the most part, but there are scenes where I just don't understand what the hell is going on. And then there is the rather jarring modern cursewords suddenly popping up while most of the speech is rather old fashioned. Aside from that, though, this book is very enjoyable. The world is intriguing and the characters are enjoyable. (The only one I didn't like was Nina as she has a very Mary Sue vibe to her.) Perhaps the attention is a bit too much on the romance side of it all, but I didn't really mind. I liked how the relationship took its time to unfold, but I'm feeling very dissatisfied with how much of the plot is left dangling. It seems like things are just starting to get interesting and did not expect to suddenly find myself on the last page of the book. I really wish I could give this a four, but then I also really wish I knew how this really ends.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    This is by far one of the best books that I have read...and re-read. The relationship between Bentley and Darrius is absolutely hilarious but at the same time it is so deep and then there is Jessa and Darry whose love is a whirlwind of majik and emotion. This author has such talent, her writing creates such vivid imagery and at times it is like reading a poem or sonnet with how beautifully she weaves her words. I most definitely do not regret my initial rating of five stars because I think this se This is by far one of the best books that I have read...and re-read. The relationship between Bentley and Darrius is absolutely hilarious but at the same time it is so deep and then there is Jessa and Darry whose love is a whirlwind of majik and emotion. This author has such talent, her writing creates such vivid imagery and at times it is like reading a poem or sonnet with how beautifully she weaves her words. I most definitely do not regret my initial rating of five stars because I think this series really deserves this and more.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lia A

    This is pretty good story but contains with much hatred and misogynistic pigs. So much violence conducted by those pigs toward women. Sad.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I found the lovestory in the book very sweet, but there were a lot of things in this book that was very distracting and kept me from enjoying it. There's a lot of repetitive descriptions of the main characters and their outfits in every chapter. I also didn't like one of the main character's habit of using a made up fantasylanguage without any translation or indication to what she's saying. It might work in a movie, but in a book it just gets terribly confusing. The point that made me give this I found the lovestory in the book very sweet, but there were a lot of things in this book that was very distracting and kept me from enjoying it. There's a lot of repetitive descriptions of the main characters and their outfits in every chapter. I also didn't like one of the main character's habit of using a made up fantasylanguage without any translation or indication to what she's saying. It might work in a movie, but in a book it just gets terribly confusing. The point that made me give this book such a low rating is that it seemed that the author totally forgot about the plot the longer the story went on. Instead there were a lot of lesbian wooing and cuddling, and although I don't mind the wooing/cuddling at all I would have liked to see some kind of resolution to the story.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andi

    Enjoyed this immensely and going right on to book 2 in the series... (glad I'm only getting to these now, so I have a trio available). Darry is awesome. Jessa is amazing. There's majik, courtly intrigue. Only thing is you will almost have to read the next book too - you'll want to, but just be prepared. Enjoyed this immensely and going right on to book 2 in the series... (glad I'm only getting to these now, so I have a trio available). Darry is awesome. Jessa is amazing. There's majik, courtly intrigue. Only thing is you will almost have to read the next book too - you'll want to, but just be prepared.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Illise Montoya

    I went back and forth about whether to give this book 3 stars, or 4, but towards the end I found myself near to tears, and that was the deal breaker. FYI, I can't help but look at romance in a practical, realist sense. I prefer the nitty gritty, the hard truths, and the tales that skim the Earth's soil, not Heaven's clouds. That's just something to keep in mind whilst reading this review. That shouldn't alarm you. This is the second lesbian fiction novel that I've read, and I greatly enjoyed it. I went back and forth about whether to give this book 3 stars, or 4, but towards the end I found myself near to tears, and that was the deal breaker. FYI, I can't help but look at romance in a practical, realist sense. I prefer the nitty gritty, the hard truths, and the tales that skim the Earth's soil, not Heaven's clouds. That's just something to keep in mind whilst reading this review. That shouldn't alarm you. This is the second lesbian fiction novel that I've read, and I greatly enjoyed it. Still, I'd like to be honest with this review... So for the "bad" points first: There were a few things about the book that had me rolling my eyes. For instance, the physical perfection of the protagonists. Even when they're disheveled, they're beautiful. EVERYbody either recognizes their beauty, or desires them. This book's cast consists of royalty and those who serve them, so maybe this was to be expected. The rich are commonly made to appear handsome and stunning in fiction. Steamy romance novels especially do all this, I know, but there's a reason I don't read those all that much anymore. Second, the constant high energy of desire between Darry and Jessa got to be a bit much here and there. Later they try to explain a reason for this, but even so, I half expected them to orgasm just from hearing the other sneeze. To see them resist their desires for so long had me thinking that the art of resisting temptation ought to be a damn Olympic sport! The song "Jizz In My Pants" comes to mind... I also got a little tired of hearing about Jessa's curves or Darry's dimple. Moving away from the depiction of Jessa and Darry's growing love, I wanted the concepts of "majik" explored in more detail, and was disappointed when it wasn't given a bigger role, save to further their relationship. I wanted the antagonists to have a stronger presence throughout the story. Despite the political games going on, the real conflict seemed to rest between just Jessa and Darry finally coming together. That moment was certainly the climax, and the last 30% of the book (which I can say with some precision as I'd read a Kindle version) was all just falling action. There was no real dénouement, in my opinion, given all that was still left unresolved at the end. And now for the good: All of the above points were small irritations that pricked at first before being entirely ignored in the face of all else. I was just enjoying the story too much, and things like puffed up idealism became a humorous thing versus an unbearable trait of the story. The dialogue in Nightshade was great, even when Jessa and Darry started to get sappy with one another. Shea Godfrey has clear wit and insight, and more than once her beautiful depictions of the characters had me floored. They were people you couldn't help but love, couldn't help but pity, and some, could do nothing else but hate. She also knows how to set up a scene, lighting the characters environment in your mind so vividly as to make you think you were watching it at the theaters. Initially I wasn't impressed with her setting, because the world of Nightshade (while solid) was clearly taken from our world and just given a twist and new names. But further reading showed me greater depth as to the natures of Lyoness and Arravan culture, and it was very interesting (and perhaps why I was so disappointed that things like majik, or the world beyond the palaces, or the complex social games were playing second to the constant longing of the protagonists.) Given the ending of Nightshade, I'm guessing that Shea Godfrey intends to continue the story. For all that I have said above, I cannot wait to read its sequel.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Frank Van Meer

    I was just browsing my shelves when I came to this one, having it read more than a year ago. I was honestly confused with some of the reviews here and decided to read it again. For those that gave it 1 star because it had racism, bigotry, mysoginy and a country that treats its women like dirt, have you ever given Game of Thrones a read? I mean, that highly applauded saga that even made it to TV? This book doesn't come even near that. The only thing against it is the sudden ending and the long wait I was just browsing my shelves when I came to this one, having it read more than a year ago. I was honestly confused with some of the reviews here and decided to read it again. For those that gave it 1 star because it had racism, bigotry, mysoginy and a country that treats its women like dirt, have you ever given Game of Thrones a read? I mean, that highly applauded saga that even made it to TV? This book doesn't come even near that. The only thing against it is the sudden ending and the long wait for the sequel. But as I see it, a certain writer gets away with that quite easily.

  17. 4 out of 5

    shatine

    I think this is the author's first novel, and it shows. I considered a drinking game once I hit the second half -- I got as far as doing a shot whenever: • Someone raves about how hot Darry is • Someone mentions how Jessa's curves look in her sariThen I got distracted, but that's really all you need to get drunk. With that said, if you want to read a fantasy novel with a lesbian romance and you're not really looking for it to go far beyond cookie cutter, go for it. I think this is the author's first novel, and it shows. I considered a drinking game once I hit the second half -- I got as far as doing a shot whenever: • Someone raves about how hot Darry is • Someone mentions how Jessa's curves look in her sariThen I got distracted, but that's really all you need to get drunk. With that said, if you want to read a fantasy novel with a lesbian romance and you're not really looking for it to go far beyond cookie cutter, go for it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Isana Skeete

    On one hand it was super great to have a protagonist of colour! On the other hand, the culture that she comes from is so horribly dealt.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon

    I am utterly speechless at the rush this books has given me. I love fantasy books and more than that I love wlw fantasy lit, as I am disco ering little by little how rich this genres is in quality books. Even though the fantasy part of this is small, this novel is truly amazing. I am thrilled that I still able to find books like this one. I am captured by the raw emotions flowing from Jessa's and Darry's interactions and that leaves me without breath sometimes. It is great to still be able to fe I am utterly speechless at the rush this books has given me. I love fantasy books and more than that I love wlw fantasy lit, as I am disco ering little by little how rich this genres is in quality books. Even though the fantasy part of this is small, this novel is truly amazing. I am thrilled that I still able to find books like this one. I am captured by the raw emotions flowing from Jessa's and Darry's interactions and that leaves me without breath sometimes. It is great to still be able to feel this even if real life is not so charming as this book. Looking forward to see what the next book reveals about these 2 beautiful lovers.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Justina Johnson

    What an exquisite intrigue set in a medieval-like time on another world that is so enthralling on so many levels. There are many degrees of human conspiracy, but there are even more fascinating intensities of majik (as it is spelled within the book), power, and destiny. The characters and the atmosphere simply sparkle with dynamic fervor as political power struggles unfold and the fate of many hang in the balance. Two realms that have been enemies for almost three hundred years—now one realm see What an exquisite intrigue set in a medieval-like time on another world that is so enthralling on so many levels. There are many degrees of human conspiracy, but there are even more fascinating intensities of majik (as it is spelled within the book), power, and destiny. The characters and the atmosphere simply sparkle with dynamic fervor as political power struggles unfold and the fate of many hang in the balance. Two realms that have been enemies for almost three hundred years—now one realm seeks an alliance by having the only princess from their kingdom marry the eldest monarchal son from the other. Spectacular! Princess Jessa-Sirah from Lyoness, who is also called the Nightshade Lark because of her enchanting singing voice, really takes the award for the most evolving, downright far-reaching, and noticeably expansive character on the scene. She blossoms along with her prodigious mystical talents. Additionally, she finds her true sensuous nature and falls profoundly in love. Progressing by leaps and bounds, she uncovers the truth to her persistent prescience. I adored Jessa and prayed to my gods and hers that she would maintain her strength and persistence of vision while all hell breaks loose. Incredible! Captain Darrius Lauranna Durand, preferably Darry, is the youngest child in the Arravan royal family. She is also not like any of her siblings. She now knows she is a backwards woman and is openly so. In this world, backwards means being homosexual. It is not condemned in Arravan like it is in Lyoness where backwards people are put to death. However, it is still problematic for the royal family to have a child with such tendencies. We learn most of the story involving Darry's first love and it was somewhat of a pivotal turning point for the youngest princess. Darry is an astounding woman with several unique attributes but her majical proclivities are incandescent above all else. Well, perhaps her dancing prowess or her mastery with the sword might contend for first place. Fantabulous! The leading characters from both realms set the tones, tensions, and obfuscations placing the powers that be constantly on edge and consistently preparing for the ax to fall. Within this uneasiness, Darry and Jessa are flooded with feelings, urges, and connections that have never happened to either of them with such intensity. It is as if they are constantly performing a dance that links them closer and closer with each encounter. Their story within this book is utterly mesmerizing. Darry and Jessa are each extraordinary in their own way, but together they are nearly unbelievable. Magnificent! NOTE: This book was provided by Bold Strokes Books for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews.

  21. 5 out of 5

    machinaheart

    Oh dear, I had really high hopes for this but unfortunately it wasn't anywhere near as nice as I wanted it to be. It wasn't all bad, but for every positive thing I can say about this book there unfortunately is a "but" lurking round the corner, making the positive aspects of the story rather hard to appreciate :// (I'd give it one and a half stars, if I could. Only because I was able to finish the book rather easily, which I guess stems from the fact that the 'language' made it easy to read.) THE Oh dear, I had really high hopes for this but unfortunately it wasn't anywhere near as nice as I wanted it to be. It wasn't all bad, but for every positive thing I can say about this book there unfortunately is a "but" lurking round the corner, making the positive aspects of the story rather hard to appreciate :// (I'd give it one and a half stars, if I could. Only because I was able to finish the book rather easily, which I guess stems from the fact that the 'language' made it easy to read.) THE GOOD: - I liked the language most of the time, though at times I found it a bit too flowery bordering on the too descriptive as well. - The characters were something I really liked, but they were a bit too special. The two main characters just seemed to collect superlatives and became more and more unreal to me as the story progressed. - I found the magic/majik in the story extremely compelling, except that it seemed extremely illusive. Nothing was ever explained! Only the surface of the majik was scratched and unfortunately in a way that the more was said about it, the less I understood. THE BAD/THE UGLY: - Joaquin had a rapey-vibe, not only towards his sister but also towards Darry, who openly identifies as a lesbian. And that the latter only seemed to heighten this vibe made me extremely uncomfortable. - Sudden changes in character POV, still third person narrator, but suddenly we're with someone we hardly ever had much interaction with before. And sometimes just once? Not even a recurring thing? It felt really badly plotted to me. As if there was something important that the reader should know and it could not have brought to us any other way. Or just to give us an outside view of the main characters. And then the character and especially their point of view just vanished. Not cool. - The (made-up?) foreign language bits, that were thrown in without any translation whatsoever, were distracting and annoying. It seemed to serve no purpose but to make Jessa feel "exotic". To me that felt rather racist. I also found the Muslim-inspiried nation's traditions, history and customs patched-up and inconsistent. The world building was not well done and it threw me off quite often. - At a certain point it felt as if the plot was cast aside in order to make way for the romance and when it was picked up again it seemed to have become convoluted. Some things seemed to have been added just to enhance the drama and set the main characters even more apart, making them even more daring and exceptional. And that made the ending rather abrupt and even for a first part in a series (or at least a duology) the story felt cut off at the end.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    It's a very interesting and romantic book, and I really liked it, but the ending was very abrupt. I thought it would continue at least one chapter. There are a few loose ends, which is why I give it 4 stars. I liked the perspective on the characters, and the way they were actually very different from each other. This book is written in a way I could very easily visualize the story, and the way everything looked. I would recommend it for everyone who likes a different kind of love story. It's a very interesting and romantic book, and I really liked it, but the ending was very abrupt. I thought it would continue at least one chapter. There are a few loose ends, which is why I give it 4 stars. I liked the perspective on the characters, and the way they were actually very different from each other. This book is written in a way I could very easily visualize the story, and the way everything looked. I would recommend it for everyone who likes a different kind of love story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Jeans

    This book had some wonderful writing in its characters and political machinations that's severely underlined by the ugly racism of painting the brown, Middle Eastern-themed kingdom of Lyoness as being ruled by a bunch of raping, incestuous, murderous, sadists and its people as being cowed and unable to rise up against them. Save your money and don't buy this. There's no need to demonize an entire group of people just to raise up another. This book had some wonderful writing in its characters and political machinations that's severely underlined by the ugly racism of painting the brown, Middle Eastern-themed kingdom of Lyoness as being ruled by a bunch of raping, incestuous, murderous, sadists and its people as being cowed and unable to rise up against them. Save your money and don't buy this. There's no need to demonize an entire group of people just to raise up another.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robin Goins

    Guilty pleasure. It reads like okay fanfiction for most of the time. Characters have this weird obsession with finding all of the other characters attractive (really, there was one scene where the mother is thinking about how attractive her daughter's best friend is. Doesn't do ANYTHING for the plot, and was completely unnecessary.) Overall, a pretty terrible book, but yay lesbian smut. Guilty pleasure. It reads like okay fanfiction for most of the time. Characters have this weird obsession with finding all of the other characters attractive (really, there was one scene where the mother is thinking about how attractive her daughter's best friend is. Doesn't do ANYTHING for the plot, and was completely unnecessary.) Overall, a pretty terrible book, but yay lesbian smut.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shay

    Three pages in, the orientalism had me cringing and metaphorically throwing my kindle across the room. (The poor writing didn't help either - I had no faith that the author would have a rationale behind the mishmash of cultures they chose aside from just wanting to make something sound 'foreign', and also they clearly do not know what a burqua is!) Three pages in, the orientalism had me cringing and metaphorically throwing my kindle across the room. (The poor writing didn't help either - I had no faith that the author would have a rationale behind the mishmash of cultures they chose aside from just wanting to make something sound 'foreign', and also they clearly do not know what a burqua is!)

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lauryn

    An entertaining read, but it just sort of ended without wrapping up some (I thought) major plot points.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane Doesnt

    This was an odd read. There were parts of it that were genuinely interesting and others less-than-ideal. Others have flogged some of the latter to death so I won't dwell on them (the recycled tropes, Orientalised antagonists, etc.). However, there is a little nit I want to pick here, myself. This book has an unfortunately premature conclusion. Yes, I concede authors' rights to develop stories intended to become series/sagas. Yes, I understand that readers' perceptions of "conclusion" can be hugel This was an odd read. There were parts of it that were genuinely interesting and others less-than-ideal. Others have flogged some of the latter to death so I won't dwell on them (the recycled tropes, Orientalised antagonists, etc.). However, there is a little nit I want to pick here, myself. This book has an unfortunately premature conclusion. Yes, I concede authors' rights to develop stories intended to become series/sagas. Yes, I understand that readers' perceptions of "conclusion" can be hugely varied. I still maintain that the ending of this novel ended up so rushed that it shall cause many a reader to ask a question few authors want them asking: Why did you bother telling me all that other stuff in the first place?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    So many feels... I love the tale of Darry and Jessa! I feel so much for them, the Durand Family, and Darry’s Boys. There is so much misunderstanding and hurt between Darry and her father the King. It kills me that the only way Darry could keep her and Jessa together was to sever ties to her blood line, but I am so happy for her, Jessa, and Darry’s boys. They all have been tossed aside and overlooked by those who are suppose to love them. Jessa has had a hard life, hidden away in her fathers home, So many feels... I love the tale of Darry and Jessa! I feel so much for them, the Durand Family, and Darry’s Boys. There is so much misunderstanding and hurt between Darry and her father the King. It kills me that the only way Darry could keep her and Jessa together was to sever ties to her blood line, but I am so happy for her, Jessa, and Darry’s boys. They all have been tossed aside and overlooked by those who are suppose to love them. Jessa has had a hard life, hidden away in her fathers home, hated and used by her brothers. I enjoyed watching her become more confident and strong as her love for Darry grows. I love the Majik within the pages and I cannot wait to read the next part of their story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I am very ashamed at how much I liked this book for its lesbian plot. I agree with the other reviewers, that it’s super racist and stereotypical, because they gave the BAD kingdom/family brown skin, although I felt like the BAD kingdom/family was just about bad men, and not about Indians or Muslims, or dark skinned people in general. It felt like it was a retelling of all the terrible things English kings did with the power of the thrown behind them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lin

    It took my a year to finish this, i was stuck at 30% for months and then i tried it again and finished it in two day. I think my delay in finishing it was due to my frustration with the lack of exposition of the world. The characters might say something that is intrinsic to their world but me as a reader have no idea what they are talking about and they don't even explain it, once you hit the middle of the book you kind of start piecing the things together. It took my a year to finish this, i was stuck at 30% for months and then i tried it again and finished it in two day. I think my delay in finishing it was due to my frustration with the lack of exposition of the world. The characters might say something that is intrinsic to their world but me as a reader have no idea what they are talking about and they don't even explain it, once you hit the middle of the book you kind of start piecing the things together.

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