Review: The Longest Night

Review: The Longest NightThe Longest Night: Fantasy Romance (Nvengaria Book 4) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #4
on December 13th 2016
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 98

FINAL DECISION:  This is a nice novella with some suspense and the romance between a half human, half logosh shapeshifter who acts as spy and assassin for Nvengaria and the Scottish widow who entranced him a year ago.  It’s a fun read with some emotional moments.

THE STORY:  Mary Cameron a Scottish widow with a seventeen year old son is lonely.  A year ago, she met Baron Valentin a shapeshifting logosh from Nvengonia.  The two shared some kisses and Valentin asked her to join him in Nvengaria.  She never showed. Now the two meet again in London and Valentin has no intention on allowing Mary to escape him again.

OPINION:  This novella like the other Nvengarian stories are a combination of historical and paranormal fantasy with a fairy tale aspect.

In this story Mary is a woman of thirty-five who has a seventeen year old son. The world tells her that she should be satisfied with being a widow and mother and respectable chaparone and not be concerned with love or sex.  But she can’t help thinking about both when around the sexy, younger man, Valentin. She thought about following Valentin to Nvengaria a year ago but got cold feet thinking about who he is.  The truth is that they didn’t know each other very well for her to give up everything to follow him.

Valentin is a man who has lived with the desire for revenge and the regret of making mistakes. He now wants to be with the lovely widow. He has been sent to London to spy on a potential traitor. But he has an ulterior motive…he wants to see Mary again.  Outwardly self-contained but passionate, Valentin has no intention of allowing Mary to slip past him again.

I liked the older woman, younger man story here and I liked how honest Valentin was with Mary. He admires her for all her strengths. There is a decent suspense story here involving Valentin’s mission.  Because of the length of this novella, there is less plot and character development, but that works here because Mary and Valentin have a simple story between them and need the small plot to keep the story moving.

This was an enjoyable read and is a definite need to read for those who liked HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER and want to know what happens after…

WORTH MENTIONING:  THE LONGEST NIGHT was originally published in A CHRISTMAS BALL.  This version has been edited and expanded by the author.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE LONGEST NIGHT is the fourth book in the Nvengaria series.  The romance in this book begins in HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER and I recommend reading that book first even though the events in that book are explained here.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Highlander Ever After

Review: Highlander Ever AfterHighlander Ever After (Nvengaria, #3) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #3
Published by Leisure Books on April 1st 2008
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 323

FINAL DECISION:  Enjoyable read but not as good as the second book in this series.  I enjoyed the relationship between Zarabeth and Egan but for me the conflict wasn’t strong enough to justify the time these two were at odds.

THE STORY:  Egan MacDonald has loved Zarabeth for years. Despite her marriage to another man, he has not been able to forget her.  When her husband plots a coup against her cousin, the Prince of Nvengaria, Zarabeth reveals the plot and is now in danger for her life.  Zarabeth’s cousin sends her to his friend Egan in Scotland for protection.  Zarabeth is not the exuberant woman that Egan remembered.  While Zarabeth is in danger, Egan and Zarabeth have the chance to rediscover a path together that they missed years ago.

OPINION:  This is a second chance at love story about a woman who has been deeply hurt and the man she always loved.  Zarabeth and Egan are a good match for one another despite his attempts to keep her at arms length.  He loves her but he doesn’t believe himself good enough for her.

While there are magical elements in this story, the core is the relationship between Zarabeth and Egan. Her desire for him and her fears as a result of her marriage, his desire for her competing with his belief in his inadequacies.

I liked the romance here which was quiet and took a while for the two to work through their problems.

For me the negative of this book was that the conflict was not strong enough to really justify these two being at odds for so long.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book introduces the couple for the novella THE LONGEST NIGHT.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER is the third book in the Nvengaria series.  This book can be read as a standalone because the romance is self-contained although there are overlapping characters.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: The Mad, Bad Duke

Review: The Mad, Bad DukeThe Mad, Bad Duke (Nvengaria, #2) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #2
Published by Leisure on October 18, 2016
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 383

FINAL DECISION: Incredibly enjoyable for readers open to fusion romances.  This charming historical paranormal perfectly merges the genres to fashion a fairy tale about a former villain who can’t help but fall in love (because of a love charm) with a woman he never would have chosen on his own.

THE STORY: Megan Tavistock gets unexpectedly snared by a love spell which results in her ending up married to Grand Duke Alexander of Nvengaria.  Alexander has been sent to England because he plotted against the Prince of Nvengaria.  In England, Alexander is redeeming himself being running intricate plots to protect Nvengaria’s interests. A widower with a young son, Alexander never thought to marry again, especially not an innocent like Megan, but when the love spell results in him ruining Megan, Alexander is determined to protect Megan and discover who is trying to plot against him.

OPINION: Ashley has a way with men who are handsome and unconventional. Here, Alexander is a man who has been isolated and alone. He doesn’t have strong connections with people and sees his only value in intrigue and deception. Having been married and with a young son, Alexander remains essentially alone.

This book is inspired by the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast and the inspiration is cleverly done without being a scene by scene repeat of the classic.  Alexander is a man isolated and when the beautiful and innocent Megan comes into his life, Alexander is dazzled by her even as he tries to keep her at a distance.

The love spell works to bring these two together quickly and unexpectedly. Their first meeting is hot and passionate and I really liked how the love spell worked in the story. It is the catalyst that forces Megan and Alexander together so that they can spend time together working though their relationship.

The mix of genres really works in this book in a way that it didn’t completely mesh in the first book in the series.  The combination of paranormal and historical and fairy tale gives this book interest and heft and I just loved every page.

Like a true beauty, Megan transforms the beastly Alexander into a loving husband and father by the end of the book and allows his true self to be revealed.

WORTH MENTIONING: The Scot Egan MacDonald has a significant role and his story is up next.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  The Mad, Bad Duke is the second book in the Nvengaria series. While this story can be read as a standalone, I think it is better having read the first book in the series so that readers can truly understand what a potential bad guy Alexander is.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Penelope and Prince Charming

Review: Penelope and Prince CharmingPenelope and Prince Charming: Nvengaria (Historical Paranormal) by Jennifer Ashley
Series: Nvengaria #1
Published by JA / AG Publishing on August 1, 2006
Genres: Historical, Paranormal
Pages: 377

FINAL DECISION:  A fun mixture of fantasy, fairy tale and historical, this book introduces a new series.  While the insta-love reduces much of the emotional drama, the story was interesting and the characters have a good story to tell.

THE STORY:  Miss Penelope Trask is a double jilt after ending two disastrous engagements.   She has resigned herself to never marrying when Prince Damien of Nvengaria appears informing her that she is the the woman he has come to England to find.  The woman destined to be his bride and help him rule his land.  Penelope knows that something magical is happening (and this book has magic in it) but knows that men have deceived her before.  Damien and Penelope must battle those who are trying to prevent Damien from returning to his country and certainly trying to prevent a marriage between them.

OPINION:  This book was an enjoyable mixture of historical, fairy tale and fantasy.  As the first book in the series, the mixture is not always smooth, but I found the combination both sweet and fun.  (There is also some sexy situations put in the mix to keep the sickly sweet possibilities away).

Damien comes to England to search for his destined bride, immediately falls for Penelope but then has to win her and her family over.  At the same time, the two need to battle the evil Grand Duke who wants to prevent the two from fulfilling the prophesy and returning to Nvengaria as the rulers.  There are assassins and monsters and magic sleeping spells along the way.

The insta-love in this book (consistent with the Cinderella fairy tale this is loosely based on) reduces much of the emotional drama between the characters.  The book also has bit of “marriage of convenience” feel to it as Penelope and Damien seem fated to be together but then have to learn to live with one another.

I loved Penelope in this one.  She is strong and independent and clearly the center of this book.  Nothing works in this book without her.  It is her discovery of her true self that makes this book work.  Like Cinderella, she is hidden in the small town she lives in.  In truth, she is a princess.  Her discovery of her abilities — her true self — makes her relationship with Damien work and also saves their country.

I also was intrigued by the story of the villain, Alexander (whose story is next in the series).  For me, I was more interested in his story than Damien’s (I have a thing for the anti-hero).  I would read the next book in this series simply based on Alexander’s story, but I also was intrigued by the combination of genres.

A reader of this book will have to be open minded because the book combines the fantasy elements of magic and monsters with a some very typical historical elements.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is a historical paranormal with magic and fantasy elements along with taking place in the regency period.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  PENELOPE AND PRINCE CHARMING is the first book in the Nvengaria series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.