Darkest Heart by Juliette Cross
Dominion Series, #1
August 20, 2018
Mmmmhmmmm Dommiel. The High Demon Lord we first met in Cross’s popular Vessel Trilogy, is back, front and dark center with his own story and frankly, I wasn’t ready. Dark and sexy, I was prepared for. Dommiel takes up all the air in any room and I was prepared for the engulfing, ready for his heady head trip. What I wasn’t prepared for was his deeply emotional and poignant journey. Darkest Heart is full of stirring emotion and Dommiel’s story is one hell of a redemption ride. An outcast and outsider among his own demon kind, Dommiel hasn’t had to extend himself to help anyone but himself for eons. Everything changes when a poisoned angel, Anya, needs him to help her find the only being who can reverse her cursed blood poisoning the elusive archangel Uriel. Dommiel can’t resist the siren call to help and protect Anya and he certainly feels helpless in falling for her, even though he knows they can never be. She in her goodness and light is too good for him and he, with his darkness and danger threatens to steal her heart and very life. Both couldn’t be more right- and more wrong and the juxtaposition of their connection blew me away.
Darkest Heart is artful and romantic and powerful and deep. I felt so full and satisfied by the end, Juliette Cross is an absolute favorite storyteller of mine. The way she crafts such flawed characters yet embeds within them a core goodness that makes you root for them, hard. I’m typically not a bawler and am always a little skeptical when people gush about being in tears (Meh, I’m a cynic, sue me!) but damn if Dommiel and his masked self-loathing and restoration didn’t choke me completely up. I adored Anya and her strength that wasn’t always quiet (hello warrior angel!) sometimes authors make the trade-off that the heroine has a quiet spine of steel, well Anya had teeth without being a caricature of strong feminine energy and it was refreshing.
I found this to be most aptly titled, shades of darkness but encased within a ton of heart. Dommiel was definitely upgraded to the upper echelon of my most beloved book boyfriends. I wanted to save him, I wanted to be broken with him. In the Vessel series, he was my mysterious dark lover. Now that I have his story, we are totally involved in a full blown love affair. Call us “Shemmiel” or “Dommisheen.”
He’s totally mine.
The overall reading experience felt like an epic journey. Fans of fantasy paranormal and waged war between good and evil should enjoy this immensely.
Another Five Minutes by Destiny Booze
August 24, 2018
Born deaf and living with an anxiety disorder, Brooke Hartley manages life in five-minute intervals. It’s all she can do to get out of bed each morning. She’s hidden inside her sister’s apartment for over a year. Everything changes when Brooke’s sister goes missing. Her fragile world crashes. She is desperate to find her. Haunted by a past he needs to forget, Scott Derrico keeps to himself until his gallery manager, Autumn Hartley, suddenly disappears. He comes out of isolation to take Brooke under his wing and search for Autumn. Scott tries to deny his attraction to Brooke. He doesn’t want to get emotionally involved but he craves her like nothing else. And, for her, he is a dark and sexy diversion to overcome her fear. With a genuinely flawed and relatable heroine and a mysterious and protective hero, you won’t want this love story to end. You’ll beg…for another five minutes…
Wowsers, there is a lot to unpack with this one. The blurb was very mysterious and made me uncomfortable. Above all, it made me curious and I couldn’t read it because curious!?!
Brooke lives her life in five minute intervals. The rigidity of her routine is humbling and sad and immediately connected me to her. Born into an abusive family where her father beat her mother and abandoned the family for greener pastures and a demented and cruel brother who abused Brooke and terrorized her twin sister, Autumn. Brooke has not had an easy life, she’s endured. Her disability along with her father and brother’s cruelty had a profound impact on Brooke, she’s a survivor and does so, five minutes at a time. Living with her sister, Brooke is able to live in her bubble of love and protection. When Autumn goes missing, Brooke is forced from the shadows in into the light and the only thing more frightening is the idea of never finding out what happened to her sister.
Another Five Minutes twisted and turned and was suspenseful and disturbing and I was unable to look away. Autumn loved her sister and her wish was for Brooke to venture out from her self-imposed exile and rejoin the world. Autumn saw Brooke as capable and missing out on the life she could design for herself. Tough love was her last resort to shake things up and help Brooke claim her best life. Brooke was amazingly human. She wasn’t the deaf woman with the heart of gold, she wasn’t perfect and perky, she was haunted and a recluse and irrational and angry and human. I loved her humanity. I loved that she got pissed at her sister because being pissed at a loved one who challenges you on your most basic core level will piss you off and it was important that she not be the most perfect and reliable character.
The only place she felt safe in this world was inside this apartment with her back against a wall. Autumn tried to understand that, Brooke knew, but no one could possibly comprehend. How could they? Panic wasn’t rational. It was overwhelming, overpowering, and totally life changing. It didn’t have to make sense to be real. Tomorrow, Brooke was going to be scared to death, and that was all too real.
Because she was so imperfect and perfectly human, I felt that much more invested in her ordeal and watching her fall in lust and love was that much more rewarding.
The tempo of the book is razor sharp, the ” five minutes” increment theme ever present and injecting its own anxious energy into the reading experience. Many times I had to catch myself holding my breath, reminding myself to breathe! Taking on Brooke’s anxiety like a cloak I kept flinging away only to finding myself shrouded within it mere pages later.
It would be criminal (criminal!) to give too much away, but Another Five Minutes was a very solid read, creative and well written, it was one of those heavy character studies that leave you thinking far beyond the turn of the last page. This novel will certainly stay with me and I am interested to see what else this author has up their sleeve for future releases.