The Souls of Witches, by Tarrant Smith, is an alluring tale set in a fantasy world full of witches, demigods, shape shifters and other supernatural beings. The story starts with a party orchestrated for love and romance between Rowan and Lars. The author creates an enchanting world, Mills and Boons style, that provides a creative escapist fantasy. Lars is a charming and impulsive hybrid of demon and demigod, a child born as an experiment by his grandmother Morrison, who forced a demon to have sex with his demigod mother. Rowan, who enjoys her solitude is fiercely independent, doesn’t want any companion, but the intensity of desire for Lars swamps her. The two are drawn towards each other from the first encounter and enthralled with each other. Due to Lars’ dark history and his evil, destructive grandmother, the union can be catastrophic. Will they be able to reunite or have to live a life pining for each other forever?
Author Tarrant Smith has created a captivating mystical haven called the Pale. The place is full of mysterious characters fighting for love, struggling with hate, assault, cruelties, and a blooming romance between Lars and Rowan. The use of imagery was fascinating; I could visualize the beauty and scenes like a dream. The protagonist is quite likeable and well presented. She’s bold and strong-willed and admirable. I thought she’d be some regular fiery heroine and some average dark lord, but they have definite character arcs. Both as individuals and as a couple!
The setup to the story felt familiar, but I’m so glad that I continued reading because the story does evolve into something uniquely imaginative. Even if demonic, the characters are relatable, their feelings and emotions are genuine, and conflicts are incredibly human.
The book follows the footsteps of traditional young adult fantasies, with lots of action and an easy to follow plot that was entertaining, I kept waiting for a twist I didn’t see coming. This is a novel that is propelled forward by the two main characters that are deeply developed, but I wanted to see that same level of development in the interesting side characters that come up throughout the story.
The Souls of Witches is an enjoyable story of a magical world full of supernatural characters. I genuinely liked this book because of its simplicity and passionate love story. It’s just pure enjoyment, which is honestly great in this time of uncertainty. I would recommend this book to adult fantasy book lovers. I think these people will be able to enjoy reading this lite paranormal romance.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B08MWXG5BC
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Gabriella didn’t know what she was in for when her roommate, Darren, left on a weekend vacation with his boyfriend and told her to have fun and get herself out there! Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that her life would be completely changed that weekend by the man of her dreams. Or should I say demon?
The Dreams of Demons is the third book in The Legends of the Pale Series. We follow Murmur, a demon who serves Lugh, a god, for all eternity, as he dreams and searches for a woman who keeps coming to him in his dreams. The thing is, demons don’t dream.
Gabriella, who has always had a gift to read people’s minds and feelings, dreams of Murmur as well. After Murmur materializes and saves her life at her local park they find their attraction to each other is so strong that after surrendering themselves to each other they are now bound forever. But is Gabriella ready to be someone else’s, someone she only just met?
The Dreams of Demons is the most unique book I’ve read this year in that it is set in modern-day, but involves gods and demons who have lived for thousands of years, so there is an ancient feel to it as well. Smith has been able to not only braid these two times into one, but the lives of mortals and gods as well, and she has done it exquisitely.
The love that Murmur and Gabriella have for each other is always brewing in the background, even when Smith takes us into the different story lines. Rhiannon, another goddess who feels something dangerous brewing, the relationship of Lugh and his woman, Keely, and the friendships of Keely, Gabriella, and Zee that emerge. All of them are intricately drawn characters.
This is book three in The Legends of the Pale Series, but if you have not read the first two books I think new readers will still understand what’s going on. Smith gives a bit of back story here and there, but not too much that would make the reader bored if they had already read the series in its entirety.
There are only so many ways you can describe the act of love and lovemaking. But Smith has breathed new life into the classic romance genre, with steamy scenes enhanced by the raw power of a demon and a mortal who may have otherworldly blood in her. While reading you can feel the magnetism between Murmur and Gabriella. Their relationship was an enthralling escapade of emotions that I looked forward to.
Pages: 222 | ASIN: B0886K161B
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Eva is isolated, and that is by her own choosing. She is the sole survivor of a lineage of werewolves. Avoiding others like herself and steering clear of humans, she has managed to keep away from everything posing a threat to her very being. Eva is strong and a force to be reckoned with. Deegan has met his match in Eva. A werewolf himself, he is not part of one of the most desirable clans. When forces beyond his control begin to rule him, he finds himself on the verge of giving in and giving up. Whether either of them realize it or not, Eva just might be the answer he didn’t know he was looking for.
The Fate of Wolves, by Tarrant Smith, is the second in The Legends of the Pale series. From cover to cover, Smith delivers insanely well-drawn characters and enough moments of levity to keep this paranormal romance moving along at a brisk pace. Never does Smith’s work lack. As the author bounces from one subplot to the next and back, she keeps readers on their toes and deeply involved with each of the main characters and their tragic lives.
Eva is simply amazing. Smith’s descriptions of both her wolf and human halves and how the two are often at odds is captivating. I am oddly fascinated by characters who choose to isolate themselves, and Eva is a prime example. There is so much to be explored in characters like Eva whose mental anguish is so tangible.
I would be remiss if I didn’t address Smith’s opening lines. It’s not often that I rave about the beginning of a book, but in this case it’s a must. From the first sentence, Smith had me hooked. I am not always one to pick a fantasy, but when I do, I lean toward those with characters who shape-shift. There comes with these characters a certain fascination that I don’t get with those in other fantasy novels. The mere mention of werewolves is enough to catch my eye, but Smith snags readers like me from the opening paragraph when she states that werewolves are, indeed, not mythical.
Smith has a unique take on settings. She places her clan in present day. At first, I was a bit taken aback, but I realized as I read that it completely works. It’s not the fact that their human halves are technologically savvy that makes or breaks a book of this genre, it was the inner turmoil of characters like these that makes them timeless.
Anyone who enjoys down-to-earth main characters in their fantasy series will be taken with Deegan and Eva. The entire cast of characters created by Smith is deserving of readers’ adoration for that matter. Humor is a big part of Smith’s writing and adds to the depth of her characters. I highly recommend this book to readers across genres–it’s a must-read.
Pages: 254 | ASIN: B07YG7NZ35
Kept Darkly is book three in The Darkly Series. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore in this book that were different from the first two books?
In Enchanted, book one, the reader is introduced to the fey race but all the action happens in the human realm. In Bound, book two, the action is split between the human realm and Tir na n’Og, the realm of the fey. I spent a great deal of time exploring the conflicts between the two fey courts and what life is like in each in Bound. I also suggested that the fey race and the struggles between the Light and Dark Court is the source material of our Arthurian Legends. Most of my writing inspiration comes from Celtic mythology and so it was easy to incorporate this idea into the books. In Kept Darkly I run with the idea by sending Sel, Riona, and Crank into Annwn, the Celtic underworld to recover Arthur—also known as the Absent King. The first mention of the Absent King occurred in Bound Darkly. In Kept Darkly, I get to reveal to the reader his ultimate fate. Of course, this quest is all just a backdrop for Sel and Riona’s love story.
Kept Darkly follows the unlikely pairing of Riona and Sel. Their relationship kept me guessing and hoping for a happy ending. What was the inspiration for their relationship?
Once again I wanted to pair the most unlikely of couples together, play with the idea of blending the two courts—light with dark—and continue the themes of trust and acceptance, of fate and choice that all my characters tend to wrestle with. In Sel, I had someone who was all about duty. He’d lived his entire life in service to his queen and her court. He’d abandoned any thoughts of having a family beyond his daughter Sinnie long before the reader meets him in book one. The mystery of who Jennifer MacKell is to Sel is a secret that must be forced out of him by Hueil. The Seelie Queen also has to force Sel to embrace life beyond her and duty to the Light Court. Sel is a character who has limited himself by choice. In contrast, Riona is a character whose limitations were forced on her by others; by her abusive father, by her tenuous position in the Unseelie Court, and the Seelie Queen’s dubious protections. How does Sel learn to embrace a larger life? And how does Riona manage to rise above her past and abuse by others to become the master of her own life’s direction? These were the questions and conflicts I had to solve while writing Kept Darkly.
This novel does a great job of describing the unique struggle between the seelie and unseelie groups. Were these groups predefined before writing, or do they develop organically while writing?
Celtic mythology provided a fairly clear idea of who and what the seelie and unseelie were, their characteristics and what the aim of each court might be. The idea of a caste system in each court developed organically as I thought about this world. And because the two courts are a mirror image of each other, what exists in one by definition must also exist in the other. At the top of the caste hierarchy are the nobles. These are elven like beings. They’re beautiful and make up most of the population at court. Then there is the warrior caste. In the Seelie Court this is represented by the queen’s guard; they’re orderly, driven by duty, and a little pompous. On the unseelie side, there’s Hueil’s caste. Unseelie warriors are an unruly lot. They love a good fight and they follow the law that the strongest always rules. The next caste in both courts is made up by the craftsmen. This group is by far the most diverse and I don’t spend much time exploring them in the books. The lesser fey make up the bottom of the fey caste system. These are the sprites, fairies, boggarts, and assorted elemental spirits that most humans think of when the term fey (fae) is used.
What can readers expect in book four of the series, Surrendered Darkly?
As I was writing the Darkly books it became apparent that alongside the mythology, the conflicts of the two courts, and the individual romances that I was recording the rise of the House of Caw, specifically of Hueil and his family’s attempts to unseat King Melwas in order to correct the perceived ills of the Unseelie Court. So, in book four I took a hard look at Neb, Hueil’s younger brother. Neb’s true talent is his ability to remain relatively unscathed while his remaining brothers scheme and fight among themselves. In the past, Hueil had always looked after Neb and I wanted to know why. In Surrendered the reader discovers that Cora and Neb had known each other in their youth and that it was the ending of that relationship that shaped them. Can you return to a past love? Can you see beyond betrayal and who they once were to the person they’ve become? And just for the fun of it I threw Neb and Cora squarely between the conflicting desires of two very different goddesses.
As the Seelie Queen’s champion and captain of her guardsmen, Sel, son of Selgi, has lived a life ruled by duty and honor. For centuries, his Queen’s wishes have dictated his every action. Not once has he questioned the legendary seer-queen’s edicts or flinched upon receiving a new mission—that is, until now. The Queen has ordered him from her side and from her court so that he might take an unseelie as his mate, fulfilling the requirements of an ancient fey law long ignored. As if that weren’t bad enough, the Queen has named the unseelie girl. It is Riona, the dark and hauntingly beautiful bastard daughter of the morally corrupt Unseelie King. What the hell could the Queen be thinking?
Riona has lived most of her life hiding from her powerful father. She is the unwanted issue of a despised king and his lusty courtesan, a political pawn her father is determined to use to his advantage. But King Melwas can’t use what he can’t find. Riona, who has grown used to betrayal in the Unseelie Court, is grateful for the timely intervention of the Seelie Queen in escaping her dreary fate—that is, until she learns that the Queen intends to reward her captain by formally binding Riona to him. She knows Sel by reputation only. He is said to be cold, unfeeling, and frighteningly powerful. He is also rumored to be desperately in love with his sovereign. There is no chance that the Queen’s most loyal defender will ever truly love her, so why, then, cannot Riona steel her heart against him?
Bound Darkly is an exciting paranormal fantasy novel. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the story?
After I finished writing Enchanted Darkly, the question of Hueil’s backstory wouldn’t leave me alone. Why was he exiled by King Melwas and how was he going to step back into a life and a world he’d been forced away from after so many years? I knew his exile and Jennifer had changed him on a fundamental level and I wanted to explore that dilemma. Sinnie’s character and the close connection to Jennifer was a secret that I also wanted to explain. Why did Jennifer, a light court halfling, make such an impression on Hueil? And how was Hueil’s courtship of Sinnie, a seelie, going to play out? All these characters were so well defined for me that Bound Darkly was one of the easiest books for me to write. For the most part, all I had to do was stand back and let the characters tell me what happened next.
What was one of the hardest parts in Bound Darkly for you to write?
The hardest parts of Bound Darkly to write were the scenes where Hueil’s self-destructive nature gets in the way of his and Sinnie’s budding romance. His doubts and inability to trust all things seelie were reoccurring obstacles for him. There were times I, like Sinnie, just wanted to slap him when his stubborn nature kicked in. But next to Crank, whose story is told in the fifth book, Hueil is my favorite Darkly Series character. His story arc is the longest in the series. He goes from being the villain in Enchanted to redeemed hero in Bound. And then in Kept Darkly, he rises to become the Unseelie king.
How did you create Sinnie and Hueil’s characters in a way that contrasted yet still supported the characters development?
Since Hueil’s character was fully formed by the time I started Bound, it was Sinnie’s character that I spent the most effort in creating. She needed to be as unusual a seelie as Hueil’s unseelie character. She also needed to be a challenge to win, on both a social and personal level. I wanted her strong enough to stand up to Hueil and a proven warrior in her own right. Someone whose skills he could learn to respect. They needed to meet as equals. I knew that a damsel in distress would never appeal to Hueil. I also wanted Sinnie’s backstory to contrast sharply with the struggles of Hueil’s unseelie life. In the end, Hueil has to learn to trust while Sinnie has to find a way to see beyond the crimes of his past, past her right and wrong thinking to a place of understanding and acceptance.
This is book two in the Darkly series. What can readers expect in book three?
Book three, Kept Darkly, is where I explore Sel’s story. From the first two books, readers know that Sel is the Seelie Queen’s captain and Sinnie’s father. But what they will discover is that the captain has secrets and suppressed longings that have been pushed aside in the name of duty to queen and the Seelie Court. I will also take the reader into one of the many god realms in book three, delve deeper into the conflicts of the fey courts, and reveal the final fate of the fabled Absent King.
Sinnie has lived a secure, uniquely privileged life in the Seelie Court of Tir na n-Og. For as long as she can remember, her doting father, Sel, son of Selgi, has been the Captain of the Queen’s Guard. She cannot imagine the dark warrior prophesied for her future by the meddling goddess Blodeuwedd. Nevertheless, Sinnie’s fate is forever sealed the day the goddess whispers the riddle into her child’s ear. He would be a warrior born of the dark, raised by the despised, and tempered by the unlikely – and he would be Sinnie’s only chance at true love.
After spending nearly a thousand years exiled in the world of men, Hueil, son of Caw, has returned to the Dark Court of the unseelie to find much has changed in his homeland. The restoration of his name and his new duties at court should have brought him satisfaction, but the many years of banishment and Jennifer Mackell have changed him. Unable to name the yearning that now plagues him, Hueil travels back to Jen’s cottage to seek answers. What he finds is Sinnie, a seelie warrior who is both fire and flame, and a woman who might very well be the death of him – if he is lucky.
Ena and her father are coping with multiple sudden changes in life as they have known it for centuries. They are giving up Ena’s younger siblings, and they are watching as the age-old practice of the pleasure dens are done away with. Nothing is as it should be in their world. When Ena is approached by Blodeuwedd, the matchmaking goddess, to run what she describes as a simple errand, Ena takes the opportunity. Little does she realize that agreeing to help Blodeuwedd will lead her to some of the most challenging moments of her life while opening her eyes to her true self.
Tarrant Smith jumps right into the action with Resurrected Darkly. From the first pages, the reader is swept into Ena’s world and given a myriad of clues as to her origins. Ena’s willingness to appease the goddess, Blodeuwedd, and venture into a strange castle alone make her an appealing character and one worth calling a favorite. Readers following Smith’s Darkly series will be pleased to see that Ena, in previous books, is the focus of this installment. As intriguing as her character is in the previous books, Ena endears herself to readers with the unique characteristics she possesses as both a dragon and fey.
I was excited to see Crank as the male focus in this book. I tend to gravitate toward secondary characters in novels, and Crank is one who caught my eye in previous books. His gruff demeanor and bluntness add an element of humor to Smith’s books. Crank, however, takes a dark turn in Resurrected Darkly. Readers will hurt for him as he faces a struggle beyond anything he has faced before. The guilt he bears is overwhelming and has grown into a burden that is almost more than he is able to bear.
Smith includes descriptions of “the enchanted” in her work; humans who have been taken into the fey realm to serve the fey. They seem to live simple lives, almost robotic, but their roles are quite complex. Ena, who has more of an affinity for the enchanted than most, shows actual emotion over the enchanted.
I found Resurrected Darkly to be the most engaging of the books in the series. The dynamic between Ena and Crank is simply enchanting. The impact that Ena, a hardened soul herself, has on the tormented Crank is just short of miraculous. I enjoyed watching the growth that took place between the two.
Smith brings together a multitude of characters from the first four books of her Darkly series as she heals one of her most engaging characters from an unspeakable trauma. Readers who enjoyed the first four Darkly books will be more than pleased with Smith’s fifth installment–a fantastic addition to the romantic fantasy series.
Pages:282 | ASIN: B07NMKM7CH
Cora, not part of the upper crust of society, is considered a low ranking fey. A handmaiden with an iron-clad memory, Cora has not forgotten Neb and the hurt he caused her in the past. Neb is as unseelie as he is unsavory in Cora’s mind, but he has other plans for the two of them–plans over which he has no control. While a romance is the furthest thing from Cora’s mind, she has no way of knowing that Neb will be the one to make plans for so very much more than a fleeting romance. Neb is about to change the course for both their lives no matter what it may take.
Tarrant Smith has added yet another colorful book to her Darkly series. Surrendered Darkly follows Cora and Neb on their journey back to one another and along a tumultuous and unlikely courtship. Cora is a strong-willed fey with a mind of her own, and Neb is determined to figure out why he feels so drawn to Cora, a woman he is convinced he should remember.
Blue, a mother figure to Cora and a goddess in her own right, is a truly interesting character. She has many layers Smith reveals throughout the book. Perhaps Blue’s most striking characteristic is her tendency to mother over Cora. As with all of Smith’s characters, I am always amazed and somewhat taken aback by their appearances in human forms. Sometimes I feel as if I am reading two different books.
Smith shows readers a little more of the reactions given by mortals. When Neb finds himself in town, readers are able to witness along with Neb the reactions of the humans around them when Neb isn’t quite in his full human form. It’s refreshing to see that the mortals around the seelie and unseelie are not totally oblivious to them. I find that adds a nice layer of believability to the fantasy being woven by Smith.
Of the Darkly books, I find this one to be the most steeped in romance though it lacks the frequent love scenes. The basis of this installment is the relationship, or lack thereof, between Neb and Cora. The entire plot centers around deep feelings taking over Neb and how he will deal with them. Cora, on the other hand, has a battle to wage within herself as she faces Neb a second time following her previous heartache. Readers who are fond of deep-seated romances will enjoy this fourth book in the series.
I am always intrigued by Smith’s abilities to write characters who are tied together emotionally and by their abilities.
From the first page, this romantic fantasy engages readers with the lives of colorful characters and explores realms via two headstrong main characters, Neb and Cora. Theirs is a story fans of romance won’t want to miss.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B005ZWIIWK
Hiding far from her father, Riona never believed her life of isolation could change, much less change so drastically. For years, she has remained under the protection of the Seelie Queen and existed as a blemish on the face of her people. Riona knows her place and understands that she, for many reasons, must remain in hiding. When Riona, also known as Molly, is snatched from her home and finds herself assigned as the mate of the queen’s captain, Sel, she is more than baffled at her new station in life. Riona can’t help but wonder, and worry, what this actually means for her future.
Kept Darkly, the third book in the Darkly series by Tarrant Smith follows the unlikely pairing of Riona and Sel. Riona, by all rights, is far below Sel’s station in life and is painfully aware of the love he is said to have for the Seelie Queen. Smith’s decision to match Riona and Sel makes for an interesting plot that keeps the reader guessing as to the ultimate outcome–and hoping for a happy ending for the oppressed Riona.
I am always amazed at Smith’s character descriptions. Gloric is a prime example. An unseelie and questionable character all on his own, he is capable of metamorphosis. Smith draws a detailed picture of Gloric’s complete transformation in front of Riona. These types of scenes are definitely worth a reread and one of the hallmarks of Smith’s installments in the Darkly series. In addition, I was quite intrigued at the way in which Smith incorporates shapeshifting as one of Riona’s characteristics.
In the previous Darkly book, Smith provides readers with moments of comic relief, and Kept Darkly delivers the same. These brief scenes are welcome as the overall theme of the book is primarily thoughtful and brooding. With this installment, it’s not so much the dialogue that makes for the moments of comic relief but the images conjured by Smith’s narrative. I was particularly drawn to the levity created during the interactions between Sel and the sprite, Urias.
Smith’s characters are fascinating on many levels. Crank is easily my favorite of all Smith’s characters–I am partial to the unseelie. He is a no-holds-barred type of guy who says exactly what he means and has no problem making himself clear to anyone fortunate enough to listen to his tales. As with the metamorphosis of Gloric, I was impressed with the transfer of energy that takes place between Riona and Sel. What appears as a hopeless situation for Riona is suddenly turned around with minimal effort on Sel’s part.
Smith’s writing is beautifully descriptive and rich with character development. Readers following the series will enjoy getting to know Sel and watching his relationship with Riona bloom. The better part of book 3 feels dedicated to developing character relationships and describing the unique struggle between the seelie and unseelie groups, and fans of fantasy romance will find Smith’s work particularly fascinating.
Pages: 334 | ASIN: B004XWJ8TK