Erotica, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

My Review: Tricky Princess (Tricky Magic #2) [ARC]

***ARC Review***
Publish Date: September 13th, 2022
Number of Pages: N/A
Publisher: Self Published
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Erotica

***Warning!! This review contains spoilers to the previous book in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!!***

To see my full review of book #1 – Tricky Magic – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

Even though she was sad, she had love. They whispered it to each other every morning and night and when they were wrapped around each other so deeply that their magic became one.”

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Princess”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

A Shadowborn Prince of Hel and a feared, all-powerful Trickster Witch will learn once again that not everything is as it seems in this second installment of the Tricky Magic series.

Travel to Hel with this steamy dark romance that has all your favorite things: Shadow play, supernaturals, loveable characters, and some tricky magic.

Rosier, crown prince and commander of Hel’s four armies, has been desperately avoiding his destiny as a ruler. When his father kidnaps Ellea, the Trickster Witch who gave him something worth living for, he has no choice but to return home. He must leave the comfort of his secluded life to journey to Hel—a path that is full of monsters, beasts, and terrible memories.

Nothing will stand in his way of saving Ellea—not his father, not Hel, and not the Gods. The funny thing is, he will be reminded once again that she never needed saving.

Ellea never saw herself stowed away in a castle, surrounded by the dead, sleeping Gods, and demons. While navigating her powers with her captor and newfound friend, she realizes that Hel itself needs work. She misses Ros every second they’re apart, but she can’t shake the feeling that she is exactly where she belongs.

A string of attacks will disrupt Ros and Ellea’s magical and steamy reunion. Only Ellea can stop her parents from ruining the balance between mortals and supernaturals, but she may have to give up a piece of her soul to do it.

Tricky Princess is a dark paranormal and mythological romance that contains detailed sex scenes, violence, swearing, and emotional trauma.

~~~

First off, I want to personally throw out a big THANK YOU to Lexi for sending me out an E-ARC copy of this book! It was so sweet of her, I’ve really liked chatting with her and getting to know her and show support for an indie book series that I’m really enjoying. Of course, this also means I want to reassure and say this review is ENTIRELY my own!

…now THIS is what I’m talking about! I love it when a sequel surpasses the first book in a series. I fairly enjoyed Tricky Magic, but Tricky Princess felt enhanced in almost every way. I read through this sequel much faster as more was happening and the plot has certainly thickened with how book 1 ended. There were more battles, bloodshed, intrigue, and of course spice!

This time around, you get more side-to-side perspectives from both Rosier and Ellea, but what I mean is it really feels like both characters really went through some change this time. I felt like Ros especially got a lot more attention this time around which I appreciated.

So the story starts off immediately where you were left off: Ellea has been kidnapped by Asmodeus, King of Hel and Ros’s father, and brings her to the underworld, and Ros and the gang set out to rescue her and bring her back. The road to Hel is a long and dangerous trek, and is filled with terrible obstacles…little do they know is that Ellea is being her usual Ellea self and casually wins the heart of the land and feels a sense of belonging down in Ros’s homeland!

The story felt more urgent and the raised stakes with Ellea’s parents starting a war with the supernaturals and even the worry of Belias and what he could possibly be up to—I also don’t remember if it was mentioned at all in book 1 but I thought it was cool that his father ended up being Beelzebub—but overall the pacing felt faster which really helps make you read through this one quicker.

The sex scenes were OF COURSE a major highlight, the author is really good at writing paranormal smut. I especially loved the scene of how Ellea wakes up Ros one morning…..you’ll have to read yourself to see what I mean 😉

~~~

She was goading him, trying to take back some control with her dirty mouth.

‘The goal is to make you not walk.’ He said it with a snarl, snapping his hips hard, enough to bruise, but she didn’t flinch, didn’t balk.

She smirked. ‘Then I would go harder.’

What a brat.

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Princess”

~~~

What I Liked:

  1. More Spice! HOT DAMN do Ros and Ellea not know how to slow down! The amount of spice in this book is a major plus for people like me who enjoy lots of “flavor” in their reading material! They go at it with MUCH enthusiasm, and get very inventive in some circumstances too, spice lovers will very much enjoy these parts of the books!
  2. Lots of New Characters! Holy Characters, Batman! There’s a LOT of new characters who make for an interesting read for sure! Most notably is Asmodeus, who is Ros’s father and King of Hel. Another character to look out for is Florence, who is a demon who knows ALL the secrets–it’s why her hair is so big!
  3. The Worldbuilding Really Expanded! The world of Hel really opens up and has a unique version told in this book. Ellea explores this underworld and lets us discover it all alongside with her!
  4. Ellea’s and Asmodeus’s Relationship! Ellea had such a fun dynamic with Ros’s father as he trained her down in Hel and they grew closer, she got a father figure she never really had, and he had a possible future daughter-in-law that he got along with too! Plus she tried to come up with a cute pet name for him like Azzy, Mod, etc. It was also funny how when Ros eventually storms the castle and expects her to be tortured and hanging by her ankles in a dungeon, she’s actually sipping tea with his dad in the library!
  5. More Was Going On In the Story! Even though I still consider this series to be character-driven, it felt like a lot more was happening and the stakes definitely felt raised to drive the story forward in a faster pace.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. A Lot of Characters Didn’t Reappear…I was disappointed to not see a few characters return this time around, like Sybil and a lot of the other witches and warlocks. Sam, Devon, Garm, Billy, Belias, and even Ellea’s harem of boys make appearances, but some felt shortened and revolved purely around Ellea and Ros and their character development, which makes sense for the story. I guess I was just maybe hoping for more in this regard? Like I wish we got more from Belias even with his scheming, and I think it would’ve added to the story to see him get away with more or rage with his temper to make him feel like a bigger threat, just something to add more to his character would’ve really helped him.

Conclusion:

Overall, this was a fun sequel that really added to the whole story. The writing felt smoother, the excitement and pacing definitely picked up, and the spice got even hotter! I think those who enjoyed the first book will REALLY enjoy this second installment!

I would also say those who really enjoyed other books like Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked series and the Hades and Persephone books by Scarlett St. Clair (A Touch of Darkness) will also really enjoy this book! I feel like the readers who want more spicy details with Wrath and Emilia and wish Wrath would just rip their clothes off already……… well, you get what I’m saying. Obviously, just be sure to read the first book before this one…

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance

My Review: Tricky Magic (Tricky Magic #1): by L.L. Campbell

Publish Date: December 18th, 2021
Number of Pages: 445 Pages
Publisher: Self Published
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Erotica

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars

Fears evolve and grow, welcoming another. One whose power will balance yours in destruction. You feed his fire as he feeds your chaos. You will turn worlds upside down,

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Magic”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

Ellea is a Witch, a mix of both the respected Seers and the feared Tricksters. On top of that, she has also spent her whole life in the shadows of her parents’ infamous attempted destruction.

After Ellea’s frequent and feared vision of the future shifts into something darker and more terrifying than before, she runs to a town that used to be a haven for her as a child.

But things are no longer as they seem. The world of supernaturals is so much more than she thought and after a run in with a mysterious hunter, she finds her and her powers spiraling.

Will the town of Glenover be the place she finally leaves her fears behind and embraces a new future? Or will her powers become destructive and result in her own destruction by the frustratingly handsome hunter?

~~~

This book had been calling to me for some time…

There was like this gut feeling or calling or siren’s song that had me drawn to it that I can’t entirely explain…all I can explain about it is that it was telling me to read this book for some reason.

Before doing so, I’d heard several mixed reviews about the book from my reading inner circle and a few others, but anything negative didn’t fully deter me, and I’m glad it didn’t because for the most part I did end up enjoying this book!

For some reason I was expecting this to be a medieval fantasy setting with the talk of witches, demons, and other paranormal creatures, but I was a little surprised to see that this actually takes place in modern, contemporary times. Not that this detracted me from the story at all, it gave me Vampire Diaries and/or True Blood kind vibes, which I love, so it works!

The story is definitely more character driven, so the plot will be slow at times, but theres plenty of spice throughout, and the slow burn between Ros and Ellea really drives the story forward, plus interactions with the rest of the cast make it actually kinda fun too! There’s Billy, who’s Ellea’s familiar in the form of a black dog and has a few zinger one liners and is supposed to be this ancient being with a lot of mystery surrounding her history, so color me intrigued…theres Belias, who’s Ros’s cousin who’s definitely got something wicked planned, watch out for him… there’s Sybil, an ancient witch who’s only in one scene, but leaves quite an impression…

Actually there’s quite a bit of characters who are only in a handful of scenes, and I have no idea if they’ll be important players later on in the series or if they’re just done now? It’s really hard to say right now, and hopefully reading book two answers that for me and–possibly–other readers.

And I’d actually add onto that saying that there’s actually A LOT that gets left up in the air that you may want answers to but you won’t get, all that is determined by whatever direction the author wants to take this story in, but consider me curious to see what happens next!

~~~

My life has been spent looking for ways to change, ways to control this monster that I am destined to become. And I am getting tired of it.

– L.L. Campbell, “Tricky Magic”

What I Liked:

  1. The Spice! Okay, there is a decent amount of spice in this book including a four way like right away kinda to my surprise, and another good thing about all of it is that it doesn’t feel like it overtakes the plot at all! Like, sometimes you can tell when an author makes a story total PWP (Porn Without Plot), but the author kept a decent balance here with it!……and the shadow play!!! Azriel fans will appreciate that part a whole lot!
  2. Rosier! Hello new book boyfriend addition! Ros is absolutely a new favorite of mine who I can’t wait to see more of his perspective in the next book! He’s grumpy, swoon-worthy, protective, cheeky, and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in more ways than one!
  3. There’s LGBT Side Characters! Sam and Devon are a gay couple in this story, and their relationship seems so easy going and calming, aka the complete opposite of Ellea and Ros, so I’m here for them! I have no idea how important they’ll be in the series, but if anything happens to them…..oooooooooo we don’t want to go there!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Not Clear Magic System…With witchcraft and demon summoning and other supernatural creatures in the vicinity, obviously theres going to be a magic system involved right?…well technically there is, but it’s not really developed as much as some of you readers may like, and I felt like it wasn’t explored enough in the story. HOWEVER, for a large part of this book it also wasn’t completely necessary to use it, so maybe it’ll be more fleshed out in book 2!
  2. Pacing Can Be Slow…This story is character driven with mostly the development/growth of Ellea, so yes, the pacing is a bit slower in some beats. It’s not as action packed as some of us would perhaps like, so I can see some of you getting bored with it in this regards.
  3. The Unexpected Ending…This kind of continues off the pacing issue, but the shocking ending felt like it kind of came out of nowhere and I wasn’t expecting it, but only because I also felt like there wasn’t really the proper build up to it? It felt like it was slapped right into the end of the story and yeah, it did raise the stakes and make things harder for Ros and Ellea, but I felt it wasn’t the best approach…

Conclusion:

Overall, I did for the most part enjoy this book! It’s not heavy or dense, and it’s perfect for anyone looking for some spicy paranormal romance with a witchy aesthetic and a hot hot hot slow burn! The pacing was fairly slow, but the characters keep you interested, and the author certainly puts a few questions in your head about them and the plot of the story and where everything is going, so now it’s up to L.L Campbell to keep the ball rolling.

The series has some potential to get better with each and every book, for me it really depends on where the author plans to go with this series as you don’t get a lot of answers for those questions that pop up, so I’m definitely putting some pressure on the sequel coming out in Fall 2022 to pass the baton and keep things moving!

We Shall See!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fancasts/Dreamcasts

My Fancast/Dreamcast: The Kingdom of the Wicked series by Kerri Maniscalco

Image courtesy of Bookstagram account: @xenatine

Hello readers!

I’m back with another Fancast article, this time it’s a demonic, witchy series that has become a favorite of mine in 2021 as I started reading it, “Kingdom of the Wicked” is a spooky delight with enemies-to-lovers and (surprisingly) amazing food prep descriptions that may add on to my quarantine 45!

The story revolves around Emilia, whose family is full of witches who must keep it a secret from witch hunters, they live among the mortals of their island town. Her twin sister, Vittoria, is mysteriously & brutally murdered, and Emilia goes looking for answers, and reluctantly joins forces with one of her mortal enemies: a demon Prince from hell. They rule the kingdom of the wicked, and Prince Wrath may be incredibly easy on the eyes, but never before has a witch ever formed an alliance with demon royalty, but as they dig deeper into this murder mystery, they discover there are much more malicious forces at work, and dark prophecies may soon come to light…

I am making this Fancast/Dreamcast as I’ve recently finished the second book that’s released – Kingdom of the Cursed – as I’m typing this. I’m so relieved that Kerri Maniscalco decided to go in more new adult direction with this series; Wrath was WAYYYYYYYYY too hot to stay in YA!

Anyways, not everyone has been cast yet, but not to worry! I plan to add characters as I find a face to the name, so refer back to this post as books release and it’ll be updated as quickly as possible!

~~~

To see my review of book #1 – Kingdom of the Wicked – Click HERE

~~~

Here’s My Official Fancast/Dreamcast:

~~~

Emilia/Vittoria di Carlo: Sophia Miacova

She isn’t an actress, but this model definitely has the look I imagine these magical twins having! She’s got the Latin looks, even if I’m not entirely sure if she ethnically matches up to the characters.

Nonna Maria: Stevie Nicks

Again, I’m not getting an A+ on authenticity because Stevie Nicks doesn’t have any Italian descent in her blood, but there’s no doubt that she has a witchy, haunting vibe to her…hell, she played a witch in “American Horror Story” when she’s made surprise appearances!

Antonio Vincenzu Bernardo: Rafael Silva

I love Rafael in Fox’s “9-1-1: Lone Star” and he has such boyish good looks that I imagined Antonio having! Who wouldn’t have a crush on a face like that if they grew up with him like Emilia?

Prince Wrath: Clayton Brannon

Okay, but Prince Wrath was easily the hardest to cast because this is going to sound shallow, but who could possibly be good looking enough to play this sexy demon Prince from Hell?!?! Luckily, I remembered I follow this model on Instagram and I do believe he is an excellent choice even if he’s not an actor, he’s who I picture as Wrath!

Claudia: Jeanine Mason

I first saw this actress in a season of “Grey’s Anatomy” and she’s also in the show of “Roswell, New Mexico” but also who I picked to be Emilia’s cousin in these books.

Prince Envy: Mario Zabal

Again, apparently demon princes from Hell are sexy AF, because here’s another model who matches up to this Prince of the green sin…he’s got sharp features that I think really encapsulate the prince’s ethereal beauty!

Prince Greed: Daniel Gillies

So if you’ve seen my other Fancastings, you know I love “The Vampire Diaries” and for some reason, “Elijah” here came to mind when it came to the demon Prince who ran an underground speak-easy/casino to lure the weak minded into losing everything…

Prince Lust: Clint Mauro

Clint Mauro is someone who I consider to be one of the sexiest men in existence, so why not have him play the Prince of Lust! I even found a picture of him shirtless on a beach because a beach is where we first met him! You’re welcome!

Alexei: Jarred Blakiston

So this actor is obviously wearing a wig, but seeing him in full costume in the Netflix show “The New Legends of Monkey,” he looks like an evil elven Prince, or in this case, a certain vampire who does the bidding of Prince Envy!

Anir: Charles Michael Davis

I was struggling to find someone who wasn’t Ne-Yo or Tyson Beckford in who has both an African and Asian background since that’s how the character is described, but I found out that Charles is part Filipino, so it fits! Another TVD favorite who played Marcel!

Fauna: ???

I’m struggling to find someone who looks like what I imagined this character looking like….stay tuned!

Prince Gluttony: Darren Criss, or Adam Brody

This Prince is not a larger sized guy like you might think, in fact even Emilia describes him as not appearing how she expected either. He’s described as being shorter with brownish-maybe dark red hair and hazel eyes, so I pictured either of these actors playing the Prince of not eating too much, but simply enjoying ALL of life’s pleasures in excess!

Prince Pride: Adam Demos

Prince Pride finally makes an appearance in KOTC, and as soon as we figured out what he actually looks like, I pictured this hot Aussie actor to play him and continue to heat up the screen you’re viewing this post on! If he looks familiar, it’s because he’s on the hit Netflix show “Sex/Life.”

Celestia: Kristin Bauer van Straten

She played the dark queen Maleficent in ABC’s “Once Upon a Time” and also just so happens to play this character who works as a medicine woman down in hell who’s way more than meets the eye…

~~~

Remember: this Fancast/Dreamcast will be updated as more books release for this series, and as I figure out more characters, so come back over time to see any new additions.

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

My Review: The Reckoning (Zodiac Academy #3): by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti

**Kindle Edition**
Publish Date: October 4th, 2019
Number of Pages: 612 Pages
Publisher: Kindle
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal

***Warning! This review contains spoilers from this book and previous books in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – The Awakening – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – Ruthless Fae – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast for the series so far – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

She wasn’t just a girl though. Not to me. She was the one girl I shouldn’t want, the one I couldn’t have, the one I didn’t need. And yet I did. And everything in my life could be damaged so badly by that need that I#d fought it tooth and claw up until this point.

– Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti, “Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning”

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

The answer to your question will be revealed on the Lunar Eclipse.But when finding the truth, don’t let the shadows take you.

The week of The Reckoning has begun. And senior students have been tasked with making the freshmen’s lives pure hell as they prepare to take their fateful assessment.

With the Lunar Eclipse on the horizon, Tory and Darcy have more to worry about than just passing their exams. A dark plot is unfolding and the shadows are drawing closer…

~~~

Okay, by this point when I was reading these books, my entire life outside of work and sleeping and bathing revolved around having my eyes glued to the screen of my kindle reading these books. The romance is really starting to heat up and there’s more danger and excitement and I was just so completely sucked in….

Once again I will say it’s not the heaviest material or really even the greatest written story, although I feel like now that I’m more familiar with all the characters it does feel like the writing has gotten better, but what really keeps me going are all the characters and their relationships amongst each other and the absolutely delicious way the co-authors have weaved them all together: the twins, the heirs, the twins with the heirs, Tory and Darius, Tory and Caleb, Darius and Xavier, Darius and Xavier, Seth and Darcy, Darcy and Orion, Darius and Orion. I’m telling you, the characters and these intertwining relationships are what will absorb all your attention and make you obsessed. At least that’s how it’s been for me!

You start this book immediately after the crazy events of how book #2 ended with that battle in the Pitball stadium with the Nymph’s. Tragedy and violence strikes, but everyone is expected to just quickly move past it and all the trauma associated because they are Fae and they can’t show weakness. It’s easier for some rather than others, but everyone also gets caught up in the major event called The Reckoning. It’s like a big exam/competition to weed out students who aren’t strong enough to stay at Zodiac Academy, and there’s a dangerous task for each element that the students must pass at depending what they are (of course, that means the twins have to do four tasks since they have all four elemental abilities). AND they have to deal with the horrendous week leading up these tasks from the upperclassmen bullying all the freshmen (it’s literally called “Hell Week”).

Like I said, the relationships are really the big highlight of these books for me by this point, and of course I go into more detail further down in my review!

What I Liked:

  1. The Sexual Tension Between Darius and Tory! These two have got to have the slowest burn of a romance that I’ve ever freakin’ read because were three books in and these two haven’t even had a first kiss yet, but oh man, has it gotten scorching between these two! There’s still plenty of banter—both playful and sexy—but there are softer moments between these two that truly prove that they are endgame in this series. Their feelings are so mixed and complex with their obvious mutual attraction but sprinkled with hatred because they’re enemies, and of course the web gets even more intricate with how Caleb and Tory are still FWB’s on the side too…which I’m starting to get over. I like Caleb a lot, but he’s just a big hill to climb over at this point, and I need more romance with Darius and Tory. I loved the race scene, the scene where Tory goes back with Darius to see Xavier, and them on the beach before everything goes to hell!
  2. You Find Out The Twins’ Orders! Obviously I won’t spoil it, but it’s nice to have at least one mystery solved with all the questions that raised about the past and everything surrounding the twins.
  3. Darcy and Orion’s Romance! While Darius and Tory are edging each other on, Orion and Darcy’s romance is in full swing and I love it. I really am a sucker for the assholes who secretly get soft for the one they have feelings for, and I get that in Orion, because he is still such an asshole in public, but flips it off when it’s just him and Darcy. And that smut that I’ve been told I need to wait for?…Let’s just say things are finally getting pretty spicy!
  4. The Bromance Between Darius and Orion! Another interesting relationship that really has nothing to do with Romance, but more platonic male friendship! You honestly don’t see it a whole lot in books nowadays, at least with what I’ve read, and I like their bond a lot. It’s a strange guardian bond that Darius’s father cursed them with, but I love how they make the best of it and even tease each other about when the bond has them embrace or spoon in bed together….yes, these are two straight fae men, one vampire and another dragon-shifter, but they at least can make the best of a bad situation!

~~~

‘Hungover, Miss Vega?’ he growled and she sighed, realising her mistake.

‘Yes, sir. If you fancy sending any of your healing magic this way, that would be swell.

Orion gave her one of his darkest smiles that said he definitely wasn’t her friend right then. ‘Oh I won’t be doing that. If you turn up to my class hungover you can deal with the consequences.’ He shot to her side at a fierce speed and bellowed, ‘CAN’T YOU?!’ in her ear. It even made me flinch, but Tory winced with pure pain.

– Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti, “Zodiac Academy: The Reckoning”

~~~

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Orion’s Jealous Moment…While I do love their romance and what they’ve gone through, there’s the one scene with Orion at the circus that really had me shaking my head like “WTF?!” I can’t explain it for spoilers really, but it seemed really over dramatic and maybe a little manipulative, but then again, it is the fae with these books, and it does match some of the extremities that these characters face at this magical school, much like how the teachers and faculty turn the other way with all the bullying and power-play constantly occurring.
  2. Still Not A Fan of Seth…By now, some people like him, but I still am not a fan of how back and forth he is. With his pack and the other heirs, he’s the sweetest and kindest of them all and just wants everyone to be friends and get along. He’s like a literal human golden retriever, which of course makes sense considering he’s a werewolf. But it just completely flips whenever he’s involved with the twins and suddenly he’s so cruel and calculating and just mean, and this constant 180 with him really rubs me the wrong way…

Conclusion:

Overall, book #3 has to be my favorite by this point with how the relationships have developed by this point in and how the romance has really kicked it up a notch by this point. Both twins have their forbidden romances developing at different speeds, and I’m loving both of them for different reasons, but both make this series so intoxicating and binge-worthy. I know I probably said that in the previous review, but it’s seriously so true!

I’m starting to notice how the co-authors really love to have these books end on really juicy cliffhangers, which I both love and hate at the same time, but either way that means you know I immediately go into the next book after I finished this, with hardly even a bathroom break in between.

Thanks for Reading!

– Nick Goodsell

New Adult Romance, Paranormal, Romance, YA Fantasy, YA romance

My Review: Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1): by Kerri Maniscalco

Publish Date: October 27th, 2020
Number of Pages: 372 Pages
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson
Genre(s): YA Fantasy, New Adult Romance, YA Romance, Paranormal Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.75 Pages

There are victors and victims. Decide who you want to be. Or the choice will be made for you, witch. And I doubt you’ll like it.

I threw my head back and groaned. ‘It’s a game of scopa, not a battle between life and death. Are you always this dramatic?'”

– Kerri Maniscalco, “Kingdom of the Wicked”

Kingdom of the Wicked was a slow burn of a book for me; the beginning started off like any other YA Fantasy title, but once you get further into the story and discover more and more myth and lore in the world that the author of the Stalking Jack The Ripper series has created, I can really say that the book takes off with a jolt in some witchy delight!

This is actually my first novel by Kerri Maniscalco, and after reading it I can say I’m definitely more and more interested in reading her other series I mentioned above because there are still some familiar themes of murder, mystery, romance, and historical settings to make the reader engaged and wanting to stay up late to see what happens next. What I’m noticing with this newer series, however, is that the author seems to have more room for fun and creativity to take her story even further!

The romance was a huge draw for me, and for the most part, it certainly didn’t disappoint! I easily got into the chemistry that oozed between the two main characters, Emilia and Wrath, and loved their whole dynamic; I never get tired of an enemies-to-lovers dynamic. While both characters weren’t anything brand new or entirely unique to the genre, I can say they’re still fun to read as they argue and (attempt) to ignore their growing attractions for each other as they work together to solve a murder mystery.

It wasn’t a perfect read; The the overall pacing with the chapters and how they’re set up was a little strange for my liking, and some of the ending needs to be clarified for me—or I need to go back and reread it for myself and make sure I pay more attention!

What It’s About:

The official blurb:

Two sisters…

One brutal murder…

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance…

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe—witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin… desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked Princes of Hell that she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

‘One day you might beg me to kiss you.’ He stepped close enough for me to stab him.”

– Kerri Maniscalco, “Kingdom of the Wicked”

What I Liked:

  1. The Many Food Descriptions! Several other reviewers pointed this one out, but there are some seriously delicious italian dishes that get mentioned in this book since the main character’s family owns and operates a restaurant. Cannoli’s are amazing, and I had some major cravings for some once I arrived to that part within the story…yum!
  2. The Romance Between Wrath and Emilia! This book is a great addition to the enemies-to-lovers romance trope as Wrath and Emilia have some immediate sexual tension that builds and builds between them as they reluctantly work together to solve the murder of her twin sister. They irritate each other and start verbal lashings from each other, but underneath it all is an obvious attraction that neither can ignore the closer they become. Their dynamic also grew rather realistically as they slowly begin to trust each other—at least until certain things happen—and rely on each other’s strength into a begrudging respect for one another.
  3. The Worldbuilding! I actually liked the class systems of demons the author presented us, there are also the seven demon princes of hell representing the seven deadly sins, the witches living amongst the normal folks and the witch hunters who are secretly members of the church, even werewolves; it’s all mixed together to create an interesting world that may or make this series an incredibly memorable one!
  4. The “Whodunnit” Murder Mystery! I always love a good mystery where the main character is on the hunt for a killer who leaves a bloody trail of bodies behind.

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Beginning Felt Very Generic…This book was pretty boring at first and felt like any general YA Fantasy title out there, but once Emilia and Wrath run into each other and meet for the first time, that was when things really begin to take off!
  2. Not Enough Steam…I know this is a YA Fantasy book so the sexual content (a.k.a. smut) is supposed to be very limited, but really do feel like this story would be even better if there were more steamy scenes. I mean like let’s see truly how “wicked” Prince Wrath can be *wink*wink.* Maybe there’ll be more scenes like this in later books, but again, I know it can only go so far within the YA reading level.
  3. The Ending…Okay, so this one may be on me because I maybe wasn’t fully paying close enough attention and missed something, but part of the ending kind of went over my head. For most of the book, it felt like a pretty light read that didn’t require my entire attention, but then all of a sudden SO MUCH was happening at the end and I blinked and missed some vital information I think…if someone sees this review and wants to message me to fully explain it all to me, you’d officially be my favorite person!!
  4. The Short Chapters…Some chapters were only like a page and a half long, and I was wondering to myself why a single conversation was sometimes three whole chapters when it could’ve been just one? It was weird pacing to me and kind of annoying at times…

Conclusion:

This is my first Kerri Maniscalco novel, and this book really does make me interested in reading her Stalking Jack The Ripper series that put her name on the map!

Like the romance between the two main characters in this book, the story was a slow burn that definitely left me interested to keep reading on once the next book arrives later on! It wasn’t the next binge-worthy series for me to become obsessed with, but this book shows that the series has a whole lot of potential to become a huge fan favorite among the many other incredibly popular YA Fantasy series most of us readers know and love!

A reckoning awoke in me. The more I gave, the more he returned. We traded kisses like blows. And if this were a fight, I wouldn’t know who was winning. I understood why some thought kissing one of the Wicked was addictive. Each time his tongue touched mine, it felt as if the ground beneath me quaked. Like we were a cataclysmic event that shouldn’t be.”

– Kerri Maniscalco, “Kingdom of the Wicked”

I recommend this book to those that really enjoyed other titles like Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin or the Folk of the Air trilogy by Holly Black; the dynamic between Wrath and Emilia for sure gave me some impressions of Jude and Cardan with the whole enemies-to-lovers, then back to enemies dynamic!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell