**ARC REVIEW** ~ Rebel Warrior (Medieval Warriors #3), by Regan Walker

Historical Medieval Romance

Rebel warrior

Blurb

“Master storytelling transports you to medieval Scotland!”
Paula Quinn, NY Times Bestselling Author

When your destiny lies far from where you began …

Scotland 1072

The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to flee to Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.

The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon! Though Catrìona captures Steinar’s attention, he is only a scribe and she is promised to another.

Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The man she thought to wed will soon betray her.

When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?

My Review

Spellbinding and Expertly Crafted ~ ***** (Five Stars)

Set in Scotland in the years following the 1066 Norman invasion of England, Regan Walker’s Rebel Warrior (#3 in the Medieval Warriors series), is a spellbinding romantic read which has been meticulously researched and expertly crafted. The past came alive for me whilst reading and I left the 21st century and lived and breathed through the lives of the characters in the book.

Catriona and her brother Niall suffer a cruel blow when their parents and kinsfolk are killed in a Viking raid. The orphaned Catriona finds herself at the royal court as one of the Queen’s ladies. Her growing friendship and attraction she has to the King’s scribe Steinar becomes more and more important to her. The actions of  Domnall, her betrothed, increasingly perplex her and his ultimate betrayal is heart-breaking to a young woman who is already attempting to come to terms with her tragic loss. Can Catriona ever trust again?

The romance between Catriona and Steinar is full of fire and humour as the couple indulge in many scenes of verbal sparring. Regan Walker’s heroines certainly have plenty of backbone! Steinar falls hard for the wild, beautiful and yet fragile Catriona and she in turn is attracted to his good looks, charm and inner and outer strength. Although there is more to Steinar than meets the eye, his current station in life is not high enough for one of the Queen’s ladies, and he can only look on as King Malcolm contrives to marry Catriona to another.

I really felt for both Catriona and Steinar. Both have suffered terrible personal losses and have little control over their destinies. They are well matched – Steinar being the only man at court to fully appreciate the lively and headstrong young woman, and Catriona’s attraction to Steinar grows the more she experiences his humour, honour and strength. The path to true love is never easy, yet Regan Walker leads the reader to an entertaining, realistic and worthy HEA.

Most of the action takes place at the court of king Malcolm of Scotland and his devoted and devout Anglo-Saxon Queen Margaret. There are also a number of vividly portrayed battle scenes. Regan Walker’s characters are complex and well-rounded and in her hands real historical figures merge seamlessly with those from her imagination. The book can be read as a standalone, but I also enjoyed meeting characters who featured in The Red Wolf’s Prize and Rogue Knight, particularly the Welsh bard Rhodri whose own story is interwoven into the plot.

I loved the read and wholeheartedly recommended it to readers of Historical Romance.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, an ARC of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Goodreads

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  Amazon US

Connect with the Author

http://www.reganwalkerauthor.com

http://www.facebook.com/regan.walker.104.

**REVIEW** ~ Eagle’s Honor: Banished, by Sandra Schwab

Erotic Historical Romance set in Ancient Rome and Britain

18+/Adult Read

Book Blurb

Sandra ScwabA proud warrior.
A brave woman.
A forbidden love that is tested by the intrigues of ancient Rome and the hostilities at the northernmost edge of the empire.Centurion Marcus Florius Corvus has a splendid career in the legions ahead of him. Yet a visit to Rome and a chance encounter with an old friend change his whole life: He falls in love with one of his friend’s pleasure slaves and becomes entrapped in an evil scheme designed to destroy him. And yet—he cannot help risking everything for Lia, the woman he has given his heart to, even if it means he will be banished to one of the most dangerous places in the Roman Empire: the northern frontier of Britannia.

My Review

Another Gem of a Romance *****

Eagle’s Honor: Banished is the second book I have read by Sandra Schwab, the first being Devil’s Return (Allen’s Miscellany #4). Once again this author played my emotions like the proverbial violin and at several points during the read I was moved to tears.

Romances set in the time of the Roman Empire are few and far between and I jumped at the chance to read and review it. I am fascinated by this time period, in particular the dichotomy between the civilized nature of the Romans and their assumed right to rule over others, be they slaves or their enemies, a right which can sometimes manifest itself in acts of great cruelty. I enjoyed how Ms Schwab takes the reader on a journey of forbidden love in this novel and at the same time explores these aspects of Roman life in the capital Rome and on the fringes of the Empire.

The heroine Lia is a pleasure slave and dancer in the home of Titus, a wily Roman. It is there she meets the Centurion Marcus, a guest of Titus, when she is instructed to ‘entertain’ him. Marcus has recently returned to Rome after spending time in the legions. Their ensuing love affair sets off a chain of events that will change their lives forever as Marcus vows to make Lia his, unaware of the malicious plot of others. I loved how Marcus courts her mind and her body, focusing on her wellbeing and pleasure, this woman whose sole existence has hitherto been to serve others. It is a romantic and page turning read with many sensual and erotic scenes, but don’t be fooled, Ms Schwab makes the couple work incredibly hard for their HEA!

Lia, bred to be a slave, knows no other life other than to obey and is an expert at masking her true feelings. I just loved how Marcus makes her feel like a woman of worth. Marcus is a true man of honour, disliking the often heartless and cruel excesses of Rome and has no love of many of its values. Yet the fates do not smile kindly on a love affair between a Roman Centurion from a distinguished family and a mere plaything, and the couple face the repercussions of their actions as a plot to discredit Marcus unravels. Honour is important to Marcus and he has to fight hard to balance his allegiance to Rome, his family honour and his love for Lia.

The story is first and foremost a romance but it also explores the themes of family and friendship – I hugely enjoyed the character of Alaric in particular, and also how the author depicted life amongst the Roman military. Ms Schwab has clearly carried out a great deal of research into the time period and this added to my enjoyment of the read.

Highly recommended for lovers of historical romance.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this novel was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

Amazon US  Amazon UK

Connect with the Author

http://www.sandraschwab.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sandraschwab

https://twitter.com/ScribblingSandy

 

Review of **HER VENGEFUL SCOT** (HIGHLAND WARRIOR CHRONICLES #2), by Christina Phillips

Magical and Mesmerising   ** TOP READ**

Erotic Historical Romance, with Paranormal Elements: Adult Read

22589639Book Synopsis

July 4, 2014

Word/Page count: 83,000 words

Ordered to remain in Pictland, Cameron MacNeil fights the lust that consumes him whenever he encounters the aloof princess, Elise. Not only is she a cursed Pict, she’s married to the man responsible for his sister’s death. In order to avenge his sister, he must destroy the woman he wants most.

Despite her reputation, Elise has no interest in men until she meets Cameron. Lacking the famed Scots charm, his blunt ways enchant her and he ignites a passion in her she thought long dead. When she is freed from her difficult marriage, Elise places her trust in the tough warrior who stole her heart.

Bound by blood oaths, the only way Cam can protect Elise from political schemes is to make her his bride. When Elise discovers the truth of her husband’s death, she wonders if everything she knew about Cam was a lie. All she can do is trust that her goddess was right and Cameron is her true love.


A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

My Review

Magical and Mesmerising!

Erotic Historical Romance, with Paranormal Elements: Adult Read

Christina Phillips once again combines the bloodshed, brutality and political intrigue of ninth century Scotland with lush sensuality and eroticism. This read also contains some of my favourite themes in romance – enemies to lovers and revenge!

In Her Vengeful Scot, book #2 in the Highland Warrior Chronicles, Scots warrior Cameron MacNeil fights a losing battle with the attraction he feels for the Pictish Princess Elise. Although Cameron despises the Picts, he finds it impossible not to fall for Elise, who surprises him at every turn. Despite his oath to those he serves, not to shed Pictish blood, he is determined to avenge the death of his sister, a death brought about by none other than Elise’s own husband. Fate quickly hands him the opportunity for vengeance and Elise finds herself a widow.

Yet a widowed Pictish princess is vulnerable to the political machinations of the Scottish king, to whom Cam owes fealty. He is compelled to marry her, the woman who he cares for deeply, but who is ignorant of his sins against her. How will Elise react when she realises his duplicity and that he is not the honourable man she unwittingly believes him to be?

Christina Phillips’ heroes and heroines are all so different but they are all credible, complex and sympathetic individuals and in the case of the heroes drop dead gorgeous! The author’s way of writing is truly sublime and once again I experienced all the emotions, the hopes and fears and yes the desire, lust and love the hero and heroine have for one another!

I ADORE the man that is Cameron MacNeil. The death of his sister many years ago at the hands of Elise’s husband has rendered him bitter and taciturn, one whose gruff demeanour often causes offence, as does his plain speaking. Despite his hatred for the Picts, I loved how against his better intentions he fell for Elise and throughout the tale his affection, love and concern for her motivated his actions. Elise is both a strong and a vulnerable heroine. Her first marriage was far from a love match and until Cameron she has sought the attentions of no man, merely indulging in a little harmless courtly flirtation.

When her goddess Bride singles Cameron out to her she places her trust in him, a man who has also stolen her heart. After the demise of her husband she consents to his marriage proposal, whilst concealing her own secrets. Yet Elise senses that all is not well and much will be revealed before this couple have a chance of their HEA.

There is a lot of sexual tension and passion between the main couple in this novel and as you would expect from an erotic read some sumptuous and sizzling love making scenes. These scenes are truly beautiful, sensual and erotic and effortlessly portray the characters’ emotions with not only their words but also every glance, touch and breath they take.

As with Her Savage Scot #1 in the series, I loved how the book contains a mystical element, through the connection Elise has to her goddess Bride and the old religion, where women played an important role, at a time when Christianity was on the ascendant. I am looking forward to the next book in this series, Her Defiant Scot, where another unsuspecting Scots warrior is fated to fall in love with a Pictish princess determined to save their beloved land from the savage invaders.

I strongly recommend this book to readers who like their historical romances to sizzle with erotic love making scenes, alpha males, strong heroines and have a  page turning plot and romance!

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this novel was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Buy links:

Amazon US Amazon UK  Ellora’s Cave

Connect with the Author

WebsiteNewsletterTwitterGoodreadsFacebook

Link to my review of Her Savage Scot #1 in the Highland Warrior Chronicles

For my reviews of TAINTED and BETRAYED in The Forbidden series (also by Christina Phillips and set in Romano-Celtic Britain) click on the links below:
TAINTED   BETRAYED

 

 

 

By Force, Forever Fae # 1, by Sara Hubbard

ByForce_453X534[1]Captor/Captive Romance – Super Start to a New Adult Fantasy Series

By Force is the first book in Sara Hubbard’s new series, Forever Fae. In it the heroine is taken as captive by not one but five hunky male warriors!!! This has got to be one of my top fantasies – assuming there is plenty of romance to compensate for the drama and the angst of being kidnapped. In this Sara Hubbard does not disappoint! There is also non-stop action, adventure and suspense and an introduction to a fascinating medieval type world, which contains magic and strange creatures…….

So here’s the Book Blurb………

Kidnapping Isame would set them free…

Isame wanted freedom: the freedom to travel, the freedom to explore, but most of all, the freedom to choose the life she wanted over the life—and the husband—her parents had chosen for her. But when Isame leaves home to accept another man’s proposal, she happens across five fierce, handsome warriors. She wonders why they’ve travelled so far from home, but she never imagines their purpose might have something to do with her. Not even after they kidnap her.

Remmie is a man of honor and fierce loyalty. So when his king commands him to find a specific young woman on the island of Copaxa, he’s prepared to obey. But he’s not prepared for the woman to change everything. Isame is special. He can see it from the start. But how can one puny woman make him question everything he’s always known, including the rightness of doing what he’s promised?

My Review

By Force is a well written and entertaining fantasy romance, full of believable characters, many of whom I quickly grew to love! It is set in a fascinating world full of surprises and plenty of action as Isame and her captors travel across land, mountains and sea. Her kidnappers, five hunky warriors from Optavia, called ‘Savages’ by her people, due to their size and appearance, not to mention their behaviour, are out to do a job, kidnap Isame and deliver her to their king.

The heroine’s relationship with the warriors is a complex one. At first they want little to do with their captive and her with them and they do treat her rather poorly. However, slowly they begin to interact and get to know, like and respect each other and there is much humour in the banter between Isame and her captors and the other characters they meet on their journey. One of the warriors, James however,  is an outsider and has an agenda of his own which becomes clearer as the plot develops. Isame is particularly drawn to Remmie, one of the warriors, who treats her more kindly than the others and their budding and touching romance is central to this novel.

I particularly liked the heroine, Isame and her transformation from a young woman about to acquiesce to an arranged marriage to one who is thrust into the adventure she has always craved, finding that she prefers this life to the one that was mapped out for her in her village. Although at first she vows to escape her captors, she starts to befriend them and falls hard for the warrior Remmie, who in turn is attracted to her. Their sweet romance is a delight to read and the  scenes between them are full of sexual tension and hidden desire. However, there are many obstacles in the way of a happy future, not least the oath of Remmie and the other warriors to their king to deliver Isame to him and the fact that Remmie is a Savage, a race feared and held in contempt by her own people. He has also been responsible for abducting her and along with the other warriors represents a threat to her family should she try to escape. Remmie, despite his fearsome appearance and initial behaviour, is a sweetie at heart however and I could not stop myself rooting for their HEA!

Also what does the king want with her? There is also the prophecy of a mysterious gypsy, linking Isame, who has always believed herself to be a regular girl with Faemell, the Fairy Isle. Isame begins to question this and wants to find out the truth.

By Force is a super, well-paced, romantic read, full of sexy warrior types (what more can a girl want?), containing action and adventure, mystery and suspense. It is a great start to a new series and the next instalment, By Choice, is in the pipeline. I recommend it to those who enjoy fantasy romance with a feisty heroine and an alpha male with a heart.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this novel was given to me free by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Publisher:

http://etopiapressblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/new-releases-for-1032014/

Connect with Sara Hubbard:

http://www.sara-hubbard.com

https://twitter.com/SaraLouHubbard

https://www.facebook.com/sarahubbardauthor

Purchase Links

Amazon US     Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
All Romance Ebooks

Her Savage Scot, Highland Warrior Chronicles #1, by Christina Phillips

hersavagescott_msrPolitical Intrigue, Innocent Deception and Blinding Passion

Erotic Historical Romance, with Paranormal Elements: Adult Read

OMG! If you thought that Christina Phillips’ Romans and Celts were hot in her Forbidden series, then check out her passionate Picts and sexy Scots in her Highland Warrior Chronicles. The author once again combines a spellbinding historical romance with a superb erotic read, which will keep you panting for more. She writes in a way that transports you to the time period and creates truly memorable heroes and heroines.

Three novels are planned: Her Savage Scot; Her Vengeful Scot and Her Defiant Scot, in which three Scots warriors of the Kingdom of Dal Riada, pledge to keep the peace in the wild Highlands of ninth century Pictland. Each is destined to fall in love with a Pictish princess –cousins who are determined to save their beloved land from the savage invaders. Instead they lose their hearts to their wild foreign warriors.

Book Blurb

In Her Savage Scot, when tough Scot warrior Connor MacKenzie rides into the barbaric lands of the Picts on a mission for his king, he never expects to be captivated by a beautiful Pictish widow. Drawn under her spell, yet unaware of her true identity, he risks everything for one passionate night in her arms.

Aila, princess of Pictland, swore long ago she would do anything within her power to help defeat the Vikings who invaded her land and murdered her husband. But after meeting Connor, her frozen heart thaws and once again she imagines a future filled with love and passion.

When Connor delivers the message from his king, Aila becomes a pawn in a deadly game of politics. Her heart belongs to Connor, but she must marry the prince of Dal Riada – Connor’s half-brother. But the fates have other plans for the star-crossed lovers as they fight their enemies and themselves to find true love.

Her Savage Scot involves a combustible mix of political intrigue and violence, innocent deception and blinding passion. The first part of the novel sees Aila innocently conceal her identity from the Scots Warrior Connor. She is assailed by a strong and unexplained visceral attraction and feelings that she has not experienced since her husband’s death nine years ago. Connor, mindful of her widowed status and despite their undeniable connection, decides not to pursue her. However, their mutual attraction is such that they engage in a slow sensual dance of seduction, before coming together in a maelstrom of fiery and erotic passion.

Once Aila’s true identity as Princess is revealed and her political role in marrying Fergus, Connor’s half-brother, becomes clear, their nascent love is sacrificed to the need for their two peoples to unite against a common enemy, the Vikings. The remainder of the plot contains misunderstanding between the lovers, tension, drama and treachery and deceit on the part of others and my heart was truly pounding as their safety and HEA hung in the balance!

Christina Phillips has a real skill for penning addictive storylines and creating credible and memorable characters. Aila and Connor are just so perfect for each other! Aila is a proud, yet vulnerable woman, with a traumatic past, who lives a reclusive life. For reasons which become clear in the novel, she has rejected the old pagan religion in favour of Cristianity, in a society where the old religion is still revered. However, as the attraction between her and Connor intensifies, the goddess Bride once again calls to her and she cannot ignore her true destiny.

Connor is a man that every red blooded woman would ache to possess. He is a strong alpha hero, with an innate sense of honour. He soon realises that Aila is his and wants no other and he does all he can to protect her from others and even from herself, as she becomes a political pawn at the mercy of others. The romantic scenes between the couple are truly beautiful and Christina Phillips combines sexual tension with scorching erotic love making scenes and a credible historical narrative with great finesse. She writes in such a way that the reader gets inside the characters’ heads and feels every nuance of their thoughts, feelings and sensations.

I enjoyed all the characters in the novel, the good guys and the bad guys, but particularly Cameron MacNeil and Ewan MacKinnon, the Scots warriors who will encounter their own Pictish princesses in the other two novels planned in this series, Her Vengeful Scot and Her Defiant Scot. I was also fascinated by the different cultures of the Picts and Scots. If like me you adored the author’s last historical erotic romance series, Forbidden, then you will also love Her Savage Scot. I also recommend it to readers who like their historical romances to sizzle with erotic love making scenes, alpha males, strong heroines and have a strong page turning plot and romance.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this novel was given to me by the publisher for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave.

ISBN: 9781419940446

Release date: 20th November 2013

Ellora’s Cave      Amazon    ARe    Nook    Amazon UK   Kobo

Goodreads

Christina Phillips’ website http://christinaphillips.com/

Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/christinaphillips.author

For our reviews of TAINTED and BETRAYED click on the links below:
TAINTED   BETRAYED

Her Savage Scot, by Christina Phillips: Cover Reveal!

See the Cover, Find out about the Series, Read an Extract and Try Your Luck in the Giveaway!

HSS Cover Reveal 1Her Savage Scot, the first book in Christina Phillips’ new Highland Warrior Chronicles is released today and we are delighted to be participating in the cover reveal tour –  scroll down to find out more, see the scrummy cover, read a hot excerpt and Christina’s bio. Readers are also able to take part in a Tour Wide Rafflecopter competition in conjunction with Allison Butler who writes Scottish medieval romances for Penguin Australia to win some super prizes  (details at the end of this post). 

I adored Christina’s last erotic romance series, Forbidden, which brought sexy Romans and Celts to life and I am looking forward to her foray into 9th century Scotland!

The Highland Warrior Chronicles

From the Kingdom of Dal Riada, Scots warriors Connor MacKenzie, Cameron MacNeil and Ewan MacKinnon pledge to keep the peace in the wild Highlands of Pictland. But each man is destined to fall in love with a Pictish princess – three cousins who are determined to save their beloved land from the savage invaders. Instead they lose their hearts to their wild foreign warriors.

Book 1 ~ Her Savage Scot

Book 2 ~ Her Vengeful Scot

Book 3 ~ Her Defiant Scot

The Cover

hersavagescott_msr

Read Chapter One of Her Savage Scot

ISBN: 9781419940446

Release date: 20th November 2013

Ellora’s Cave     Amazon     ARe     Nook     Amazon UK    Kobo

Goodreads

Blurb for Her Savage Scot (scroll further for fuller excerpt)

When tough Scot warrior Connor MacKenzie rides into the barbaric lands of the Picts on a mission for his king, he never expects to be captivated by a beautiful Pictish widow. Drawn under her spell, yet unaware of her true identity, he risks everything for one passionate night in her arms.

Aila, princess of Pictland, swore long ago she would do anything within her power to help defeat the Vikings who invaded her land and murdered her husband. But after meeting Connor, her frozen heart thaws and once again she imagines a future filled with love and passion.

When Connor delivers the message from his king, Aila becomes a pawn in a deadly game of politics. Her heart belongs to Connor, but she must marry the prince of Dal Riada – Connor’s half-brother. But the fates have other plans for the star-crossed lovers as they fight their enemies and themselves to find true love.

A Romantica® historical erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave.

Read An Excerpt From Her Savage Scot………

“She speared her fingers through his luxuriant hair as he nibbled kisses along the column of her throat. Once again he rolled onto her, his heavy body pinning her into the furs. But this time she savored the sensation of his shoulder against hers, the rigid planes of his chest crushing her breasts. And the way his thigh angled over hers, brushing so close to her damp sex.

His hand clasped her other shoulder, and his teasing lips followed. His roughened jaw scraped the swell of her breast and she stirred restlessly, fingers digging ruthlessly into his scalp. 

He gave a silent laugh and his hot breath caressed her tender flesh. “I’m trying to slow things down. Do you wish me to ravish you like a beast?”

“No.” She raked her fingernails across the back of his shoulders and he reared above her, his black hair disheveled, his eyes glinting in the flickering glow of the torches. Awareness tingled across her skin as she gazed up at him and slowly she dragged her nails along his straining biceps.

 Such leashed power.

 The knowledge thrilled her. Connor MacKenzie, savage Scot from Dal Riada, was naked in her arms and battling his desire to take her like a primitive barbarian.”

About Author Christina Phillips

Christina loves writing dark tales set in the 9th century featuring tough Highland warriors who are brought to their knees by their brave Pictish princesses. 

She is published by Ellora’s Cave and Berkley Heat and has dipped her toe in the indie pub waters. She is a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, Romance Writers of America, the DarkSide Down Under Group Blog and Historical Hearts Group Blog. 

Christina is an ex-pat Brit who now lives in sunny Western Australia with her family. She is also owned by three gorgeous cats who are convinced the universe revolves around their needs. They are not wrong.

Connect with Christina:

Website    Facebook    Twitter    Goodreads    Blog

Tour Wide Giveaway Details

For details of the giveaway click here for the link to Christina Phillips’ site where you can enter via Rafflecopter. The prizes are truly awesome for the lucky winners, so why not have a go?

INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY!

1st Prize:

E-Copy of The Border Laird’s Bride by Allison Butler

$10 Amazon Gift Card

Signed Swag ~ Bookmarks, Postcards & Fridge Magnets from Christina Phillips and Allison Butler

2nd Prize

E-Copy of Tainted by Christina Phillips

Signed Swag ~ Bookmarks, Postcards & Fridge Magnets from Christina Phillips and Allison Butler

3rd Prize

E-Copy of Betrayed by Christina Phillips

Signed Swag ~ Bookmarks, Postcards & Fridge Magnets from Christina Phillips and Allison Butler

 Good luck to all who enter.

Tina 🙂

 

 

Joshua’s Tree, by N.W. Harris

Joshua___s_Tree_51b20984e6dc6[1]A Wild Ride through a Future Earth!

Young Adult Sci-Fi Fantasy

Joshua’s Tree, N. W. Harris’ first novel, is a great romp, containing a fantastic kick ass heroine and an unlikely hero who is transported to the future. It is set in a strange landscape, with terrifying cannibalistic creatures and it contains intervention from on high and non-stop adventure. There is also a budding romance and a plot that involves both personal growth and self-sacrifice.

In Joshua’s Tree, after a fall from his skateboard, seventeen year old Joshua wakes up naked in a strange and frightening world, where he is attacked and kidnapped by menacing creatures. Before the creatures can reveal their evil intent, he is rescued by a sword wielding female warrior, Nadia, astride a strange beast. Nadia, whose village and family have been destroyed by the sweepers, the terrifying creatures that have Joshua in their clutches, is convinced that Joshua is the saviourof her world, as foreseen in a prophecy. Joshua has no option but to accompany her on a bizarre and dangerous journey, where he learns that to return to his own world he must find the strength within himself to overcome his fears and avenge Nadia’s people by executing The Father, the creator of the canniabalistic sweepers who threaten the lives of all on this world.

Nadia is a character that I sometimes long to be in my imagination – a strong, self-controlled and skilled warrior, who takes no c*** from anyone and does not hesitate to go in for the kill with her sword and dagger, a figure which brought to my mind a younger version of Xena, the warrior princess or Lara Croft! She does have her vulnerabilities however, and these are revealed as the novel progresses. By contrast Josh is an unlikely hero, more of a thinker, not a natural warrior and he has zero confidence when it comes to girls, especially those as attractive as Nadia. He is grateful to Nadia for being his protector in this strange world and for helping him to adjust to the life of a warrior, but he resents being reliant on her. Although desperate to go home, he sometimes feels that he has a connection to the world and has growing feelings for Nadia. I loved how Josh grew in stature physically and mentally throughout, becoming if not yet an equal to Nadia in terms of her fighting skills at least complementing her with his skill at strategy.

Much of the novel focuses on the hero and heroine, their growing relationship and the transformation of Joshua from 21 century teenager into a warrior worthy to fulfil a prophecy. Although Nadia is attracted to Josh, she wants to keep  him at a distance so that they do not become distracted from their quest as so much is at stake.  Josh is initially both attracted to her strange beauty and resentful of her – she is part of the alien world that is keeping him from going home and she seems superior to him in every way, a true warrior, whereas he sees himself as puny and weak. There are many misunderstandings between them as the plot develops and leads Joshua to his destiny, as they struggle with their feelings for each other. There is also blood and gore a plenty, with innards and brains being spilt and limbs torn apart. The plot contains many twists and turns, with a cliff hanger at the end, which I am so wanting to know how it can possibly be resolved in future instalments! Will Joshua return home if he survives? Will he want to? Will he have a choice? And what of Nadia and the other characters and the future of this world as it hangs in the balance?

The author clearly has a strong imagination to create such a diverse future world, where some creatures are genetically engineered, similar, but so different from our own. It is a world of extreme landscapes, which blends futuristic technology with elements of past cultures on Earth. The novel is very much a coming of age story as well as a romance, but it is also more than this, addressing issues of personal growth and destiny for Josh (and Nadia too) as they are both subjected to a series of increasingly more terrifying tests of endurance and sanity, which allows them to grow and develop, but which puts a stain on their relationship. For me the novel has an almost mystical quality and the strongly drawn and well rounded characters also represented some major archetypes: Josh is the unlikely hero/saviour; Nadia the warrior; The Father, the evil creator/scientist, and there is even the wise man/spirit guide, the Sensei, who appears sporadically throughout.

Joshua’s Tree is a fantastic, read, which will keep you glued to the text until you have reached the end. I strongly recommend it to fans of sci-fi/fantasy adventure, who like some romance in their tale, with a thought provoking and action packed plot.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

I received this book for free from Story Cartel in exchange for my unbiased review.

http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/young-adult/ya-action-adventure/joshua-s-tree-detail

http://nwharrisbooks.wordpress.com/

http://storycartel.com/

Cover art by Marion Sipe www.marionsipe.blogspot.com