Welcome to Strange Bedfellows: PNR Reviews ~ Speculative fiction with romance themes ~ What strange fellows do you get in bed with?


Tour Stop & Giveaway: Blood Flows Deep in the Empire

Welcome to the official blog tour for N. Isabelle Blanco's new book, Blood Flows Deep in the Empire, released today from The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House. I'll be your host for today's tour stop as we explore this great new series and its talented author. We'll also have a giveaway for a free ebook! So, without further ado . . .

First I've got to say, way hot cover. Even if the premise hadn't caught my attention, the cover totally would have. Very yummy. As in, hot damn, gimme gimme.


Okay, now that's out of my system, let's talk books. Yummy cover dude aside, this book caught my attention because of the variety it presented. With vampires and werewolves essentially passé, and zombies too trendy (you may recall my thoughts on that), what's a girl to read about? Well, how about gods? And not the tried if beloved concept of the Greek pantheon come to life, but rather a fresh, imaginative cast of beings with lots of power and sex appeal. Sounds good to me.

Buy it now!
Blood Flows Deep in the Empire is the first book of N. Isabelle Blanco's new Szolites series. It features Dyletri, a millennia-year old fertility god with an axe to grind. After lifetimes of fulfilling his function, he's finally found a woman to care about. But fate takes her away from him and leaves her soul to suffer in the afterlife. Then he is given the chance to save her, to have her reborn and returned to him. Fate offers him a deal: a human sacrifice in exchange for the love of his life. Now the time to fulfill his promise has come upon him, but it won't be that simple.

Ismini knows what Fate has in store for her. She even knows the face of the man who will trade her life for that of his beloved. It's a face she has dreaded–‒and longed for. It's insane to be attracted to the immortal god that plans on sacrificing her without a second thought, but her body won't listen to reason. She's going to lose her life, there's no stopping that, but can she get through her last days without losing her heart as well?

This story introduces what promises to be a hot, entertaining new series. The book jumps feet first into a world of strange beings with incredible powers and a strong dose of sexy goodness.

Dyletri is a thrill ride of a protagonist. He's vibrant with emotions, good and bad. He's hostile, impassioned, commanding–‒all in the best ways, I promise you. And Ismini compliments him wonderfully with her own strength and determination. Spicing things up is an entire crew of side characters, a mixed bag of superbeings that liven up the story and promise more fun in subsequent books. I was reminded of Gena Showalter's Lords of the Underworld series, and I think fans of Showalter's work would definitely enjoy this book.

I will say, reading this book was occasionally tricky. At times it felt a bit confused and hard to follow, especially as Blanco sets up the world and this strange new pantheon. Even still, the book was consistently engaging thanks to the intensity and drama than runs through the whole story. Between the overwhelming attraction between Dyletri and Ismini, the supernatural battle of good versus evil, and the genuine lure of Blanco's characters . . . this book packs a serious punch. I'll be keeping my eye on this series, hoping for more of this godly goodness.

N. Isabelle Blanco, the woman who would come to be known as “Nyddi,” was born in Queens, New York. By age three, due to an odd fascination with studying her mother’s handwriting, she’d already begun to read and write. By the time she reached kindergarten, she was reading at a second-grade level, not to mention talking up a storm and showing off her extensive vocabulary. Her obsession with words and reading ended up bleeding into every aspect of her life. As she got older, romance novels took the reins of her obsession, leading her to devour every romance story she could find.

Thanks to the world of Japanese Anime, N. Isabelle was introduced to the wonderful universe of Fanfiction. She would come to write fanfics on and off again as a hobby for the next ten years, but it wasn’t until the Twilight phenomenon came along that she began dedicating hard hours to writing. For the next year and a half, she amassed a following that, by her own admission, she would never be able to live without. It is those fans that encouraged her to step beyond the fanfic realm and take her talent out into the publishing world.

N. Isabelle’s first ebook novel, Destructively Alluring, came out in July of 2012, followed by Addictive Lunacy in September, and Allure Magnified in November of 2012. 
Blood Flows Deep in the Empire is Blanco's first full-length novel, and it's available now from The Writer's Coffee Shop in print and ebook formats. Put it on your TBR list because you don't want to miss out on this one.

Okay, now to the part that I'm sure you were all waiting for. Thanks to the kind folks at The Writer's Coffee Shop, I'm offering a free ebook copy of BFDE to one lucky winner. Just use the form below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This book was received courtesy of NetGalley and The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House in exchange for an honest review.


Review of The Indigo Spell

Razorbill, February 2013
The Indigo Spell
Richelle Mead
Bloodlines #3

available now

In the aftermath of a forbidden moment that rocked Sydney to her core, she finds herself struggling to draw the line between her Alchemist teachings and what her heart is urging her to do. Then she meets alluring, rebellious Marcus Finch--a former Alchemist who escaped against all odds, and is now on the run. Marcus wants to teach Sydney the secrets he claims the Alchemists are hiding from her. But as he pushes her to rebel against the people who raised her, Sydney finds that breaking free is harder than she thought. There is an old and mysterious magic rooted deeply within her. And as she searches for an evil magic user targeting powerful young witches, she realizes that her only hope is to embrace her magical blood--or else she might be next.

If you haven't read this book yet, you need to run out right now and buy it. Okay, sure, maybe you can wait around long enough to finish reading this review. But not a minute longer!

The Indigo Spell is a real game-changer. Everything ratchets up a notch or two: Sydney's independence from the Alchemists and movement towards magic, the threat against Jill and our happy little group, and -- you better believe it -- the relationship between Sydney and Adrian. In no way has this series been uneventful, but by the end of Indigo Spell, the situation in Palm Springs reaches a sort of point of no return, especially for Sydney.

There are few protagonists I enjoy as much as Sydney Sage. For one, I love the brilliant, ultra-competent types of heroines that blaze a trail of efficiency through chaos; they give nerdy women a good name, and that's wonderful. But Sydney  specifically, is intriguing. Her character's progression from Blood Promise to the current book shows a remarkable degree of development, the kind that frankly isn't seen all that often. Her gradual shifts in worldview lend a fair amount of realism. And the thoroughness with which Mead has conceptualized her character makes it so much easier to identify and sympathize with her.

So we have an exceptional protagonist. And then Mead further demonstrates her brilliance by pairing Sydney up with Adrian Ivashkov. We loved him in Vampire Academy, but we adore him in Bloodlines, am I right? Just as Sydney has expanded beyond her own boundaries, Adrian has become more than he was within the first series. Yes, he's always been profound with hints of heroism, but he's also been largely distant. Indigo Spell finally brings him to the forefront where he so rightly belongs.  And fans will be very, very happy with where things go for him and Sydney in this book.

Next up will be The Fiery Heart, slated to come out November 19. It will be a torturous wait, but I'm sure it will be worth it.