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    REVIEW: Origin by A.J. Sherwood & Jocelynn Drake

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    Scales ‘N’ Spells: Origin – A.J. Sherwood & Jocelynn Drake

    Cameron wants to make it clear that he did not go into the festival to find a dragon mate.

    Germany is supposed to be an escape. With a new mechanical engineering degree, a new job looming, and a whole life planned out that isn’t his, Germany seems like the best place to find himself.

    So how does he end up discovering his lost magic heritage, running from bad guys with a secret agenda, and being adopted by the not-so-extinct Fire Dragon clan?

    Cameron blames tall, dark, and sexy Alric, king of the Fire dragons. His fated mate. Because of course he is, and mates are meant to take the blame, right?

    It may take a hot second, but as Cameron learns more about the scarred Alric and the life he’s landed in, Cameron realizes that perhaps this is where he’s meant to be, magic and mates and kidnapping and all.

    Turns out coming to Germany wasn’t an escape but his awakening.

    Tags:

    Not-so-extinct, Shifter dragons, mages, fated mates, secret clans, epic libraries, hurt/comfort, age gap, not that Alric cares, magical heritage, mechanical engineers being BAMF, grumpy dragon kings being protective of their cute mates, really the cuteness is downright criminal, we might need a firehose for these two, or not, sass, so much sass, Ravi and Cameron are no longer allowed to be alone together, for reasons, dragons hoarding, when you live long enough statistics will get you, bats named Cheryl, beheadings, no damsels in distress here, just very unhappy mages, with trigger fingers, anyone have life hacks on how to get rid of kidnappers, Cameron is open to suggestions


    Here be DRAGONS!!!

    If you love them, this series is sure to make your inner fire-breather rumble.

    Those tags up there in the blurb made my day! I think every book should have them.

    A.J. Sherwood teamed up with fave author Jocelynn Drake to deliver us this fantastical series, Scales ‘n’ Spells. This is a world of dragons and mages. They work together to create magic. Mages are also extra precious because they are the dragons’ fated mates. However, there was a Great War that wiped out the mages and dragons became extinct. Or so the world thought…

    The remaining dragons, like the Fire dragon clan, kept their existence a secret. King Alric and his clan have been searching for a mage for 500 years. They finally found one at the Dragon Festival, an American-Korean tourist named Cameron Park. Alric decided to play tour guide to see what the young man knows. Turns out, Cam had no clue he is a mage or that dragons still exist.

    Origin is the first book in the series. It effectively established the Scales ‘n’ Spells world and boy, there was quite a lot to take in. Cam had to learn thousands of years of dragon history, about his own family’s legacy as well as magic spells. There was info-dumping but there was an effort to avoid bogging down the narrative too much. The magic system was explained using simple scientific analogies by Cam as he tried to figure how it worked. I liked this approach because it makes things more straightforward and easier to grasp.

    Cam was understandably freaked out upon learning he’s a mage. Still I couldn’t help wishing that maybe MCs can react more like Po from Kung Fu Panda, all gung-ho and fanboy-y about being the chosen one instead of getting hysterical.

    That mini-gripe aside, Cam’s fabulous! Flirty, cheerful, intelligent and so very determined to boost people’s self-esteem through compliments. Especially that of a certain broody, pessimistic king. They say a mate is someone who brings joy. And while Cam’s a bit too much at times, the way he lit up Alric’s world was a palpable energy that shone throughout the story.

    Many will claim Cam is cute, but really, the most adorkable character of all was Alric. Check out his dragon hoard! The man is regal and dominant, very elegant in his suits, very protective of his Clan. But he can be so endearingly awkward and insecure too. Many times, I wanted to give him a hug.

    As the last remaining Burkhart, Alric carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. More so now that they have just found a long-lost mage, someone tried to kidnap their treasured magic user. Alric was always too ready to sacrifice his own happiness for his Clan. The dork even thought he’s unworthy to be anyone’s mate, let alone Cam, because he has a damaged arm. Put this poor king out of his misery, Cam!

    I loved the authors’ take on fated mates. It’s started with insta-attraction but then took things slow. Instead of simply being swept away by fate, the two MCs got to know each other properly. The relationship development was a rollercoaster but it’s definitely worth it.

    The book as a whole felt a tad too long. There’s the training rigmarole to go through, historical events to recount, the big to-do about Cam’s family, and the mystery of who is behind the kidnappings. It could do without some of these parts. It was like things were happening quickly for Cam in a matter of weeks but it also took a while for the story to get to the point.

    The supporting characters though, I loved them! Alric’s friends/courtiers are awesome! Each of them stood out and made me want to know more about them. Baldewin, Ravi, and Gunther each have their own books. I can’t wait for these dragons to find their mates.

    I might have some niggles, but overall, I had a lot of fun with Origin. It’s fast-paced and slow-burn, humorous and angsty. This series opener set the wonderful world of dragons and mages. It introduced us to a lovable Fire Dragon king, his beloved little mage, and a wacky family cheering them on. It’s a story 500 years in the making but it’s only just the beginning.

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: I Found You
    Artist: Andy Grammer
    Album: Naïve


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    US|  UK 

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    ORIGIN

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    SERIES REVIEW: Lords Of Discord Books 3 & 4 by Jocelynn Drake

    Note: long post so you can skip to the end for the tl:dr version if you wamt

    Lords of Discord is Jocelynn Drake‘s fabulous take on vampire lore with the most lovable brothers to ever be changed into creatures of the night.

    The Varik brothers, Marcus, twins Rafe and Bel, and Winter became vampires to protect the world and their mother from herself. Julianna Varik was changed by their adopted father, Aidan, because she was ill. Madness overtook her right after that. She can only be calmed by music. Each Varik brother plays a musical instrument. They each have their own unique powers as well.

    The author’s version of vampires is typical of what we know with the addition of special powers. However, she made them stand out by making them very human. The vampires here get tired. They get dark circles under their eyes. There’s not much focus on hypersensitive senses and barely any mention of enhanced physical abilities.

    Normally, authors tend to give descriptions of physical perfection. super strength, super speed, super smells, etc. I don’t think Jocelynn Drake‘s style is necessarily bad, just different from how others do it. I think it’s why this aspect of the writing made an impression on me.

    The series is set in a world where vampires lived secretly among humans. They are ruled by the council. So far Marcus, their serious eldest brother, had done what he could to keep the Variks out of vampire politics. However, trouble always had a way of finding them. The upside to all of these was that he found his mate in the sunshiny Ethan.

    Rafe, the pleasure-loving provocateur, found himself on a hunt for a killer with the leader of the Arsenault clan, Philippe. The French vampire saw there’s more to Rafe than the hedonistic side he shows to the the world. Unfortunately, the rest of the vampire world, the council in particular, saw their union as more of the Variks gathering strength for a takeover

    And we’re on to the youngest Variks.


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    Lords Of Discord: Waking Bel – Jocelynn Drake

    Beltran Varik believes in science.

    It holds all the answers he seeks.

    Except for one.

    How in the world did he end up falling in love with two werewolves?

    Of course, there was no way science could account for the beauty, warmth, and mind-blowing sexiness of Wyatt and River.

    The two shifters are outcasts from their own kind and must seek the protection of a vampire.

    Bel might take them in out of a need to keep them safe, but his feelings for them grow into something so much deeper.

    Unfortunately, Bel might have to choose between his wolves and his family as a fight brews with the local werewolf pack and the Variks face a darker threat from the Ministry.

    Waking Bel is the third book in the Lords of Discord paranormal romance series. This book is an MMM and contains vampires, werewolves, nosy brothers, music, science!, Ozzie the raven, so many first times, hope, dirty talk, and a love that will never end.


    Right off the bat, I had a good feeling about Bel’s book. He is my favorite Varik. I was over the moon when I heard he’s going to get not only one but two werewolf mates!

    And OMG!!! This is the most perfectly choreographed threesome dynamics there is! I think the author outdid herself with how well Bel, Wyatt and River played off each other. Wyatt and River were already a couple and the way Bel just naturally fell into place in their relationship, there was never any doubt that Bel was theirs and they were Bel’s.

    Winter is technically the youngest but I’ve always thought of Bel as the baby of the family.. Probably because he seemed so fluffy and wholesome. Our sweet Bel is the mad scientist. His power is communicating with animals. He’s a mild-mannered guy whose life was wholly dedicated to his family and his experiments.

    He’s also the most over-protective and the most dangerous. This is the man who invented a weapon that can reduce living creatures into a puddle of goo. It’s so deadly, he was banned by the council from ever making it again.

    Wyatt and River are werewolves who were exiled from their pack for being gay. The shifters here are a bunch of homophobes who don’t approve of same-sex relationships because they don’t lead to procreation. This is probably my least favorite version of shifters.

    Wyatt is more of the strong, silent type alpha and River is summer and sunshine. I loved these two! All the Varik mates are awesome in their own way but I think these two are the best thing to happened to the Variks in general. Not only did they give them shifter allies, their presence gave Bel’s story a lot of soul.

    Unlike the vampires, werewolves are tactile and very affectionate and their warmth and care really resonated throughout the book. They also made the succeeding book more fun. So very apt title because Bel truly came alive with Wyatt and River.

    Rating:
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect

    Soundtrack: Wake Me
    Artist: Message To Bears
    Album: Folding Leaves


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    Lords Of Discord: Embracing Winter – Jocelynn Drake

    Winter Varik believes in only one thing—protecting his family.Even from himself.

    For nearly 200 years, he’s kept a dangerous secret from his brothers.

    But Winter might have found his salvation in the form of a sexy witch named Fox.

    Too bad this same witch was named in a prophecy foretelling the destruction of the Variks.

    In a race to uncover the truth behind the prophecy and take down a vampire determined to kill all the Variks, Winter may have to choose between finally having his heart’s desire and the family he loves.

    Embracing Winteris the fourth book in the Lords of Discord paranormal romance series. This book contains vampires, werewolves, witches, nosy brothers, music, lots of rope, sass, hope, dirty talk, redemption, and a love that will never end. And did I mention rope? Lots of rope.


    I was as eager for Winter’s book as Bel’s. The youngest Varik is the most mysterious. Even his brother’s don’t know what he can really do.

    I didn’t quite have a grasp of his personality in the previous books so I was surprised to learn that Wee Varik is a grumpy, grumpy bastard. I guess being the family spy and assassin doesn’t really leave much room for good cheer. Especially not one burdened with a secret such as his. The only other person who knows about this is their father, Aidan. Let’s just say, Winter’s world is very noisy. All he ever wanted is some peace and quiet.

    This is why Fox is a great foil for him. The witch is super sassy and assertive, the type who talks a lot when nervous. Winter was supposed to kill him because he was the witch who will destroy the Variks, according to a prophesy. One look at the redhead and Winter had the sudden urge to protect him. Turns out, Fox was the gift he never realized he could have.

    I didn’t warm up to Fox immediately. I found him a bit pushy at first. But later on, when more of Winter’s centuries-long struggle was revealed, I was glad Fox held on until the vampire’s walls came down. And that’s when we really see Winter the man.

    I do think their dynamics is somewhat similar to Marcus and Ethan’s. The story was also longer than it really is. A lot of it spent cooped up in Winter’s house. I understand it was a way of letting the relationship develop slowly while also taking place in a matter of days. But I couldn’t help feeling things could have been resolved faster. The pacing picked up when the rest of the Variks became more involved.

    All the Variks and their friends rallying to put an end to the bad guys gave this book one heck of a conclusion!. If the series ended at this point, I would have been already satisfied. Happily, there’s more because Aidan gets some love too!

    Rating:
    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Silence
    Artist: Before You Exit
    Album: 001_love


    The two youngest Variks certainly had the most delicious tales to tell. Bel’s awakening is a threesome surprise delivered in the most delightful way. Winter’s story might have gone about things a bit too slow at some parts, but Wee Varik living his dream in the arms of a witch and the thrilling mega-boss fight are definitely worth sticking around for.

    Lords of Discord should be read in order because you meet one Varik, you’ll love ’em all. Start with how a feisty human charmed the big bad vampire with food and some Tori Amos in Claiming Marcus. Witness how the self-proclaimed purveyor of fleshy delights met his match in one angelic vampire in Saving Rafe.


    If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Lords Of Discord. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.

    Lords Of Discord: US | UK

    You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.

    Claiming Marcus | Saving Rafe | Waking Bel
    Embracing Winter | Healing Aiden


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