Royal House of Shadows

Publisher: Harlequin

Authors:  Different for each installment

  1. Lord of Vampires: Gena Showalter
  2. Lord of Rage: Jill Monroe
  3. Lord of the Wolfyn: Jessica Andersen
  4. Lord of the Abyss: Nalini Singh

Books and where we are:

  1. Lord of Vampires:  Nicolai’s story.  He summons Jane to his realm.  She is a human who knows of the other creatures from other realms.  She saves him and gets his powers returned to him.  He’s returned to Elden
  2. Lord of Rage: Breena’s story.  She and Obsorn get together.  She has returned to the kingdom and is looking to get revenge against the Blood Sorcerer.
  3. Lord of the Wolfyn: Dayn’s story.  He finds Reda, who is of some sort of royal other realm blood.  He’s not only a blood drinker but a wolfyn too.  They too have returned to Elden and will be looking to get back at the Blood Sorcerer.
  4. Lord of the Abyss:  Micah’s story.
Reviews:
Lord of Vampires:  

Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter is the first in a series called the Royal House of Shadows.  With each of four planned (so far) installments being written by a different author, I struggle with how I feel about this start to this series.  I am thinking skipping it and reading some of the author’s better stuff is time better spent.

This is another series in the PNR category, so by default its has to be to some extent a good distraction from real life.  But, the epilogue sets out a plot that is a little confusing – being repelled from a place but driven to return to get vengeance too…?  And the role of the time pieces, and the curse of the other kingdom’s royalty and the fact that in that kingdom time doesn’t work the same.  It’s all a little confusing.

As much as the characters are likable, this follows the formula of the PNR from start to finish.  So, it’s nothing super unique or different.  I like Showalter’s other stuff, so I was looking forward to this.  But her other stuff, especially the Lords of the Underworld seemed a little easier to read.  The flashes here – some of which seemed to be flashbacks and some were just flashes elsewhere, I think – interrupted the flow of the story and the narration.  They were clunky and more then once I had to wonder whether the flash was into the past or not and what that meant for where/when our 2 main characters were.  How Nicolai got access again to his magic was never really clear, how Jane ends up in Delfina (that magical kingdom in his dimension) wasn’t really clear, and what exactly the Blood Sorcerer stuff was relevant wasn’t really clear either – it felt over planned, over plotted.  A little like too many cooks in the kitchen… and I wonder if the input of all 4 authors is why this happened.

Having read a few (and I mean a few, I shy away from series with different authors for each installment) other series like this, I have yet to find one that doesn’t fail in the same ways.  There are too many ideas and the resolution is usually pretty messy since the tone often changes book to book.

Like 99% of the books in this genre, the two characters meet and instantly fall in lust.  Her because he’s beautiful and him because he sees something in her others don’t.  Then they have some sort of adventure which causes them to need to spend lots of time together and they have sex and then decided they can’t be without each other.  If it’s the end of the series we (might) get most of the issues tied up and if not, we are strung along to the next installment.  Here, same thing.  Showalter’s writing wasn’t as smooth and enjoyable as usual, but it wasn’t bad.  I think she may have been burdened by a set of ideas that need to be complicated to account for each of a number of authors’ style to complete the series.  Not having read any of the authors who are tagged with books 2-4, I am not sure what to think about what comes next.  Because it was such a quick little read, it wasn’t a bad escape.  But there are better choices, written by others and written by Showalter.  Not to mention, this is only about a 2 on the steaminess scale.  I think catching up on the Lords is time better spent.

Lord of Rage:

The second in the Royal House of Shadows seies, this was a huge deviation from the first installment.  I like Gena Showalter so the first installment was a disappointment.  This installment was very different.  While I wouldn’t say it was the best PNR I’ve read this year, it was a huge improvement over the first installment.

Here, the sister of the group is on the run from the Blood Sorcered.  And she encounters someone who thinks that her kingdom invaded his people and killed all his people but he and his two younger brothers.  As she asks for help learning how to get revenge from her warrior (who she had been dreaming of) Osborn they fall in love.  And she convinces Osborn to train his younger brothers too.  Then, she sets out to get her revenge.  The happily ever after comes in her kingdom, which is a little inexpected (I won’t say how; don’t want to spoil!).

I’ve never read Jill Monroe before.  I enjoyed her style and the story overall.  On the steaminess scale, this gets a 3 out of 5.  I must admit, it still felt like the group of ladies who planned this whole thing out were trying to pull off too much.  To get vamps, wolfs, beserkers, etc., all into the series makes it feel… crowded.  Although the explination of the curse was so much clearer in this version- frankly, I would have re-ordered thee books (and since I am writing this review after reading the next one too…) so that this was frist, the third was second and the first was third.

The relationship development here was on par with the standard PNR story.  The dialogue too.  Better then most of this genre, however, we didn’t have the whiney “I’m not good enough for him/her…” that normally goes on.  And, the ending was interesting and sets up the non-romance plot of the books that come next.

Might have to seek out more of Jill Monroe’s stuff after this!

Lord of the Wolfyn:

The third in what is presumably a four part series (Royal House of Shadows), the Lord of the Wolfyn was interesting. I have said a number of times in the reviews of the first installments that it feels like there are too many cooks with respect to this series and that sntiment holds true here more then in installment number two.  This one, however, also suffered from some intranet-disjointedness too.  I will explain…

Dayn realizes that he is in the Wolfynm realm. When Reda lands there from the vortex she notes some strange juxtaposition of clothing and weapons. And later in the story Dayn admits to havingtroublewith the human speech. Wile Dayn provides the info explaining the travel between realms there is little consistency of the characters when it comes to having this issues.  And Reda accepts the change in reality a little too easily but then she also is reminded of her own world and her situation in it at random and inconsistent times.

In this installment we deal with Dayn and what happened as a result of his parents’ spell and the way that the Blood Sorcerer’s activities made it go awry. And we get Reda who was a cop but was too Fraid to act and as a result her partner was killed. But, somewhere in her past her mother told some story about red riding hood and the woodsman. But much of that part of the story is ignored. It’s used as a device to get her into the realm but then is succinctly discarded and ignored.  I would have liked to have seen more of how this played a part – that is, it would have been nice if it wasn’t summarily discarded.  She’s not a whIney female like we so often see in this genre but she’s not portrayed (at least in the beginning) as a very string character either.  Dayn does provide strength to her without being an overpowering cave man type. So that made her easier to deal with and him very likable.

As far as this series goes there has been a decent balance of steam across installments. And the relationship development and dialogue is typical for the PNR genre (ultra quick coupling and some steamy love scenes with little to base a relationship on other than some distant dreams or something similar).

After reading the first three, I a really interested in the fourth since there is no closure on the overall story arc. In fact we are left with what really comes across as a cliff hanger in this installment. Leaving all the details of the overall story arc for settlement in what must be the fourth installment. And the overthrow of the blood sorcerer is an interesting idea and part of what has kept me reading this series. I am a little worried that wall the closure will be jammed into the last book and the disjointed plot and complexities of the story will be too overwhelming for one author and one book.

I did mention in my review of the second installment that I would have re-ordered these if it were up to me, but, alas… it was not up to me.  Given the way each of the first three books ended, it would have made so much more sense if this were #2, if Lord of Rage were #1 and Lord of the Vamps were #3.  I also think it would not have felt so disjointed and disorderly.  Makes me wonder whether the authors decided the order of the publishers.  And if it was the authors – couldn’t the publishers have made the ladies come to their senses?  I am confused now where we are and who is actually back in the kingdom of Elden and who isn’t.  And, what the heck the deal is with the timeline.  I think better ordering of the series would have helped make all of these even better reads (certainly the first would have been better – because on a re-read after reading 2 and 3, it makes so much more sense to me now and I have a much higher opinion of it then I did after the first read!)

I liked this one well enough that I will likely look for other works by this author.  Although that drives home the disappointment with the firstqinstallment even further since I like Showalter already and was really let down by her installment in this series. More to come so more for me too look forward to reading.

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