Monday, October 26, 2015

#Review, Tour Stop, Excerpt & Giveaway - Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep (Young Adult)

Series: Black Blade #2
Format: Paperback, 339 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Release Date: October 27th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal, Magic, Supernatural


Something Wicked This Way Comes...

As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there's no escaping the spotlight—or the danger.

Even though he's my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what's supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious "accidents," it looks like someone will do anything to win—no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone's going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing's for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else...

Dark Heart of Magic is the second installment in the Black Blade trilogy by author Jennifer Estep. Welcome to Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia home to magicks, monsters, and powerful families that control everything. Cloudburst has accepted the label as the most magical place on the planet. A label that is hard to dispute once you see all the trolls, and other monsters that have made Cloudburst home. 

Protagonist Lila Merriweather (17) now works for the Sinclair Family as a bodyguard for Devon Sinclair, the bruiser, and second in command of the family. After living on the streets for the past 4 years as an thief extraordinaire for Pawn Broker Mo Kaminsky, she is steadily working her way towards completing her revenge against the man who killed her mother (Selena Sinclair).

The old saying that Something Wicked This Way Comes is definitely germane to this story. There is something or someone that has the monsters of Cloudburst in a tizzy and scared. Something is killing them and it comes at the same time as the Tournament of Blades where several participants from all FIVE family participate. It is up to our Lila, Devon, and Felix Morales to figure it out what is happening and why.

Lila is chosen as a participant in the Tournament. A decision made by Claudia Sinclair, the head of the family, who truly believes that Lila has a legitimate chance at beating the reigning champion, Deah Draconi. Lila not only has to solve the mystery of the monsters being killed, and who is responsible, but also survive a brutal contest of strength and skill and revenge which leads to a curious amount of accidents.

Lila has some amazing powers that she has tried to keep on the down low for fear that someone, namely the megalomaniac/murderer Victor Draconi, would attempt to rip it out of her. From her ability to soul sight I.E. see into people and feel their emotions, to her transference magic that gives her the ability to use another's magic, Lila can not only stand on her own two feet without help, but can kick ass and take names. 

Estep is known for her amazing heroines from Gin Blanco, to Gwen Frost, and now Lila. She's also known for dark situations, awesome action, snarky and sarcastic heroines, and suspense that grabs you right out of the gate. I would definitely say that Lila is NOT a two dimensional character. She has the ability to chat with monsters, while also remaining focused on what matters the most. 

Lila is a badass with her mothers Black Blade sword and for figuring out a way to escape from tricky and sticky situations. It is why I love Lila so much.  Sometimes revenge stories are the same ole, same. But, in Lila's case, this is not so. She genuinely has a cast of friends that adore her, and stand besides her in the face of extreme evil. I am a person who loves character growth, and not stagnation. I love when a story moves forward, and mysteries are slowly revealed. 

I was nearly blind sided by the villain of this story. I was so sure it was the usual suspects like Victor or Blake until Estep gave the person up and the reasons. I love that Estep gives a bit more about the Draconi and Sinclair family's connections. I love that Deah is shown as a human, rather than an awful brute like her brother Blake. I dare say that I do hope that Deah and Lila can eventually become allies, instead of stealthy friends.

I love that there is a bit of romance in this story that finally gets a little closer to being what readers have hoped for. Lila's heart may finally be in the right place if she can just survive against Victor's machinations. While I do say that the romance isn't like Gwen Frost and Logan's, it has had a bit of rockiness to it since the beginning. I dare say that I actually like the bit of hesitance on Lila's part, and not running into a insta-love situation. 

Bright Blaze of Magic is the final novel in this trilogy. I will be patiently waiting to see how Estep wraps up this series. I am definitely eager for a Lila vs Victor final showdown.   


“What do you normally do about tree trolls who throw things at tourists?” I asked.
Devon shrugged. “Usually, we don’t have to do all that much. Most of the trolls stay in the trees in their designated habitat areas in and around the Midway. Whenever they start making pests of themselves, we send some guards over to tell them to either cut it out or move back up the mountain where they can do whatever they want.”
I nodded. Like most monsters, tree trolls could understand human speech, even if mortals and magicks couldn’t really understand them all that well.
“Usually, that’s the end of it, but this guy doesn’t seem to want to leave,” Devon said. “He’s still here, despite the guards that I sent over yesterday. And he’s not the only one. I’ve heard rumors that all the other Families are having similar problems with trolls right now. Seems like something has them spooked and coming down off the mountain in record numbers.”
As soon as Devon said the word leave, the tree troll started jumping up and down even faster than before, his cheep-cheep-cheeps growing louder and louder. The high-pitched shrieks stabbed into my brain, making me grateful that enhanced hearing wasn’t one of my Talents. The creature was plenty loud enough already without the sound being magically amplified.
All around us, the tourists stopped slurping down their jumbo sodas, noshing on their giants wads of cotton candy, and snapping photos of the bubbling fountain in the middle of the square. They all turned to stare in our direction, curious about the commotion. I dropped my head and slid behind Felix, trying to blend into the background as much as possible. As a thief, I’d never liked being the center of attention. Kind of hard to pick someone’s pocket or snag a watch off her wrist when she was looking straight at you. I might not be here to steal anything, but old habits die hard.
Devon looked at me. “Do you think you can use your soulsight to see what he’s so upset about?”
“Yeah,” Felix chimed in. “Let the great Lila Merriweather do her magic mojo. She is the monster whisperer, after all.”
I reached over and punched him in the shoulder.
“Hey!” Felix said, rubbing his arm. “What was that for?”
“I am not a monster whisperer.”
He rolled his eyes. “Did you or did you not feed three guys to a lochness a few weeks ago?”
I winced. That was exactly what I’d done. I didn’t even feel bad about it, since the guys had been trying to kill Devon and me at the time. But I’d always been secretive about my magic, my Talents, and all the things that my mom had taught me about how to deal with monsters. I’d had to be, since I wanted to keep my magic firmly inside my own body and not have someone rip it out of me to use himself. So I wasn’t used to Felix or anyone else joking about it so openly. Every time he or Devon made a comment about my magic, I always looked around, wondering who might have overhead and what they might to do to me in order to get my Talents.

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Follow the Dark Heart Of Magic by Jennifer Estep Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

Her Elemental Assassin series follows the life and times of Gin “the Spider” Blanco, a barbecue restaurant owner who also happens to be an assassin with magical control over the elements of Ice and Stone.

The Mythos Academy series focuses on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. She studies at Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors.

Her Bigtime paranormal romance books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love.

Estep’s new Black Blade series is about 17-year-old thief Lila Merriweather, who has a Talent for sight, along with the ability to take magic others used against her to boost her own powers. She tries not to get involved with the Families who control much of the town, but ends up in the middle of a potential turf war.

Win (1) of (3) print copies of Dark Heart of Magic (US only)
Win a $10 Amazon gift card (INT)

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