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Lisa Shearin

Dear Author

REVIEW: Con & Conjure by Lisa Shearin

Dear Ms. Shearin,

I’ve been looking forward to ‘Con & Conjure’ the next installment of your Raine Benares series since shortly after finishing your last book, ‘Bewitched & Betrayed’ and I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.

Our heroine Raine Benares, still linked to the soul eating Saghred which gives her access to almost unlimited power, starts her adventures in this story off by foiling an assassination attempt.   Turns out the attempt is made by Raine's ex-fiance Rache Kai, a new character to the series, who's one of the worlds top assassins.   Raine must use her seeker abilities to try and track Rache down and stop him from completing the task for which he's been hired.

General pandemonium and mayhem ensue, much like earlier books in the series.   In fact this one has a bit of a been there done that feel in places.   The cycle of events is quite familiar leaving things feeling a bit stale at times.   The series regular humor and non-stop action are present, but things take a bit of a darker twist as Raine struggles to balance her desire for saving people with using the Saghred and risking it taking her over or turning her mad.

In addition to Raine's ex we meet another new character her cousin Mago, Phaelan's older brother.   Mago's a banker with the soul of a con man.   He has arrived on the Isle of Mid to help Raine deal with some of the enemies she's acquired by separating them from the funds that let them operate.   I thought Mago was a fun character and wish we would have seen a bit more of his inner con man "in action'.

Many of the series regular characters are present although they aren't as prevalent as in the earlier books.   I'm glad we saw more of Imala as I find her to be a fun character and it's always good to see more of the ever loyal Vegard as he attempts to keep up with Raine while watching her back.

The last part of the book sets up things for what I’ve read will be the final book in the series, "All Spell Breaks Loose', which should be interesting as we'll be leaving our regular setting of Mid and Raine will be dealing with some limitations that have arisen.   I'm looking forward to the next one and at the same time it seems like a good time to bring the series to a close, it's just too bad that it will be a year before we see it as the end of this one left me ready to jump in and keep reading.

"Con & Conjure' is a great addition to a wonderful series and I'm looking forward to "All Spell Breaks Loose' and whatever else you write with high anticipation. B/B-

Best,

Brian

~P.S. Newcomers to this series will want to start with the first book "Magic Lost, Trouble Found'.

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Dear Author

REVIEW: Armed and Magical by Lisa Shearin

Dear Ms. Shearin:

This may have been a case of mismatched expectations. The cover quotes and inside the book endorsements said that it was “fall out-of-your-chair funny” and that you had “mastered writing with humor.” I confess my reading experience was quite different. This is not to say that I didn’t find the narration pleasant, but I didn’t find the humor referenced and lauded. Given that humor is quite subjective, I suspect everyone’s response to this would be quite different.

Raine Benares is an elf and a seeker with a tie to a big bad magical stone that can give her immense power but can also swallow her whole like it did to her daddy. She goes to the Isle of Mid, a place of sorcery training, to figure out how to excise the stone’s hold over her. She’s not quite a prisoner, not quite a guest. Mychael Eiliesor is paladin and commander of the Guardians who watch over Raine. Raine and Mychael are attracted to each other but her tie to the dark rock and his sense of duty to the Guardians prevent them from moving closer together. Complicating Raine’s life is the appearance of Tarnnais Nathrach. Tarn is a former criminal with shady alliances.

While Raine is staying on the Isle of Mid, spellsingers like her brother, are being kidnapped.   She tries to find these individuals but in doing so taps the power of the bad rock, Saghred, and therefore must balance Saghred’s growing hunger and the lives of the missing spellsingers.

Armed and Magical does provide a fresh setting because it’s not a standard urban fantasy replete with shapeshifters and vampires.   It’s urban fantasy feel is lent by the first person female narration.   It’s more of a high fantasy story set in an alternative world featuring seafaring cultures. From a world building standpoint, the book is excellent. The magic seemed to be consistent and well thought out. For example, use of Raine’s extensive power source comes at great personal risk.

But I read books for the relationships and this where the book suffers. A love triangle is included, unnaturally, in my opinion as it is clear which couple has the greater chemistry. I don’t get the sense that Raine is torn at at all by her conflicted feelings between the two men. Instead, when she is with one, she gravitates toward him and rarely thinks of the other. So the triangle seems artificial. Further the character tropes are stereotypical. One is the lawman and the other is the reformed criminal. One blushes at the thought of Raine nude and the other smolders dark sensuality. Raine didn’t appear to be significantly moved by either men. Her focus was mostly on the rock and her family members. In fact, her relationship with her cousin had more chemistry and substantive feel to it than her relationship with Mychael or Tarn.

I think that readers who are looking for a different type of urban fantasy /fantasy with crossover potential, this may be a satisfactory read. I was disappointed in the tepidness of the relationships. C+

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.