Weekend Reads #75 – My Skeleton Key Binge

Posted July 2, 2016 by Lillian in Reviews / 0 Comments

Weekend Reads


An innovative and collaborative collection of fantasy stories, each with a Happily Ever After.

One magical key.
The turn of a lock.
An adventure of a lifetime.

The Skeleton Key finds those who are brave enough. Curious enough. Crazy enough. It only needs an unsuspecting hand and inconspicuous door. Magic uncoils and where the door leads, no one knows. The one way to discover the truth is to step through into a world of the exotic and untold.

If you dare to dream the impossible…
Prepare yourself.
Unlock the Skeleton Key adventures.

Over the last couple of weeks, I had the honor of reading advanced copies of 5 of the 28 Skeleton Key novellas. I have to say that I was impressed. Each author spun an interesting and unique tale, all starting with a glass skeleton key and the need to escape their life. I enjoyed each novella and look forward to reading more from the series. If you enjoy paranormal romance and are looking for a quick read, I highly recommend these!

To see my review of Lillian Cartier’s Dark Fae, click here.

I received this book via Netgalley, the author, Michelle Dare. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Weekend Reads #75 – My Skeleton Key BingeThe Azure Kingdom by Michelle Dare
Series: Skeleton Key
Published by Self Publish on 2016-06-15
Length: 234 pages
Reviewing eARC Rating:
Reading Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, COYER 2016 Summer Vacation

One key, one door, one man, one leap.

Alison Wescot inherited the antique store the day her mother died. It was nothing she wanted, but she couldn’t part with it. The antiques inside were all she had left of her mother. She thought she knew every piece in the store, until one day she discovered a box with a key inside, along with a letter from her mother. A key to a door she never knew existed.

Lucas Azure is the leader of the kingdom’s elite guard, a group of men whose sole purpose was to protect their territory and people. The youngest of the king’s four children, he was also the deadliest. The men in his group followed him faithfully, never questioning his orders. When Alison appeared, he knew he had to protect her at all costs.

The day Alison walked through the door, her recurring dream became a reality. The man who always remained a mystery was standing before her. There were dragons flying overhead and a castle in the distance. She was now in the Azure Kingdom.

The Azure Kingdom by Michelle Dare hooked me from the first page! It is a sweet romance set in a medieval realm, featuring one of my favorite paranormal creatures — dragons. It’s been a year since Alison Wescot’s mother died, leaving her with her antique store, when she finds a glass skeleton key that opens a hidden room in her closet to another world. Lucas Azure is a prince and leader of the king’s elite guard when the girl from his dreams walks into the middle of his hunt.

Alison is easy to like. She’s independent, a bit lonely, and ready for adventure. After losing her mother over a year earlier, she finds a note and skeleton key back to her mother’s home realm. She packs a bag and in the middle of the night uses it to go to another world. Personally I was impressed by this. There’s no way I would use a key knowing it would take me somewhere like that and possibly strand me there. That took guts!

The novella’s only downfall was the insta-love. If there was a definition for insta-love, it could take the relationship between Alison and Lucas as an example. There was no build-up, getting to know you type thing with these two. It was just instant love/lust. Granted the book does start with Alison dreaming she is in the Azure Kingdom and Lucas is there as well. Supposedly these dreams have been happening for a year. I could see where she would instantly love and trust him if she’s been dreaming of him for a year!

Overall I really enjoyed this novella. The author did a fantastic job of fleshing out the characters and creating a magnificent realm complete with backstory and history in a short novella. If you enjoy medieval stories, civil wars, and dragons, I would recommend you check out Michelle Dare’s installment of the Skeleton Key series.

About Michelle Dare

Michelle Dare is a romance author. Her stories range from sweet to sinful and from new adult to fantasy. There aren’t enough hours in the day for her to write all of the story ideas in her head. When not writing or reading, she’s a wife and mom living in eastern Pennsylvania. One day she hopes to be writing from a beach where she will never have to see snow or be cold again.

I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Weekend Reads #75 – My Skeleton Key BingeRoyal Enchantment by Lia Davis
Series: Skeleton Key
Published by After Glows on 2016-06-15
Length: 122 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley

Ava Green has made a name for herself in the real estate world by reconditioning old, historical homes with her partner and friend Jeff. But her newest project, a three-story Victorian in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, promises to be her biggest moneymaker yet. And one she’s undertaking on her own. During her first walk-through of the house, however, she discovers a locked door, and a skeleton key that seems to appear out of nowhere. Unlocking the door, she is transported to a mystical world of fae and mythickal creatures and meets the King of the Morna. The sovereign of the Dark Elves.

King Finn Sylcan has searched for the one who can bring the magick back to his world, Edra, for eons. An old prophecy told of a female of both Dark and Light elven descent, a hybrid both Calim and Morna. It is said she is the only one who can repair the damage the war between the Dark and Light kingdoms caused. But after searching for so long, Finn never dreamed that she’d just show up outside his palace walls. Or that she’d be his mate.

Royal Enchantment by Lia Davis is an interesting adventure in the realm of Elves. Ava Green has just lost everything to her business partner when she finds a glass skeleton key that opens the door into another world. She finds herself face to face with the King of the Morna, the Dark Elves sovereign.

Ava is an interesting character, one I felt for and respected. She is alone in the world. Her parents died months apart from each other and now her only friend and business partner stabbed her in the back, taking everything from her. Angry and hurt she finds the skeleton key that takes her to the realm of the Elves. Rather than being scared, she takes it in stride, unsure of what she should be doing. While Ava is a strong character, I felt like I didn’t know her that well.

As with a LOT of short stories, the plot moves fast, so fast that at times I thought I’d missed something. The premise is (and no spoilers as this occurs fairly early) that Ava is the daughter of a light and dark Elves, making her the woman that can break the curse on their land. The fantasy adventure and even the romance felt rushed. I would have liked to see it fleshed out more and with a little more details. The concept was fantastic, just not executed well.

Overall Royal Enchantment was just ok for me. It’s short enough to be read in one sitting and if you like elven stories, I recommend you check it out.

About Lia Davis

In 2008, Lia Davis ventured into the world of writing and publishing and never looked back. She has published more than twenty books, including the bestselling A Tiger’s Claim, book one in her fan favorite Ashwood Falls series. Her novels feature compassionate yet strong alpha heroes who know how to please their women and her leading ladies are each strong in their own way. No matter what obstacle she throws at them, they come out better in the end.

While writing was initially a way escape from real world drama, Lia now makes her living creating worlds filled with magic, mystery, romance, and adventure so that others can leave real life behind for a few hours at a time.

Lia’s favorite things are spending time with family, traveling, reading, writing, chocolate, coffee, nature and hanging out with her kitties. She and her family live in Northeast Florida battling hurricanes and very humid summers, but it’s her home and she loves it! Sign up for her newsletter, become a member of her fan club, and follow her on Twitter @NovelsByLia.

Weekend Reads #75 – My Skeleton Key BingeMechanical Hearts by Nicole Blanchard
Series: Skeleton Key
Published by Self Publish on 2016-06-15
Length: 109 pages
Reviewing eARC Rating:
Reading Challenges: 2016 New Release Challenge, COYER 2016 Summer Vacation

Caroline Abernathy has lost her mind. Perhaps it was the bump on the head she took when an afternoon sailing expedition cruised right in the middle of a violent storm or maybe the stress of grad school has finally proven to be too much. Whatever the cause, she finds herself alone in a strange underwater world and at the mercy of a ruthless pirate.

Everyone has a price, at least according to the Pirate Prince, Ezra Castle. In order to purchase the fare needed to bring her home, Caroline agrees to spend the remainder of the voyage on his ship, helping him locate the priceless artifact she cost him.

What starts as a simple journey turns deadly when their ship is attacked by a band of assassins. Stranded, wounded, and without transportation, Caroline and Ezra will have to rely on each other to make it back alive.

Life and love are on the line and time is running out. Tick Tock.

Mechanical Hearts by Nicole Blanchard is a quick read set in a steampunk realm. I think this may be my favorite from the Skeleton Key binge. The world-building is fantastic, the characters are memorable, and for a novella it is impressively written.

Caroline Abernathy is tired of living with her hateful aunt. Heading to medical school, she vows to make enough money to take her little cousin with her. The night she leaves she finds herself on her father’s boat, the only thing she has left of him. She finds a glass skeleton key that opens the cabin door and falls asleep thinking about what her life would be like if her father was still alive. When she wakes up, she’s drowning. Her boat has crashed in a storm. But that isn’t what worries her. No it’s the submarine that surfaces and the little robot that takes her inside to the captain: a pirate with a mechanical arm and eyes.

In this realm, everyone is altered. Everyone has something mechanical. For Ezra, the pirate captain, it’s his arm and eyes. He was born with them! Anyone exposed to the toxins in the water/land has a mutation, which is why Caroline fascinates him. He promises her a way home and for some reason she trusts him.

I really enjoyed this story! The world-building, the characters, everything!!! Steampunk is a genre that isn’t done enough in my opinion and it is done very well in this novella. If you enjoy that genre or you’re looking for a quick adventure, I highly recommend it!

About Nicole Blanchard

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Nicole Blanchard lives in Florida with her family and their menagerie of animals. She chooses each day to chase her own fairy tale even if they contain their fair share of dragons. She is married to her best friend and owns her own business.

She survives on a diet of too many books and substantial amounts of root beer and slim jims. When not reading, she’s lavishing attention on her family or inhaling every episode of The Walking Dead and The Big Bang Theory.

You may learn more about Nicole and her work at www.authornicoleblanchard.com. Join her mailing list for updates at http://eepurl.com/6zSvD

Weekend Reads #75 – My Skeleton Key BingeGame Master by Scarlett Dawn
Series: Skeleton Key
Published by Self Publish on 2016-06-15
Length: 87 pages
Reviewing eARC Rating:
Reading Challenges: COYER 2016 Summer Vacation

Arizona Creed lost her assassin father, and her whole world changed.
With one magical skeleton key, Arizona lands in another realm.

Forget Earth. Terlant is the place to be. And Lucifer wants her there, the dashing man with no last name and more secrets than even she has. But love isn’t always enough. Arizona must find purpose in her new life.

The Royal Guard could give Lucifer and Arizona what they desire.
They only need to pass two tests to win the Game and enter the elite Guard.
But is her real test to open her heart to true love?
And will she win her wings to fly into his arms?

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Scarlett Dawn so I HAD to read her installment in the Skeleton Key series, Game Master. I think this may have taken the place of my favorite Dawn read! In Game Master, Arizona Creed has just buried her father when a group of assassins chase her through the streets. She finds herself at a dead end with a locked door in front of her when she finds a glass skeleton key buried in the rubbish. Using it, she opens the door to find herself on the front stoop of a cabin in the middle of the woods and a talking frog as her guide.

Arizona is an interesting character. She’s fierce! Raised by her father and taught to be an assassin, she can take care of herself. When he is killed, she’s furious and ready for revenge. Then she finds herself stuck in another world with no way to get back and nothing but her grief to keep her company.

Lucifer finds her and takes her in. Together they raise the twin girls he took in after their mother died. But none of this is enough for Arizona. Her life lacks direction, purpose. That is until the Guard shows up and invites her and Lucifer to participate in the game to win a position with the Guard.

I liked this story. I like the characters, the world, and the game. It was an interesting concept and while there is a touch of romance, it isn’t the focus. The focus is on Arizona finding her way out of her grief. And Kingsley I LOVE Kingsley! He is probably my favorite character in the story. If you enjoy paranormal romance and fantasy, I highly recommend you grab a copy of Game Master.

About Scarlett Dawn

New York Times bestselling author and award-winner, Scarlett Dawn, is the mastermind behind the Forever Evermore fantasy series, the Origin paranormal dystopian stories, the Vampire Crown paranormal romance thrillers, the Mark science fantasy saga, and the Lion Security contemporary romance series.

She lives in the Midwest, adores her music loud, and demands her fries covered in melted cheese.

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