Review: The Outcast Prince by Shona Husk

The Outcast Prince by Shona HuskFormat read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Series: Court of Annwyn, #1
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Number of pages: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Formats available: ebook, mass market paperback
Purchasing Info: Author’s website | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Publisher’s Website

Caspian Mort can feel the history in anything he touches, a gift he inherited from his father, the Crown Prince of Annwyn. Devastated over his ex-wife’s infidelity, Caspian has withdrawn from human contact except when working as an antiques dealer.

While assessing the contents of the historic Callaway House he encounters the beautiful Lydia Callaway and senses that her home is haunted by a banished fairy. But what does the dangerous exile want? Unbeknownst to Lydia, she’s the owner of the last remaining portal to Annwyn—a mirror hidden somewhere in the house. To keep Lydia safe, Caspian will have to divulge the secrets of his heritage, and risk losing his heart again.

My Thoughts:

goblin kingLike Shona Husk’s previous Goblin King series, The Outcast Prince takes us back to the darker side of the fairy tales.Very much the grimmer side of Grimm’s. You know what I mean, the legends that say don’t eat or drink anything when you’re in the fairy kingdom or you’ll be stuck there.

In Shona Husk’s version of the tales, Disneyfication of what should be very powerful and scary magic has just taken away what used to be useful knowledge and defensive strategies. Fairies in this tale are not tiny, cute and helpful sprites. Well, not unless they chose to be. and not unless they’re bargaining for something. Like your soul.

Fairies are more like Niall Brigant, Sookie’s great-grandfather in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Immortal, otherworldly, and mostly coldly calculating. A being who is playing a long and convoluted political game where humans are beneath notice if they are lucky, or easily sacrificed pawns if they are not.

The machinations of the fairy court in The Outcast Prince seem a lot like those in Yasmine Galenorn’s Otherworld series, Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey, or even the sheer bloody-minded backstabbing of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Meredith Gentry series, without the indiscriminate sex.

I digress. Yes, I know. Frequently.

The outcast prince in the story is actually a half-blood fairy who was born in our world. It makes him a slightly magical person with some talent and a little more grace than he would otherwise have. Caspian Mort is also more handsome that he might naturally have been. (It clearly helps to have a fairy prince for a father).

And that’s the problem. His natural father was a real fairy prince who “glamoured” his mother into having sex with him. His already married mother. So even though dear old dad could have maintained that glamour and brought Caspian and his mother to the Fairy courts, he didn’t. He seems to have loved the woman just enough to let her be happy with her husband.

He’s loved his unacknowledged son enough to give him a literal fairy godmother and keep him safe by keeping him secret. Being the son of the prince would make Caspian a political target of forces he doesn’t have the power to defend himself against.

But fate forces everyone’s hand. A magical artifact is missing. One that could change the balance of power in the courts. The fairy gift that Caspian has manifests is psychometry; he can see the history of any object he touches. The object is lost in our world and Caspian is the only one who can find it.

Caspian’s reinvolvement in the world of the fae is our introduction to the dangerous kingdom. As he is drawn further in, we understand both why he is so reluctant, and what makes the fae so tempting to mortals and half-bloods alike.

Caspian is both compelled to become involved, and saved, by falling in love. His gift of psychometry has led him to the appraisal of one of the coolest historical houses ever, and the owner of the house is a woman he discovers that he might be able to tell the truth about himself.

She should run far away from him. When she stands by him, she grounds him to the human world. It might even be enough to save his soul.

Verdict: The love story between Caspian and Lydia develops slowly. Not that they don’t have heat together from the very beginning, but they are wary of involvement. He can’t reveal what he is, and she’s been burned by too many people who are just interested in the notorious history of her family. They both step out of their comfort zones to get close to get sexually involved with each other (and it’s hot!) but trusting each other emotionally is way more difficult.

The story works well in that they both have extremely unconventional family histories that are slowly revealed, not just to the reader, but also to themselves and to each other. There are multiple voyages of discovery that they share and it helps them understand and reach toward each other.

Husk’s version of fairy is dangerous and fascinating. The courts are in turmoil, and that turmoil is affecting our world. Caspian’s princely father is the heir to the throne, but he can’t inherit unless he marries. His father is ready for him to inherit, but his mother is scheming and backstabbing to prevent it. It is her traitorousness that causes, not just this story, but scores of plagues that have arisen in our world.

Caspian’s father can take over if he finds a woman worthy of being his queen. She must be human, because the fae are only fertile with humans. The interesting thing is that he doesn’t want to pick just anyone to end the current problem, because that’s what his father did. 500 years from now, give or take, he’s afraid the woman will just hate him the way his mother hates his father, and look how that ended up. Felan is hoping for a better way. Meanwhile, he schemes.

I enjoyed Husk’s introduction to the Courts of Annwyn and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.


I give  The Outcast Prince by Shona Husk 4 dark stars!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: For the Love of a Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk

for the love of a goblin warriorFormat Read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Number of Pages: 352 pages
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Series: Shadowlands #3
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Formats Available: Mass Market Paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads

Book Blurb:

Centuries ago, Meryn was thought to be utterly lost–all traces of his soul given up to the ravening goblin horde. But with the curse that enslaved him now broken, he must once again learn to walk in the realm of men.

Nurse Nadine Gilbert likes working the night shift to avoid her disturbing dreams, but her mysterious new patient looks hauntingly familiar. Meryn knows he doesn’t deserve a second chance, but Nadine brings out his long-buried human side. Telling her the truth about his violent past could destroy their fragile trust. Could she ever believe in the love of a Goblin Warrior?

My Thoughts:

goblin kingIf you’ve read Husk’s The Goblin King and Kiss of the Goblin Prince, then this book absolutely provides closure for the series. And if you like your heroes on the seriously tormented side, then this is a series you must try. The Goblin King (reviewed at Reading Reality) was a darkly sensual twist on Beauty and the Beast with a unusual twist on the beastly hero.

For the Love of a Goblin Warrior has the feeling of bringing everything to completeness. In Kiss of the Goblin Prince (also awesome, see review here at BLI), part of Dai’s journey to wholeness is to rescue Meryn from the shadowlands, but there’s this gaping hole left in the story, because we don’t know what happened to Meryn.

So it seems like the right way to end the series to find out what happened to Meryn.

Also, the three men’s stories, both before the rebellion all those centuries ago, and now their responses, show such different paths. The fitting end to the series is to read Meryn’s tale.

Roan was king. He led the rebellion. The curse on him pulled all of them into the shadowlands. Breaking his curse broke it for all. He had to be the leader, always.

Dai fought the curse through amassing knowledge. He never stopped learning. And he was always behind his brother. They were the royal family. Leadership was their life.

Meryn was just a warleader. His position was important, but he wasn’t royal. He had a full life in the past. A wife he loved, and children. He didn’t just lose his position with the rebellion, he was forced to watch the murder of his family.

Since he couldn’t turn to drink or drugs to numb his pain in the shadowlands, he went goblin. He gave in to the curse completely.

His quick submission inspired the others to fight the curse to the bitter end. But Meryn survived through the centuries, forgetting his humanity–until the day it all came rushing back. Breaking the curse made him human again, and the goblins knew him for prey once again.

Dai rescued him from the shadowlands, but Meryn couldn’t let the shadows go. He still needed to grieve for the family he’d left behind, and for the world that had passed him by. He was a stranger in a very strange land.

The police brought him to the hospital, thinking that he was homeless and psychotic. Something about the sword he was still carrying gave them the wrong impression. The nurse recognized that he wasn’t quite that bad off, but that the language he spoke was Latin. And she couldn’t figure out why a seemingly homeless man was speaking a scholar’s tongue.

That nurse, Nadine, was the most beautiful woman Meryn had seen in a long time, but at first he was more attracted by the gold crucifix around her neck. He hoped that if he stole her gold, he could find a way back to being goblin again.

It only took days to realize that there was no going back, and that he had no desire to. Not only was he human again, but that it wasn’t a bad thing to be.

Too bad that he seemed to have brought a piece of the shadowlands with him to this “Fixed Realm”, and that he had started his new life by stealing something precious from the one person he really wanted to see more of.

Little did he know that Nadine’s life had already been marked by the Shadowlands. Only the truth might have a chance at healing their scars.

goblin princeVerdict: For the Love of a Goblin Warrior gets off to a much slower start than either The Goblin King or Kiss of the Goblin Prince. It’s right for this story, but as a reader you do want the author to pick the pace up just a bit.

Meryn’s story does require some set up. He’s lost in the 21st century, and he’s lost in the city of Perth. He thinks that any help he accepts from his cousin Dai is charity, where Dai believes that Meryn earned that help many times over.

Maybe if they’d just had a good knock-down fight it would have cleared the air quicker.

Nadine’s story is amazing. The Goblin King is a fairy tale book she inherited from her mother. A mother that she believes was killed by her father. Her father believes that her mother was killed by the goblins during the solstice hunt, but he couldn’t prove it. Nadine witnessed the whole thing, but she was 7 and totally blocked the memory. Talk about a nightmare! And yes, she has doozies!

Nadine and Meryn need each other to heal. But to do that, they both have to stop lying by omission, and they’re equally guilty. There are no major external enemies here, just the demons within.

One thing that did get me…there were several times when Meryn makes the shadowlands manifest on this side. I’m not totally sure that was adequately explained. Did he do that all on his own? If so, how and why? Then how was he suddenly able to stop?

But if you read The Goblin King and Kiss of the Goblin Prince, you must read the For the Love of a Goblin Warrior. Not just to see Meryn and Nadine earn their happy ending, but also to complete the Shadowlands saga.


I give For the Love of a Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk 4 darkly glittering stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Kiss of the Goblin Prince

Kiss of the Goblin Prince by Shona Husk is a story about second chances. And third chances. And twentieth chances. On the one hand, it’s about realizing that we only have a short time at this life, and that we have to make the most of it. And at the very same time, it’s a story about that classic conundrum that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Literally, life after life, whether the person remembers those other lives or not. The soul remembers.

Amanda watches her sister-in-law marry a man that she barely knows, and wonders how Eliza could turn her life around so fast. Not that Roan isn’t a major improvement over the now-residing-in-jail Steve. But Eliza and Roan haven’t even known each other long enough to file the 30 days paperwork to make this wedding legal.

Amanda is a widow with a young daughter, a daughter with a fatal disease. A daughter whose father died before she was born. She was a wife for a year, and has been a widow for seven. She’s poured all her energy into taking care of her daughter, Brigit. Watching as severe asthma steals more and more of Brigit’s lungs every time she has an attack.

But in that church, watching Eliza marry Roan, she finds herself watching Roan’s brother, Dai. And feeling things she hasn’t felt in years. And isn’t any too comfortable with.

Dai is no more sure of himself than Amanda. Roan and Dai spent almost 2,000 years under a curse. They were goblins. Slowly, slowly losing their souls to the lust for gold, cursed by a Druid priest during the Roman occupation of Wales for leading a failed rebellion.

Eliza’s love for Roan cured the curse. Roan was the King, and curing him, cured Dai as well. But they were the only ones left in their band of warriors to survive the ages. And Dai, well sometimes, he’s not so sure he came all the way back. In nightmares, he’s still in the Shadowlands, still a goblin.

What he feels for Amanda, he’s afraid to pursue. He spent those centuries researching their curse, researching magic. He’s bargained away parts of his soul, many times over. Those vows still bind him. And in the human lands, he discovers that he can practice real magic. Magic that has not been seen since the Druids that cursed them died out.

With his newfound magic he learns much that surprises him about the modern world. He can see connections between people. He can see disease, even though he doesn’t know how to cure it. He can actually see the growing attraction that runs between himself and Amanda.

And he can see the reason why he, Amanda and her daughter Brigit were brought together. In a previous life, Brigit was his sister. He couldn’t save her then, but now, he feels that he must try, no matter what it costs him.

Even if he has to tell Amanda the truth, and he loses her. The only woman he has ever loved.

Escape Rating A: This story was complex, and it really drew me in. It kept going deeper and deeper as it went. On the surface it seemed straightforward enough. Eliza and Roan get married (after The Goblin King) and now it’s Dai’s turn.

But not simple at all. Dai is much more tortured, not just by the past, but by everything he studied. All those magic rituals and vows, one on top of another. He’s been a scholar for centuries! All those secrets, and no one to ever tell. Starting with the biggest secret of all.

Amanda has been hurting too. She feels like she can never do enough for her daughter, and she’s fighting a battle she can’t win. Eventually she’s going to be left alone. But all her energies are focused on taking care of Brigit.

Putting these two tormented people together made for one amazing story.

For more of my thoughts on this book, take a look at Book Lovers Inc.

The Goblin King

Goblins are not the stuff that dreams are made of. Not unless those dreams are nightmares.

But somehow Shona Husk managed to make The Goblin King into a sweeping romance of love and redemption as well as a darkly sensual twist on Beauty and the Beast.

Once upon a time, Roan was a Celtic prince, back when Rome ruled the Western world. Back when the Druids practiced real magic. His people rebelled, and failed. Roan and his band of warriors were condemned, not to death, because death would have been too quick, but to eternity in the Shadowlands. Eternity as goblins.

Their punishment didn’t come from the Romans for the attempt, it came from a Druid priest for betraying the rebellion. The worst of it was, Roan and his men weren’t even guilty.

But the Druid could never admit his mistake, so the punishment continued, century after century, as one by one, Roan’s men fell to the curse. Either their souls were eaten away by the goblin’s lust for gold, or they died in fighting the goblin horde.

Roan was King of his band of goblin-men. Being a goblin meant that any human could summon him to the Fixed Realm that we call Earth. Roan had to obey the summons, but he learned that he didn’t have to obey the summoner, not if he was willing to endure a little pain.

One 20th century summer, a girl on the cusp of womanhood summoned him, to rescue her from her brother’s drunken friends. Eliza thought the Goblin King would serve her better than rape by drunken teenage boys. She turned out to be right.

Years later, faced with a fiance who has both stolen from her and brutalized her, Eliza choses to summon the Goblin King again. A goblin who is what he is has to be better than a goblin who pretends to be a man.

Roan almost doesn’t remember her. The goblin curse almost has him, but not quite. And Eliza brings him back from the brink of the darkness. Except that time is running out. Roan’s kingdom in the Shadowlands is about to be physically overrun by goblins. Roan and his brother Dai are the only two warriors left, and even the magical defenses he has created have limits.

Eliza is his queen, but unless she can break his curse, he cannot return to the Fixed Realm, to Earth. If she stays in the Shadowlands, she will die with him. If she returns to her own place, her conniving fiancee will ruin her, or possibly worse.

The Druid priest wants to destroy everything Roan holds dear, including Eliza. Can they find the answer before it is too late?

Escape Rating A-: Making a goblin the hero was a stroke of genius. Absolutely brilliant. He’s a piece of mythology you don’t see used much, and certainly don’t imagine in the hero role. Yes, it’s a take-off on Beauty and the Beast, so what? West Side Story was Romeo and Juliet. The point is that it’s well done.

I always like it when the hero and heroine (or hero and hero) rescue each other. He doesn’t just sweep her off of her feet. He needs to be rescued every bit as much as she does. It’s not one-sided.

My only teeny-tiny wish is that the evil fiance, Steve, hadn’t been quite so cookie-cutter dastardly. In a story where all the other characters were multi-dimensional, his one-dimensional-ness stood out. So to speak.

The story of Roan’s first meeting with Eliza, where she summons him to rescue her from her brother’s drunken friends, is appropriately titled The Summons. It’s a prequel enovella and is currently available free. At that price it is definitely worth reading!

What’s On My (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand? 5-13-12 AKA The Sunday Post

In the U.S. today is Mother’s Day. So for all of you are mothers, I wish you a very Happy Mother’s Day. My present to my mom this Mother’s Day is going to Cincinnati to visit her. Hopefully, it will beat flowers or chocolate. (And yes, she does know I’m coming)

Welcome back to my Mostly Virtual Nightstand, also known as The Sunday Post. This is where I take a look at the events coming up on Reading Reality in the week ahead, and I also take a peek at the books I have on my schedule in the week after that, so I keep myself on track with my deadlines.

Otherwise I occasionally find myself in the unfortunate position of needing a review on Tuesday for a book I haven’t started reading yet on Sunday. I still get surprised, but with a bit more warning!

Monday on Reading Reality is always Ebook Review Central. (Not on Memorial Day, though, but almost, almost always). This week’s ERC will feature the Carina Press titles from April 2012. Looking at the reviews, Carina had some pretty big hits last month. And a couple of misses.

Tuesday, May 15 I’ll be interviewing romantic suspense author Kelly Gendron, and posting a review of her recent book, Satisfying the Curse. I don’t want to post spoilers, but I will say that the book was great if you like bad boy heroes. This tour is from Sizzling PR.

Thursday, May 17 I’ll be reviewing Bad Girl Lessons by Seraphina Donovan, and there will also be a guest post from the author as part of a tour from Book and Trailer Showcase Virtual Book Tours. Read this book for fun!

Reading Reality has a Help Wanted sign out. I am looking for associate reviewers. Think of it as “Blogger seeking fellow book addicts for fun and free books.” If you think you might be interested, click on the sign for details.

About those books…

For the week of May 21 (like the old song said, time keeps on slipping into the future) I have some books for blog tours and some books that I picked from NetGalley or Edelweiss that are just coming out that week.  I have books.

As I said, I will be travelling again this week. I always take a print book along on the airplane, since they can’t make me turn it off as an electronic device. This trip it will be The Mongoliad, since I have to turn in a review to Library Journal by May 21.

I also have Dancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark for a Bewitching Books blog tour next week. I need to read it and send the interview questions. I like to read the book first and base some of the questions on the book. I liked the sound of this book. It’s a contemporary romance about an international travel writer who has to save her career by taking an assignment to cover Eufalia, Alabama. Since I currently live in Atlanta, Georgia, I thought it would be fun. So far, it is!

Seized by Lynne Cantwell is the first book in her Pipe Woman Chronicles. Reading Reality is part of a Goddess Fish tour on May 24. Seized appealed to me as a paranormal/urban fantasy with a Native American flavor. I’m intrigued.

I also have to read and review Kiss of the Goblin Prince for Book Lovers Inc. before the end of May. I hadn’t read either The Summons or The Goblin King, but I’d always intended to, because the reviews were so fantastic. Finished Summons, and I’m in the middle of Goblin King now. The reviews were right. I’m looking forward to Kiss of the Goblin Prince. Some deadlines are no burden at all!

I have some other books that I picked up that either have publication dates or will timebomb on my iPad next week. Zombie Island by Lori Handeland, the second book in her Shakespeare Undead series, and Her Majesty’s Will by David Blixt. There’s a theme in these two; Shakespeare wasn’t what he seemed. He’s either a zombie, or a spy.

And a friend strongly recommended The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn. I was able to get it from Edelweiss before the publisher archived it, but my copy is going to timebomb. End of May is pretty much now or never on this one.

As the late, great Edward Gorey said, “So many books, so little time.”


So my nightstand is portable this Sunday. Lucky for me most of it is on my iPad. But what about you? What’s on your nightstand this week?


Dark Vow

Dark Vow by Shona Husk was an interesting kind of genre-bending romance. Emphasis more on the genre-bender than the romance. The world-building was really kind of neat, a sort of post-apocalyptic Western. It reminded me a little of a polytheistic Firefly, except with hellsteeds instead of starships. Whoa! I just had a vision of Mal Reynolds from Firefly riding Death’s horse Binky from the Discworld. And it might fit.

The world of Dark Vow is definitely a post-apocalyptic Earth. Someone’s grandmother remembers when the horses were really horses. Now they have a taste for human blood. The central character of Dark Vow is Jaines Cord. She is a gunsmith. Or rather, she would be, if women were allowed to be master smiths. Or master anythings. Since Jaines is a female, the highest grade she can attain is apprentice, with her husband overseeing her work as the master smith. But as the story opens, her husband Lance is away on a buying trip, and Jaines is handling the gunsmithy.

An Arcane Hunter comes to Jaines’ smithy with an order for her to add certain runes to his gun. Two smiths have already worked on this gun, a woodsmith and a metalsmith. Jaines’ specialty is engraving: only she can add these runes to the gun. And the Arcane Bounty Hunter may have phrased his order as a request, but members of the Arcane have magical powers, and certainly earthly ones. If she doesn’t do what he wants, he can kill her and he will not suffer any consequences.

Her husband has always warned her not to deal with any Arcanes, but Jaines feels she has no choice. She is literally damned if she does, and damned if she doesn’t. At least if she does the work, she will earn enough money to pay off their debts.

The work is challenging, but also eerie. When the gun is complete, she can feel its hunger to be used, to kill. Unlike most weapons she makes, she does not test-fire it. The Arcane Hunter returns to pick up his weapon, pays her, and leaves.

Jaines never gets the chance to tell her husband Lance Cord about the commission from the Arcane Bounty Hunter. The evening that her husband returns, the Bounty Hunter bursts into their house and test-fires the weapon on her husband. Jaines is a widow, and it is all her fault. At her husband’s funeral, she makes a vow to his spirit that she will hunt down the Arcane Hunter and kill him. She does not expect to survive, and she doesn’t care.

Jaines begins her journey in the middle of the night. She leaves behind the life she has known for the past eight years. With each mile she travels away from her home, she loses her illusions about the life she has led, and about the husband that she loved. The Jaines that emerges from that forge is a very different woman from the one who goes in. She’s worth meeting.

Escape Rating B+: Jaines’ personality is what carries this book. She was someone I wanted to meet, so I enjoyed spending time with her. That made the book for me. This is a fascinating world. I wanted to find out how things got to where they are, and so quickly! If someone’s grandmother remembers our type of horses, what the heck happened? And what happens next? The greater story does end on a cliffhanger, and I want to know!

The world-building was good, the science fiction and/or fantasy of it worked for me. This is one of those books where I’m not exactly sure which one it is, and I don’t care. It’s speculative fiction in the big tent sense, and that’s good enough. The romance aspects I had a little bit of trouble with. I understood why Obsidian fell in love with Jaines. She’s the heroine, and her character is pretty clearly drawn. She’s holding up really well in a lot of adversity. She’s not just tough, but she’s growing even with all the pressure.

I could get why Jaines might fall into bed, or bedroll, with Obsidian. But we don’t see enough of his character to know why she’d fall in love with him, especially that fast. Her willingness to trust anyone was probably a little shaky at that point. And Obsidian doesn’t exactly put his best foot, face or hand forward. For good reasons of his own, he lies about himself, a lot, and for quite a while into their acquaintance. Just not quite as much as her husband did. But still, one after the other, I’m not sure that’s a foundation for love, at least not that quickly.

But I chose this book because I’d read some great things about Shona Husk’s work. And I’m very glad I did.