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review 2017-10-20 00:00
Blood Drop
Blood Drop - Jacob Z. Flores Blood Drop - Jacob Z. Flores Book – Blood Drop (The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge #5)
Author – Jacob Z. Flores
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 230
Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 1st person POV, one character
Would I read it again – YES!!!
Genre – LGBT, Paranormal, Supernatural, Magic

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

I've been in love with this series since book one, so I'll readily admit that I binge read all four of the previous books again, before delving into this one. I'm glad I did. The story is deceptively intricate, flowing through all of the books and always connecting to the smallest details, that running through all of the previous books really helped me remember all the minute detail and the cleverness of the plotting and how it was all woven together.

I'm honestly in such a tailspin, after finishing the book that I have no idea where to start.

Aiden is a brilliant character and I loved getting to delve into his head, for the first time. This is another piece of genius by Flores, because although I would have had no problem dipping from one brother's POV to the next and then back again, I love that the boyfriends get their own say. Because each one is just as important to the story and the brothers as the rest. I love that each book has its own journey, despite them all weaving together into one mass plot.

I'll admit, I was crying even before 20%, because the way Flores can ladle in emotion through the words and actions of his characters floors me every time. Aiden is such an emotive character, to begin with, being able to sense the true emotions of those he's with, that seeing it all from his side was heartbreaking. And it wasn't the only time. I think I must have cried about 4-5 times throughout the whole book.

The start of the story, with the bar events, really got things kicked off with a bang. I loved the natural responses of the boys to the homophobic threat and how they eventually handled it. They're all kegs of gunpowder at the best of times, with a spark just about to set things off. The way that singular event spurred so much chaos was so clever. I loved that it brought Aunt Millie back into the picture and how it led to us learning even more about Aiden. The change in him and the twist of that change occurring and what it meant, made me very excited to read what was to come. It really labelled him as a force to be reckoned with.

At the same time, I love how the boyfriends got together and shared the big secret. It was great to see them working together as seamlessly as the brothers do. When Drake confided in Aiden and Kale, it really showed how much of a family they had all become to each other.

The badassery that I've become so used to seeing from the family really amped up a thousand notches in this book. No one messes with their family, the way that happened here, and when they do, you just know there will be hell to pay. I loved that you got to see how everyone reacted to the situations differently, yet all through the all-seeing eyes of Aiden, who could read their hidden emotions. It made the tough times even tougher and the sad times even more heartbreaking.

I will admit that I'm thrilled that my suspicions over who the Warlock Hag and Icarian really are were right on the money. That's thanks to the clever plotting and the many hints and slips that Flores gave us throughout the series. I also love the repercussions that followed, the logical and emotive responses as the truths were revealed and the way that everything came together. While the small plots hadn't really made a lot of overall sense throughout the books, this one answers all those little niggles that had bothered me about the Why and the Who and the When. There's really only one question left and it was only presented at the end of this novel, so I have high hopes that the next book – Kale's POV? – will answer it and let us know if there are more tales to be told from Havenbridge. I'd certainly like to think so.

Overall, this book is just choked full of excitement, action and revelations that tore my heart out. When I finally realised what the title meant, it was like an emotional bomb going off. Talk about explosive! I never knew that two words could destroy me the way “Welcome back.” did. They gutted me. And then to read the last words of the book “You've got it, my liege.” I was filled with so much giddiness that there are no words to describe it. Perfect doesn't even come close.

Any negatives? Nope. There was a single mislabelling of a character right at the beginning (it said Thad then, a few pages later, said he hadn't arrived yet) but that is nothing in the grand scheme of things. For an advanced copy, ONE single mistake is a miracle. There was not one other thing I noticed wrong with it. There are very few books I can say that about.

My hope is that Kale will be next to get his POV, as the boyfriends seem to be getting their say in the same order they appeared in, which is awesome. But I can't lie – I really would love to see stories for Elliot and Adam. Even if they were shorts or side stories or just freebies, I'm totally intrigued by both of them and would love for them to get their happily ever after. It would be great if they could find someone who understood them.


Favourite Quotes

“I shouldn’t be here anymore. The family didn’t trust me, and Mr. Blackmoor couldn’t even look at me. I had to leave on my own. If they threw me out, I’d never recover. “I’ll go.”
Mr. Blackmoor spun around and pointed at me. “Move one inch and I’ll knock you upside your head with my fist.” He held up his clenched hand, which had turned into solid rock.
That would definitely hurt even me, so I remained where I was as Mr. Blackmoor marched toward me . When he got within striking distance, I flinched, awaiting the blow I deserved. Instead, he wrapped his arms around me and held me tight.”

“I love you enough for the both of us. Just you wait and see.”

“Thad, his brothers, and the protector covens stood a few feet away, outside a field of golden energy Gerald had erected around us.
“Hold on!” Pierce shouted as he pounded upon the barrier.
“That’s right.” Mason kicked and punched. “We’re coming.”
Tears streamed down Thad’s cheeks. “Don’t you give up, Aiden. I love you.”
And I loved him. Seeing the fear etched across his pallid features made me want to reach out and comfort him . I’d take him in my arms, lay his face against my chest, and let the beating of my heart soothe him as I stroked his hair and told him everything would be all right.”
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review 2017-01-09 00:00
Spell Fall
Spell Fall - Jacob Z. Flores Spell Fall - Jacob Z. Flores Length: 200
POV: Drake, 1st person
Star rating: ★★★★★

Boy, that was one explosive episode in the ever continuing saga of the Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge!

I loved revisiting Mason and Drake. They're just as perfect as in book 1. Drake's story however, took us to a brand new location, away from Blackmoor Manor, and into the heart of the witch hunter's operational base. The revelations and secrets that journey revealed were astounding, shocking and monumental to the further plots of this series. But, at the same time, they're so huge that I can't tell you anything about them without ruining the story with massive spoilers, so you're just going to have to trust that it's amazing!

The way both Mason and Drake grew in maturity in this book was incredible. It was so well written that even the smallest hugs, glances and touches helped me understand just how much they were growing up and coming into their own. But their relationship – that was the real highlight. For two boys still in high school, their love was beautiful, strong and although Drake had doubts at certain points, he never gave in and abandoned all hope that he and Mason really are soul bound. It was lovely!

I loved the twist at the beginning of the story (which I'm only sharing because it's in the excerpt on Dreamspinner's website) where we're told that there is actually one chink in Drake's immunity to spells and magic – Mason! That was a brilliant piece of work, because after thinking about it, I realised that Mason had never once used magic against Drake, so there was no way for us to have known that until now. Genius.

I will warn you, however, that I was crying at 11% so you might need tissues for this one. Drake (and Kale) will always grab me by the feels and hold on tight. I can't tell you what made me cry except that this quote pretty much summed up the end of my fighting against it and had me shedding those tears:
“I don't want to be alone again.”

I'll admit that I had a few theories about what was going on, but I was so wrong and so thrilled that I was. Finding out the truth was way more interesting when I had been expecting something else.

Although this story didn't tie up all the loose ends, I didn't want it to either. There was enough mystery and adventure to keep the characters and me busy enough, without adding on more weaves to untangle within its pages. I'm looking forward to reading the next few books to solve them, though, and finding out how the other characters manage to put all the pieces together.


Favourite Quote

“My heart swelled. I might not know what was coming or where we were going, but Mason's love was like a compass.
It would always guide me home.”


OVERALL: The Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge

This series is an incredible feat of remarkable skill; from the world building and characterisation to the depth of emotional connection between the reader and characters and the way that each book focuses on one adventure, without cancelling out or forgetting about the bigger picture, there is so much to love here.

The growth of characters that can be seen as you go from book to book - revisiting characters from the previous story in minor, but important, ways - allows the reader to appreciation the subtle changes in their attitude, the overall atmosphere of the story and the mood of each adventure, whether that be hopeless or full of belief that it will end in victory.

Each adventure takes us into a new aspect of what it's like to be a warlock in this world, visiting other worlds, other supernatural creatures and all the chaos that comes with both. On top of that, they all have to function as regular human people, with Mason and Drake having to go to school and his brothers having college or work to complicate things.

Honestly, I'm a puzzle addict, so when there are problems like this series gave us – Who is the Warlock Hag? Who was Ica–? Who was the member of the Conclave doing shady work? What was the end goal? What was going on with the Blackmoor boys magic? – I want to figure it out before I'm told. I get very frustrated if I can't figure it out, but I love it when I'm wrong, because it means the author got one over on me. Though, to be honest, I love it just as much when I'm right, because...hello, who wouldn't love knowing they're able to spot all the clues and figure out the bigger picture? Well, I ended up with a 50/50 success rate and I'm thrilled about that. It's not often that a mystery can keep me on my toes the way this series did.

I loved the Introduction and Dramatis Personae, though I read each book one after the other. It's a great tool that would really help readers who took time between the books or who read it as they were released. Not enough books provide this important information, especially when there is a complex weave of characters like there are in this series.

The blend of adventure, romance and magic was skillfully wrought through every page. No matter which story you pick up, you'll find yourself hooked from page one, as you evolve with each character and move from one adventure to another, wondering just how much more these boys can take before they break or explode from the protective cocoon of the Conclave and finally see their destiny through.

Most of all, I love the refreshingly different take on soul mates that this series provides. I'm used to reading paranormal shifter, vampire and wolf stories where there are mates, soul mates and magical bonds drawing two people together. But, in this series, Flores makes it feel so much more organic and genuine than a magical force pushing two strangers together. The way that their love for their mate draws their power into focus and ramps it up a hundred degrees is such clever writing and genius world building.

This series is my new obsession and I'll be buying them in paperback as soon as I get paid.

Don't borrow it to 'sample it'. Don't go out and buy book one. BUY. THEM. ALL! Trust me. This is one series you want to binge read, one after the other.


O-kay, I'll confess. I checked out the website www.havenbridge.me and so should you. I took all the quizzes. In Which Magical Species Are You? I came out with Warlock. Win! Plus, I got an Active Power of water. So, double win! Oh...and BOOM! I got Kale Aquilo in Which Character from the Warlock Brothers of Havenbridge Series Are You? which is awesome, because he's my absolute fave!

And one more awesome thing – the website tells you the information about the following books in the series and I. Am. So. Frickin'. Excited!
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review 2017-01-08 00:00
Soul Struck
Soul Struck - Jacob Z. Flores Soul Struck - Jacob Z. Flores Length: 224
POV: Pierce, 1st person
Star rating: ★★★★★

Wow! This was right on par with book 1, leaving me to believe that it's really Thad's frosty and wavering personality that was the problem with book 2. It's the only one that slipped from the incredible, astounding 5 star reading that I'm becoming used to getting from Flores.

I love that my previous issues of there being far too many secrets kept between the Conclave and the protectors of the Gate were challenged, confronted and kicked into touch in this book. I love that the brash and forward Pierce was the one to put the pieces together, while everyone still believed he was too stupid to know what was going on.

Again, it was awesome to see the previous characters and their relationships getting more page time and keeping us in the loop. In this book, Pierce's personality and attitude change was more natural, just in the same organic way that Mason's was and was the one part of Thad's story that I'd been missing. His relationship with Kale, just like Mason's with Drake, was slow going and flirty before it became hot and heavy.

Gerald Wa continues to be an enigma. Part of me believes that he is on their side, but another part of me is suspicious by the secrets that even he continues to keep, while claiming amongst them all that its the Conclave's keeping of secrets that put them in this danger. And where he gets off accusing Thad of causing danger by keeping his secret is rich, but complicates his good/evil ration even more. I feel the same confusion over the Warlock Hag, who I believe I know the identity of, but I have to wait to find out if I'm right.

I LOVED Kale. And, yes, that needs to be in caps. Kale was fun, charming, flirty and innocent in all the right ways. The same way Drake was in book 1, he grasped my heart right from the start with his feisty attitude and open ways. Most of all, I loved his naïvety, such as when they were at the Pig's Eye and he kept spouting off about shrines, oracles and incantations. His dancing to and obsession with the Backstreet Boys was hilarious and took me back to my teen days. It was awesome!

There's so much I want to say but can't, because it would spoil the story. But, I loved that we got to see yet another side to the magical world that the Blackmoors are part of, with a trip to Aeaea and Kale's appearance in such a clever and natural manner.

Again, I have to confess – I almost cried when everyone ditched Pierce at the house. It was brilliant, fun and adorable all at the same time. I couldn't have loved the entire family more than in that moment.

The fact that I spent most of the book smiling pretty much says everything. It was fun, enchanting, exciting and cheered me up after a bad day. I couldn't have asked for more.


Favourite Quote

““This music is awful,” he said. “What's an Uma Thurman?”
I'd never wanted to shove my face through a jukebox more in my life. “Are you kidding me? This is real music, not that boy band crap you were hopping to on the dance floor.”
Kale gasped as if I punched him. “Take that back.”
“I will not,” I said with a firm shake of my head. “The Backstreet Boys are not considered music.”
“Is that that name of the group of minstrels who sang that delightful song?”
“Well, is it?” he asked, arching one dark eyebrow at me.
Why did that adorable smirk make me want to do whatever he asked? I nodded, even tough I knew exactly where this was going.
“Wonderful,” he said, waving at the jukebox. “Play more of that.”
He crossed his arms and tapped his foot.
Oh hell no. No one got away with tapping their foot at me, but I made the mistake of looking into Kale's big golden eyes and noticing the cute little dimples on his cheeks.
I found another Backstreet Boys song and pressed play.”
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review 2017-01-07 00:00
Blood Tied
Blood Tied - Jacob Z. Flores Blood Tied - Jacob Z. Flores Length: 220
POV: Thad, 1st person
Star rating: ★★★★☆

For me, this one didn't have the same impact that book 1 had. While I loved Mason from page one in book 1, I found that Thad's entire personality changed in this book to make him a lot more mysterious and far more erratic than he'd been previously. It made it hard to figure him out and also to keep track of what was going on around him.

I'll admit that two of the biggest secrets and twists in the story were a little obvious to me. From early on, I knew that Thad was being manipulated and in what way. I also knew that there was an item being used that shouldn't have been anywhere near the family and, I confess, I knew the identity of the shadow weaver after the first banshee attack. However, I was still eager to find out if I was right and how all those things worked together.

And while, in any movie or book or TV show that I watch, I'd normally be furious that two main characters failed to share an important piece of information with each other – both in book 1 and here in book 2 – meaning that no one knew how important it was, I can't be angry in this case. Because, for one, us readers are the only ones who know the true importance of that item, because the brothers never figured it out, as it seems completely inconsequential. But, also, I accept the argument Thad puts forward at the end of this book about keeping certain information to himself (after realising it's importance; thank you for that, Flores!) because it keeps his entire family safer. Though they could figure out what was going on better if they shared their information, the logic is sound and reasonable. Especially with everything else that's been going on with the Conclave and the mistrust brewing all over the place.

Again, the characters were interesting. I loved that we still got to see Mason and Drake, Pierce and their father, too. But we also got a whole host of new characters – the feisty Ben, Gerard making an appearance and Aiden the fire fae. They were all interesting in their own right, but some more than others and in ways I hadn't expected.

It was also great to see new creatures, beyond the shadow weaver and vampyren's of the first book. Here, we got to see Fae, Fire Fae, Banshees and even more of the vampyren's. Each added a unique slant to the story and provided even more information that will bring the final pieces together eventually.

I liked the love triangle between Thad, Ben and Aiden, but I do feel that it was heavily slanted in Aiden's favour right from the start. Thad's connection to Ben was obviously unnatural, without either acknowledging it, while Aiden confessed to the small part that his heritage played in putting a spell around Thad on their first meeting. And, I'm sorry to say, that this was one of the reasons I lowered my rating to a 4 – I just didn't believe the love triangle as something that Thad had to deal with. Half the time he forgot Ben even existed. Perhaps if there had been more of an equal pull between both men or we hadn't been given so many hints towards the choice Thad would eventually make, it would have kept up the intrigue for that part of the story a little longer.

I didn't feel the same chemistry between Thad and Ben or Thad and Aiden as Mason and Drake shared in book 1, which seems strange since there's so much more that an older couple, not in their teens, can share in that department. It just felt a little too organised. Magically influence, even, rather than the natural progression of book 1.

With the few small issues mentioned above, I had to deduct some points from my review, despite enjoying the overall story and the continuation of the plot arc from book 1. There was still incredible world building, great characterisation, impressively wonderful writing that sucked me into the story and a whole heck of adventure and hotness to keep the fires burning.


Favourite Quote

“And while he might in fact be a hotter version of Zachary Quinto, neither his looks nor his attitude were what had given me pause.
This guy was a warlock too.”
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review 2017-01-06 00:00
Spell Bound
Spell Bound - Jacob Z. Flores Length: 216 pages
POV: Mason, 1st person
Star rating: ★★★★★

Wow! What an explosive first book in the series!

Now, before we being, let me say that parts of this are YA, but it's a YA that is for 18+ only or mature 16+, because there is a lot of sexiness going on in here. It's very true to the single-mindedness of teenagers going through hormonal changes and having one track minds, but it also accepts that teenagers have sex. So, if you don't want to read about that, maybe just convince yourself to view Mason and his friends as 20 year olds stuck in high school, because seriously, you don't want to miss this story.

Right from page one, it packed a punch. The magical aspect of the story was – rejoice! – well explored and a major factor of the storyline. Far too often, I'm offered a story about a witch/warlock and there's limited on-page magical use, conjuring, discussion and history. I got all of that here, when it was the right time, when it made sense and without any of the laborious stereotypes that might make it corny.

I have to admit that I wasn't sure about Mason as a main character for a little while, at the beginning. He was so cocky, with a bad boy swagger and so convinced that he was this badass who ruled the world that I didn't know what to make of him. Then he met Drake and he had a little challenge on his hands that blew up into the sweetest, hottest romance I've ever read between two teens still in high school.

When it comes to characters, I loved them all! Each one was diverse, entertaining, interesting and added something to the story. I loved Mason and his brothers; Thad and Pierce; as well as their dad. I loved Drake and Adam, Elliot and Aunt Millie. I hated Miranda, as I was supposed to, without thinking her completely evil. Most of all, I wanted to see more of Elliot and Adam, from the minor characters.

I was intrigued by Adam, as a 'minor' character with an interesting storyline. At first, I thought maybe he and Pierce had a love/hate thing, but then he showed interest in Mason, which just complicated everything and made him even more interesting. Then there was the part where he asked to speak to Mason and had something to say but was interrupted...nothing more juicy than a secret I don't get to hear!

I also have to confess that, at first, I hated Mason's brothers. The way they made him feel, once we saw him outside of the high school environment, nearly broke my heart. Here was this kid being ragged on by two older brothers and his dad, all of whom were out of control trigger-tempers and considered him the useless black sheep, disappointment of a family member. He was ignored, mistreated and disrespected by everyone – especially Miranda! – that it got to me, after a while. Then I began to understand the dynamics more and it all made sense. It was no wonder he wanted to live up to the big-man-on-campus image he had in high school when that was how he was treated outside of it. For such a badass, Mason is sweet, charming, naïve and adorable in all the right ways. Drake is just the same, but on a much deeper level. I love them both, together and apart. They're perfect for each other.

And, while I'm in a confessing mood, I should also say that I cried. Twice. The first was at the water hose incident, when I realised just what Mason had to deal with from friends and family alike and how strong he had to be not to break down in tears the way I did. The second came later, with the simple but effective and heart-ripping quote:
“No boy should be without his momma.”

For me, the intrigue just kept building until I barely knew what was real, what I was sure of and what might happen next. I was curious over what and who Drake might be, even until the end; I was curious over Adam's behaviour, the way Drake's parents died, then the mention of Mason's mother loving him but that she'd always been hiding a secret she never told him of. After that, things blew up and the supernatural hi-jinx began for real. As did the intense teen-lovin'.

I loved the way that Mason and Drake discussed knowing each other's secrets in such a natural way that made it so easy and so simple to misunderstand each other's real meaning. The cleverness and the utter excitement I felt every time they tip-toed around 'what' they knew, only for us readers to know they weren't talking about the same thing, was great.

That is the genius of Flores' writing. It's my first book by this author and I can already tell it won't be the last. It had action, adventure, magic, romance and a whole host of sexiness. The balance between romance, high school drama and a rampaging magical adventure was stunningly well crafted, well written and gripping from page one. What's not to love?


Favourite Quote

“He ran a finger through my dark locks and then kissed my nose. “This was perfect for our first time.”
“First time?” I asked, my lips drawing into a huge smile. “Does that mean there's gonna be a second and a tenth?”
Drake chuckled and shook his head. “I swear. One-track mind.”
I rested my forehead against his. “You haven't answered my question.”
“Yes,” he said, sighing. “Seconds. Tenths. And maybe even a one hundredth.”
I grinned broadly. “Think we can get to a hundred by tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow?” he asked. “I was thinkin' tonight. You're such a slacker.””
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