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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

#TemptationTuesday - Return by Charity Santiago

It's Tuesday, which means its time for a little temptation!
This weeks temptation comes in the form of a Young Adult Fantasy Return by Charity Santiago. (And you all probably thought I only review books by one other young adult author!). Stay tuned for  Charity Santiago's GiveAway.

After reading this book what were my first thoughts?

I like it ... actually, no ... I love it!

Here's the deets...

For the last three years, eighteen-year-old Ashlyn Li has been running from her destiny. A free-spirited ninja, Ashlyn would rather loot an abandoned city or challenge a fiend to battle than assume leadership of Toryn, her father's kingdom. However, when a series of attacks reunites Ashlyn with the friends who helped her save the sun three years ago, she discovers that her kingdom is at war and her father has presumed her dead.

Suddenly Ashlyn is faced with not only fulfilling her birthright, but also making sense of her feelings towards two very different men- Drake Lockhart, the enigmatic vampire who captured her heart three years ago, and Vargo, the charismatic assassin who was once Ashlyn's sworn enemy.

Will Ashlyn ascend the pagoda and become Lady of Toryn?


Ashlyn frowned, trying hard to focus. "I only asked you to start thinking of yourself as a man, Drake, instead of a monster. That's hardly the same thing." 
"I'm asking you to think of yourself as a leader," he said. "You've spent so long running from responsibility that you think yourself incapable of fulfilling your birthright."
"We haven't seen each other in three years. You don't know what I'm capable of- I don't even know what I'm capable of." 
He grabbed her hand, abruptly, and brought it up to his chest. Through the cloth of his shirt, his skin was warm to the touch, and Ashlyn let him press her hand against the solidness of his shoulder, confused as to what he was doing 
"This," he said, his voice low, "is where I was struck by Devlyn's sword."
After a moment, he slid her hand lower, until it was resting directly above his heart. Ashlyn paused, entranced by the lack of a pulse beneath her fingers, the scent of him filling her senses and enveloping her like the rain against the roof. 
"This," Drake said. "This is where I would have been struck, if you had not deflected the blow."
She met his gaze, breathing so hard that she felt light-headed. His eyes bored into hers, piercing her straight to her soul.
"I know what you are capable of, Ashlyn," he said. "I know better than anyone."

Should you but it?

Ashlyn has spent the past three years enjoying a responsibility free life. But under attack, she is rescued by her old friends and brought back to the civilization and the responsibility she ran away from. And things are way worse than she ever thought they could have been. Once part of the resistance movement that brought down an evil regime Ashlyn now needs to lead the same movement in an attack to prevent a new regime taking over and destroying their new way of life. In other words, Ashlyn needs to stop running away from her destiny. And just to complicate matters a little more there's a couple of really fit guys around Ashlyn and she's trying really hard not to think about her love life at a time like this.

Ashlyn's spunky, she has a really quick mouth and I found myself giggling into the darkness a couple of times. Her verbal sparring with the spartan Vargo, a wannbe love interest, is a definite highlight of the story. The chemistry and camaraderie between these two is so much fun to read. But it lacks the intensity that Ashlyn has with the brooding vampire, Drake, or his attraction. Maybe, its the wanting want you can't have and not wanting what you can that makes this love triangle particularly interesting. Its seemed where Drake lacked Vargo made up and vice versa.

Ashlyn's an accomplished ninja, she finds herself in many hand to hand combats when her life is threatened by her enemy. It was easy to follow the fight scenes clearly. Although at the beginning, for myself, it wasn't easy to understand some of the weaponry and magical devices used, (I've never read a book of this kind before.) I swiftly caught up and thoroughly enjoyed it!

While I found Ashlyn's independence admirable, she still has a tendency to run. And I'm not sure I believe its down to her desire to protect everyone else. Surely she should know better, her friends will go after her anyway. She faces a lot of personal battles a long the ways, physically and mentally which made me want to route for her. And I love a strong lead character that I have to route for.

There were occasions where I had to stop and think and if I'd have written my review the day I read the book I'd have not reviewed it at all. The quickest way to annoy this reader is the ending of this book (haha! You have to read it to find out). That being said, Return is the first in The Lady of Toryn trilogy and I'm looking forward to the reading the Regret and Redemption. 

Should you buy it? Absolutely! Its a definite "must read" from me! 

Buy Return (Lady of Toryn trilogy) at Amazon

Full disclosure: I received a review copy from the author and this had in no way influenced my opinion.

Who is Charity Santiago?


In February 2011, Charity Santiago's 7-month old son was admitted to the hospital with severe respiratory issues. While Charity stayed at his bedside, she kept them both entertained by downloading several books on her new Kindle and reading them out loud. It was during this time that Charity learned about Kindle's self-publishing program, and realized that she had an opportunity to share her writings with the world.

Charity is a native of southeastern Arizona, and a writer since childhood. She wrote her first manuscript, Guinea Pig Code!, at age nine. When she’s not writing books, Charity spends her time wrangling children, watching Sylvester Stallone movies and pursuing a degree in Education.


Blog:  | Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads

Charity Santiago will be awarding a $10 Amazon Gift Card and the Grand Prize of a Mini Gift Basket from (winners choice to the value of $24.99) to a random commenter throughout her virtual book tour so comment below to enter.


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  1. "Must read" works for me.


  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my book. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

  3. I enjoyed the excerpt, thank you.


  4. I liked ashlyn a lot! Spunk goes far with me!

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

  5. Great review, and I loved the excerpt.

  6. What type of research did you do for this novel other than pure imagination?

    fencingromein at hotmail dot com

    1. Shannon:

      Kresmir, the world where "Return" is set, is a fantasy world, so the majority of what is in the book is borne of pure imagination. I've mentioned this in a few interviews already, but it bears repeating here for relevance: reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld series gave me the confidence to let my imagination run wild in my own books. I mean, Kresmir isn't a disc balanced on the backs of four elephants who stand on a giant turtle, but it's still a pretty complex and original universe.

      Most of my research was in the areas of weaponry (primarily to determine Ashlyn's weapon of choice, which turned out to be both bo and hira shuriken) and steam power so I could write confidently on those subjects. Google and YouTube were my primary resources whenever I needed to figure out how something worked. Sadly, many of the steampunk elements did not make it into the final draft- there are airships, but I wasn't able to explain how they functioned without doing a huge info dump that I felt would distract the reader from the story. In future books in this world, I hope to talk more about the steam power and the other measures that the characters take to conserve Kresmir's natural resources.

      I hope that answered your question!

  7. I loved this excerpt! This story sounds really entertaining :)
    oddball2003 at hotmail dot com

  8. Very nice review

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com


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The Legal Bit

All characters have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation to anyone baring the same name. They are not inspired by an individual known or unknown by the author and all incidents are pure invention.

The articles, excerpts, and other written work published under the pseudonym Erin Cawood are copyright protected by the author. Guest articles are published by arrangement and also copyright protected by the guest author.

Images of Erin Cawood are provided by Paul Miguel Photography.

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