Within Obsession and Lies by Stacy Jones & Harper Wylde (A Court of Gilt and Shadow #1)

within obsession and lies
Within Obsession and Lies
by Stacy Jones

Urban Fantasy/Reverse Harem

Published 1st October 2021

Book #1 of A Court of Gilt and Shadow

Purchase from | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Amazon UK |

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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Life is not easy for someone different. Arawyn has had nothing but pain and suffering since she turned sixteen and became different to everyone around her. She has a dark power that lies deep inside her, that makes anyone who gets too close develop a life threatening, dark obsession with her. Her only course of action has been to keep on the run and never let anyone get too close. She’s learned to keep a tight leash on the strange power that ruined her life, but one night a part of that power bursts free and sends out a beacon. Now she’s being attacked by strange creatures left and right, but she’s also drawn the attention of three dangerous men who want to know her. A mafia boss, a psychopath and a killer. She feels drawn to them as well, but she can never let anyone get too close. This time she has a choice, either she can put her trust in these three strange yet intriguing men, or she can walk away again. Opening herself up to trusting other could put her in severe danger, but it might also save her life this time as the threats against her begin to ramp up. Maybe once and for all she’ll know what she truly is, and why this power lives inside her.

I was super excited to be accepted for an ARC copy of this book. Urban fantasy is the genre that got me back into reading at the age of eighteen, and I think I’ll always have a soft spot for it. Unfortunately, at times, good urban fantasy can be hard to find as a lot of the tropes have been done to death, making the story line boringly predictable. This one however was a breath of fresh air, and I feel that it was a strong opening to what promises to be an amazing series.

The story opens with us meeting Arawyn, a young woman who lives alone with a cat that hates her and the inability to get close to anyone, lest her power turn them into obsessed psychos. We find this out early on as her power pulses and part of it escapes further than what she had hoped. Arawyn comes across as a sad and lonely person and it really made my heart ache for the fact that she feels she cannot be around anyone else at all. That means no friends, no family and no human contact whatsoever. She feels guilty for the effect she has on people so the best thing for her to do is stay away. I really enjoyed her character, yes she’s the oblivious female lead, but she’s got depth. Her sadness and loneliness was described so that I felt it and I thought this was great. It’s not often that I connect with the main character so early on in a story. When she meets the male leads, I loved them instantly. All three of them had such distinctly different personalities and I absolutely adored them! Though I must admit, Viper is definitely my favourite. He’s the loveable psychopath that I just love to read about. Rathe is the dark, mysterious and untrusting brooding alpha male who isn’t too sure of Arawyn, and honestly, his reasons behind why are believable which I loved. Fear just wants to find his person, and he was such a big bear of a man that could kill you with the flick of a finger, yet he was so gentle and loving towards our female lead. I loved the combination of these three personalities together and I think that the authors did such a wonderful job of creating these characters that have so much backstory and depth. We don’t get info dump on their backstories, but we learn enough to understand their motives in the present, and I’m sure that more will be touched on as the series progresses. See you at character development as the series goes on! I’m excited.

The story itself was a well thought out idea and was super engaging. I sometimes find that stories centered around the fae and faery itself can be quite info dumpy, drawn out and tend to have some pacing issues. That was not the case with this story at all, and that’s saying a lot as this is the opening story for a series, there’s worldbuilding that needs to be done, rules and laws, magic system and characters and species that need to be touched on. Believe me when I say, there was no infodumping in this at all and it was so refreshing. I got a really good idea for the world systems and how they interact with each other, the magics that were touched on were just so easy to understand yet complex enough to feel as though I was interacting with creatures not of this world, and the few species that we met were explained enough that you knew what they were without going too overboard. It was just such a pleasant and easy read, yet drew me in hook, line and sinker and had me turning those pages so fast I think I nearly wore a hole in my phone screen. Everything about this story just worked well and was so beautifully executed.

While this book did end on a bit of a cliffhanger, it was one of those ones where things were mostly closed out and left open for the next part of the series. While I’m dying to know what happens next, I was satisfied with where the story ended and had majority of my questions answered. The romance side of things, while a tad instalove, it didn’t feel that way. The way that the relationships were written didn’t make me feel that annoyance of “oh great, another fated instalove story”. The characters themselves make mention of how short a time it’s been and how it seems impossible to feel the ways that they do, but I really enjoyed it, and it didn’t FEEL rushed, if you know what I mean. Arawyn is described as someone who has been so alone for so long, without the joy of human contact, so when she finds these three men who seem to be able to interact with her without danger, it’s believable that she would want to soak up as much of that as she can. What I’m trying to say is, the relationship development was believable and real which I always enjoy. I understand that this is fiction, so things don’t have to feel real, but it’s always nice and makes it an easier read for me when things have that real feeling about them. It makes it easier to become immersed in the story.

This story is told through alternating points of view, but mostly from Arawyn’s. It’s also told in third person. Sometimes I struggle with a third person POV because I feel like I’m outside the story looking in. Honestly, I didn’t even realise that what I was reading was in third person until about a quarter of the way through. That’s how well this book is written. I was fully immersed from the word go, I even told my boss, who is not a reader, how amazing this book was and that it had exceeded all my expectations. The only reason that I didn’t give it a five star rating is because I reserve those for those kinds of books that give me that good book tingle once I put them down. It’s a hard category to crack for me, but this one came damn close. I am hanging out for the rest of a series, and I hope I don’t have to wait too long!

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