Saturday, August 13, 2016

Midnight Soul (Fantasyland #5) by Kristen Ashley: Blog Tour Review, Excerpt & Giveaway


Against his will, Noctorno Hawthorne, an undercover vice cop, finds himself embroiled in magic, mayhem and parallel universes. Too late, he meets an amazing woman only to find she’s destined for his identical twin in another world.

And things aren’t going real great there.

Noc is recruited to help save that world.

What he doesn’t know is his destined love resides there.

Franka Drakkar wears a mask. A mask she never takes off to protect herself in a world of malice, intrigue and danger.

When Franka meets Noc and he discovers her secrets, convinced she carries a midnight soul, having shielded herself from forming bonds with anyone, she struggles with accepting his tenderness and care.

When Noc meets Franka, over wine and whiskey, her masks slips and Noc knows it’s her—only her—and he has to find a way to get her to come home with him.

And then make her want to stay.

Releases: August 15, 2016

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“So she’s your type,” Cora said, taking him back into their conversation, “But you’re not gonna go there.”

Noc shook his head. “She’s from here, I’m from home. I’m going home. But it isn’t even about that, babe. Tor got you back. Frey got Finnie back. Won’t go on because you were there, you know. Franka didn’t get her man back.”

“Don’t say that in front of Apollo,” She whispered. “Maddie suggested that and it pisses him off. He thinks she’s incapable of any emotion, much less love.”

“You four couples aren’t the only ones who’ve known love, Cora,” he returned. “Not bein’ a dick, but that’s the way it is. And she’s stone cold on the outside, babe, but inside the woman is in some serious pain. She’s capable of emotion, just like you and me, and I know that because I saw it.”

What he didn’t share was that Franka Drakkar might be capable of more of it, with the pain he saw in her eyes, the guilt that seemed to visibly weigh on her at what she’d done.

She just, for some reason, wouldn’t allow herself to let it show, even maybe fully feel it.

That reason was a mystery and Noc was a cop. Cops were big on mysteries. Solving them, to be precise.


Another reason he had to steer clear of Franka Drakkar.

Cora nodded. “I think your perception of her is right, at least the way she is with you, for whatever reason she gave you that particular Franka. What concerns me, honey, is that it seems to mean so much to you.”

That was what concerned him too.

“Woman’s in pain, she gave me that, she gave me time,” he tried to explain it. “Tomorrow, she’ll be gone and eventually she’ll be just another memory of this place. But you spend hours with a woman drinking whiskey and watching her face light up, the pain she’s trying to hide clearing clean away because she’s never seen a phone before. We’ll just say that’ll be a memory I won’t forget.”

“I’ll bet,” Cora replied, the concern shifting out of her expression, understanding replacing it.

Noc grabbed his knife and started cutting into the tender, moist, perfectly-cooked steak on his plate.

Cora changed the subject.

“I can’t wait to show you my world, Noc. It’s gonna be awesome. You’re gonna love it.”

He looked to her, meat in his mouth and chewing and smiling he said, “Can’t wait either, babe.”

Her face lit up too.

And seeing it, Noc knew that’d be another memory he wouldn’t forget that he’d take home from this crazy world.

There it was.

They were having dinner and Franka wasn’t invited.

Tomorrow morning, she’d be leaving.

So she was a memory of this world.

A mysterious one.

A sad one.

But just a memory.

And Noc had to live with that.

What he wouldn’t admit was that he didn’t like it.

About Kristen Ashley:

Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA. She nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorise and she hadn't taken her first breath!).

Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana but has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus she has been blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her posse is loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write.

Kristen was raised in a house with a large and multi-generational family. They lived on a very small farm in a small town in the heartland and existed amongst the strains of Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched).

Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up.

And as she keeps growing up, it keeps getting better.

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Review by Yvette:

Otherworldly places…magical creatures…epic romances… With the Fantasyland series, Kristen Ashley has created a fictional universe that's wholly unique an utterly spellbinding. With the fifth and final book in the series, Midnight Soul, the author takes readers on one last adventure with protagonists, Franka and Noc, and the rest of the Fantasyland crew. Now, before you say anything, I know what you’re all thinking. Franka? The woman described in earlier books as vile, heartless, and a number of other unsavory descriptors? The answer is yes. That Franka. You may ask how exactly would Kristen Ashley redeem Franka's heretofore villainous character? Well, for me, the author would reach inside of me, grab hold of my heart, and squeeze repeatedly, ensuring that I would have no choice but to empathize with a character I wasn’t particularly fond of going in to the book. Midnight Soul is a lot of things, but at its heart, it’s an emotional roller coaster of a journey about second chances and true love.

With Franka and Noc, Midnight Soul shakes up the usual Fantasyland formula, putting together a man from the "real" world and a woman from its fantastical parallel plane. In retrospect, it makes sense for Franka to be paired with Noc, because only a man without any preconceived notions of her character could’ve seen past her jaded, hardened exterior and get to know her on a deeper level, which is exactly what he does after a few revealing interactions. The two quickly form a close bond, with Franka shedding her cold and standoffish persona around Noc, who has no problem calling her on her BS. Noc is the textbook Kristen Ashley Alpha male: strong, determined, and protective, yet he’s also kind and understanding, accepting her for the person she’s always been and the person she’s striving to become.

Franka is not only struggling with her psychological transformation, she's coming to terms with her burgeoning feelings for Noc, which come soon on the heels of her lover's death. As such, the narrative is more of a slow-burning romance, built on the foundation of a steady friendship. It takes a while to get to the "good stuff" (and by good stuff, I mean sexy times), but once Franka and Noc get to that point... Let's just say it’s well worth the wait. Their passion is unparalleled. Their desire for each other is all-consuming. And their chemistry is off-the-charts. Franka and Noc’s relationship is the perfect balance between sweet and sexy, which, when combined with a bit of matchmaking featuring a couple familiar faces, led to some major swooning on my end.

With the overarching narrative from the first four books neatly concluding at the end of Broken Dove, I was curious to know what else would be in store for the characters of Fantasyland. What Midnight Soul serves as is an extended epilogue to the series, saying goodbye to characters we've come to know and love and ensuring that a few notable characters get the ending they deserve before all is said and done. Overall, I was thoroughly entertained and emotionally invested, although I missed being entrenched in the otherworldly atmosphere of Fantasyland. I would've loved further traversing unexplored fantastical lands, yet I was content to experience a different type of adventure, one that included seemingly mundane activities such as eating pizza for the first time, learning to drive, and discovering technology. If you’re looking for a heartwarming, romantic story that will make you swoon and make you blush, and that will tug on your heartstrings, Midnight Soul is a perfectly satisfying end to the series.

*complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 4 Stars

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  1. I'd be so overwhelmed visiting the parallel universe. Probably how the society works. The hierarchy and such. Thanks for the chance!

  2. Thank you so much! ~Jessica, InkSlinger PR

  3. I'd wonder what they eat and if they intermingled between races and what type of medical knowledge they have and if they live longer than us if they mate for life, if they have psychic powers etc plus can they give ultimate pleasure how long are they pregnant for do they have kings and queens? Loyal military? So many questions lol

  4. I think it would interesting to see how they live, interact with each other. And of course the books they love. Lol. What their clothes look like, good they eat, places they like to go. Very interesting, you can imagine all sorts of things. Lol.