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​Unbalanced by Courtney Shepard

January 7, 2016 By completedreviews Leave a Comment

Unbalanced by Courtney Shepard
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (226 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Daisy

Elemental magic threads through this story in more than one way. The narrative focuses on the protagonist Asha – who controls the element of fire – as she meets her equally powerful sisters for the first time, and a dashing young man with blurry allegiances. The heat between these two is as fiery as her element, and as unpredictable.

Their blossoming romance is steely and confusing at first, particularly considering the circumstances Asha is being held under. However, the relationship doesn’t feel out of place here, only stunted and under suspicion. Later, it really comes into its own and there is a magical sex scene with all kinds of arcane power blowing around the room. I will say the sex scene was steamy, but it wasn’t a fully fledged drool-worthy affair and not every detail was spelled out. I also felt there was a slight disconnect between the emotions and the physicality of the event, but that may have been a personal disconnection. The scene would be perfect for those who like their romance heavy-light, and without too much vulgarity.

The plot itself is one in which the sisters and their companions are under threat of death from a mysterious, powerful force. There are subtexts of evil and good, with each side sure the other is in the wrong. By the end of the tale, I have swayed to one side in the debate but have seen no definitive facts of how the past came to be, or hints of how the future will play out. There is a lot of ambiguity, which I like. I feel future books will explore the truth and unveil the mystery of the history in greater detail. This may well take the form of dangerous country-hopping adventures, like the snippets of holiday/investigative snooping which take over the latter half of this book.

However, this unresolved ambiguity is also part of the reason I wasn’t completely satisfied by the ending to Unbalanced. It leaves the issue of this mysterious force attacking the protagonists mostly unexplored and little has been resolved.

Despite this, I can see this plot choice leaves room for a sequel, or three, with the other three sisters – Ivy, Mere and Avia – and their soon to be love interests. There’s a symmetry to this which I like and I love how the sisters are paired up, and the implied chemistry behind it, but this may be too predictable for some.

I feel that this book fits perfectly into the young adult and new adult market. It has similarities to the ‘Lorien Legacies’ books in terms of cared for and hidden away young, supernatural girls and boys coming into their own and battling a near unbeatable power.

If you like magical tales with dashes of romance and an almost certain sequel in the same world, pick this up. There are very few grammatical or editing issues, the narrative style is easy to read, and the characters are believable. Plus, who doesn’t love a good fire, air, earth and water tale?

Our review......

An exciting and stylish paranormal fantasy debut, Unbalanced by author Courtney Shepard certainly taps into the deepest reaches of the imagination, taking us on an unfamiliar journey that gradually becomes more and more real. As much a coming of age story as it is paranormal fantasy, how Asha changes and matures is an intriguing part of the novel whilst Shepard’s adherence to a gritty and believable story world helps emphasize this theme. With an upbeat narrative and impressive plot it’s one of those novels that pays tribute to the reader instead of the author with Shepard intent on giving her readers what they most want. There’s burgeoning romance, bravery, tragedy, intrigue, and most of all, the rite of passage as destiny beckons and alliances are built. These alone are reasons to pick up a copy and start reading, whilst the promise of an epic saga in the making will leave many readers hoping there is much more to come.

Sure to sate the reading appetites of the most demanding paranormal fantasy fans, Unbalanced is strongly recommended.

Official Review: Unbalanced by Courtney Shepard

4 out of 4 stars
Review by Tanaya
Unbalanced is a fantasy adventure novel by Courtney Shepard. It is the first book of a series.

The story follows four sisters: Asha, Ivy, Avia, and Mere. They each command a different element, which includes fire, earth, wind, and water respectively. Their existence is prophetic. Throughout the centuries, there has always been a set of female quadruplets born with these extraordinary abilities. They are usually hunted down and sacrificed by the Order when they are young. However, in this generation, things have drastically changed. Asha and her sisters have survived longer than those who came before them, making the stakes so much higher. For their own protection, they were separated at birth. Now several years later they are reunited. They gradually learn more about each other, themselves, and their joint destiny as they fight against the Order for their survival.

Given the premise, there are many dark moments in the story, which are rather riveting. Because the sisters have such great power, there is also plenty of action. The story is told in the third person. While Asha is technically the protagonist, the story also jumps around to the other characters’ perspectives, particularly when they are in different parts of the world. However, this is not done in a choppy manner. The technique works well, and the story is not at all hard to follow. Comic relief comes in the form of the characters’ italicized thoughts, which are sparse and effective. All aspects of the story are thoroughly explained and new details are revealed throughout the book. To accomplish this, the dialogue sometimes relies on redundant exposition.

The story is filled with secrets, mystery, and betrayal. The sisters discover the origin of their powers and come to terms with the dark history that precedes them. On top of that, they face sexism and have to deal with the notion of being monsters due to the use of their powers. Because they were separated across the globe, the sisters have unique backgrounds. Before being reunited, Asha had a reputation as a warrior queen in Colombia. The fact that their names go along with their powers was a cute touch. 

As for the romance, Asha’s love interest is Clay, who was sent by the Order to kill her. However, he decided to spare her life because he had frequently seen her in his dreams over the years. Because they are enemies, there is lots of angst and tension between them. Their attraction is incredibly complicated and completely undeniable.

Romance, fantasy, and action are an entertaining combination. The author clearly has fun playing around with all the different opportunities of this genre blend. That was the best aspect of the book. She creates ever-changing bonds and animosity among the various characters and adds many surprises into the plot.

I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. While the story has it’s fair share of fantasy story clichés, the author did manage to create a convincing world of her own. If you don’t like superhuman adventure narratives, then this isn’t the book for you. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy powerful female characters in leading roles.

******

4 out of 4 Stars 

Review excerpt

Unbalanced

4****Stars
Novel: Unbalanced
Series: Unbalanced - Book 1
Author: Courtney Shepard
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Rating: Adult

I gave this book four stars because at times it seemed a little drawn out. I realize that there was a lot of information the author tried to impart on the reader, where were the girls before they met up with each other, who are the Order and why do they want the girls dead so badly, who is Clay and his brothers, why did Master Miles help them and who is actually in charge of the Order, etc. This is the first book in a new series that I look forward to reading. The author has created an amazing world, but there is much more coming. 

Reviewed by: Linda Tonis
Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team

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