May 4, 2016

ARC Review--Smoke and Mirrors by Jess Haines

A girl who uses her illusions to fool the world into thinking she's just like all the other magi.

A dragon who sees through her lies.

Together they just might survive a world that wants to control or destroy them both.

Kimberly may wield ultimate cosmic power, but even a mage has to pay the rent. No one will hire her for her magic talents until she's got the credentials, so she’s stuck in a crappy rent controlled apartment with her mother, yearning for treats she can't afford at her part time job in a cafĂ©, counting down the days until she graduates the secret Blackhollow Academy school for magi. Only then will she have the certificate she needs to land her dream job in a coven.

The problem? She needs a familiar to graduate.

As an illusionist, she doesn't have the ability to summon or create a familiar of her own. Her only option is to convince a supernatural creature to let her bind it instead. Since having a powerful Other at her beck and call would guarantee her a place in a coven after she graduates—and legendary treasure hoards are an added bonus—she thinks binding a dragon as her familiar will solve all her problems...

Because sometimes a girl needs a dragon, not a knight....

I received this ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Jess Haines brings us a delightfully new series that rings of some familiarity of her previous one. In fact, Smoke and Mirrors takes place in the same world, only we get a new cast of characters. I think one familiar name was dropped, but that was about it. Of course, I’ve read this one sporadically over the course of a busy few days, so my memory might be playing tricks on me!
Anyway, here we have a young sorcerer Kimberly, who is just trying to get herself through mage school and find a place for herself in the magic community that she and her mom won’t have to worry anymore. As it is, she and her mom are always overworking themselves just to pay the rent. It really hit me hard to see them struggle so much. I mean, these poor women are so focused on trying to pay the rent that there’s hardly ever any groceries for them to eat. So it’s Kimberly’s hope to get into the right coven so she can find a good paying job and put an end to all their struggles.
It’s Kimberly’s professor who recommends that she find a powerful familiar, such as a dragon, before graduation. That would be good for her in the long run and she sends her to a man named Cormac Hunter who could be the key to finding exactly what she needs. Only Cormac isn’t the most personable of people. But he does take Kimberly under his wing and sort of introduces her to the hidden magical world that she didn’t realize was right before her (Granted, she is a sorcerer so she’s not unfamiliar with magic, it’s only that the place he takes her to is a secret of sorts and meeting other new paranormals was an eye-opener for her in some ways).
Kimberly is hard pressed to make it on her own. She’s a very strong-willed and independent individual. I loved her moxie! She isn’t one to cave, not even in face of Cormac, who again, as I said isn’t the friendliest of types. He also harbors a dark secret and at times feels that Kimberly may be more deceitful than anyone else. Since this is told in third person, we kind of get both of their points of view and we quickly learn that both of them are a little clueless as to who the other one really is.
Sparks explode and fly once things get rolling and secrets get revealed. Then Kimberly is dealing with a sinister wyvern who has his own evil agenda that involves Kimberly. She will have to use all of her talents to get herself out of the danger she finds herself in.
Naturally, we see a bit of chemistry between Kimberly and Cormac. I gotta say, I loved it! I love seeing the strong willed type, like Kimberly stand up to the stingy Alpha male types like Cormac. And then once the two realize what they feel for the other, I get all those gushy feels for them! Cormac being the Alpha male sort really crumbles once he falls for Kimberly and for some reason this always makes me smile! I loved it! And just because these two start falling for one another already, don’t expect it to be all insta-love, because it’s not! There’s some real struggles between them and they have issues to work out between them.
I also really liked how involved Kimberly’s mother was in her daughter’s life. Yes, they live together and both struggle to make ends meet, but still. It’s rare to see the young 21 or so year old living with her mom. I guess that rang home for me as well because I was always very close to my own mother. And as you can see from my teaser earlier yesterday, Kimberly’s mom is very protective of her daughter.
The ending was pretty surprising and it leaves you with a nice feeling that more should be on the way. As of this time, I have no clue if this was a standalone or not. It feels like it could be series, but it’s too soon to tell.
The pacing to this one was pretty decent! Just the right kind of speed, not fast, not slow, but just perfect! There was quite a lot of excitement going around, and since we got multiple points of view, you were really kept on your toes!
If you’re looking for a story filled with magic and other powerful creatures and of course, a nice dose of romance, then this is the read for you!

Overall Rating 4/5 stars


  1. OK so the cover isn't all that great in my opinion, but your review definitely has me thinking I'd love this book. I was immediately taking notice at the word 'dragon' and the magic aspect along with the Alpha male/strong girl romance pair here sounds fantastic. Great review!

  2. Your review has piqued my interest! Thank you for pointing me to so many books that I'd never have discovered without you!

  3. I loved this one too. And your memory is correct, only Alec is mentioned. Great review, Jessica!


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