{Review/$10 GC Giveaway} CUTLASS by Ashley Nixon

Check out my guest post with author Ashley Nixon
featuring the Top 10 Reasons Not to Cross A Pirate

and read an excerpt!

This review was first posted on May 6, 2014.
The cover has since changed. 
It is possible that the book may have been re-edited as well!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

    "A SHIP HAS DISPATCHED FROM THE harbor," said Leaf.
    Barren had seen the white sails seconds before the Elf spoke. It had been two weeks since anyone left the coast of Maris. Barren watched the ship carefully from their position among the Cliffs. It was bigger than the Kendric, but nothing he hadn't taken on before. The ship entered the Cliffs, and slowly began its tedious navigation toward clearer sky.
    The problem with Maris was the route one had to navigate in order to get to and from the island. A set of giant rocks emerged from the Orient's waters and cradled the coast. Any ship that passed through them had to maneuver carefully, otherwise the hull might strike something, and the ship would sink.
    "Let's set out--we'll intercept them just ahead," said Barren.
    With his crew already in position, they prepared to attack. Barren wondered what the ship carried--what was so important that they would break their embargo?

(Pages 1-2, US paperback edition)

When I heard there was a new novel coming out about pirates, I immediate sat up and started paying attention. There aren't a lot of these novels out there. Pirates are often portrayed as the bad guys. In Ashley Nixon's debut novel CUTLASS, being a pirate is more of a way of life. There are rules and laws to being a pirate, and it's for those who can't imagine any other existence. The Orient chooses who may travel her seas, who is worthy. There's a whole atmosphere that brings the ways of a pirate to life.

Captain Barren Reed comes by being a pirate honestly. His father trained him and his brother, teaching both about the lifestyle he loved. When Barren's brother William kills their father and goes clean, Barren swears revenge. The only problem? William won't leave the comforts of the shore to meet Barren at sea. Barren finally takes matters into his own hands when he crashes William's engagement party and captures his fiance Larkin. Larkin, however, has a mind of her own, and refuses to play the role of a timid lady. When the two of them discover that they are the answer to a dangerous curse, that dark magic threatens them both, they need to figure out what is most important and what, exactly, they're willing to sacrifice in order to achieve their goals.

The story within CUTLASS is slow-moving, but in the way that builds a world. It moves fast, and I read the book quickly. A lot of the action and adventure occurs in the book's back-half, and by the end, I'd grown attached to the characters and wanted to keep reading. I'll be looking forward to the sequel when it comes out. Despite the fact that more books are coming, CUTLASS comes to full closure. The ends are tied together and the climax is satisfying. It's the decisions of the characters at the end that launch a new adventure, which will occur in the next book. You can, however, read this and still be satisfied.

Barren doesn't go through much character growth until late in the novel, so it will be interesting to see how he evolves in the future. The changes he goes through are huge, and change who he is fundamentally, while keeping his core virtues as a good person with an intact belief system. Larkin is an intriguing character, too. She manages to be both appealing and infuriating at the same time. She is very sure of herself and what she wants, especially once she's away from her controlling father and realizes what she wants in life. She's not about to let anyone tell her no, and has a very go-getter personality, which is rare during this time period. It's always fun to see a book that features a feisty gal. At the same time, her wish to constantly make her own decisions and go against the advice of everyone around her lead to bad decisions that affect everyone around her. There was one time in particular that I just wanted to smack her and lock her up. I did like that Nixon modulated her character with pros and cons, and didn't just make her a "super special girl who is always awesome" the way so many books do.

I definitely enjoyed the world and characters of CUTLASS, and am looking forward to the new adventure promised in the last pages. If you're looking for an adventurous novel, check out CUTLASS today!
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

***The cover design analysis/interior design is based on the first cover/release of this book before it was repackaged, which looked like: ***

If I were to talk about the new cover, I'd talk about how much I love the swords and the gem and the way this series looks cohesive when you see the first two books together! I love it!
I really like the way you can see a shadowy silhouette of a ship on water, as well as the...magic? water? sparklies? shooting up out of the ship's wake and across the cover. (According to Ashley Nixon, they're actually stars, but if you don't know that, it makes you play a guessing game and keeps you looking longer!) It adds the sense of mystery and intrigue.

The paperback also has that velvet finish to it that makes you want to pet a book over and over, then continue snuggling it even after you've finished reading.

I also like the interior design that starts off each chapter:

I like when there's proper attention paid to making good interior design, especially when it adds  to the atmosphere of the novel!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Ashley Nixon
Release Date: April 23rd 2014
Publisher: StarSeed Press

Notorious pirate Barren Reed has one thing on his mind: Revenge against the man who killed his father. So kidnapping his enemy’s fiancĂ© seems a perfect plan…until he actually does it.

Larkin Lee is more than a pretty face and fiancé to a powerful man. Her fierce personality is enough to make any pirate want to push her overboard.

But when the King of the Orient comes to Barren with a task—to find the Bloodstone, a powerful gem thought only to exist in legend, Barren sees another opportunity to destroy his enemy. Together, Barren, Larkin and a crew of pirates set off to find the stone, only to discover it caused the death of Barren’s own mother and Larkin’s, too. As his strongest allies turn into his greatest enemies, and the life of the girl he kidnapped becomes more important than he ever dreamed, Barren’s quest for revenge becomes a fight to save the Orient.

Ashley was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind really does sweep down the plains, and horses and carriages aren't used as much as she'd like. When she's not writing, she's hard at work on her Master's degree in Library Science and Information Technology, working out, or pretending she's Sherlock Holmes. Her obsession with writing began after reading the Lord of the Rings in the eighth grade. Since then, she's loved everything Fantasy--resulting in an unhealthy obsession with the 'geek' tab on Pinterest, where all things awesome go.
Visit Ashley on her website and follow her on Facebook and  Twitter!


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