Series Review: Raine Benares by Lisa Shearin

The Raines Benares series by Lisa Shearin is a fun and sexy light fantasy.  It follows an elf named Raine as she learns to deal with magical powers she never expected to have and the consequences that come with being so powerful.  She has a hilarious cast of supporting characters around her and not one, but two smoking hot men!  Definitely check this series out if you are looking for a read that will make you smile… and swoon just a little.  Raines is the perfect heroine and these books make a wonderful bridge between urban and traditional fantasies.  Another plus for this series, it’s finished for now so you don’t have to worry about cliffhangers!  Read on to see a short review of each book in one of my absolute favorite fantasy series.

 

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Christal’s Series Review – 5 Skulls – A+

 

Magic Lost Trouble FoundMagic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin
Book #1 in the Raine Benares series
Publication Date: 29 May 2007
Book Purchased from Amazon.com

Synopsis from Goodreads: A girl with attitude. An all-powerful amulet.
This could only mean trouble.

My name is Raine Benares. I’m a seeker. The people who hire me are usually happy when I find things. But some things are better left unfound…

Raine is a sorceress of moderate powers, from an extended family of smugglers and thieves. With a mix of street smarts and magic spells, she can usually take care of herself. But when her friend Quentin, a not-quite-reformed thief, steals an amulet from the home of a powerful necromancer, Raine finds herself wrapped up in more trouble than she cares for. She likes attention as much as the next girl, but having an army of militant goblins hunting her down is not her idea of a good time. The amulet they’re after holds limitless power, derived from an ancient, soul-stealing stone. And when Raine takes possession of the item, it takes possession of her.

Now her moderate powers are increasing beyond anything she could imagine—but is the resumé enhancement worth her soul?

 

Raine Benares is our main protagonist and she quickly finds herself in a situation she can’t handle alone.  I thought she was a well-round lead; she was very UF-heroine-ish.  She was spunky, smart, and quick with a dagger.  She could take care of herself but wasn’t afraid to accept help when she needed it.  She could think well on her feet and wasn’t seduced by the promise of power.  I can’t wait to see how she develops in the next books.

We have the beginnings of a love trouble but I didn’t mind it at all.  I actually liked both of the men.  Tam was secretive, but he was also compassionate, loyal, and very seductive.  Mychael was stable, fiercely loyal, and honorable to a fault, but he is also the Guardian Paladin and that comes with its own set of expectations and responsibilities.  Raine has an attraction to both, but it is not evident yet who she will choose.

Almost all the supporting characters in this novel were also fleshed out well.  I love Garadin and Pairis.  The idea of Parais as a nightingale because he sang his magic was very clever.  I also enjoyed Tarsilia and Phaelan.  Now and then we met a character who we learned a little about and then never heard from them again (Markus, Quentin, Alix, and Janek).  I did kind of wonder what happened to Quentin.  After he left the safe house, we didn’t hear anything more about him and he was the one that really got the plot rolling.

The plot of this book was very interesting and I never really felt like it lagged.  The conclusion was well-planned and sets up the rest of the series nicely.  This is one that I definitely continued immediately and, since I borrowed it from the library, went out and purchased my own copy of each book.

 

Armed & MagicalArmed & Magical by Lisa Shearin
Book #2 in the Raine Benares series
Publication Date: 29 April 2008
Book Purchased from Amazon.com

Synopsis from Goodreads: New from “a definite star on the rise.” (LINNEA SINCLAIR)

My name is Raine Benares. Until last week I was a seeker—a finder of things lost and people missing. Now I’m psychic roommates with the Saghred, an ancient stone with cataclysmic powers. Just me, the stone, and all the souls it’s ingested over the centuries. Crowded doesn’t even begin to describe it.

All I want is my life back—which means getting rid of the stone and the power it possesses. To sort things out, I head for the Isle of Mid, home to the most prestigious sorcery school, as well as the Conclave, the governing body for all magic users. It’s also home to power grubbing mages who want me dead and goblins who see me as a thief.

As if that’s not enough, Mid’s best student spellsingers are disappearing left and right, and I’m expected to find them. Lives are at stake, goblins are threatening to sue, mages are getting greedier, and the stone’s power is getting stronger by the hour. This could get ugly.

 

I loved this novel just as much, if not more, than the first. Everything that I enjoyed from the debut was still here and Raine herself just gets better and better.

Raine travels to the Isle of Mid thinking that she can find someone to help her disentangle from the Saghred. Instead, she finds herself in high demand. Everyone seems to have their own agenda and Raine plays into them all somehow. The humor and action were non-stop (except for when snippets of romance slipped in) and I did not want to put this book down.

Raine is dealing with the increased power bump she got from the Saghred. She seems to be dealing okay for now, but everyone is watching her closely. She again proves herself to be resourceful, smart, and loyal to a fault. She might come from a line of smugglers and thieves, but Raine has the heart of a hero.

Piaras was a true gem in this novel. He is starting to grow into the powerful spell-singer he will be one day. He has had a lot of his illusions shattered, but refuses to give up. He holds his own and proves to be a true partner to Raine.

As for the other men in Raines’ life, Mychael and Tam were both utterly swoon-worthy for different reasons. Tam is dark and seductive, especially now that the Saghred calls to the black magic in his past. When Raine and Tam are together, sparks fly and you can feel the heat coming off the page. Mychael offers a more stable and honorable appeal. He protects Raine in all things and you can see that they respect and value each other. Mychael tends to take things (frustratingly) slower, but it seems like he is trying to build a real connection with her. I like both of them, though the dark magic does make Tam a little scary, and they both seem to genuinely care for Raine. It’s an impossible choice! I love this series so much and every time I pick up one of the books I get a smile on my face.

 

The Trouble With DemonsThe Trouble With Demons by Lisa Shearin
Book #3 in the Raine Benares series
Publication Date: 28 April 2009
Book Purchased from Amazon.com

Synopsis from Goodreads: For seeker Raine Benares, a demon infestation on the Isle of Mid couldn’t come at a worse time. Already fighting the influence of the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone, Raine discovers she is also magically bonded to a dark mage and a white knight, two dangerous and powerful men on opposing sides.

Turns out, the demons want the key to unlock the Saghred. As a seeker, Raine should be able to find it first. As the axis of light and dark powers, she’s a magical cataclysm waiting to happen.

 

 

In the words of Evil Abed, “hot hothothot!”. I love Raine; she is a fantastic character. This series just gets better and better.

Raine is still on the Isle of Mid and trying to detach from the Saghred. As if that isn’t enough trouble, she learns that a demon portal has been opened and all manner of demons begin causing trouble on the island. Rudra Muralin is involved and we learn about a weapon that can used to free souls captured in the Saghred, souls that include the evil Sarad Nukpana and Raine’s own father Eamaliel Anguis. Raine and Co have to shut down the demon portal, find the weapon, stop the souls from leaving the Saghred, and avoid the political machinations of Carnades Silvanus. Whew, but it’s all in a day’s work for Raine Benares!

We learn a lot about Tam’s background in this book, including his interactions with dark magic. His relationship with Raine is complicated by the influence of the Saghred and they end up forming an umi’atsu bond unexpectantly. Raine and Tam are smoking hot together, but you have to wonder about the dark magic building between them. Once Mychael sees the bond between Raine and Tam, he puts his own reputation at risk to try to help them control it. Mychael is Raine’s white knight and it’s easy to see he cares about her deeply. I think Raine has feelings for both men, but she is too afraid to act on her feelings.

All the familiar characters were in this book and I loved the addition of a few new ones. Talon will be an interesting character to watch and Professor Sora Niabi added some much-needed wisdom to the demon hunt. This was another great installment in the series and I immediately started the next book!

 

Bewitched & BetrayedBewitched & Betrayed by Lisa Shearin
Book #4 in the Raine Benares series
Publication Date: 27 April 2010
Book Purchased from Amazon.com

Synopsis from Goodreads: New from the national bestselling author of The Trouble with Demons

Raine Benares is a seeker. She finds lost things and missing people- usually alive. But now she’s been bonded with the Saghred, a soul- stealing stone of unlimited power, and must hunt down its escapees. Especially since one of them is also hunting her…

 

 

 

Another great addition to the Raine Benares series!  The action was non-stop, there were some sexy times, and the plot continued to thicken. I wouldn’t recommend this one for new readers, but why would you want to miss all the goodness of the previous books anyway?

In this book, Sarad Nukpana has escaped from the Saghred and Raine & Co are trying to track him down. Sarad remains a menacing character, but I kept waiting for him to directly attack someone close to Raine. When it finally happened towards the end of the novel, I was shocked. The tension was great and I was pleased with the outcome. The ending of this book laid out a good setup for the next and it looks like we will get to see Tam become a political animal.

The love triangle of Raine, Mychael, and Tam had some huge developments in this book. I’m pleased with Raine’s choice, but I have to say that I would have been happy to see the triangle continue. Polygamy isn’t illegal in this world, right? I don’t normally care for love triangles, but I loved both of the guys so much and they each had genuine chemistry with Raine. The umi’atsu bond also goes through some changes here, and it will be interesting to see what effects that has on our intrepid trio. I feel like Tam’s character was fleshed out nicely in the previous book, and this time we learn about Mychael’s past. It was a great back story, and one I didn’t entirely see coming.

All of the normal characters were here again and they were all as delightful as usual. We finally found out what exactly was going on with Markus Sevelian. Also, we were introduced to two new characters, Imala Kalis and Nachtmagus Vidor Kalta. Imala was great; she’s another strong, feisty woman. I’m interested to learn more about her history with Tam. Nachtmagus Kalta slipped easily into the lies and cons of our heroes. He was whip smart and self-confident. I loved seeing him give Caranades the what for.

 

Con & Conjure Con & Conjure by Lisa Shearin
Book #5 in the Raine Benares series
Publication Date: 29 March 2011
Book Purchased from Amazon.com

Synopsis from Goodreads: Raine Benares is a seeker who finds lost things and people. Ever since the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone that’s given her unlimited power, has bonded to her, the goblin king and the elves have wanted to possess its magic themselves. Which means a goblin thief and her ex-fiancé-an elven assassin-are after her. To survive, she’ll need the help of her notorious criminal family.

 

 

 

I have loved every book in this series and this installment is no different. These books are just so fun and have such fantastic characters that I normally read them in one sitting.

In this book, we are introduced to Raine’s cousin Mago. Mago is a banker, super smart, and a bit of a con man. He helps Raine hatch a con to take down some of her enemies, mainly Taltek Balmorian and Silvanus Carnades. Things don’t go exactly as planned, but when do they ever with the Benares clan? I would have liked to see the con play out, but I enjoyed the mischief that Raine and Mago found themselves in as well.

Prince Chigaru shows up in this novel and Raine ends up saving his butt, a lot. The enemy of my enemy is my friend and all that. He’s an interesting character and I fully buy in to the fact that he is a fallen royal. His mannerism and speech patterns are perfect.

We don’t see much of Piaras and Talon in this book, but that was fine. I loved spending more “grown up” time with Raine and her family. We even got to meet her ex-fiancé and enjoy a hilarious conversation in a brothel. There were a few hot moments with Mychael, but I could have used a little more Tam.

Raine had to face some serious issues in this book and the ending does not let her off the hook. The threat of racial war between the goblins and elves is a real possibility now. Both sides would love to get their hands on the power of the Saghred and, as its bond servant, Raine herself.

 

All Spell Breaks LooseAll Spell Breaks Loose by Lisa Shearin
Book #6 in the Raine Benares series
Publication Date: 29 March 2012
Book Purchased from Amazon.com

Synopsis from Goodreads: From national bestselling author Lisa Shearin comes a new chapter in “one of the best fantasy series currently on the market.” (Night Owl Reviews)

My name is Raine Benares—and it sucks to be me right now.

I’m a seeker who found the Saghred, a soul-stealing stone that gave me unlimited powers I never wanted. Now I’ve lost the rock—and the magic it gave me—to a goblin dark mage whose main goals are my death and world domination. This is more than incentive enough for a little trip to the goblin capital of Regor with a small band of good friends, not-so-good friends, and one outright enemy. Don’t ask.

All we need to do is destroy the Saghred, kill the mage, and put a renegade goblin prince on the throne. Did I mention I’ll be doing that with no magic?

 

I am very sad to see the Raine Benares series end, but I absolutely loved this book. First of all, this cover is gorgeous. This cover model finally matches how I picture Raine in my head and I am so very happy for that. The story that has been building through the past five books is finally wrapped up here and I couldn’t have been happier with how it ended. Lisa Shearin has created one of my favorite series, and if she ever decides to revisit this world, I will be first in line to plunk down my money.

Throughout the books, the main characters have been Raine, Mychael, and Tam. We get to spend a lot of time with all three in this novel and I have to say that I love when they work together. Raine is such a fantastic character. She’s self-confident but still questions herself and her true motivations. She has incredible amounts of heart, is a very strong person, and able to hold her own without super-duper magic powers. The amount she has grown and changed over the past five books is amazing. Mychael has become one of my favorite leading men. He is steady, dependable, and quick-witted. His Black Cat background came as a bit of surprise, but now fits true within his characterization. I love the passion between him and Raine. I think they make a wonderful couple. Tam, the resident goblin mage, is amazing. He’s not above using black magic when absolutely necessary, but he knows that he is endangering his soul at the same time. He is crafty and cunning, but cares deeply for those closest to him. I don’t normally like love triangles. In this series, not only did I love it, I fully encouraged it. Both men were desirable for different reasons and they both had sizzling chemistry with Raine. Even though he didn’t end up with Raine, I am glad it seems like Tam will be getting his HEA too.

While I missed having Phaelan, Valerius, and Vegard around, I enjoyed getting to spend more time with the other main supporting characters. Piaras and Talon were adorable as always and both managed to get themselves into trouble and come out of it heroes. I absolutely loved seeing Piaras with his inhibitions lowered. He is going to be a very scary, spell-singing warrior. Imala was also part of the journey and she is such a great character. She is a perfect foil for Tam and it is obvious that she still carries deep feelings for him. We also meet Tam’s family and suffice it to say, the apple did not fall far from the tree. His family is the leaders of the rebellion and they are just as brave as Tam. I loved the scenes were Tam introduced them to Talon. They were so sweet. Tam’s old magic teacher, Kesyn Badru, lends his aid to the group as well. He was absolutely hilarious but his concern for Tam and the effects black magic have had and could continue to have on him was very touching. I wish he had been in more books!

Our brave crew is on the way to Regor to reclaim the Saghred and stop Sarad Nukpana. The only drawback is that they must travel by mirror and their only choice of mirror mage is Silvanus Carnades! Once in Regor, the tight spots don’t end and our heroes find themselves facing more danger than ever. The stakes are the highest they’ve been throughout the series and the tension doesn’t let up until the end. All Spell Breaks Loose was a fitting end to the Saghred saga and I loved every bit of it. The six books combined tell one over-arching story and since they are all released, now’s the perfect time to pick them up if you haven’t already!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠ 

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