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Review: Black Rook by Kelly Meade

Review: Black Rook by Kelly Meade
Black Rook by Kelly Meade
Series: Cornerstone Run Trilogy #1
Published by InterMix
Published on: July 15, 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Werewolves
Pages: 334
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star
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She never saw this coming…

Brynn Atwood is a low-level Magus whose unpredictable precognitive powers have made her an outcast among her people—and an embarrassment to her highly-regarded father. After a frightening vision in which her father is murdered by a loup garou man, Brynn decides to prove herself by finding the killer, and stopping them at any cost.

Her target is Rook McQueen, the son of a small-town loup garou Alpha. Despite being the youngest of three, Rook is first in line to inherit the role of Alpha, a duty he isn't sure he's capable of fulfilling. When Brynn finally meets Rook, she doesn't expect the attraction that draws her to him—and him to her.

No longer believing him a murderer, Brynn and Rook strike an alliance to find her father's real killer. But when his older brother is targeted by an unknown enemy, Rook will have to choose between his growing feelings for Brynn and his duty as the future Alpha of his community.


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Urban Fantasy author, Kelly Meding, has made the jump to Paranormal Romance in style with the first book in her CORNERSTONE RUN TRILOGY, BLACK ROOK. To say that I fell head over heels in love with the McQueen brothers would be putting it mildly when in fact this series might just be the best thing that’s happened to werewolves since sliced bread. I adored the loup garou mythology, three dimensional characters, chess inspired plot maneuvers, and slow burn romance. My only complaint is that I had to wait until the 90% mark for Brynn and Rook to get horizontal, but really that’s more a personal preference than a legit gripe, so I won’t hold that against Meade (much) because otherwise, this novel was exceptional!

Being the werewolf fanatic that I am, the number one thing that I look forward to whenever I start a new series is the author’s own unique spin on my favourite supes. And, Kelly Meade most certainly did NOT disappoint with her loups garous! Usually I expect there to be one or two twists on the typical lore, but in this case what I received was a whole new world. I loved the use of a wolf’s colour as a power/rank indicator that also comes with its own exclusive traits that range from procreation to special abilities. I was especially fascinated by Meade’s white loups garous, but of course… she’s saving Knight’s novel until last. Shifting is well explained, and I really enjoyed the run (pack) dynamics. The buck doesn’t stop here though, there are also Magi, vampires, and hybrids in the CORNERSTONE RUN TRILOGY universe which makes it a very well-rounded read from a paranormal perspective.

The plot is ingeniously crafted, and reminiscent of a chess match where the opponents take turns and must adjust their strategy depending on what moves their foe makes. The character names and wolf colours tie in to this as well which only further added to this book’s one-of-a-kind story line. In the earlier chapters the pawns and chess master are clearly identifiable, but as the tale progresses and the power shifts, things get a lot more interesting. The author’s Urban Fantasy background is evident in the main story arc, and will continue to serve her well in future installments. In no way did this novel feel like your typical werewolf Paranormal Romance, so if you’re a reader that lives in constant fear of mate insta-love, you can rest easy because you’re safe with Meade.

Brynn is kind of the black sheep of the Magus thanks to being born the ‘second’ child, and gifted with unreliable precognitive powers in a community that prides itself on control. I admired her bravery, and loyalty to her father in the face of a heartbreaking vision, and her determination to do whatever it takes to set things right. Rook is a colourful character with his rockstar past, and potential Alpha future. I think that his brother, Knight, stole a bit of his thunder, but I still liked him as a match for Brynn. The romance is subtle and flirtatious, and culminates in one sexy scene towards the end. This book doesn’t score many points on the Richter scale which was a tad disappointing given the genre and the reason why I’m deducting half a rating.

BLACK ROOK was a fast favourite with this rabid reader making the CORNERSTONE RUN TRILOGY a surefire winning series that’s not to be missed.

Cornerstone Run Trilogy
White Knight

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Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. Avid book reader, snowboard bunny, video gamer and Supernatural fan. I love all things paranormal, werewolves especially. Oh, and I’m Canadian, eh!

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  1. Do you know what I liked the most in your review? That it is trilogy! Why does UF authors always have to publish 10+ sequels series? I lose interest in them.
    I am adding this to my wishlist.
    Great review, Carmel.
    Glass recently posted…Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3.5) by Maggie Stiefvater

    • I hear ya! LOL Kelly Meade is an UF author turned PNR though which perhaps partly explains the trilogy. Regardless, ENJOY! 🙂

  2. Sometimes I can be a little wary of mate insta-love, so I’m glad to hear that Meding avoids that in this one! I love the idea that loup garou’s status is determined by the colour of their fur. And you were not kidding about those chess piece names! If Rook and Knight are any indication, then maybe book three will be about a wolf named Bishop.
    Danya recently posted…Audiobook Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

    • Good guess! The third brother`s name is Bishop, but his book is the next one up in this trilogy.

  3. The werewolf take in this one intrigues me and also the way the complexity of the plot

    • I’ve read soooo many werewolf books, and yet I still loved this one, so that’s definitely a good sign.

  4. Have not read this author before and the blurb alone had me interested. Will definitely have to give these books a try.
    Kristina D recently posted…Review ~ The Complete Persepolis

    • A lot of my blogger peeps adore her Dreg City series too, but I have yet to give it a try.

  5. Oh wow, this sounds like a must read! From the world building to the characters, your review has me wanting to read this book more and more. It’s been a while since I read a good UF/PR filled with a variety of supernatural creatures. Great review, Carmel!
    Kris recently posted…Review: Something Sweeter by Candis Terry + Giveaway

    • This book has a nice mix of paranormal elements, and you can’t beat the writing. I like that it’s a blend of UF/PNR too, so you get the best of both worlds.

  6. LOL! “My only complaint is that I had to wait until the 90% mark for Brynn and Rook to get horizontal.” Can I borrow this, Carmel?! I also have a hard time waiting till the end when it’s a pnr, you’re expecting more sprinkled throughout those pages. I’m excited that this a book one (yay) and the chess theme, color and world are so interesting. I’m going to have to check this one out some more. Thanks for the wonderful review 🙂

    • Of course you can steal it! With the amount of romance books I read, I’m always trying to find new & creative ways of getting my point across. LOL

  7. Ooh, really? A whole new world? YAY! I do love the whole werewolf category and it’s even better when there’s a new, well-done spin to them. *adds to TBR list*
    Mary recently posted…Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally

    • It’s hard to keep things fresh, especially in the werewolf sub-genre, so mad props to Kelly Meade!

  8. “My only complaint is that I had to wait until the 90% mark for Brynn and Rook to get horizontal”

    You’re like me Carmel! I’m not a big fan of having to wait so long for characters to finally get together, and by 90% I’d be wondering what the hell was going on. Boo. Otherwise though, this book sounds like a complete winner, and I can’t wait to give it a try!

    • I understand that authors need to build the characters’ relationship before sex comes in to play, but I’m just greedy. LOL

  9. Sounds fantastic! I’m very intrigued by the new world she’s created for the weres – I’m not as big a fan as you (but who really is?) but I do love my weres and love seeing new twists. I also love that her UF is coming into the way she builds the plot, since I’m totally a UF girl fist than PR girl 2nd. Adding to by TBR – Great review Carmel 🙂
    Berls recently posted…Death of the Mad Hatter by Sara J. Pepper | #COYER Book Review

    • This is shelved as PNR, but with Meade’s UF roots I’m convinced that fans of both genres will like this book. And yeah, NO ONE loves weres as much as I do. LOL

  10. I obviously aren’t getting enough werewolves in my life! Looks like this is one I need to add to the pile.

    Wonderful review!
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Blog Tour Book Review and Giveaway: Beautiful Oblivion by Jamie McGuire

    • You can never have too many werewolves in your life! DUH! 😀

  11. Your minor problem with the book really cracked me up. Haha. 🙂 I’m not much of a Paranormal reader (please don’t hurt me) and I think it’s because I seemed to pick up those books that have tropes that annoy the hell out of me. But I’m glad that this book didn’t have this problem and it brought a whole lot of newness on the table. I think if I’d start reading Paranormal again, I’ll start with this one. Fantastic review, Carmel. 🙂
    Sarah recently posted…Review: Breathe, Annie, Breathe (Hundred Oaks #5) by Miranda Kenneally

    • Well, I did have to justify my 4.5 rating. LOL It’s the small things. Hehe

  12. Yay for no insta-love. It’s weird since werewolf books that I’ve read usually have one. I’m glad you enjoyed the plot so much, Carmel 🙂
    Siiri recently posted…Review: Shadows by Paula Weston

    • Any PNR author that successfully avoids insta-love is a winner in my books!

  13. Yay! A new series to follow! Great review, Carmel.
    Cat recently posted…[Coffee Shop Talks] Obsessions Outside of Books!

  14. OMG!! Sounds FREAKING! awesome, another series I must must! follow haha. Awesome review, I always need my shifter fix.
    Kristen recently posted…BOOK BLITZ (Teaser + Giveaway): Tortured Souls by kimber Leigh Wheaton

    • Rest assured that the story IS as awesome as it sounds. Happy reading!

  15. Holy paranormals Carmel, you sold this one. I added it to my wishlist, and will snag it soon. 🙂
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

    • This book practically sells itself, but still I’m glad that I was able to do my part.

  16. I finished it this weekend and really enjoyed Kelly’s twist on the weres and those yummy McQueen brothers! For a minute there I was worried with the fate of Rook and Knight but I’m glad they got that bitch…LOL I really wouldn’t call this PNR, but I guess the romantic element falls under this genre. I can’t wait to find out what happens next, looking forward to Bishop’s story! Great review.
    Lori recently posted…Blog Tour: Meet Rook McQueen from BLACK ROOK by Kelly Meade + Giveaway

  17. SOLD! This sounds like something I would so enjoy and I’ve been wanting a good shifter book. Oh I can always use a good UF book. Always. 😀
    Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Half a King (Shatter Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie

    • I think that this series is right up your alley, Melissa. 🙂

  18. “Best thing that’s happened to werewolves since sliced bread”?! That’s high praise indeed, especially coming from you, O Voracious Reader of werewolf fiction. I don’t mind a slowburn romance, in fact, I think 90% for the horizontal bop is just about right for me, lol! ^_^
    Mogsy recently posted…PANELS: X-Men: Regenesis #1

    • Unfortunately, most of my werewolf reads this year have fallen short, so I was happy to finally come across an author who nailed it.

  19. Color denotes rank, procreation abilities…special abilities…interesting haven’t seen that in use before – definitely peaks my interest.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…William Campbell Powell gives us: A Missing Journal Entry from Expiration Day

    • Meade gives readers a whole new way at looking at werewolves. 🙂

  20. I need to use the word amazeballs more, love that icon
    blodeuedd recently posted…Book Giveaway of The Bride Prize

    • I try not to overuse it, but yes, it’s one of my favs too. 🙂

  21. Great review, Carmel. I’m not too familiar with this series, but I do indulge in the genre from time to time. Instant love is almost a given in were books, isn’t it? I’m glad this one veered away from that.
    Joy (Joyousreads) recently posted…Hoarders, 117: The One Where I Came Back From the Dead

    • It’s rare that an author manages to surprise me with their weres, so I have to give Kelly Meade mad props!!

  22. That cover is awesome. I love it! And I’m glad to see you enjoyed this one—the world building sounds amazing. Fabulous review, Carmel!
    Hafsah recently posted…OPEN THY HEART by Jessica Brooks Cover Reveal and Giveaway

    • All 3 covers are gorgeous! I’m having a hard time picking a fav.

  23. Interesting jump! I assume urban fantasy is fantasy set in the city? I’ve never heard of that genre before!
    Stephanie Faris recently posted…Bad Habits of the Modern Grocery Shopper

    • You haven’t been stalking me long enough then, cuz that’s like all I read. LOL But yeah, that’s pretty much it, and there’s usually modern technology too.

  24. The plot is ingeniously crafted, and reminiscent of a chess match where the opponents take turns and must adjust their strategy depending on what moves their foe makes.” I absolutely love chess and anything to do with strategic planning, so this sounds right up my ally with all it’s twists and turns and reveals. Definitely going to give this a try! Thanks for sharing Carmel, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe recently posted…The Merciless

    • Thanks! You always leave such nice compliments in your comments. 🙂

  25. Ooh, and I was actually just thinking of trying out a new paranormal series and since this is only a trilogy it will be perfect! Plus, she’s an UF author so if I like this series, I’ll most probably try her others. Thanks Carmel, will def check this one out! 🙂
    Amir recently posted…Musings: Blogoversary or Blogiversary?

    • This trilogy is definitely a good place to start!

  26. Hooray for an author who can put a whole new spin on a familiar story!
    Lindsey recently posted…It’s Monday and I finished Moby-Dick!!

  27. Ooh I’ve never heard of this series! Will have to check it out! Thanks for sharing! Great review! 🙂
    tricia recently posted…How Do You Rate Your Books?

    • That’s because it’s brand new! This book comes out tomorrow.

  28. Read this last week but too lazy to write up a review :D… anyway, i liked it but didn’t love it as much as you did. I do love the old-school PNR feel and how rock n roll are names of the McQueen bros?!
    Braine Talk Supe recently posted…The Best Fictional Cities

  29. I’ve been wanting to read another werewolf book lately 😀 Have a few on my TBR, but adding this one! Thanks 🙂
    LilyElement recently posted…New Releases 07/15/2014

    • If you need more furry recommendations let me know!

      • lol I’ll gladly take any recommendations!!
        LilyElement recently posted…New Releases 07/15/2014

      • Well, as far as UF goes Bitten by Kelley Armstrong is a given, then there’s the Riley Jensen Guardian series by Keri Arthur and Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series. My fav YA werewolves are still Maggie Stiefvater’s, but Cat Kalen’s A Wolf’s Price are a close second.

        I also do a top 10 list every year if you want more: 2013 & 2012.

  30. Wow this book sounds fantastic!! Thanks for the introduction and sharing 🙂 I’ll keep an eye out for this one. I seem to be in a werewolf reading phase at the moment 🙂
    Chene Sterckx recently posted…Dark Moon Series Competition ~ Name a Werewolf

    • All of the books in this trilogy are scheduled to release 2-3 months apart, so now is the perfect time to start reading!

  31. I haven’t been reading as much paranormal or urban fantasy as of late as I once did, but this series sounds very interesting, and even more since it’s a trilogy! I don’t think I can invest myself in another ongoing long series, so this sounds like a great compromise!
    Thanks for the great review and recomendation, Carmel!
    Pili recently posted…Tell Me Tuesdays #3!!

    • Here’s hoping that Kelly Meade’s wolves get you back on the paranormal bandwagon!

  32. Oh Carmel, you have sold me on this book! And I was just telling a friend that I need more PR/UF in my reading diet. 😉 I like the fact Meade gives an entirely new world. The characters and plot sound fantastic. And since you are a connoisseur of werewolves and loved Black Rook, it’s a safe bet I’ll love it too. 🙂

    • YAY! I find that glowing reviews are harder to write, so I’m glad that I was able to give this book the props it deserves.

  33. Oh, man, I love the sound of the plot! It seems like that kinda thing where there are so many twists and turns and you really don’t know what will happen next because so many stuff keeps changing depending on what’s happening. I’m pretty certain there’s some internal politics included there, too, somehow XD Would read this just for that! I want me some unpredictable novels!
    Faye recently posted…Potato Podcast #2: Sailor Moon Crystal Review & Comparisons

    • And, you would be right, the Magi are all about politics. I didn’t go into detail about that aspect because well, I’m easily distracted by werewolves. 😀 LOL

  34. Oh I really enjoyed this one. I think she did a good job with this PNR series. I didn’t really liked the first book in her UF series but after this one I think I should try to read more of them to see if my feeling changes. Great review Carmel!

    • I didn’t really care for book 1 in her MetaWars series—superheroes aren’t my thing—but I’ve heard good things about her Dreg City books. I’ll read ’em one day…

  35. This really does sound excellent! The slow-burn romance is actually my favorite so that’s a bonus for me. I haven’t read a good werewolf book in awhile!
    Candace recently posted…Creating Memories #LittleMercies Feature & Giveaway

  36. This is new to me, and it sounds so good! I do adore a well done werewolf read! Very happy that you enjoyed it so much. Thanks for the great review, Carmel 🙂

  37. I think I just breathed a sigh of relief because I thought this series would have like 12 books in it. LOL. This sounds so good! If I had seen it on Netgalley I would’ve requested it. I love werewolves and personally think there aren’t enough good books out there. Great review, Carmel!
    Marianne recently posted…Let’s Fangirl Together With A New Retelling

  38. Sexy brothers who are werewolves? Yummy! Sign me up, please. Excellent review, Carmel, I can feel the need to read Black Rook… I wish my TBR (on my kindle) was lots shorter right now 😉
    Happy reading.
    Lexxie recently posted…Review: In Deep – Terra Elan McVoy

  39. OO! Looks good! I LOVE werewolves and urban fantasy and all the fun! I’m a bit wary of trilogies – they rarely end well and I like knowing there will be more. This goes on my maybe list for sure – the trilogy issue working against it but otherwise looks really good! Thanks!
    Jessica Cooley recently posted…Days of Blood and Starlight