ARC Review – Under Darkened Skies by H.E. Bauman

ARC Review – Under Darkened Skies by H.E. Bauman

Disclosure – All reviews and opinions, are my own. If you make a purchase through my referral links, I may earn a small commissions from Amazon, and/or other retailers at no extra cost to you.

Under Darkened Skies by H.E. Bauman

I received an ARC copy of Under Darkened Skies from the author, in exchange for an honest review.

Disclaimer – This is an Upper Young Adult Fantasy. Triggers include fantasy and magical violence, references to parental death, imperialism, war, gambling, and drug use, alcohol consumption, panic attacks and anxiety, and stalking. Please make sure to be mindful of your triggers.


A librarian with a secret. A prince looking for redemption. A dark discovery that will force them to confront their truths.

Astrea Sovna is destined to die. As a Lightbringer, she’s expected to serve the Helosian government as a battlefield healer. But when the court seer—Astrea’s uncle—has a vision of her being killed in the line of duty, he forbids her to reveal her powers.

Until now, Astrea has gone unnoticed as a junior librarian. But when she gets reassigned to a diplomatic project to strengthen ties between Helosia and one of its neighbors, she finds herself saddled with her past, in the form of returned war hero and her ex-best friend, Prince Varojin Auris.

Forced to work together, Astrea soon learns that although Varojin has been out of her life for years, he’s still the kind, patient friend she remembers. As they navigate old friendships and imperial politics, the pair discovers that the mysterious shadows stalking the city are leaving a trail of murder victims in their wake. And when Astrea becomes a target, a dear friend gets caught in the crossfire…

As Astrea and Varojin begin searching for answers, they realize there is more to the emperor’s project than political niceties. If the shadows aren’t stopped, Astrea’s future—and the security of the entire continent—hangs in the balance.

My Review

If you take some royal political drama, elemental magic, secret magic, sloooooow burn romance, and a bit of a mystery and mix it together, you get Under Darkened Skies. UDS is an upper YA debut novel from H.E. Bauman and although I tend to stay away from YA, I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. (The author has also promised us some spice in the future!)

The beginning of the novel did feel a bit slow. However, the pacing of the world building, and learning about the magical and political systems were perfectly timed. Although there was a lot of information to try and grasp, it never felt overwhelming or like the author info dumped it on us.

Our FMC, Astrea, is a junior librarian who is also best friends with the royal family. She has a powerful magic that she’s been keeping hidden her whole life. If the Emperor ever found out about Astra’s secret, it could be the end of the life as she knows it.

The world and emotions were all so vivid. I felt truly immersed into the story even while I was waiting on the action to start. Once I got to about to 40-50% mark, things really started to take off.

We love a good forced proximity story

Jin is one of the royal siblings, and former best friend to Astrea. But after leaving for the war several years ago, without even saying goodbye, Astrea tries to avoid him at all cost when he comes home. (she does have her childish moments, but don’t we all?) But when the emperor assigns Jin and Astrea to work together on a special project, she has no choice but to finally begin addressing her hurt feelings and issues with Jin. (It takes her awhile to get to that point, but she eventually begins to let her guard down and open up to Jin)

The magic system and the relationship between Astrea and Jin were by far my favorite parts of the book. But Cressida’s sass was a close second.

Book 1 was character driven, with plenty of plot points and suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat. Now that we know the characters, and have fallen in love with a few of them, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series plays out for Astrea and her friends. Book 1 did end on a slight cliff hanger, but thankfully nothing that completely ripped my heart out. If you’re looking for a fantasy novel with a vivid magical system, found family, and slow burn romance, I suggest checking out Under Darkened Skies.

Under Darkened Skies Quote

What to expect

  • ✔️ 1920s Vibes
  • ✔️ Elemental Magic
  • ✔️ Unsolved Murders
  • ✔️ Fake Dating
  • ✔️ One Bed

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5 / 5

0 🌶️ – but again, the author has promised spice in future books, so prepare yourself for a slow burn

Don’t forget to check out H.E. Bauman’s website and follow her on Instagram to stay up to date on the entire Under Darkened Skies series.

Be sure to check out the Under Darkened Skies playlist on Spotify to give you all the vibes while you’re reading!

Let’s Chat!

Does the Under Darkened Skies series sound like your jam? If you’ve read it, let me know your thoughts in the comments, but keep it spoiler free! Until next time…

View all my reviews

One Week in Paradise by Anise Starre

One Week in Paradise by Anise Starre

Disclosure – All reviews and opinions, are my own. If you make a purchase through my referral links, I may earn a small commissions from Amazon, and/or other retailers at no extra cost to you.

One Week In Paradise by Anise Starre

***I received an advance review copy of One Week in Paradise from the author, but am leaving this review voluntarily***


When disgraced influencer Bailey Clarke is invited to go on an all expenses paid trip to a couples only resort in Jamaica, she’s ecstatic. This is the perfect opportunity to rebuild her brand. Only problem is…she’s not currently in a relationship.

Enter the effortlessly handsome Caspian ‘Cash’ Reid, who just so happens to be her brother Dane’s best friend. He’s never seemed to like Bailey, but when Dane jokingly suggests Cash accompany her to Jamaica and get a free holiday, Bailey can’t get the idea out of her head.

Surprisingly, Cash agrees to be her fake boyfriend all in the name of content. Their agreement is simple enough, but one week in paradise brings them closer than ever before and an undeniable spark ignites between them.

But Bailey has secrets, and the closer they get to one another, the closer Cash gets to unravelling her shameful past. As the lines blur between their fake dating agreement and their real feelings, will Bailey let Cash into her life or will she let her past destroy her future?

A steamy fake dating contemporary romance.

My Review

Bailey is an Instagram influencer who has hit a low point in her career after a viral video shows her in a questionable light. She loses everything; her boyfriend, her apartment, and countless followers and brand deals, and is living back at home with her parents, who don’t fully understand or support or Influencer career. After her world is turned upside down, she’s in an understandably dark place. She’s left doubting herself, her passion, and her worthiness of being loved.

When a brand reaches out with an invite to Jamaica to a couples only resort, it seems as if things may begin to turn around for her, except one major detail, Bailey is newly single after The Video. When her older brother suggests she takes his best friend, Cash, on the trip as a fake boyfriend, she immediately shoots down the idea. After almost two decades of knowing each other, Cash can barely even stand to be in the same room with her; so why on earth would he go on a couple’s holiday to Jamaica with Bailey?

Surprise, surprise!

Cash almost immediately agrees, and that’s where the story begins to take off. 7 days in Jamaica changed everything for Bailey and Cash. We get to see Bailey rediscover her passion being an influencer, develop new friendships and relationships, and ultimately push aside the negativity and rumors that are so easily spread online, and own up to her truth while also standing up for herself.

I loved reading about the influencer life and some of the lows that can come with it, especially since it is such a glamorized lifestyle right now. And watching Bailey gain her confidence back and being able to open up to and trust Cash after everything she went through, made me want to hug her.

I absolutely loved this book. It was an extremely quick read, but for me, the pacing was perfect. Especially when you’re looking for something light to break up darker reads. The fake dating and miscommunication tropes were done well. I also loved seeing bits and pieces of Cash’s true feelings shine through before he shut them down. I do wish it would have been a dual POV, so that we could see more of what was going on in Cash’s head (especially after the massage!) But the chemistry between those two is electric and you could feel it through the pages. I really hope there is a sequel to their story somewhere down the road.

One Week in Paradise releases on April 6th! Be sure to connect with Anise on Instagram and TikTok to stay up to date on all things OWIP!

Let’s chat!

Are you a fan of the fake dating trope?