Book Review – The Bonds That Tie series

I’ve been a big fan of J Bree’s writing since reading the Hannaford Prep series, which introduces Eclipse (Lips) Anderson, one of the more memorable female protagonists to come out of the current trend of kick-ass heroines. However, the follow up series (Queen Crow) really didn’t do it for me and I put off reading this series for a while as a result. Big mistake.

The Bonds That Tie series is right back on Hannaford Prep form. There are all the tropes I love: fated mates, rejected mate, age-gap, enemies-to-lovers, found family, self-saving princess, wounded heroes, journey to power, and ultimately, saving the world from a big bad. The series starts in a college, so there’s a touch of New Adult bully romance (with a dash of taboo hot professor), but it moves beyond that setting by the second book for readers who aren’t fans. The characters in The Bonds That Tie series are a little older than Hannaford Prep, which made me as a reader more comfortable with the romantic relationships that the heroine develops with her five heroes, particularly when those relationships have an element of power exchange.

The world building in The Bonds That Tie series is unusual. It’s an alternative, contemporary world that could be Australia or could be America, the author isn’t specific (which I like – it makes the series feel like a parable). People are split into “Gifted” and “non-gifted.” Gifted people have magical powers (via a spirit they call a “bond”). Their magical powers manifest early in life (around puberty), but only fully develop after they find their fated mates and consummate the mating (“bonding”), at which point they get a big kick in power and develop secondary abilities.

For the heroine, Oleander (Oli), her bond is a terrifying thing. I won’t say what Oli’s bond is, but she’s even more of a ninja than Lips. (Think Kali.) Oli’s resistant to bonding because of the potential power kick it will give her inner Kali, which creates plenty of tension between Oli and her heroes, who believe she’s rejecting them. The miscommunication trope is super-strong in the first two books; it is not my favorite trope and I was happy to see it fade out by book three.

The highlights of the books for me were when Oli’s bond was out and doing her thing. I also loved the sections where one of Oli’s mates got a psychic connection with Oli and could hear what Oli’s bond was thinking. Typical J Bree bone-dry hilarity and I am always there for that.

The later books are dedicated to the war between the Gifted who want to crush the non-Gifted to rule the world and our heroine and her five heroes. It’s a war of ever-increasing stakes and there were some impossible moments when it really looked like Oli would lose one or more of her guys. J Bree writes amazing action/battle sequences and her talent was on full display here. The romance took a bit of a back seat in the last two books and I felt that one of the heroes almost disappeared in all the action (that could just have been my own pet peeve because he was my favorite in the early books and he got very little screen time after book 3). But the climax was very satisfying; I’m always happiest when the characters earn their happy ending and these characters certainly did.

There are some big triggers in this series, including incest, so readers should check those before they dive in.

This is a chunky series. Six thick books. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a half-million words or more. But the unrelenting pace makes those words go fast. This isn’t a series to fear because of how much of a commitment six books is.

Read The Bonds That Tie series here, free to read with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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