Books & Reading · Story & Characters · Writing Insight

The Complete “Guardian” Trilogy


About The Guardian Trilogy:
The Guardian Trilogy delves into the harrowing trials of Alexander Croft, a security guard and seemingly average 30-something-year-old man, whose life is forever changed in a violent instant. After being accused of a series of heinous crimes he didn’t commit, Alex is sentenced to life in a hellish prison.

Or so his fate seems.

Because unbeknownst to him, Alex is no ordinary man. He is a Voror, a magically-gifted being commissioned with the protection of the Realms – and nothing can keep him from his true destiny.

In The Guardian Trilogy, follow Alex’s life-changing and life-challenging journey, from his training at the Voror Council in the least-admired Task of all, to a chance at love and romance with a woman whose people have wronged him, to his encounters with an enemy who has stalked him since birth, to his personal mission to clear his family name and protect the Realms from encroaching darkness. As evil rises, Alex must stand to meet it or watch everyone he has grown to love be destroyed.

Books in The Guardian Trilogy:

Book One: The Guardian

Description: Ever since Alex Croft was little, robed beings have shadowed his every move. But after he is wrongfully incarcerated, the robed strangers have apparently abandoned him. Or so it seems. When Alex’s true identity is revealed, he enters a world he has always seen but never really known. A realm where he learns how to protect the innocent from an evil that desires to control everything in its path. Especially Alex. As he trains as an apprentice within the Voror Council, Alex uncovers a sinister secret seeking to destroy him. To save himself and others, he will have to endure the same darkness he sought to escape. In this first installment of The Guardian Trilogy, Alex Croft will not only learn magic-infused Words and make strange, new allies but also discover the truth about himself and his past. A truth that will become either his destiny or his downfall.

Direct Link (Paperback): http://goo.gl/ORdSCm
Direct Link (Kindle): http://goo.gl/NjdoXq

Book Two: The Guardian Prophecy

Description: Handler Apprentice Alex Croft is invited by Sunniva, the Council’s Head Healer, to accompany her on a journey across the Realms as she seeks out an exiled Voror. Along the way, Alex encounters old friends, new enemies, and discovers a growing attraction to the hauntingly beautiful Niobe of Ryncheon. Yet the threat of Belial of Rastaban’s forces shadows their every move as they race to uncover a truth that many have desired to conceal – a truth Rastaban has killed for in order to obtain. Past grievances come to seek vengeance as Rastaban’s rebels seek to set up their own regime. And the only way Alex can hope to stop them is to make the ultimate sacrifice. In this second installment of The Guardian Trilogy, Alex Croft learns what it means to fulfill his destiny as a Guardian, which may cost him everything.

Direct Link (Paperback): http://goo.gl/5fzUU2
Direct Link (Kindle): http://goo.gl/ktwiWG


Book Three:
The Guardian Wars

Description: After miraculously surviving torture at Rastaban’s hands, Handler Alex of Croft knows the hour grows short as war among the Realms draws closer. Mustering his friends and unexpected allies, Alex assumes the role of the prophesied Halcyon and decides to cut off his enemy at the place where it all began, the infamous prison Erebus and home to the Gates of the Dead. The Guardian Wars concludes Alex of Croft’s  journey as a man of divided bloods.  But can he be a shining light in a dark place or will the darkness finally consume him?

Direct Link (Paperback): goo.gl/Ofv4Vn
Direct Link (Kindle): goo.gl/rkbsFD

Background on The Guardian Trilogy
The Guardian Trilogy is project over a decade in the making and started with a rather odd mash-up of ideas. As the author puts it, One summer, I was reading the “Harry Potter” novels and watching reruns of the Fox drama series “Prison Break.” The two stories merged in my mind as I thought, “What if Michael Scofield [chief protagonist on “Prison Break”] was a wizard?” That sparked a mental chain reaction and I had to write it out. Eventually, it evolved into The Guardian Trilogy.

Thus, The Guardian Trilogy is a fantasy series that hopes to pay respects to classic hero quest epics while remaining an entirely original piece, chiefly through the introduction of the Vorors, a magically-gifted race charged with protecting the Realms, and the Sangres, a vampiric people who are siblings to the Vorors. Both worlds collide with Alex Croft caught in the middle.

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Misc. Reviews

Perfume Review Jacinthe Et Rose by E. Coudray

[Note: This review is being cross-posted from Fragrantica – enjoy!]


Design: 5/5 stars – The bottle is made of glass with a frosted glass plant design at the top. Overall, while the design is simple, it’s very elegant and refined, which perfectly complements the fragrance inside.

Longevity: 3/5 stars – On me, this lasted around three hours before fading.

Silage: 2/5 stars – On me, this fragrance’s projection was light as it’s not intended to be a strong perfume.

Review:
I absolutely love hyacinth and rose-dominant perfumes, and I wish they would make a come back as opposed to the rash of gourmand scents (of which I’ve never been a fan) the market has seen over the past ten years or so. There is just something that strikes me as very old fashioned, classy, and elegant about hyacinth and rose notes though they can both turn screechy if not tempered by other florals. Luckily, Jacinthe Et Rose by E. Coudray is a perfect blend of blatant hyacinth and gentle rose, and I really wish it was an easier fragrance to find (alas, it’s not!). Though there are other notes that make up this perfume (such as peach, bitter orange, jasmine, ylang-ylang, and vodka [and I have no idea what that smells like]), the standout notes are the titular hyacinth and rose. And, really, that’s all that’s needed.

Jacinthe Et Rose is one fragrance that doesn’t suffer from an identity crisis or disjointed marketing, from its appropriate, refined, no-frills-necessary packaging to the scent contained within. This is a fragrance that stands on its own two feet (figuratively-speaking) and is a rare treasure to be enjoyed. If I had any negatives to say, it would be about the longevity. When first applied, both the hyacinth and the rose come through loud and clear yet it’s a harmonious pairing where neither one screams for attention. Over time, the hyacinth slightly steps aside to make way for the rose to appear. Sadly, on me, the hyacinth note fades too quickly for my liking (within an hour or so after application) and the rose note becomes so quiet, it’s almost non-existent after about three hours. Hence, this isn’t a long-wearing scent and the silage fades just as quickly though it’s never a silage bomb, not even after initial application.

Overall, Jacinthe Et Rose is a beautiful scent that, sadly, makes a short-lived impact. Despite that, I would still encourage hyacinth lovers to give it a try. While it’s not the longest-lasting hyacinth or rose-based fragrance, it is a concoction of timeless elegance that deserves to not be forgotten.

Recommended For:
Lovers of hyacinth-dominant perfumes (as well as rose-anchored scents) but more so for age 30+ perfume aficionados as the note combination seems a little too mature for anyone younger, save for 20-something ladies who possess a refined perfume palette.

Misc. Reviews

Perfume Review – Taylor Swift Wonderstruck

[Note: This review is being cross-posted from Fragrantica – enjoy!]


Design:
5/5 stars – The bottle is opaque and retains an iridescent quality that’s quite beautiful as the play of colors are vibrant and evident from all angles in nearly any light. (The effect reminds me very much of “holographic” nail polish.) Three charms (a star, a bird, and a bird cage) adorn the top of the bottle and are attached to a chain connected to the cap. (These adornments do not appear to be detachable.) Overall, I love this bottle as it’s colorful without being garish and feminine without trying to be too girlish.

Longevity: 0/5 stars – On me, this lasted up to 40 minutes before vanishing entirely.

Silage: 0/5 stars – On me, this fragrance’s projection was weak due to its poor longevity.

Review:
Wonderstruck is the debut fragrance of country-turned-pop princess, Taylor Swift. Up front, I should note that while I’m not a fan of Ms. Swift, I take no immediate objection to her or her music. However, my decision to try this perfume was based solely on its combination of notes (and, admittedly, the gorgeous bottle) than the name attached to it. Note-wise, Wonderstruck strives to be a fresh, clean scent with a hint of sweetness tempered by an underlying tea note. On me, the more dominant note was the berry duo (raspberry and blackberry) followed by a generic yet mellowed gourmand vanilla as it dried down. Sadly, I could just barely detect the tea and it was fleeting at best.

In a word, I was disappointed. I sense more effort was put into the perfume bottle’s design than the fragrance itself, which is a shame. Wonderstruck is, unfortunately, another run-of-the-mill celebrity fragrance intended to appeal to a broad commercial market. Granted, there is nothing wrong with perfumes that appeal to a large audience, but I wish celebrity scents would at least make an effort to display some degree of variety and creativity. For me, Wonderstruck is a paradigm of the typical celebrity scent for women: uncomplicated, simple, and generic enough to be inoffensive and marketable. The note combination here is nothing that hasn’t been done before and it will be imitated again. The only remotely interesting note here is the tea though I agree that tea has been used in so many perfumes now that it has ceased to be innovative. (Though I don’t abhor tea notes as I think Bvlgari The Rouge [Red Tea] is a pleasant scent that retains a strong, evident tea note all throughout.)

Concerning longevity, Wonderstruck was very weak on me as it lasted about 40 minutes before it faded into obscurity, never to return even through its base notes. This fragrance seems to have a concentration more befitting a body splash than a perfume (though longevity can vary person to person, and I confess I struggle to find scents that can last 4+ hours on me). To use this as a body spray makes it perhaps worth a try, but the base price seems a tad steep for an under-performing concoction that one could find a cheaper dupe of at Bath & Body Works.

Overall, Taylor Swift’s Wonderstruck is a misnomer as nothing here evokes any sense of wonder. Instead, it falls right in line with the vast array of celebrity perfumes as it’s safe and marketable. These qualities on their own don’t make the fragrance awful as everyone has her own tastes when it comes to scents. I suspect this will appeal more so to a youthful crowd, perhaps one hunting for clean, simple scents, than a more mature and more perfume-experienced demographic.

Recommended For:
Young women (teens and 20s) looking for clean, fresh scents will probably enjoy this, and I think it would make a good starter perfume for a young lady who is just beginning to dabble in the wide world of fragrances. For that audience, I think Wonderstruck is a perfect pick, but it will probably underwhelm anyone older or anyone who has amassed a diverse scent collection.

book tags · Books & Reading · Story & Characters

Unpopular Opinions Book Tag

Uh, oh! It’s unpopular opinion time!

So read on – if you dare. (Just kidding!)

I found this book tag on Hollie Ohs Book Reviews and decided to give it a go as it sounded like fun (though I revised some of the tags and added a few of my own). As a disclaimer, this post isn’t intended to attack or criticize a particular author, book, series, genre, etc. or readers of those. This is simply my list of books or topics that just don’t resonate with me.

So with that out of the way, on to the book tag!


A popular book or series that I didn’t like.
Anything by Cassandra Clare. To be fair, I actually liked Clockwork Angel, the first book in the Infernal Devices trilogy; however, the rest of the trilogy fell flat for me. I have read City of Bones, which kicks off the Mortal Instruments series, but I could spot the plot’s surprises long before they happened, so I didn’t have much fun reading it. I can sort of understand why these books are popular, but they just don’t appeal to me.


A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but I love.
I struggled to think of any as usually the reverse is true (i.e. there are popular books/series that everyone seems to love but I don’t). If I had to choose something that sort of fits in with this category, I would go with Repo Men by Eric Garcia mainly because that book seems to garner more negative reviews than what I think it deserves (though I wouldn’t say it’s a book that people tend to hate).


A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person I did not want he/she to end up with
Again, I struggled with this one as (a). I tend to not read many books with love triangles and (b). of the love triangle resolutions I have read, the main character ends up with the person I did want he or she to end up with. But if I had to dig down deep and come up with an answer, it would kind of, sort of be Bella and Edward from the Twilight series as Jacob typically wrestled a little more sympathy from me and displayed far fewer stalker-esque qualities. Hence, I was kind of hoping Bella might end up with him. But when Jacob started to act like a little prat, I didn’t want her to end up with him either. To be fair, this was a lackluster love triangle for me anyway as Bella is a bore, Edward is a possessive creep, and Jacob can be a whiner. So, yeah, take your pick.


A popular book genre I hardly reach for

YA fantasy has disappointed me in recent years with its paint-by-number plots, recycled characters, and insipid love triangles. There seems to be nothing new, exciting, or original anymore coming from the YA fantasy camp (and trying to be “edgy” doesn’t count). So unless a YA fantasy book sounds really, really intriguing or innovative, I’m no longer interested in checking the genre out.


A popular or beloved character that I do not like
Celaena Sardothien from the Throne of Glass series. I read the first book but DNF’d it after I could no longer tolerate the characters’ juvenile banter. More particularly, I understand that Celaena is supposed to be a master assassin, but the problem is we’re never shown that she’s a master assassin. Instead, we’re only told she is and are expected to believe it even though she is a bit of a dunderhead (albeit she’s a dunderhead with a wise-cracking mouth, but that still gets her no points from me). So despite her being a favorite strong female character among many readers, I was less than impressed.


A popular author I can’t seem to get into
Again, I have to go with Cassandra Clare. Her writing style doesn’t bear any unique hallmarks that make it distinctly her own, her prose doesn’t challenge the mind, and she just seems to rip off her own stories (as well as the works of others). I respect authors who try to reinvent themselves (such as what J.K. Rowling did through The Casual Vacancy and her Cormaron Strike detective fiction, by way of example), even if I don’t care for the direction the authors take. But Clare has done no such reinventing of her own wheel, and I feel her books suffer because of it.


A popular trope I am tired of seeing
The Chosen One trope has waxed thin for me, so much so that I doubt it can be executed with any sense of originality anymore. Granted, it can work (such as in Harry Potter), but many times I feel like an author just slaps this designation onto a lead character without presenting a good case to the reader as to why this character deserves to be a Chosen One. In most cases, a character is christened as a Chosen One without a good context or backstory as to why he or she is given such a status. For me, it’s usually just a way to craft a special snowflake character who is ultra-unique and important “just because.”


A popular trend I’m not interested in or tired of seeing
I’m tired of seeing books that have to emphasize how “diverse” or how SJW (social justice warrior)-friendly they are. The social justice/PC train has gone on long enough. We don’t “need” diverse books – we need books that tell good stories with compelling characters that promote timeless virtues like bravery, hope, and compassion. While others can gush and squeal over how supposedly wonderful a book is just because it touts “diversity,” I’m not in their company. I don’t “need” diversity in my books, especially if it’s going to be hammered down readers’ throats or used as a cheap marketing ploy. Granted, I’m not against books with main characters from an ethnic background or stories that focus on other cultures (I don’t consider books with LGBQT etc. characters to be “diverse” as one’s sexual preference of choice doesn’t make someone “diverse”). But when books start touting their social consciousness on their sleeve, I immediately tune out.


A popular book or series I have no interest in reading
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve never been interested in this book and never will be. I’m tired of books that demonize religion and am equally tired of books where women are constantly depicted as victims and men are the origin of all that is evil in the universe; ergo if women could just rise up against their male oppressors, all will be right with the universe (or so that line of [deeply flawed] reasoning goes). Nope, nope, and nope. I don’t care how popular this book is, I will never read it because, for a book that supposedly is trying to promote tolerance, it’s decidedly intolerant of religion and men.


A movie or TV show adaption of a book or series that I like more than the book(s)
This was another tricky one for me because in most cases, I enjoy the book better than the movie, especially when a movie cuts out too much of the story or takes too many liberties. But I will say that I enjoyed how the The Lord of the Rings films incorporated Gollum’s split personality as, in the novels, the only description we get is when Sam overhears Gollum arguing with himself. This was a scene that played out better on screen because you could actually see both sides of his character, the morally conflicted Smeagol and the dastardly Gollum. I don’t dislike The Lord of the Rings because of this (it’s my favorite book of all time!). It’s just a small element that I think the films improved upon.

book tags

Full Moon Names Book Cover Tag

Did you know that each month’s full moon is christened with a different name? This stems back to the Native American tribes, chiefly the Algonquin. According to Space.com, Those tribes of long ago kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. So as a means of calling attention to these various names, I decided to create a book cover tag based on them. (Please note, these are the names the Farmer’s Almanac uses as there are variations. Any quotes below come from the Farmer’s Almanac.)

Wolf Moon (January) – This full Moon appeared when wolves howled in hunger outside the villages.

Find a cover that features a wolf or other predatory animal.

Ice Wolves
by Amie Kaufman

Snow Moon (February) – Usually the heaviest snows fall in February.

Find a cover that showcases snow or a wintry environment.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Worm Moon (March) – At the time of this spring Moon, the ground begins to soften and earthworm casts reappear, inviting the return of robins.

Find a cover that features a traditional symbol/creature of spring.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
– This cover can double has having two spring-related images as the delicate flower petals are in the shape of a butterfly.

Pink Moon (April) – This full Moon heralded the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, one of the first spring flowers. 

Find a cover that features pink as a predominant color.

Frazzle by Stephen Cosgrove

Flower Moon (May) – Flowers spring forth in abundance this month.

Find a cover that showcases flowers.

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Strawberry Moon (June) – The Algonquin tribes knew this Moon as a time to gather ripening strawberries.

Find a cover that features fruit.

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Buck Moon (July) – At this time, a buck’s antlers are in full growth mode.
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Find a cover that showcases a horned or antlered animal.


The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Sturgeon Moon (August) – Some Native American tribes knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon. 

Find a cover the features fish or an aquatic animal.

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Corn Moon (September) – This full Moon corresponds with the time of harvesting corn.

Find a cover that is nature-centered.

News of the World
by Paulette Jiles

Hunter’s Moon (October) – This is the month when the leaves are falling and the game is fattened. Now is the time for hunting and laying in a store of provisions for the long winter ahead. 

Find a cover that depicts someone “hunting” or searching for something.

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace
– I love how the model is positioned looking away from the reader towards an unknown point. While I haven’t read this yet, I think I can fairly judge based on the blurb that this is a novel about a lost character making important personal discoveries which, for me, counts as “searching” for something.

Beaver Moon (November) – For both the colonists and the Algonquin tribes, this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. 

Find a cover that features a furry, fuzzy animal.

The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer
– If this doesn’t qualify as furry and fuzzy, I don’t know what does!

Cold Moon (December) – This is the month when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark. 

Find a cover that features black as a predominant color.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Misc. Reviews

Perfume Review – Versace Bright Crystal

[Note: I know this is atypical for most of my blog’s posts, but seeing as I just joined Fragrantica, a perfume news and review site, I thought I’d share my reviews on that site here on my blog, too. Perfume reviews won’t be taking over this site, but whenever I do post a review on Fragrantica, I’m going to cross-post it here just for fun. Enjoy!]


Design: 3/5 stars – The bottle itself is a simple square design with its only noteworthy feature being its oblong, oversized cap (which is made of plastic, not glass). Overall, it’s functional but nothing particularly eye-catching.

Longevity: 0/5 stars – On me, this lasted around 20 to 30 minutes before vanishing entirely.

Silage: 0/5 stars – On me, this fragrance’s projection was weak due to its poor longevity.

Review:
Versace Bright Crystal remains one of many beauty retailers’ best-selling women’s fragrances, so on that alone I decided to try it out. Up front, the notes sounded fresh and summery, being driven by a citrus and juicy fruit undercurrent (courtesy of the yuzu and the pomegranate). However, much to my dismay, this was one of the weakest fragrances I’ve ever owned.

First the positives. The scent to Bright Crystal, while not unique, is fresh, crisp, and clean. If I had to allot a particular season for Bright Crystal, it would undoubtedly be summertime as its notes and strength perfectly complement warm, balmy weather.

The yuzu adds a bright citrus aroma that is devoid of any harsh tartness that tends to accompany similar notes. Simiarly, the pomegranate balances out the citrus by injecting a generous dose of juicy fruitiness that is, thankfully, neither too sweet nor too acidic. These top notes are softened by some floral undercurrents that help create a refreshing fragrance.

However, Bright Crystal’s longevity (at least on me) was poor, and I had higher expectations for a fragrance bearing the Versace name. This lasted about 20 to 30 minutes on my skin before disappearing, never to reappear even under the guise of its base notes. Likewise, the entire composition, while refreshing and inoffensive, is – to be frank – more akin to a body splash than a fine fragrance.

Overall, Versace Bright Crystal was a huge disappointment for me. In truth, I own some drugstore/department store body splashes that perform better in terms of overall scent, longevity, and silage, and they are far more budget-friendly. While I can see why its scent is probably its biggest draw, Bright Crystal is a perfume worth testing out to determine if its longevity is right for you.

Recommended For:
Women looking for a clean, fresh, short-lasting summertime fragrance that is safe to wear anywhere and, to its credit, isn’t a harsh citrus scent. Age-wise, this probably has a broad appeal, but perhaps more so to younger female consumers (late teens, early 20s) than more mature ladies. However, it’s worth noting that this is a scent one might want to test out first before buying as it’s fairly easy to find cheaper, and better performing, alternatives.

Misc. Reviews

Perfume Review – Mugler Aura

[Note: I know this is atypical for most of my blog’s posts, but seeing as I just joined Fragrantica, a perfume news and review site, I thought I’d share my reviews on that site here on my blog, too. Perfume reviews won’t be taking over this site, but whenever I do post a review on Fragrantica, I’m going to cross-post it here just for fun. Enjoy!]


Design:
3/5 stars – The “bottle” is interestingly peculiar as it’s not a typical cylinder or square design and its emerald color and facets make it a vanity centerpiece. Yet it doesn’t appear to be very functional in terms of how it might sit on a hard surface.

Longevity: 3/5 stars – On me, this lasted around four hours before I washed it off as I found it too pungent to continue wearing it. (I suspect it would have lasted beyond four hours had I left it on.)

Silage: 4/5 stars – On me, this fragrance’s projection would be quite strong if I over-applied it (which I did not).

Review:
I have never tried any scents from Mugler as I sensed Angel has had too much exposure over the years (so that nearly everyone has tried it or has at least owned a clone) and Alien sounded far too strong for me. But upon seeing the marketing for this scent, I decided to send away for a tester and give it a try.

I am glad this was only a tester and not a full-sized perfume because I sense this scent, despite its price tag, would not have stayed on my vanity for long. It doesn’t have a long list of notes, and I will credit it for not trying to cram too many scents or scent families into a single fragrance. However, the notes on me combine into a mixture that, initially, retains a medicinal quality that, if applied too heavily, would undoubtedly turn into a silage bomb.

As it rested on my skin, the perfume transformed into what I like to call a green scent, an aroma that is driven purely by heavily-perfumed green florals and plants without any sweetness or even smokiness to temper it or smooth it out. The longer it lasted on my skin, the less I enjoyed it and eventually had to wash it off. It’s not exactly repugnant but it’s definitely for a particular audience among whom I don’t belong (and I’m cool with that).

Overall, Mugler’s Aura is an acquired taste as it’s all strong, unfiltered green florals driven by an odd medicinal undercurrent that remains untamed and untempered. Thus, fans of strong, green plant-based scents will probably find much to love here. But be forewarned – Aura is a wild child and not everyone will appreciate or enjoy her.

Recommended For:
Mature (age 18 and up) perfume fans who enjoy purely green scents that project a powerful punch.

Misc. Reviews

Perfume Review – Rihanna Rogue

[Note: I know this is atypical for most of my blog’s posts, but seeing as I just joined Fragrantica, a perfume news and review site, I thought I’d share my reviews on that site here on my blog, too. Perfume reviews won’t be taking over this site, but whenever I do post a review on Fragrantica, I’m going to cross-post it here just for fun. Enjoy!]


Design: 5/5 stars – The bottle itself is modern and classy. Its highlights for me, aside from the rose gold details, are its textured cap and inverted spikes at the bottle’s base. (Also, I have a preference for square bottles because I find them easier to store.) All in all, this is just a very cool-looking bottle!

Longevity: 5/5 stars – On me, this lasted for 7 to 10 hours without reapplication. Along these lines, this scent (at least on me) applied strong and dried down nicely so it was still evident on my skin hours later but not to the point of vanishing entirely.

Silage: 5/5 stars – On me, this fragrance’s projection is perfectly balanced, being neither suffocating nor non-existent.

Review:
Reb’l Fleur ranks as one of my all-time favorite fragrances thanks to its wonderful scent and incredible staying power. However, I haven’t tried anything else from Rihanna’s line as none of her other offerings have appealed to me in terms of their notes. However, Rogue seemed to garner consistently good reviews and the promise that it was a more mature celebrity scent pulled me in. I tried it, preparing to be disenchanted; yet much to my surprise, it surpassed my expectations.

Initially, Rogue doesn’t sound like the type of fragrance I would like all thanks to two of its notes – plum and suede. I have had some underwhelming experiences with plum-based scents in the past (L.A. Glow by Jennifer Lopez and Killer Queen by Katy Perry come to mind), enough so that just seeing plum in a list of notes is enough to deter me.

The same holds true for suede and all leather notes. Much like plum, I have had bad experiences with leather/suede-driven scents, and my primary complaint is that they can turn a feminine fragrance masculine. Thus, seeing that Rogue possessed both of these notes, I was prepared to dislike it.

Yet Rogue proved to me that sometimes plum and suede can be lovely provided they’re executed right. And Rogue gets it right! First, it doesn’t rely on these notes alone but smartly combines them with other florals (one of which is rose, one my favorite notes) along with a touch of sweetness courtesy of the vanilla, which is hidden well within the base notes.

Because of this, the suede note stands out but not in a pungent, masculine way; instead, it’s surprisingly feminine and warm, adding a gentle depth. If I had to present a mental picture for how Rogue smells (to my nose), it would be a brand new purse that someone accidentally spilled sweet, floral perfume in its inside. In truth, this is what I wanted Hermes’ Kelly Caleche to smell like, but it pales in comparison to Rogue, which is a far cheaper alternative.

Overall, Rihanna’s Rogue is most certainly not in the vein of typical candied celebrity scents, and I credit this elevation to the smartly-incorporated suede note. It’s modern, to be sure, but not so modern that it falls prey to becoming just another trendy scent. Upon first use, I knew Rogue was going to be a keeper and it’s become one of my favorite perfumes. Thus, for anyone who has lost hope that nothing good or original can come from celebrity scents, I would encourage them to give Rogue a try. It just might change your mind as it is feminine, mature, elegant, and surprising in its own way.

Recommended For:
Mature (age 18 and up) perfume lovers who are looking for a warm, cozy, leather-based scent that isn’t too masculine but also avoids being too sweet or too floral. Thus, fans of well-balanced fragrances might find a lot to love about Rogue.