Within Obsession and Lies (A Court of Gilt and Shadow #1)- Stacy Jones, Harper Wylde

Genre: Fantasy, Reverse Harem
Publisher: Independently Published
Pages: 424
Release Date: October 21, 2021

Power. Obsession. Lies.

Other people dream of being special. They wouldn’t, if they knew what a nightmare it is.

Arawyn would give anything to be ordinary and rid herself of the power that lives inside her. Dangerous and alluring, it’s caused nothing but pain and horror, making her the dark obsession of anyone who gets too close.

After years of barely containing it, Arawyn thought she had control… until the night it bursts free and pulses like a beacon.

As threats emerge from the shadows, each one more fixated on her than the last, she finds her life infiltrated by three mysterious men.


A mafia boss, a psychopath, and a killer.

Rathe, Viper, and Fear are much more than they seem. They taste of power and feel impossibly familiar. They call to her soul in a way she’s never experienced and might have answers to questions she’s been asking her entire life.

But darkness and secrets surround them, ones covered in blood and mire.

When the monsters stalking her endanger not only her power but her life, she’ll have to make a decision: take a risk and let these dangerous men in, or do what she’s always done—walk away and try to survive on her own.

Trusting them would be a mistake. Yet, she may not have a choice.

The monsters hunting her aren’t human and they’re out for blood. Rathe, Viper, and Fear might be her only chance of making it through this alive.

There’s only one problem. They aren’t human either…

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Within Obsession and Lies is, quite frankly, a mess of a novel with an overly sexualized main character, little to no world building, and bland characters.

I read a few other reviews criticizing the opening chapter of Within Obsession and Lies by saying that it reads as if a man wrote it and they are absolutely correct. The main character, Arawyn, is described as wearing lingerie as she forges weapons and thinks about her own curves and sexual needs. This is also in line with my criticism that Arawyn is overly sexualized. 

Within Obsession and Lies is a fantasy novel with fae and human realms with different courts. That’s all I can tell you about the world building since there’s so little of it and the information provided is messy at best. Near the end of the novel, it appears as if readers will finally get answers but, instead, are given a paragraph summary of what the characters spoke about. 

Jones and Wylde do a lot of telling instead of showing. There’s a slight time jump of about three weeks where Arawyn spent time with the three men. Instead of using this page time to develop the characters and their budding relationship, Jones and Wylde summarized the three weeks in a couple of sentences. 

For a novel of this size, nothing happens and none of the characters are developed. The characters are all bland caricatures of every other stereotypical characters in fae fantasy and reverse harems.

Within Obsession and Lies was written to have candles made for it. The amount of times the characters’ smell was emphasized could have gotten me drunk had I been taking a shot everytime it was mentioned. Each character has a distinct smell consisting of three different scents.

Overall, Within Obsession and Lies fails in almost every aspect. The world building is abysmal, the characters barely developed, and a desperate cliffhanger to try to keep readers interested. 

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Have you read Within Obsession and Lies? What did you think?

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