Balance by Lyla Oweds

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Pages: 451

Series: The Grimm Cases, Book 5

Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Reverse Harem, (Light) Horror

Publication date: January 19, 2021

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Miles is kind, caring, and sensitive. At least, that’s what Bianca thought until he left with nothing but a note and the days passed by. With his absence, mysteries begin unravelling and new alliances are formed. But there’s still a hole in Bianca’s chest that none of the other guys can fill. As much as they tell her not to worry, she can’t help it.

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“I promise you that it’ll be none of your business when she’s eaten by a dragon,” Brayden muttered through clenched teeth, trying unsuccessfully to drag Bryce along with him.

Bryce’s stern expression fell, and he finally stumbled forward one step. “What?”

“What, you heard me.” Brayden shrugged. “Don’t be such a prude.”

Chapter Twelve, Bianca

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In case I haven’t said it already, this story has me hooked. Being the fifth story in the series, the characters and their relationships are already extremely fleshed out. Except, like a fantastic writer would, Oweds continues to have her characters grow and change. Their relationships with each other as well as themselves are dynamic and keep me wanting more. Watching the characters come to terms with their own strengths and weaknesses makes me want to be a better person myself.

Because this story changes between multiple perspectives as the chapters change, as a reader you’re able to understand each character’s motivations and thought process more in depth. While not every author is great at fleshing out each character as their own personality, I personally believe that Oweds excels at this. I can put down the book in the middle of a chapter, leave it for an hour or two, come back and still easily figure out which character’s perspective I’m reading from.

The world itself also continues to grow and change before the reader’s eyes. Bianca’s past continues to be explained – both the hardships she underwent and the sprinkling of joys that she knew growing up. But even still, the reader is left with more questions than answers in regards to what really happened to Bianca before she got adopted by the Geiers. I adore this as the world continues to expand the more we find out about Bianca and her past, not shrinking into the sole focus of the story. By having more questions about what went on than answers, Oweds has promised the reader enjoyment as the story goes on.

If this wasn’t the most recent story in the series, I would have already picked up and read the next one already. As it is, I sit here waiting (not so) patiently for the next book to come out. I’m not kidding when I say I can’t wait to dive back into this amazing world.

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*Spoilers ahead*

“Hey…” I hissed at Bryce, pressing my elbow into his side. I waited until he glanced down at me before continuing. “What did I say that was so funny?”

Bryce shrugged, shoving his hands in his pockets. “I have no idea. You were only stating a fact. But sometimes you need to make concessions for others. Not everyone thinks the way we do.”

“But we’re normal?” I asked, desperate for his answer. “I don’t want to be weird.”

“You’re not weird. Just feel sorry for them. It must be exhausting being so illogical.”

Chapter Eight, Bianca

I adored this moment in the story. Bryce and Bianca began as “arch nemesis” (according to Bianca’s inner dialogue) and it’s been fantastic to see their relationship slowly morphing into a doting sibling relationship. In the above quote, Bianca turns to Bryce for comfort. In return, he makes her feel normal for what might very well be the first time in her entire life.

The adorable sibling relationship building part of this interact aside, I adore that Bryce talks about her stating facts about him surviving poison in his food as “logical” and thinking her comment was funny as “illogical”. It might be the amount of fantasy that I’ve read in my life, or it could just be that my mind is a weird place, but Bianca’s perspective on this subject truly is logical to me. Bryce has worked hard to incorporate poisons into his life to ensure that he won’t be killed by poison being slipped into his food or drink. It makes sense that Bianca would be blasé about it because she knows that he’s worked hard on this. If you know people are going to try and kill you, why not prepare yourself for poisons?

Brayden is also a fantastic older brother. He gets annoyed when he thinks the guys are forcing him to do research and he’s excited whenever he finds out that he’s helping Bianca specifically. When she reaches out to him in order to look into Mu’s history, he’s ecstatic. He helps her narrow down her search criteria to try and make things easier for her to digest. He even goes as far as to thank her for reaching out to him, to being comfortable enough to let him help her.

I adore watching Bianca’s relationship with her family grow and evolve. While she still might not be ready to meet her father – there’s way too much anger there – I love that she’s able to find a place she belongs. She’s able to find common ground with her siblings and I’m sure that when she eventually meets Declan, they’ll be able to bond over something. There’s a lot of pain and anger in Bianca for what happened in her life, but family is family. (In real life I’ll admit this only goes so far. But in the context of Bianca’s story, it’s not really her father’s fault that everything happened to her. Her loved ones were trying to protect her, they had no idea that she’d be kidnapped by a human trafficking ring and forced to be the bait in hunts.)

On a completely different note, it’s fantastic that food is everything to Bianca. She thinks it’s a personal attack when someone doesn’t – or forgets to – feed her. Damen took her to get food at Colette’s restaurant and because Damen and Colette had a “thing”, she got annoyed and kicked them out. Yet Damen is under the impression that he “fed” Bianca – and that he often does it. Poor Bianca, I feel you. It sucks when you’re supposed to get fed and the person who’s feeding you forgets.

Heck, food means so much to her that she’s willing to trick Miles into giving up his knife so she can kill a squirrel and have food. I was impressed. The guys need to stop underestimating Bianca, she’s able to take care of herself. Sure it’s awful the way – and the why – she learned to defend herself and to survive in the wild. But she’s stronger than even she thinks.

Yet at the same time, the guys constantly remind Bianca that she’s strong and powerful. She’s able to defend herself and survive some of the worst situations anyone can find themselves in. Heck, Miles goes off on his pilgrimage because he knows that Bianca was stronger than him and wanted to be worthy of her.

Finn isn’t the only one who noticed, but he certainly makes sure that Bianca is aware that she’s got more powers than a Xing typically has. She’s going to need to undergo more training than even she expected in order to understand the powers that she has. I adore that she’s not just a main character that finds out she has powers and then can magically (no pun intended) use them perfectly. Bianca struggles to control – and even understand – the powers that she’s got. She’s still relying on others to help her harness, and learn, her own powers.

On the topic of friends, I can’t wait to see Bianca and Maria’s friendship blossom. Maria might think that Bianca doesn’t like her, but she’s very wrong about that. Bianca adores Maria and wants her to be her first real female friend. I hope Maria takes Titus’ advice to heart and texts Bianca about hanging out when they get back from the forest.

Another thing I really liked about this story is the entire interaction between Kathleen and Bianca. It’s heartbreaking to know that Kathleen exiled herself because she didn’t want to see her granddaughter and end up dying. Yet the prophecy still comes true when she meets Bianca – her adopted granddaughter. She missed out on her whole life and being with her loved ones trying to prevent the prophecy from coming true and it came true despite her efforts. Knowing that she was such an integral part of Miles’ childhood and then just disappeared – presumed dead by everyone – is just the icing on the top of the cake. Miles is brought back into her life right before her death, giving her just enough time to finish the potion that’s going to help Miles complete his mission and meet with Tu for the first time and reach his full potential.

Also, I can’t wait to find out more about the Snallygaster. It’s clear that Kathleen’s spirit and Bianca’s childhood drawing are connected at least a little bit – they’re the same creature, after all – but I can’t wait to see how they’re connected. Is this related to the favour that Kathleen was doing for Mu? Was Kathleen somehow able to connect to Mu’s existing incarnation before they ever met each other? Was Mu able to help power the spell for the Snallygaster from within Bianca? My questions here are endless and if I had no other reason to continue this story, I’d continue to read it just to have some of these questions answered. (Luckily there’s so much more in this series that I absolutely adore and has me hooked, so I’m going to enjoy every second that I’m reading, even after these questions get answered.)

While there is so much more I could gush about, I feel like I’ve been going on for a while already. Though before I leave, there are some quick things I just want to say: TITUS CAN READ BIANCA’S MIND AND I LOVE IT BECAUSE IT MEANS ONE OF THE GUYS IS FINALLY GOING TO UNDERSTAND THE WAY SHE THINKS!! Damen does a fantastic job at getting Bianca to want to open up to him, to get her to trust him with some of her deepest and darkest secrets (and I love it). Poor Bianca, dealing with separation anxiety in regards to Miles because she’s been abandoned so many times in her life already and he “left” her (even though he thought he’d given a reasonable enough explanation and a note telling her he’d be back). It’s hilarious that Mu has always hated sardines – if you’ve read the short Home, then you know why. I didn’t realize that a supernatural could learn skills from the others. It’s really cool that Bianca learned some witch magic from the Geiers without even knowing that they were performing magic.

The final thing that I want to touch on is the Unseelie Court and what’s going on with them. In Hidden, Xavier asked for Bianca to go to the court as a sort of consort to him because things Unseelie weren’t doing the hottest. Now, just a little while later, the Unseelie queen has been killed and Mu is needed to deal with the court. I hope that the next book deal with this because I love the fae side of any story and can’t wait to see Oweds’ take on the Seelie and Unseelie courts. She’s done a fantastic job with the story so far and I’m sure I’ll adore the way she deals with the fae.

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Other reviews from this series:

  1. Mu: The Grimm Cases (Books 1-3) *Spoiler free*
  2. Mu: The Grimm Cases (Books 1-3) *Spoiler review*
  3. Hidden (Book 4)

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