TO SKIN A LEOPARD

                                                      by KD Neill

1.“To Skin a Leopard” (Deceit of the Empire Trilogy, Book One) by KD Neill is hands down one of the most riveting and well-crafted books I’ve read in a long time! I was engaged from the very first chapters (which sets the stage for the players and the time period and provides the necessary historical/cultural context and the conflict/goals) and I thought that Neill’s descriptions of the different characters and attention to detail on all fronts was impressive and felt very authentic. I like that I feel like I learned something about the Xhosa nation and British colonization that I wasn’t aware of before. We feel transported not only into life in 19th century Southern Africa (and Liverpool), but all the amazing experiences, from fighting and war to love to the mundane details of life. It was a wonderful and eye-opening escape from my own reality as we are thrust into the past with characters we grow to love (or hate), and are emotionally invested in their fates—which isn’t always what you expect (or hope for). “To Skin a Leopard” covers so, so much it’s impossible to sum up, but it felt like I was living through this period of history, and it was interesting to see how it all tied together in the end. But while it does seem to wrap up well, this is just the first book in the trilogy so I will be curious to see where Neill takes the characters and series from here. Very well written and great pacing throughout. An epic literary feat, to be certain. I was really impressed and would recommend this book with the highest of praise to mature fans of historical fiction (has strong adult content) (5 stars). Nicola Flood—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

2.This is an amazing book that exceeded my expectations on several levels. Each scene was very well described, imaginative, and flowed smoothly from one to the next… never a “boring part” where you get bored or want to skip ahead… in fact almost the opposite with the various interweaving plotlines and going from one character and event to the next. The descriptions were very strong, and I mean with the KD Neill’s word choice… unique and powerful, and with the conversations with the characters that really showed us this complex plot in a way that makes us feel like we are there experiencing it with them--- experiencing this strange, sometimes violent world through their eyes, for better or worse. Really liked Iain and Jamie (and I liked him and Lydia too) – great chemistry and you can feel their passion and their conflict. There is a large cast of characters here, and for the most part they were well developed and fleshed out, but some did feel sort of thin. Such beautiful, literary writing and an authenticity that demonstrates the author’s knowledge and passion for his subjects, characters and historical events. Could benefit from a round of proofreading, however.  And definitely for adults only due to some strong sexual content and some violence. Great action especially towards the end, and I would love to read more from KD Neill in the future as he has a true gift for creating a well-thought out story and bringing memorable characters to life and I feel like I have more understanding of this part of British/African history. (4 stars) Layla Messing—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

3.Very, very, very good. It’s not often that I start reading a book and it consumes me right away and forces me to re-prioritize my life for a little while (like who needs sleep? haha). “To Skin a Leopard” by KD Neill is not a quick read by any stretch…. There are too many important events and experiences here to gloss over so the author takes his time in carefully developing the various storylines from the different perspectives of the main characters, so that we the readers are thoroughly invested the whole way through. This is an edgy, powerful ride through a fascinating time in South African history, one which I had never known about, the ‘Xhosa wars’, where the natives fought against the invading colonial forces.  But there is much more to this story than just fighting and battles – there are some compelling characters here and KD Neill brings it all to life in a way that makes us really believe in every word we are reading.  I liked Mr. Neill’s writing style very much, and found myself completely lost in this world he recanted night after night (although ‘fiction’ this is mostly inspired by true events and real people/tribes which makes it even more amazing!). Was almost disappointed when I was done, but the ending gave the emotional satisfaction I look for in a great book, and I appreciate that he didn’t just wrap everything up in a neat little bow. Recommend to adult fans of historical fiction, or anyone who just enjoys an entertaining, well-written story with lots of passion, action, history, drama, and strong writing. Would definitely be interested in reading more from Mr. Neill anytime and think that this book is a great start to what looks to be a very promising series. (5 stars) Tabitha Parks—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

4.At first, I admit I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into in deciding to read this book. Because I do tend to lean towards the paranormal/fantasy romance elements of literature because I enjoy the make-believe parts. And a book about 19th century colonialism, and invading forces in South Africa against a native tribe?  Probably not my usual fare. But I wanted something out of my comfort zone and was intrigued by the opening chapters and the way that I felt an almost immediate connection to not only the characters (especially Jamie and Iain), but also the descriptions that really swept me to another time and place. Loved how K.D. Neill was writing these characters and I found myself just wanting to read more… and more… and more… and I couldn’t believe it when I realized I was totally hooked, and I was taken to another world and time in history just by experiencing the lives of these incredible characters who are so true to life and authentic, yet unlike any I’ve met before. Intense battle scenes and behind-the-scenes maneuverings that are impeccably detailed and not too convoluted. Really surprised by a few things, and like that this is not just a ‘typical’ romance or  ‘historical’ war/battle story – not by a long shot. The way we see all the different elements come to play is enlightening in the sense that I was only mildly aware of these awful situations in the African tribes, and what happens when outside forces try to capture for slave trade and conquer. But there are also some really steamy sex scenes I wasn’t expecting to spice things up and balance out some of the death and violence. Really glad I took a chance on this one, and I can’t wait to read more from Neill in the future. This is a first of a series and I’d recommend it for older readers of historical fiction/action/romance. (4 stars). Megan King—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

5.I am of somewhat mixed feelings on this novel, “To Skin a Leopard” by KD Neill. On one hand it is brilliantly, beautifully written with some of the most interesting and compelling characters I’ve read in a long time, and I liked how each of them had their own unique set of circumstances (the chapters shows the various ‘sides’ throughout)---and their humanity really shines through. I’ve never read a book that delves into this aspect of South African history (only read about it vaguely in school years ago), and it was very fascinating! It is so interesting to get such an intimate look at this time in history through the eyes of key players, real and imagined. But on the other hand, at times I felt almost like this book was too much at once, and seemed to lose focus of the arc and kept going off in different directions. I feel like it would have been better if it were shorter and more focused, with fewer tangents and subplots. But that is just my opinion, other people may disagree. I just like to feel like I’m reading 1 book at a time, and with this one I often felt like I was reading 5. There is a very large cast of characters and the story shows many perspectives – sometimes it was a little confusing to me as I like to focus on just a few. But it is a great story, nicely written, (could use better editing) and comes together well at the end, yet leaves you wanting more. I can certainly see people liking it. Contains mature content. (3 stars). Darla Ortiz—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

6.Holey moley, this book was incredible! Once I began I didn’t want to stop until I’d read it all, but obviously that was impossible because this is one seriously epic tale! It was all I could do, though, not to rush it… this isn’t a “quick-easy beach read” by any stretch, but more like something you sink back with for a while and let it take over your soul and just get lost in. KD Neill’s literary voice and writing style is absolutely perfect for this genre, and I am surprised to see that this is his first (and only?) book? I looked to see if he’s done others and didn’t see any which makes this effort even more impressive. From his bio he’s clearly intelligent and accomplished, and has a great interest and passion for South African History, but this doesn’t always translate into a readable and entertaining novel the way that “To Skin a Leopard” did.  The plots and the characters were all intelligent, well-developed and not predictable, and the historical ‘true life’ angle made it all the more fascinating! I really enjoyed it! The characters were all genuine and interesting in their own right and well-written but could use proofreaders. Was missing punctuation in places (like quote marks in conversations) that made things a little confusing sometimes as I had to go back and reread to figure it out. But nothing terrible, and I still really loved the overall story. Highly recommend to fans of historical fiction and action with a romantic/erotic element. (4-5 stars) Samantha Ryan—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

7.Make no mistake, “To Skin a Leopard” is definitely a compelling, unforgettable read that surpassed my expectations on many levels, but did fall a little short on a few things. One thing I particularly liked was how we really felt like we were part of the story as it unfolded, instead of it just being “told” to us, on the outside looking in. I was totally into this book the whole way through. Very descriptive and ‘lifelike’ scenes, and feel like I learned something and have a new appreciation for certain historical events that feel more ‘personal’ to me now. LOVE these characters, and even though I’m not all that familiar with this era of history (I was aware of skirmishes with native South African tribes and ‘outsiders’ but didn’t know all that much) I enjoyed learning more about what happened and why, and enjoyed the personalities of the main characters, especially Jamie and Iain, and also really liked much of the supporting cast as well, (even Storer). There is an erotic element I wasn’t expecting, but it was fun. There are just so many elements to this book, it is truly on an epic scale. But impressively it doesn’t get too confusing, and all came together to create a fresh-feeling book that was out of the ordinary and kept me completely invested throughout. Suitable for older readers only, and I hope the next book in the trilogy isn’t too far off. (4-5 stars) Cale Owens—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

8.I’ve read a few historical fictions before and enjoyed them, but I wouldn’t say it was my ‘favorite’ genre. I feel like too often the author is just rewriting history to appeal to a modern-day audience with clichés and generic tropes. But I was intrigued by “To Skin a Leopard” by KD Neill for a few reasons; one being I’ve never read anything on this subject, and also because I will be travelling to South Africa next year, so I thought it might be fun to learn something about its history. The opening sample showed great promise with Mr. Neill’s strong writing. So I read it and was blown away by just how incredible and addicting this book was on so many levels. I don’t know what is ‘true’ and what isn’t, and frankly I don’t care. It was an awesome ride through a time in history (1955-1856) where I felt part of the culture and era. It is a hefty read that covers a lot of territory, from personal romantic relations, to dramatic battle scenes, but does so with remarkable beauty considering the heavy and bleak subject matter at times. It is engaging, fast paced, believable, surprising, sad, intense and heartwarming… all the qualities I look for in a good book, and it delivered an emotional win in the end. Interesting drawings too! It seems to end well enough… maybe a hint of the treasure so would be curious to see what is in story for the guys next! Recommended. (4 stars). Cody Brighton—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

9.To say this is totally unlike anything I’ve ever read before would be an understatement. I’m not sure how to even describe this book as SO much happens, and it seems to touch on so many elements, themes, and subjects. Smooth pacing, plenty of action, and amazing characters/personalities, along with true, real life players and historical drama makes this a huge winner in my eyes. I think that you need to take your time while reading it to really grasp everything that is going on – it’s easy to want to read it really fast, and even though it’s long it was hard not to rush it. But each chapter ending made me just want to read the next immediately to see how it would all turn out. Wasn’t always happy with the turn of events, but for me characters are key – I have to believe in them and I have to care about them. And I certainly did here. (well most anyways… a few I was happy to see die! Lol) An intimate look into some fascinating historical times that isn’t really covered in modern textbooks or in fiction, but it tells such an intriguing tale of survival and resilience. Would recommend to fans of historical literary fiction and (erotic) romance. (5 stars) Stacy Decker—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

10.I truly enjoyed “To Skin a Leopard”.  Don’t really love the cover though (I know we shouldn’t judge but I do.) I enjoy historical fiction on occasion, but hadn’t read any in a while, and nothing that involves South Africa (it’s usually all European/American based) so I thought I’d give this one by KD Neill a try to expand my horizons. World building is absolutely crucial in selling a believable historical fiction that can entertain yet stay true to the “facts” and realities of the past (in this case there are real historical groups and events mixed with fictional characters and events). Not only did I really enjoy reading this, I actually feel like I learned something more about this time period that I didn’t know before. The flow was perfect, the romances believable (and very sexxxy) and the thrilling plots keeps us hooked right until the end. Very literary, with terrific dialogue that felt authentic, but needs better editing. Regardless I am eager to see where this adventure goes in the next “Deceit of the Empire” series. (4-5 stars) Essie Harmon—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers

11.Well, this book took me a long while to read, but in the end I’d say it was worth it! I like how everything came together, and I enjoyed every page! KD Neill writes VERY well… very descriptive and strong and we feel a great connection with the plight of each of the characters from all sides of the game. He pulls us in to the story right from the beginning pages, and skillfully narrates a wide-ranging storyline full of complex and deeply emotional issues but it is also action-packed, and rich with fascinating historical and cultural details. In my opinion it really is the characters who made this story so good, each so original and conflicted in their own way, and we pull for them throughout their personal journeys. Doesn’t always end up how we think or even hope, but that gives this story a more organic feel, not one that is contrived with a ‘happy ever after’, but it does end on a happy note…. Neill made great use of historical events and people and created a powerhouse accomplishment that was eye opening and educational, as well as entertaining (and erotic!).  A memorable read and a keeper for sure. Highly recommend for fans of historical drama/ fiction. Ready for part 2! (5 stars) Marcella Gonzales—Goodreads; Barnes & Noble; Indie Book Reviewers