Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane
Series: A Gathering of Dragons #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 4th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

​A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil—until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…​

I’ve had so much hype ever since A Heart of Blood and Ashes got on my radar. I’m always on the looking for an epic fantasy romance, and this one sounded so promising. Plus, I’d read Milla Vane years ago not just under her pseudonym Meljean Brook (The Iron Duke is still one of my favorite fantasy romances!), but also when she published a novella under MV in an anthology. So I knew she could write incredible fantasy worlds – and she didn’t disappoint with this first A Gathering of Dragons book. It was a fantastic start to a new series that I already need more of!

An enemies to lovers romance, slow burn, political intrigue, spilled blood, and barbarian warriors – this fantasy romance has it all. AHoBaA kicks off with the murder of our hero Maddek’s parents, who were king and queen of their barbarian kingdom and part of an alliance council that formed out of a truce between all five kingdoms. Now Maddek is next in line for the throne, but first he wants revenge against the rival king he believed killed his parents… starting with their daughter. But Yvenne offers herself up as his bride instead, because the one thing she wants most in the world is her corrupt father’s death. Neither of them expects the insane amount of chemistry to build between them or that they would start falling for one another.

This book was SO FREAKING GOOD! It was a little slow to get into in the beginning, with all the world-building and info dumping we’re getting hit with straight off. There are a ton of characters and kingdoms to keep track of. But once I hit my reading stride I couldn’t put this book down. I’ve been wanting a new, epic fantasy (romance) to get obsessed with, and AHoBaA hit all the right buttons for me. Alpha, barbarian warrior; heroine who uses her words and brain to kick ass; a delicious, sexy slow burn in a marriage of convenience; and some epic world-building. The pacing is fairly slow but it’s never boring. I loved the amount of steam we got as well as a good dose of angst between our main characters. I was HOOKED onto the romance – I was so glad that despite everything going on, Milla Vane made the romance the main focus of the story.

I do have to say, sadly, there are no actual dragons in this book (they used to exist, but not anymore), but there are Dragons! They are basically Maddek’s bodyguard/friends. Other than that, I can’t wait to read more of this fantasy world. I’m so glad we don’t have to wait too long for the next book (only five months!). Even though this first book concludes Maddek and Yvenne’s romance and revenge subplot, there is still an over-arcing plot that deals with a dangerous, powerful being that’s about to wreak havoc. I’m so looking forward to where Milla Vane will take us next.

Also, if you want to see the map of this world, Milla Vane has one! Sadly it didn’t make it into the book.


Reading Order: A Gathering of Dragons series

 

#1 ~ A Heart of Blood and Ashes: EbookPaperback • Goodreads (Feb. 4, 2020)
#2 ~ A Touch of Stone and Snow: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (July 7, 2020)


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Release Day Review: War by Laura Thalassa

War by Laura Thalassa
Series: Four Horsemen #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 11th 2019
Links: EbookGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

They came to earth—Pestilence, War, Famine, Death—four horsemen riding their screaming steeds, racing to the corners of the world. Four horsemen with the power to destroy all of humanity. They came to earth, and they came to end us all.

The day Jerusalem falls, Miriam Elmahdy knows her life is over. Houses are burning, the streets run red with blood, and a traitorous army is massacring every last resident. There is no surviving this, especially not once Miriam catches the eye of War himself. But when the massive and terrifying horseman corners Miriam, he calls her his wife, and instead of killing her, he takes her back to his camp.

Now Miriam faces a terrifying future, one where she watches her world burn town by town, and the one man responsible for it all is her seemingly indestructible “husband”. But there’s another side to him, one that’s gentle and loving and dead set on winning her over, and she might not be strong enough to resist.

However, if there’s one thing Miriam has learned, it’s that love and war cannot coexist. And so she must make the ultimate choice: surrender to War and watch humankind fall, or sacrifice everything and stop him.

I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but AHHHHHH!!! War is about the size of two average-sized books, and I pretty much read it in one sitting (when I knew I had uninterrupted reading time). I DEVOURED this book. It was everything I was hoping for as the sequel to Pestilence! I fell in love with War (even when I knew I shouldn’t) and the heroine is so kickass and awesome. War is a possessive, alpha mofo and once he claims Miriam as his wife, there’s no going back. This absolutely lived up to my expectations and now I can’t freaking WAIT for the next book!

Laura Thalassa has written some of my favorite fantasy romances, and now War is going near the top of my list. It’s dark, twisted, addicting, and unputdownable. War is the perfect kind of hate-to-love and love-to-hate hero. He reminds me of the hero from The Golden Dynasty by Kristen Ashley, with the same warlord, alpha-male vibes. Miriam holds her own against him, which made for some incredible, steamy chemistry. I was glued to their romance, to the way it turned from hate (on Miriam’s part), to reluctant feelings, and finally, to genuine love. I think Laura Thalassa did an amazing job portraying War’s character – he’s is not a good guy, but you can’t help but grow to love him.

The wait for War was 100% worth it. Right now I’m crying about the wait for Famine, though I know Laura Thalassa won’t disappoint with that one, whenever it releases!


lacey

I talk more about War on my new BookTube channel! Feel free to check it out 🙂


Reading Order: Four Horsemen series

 

#1 ~ Pestilence: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ War: Ebook • Goodreads
#3 ~ Famine: Goodreads (release date TBA)


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Release Day Review: Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins

Soul in Darkness by Wendy Higgins
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: February 12th 2019
Links: Ebook • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

People travel from afar to the small isle in the Aegean Sea hoping for a single glimpse of Princess Psyche. Their adoration for the mortal woman is so all-consuming that citizens begin to shower her with the very gifts and offerings they once left at the alter of Venus, goddess of love and beauty.

But gods are known for their jealousy.

Cupid, the god of love, takes pleasure in causing strife and mischief in the lives of humans. He uses love as a weapon, humoring in the weakness of people at the whims of their feelings. When his mother Venus approaches him about punishing the human girl who dares to steal her offerings and affections from the people, Cupid gladly accepts.

Psyche’s punishment is to be given to a mysterious creature who only comes to her in the dark of night under the pact that she will never lay eyes on him. She is terrified of this stranger, who the oracle described as a serpent. Her mate, however, is masterful in his dealings with his bride. He takes his time, morphing her fears into different sensations completely.

Based on the Roman/Greek mythology of Cupid and Psyche from Lucius Apuleius, New York Times bestseller Wendy Higgins brings the tale to life, weaving layers that show exactly how a sacrificial lamb can be enchanted by an unseen monster.

Y’all, I loved this book something fierce. It is SO, so good, and definitely up there as one of my favorite reads of the year. I love mythology retellings, especially Greek/Roman ones, and this Cupid/Psyche retelling was brilliant and beautifully written. I fell so hard for the story and felt for the struggle Psyche faces with her unknown husband. It’s a pure, romantic read I highly recommend!

“It has been decided. Hers will be a funeral wedding to a dar-deeded winged serpent. Many call him a monster. Your dear Psyche will call him Husband.”

Psyche is the princess of her small island and is considered to be the most beautiful woman to exist. Unfortunately, this angers Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, as her worshippers have turned to worship Psyche instead. To appease Venus and to save her people, Psyche is forced to marry a monster. The rules are simple: the monster will be her husband, she will spend her nights with him, and she must never lay eyes on him or touch him.

“You can have my body, creature of the night, but you will never have my soul.”

I knew the basics of Psyche and Cupid going into this book, so I appreciated even more the author’s unique take on that story. Wendy transports you to this wondrous, ethereal world of gods and monsters, and she makes you fall in love with Psyche and her mysterious husband. Psyche may have been forced into her marriage, but she doesn’t take it lying down. She uses the little power she has to make a life for herself in the new house she lives in with her husband, and takes any bit of independence he gives her. The husband is not so much a monster after all. He is kind, thoughtful, generous – the kind of husband Psyche never dreamed he would be. But who exactly is he? And why was she chosen to be his bride? There’s more at play than what she knows, and slowly, as she starts to fall for her mysterious husband, the truth starts to unravel.

The chemistry between Psyche and Cupid is intense. I was afraid going in that it would lie more on the YA side of steam, with fade-to-black moments, but rest assured this is not the case in Soul in Darkness! I lived for the sexy moments between these two fascinating characters. They both are placed in impossible situations but manage to make something beautiful and lasting out of it.

“Your beauty will never fade in my eyes, Psyche.” His words and voice rolled over me, sweet and heady. “My wife. My princess. The one who shot me with her love.”

I’m incredibly happy with this retelling and I hope Wendy Higgins decides to do more in the future. Her writing captivates you and makes you believe in the love between her characters. I swooned for Cupid and cheered for Psyche – my heart ached at how romantic their love story was. If you love any type of retelling, you absolutely must read Soul in Darkness!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


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Blog Tour + Review & Giveaway: Death Doesn’t Bargain by Sherrilyn Kenyon


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Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Death Doesn’t Bargain by Sherrilyn Kenyon!

Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Series: Deadman’s Cross #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: May 8th 2018
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Death Doesn’t Bargain is the second historical fantasy title in New York Times bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Deadman’s Cross series. Where Deadmen tell their tales, and every soul is damned or redeemed by the final choices they make.

The Deadmen are back…

But so are the demons who have broken free of their eternal prison and are bent on mankind’s destruction. The worst of the lot is Vine, determined to claim their lives for taking hers. She will see the world burn…and has the perfect lure to destroy them all. One of their own.

Kalder Dupree has never known a day of mercy. Born to the cruelest of mer-races, he sacrificed himself for his crew and is in Vine’s hands. He expects no mercy or rescue.

Yet Cameron Jack is determined to set Kalder free. As a Hellchaser, it’s her calling, and she cannot allow even a not-so-innocent to be tortured for an act of kindness that spared her damnation.

To defeat evil, it sometimes takes an even worse evil, and Cameron is willing to do whatever she must to make this right. If Vine thought she had her hands full before, she hasn’t seen anything nearly as powerful as Cameron’s resolve.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleThe Book Depository

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The second installment in the Deadman’s Cross series is jam-packed with action and drama. You’ll definitely need to have read the first book, Deadmen Walking, before starting this one, as it continues with Cameron Jack, Kalder Dupree, Devyl Bane, and Vine. We get to delve deeper into this historical fantasy world Sherrilyn Kenyon has created, learning more about the pirates, demons, and monsters that inhabit the seas. If you enjoyed the first Deadman’s Cross book, you’ll want to get your hands on this great sequel.

After losing Kalder, the Deadmen are determined to find and get back his soul. He’d sacrificed himself to save Cameron and her brother – and now Cameron wants to set Kalder free. They are our main couple, and their romance is just as intriguing to read as the action part of the plot. They’ve got plenty of demons in their past that they need to overcome in order to be together, and those demons don’t make it easy. We learn much more about the history of Kalder’s Myrcian heritage, with plenty of plot twists to keep the action going. There really wasn’t a dull moment in Death Doesn’t Bargain.

I’m amazed at the world SK has created with this series. Yes, there’s a lot of info dumping, but once you get into the groove of reading, you get a better understanding of the mythology behind this world. Now, I haven’t read SK’s other popular Dark-Hunter series, but fans of DH will definitely love seeing a surprise cameo of Acheron in this book. I know there is also a lot of overlap between the DW and DH series, so you’re sure to catch that if you read both series!

Pirates, magic, mythology, romance, and action – is there more you can ask for in a historical fantasy? If you’re interested in the genre, this series is definitely one to check out. I can’t say that I’ve ever read anything quite like it! The book ends in quite the cliffhanger, but I’m excited to see where SK will take us with the next installment.


lacey

Reading Order: Deadman’s Cross series

 

#1 ~ Deadmen Walking: My Review • EbookHardcover • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Death Doesn’t Bargain: Ebook • Hardcover • Audible • Goodreads

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New York Times and International Bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon, is a regular at the #1 spot. With legions of fans known as Menyons (thousands of whom proudly sport tattoos from her series and who travel from all over the world to attend her appearances), her books are always snatched up as soon as they appear on store shelves.

Since 2003, she had placed more than 80 novels on the New York Times list in all formats including manga and graphic novels. Current series are: Dark-Hunter®, Chronicles of Nick®, Deadman’s Cross™, Nevermore™, Silent Swans™, Lords of Avalon® and The League®. Her books are available in over 100 countries where eager fans impatiently wait for the next release. The Chronicles of Nick® and Dark-Hunter® series are soon to be major motion pictures while Dark-Hunter®, Lords of Avalon® and The League® are being developed for television. Join her and her Menyons online at SherrilynKenyon.com and www.facebook.com/AuthorSherrilynKenyon

Website • Twitter • Goodreads • Facebook • Pinterest • YoutubeInstagram

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3 Winners will receive a Set Copy of both books in the Series and a Pin (DEADMEN WALKING & DEATH DOESN’T BARGAIN) by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter

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Audiobook Review: The Golden Dynasty by Kristen Ashley

The Golden Dynasty by Kristen Ashley
Series: Fantasyland #2 (full reading order below)
Audiobook Publication Date: June 21st 2016
Length: 17 hours and 1 minute
Narrated by: Tillie Hooper
Links: Audible • EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an audiobook in exchange for an honest review

Circe Quinn goes to sleep at home and wakes up in a corral filled with women wearing sacrificial virgin attire – and she is one of them. She soon finds out that she’s not having a wild dream, she’s living a frightening nightmare where she’s been transported to a barren land populated by a primitive people and in short order, she’s installed very unwillingly on her white throne of horns as their Queen.

Dax Lahn is the king of Suh Tunak, The Horde of the nation of Korwahk and with one look at Circe, he knows she will be his bride and together they will start The Golden Dynasty of legend.

Circe and Lahn are separated by language, culture and the small fact she’s from a parallel universe and has no idea how she got there or how to get home. But facing challenge after challenge, Circe finds her footing as Queen of the brutal Korwahk Horde and wife to its King, then she makes friends then she finds herself falling in love with this primitive land, its people and especially their savage leader.

I’m seriously LOVING the Fantasyland audiobooks!!! I finished this 17 hour long audiobook in about 3 days – it usually takes me somewhere around a week for an audiobook of this length, but I just couldn’t stop listening to The Golden Dynasty. Both the story and narration were perfection – I honestly can’t choose whether this audiobook or Wildest Dreams is my favorite. All I can say is – when is the rest of the series coming out in audio!? I’m seriously dying to listen to the other Fantasyland books!

This second installment in the Fantasyland series opens up with Circe Quinn waking up caged with other women in a whole new world. Everything is different – the people, the culture, the language… thankfully she finds a translator there with her, but even a translator isn’t enough to prepare her for Dax Lahn, king of the Korwahks. He claims her as his bride, his queen, and Circe is reluctantly thrust into the politics of this strange, epic land. She can’t understand a word her husband says on her own – how will she survive has queen of the Korwahk Horde?

The Korwahks are primitive people. The men are all alpha males, with Lahn the most alpha of them all. Their brutish, primal culture is entirely different from the modern world, full of violence and savagery. It wasn’t easy to listen to, especially the things that Circe is subjected to do and watch. Some characters do questionable, disturbing acts, but somehow KA writes them in a way that’s fascinating more than anything. I found myself captivated by Lahn and his people, even though I didn’t agree with their ways. And Circe herself slowly starts to accept her husband and find qualities about him that make her fall for him. He’s a powerful, fierce warrior, but at his heart, he would do anything to protect his queen. I loved their romance and the way it slowly, naturally developed – and I adored that both of them learned to understand each other’s language!

The Golden Dynasty is another win from KA. I honestly can’t believe I haven’t read this series sooner, but I’m glad I waited until the audiobooks released. Tillie Hooper just might be my new favorite female narrator – her performance is stunning in this audiobook! I was so impressed with the way she spoke the Korwahk language. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, because some of the words seemed so difficult to pronounce, but her narration was flawless and sounded so natural. Now I’m eagerly awaiting the rest of the Fantasyland seires to come out in audio – and I’m hoping Tillie Hooper narrates them as well!

THE GOLDEN DYNASTY is now available on Audible: http://amzn.to/29rDf41

5 hearts
lacey


Reading Order: Fantasyland series

 
  

#1 ~ Wildest Dreams: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The Golden Dynasty: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Fantastical: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#4 ~ Broken Dove: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#5 ~ Midnight Soul: EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads

Here’s an audio excerpt from The Golden Dynasty!


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