Review: A Heart of Blood and Ashes

Review: A Heart of Blood and AshesA Heart of Blood and Ashes (A Gathering of Dragons, #1) by Milla Vane, Meljean Brook
Series: A Gathering of Dragons #1
Published by Berkley on February 4, 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 555
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This book was amazing. The world-building supported the romance, which is the center of the story. This is the story of vengeance and passion. Vane (aka Meljean Brooks) knows how to weave romance, plot, and incredible overarching storylines and world-building in a way that this cohesive and compelling.

THE STORY: Forbidden from killing the king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek intends to find a way to get revenge. When he is told that the king’s secret daughter was instrumental in his parents’ deaths, Maddek intends to get revenge through her.¬†Yvenne is not what Maddek expects. Although she comes from a line of warrior-queens, she is weak. But when she offers Maddek an opportunity for revenge through a marriage, allowing them to claim her family’s throne, Maddek is willing to take the chance to satisfy his desire for vengeance.

OPINION: This book has one of the most memorable introductions of a hero and heroine ever. Their first moments together signal to the reader that this book will be something new. Now some people might not be able to handle how different this book is, but for readers who persevere, the romance and the story are powerful and compelling.

Yvenne is a heroine that I just adored. She has suffered such trauma in her life, yet she has strength and gentleness. She is a queen, as she explains to Maddek. The progression in the story is that she learns to be a warrior as well. At the same time, Maddek begins the story as a warrior and he learns to be a king as the story progresses.

This book is certainly not for everyone. It is graphic and violent and deals with war and pain and abuse. At the same time, it has at its center a beautiful love story of two people who begin as enemies and have to reconsider themselves and their world view. There is a lot of plot in this book but what is done so well is that the relationship between Yvenne and Maddek is always centered. The book is about them. Sometimes these big fantasy books are about the world and the drama of the plot. While this book has all those elements, the relationship between these two characters drives the story.

Well-crafted, this book is filled with adventures, romance, memorable characters, drama. I didn’t love it as much as Brooks’ steampunk novels, but this one is a great start to a new series.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is an ongoing story that is not resolved in this book. The entire relationship between the main characters is done, but the series has a “big bad” who isn’t defeated in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A HEART OF BLOOD AND ASHES is the first book in the A Gathering of Dragons series. There is a novella prequel, but that only exists in the same world and doesn’t need to be read before this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Night Shift

Review: Night ShiftNight Shift (Kate Daniels, #6.5; SPI Files, # 0.5; Psy-Changeling, #12.5; Barbarian, #1) by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Milla Vane
Series: Kate Daniels #6.5, SPI Files #0.5, Psy-Changeling #12.5, Barbarian #1
Published by Berkley on November 25th 2014
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 378
Goodreads
four-stars

Four Paranormal Novellas

NIGHT SHIFT consists of four paranormal novellas. Of the four authors, I had only read Singh before this collection. Overall rating: 4 stars.

SECRETS AT MIDNIGHT by Nalini Singh: Part of Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, this novella features Bastien Smith (Mercy’s brother). Bastien is a DarkRiver leopard and one day he scents his mate on the street of San Francisco. When he finally discovers who she is, he knows there is something different about her. Kirby is a schoolteacher who is alone in the world. The story has a twist that is different from other stories in this series. This story was great. Bastien was a great hero although I had less interest in Kirby as a person but her ultimate story was very interesting and added to the Psy-Changeling universe. Rating: 4.25 stars.

MAGIC STEALS by Ilona Andrews: This novella is part of a series that I have not read. That made no difference, however, because I found the story easy to follow, with interesting characters and a tight storyline. Dali is a weretiger who is involved with Jim Shrapshire who is a werejaguar. Dali feels that she is not a good match for Jim because Dali thinks herself as clumsy and not a strong fighter. Dali does good magic instead. I thought the story was really funny especially when Dali is attempting to hide Jim from her mother. I thought the story was interesting and I loved how Jim is clearly attached to Dali who doesn’t really believe in herself. This story intrigued me enough to want to read more of this series. Rating: 4 stars.

LUCKY CHARMS by Lisa Shearin: This is the story of Makenna Fraser who is a new employee for the SPI, Supernatural Protection Investigations. Makenna is a seer who can see the actual creature underlying any disguise. She is partnered with Ian Byrne who is the star of the company. On Makenna’s first day, she and Ian are in search of a quintet of leprechauns who have evaded their bodyguards. Their search takes them through strip clubs and a sex club. The story is all about the case and there was little character development or any relationship between the characters. I know that there are other books in this series, but this story was not enough to make me interested in reading more. Rating: 2 stars.

THE BEAST OF BLACKMOOR by Milla Vane: Kavik is known as the Beast of Blackmoor. His homeland has been taken over by an evil ruler and when he is refused his request by the goddess Vera, Kavik, who is fifteen, insults the goddess and finds himself given a curse instead. Years later he meets the woman who will be his downfall. Mala, High Daughter of the House of Krima is one of Vela’s chosen and on a quest of her own to save her own destroyed homeland. Her task: to tame the Beast of Blackmoor. I really liked this story. The hero is very dark and tortured but Mala’s persistence wins him over. Both of the characters are strong warriors and work well together as partners. The story is also very sexy especially for such a short novella. Rating: 4.25.

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four-stars