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

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