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A Heart of Blood and Ashes

by Milla Vane

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1066206,771 (4.09)1

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Ahhhh! That ending was so good! For most of this book I thought I was going to give this 3.5 stars but that ending was absolutely five stars so I had to bump my overall score up to four. I think anyone who likes fantasy romance should read this because it was so well executed. It's a little long, but I think it's worth it.

I'll start by saying that even though I loved the ending, I can't give this book more than four stars because it was too meandering. I know a lot of fantasy stories will be longer and more drawn out in order to facilitate world-building but I expect something a little different for a fantasy romance. Even though I think this could have been trimmed a bit, especially in the middle, I do think the longer length allowed for better world-building that really paid off in the end. The world-building was really good. Everything you need to know about the world is conveyed through the plot so there were never any exposition dumping. I really loved how the values of Maddek's culture are expressed throughout the plot and it's those values and cultural differences that lead to the conflict in the relationship rather than more surface level conflicts.

The relationship in this book is so good! It's exactly what I want when I read an enemies-to-lovers romance. This book really shows the progression of how two people who actually don't like each other at the beginning can actually progress into begrudgingly liking each other to loving each other. The conclusion to the romance by the was so lovely. I think this is really a prime example of this sort of romance. Though they came from very different backgrounds, both Yvenne and Maddak had different skills to teach each other and contribute. The cultural difference between them created some really interesting tension and conflicts. I thought the author did an excellent job making the traits of the characters and cultures be the driver of the story rather than having them be just dressing on the story. It gave me a much better sense of the world and allowed me to really understand the values of the character.

I also just loved the way Maddek's culture is portrayed in this book. From the beginning of the book, we are away that his society functions with pretty strong gender parity. Women don't cover their chests unless they want to for comfort when riding because it isn't seen as sexual for them. Women are equally likely to be warriors in the culture and the group of fighters around Maddek are pretty equally men and women. Though at the beginning, Maddek views Yvenne just as someone to get pregnant, that's not how the larger society views women. It is also a priority for men in his culture to be able to pleasure their partners during sex. I love this sort of thing in romance but it's a way of showing that these prioritize equality in these partnerships and encourages us to view people who can't pleasure their partners in real life and only caring about themselves as being bad partners and that's true! Also at the end, Maddek suggests Yvenne allow the people in her kingdom to vote for their leader and she agrees. This is something I've wanted fantasy books to do since I started reading the genre. Successional monarchies are a bad system of government and it drives me crazy when to supposed hero or chosen one doesn't institute a fairer form of government. I was so surprised to see that in this book but I was so happy to see it!

Honestly, in the middle of this book I thought about giving up because it just seemed overly long and meandering. I'm so happy I stuck it out because the ending made this book for me and made me so excited to read the sequel at some point. I would definitely encourage people to at least give this a chance. There might be parts you find boring but it all pays off at the end. ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
To start off a warning that there are no actual dragons in this book, rather the dragons are a unit of Parsathean warriors, that act as the parts of a dragon, the heart, the claw, the sting, the shield, etc.

Yvenne has been kept captive in a Tower with her mother all her life. She comes from a long line of warrior-queens and though she may be small, she is smart and has the courage of a lion. Her father's ambitions, corruption and cruelty knew no bounds. She knew of the world only by her mother's teaching and visions and her father's abuses. When she sees her chance to escape and exact revenge on her father and take back her crown she seizes it by taking on Maddek.

Maddek is the commander of the alliance armies and vows vengeance when he learns of his parents death at the hands of the Yvenne's father. He kidnaps Yvenne intending to exact his revenge but instead accepts her counter offer to join forces against her father.

There is so much goodness in this epic tale it's hard not to reveal too much. Milla is an artist bringing these characters alive, the avenging warrior and the quick witted queen, with hopes of more than a cold alliance. We see these two grow with each other as warrior learns to become a king and a queen learn to become a warrior. There is no instant love here, it's a slow burn that gets hotter and hotter. Maddek has a lot to overcome to learn to trust and care for Yvenne and he hurts her in the process. Thank god even when she gave up on him, he managed to convince her to give him another shot. I loved these two for each other and don't get me started on his Dragon! Loved his guards, they were such a great warrior family and that they were willing to become Yvenne's family when her's were so evil.

I won a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway.

If you like my reviews I hope you will follow my blog. https://wyldheartreads.wordpress.com/

( )
  wyldheartreads | Dec 14, 2020 |
First book by this author.
Really enjoyed it.
Very good.
Brooding Hero and misunderstood heroine.
The heroine is also strong in her own way though not a warrior.
Heroine is a virgin and the Hero has been celibate for some years as he's been fighting for his country and also he is aware his parents were seeking a bride for him so he feels it isnt right to be with others.
Bit violent and some possible triggers from treatment of and by enemies, though not gratuitous.
Loads of cultural history and legendary stories.
Secondary characters introduced that could have their own stories.
HEA. ( )
  izzied | Oct 29, 2020 |

( )
  ayoshina | Oct 2, 2020 |
Incredible World Building and Absolutely Amazing Characters!

I'm torn about whether this story is 4 or 5 stars. It was an enjoyable reading experience and everything about it was well done, but I didn't devour it like most books. I was content to read it at leisure. And that didn't fit the tone of the journey. They were on a vengeful quest and running for their lives so I feel like I should have been more on the edge of my seat unable to put it down. At the same time it was a long journey and a cunker of a book soooo taking the time to savor it makes sense too. Either way it's a great book.

The depth of the world building is epic giving you many layers without going overboard or info dumping. The Characters are so multidimensional watching our hero grow was heart warming. The loyalty of his people overwhelming. The strength and determination of our heroine is awe inspiring. I can't wait for the next book. ( )
  Rwaggner76 | Mar 4, 2020 |
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