Publication Date: September 6, 2016
I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Though she is intended for the king, Calista Thorne picks up a crossbow to defend her ancestral home, Blackbriar Keep, from a gang of landless knights. She even manages to sink a poison-tipped arrow into their commander, who survives long enough to conquer the Keep and claim Calista for his own. Now, with her father’s life at stake, Calista must nurse the brigand back to health, and the strangest thing happens: She finds herself fascinated by his tautly muscled body, and enthralled by his hotly whispered demands.
Ever since his father’s death, the fearsome warrior they call Torch has been consumed by his quest for revenge. Taking Blackbriar Keep is the first step in that plan, and—by the three gods—it won’t be the last. But after taking one look into Calista’s smoldering gray eyes, Torch discovers a passion nobler than retribution. He will fulfill his destiny and take her from the usurper king, even in his weakened state. For with Calista’s love, no man has ever felt more powerful.
This is not my first Ashlyn Macnamara novel. Normally, I really like her work, but I’m on the fence with this one. I thought this was a historical romance; however, I would call it a cross between historical and fantasy. While certain aspects (like the medieval notions of knights, chivalry, and honor) are true to history, the setting is fantastical with monks who have a strange connection to the land and action-inducing premonitions.
I did enjoy the fantasy aspects; however, they felt a little underdeveloped to me. It was more like paranormal than fantasy because the fantasy aspects were so few. I don’t know if that was intentional or not. Aside from the strange religion and the earth connection, it could have been a historical romance.
While the writing was good, I had no real connection with the characters. Calista, especially, seemed a little flat. Her engagement to Magnus was an opportunity to really show her traits, but we never see Magnus. She was a pawn in the story and a pawn in the telling of the story. Torch has the uber-masculine, “good guy with a tattered past” typical to the genre, and I liked him better than her. Their interaction just didn’t engage me as much as I would have liked.
This novel is part of a series, and I would read another, but it’s not one I’d be super-excited to see released.