Author: Grace Draven

Sunday Spotlight: Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven

Posted June 28, 2020 by Casee in Features | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

I was first introduced to Grace Draven when Holly, Rowena, and I did a joint review for Phoenix Unbound. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like it, but the blurb was so interesting that I had to read it. It was as good as I thought it would be. Dragon Unleashed is the second book in Draven’s Fallen Empire series. I can’t wait to dive in.

Sunday Spotlight: Dragon Unleashed by Grace DravenDragon Unleashed by Grace Draven
Series: Fallen Empire #2
Also in this series: Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1)
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

A dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth fight a corrupt empire in this thrilling and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.
Magic is outlawed in the Krael Empire and punishable by death. Born with the gift of earth magic, the free trader Halani keeps her dangerous secret closely guarded. When her uncle buys a mysterious artifact, a piece of bone belonging to a long-dead draga, Halani knows it's far more than what it seems.
Dragas haven't been seen for more than a century, and most believe them extinct. They're wrong. Dragas still walk among the denizens of the Empire, disguised as humans. Malachus is a draga living on borrowed time. The magic that has protected him will soon turn on him--unless he finds a key part of his heritage. He has tracked it to a group of free traders, among them a grave-robbing earth witch who fascinates him as much as she frustrates him with her many secrets.
Unbeknownst to both, the Empire's twisted empress searches for a draga of her own, to capture and kill as a trophy. As Malachus the hunter becomes the hunted, Halani must risk herself and all she loves to save him from the Empire's machinations and his own lethal birthright.

Excerpt

Chapter One

If there was one thing Malachus had learned about humans during his long life span, it was that they were first and foremost thieves. They stole anything and everything, nailed down or not, from jewels and livestock to women and children. And if battlefields and graves were any true indicators, the dead were no more safe from their larceny than the living.

The Sovatin monks who’d fostered him as a child never truly prepared him for the scope of humanity’s predation upon itself. Though human as well, the monks lived isolated from the depredations of the so-called civilized. Malachus never forgot the grief on their faces-the horror-at discovering their sacred necropolis destroyed beyond repair by treasure seekers. It was his first real taste of humanity as a whole, and he found it revolting. It was also the impetus for him to become a sought-after bounty hunter with a reputation feared throughout Winosia’s prefectures.

His martial training combined with his true nature gave him an edge, one that made grave robbers and slavers question whether pursuing their professions was worth the risk of becoming the quarry in his hunt.

This hunt was different, more personal, and his prey far wilier than he’d anticipated, slipping through his fingers countless times over numerous leagues and a treacherous sea. Either they possessed extraordinary luck or they knew what he was and how to outmaneuver him. Now, far away in an unfamiliar country, Malachus’s luck had run dry.

The pair possessed a treasure he would move mountains to regain, and they had fled across the Raglun Sea to these lands. The ship Malachus had sailed on to follow them had almost caught up to theirs, the mother-bond calling to his soul with a war drum’s beat. But fickle gods had churned the waters into a raging cauldron and flung his ship far off course. An experienced captain and crew had saved the ship and those on board, sailing the beaten vessel into harbor with broken masts and ripped sails. Malachus’s quarry had long since vanished into the interior, moving westward.

He’d managed to track them from the coast to this forest, guided by the internal beacon connecting him to the artifact he hunted. His mother-bond, which was all that remained of his mother, his birthright, and his ability to reclaim his true heritage.

Malachus stood at the tree line and gazed upon the fields before him that stretched to the base of the distant black-striped mountains. A wide road snaked toward a miasma of dust in the distance, a steady stream of wagon and foot traffic traveling its length. According to those he’d spoken with when he first came ashore, a great market, promising all manner of goods available for sale, had sprung up where once a Kraelian garrison had stood. He suspected his prey was there. He stabbed the damp earth in front of him with the point of his sword, wishing it was the belly of one, or both, of the thieves. He needed that mother-bond. Nothing more than a bit of bone at first glance, its value lay far beyond anything the pair might get from a buyer. After four hundred years of imprisonment in a human body, kept quiet by magic, his true form had grown restless, a dangerous prisoner, and a fatal one if he didn’t set it loose in time. Even now, the force of his inevitable transformation surged through his bones and muscles, making the veins in his arms and neck bulge at times, and his head throb. It was certain that he’d have to slough off his human guise and embrace the draga one. Ignoring that imperative guaranteed death. He needed the mother-bond to safely initiate that change.

At his patient mare’s inquiring whicker, he turned. She whuffled a second time when he stroked her neck.

“They’re close, Batraza,” he told the horse. “Likely trying to pawn what they pilfered.”

Finding the thieves and the mother-bond would be easier in a contained market than trying to track them across leagues of unknown, and likely hostile, terrain. If he listened hard enough, he could hear hints of faraway voices. They were about a full day’s ride from the dust cloud, and that was if he and Batraza didn’t have to shelter from the summer storms that periodically doused the area.

For now the sky curved blue above him, and he eyed the clouds scudding by, noting those that gathered into thunderheads to linger in the distance. Malachus sighed, cleaning his blade before resheathing it. The ragged tips of Batraza’s tail slapped against his arm as she swatted away the pesky gnats that swarmed in clouds around their heads and tried to fly up their noses. Unlike other horses, she didn’t lay her ears back in warning or try to bolt when Malachus drew near her. That, as much as her preternaturally long life span, made her as strange as her rider.

Malachus offered her the treat of a withered apple he had fished from the depths of one of the bags attached to the saddle, and swung nimbly onto her back. The two turned away from the road toward an open space where the tree line curved in a horseshoe shape around gently swaying grassland.

Time and solitude allowed Malachus to plan his next move as he tracked the mother-bond to the shores of the far-flung Krael Empire. Sometimes he felt more hound than human or draga, his nose either to the ground or to the wind as he searched for his legacy. The blue sky overhead rapidly gave way to blackening thunderheads fissured with lightning. A few bolts broke free to strike the ground, and Batraza pranced beneath him, nervous at the storm’s approach. Malachus guided her deeper into the trees before dismounting. She leaned against him as he cast a spell the monks had taught him to calm her so she wouldn’t bolt when he left her to return to the open curve of grassland on foot.

Rain blew in with a howl and then a roar, slanting sideways as the storm gusts drove it across the landscape like an overseer wielding a whip. Malachus tilted his face to the sky and let the deluge pummel him, washing away his frustration along with the layer of travel dirt he’d acquired since his last bath.

A shimmer of light illuminated the shield of his closed eyelids, followed by a boom of thunder. Within the sheltering trees, Batraza whinnied her fear. Malachus murmured, “It’s all right, girl. Just a little light and noise, nothing more. You’re the safest you can be where you are.”

As quickly as the storm blew in, it passed. Thunder rumbled in the distance, chasing walls of rain that galloped across the forest before bashing into the mountain range. Black clouds splintered by lightning trailed behind, and Malachus crossed his fingers in the hope that his height and singularity on the flat ground might lure one of those crackling tongues of light toward him. Lightning always loved the draga, even those disguised as humans.

A bright bolt forked out of one of the clouds to strike him. He convulsed with the shock wave of power that hammered through his muscles and boiled the blood in his veins. For a moment, his heart seized before restarting with a double-time beat. Every hair on his body stood up, and the smell of charred cloth filled his nostrils. Still, he kept his feet as the lightning anchored him to the earth and exploded images across his mind’s eye.

A market teeming with people against the backdrop of a ruined fortress, his mother-bond haloed in shimmering light and resting on a square of purple cloth. A woman’s pretty face and somber gray eyes. An older man with similar features and the same gray eyes. And most important, the two thieves he’d tracked this far. All those depictions flashed before him in the time it took for the lightning to pin him to the ground, burn bright, then burn out.

Released from the lightning’s lethal hold, Malachus staggered before falling to one knee. He breathed deep, fire in his lungs and agony in his bones. Smoke wreathed him and the burnt grass around him. A wispy tendril meandered from a thumbnail-size burn hole on the top of his right boot. The wetness of rain-soaked ground seeped through his sole. The lightning that exited his body had left a matching burn hole there.

Any other man would be a smoking husk by now, but Malachus was not a normal man any more than Batraza was a normal horse. His magic made the mare unique just as Malachus’s mother’s heritage made him peculiar. Batraza was a horse that wore the guise of magic. Malachus was magic who wore the guise of a human.

He’d need to repair his boot, but the damage had been worth it. The lightning had revealed a great deal. The valuable piece of his mother’s skeleton still moved westward, pausing briefly as if teasing him with its nearness.

While most of the images the lightning had shown him were obvious location markers and hints, the one of the woman with the solemn features puzzled him. She might well be a buyer interested in possessing the mother-bond-and woe betide her if she was-or she might be traveling with the thieves he tracked, unknowing that they carried a lodestone that put a relentless hunter on their trail. The man she resembled was a mystery as well, though Malachus had no doubt that he, too, was somehow tied to the mother-bond. The lightning wouldn’t have shown them otherwise.

He stood, soaked to the skin, and shook off the last remnants of the sky’s blistering kiss before returning to Batraza. She snorted and rolled her eyes when Malachus drew closer, stamping a hoof as if to admonish him for leaving her alone among the trees.

“Peace, Bat,” he said in his most soothing tone and gathered the reins before swinging into the wet saddle. The storm’s power had fizzled. To the west, the clearing sky took on a golden hue, overpainting the blue as the sun regained dominion over the clouds.

Malachus guided the mare out of the forest. If they traveled without stopping and avoided the road’s heavier traffic, they’d reach the market by the following nightfall. A new moon meant a blacker-than-usual night. He could enter the market without much notice, just one of many travelers journeying toward the temporary city. Though he wasn’t human, he wore the form of one no different from all of those who trekked toward the ruins.

They reached the market after the vendors closed shop and the encampment surrounding it settled down for the night. That suited him fine. He found it far easier to navigate new surroundings without throngs of people milling about to trade, socialize, or steal.

The sickle moon hung midway in the night sky as he circled the camp perimeter, ringed by hundreds of tents and wagons as well as livestock pens guarded by a few people and a fair number of dogs. The air was redolent with the scent of humans and animals, mud and wet felt-unpleasant except for the drifting scents of cooking spices and herbal teas simmering over fires. Those teased his nostrils, and his empty stomach rumbled in response. Malachus nodded briefly to the watch who silently observed him as he rode past pens and clusters of tents, inciting the dogs into frantic barking or frightened yelps if his gaze lingered too long on them. The mother-bond’s draw hummed along his senses like silver thread stitched into fabric. He guided Batraza along the market’s edge and farther out still, where the grass grew undisturbed and untrampled and the light of torches no longer chased away the thick darkness. He brought the mare to a halt and breathed deep, allowing his senses to open wide, feel even more the hard draw of draga magic as he sharpened his focus on the thing that had driven him to cross deep seas and foreign lands to find it.

He’d camp for the night and renew his search in the morning. Reconnoitering in darkness had its benefits, but this was a large tent city populated with enough watchmen that someone would interpret his investigating as nefarious and try either to shoot him or to knife him. Confrontations never went unnoticed, and he didn’t want to give any warning to his prey of his presence here. For all they knew, his ship had gone down in an angry sea and he along with it. He didn’t want to disabuse them of the notion in case they’d made such a fortuitous assumption.

The spot where he chose to camp was no more than a patch of wet ground away from the meandering patterns of flattened grass that marked a well-traveled trek made by campers who wished to relieve themselves away from their living spaces.

The night sky stayed clear, and he counted the stars salting its expanse from his supine view on Batraza’s saddle blanket. The mare grazed nearby, her lead rope staked within easy reach. Malachus listened to the sounds around him-the call of a night bird, the distant ululation of wolves, the rustle of some rodent hiding from predators looking to catch their dinner. Above those, the murmur and flow of voices, their words indistinct. Friendly conversations and hot arguments, the intense sensuality of moans during lovemaking, a woman’s sweet lullaby to a fretful baby.

These were the things that reminded him there was more to humanity than its larceny, its petty cruelties. His understanding, and the empathy that came with it, was a fragile thing, even after decades of living among humans outside the monastery. He looked like them, but they possessed dark depths he’d never fully comprehend, nor did he want to. The sounds he listened to now, of mundane lives lived in peaceful hours, softened his attitude a small bit. It wouldn’t last. It never did.

His thoughts settled once more on the gray-eyed woman the lightning had shown him earlier. Attractive, but he had known sublime. Dignified, but he had met majestic. There was nothing about her appearance that strayed from the conventional into the remarkable, yet her image remained emblazoned in his mind. He saw it overlaid across a spectacle of starlight and behind his lids when he closed them. It was more than a suspected connection to his mother-bond. He wanted to know her name, hear her voice, learn what lay behind those eyes the color of dove’s wings. His fascination with her made no sense, but Malachus didn’t question it. His spirit understood his instinct better than his mind did, and he couldn’t shunt its message aside. The lightning had shown her to him for a reason.

Fallen Empire

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: June 2020
Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Grace Draven

Grace Draven is a Louisiana native living in Texas with her husband, kids and a big, doofus dog. She has loved storytelling since forever and is a fan of the fictional bad boy. She is the winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice for Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and 2016, and a USA Today Bestselling author.


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Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Posted November 14, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 5 Comments

Joint Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace DravenReviewer: Casee, Holly, & Rowena
Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven
Narrator: Katharine McEwan
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

Phoenix Unbound is the first book in Grace Draven’s Fallen Empire series and it follows a young woman named Gilene who was born with fire magic. Each year, the Empire demands a sacrifice from each village in the form of a young woman who will be burned to death for the entertainment of the masses and each year, Gilene has been the sacrifice for her small town. With her fire magic and illusion, Gilene has been able to trick the Empire into believing that her town sends a new sacrifice each year and each year, her small town makes her pay the price.

When Gilene comes across the Empire’s winningest gladiator, her life is forever changed because Azarion knows Gilene’s secret. He can see through her illusion and knows she’s been coming every year. He needs her help in escaping his enslavement because he needs to go back home and re-claim his title and his family. He also needs to make sure that those who sold him into slavery pay for their crimes.

Rowena: Alright, so what did you guys think? Did you guys enjoy this book as much as you did Shadow and Ice? =P

Holly: I listened to the audiobook, and the first few chapters were pretty slow for me. I don’t know if it was because I was listening instead of reading, or just the book itself, but I struggled. By the halfway point (perhaps a bit sooner, I didn’t really pay attention to where I was at in the book) it picked up. Regardless, I ended up really loving it. Shadow and Ice, not so much.

Casee: Okay, I finally read this book and I really ended up enjoying it. I don’t think I liked it as much as you two did, but I did really like it. It started out really, really slow for me. I listened to it on audio. I liked the narrator, which always helps. It really wasn’t until they got back to Azarion’s homeland that the book started getting interesting.

Ha. This book was loads better than Shadow and Ice. The two don’t even compare.

Rowena: I read the eBook and was fine. I didn’t think it was slow at all, but that could have been because I was so bored through Shadow & Ice that the mystery behind what Gilene did for her village, every single year had me sitting up and taking notice right from the jump.

Holly: I really loved Gilene in this book. She was such a strong woman. I really identified with her determination to save her family, even if they didn’t necessarily deserve her sacrifice.

Rowena: Like Holly, I loved Gilene so much in this book but I also really loved Azarion. They were both going through so much that it was hard not to sympathize with them. I completely understood why Azarion did what he did to Gilene at the same time that I understood why Gilene had to get back to her village, and why she felt she had to continue to do what she does year in and year out even though her village probably didn’t deserve her sacrifice.

Holly: I understood why Azarion did what he did, too, though I didn’t fault Gilene for being angry at him over it. I also got why she needed to go back to her village. They definitely didn’t deserve her, but she couldn’t turn her back on them and I respected that.

Casee: I did find Gilene and her history interesting. I also found her a little insufferable. She was constantly fighting Azarion. I understood that, but at the same time I was like give it a rest, girl. Bide your time.

Holly: I didn’t find Gilene insufferable, though I did find myself thinking she needed to relax a little. She spent her whole life being told she had to do this one thing, so I understood where her head was at.

Rowena: That was the same for me. It’s hard not to sympathize with her considering the big sacrifice she had to go through every single year and then how else was she to respond to Azarion kidnapping her? I would have been fighting his ass at every turn too.

My favorite parts of the story were when Azarion and Gilene were back in his home…and when she fooled those guys that tried to attack her and the people of Azarion’s village. The way that she made the fire all big was great and I loved seeing her come into her own powers, especially in the end when she’s back in the empire. What were some of your favorite parts of the book?

Holly: I loved Azarion’s culture. It reminded me of the Dothraki from Game of Thrones. I really liked the time they spent with Azarion’s clan. His mom and sister were great, and I liked how Gilene proved herself. The scene you mentioned, definitely, plus her actions at the end. I loved how brave she was, and how willing she was to sacrifice it all for others.

Rowena: Yeah, same.

Casee: My favorite part of the book was when Azarion thought Gilene was lost to Agna forever. I think that scene truly showed the depths of his feelings for her. And when they found each other again? Sigh. That was just about perfection.

Rowena: How about Azarion’s cousin? I’m not going to lie, it brought me much joy when Azarion killed that little bitch with his Legolas horse shenanigans. That was great.

Holly: I loved it when Azarion finally took care of his cousin.

Rowena: Overall, I thought the story was interesting and I’m interested in keeping the party going. I’m thinking that homegirl from the caravan people is going to get a book and the other girl from the Empire, the one that was supposed to be burned up with Gilene the day that she went nuts on the empire. Which, by the way, was fantastic.

Holly: I think the caravan healer will have a book, and the other girl you mentioned. I hope we have more info about what’s next soon.

Casee: I did think it was interesting when Holly asked me if I thought Azarion was going to be Gilene’s hero. I never he thought he might not be. I did wonder how it was all going to work out though.

Rowena: This is was my first book by Grace Draven and it was a good one so I’m definitely keen on reading more from her. I give this one a 4 out of 5. What about you guys?

Holly: The story was definitely interesting. The beginning was slow, but the second half more than made up for it. I loved Gilene’s strength of will, and her determination to do the right thing no matter what. I loved Azarion, and how protective he was of her and how determined to do the right thing with his clan. I’m really looking forward to the next book. 4 out of 5

Casee: I’m giving this a 4 out of 5.

Casee: 4 out of 5
Holly: 4 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

The Fallen Empire

four-stars


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Review: Radiance by Grace Draven

Posted September 21, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Radiance by Grace DravenReviewer: Holly
Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1) by Grace Draven
Series: Wraith Kings #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 13, 2015
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 297
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

This was an adorable story. If you’d told me prior to reading this that I’d think a dude with gray skin and yellow eyes would be adorable, I’d have called you crazy. Yet here we are. Brishen was adorable. I loved the main conflict – that they’re different races and find each other hideous.

“You find me ugly, don’t you?”
“Hideous. A hag of a woman. And you? You don’t think me a handsome man?”
“Had you crawled out from under my bed when I was a child, I would have bludgeoned you to death with my father’s mace.”

She’s human and he’s Kai. They’re to be married at the edict of their respective kings. Neither is looking forward to being married to a monster. He calls her a hag and she calls him a dead eel. That may not sound like the makings of a great romance, but it was. I loved their banter and how they came to see each other in a different light.

Ildiko was strong and practical. I loved how she embraced her new life and kept an open mind. Brishen was kind and thoughtful, especially when it came to Ildiko. They made a great team together. Their romance was very sweet, despite their differences. I love how they chose to support one another, rather than being angry because they were forced into the marriage.

“You are also a princess of the blood through marriage, a member of the royal family. My wife. Every Kai in that room owes you their allegiance and respect. I will cut out any tongue that would try and besmirch you, Ildiko.” He pressed his lips to her palm. The tiniest crack appeared in her serene composure.

Her mouth twitched with the hint of a smile. “Or bury an axe blade in their heads?”

His guilt over his inability to rescue her from his own family eased a little at her humor. “I’m adept with spear and sword as well. Just name who you want me to skewer for you.”

The majority of the book is spent on Ildiko learning about Brishen and his people, as well as settling into her new life. While it could have been slow and boring, instead it was sweet and engaging. Early on Brishen and Ildiko decide they need to be a team if their marriage is going to work. I loved their solidarity and how adult and mature their romance was. Though there is some minor outside conflicts, that’s not the focus of this book and I loved it.

Brishen was adorable. Ildiko was perfect for him. Together they were unstoppable.

4.25 out of 5

Wraith Kings

four-half-stars


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Giveaway: Celebrate Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven with a Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit

Posted September 3, 2018 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 1 Comment

Start Kit Book Covers

Enter for a chance to win your own romantic fantasy starter kit! 

As Phoenix Unbound is the first book in Grace Draven’s Fallen Empire series, Ace is celebrating with a giveaway that also features other first-in-series romantic fantasy books (including books by Nalini Singh, Chloe Neill, Ilona Andrews, Anne Bishop, and Patricia Briggs). They are calling it a ‘Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit’ and it includes some seriously awesome books.

Giveaway: Celebrate Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven with a Romantic Fantasy Starter KitPhoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Also in this series: Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1)
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

These six first-in-series books are essential to building your fantasy romance collection!

20 runners-up will receive an advance reading copy of Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven!

SLAVE TO SENSATION by Nalini Singh

THE FIRST PSY/CHANGELING NOVEL from the New York Times bestselling author of Shards of Hope, Shield of Winter, and Heart of Obsidian

The book that Christine Feehan called “a must-read for all of my fans.”

MAGIC BITES by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews invites you to experience the first novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series featuring the intriguing fantasy world of mercenary Kate Daniels…

WRITTEN IN RED by Anne Bishop

Enter the world of the Others in the first novel in New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s thrilling fantasy series: a place where unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—rule the Earth and prey on the human race.

CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs

#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs presents the first Alpha and Omega novel—the start of an extraordinary series set in Mercy Thompson’s world, but with rules of its own…

PHOENIX UNBOUND by Grace Draven

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

WILD HUNGER by Chloe Neill

In the first thrilling installment of Chloe Neill’s spinoff to the New York Times bestselling Chicagoland Vampires series, a new vampire will find out just how deep blood ties run.

Click here to enter! 

*This giveaway is not a Book Binge sponsored giveaway. You will enter through the publisher’s website and they will contact you direct if you win.


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Guest Review: Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter and Jeffe Kennedy

Posted December 28, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Elizabeth Hunter and Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Tracy
Amid the Winter Snow by Grace Draven, Thea Harrison, Jeffe Kennedy, Elizabeth Hunter
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: December 12th 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

As the snows fall and hearths burn, four stories of Midwinter beginnings prove that love can fight its way through the chillest night...

THE DARKEST MIDNIGHT, by Grace Draven
The mark Jahna Ulfrida was born with has made her a target of the cruel and idle all her life. During the long, crowded festivities of Deyalda, there’s nowhere to escape. Until a handsome stranger promises to teach her to save herself…

THE CHOSEN, by Thea HarrisonIn her visions, Lily sees two men fighting for her tiny country’s allegiance: the wolf and the tiger, each deadly, each cunning. One will bring Ys chaos and death, one a gentler path—but she’s destined to love whichever she chooses. The midwinter Masque is upon them, and the wolf is at her door…

THE STORM, by Elizabeth Hunter
When her soul mate died in a massacre of the half-angelic Irin people, Renata thought she’d never feel happiness again. She’s retreated to the snowy Dolomites to remember her hurts—until determined, irrepressible Maxim arrives to insist on joy, too. And before she can throw him out, they discover a secret the Irin have to know…

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN, by Jeffe Kennedy
As a blizzard threatens their mountain keep, the new Queen Amelia of the Twelve Kingdoms and her unofficial consort Ash face their own storm. Ash knows a scarred, jumpy ex-convict isn’t the companion his queen needs. But when a surprise attack confines them together in their isolated sanctuary, the feast of midwinter might tempt even Ash into childlike hope…

THE DARKEST NIGHT

Jahna was born with a birthmark on her face (what is now known as a port wine stain) that has made her the victim of severe bullying whenever she wasn’t in her home.  Her father refuses to let her stay home when there are festivals to go to at the palace.  She never takes part in the festivities but enjoys them none-the-less.

When Jahna is a 16-year-old she meets Sir Velus, the swordmaster who has been hired by her father to teach her brother for the next four years.  They become friends but they both harbor deeper feelings for the other that may never come to light.

This was a lovely story that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I do wish that we could have seen Velus and Jahna together a bit more as the story does jump time a bit (the novella covers a 4-year span of time).  Despite that I really liked it and love Velus for loving this wonderful woman that everyone else ignored.

THE CHOSEN

This story takes place in the same world as the Elder Races but in one of the parallel magical universes.  The Goddess has a Chosen one and she has prophetic dreams.  She sees violence coming to her country and she’s not sure who she can trust among the warring men.  One man, makes his way into her heart and helps her grow as a Chosen.

I really love Harrison’s Elder Races novels and this was a lovely glimpse into the more magical places in that world.  I really loved both the hero and heroine in this story – I just wish it was longer! Lol  I was totally into it and then it ended. sigh

THE STORM

Maxim fell in love with Renata 18 years earlier but she has been in and out of his life since that time.  He’s determined to finally lock her down!

I loved the premise of this book with the half-angelic Irin people and all they were going through.  It was sad at times but happy at others.  I liked Maxim a lot and was happy when he finally got Renata to agree to be with him forever.

THE SNOWS OF WINDROVEN

Ash is a soldier and knows that he’s not a good enough man to be with the queen, even though he loves her and her children.  Ash is seeing them to Windroven where Queen Amelia wants to spend the feast of midwinter.  During their travel they argue and agree to part but neither truly wants to be parted from the other.  When danger threatens the Queen Ash is there to save her.  They finally talk and realize that they never want to be parted.

This was a good story but I felt like I was missing something.  It’s obviously part of a series and because of this I didn’t feel that it stood alone well.  I liked it but was lost at times.  I thought that Amelia and Ash were both hard-headed and needed to talk.  When they finally did, all was well.  It ended without conclusion so I believe that there will be more to their story in the series to come.

Overall I really liked this anthology a lot.  The stories were engaging and I loved the magical/fantasy element that ran through all of the novellas.  This is one I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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