Total Star Rating: 3.75 Stars
So while I am a big fan of any sort of steamy romance, but has an actually engaging plot on top of it. It’s not just sex scene after sex scene, not that it’s a bad thing to have sex scenes, but hey! I like an actual story driving it forward. Give me a plot, and I’m happy to say that this title is definitely that!
I remember I’d had someone I used to work with at a previous job was talking it up during our lunch breaks; a fun, action-packed, well written fantasy epic with a romantic subplot that doesn’t overtake the actual storyline. Lately, I’ve been reading a little more romance, and it gets tiring when you read the same thing over and over again…my biggest annoyance is when there’s angst for the sake of angst and literally all the issues could be fixed if the two main characters just got their heads out of their asses and COMMUNICATE…This story has none of that, it’s more like an odyssey with two stubborn, alpha characters fight an undeniable attraction for each other for good reasons.
What I find refreshing in a lot of tales like this is when the author gives us a little switch: that the woman is the aloof, not willing to be vulnerable one afraid of love, but the guy is all ready for it and tries to convince her it’d be worth it.
Reading this book, I enjoyed all the action that took place, the alpha males and their dynamic as a small group of elite warriors in a found family sort of situation, and a strong & sassy female lead to put them back in their place. She’s not the most memorable MC, in fact she’s a bit irksome with how much she makes it a point to remind them she’s an independent woman and every male is considered beneath her and they gross her out…I swear, I was almost expecting her to say something along the lines of boys having cooties…
It wasn’t blow-my-mind amazing, but it was fun and had a lot of elements that I enjoy in any book, plus it’s only the first book in a trilogy, so I bet it only gets better in the next titles!
What It’s About:
This story revolves around Catalia “Cat” Fisa, who is disguised as a healer and magician in a traveling circus. There isn’t much known about her other than where she came from, and most of the story revolves around all the mysteries that surround her and who she is.
This story takes place in a land named Thalyria with three kingdoms within that control the realm: Fisa, Tarva, and Sinta. Fisa is in the North and is where Cat ran away from. Tarva is the central kingdom ruled by a brother and sister combo, the later incredibly power hungry. Sinta can be found in the South and was overtaken by a Warlord and his family. In this world, there are two types of people: Magoi and Hoi Polli. Magoi are the magical beings with extraordinary abilities and are usually the rulers of the kingdoms. Hoi Polli are the people who are usually low class or even slaves.
Back to that Warlord in Sinta, he’s also where the story really begins. His name is Griffin, he’s a Hoi Polli, and traveled with his three best men (who are also his best friends) to visit Cat’s circus and steal her away. He claims she’s the Kingmaker: a magical being that has the ability to be able to tell truth from lie. One comes around only once every few hundred years, and Kings of the past have sought out people like her to use them as powerful weapons in court, and Griffin had the same idea so that the other Magoi royal families think twice about butchering him and his people, until he unexpectedly starts to fall for her.
Most of the story involves the journey Cat, Griffin and his men (Kato, Flynn, and Carver) take in order to bring her back down to the South towards Griffin’s newly won kingdom, and of course, the growing attraction between Cat and Griffin.
What I Liked:
- Greek Mythology Infusion! The world the author created is their own idea, but there is a heavy influence of Greek Mythology that comes into play. The Gods, Goddesses, and Cerberus get little cameos throughout or are mentioned, and Cat is even the goddaughter of Poseidon. Some aspects may be questionable, like did Hades really cheat on Persephone with Selena, one of the characters? You may have to have an open mind with some of it, but I love Greek Mythology, so I enjoyed this aspect a whole lot!
- The Romance! I love a good romance, and it was undeniable for me that their where some sparks between Griffin and Cat throughout. It was a really slow burn, and there weren’t as many love scenes as you’d probably think there are (there’s probably going to be more in the later books). While I enjoyed this aspect, I can recognize that other readers may respond to how their relationship develops as problematic. Basically, their relationship starts because he kidnaps her from her newfound home, and things get pretty physical–in terms of combat and verbal abuse on both sides. Some may interpret their dynamic as abusive, but I honestly didn’t…they’re both strong, proud, and stubborn individuals. For the longest time, she acts like she doesn’t feel anything for him, even acting grossed out if he kisses her and tells him to stop, but internally she is squirming in the best ways possible…I don’t know, some people still view that as him being persistent and predatory, but she gave plenty of hints about actually meaning the opposite, and I honestly had no problems with any part of their dynamic.
- The Banter! The dynamic between the main men of the story: Griffin, Kato, Flynn, and Carver is filled with a lot of testosterone but also plenty of teasing and humor (For any fans of Sarah J. Maas and her alpha-males in her fantasy books, it’s very similar and just as enjoyable). Kato, a gorgeous but cocky blond warrior, was my absolute favorite, but Flynn was a big ginger badass turned softie once he put down his weapons.
What I Didn’t Like:
- The Heroine Is So Whiny…Cat is supposed to be this sassy, feisty, attitude-fueled alpha female, and she can hold her own in any fight in more ways than one, but I have to agree with others who’ve reviewed this book and said she complains a lot. She really does, and after about 75% of the book she lets up a little bit of it, but for the most part it just made her sound more juvenile and immature and I was not here for it. Hopefully she does some major growing up in the next books!
- The Not-So-Secret Big Reveal…Without giving too much away, the author put a lot of emphasis on a myth or prophecy in her plot, and she wrote it in a way that it’s basically showing us a major reveal with gigantic, flashing lights…It’s pretty obvious, especially with how many times it’s brought up. It wasn’t revealed in this title, but when I finally read that “big, shocking reveal,” I actually won’t be pretty surprised by it. It’s almost like the author gave us a major spoiler for her own book, which cheapens the experience for me.
An adventurous tale filled with action, Ancient Immortal beings, bloody battles, political intrigue, and of course slow burn romance–It’s kind of got a little of everything! Cat and Griffin are two great MC’s to get behind, and feel incredibly well fleshed out with relatable flaws and clashing personalities. Their relationship and how it develops can be seen as questionable to some readers, and I hate to admit that how you personally view it can dramatically change your entire perception of the story. For me, I thought it was scorching!
I recommend this to anyone who loves romance-centric fantasy-genre tales. It’s not perfect, but is a solid start for what can be a fun, lesser known trilogy. The author didn’t info dump too much when building her world and explaining it to us. Even though it doesn’t take place in Ancient Greece, the use of notable characters in Greek Mythology add to the fun and magical essence of the book; I hope I see more names added in the later books!
I can definitely say I will gladly be looking for the next titles in this trilogy!
Thanks for Reading!
— Nick Goodsell