After reading through what there is of her Hades and Persephone series, I found that I really liked St. Clair’s writing and her dedication to research. With this new series, she put those skills to work bringing a world of vampires and monsters to life. Drawing on different stories and myths of vampires, St. Clair crafted the world and characters of this series into an interesting and intense story of love and betrayal.
Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king, Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him. But her assassination attempt is thwarted and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court. Except it isn’t the court she fears most—it’s Adrain. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king—fierce, savage, merciless—chose her as consort.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I started reading this book, but I knew based on her other series that it would be full of dark passion, violence, and smut. I was not disappointed. However, I was surprised at her inclusion of witchcraft and the history of witch burnings in her world’s history and how they shaped her characters and their motivations. I guess I wasn’t really prepared for a discussion about the nuances of history as they relate whose eyes you view it from. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy or appreciate it.
St. Clair has a way with discussing how events and history can be viewed from multiple sides. She shows that in this book through how war and conquest is seen differently by either side. Adrian became a perfect morally gray main character through his unfolding story and history. He starts as our typical conquering king come to claim a princess from a nation on the brink of destruction, but then becomes a force of protection, a comforting presence, and a vengeful lover looking to right past wrongs. I definitely came to like him by the end of the book.
“You assume I want a wife,” he said. “But I came for a queen.” It was my turn to stare. “So our marriage will be one of pageantry?” “Oh, I think we are both too passionate for that.”– Scarlett St. Clair, King of Battle and Blood
Isolde was a great character as well, fierce and independent and not afraid to speak her mind. She wished to rule without a king, but found power in becoming Adrian’s Queen and equal just as well. I liked seeing her as a warrior princess, not afraid to fight and defend herself, maybe to the detriment of being able to be vulnerable with others and herself. But I think her weakness in that area makes sense considering the environment she grew up in.
While I enjoy the relationship that Adrian and Isolde build and their story through the book, I’m not so certain about the revelations of Isolde’s identity that come towards the end. I won’t go into too much detail, but I’m not quite sure it was necessary and seems like a way to skip over some nuances of building a relationship and also a way to skip the long process of having a character learn history through research and conversation. I guess it adds a certain flavor, if you enjoy a fated-mates kind of story, but I’m not entirely sold until I see what St. Clair decides to do with it in the next book.
I will say though, if you’re looking for a spicy, enemies-to-lovers story with vampires, monsters, and a fiery main character, I think you’ll like this one. I certainly enjoyed the spice and tension between Isolde and Adrian as they fought, bickered, and made-up. It was interesting to see Isolde use sex as a way to reclaim a sense of dominance in their relationship after feeling trapped in their marriage. Adrian also has this kind of typical, “set the world on fire for you” mentality that I think a lot of readers love when it comes to dark romances.
If any of this sounds interesting: enemies-to-lovers, vampires, dark romance, fated-mates, blood and passion, then I think you’ll like this book. I’m really interested to see how the next one turns out and if we get to see more of Isolde’s mother’s people. Let me know in the comments if you’ve had the chance to read this one and what you thought!
~~Thanks for Reading!~~
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