You should know that I don’t read fantasies. Generally, I don’t enjoy books with invented words, maps, and/or glossaries. But I was in a slump and thought that this sounded different, yet not too different. It has some invented words, but no appendices, and the poppy plant is still a pain reliever. So here we go.
Calista is the daughter of some minor nobleman guy who’s in charge of Blackbriar Keep. In a political maneuver, she’s been promised to the king, an old guy she’s never met. When the book opens, Calista is in armor, defending the keep from the invading Bastard Brotherhood. She manages to send an arrow into the thigh of the leader, Torch, but the castle falls anyway.
Torch claims Calista as a prize, right before he falls ill. In order to keep her parents alive and safe, she promises to nurse Torch back to health. This is where it felt like insta-love to me. Torch demanded Calista for his bride based on a bit of a magical feeling, and then he was delirious for a few days, so he only knows that she’s sexy and polite. Calista, meanwhile, stares at his hot body and notices how his men haven’t raped and pillaged the castle, so she decides he might make a fine husband.
When Torch awakens, they have some banter, and they’re both totally stoked that the other possesses wit and intelligence. Even though Calista’s mom reminds her that she’s “destined for a king,” Calista is into Torch’s body. They make out. The book felt like a standard historical romance at this point, aside from the different gods addressed for expletives. Then some plot happens, involving battles, and secret identities, and magic, and world building.
I felt like the first part moved slowly, since Torch was mainly asleep in bed, but they managed to fall in love anyway. After that, they barely had any time alone together. I wanted them to build trust over time, to learn to rely on each other and be awesome together. Instead, Torch became suspicious over nothing, and Calista fought to keep herself in the narrative so that she’d be more important in the next book.
This is where I remind you again that I don’t read fantasies. I kind of didn’t care about Torch’s big quest. Even if I did, I thought his strategy was really, really poorly planned. Like, he met a goal, and then when he wasn’t instantly rewarded as he expected, he had to go back to his lair and think up a new plan. He had no Plan B, is what I’m saying. Calista, meanwhile, worried about whether she should stick with Torch or hold out for the king, because that decision was literally the only thing she could control in her life.
I needed more emotional connection and romance. I got a lot of blushing (I started highlighting all the warmed cheeks) and a magical plot thread at the end that really felt like a prequel to the next book. Which I won’t be reading. But it might be a cool set up for those of you who like this sort of thing.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Destined For a King
by Ashlyn MacNamara
Release Date: September 6, 2016