Out of all Kirsten Ashley series I think this is one of my favorites. I love that this is pure fantasy and reminds me of the fairy tales I used to read as a young girl. I love that the heroines are transported to another world where they meet strong, handsome men and fall in love. I love that there are elves and dragons and witches and talking animals. I especially love that these women take modern pieces of themselves into this new world and ultimately change everyone around them by just being themselves. I have been anxiously awaiting the fourth book in this series and while I did enjoy this installment, I have to say there were a few things that bothered me.
This is the story of Apollo Ulfr and his search for his dead wife’s twin in the modern world. After meeting several other woman who have themselves been transported to Fantasyland to meet their soul-mates, he decides to hire a witch to find the other Ilsa and bring her to him. Maybe then his grief will lessen and he can find some measure of happiness. But the other Ilsa isn’t at all like his late wife. The other Ilsa has lived a life of pain and suffering and has spent the last several years fleeing the abuse of her husband Pol. Who also happens to be Apollo’s twin in the modern world. This Ilsa has never known a kind, gentle, caring love. Not from any friends, not from her parents and definitely not from her husband. When she is rescued by a strange, cape wearing man right in the middle of a confrontation with her husband and poofed to another world she doesn’t know what to think. Especially when her husband’s look-a-like, who was so sweet and tender at first, turns cold and distant the very next day.
After being basically abandoned by her new savior in a strange world, surrounded by people who she can’t communicate with and with nothing to her name Ilsa decides to turn it all around and take the chance offered to her and create a new life for herself. She befriends the guards sent by Apollo to guide her to his estate, she lives life to the fullest and attends fairs, tries her hand at horse back riding, learns how to cheat at cards, explores all the towns and villages on the way and charms everyone around her to the point that half of her guards are now in love with her. When they finally journey to where Apollo has been waiting it’s been months since Ilsa and Apollo have seen each other. She’s changed from the haunted woman he left alone and she’s now ready to get on with her life and figure out what she is going to do in this strange new world.
Meanwhile all the bad guys from the previous installments have gathered and are moving to force a war with the dream team of fairytale romance. While Ilsa (who now wants to be called Madeleine or Maddie) and Apollo (called Lo by his friends and Maddie) are falling in love, working through their problems and sexing each other up hard-core, all other couples from this series make appearances. In fact everyone who ever had any significant amount of page time in this series makes an appearance. This is definitely a return to the lengthy, overly descriptive KA we all know and love. If you’ve kind of missed this type of KA storytelling then you will be very happy with Broken Dove.
I have to say, while I did enjoy this story and overall was happy with my journey back to Fantasyland there were a couple of things that really bothered me about Maddie and Lo’s love story. The main thing being…. I don’t get the need to somehow diminish how a grieving husband or wife feels about their deceased partner when falling in love again? Why? Apollo so loved and missed his wife that he goes searching for her twin in another world. That’s a beautiful thing. It is. It is also one of the reasons why I so couldn’t wait to get my hands on this installment. So I must say that I was sorely disappointed when he thinks and says things like this:
“It feels a betrayal to Ilsa to speak these words, but I am enjoying my time with Madeleine…” he paused and finished, “maybe more.”
Or when Maddie thinks things like this:
I looked exactly like his dead wife. But tonight, I knew I looked better.
I just don’t understand why the deceased wife has to become less to make a new love interest appear more or the new romance believable. I wanted Maddie and Apollo to fall in love with each other because they found something new. I wanted him to realize he has a second chance and for her to find safety and passion. This did happen in some ways, but the overall feeling that Maddie was somehow better than the wife he has grieved over for so long bothered me. This feeling made my overall enjoyment of this book dim somewhat.
This is still an enjoyable read and had everything I’ve always loved in a Kristen Ashley romance. There is the classic angst and misunderstandings, lots of super hot sex scenes and the forming of wonderful female friendships that I so enjoy. Maddie has a long journey to accepting her new circumstances and finding her place with Apollo and his children. While I did like her as a heroine I didn’t fall madly in love with her and never completely believed her total awesomeness as described repeatedly by everyone who meets her. I wanted to. I wanted to be blown away by this addition to the series. I wanted to find Broken Dove just as magical as I have the previous three books. While that didn’t exactly happen, I am looking forward to the last book in the Fantasyland series and would urge readers to give this series a try. Final Grade- B-
“This is us. That was us. We’re here my poppy. We’re alive. We’re together, my dove.”