This is the first book I have read in Chronicles of the Warlands series, and, unfortunately, I think it will be my last. I don’t think my experience with this book would have been improved by reading any of the previous books because it’s actually the style that I didn’t enjoy, not the storyline.
When the book opens, Heath is already in love with Atira. They’ve slept together before (in a previous book I assume) but haven’t since Atira refused to bond with Heath. She’s all for the sex with no strings, but Heath wants to be a couple and doesn’t want to settle for less. Atira sees bonding as a prison, but Heath sees it as the next natural step when you’re in love. He’s hurt and angry that Atira won’t admit their time together meant anything.
This book is billed as a Fantasy Romance, but the writing style is surprisingly simplistic. The events feel ho-hum because there is no sense of urgency to the writing. Despite the fact that they are politically maneuvering and fending off assassination attempts, there seem to be no real highs or lows to suck me into the action.
The people have no artifice, despite some of them trying to be sneaky and political. It’s just kind blatant. You know how you watch a movie like Avatar and the native people are so open and blunt with their thoughts and emotions? That’s kind of like this. There’s no subtlety to the people. Also, everyone was so emotional that it felt too over the top.
”Why not speak of this to me, beloved?” Keir’s voice was the barest whisper.
Lara lifted her face to look at him, with eyes filled with tears and fear. “I was afraid, beloved. Your pledge to me as my bonded is all I ever need. But our faith…and yours…I—”
She hiccupped and sagged in his arms.
The love in Keir’s face was so powerful that Atira had to look away. She dropped her gaze to the floor and stayed, unmoving, unwilling to interrupt the moment between them.
“Flame of my heart.” The words were a soft rumble in Keir’s chest. “The words we pledged between us were enough for us.”
It’s just too much for me.
The development of the romance felt pretty nonexistent. Heath and Atira’s feelings didn’t evolve during the story. They had a history and already cared about each other. The only holdup was Atira’s objection to bonding—although I don’t know where she got this attitude since none of the other Plains people had it. The only change from beginning to end was that Atira was finally willing to bond with him and ceased seeing it as a trap. That made it lack the tension necessary to draw my interest. Plus, I was extremely turned off by Heath’s emo desperation for Atira. He kept telling her that he wouldn’t be with her anymore if she only wanted sex. Did he stick with that? No. The second Atira tried to seduce him, he crumbled. I feel bad for saying it, but it made him seem weak and pathetic and completely turned me off. I wish he could have gotten some self respect.
Despite my complaints, I found the core setup of the story interesting. The melding of the Plains people with the Xy people was pretty enjoyable. They were different in practically every way, so I liked watching them learn to compromise together. Also, the political maneuvering and plotting were interesting to read about.
While skimming reviews for the previous books I found something that I thought I should mention. Apparently the first three books were written in first person from Lara’s POV. Be aware that this book doesn’t follow that pattern. It is written in third person and we see both Atira and Heath’s POV. I just wanted to give a head’s up so no one would go in without knowing about the change.