Release Date: Feb 4, 2020
Series: A Gathering of Dragons
Heat Level: Hot
Publisher: Penguin Group
A Heart of Blood and Ashes is the first book in Milla Vane’s series A Gathering of Dragons. It starts with the murder of Maddek’s parents, the king and queen of one of the five kingdoms. Maddek, one of the main characters, is now the next in line for the throne but before he takes his place he wants to get revenge for his parents deaths. He kidnaps the rival king’s daughter, Yvenne, with the belief that she was also part of the plot against his parents. Yvenne quickly offers herself up as his bride in her own plot to get revenge against her abusive father. Neither Maddek nor Yvenne particularly like each other in the beginning but see each other as a means to an end. They slowly realize that there is more to each other than what they first thought.
This book was a very good read. It started off a bit slow and confusing, but that is because of the vast fantasy world that Vane is building. Once the background is built the story moves quickly and it’s one of those books that is tough to put down. I really enjoyed getting to know both of the main characters: Maddek is a typical alpha male warrior type and Yvenne is physically very weak but uses her sharp brain to get what she wants.
I love a strong female lead and Yvenne did not disappoint, she never coward in front of Maddek’s aggressive ways and she always held her own. Maddek for me took a while to warm up to, he was very stuck in his ways and thinking, but eventually he does come around as well and you can see under all of that stubbornness is a desire to do right. Both of them are very strong characters individually and together their slow building romance was steamy. The supporting characters throughout the story were also very well developed and I really enjoyed their interactions with each other and with Maddek and Yvenne.
Besides their romance, the storyline is very suspenseful and moves quickly through the book. It is like we are right there on the road with Maddek and Yvenne as they are travelling towards their shared goals. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that likes a good enemies-to-lovers trope as well as fantasy readers. I am looking forward to the next installment in the series.