Monday, September 24, 2018

Review - Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven @GraceDraven @BerkleyPub @AceRocBooks

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven
Series: Fallen Empire #1
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group - Ace
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
Date Read: September 10, 2018
Length:  400 pages
Source: NetGalley / First to Read
★★★★☆
A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.
My Review

I thought that this book was excellent.  I had not read any of Grace Draven's work before picking this book up but I had heard a lot of really good things.  Since the premise of this book appealed to me, I decided to give it a try which ended up being a very good decision.  I made the mistake of starting this book just before I planned to go to sleep.  I had planned to read just one chapter but the first chapter of this book blew me away and I didn't want to stop after just one chapter.  It has been a long time since I picked up a book with such a strong opening.  I had a great time reading this amazing story.

Gilene and Azarion have both been through a lot.  Gilene has been sent by her village to the capital as a sacrifice to be burned alive.  She has a few special powers and has survived this event for the past five years but not without a terrible cost.  Azarion is the best gladiator in the capital.  He was sold into slavery ten years prior and it is really a miracle that he has been able to survive not only the fighting but the empress's whims. 

I liked both of these characters.  Gilene accepted her role and did her best to continue to protect her village.  Azarion has not given up hope of returning to his homeland and he sees that Gilene may be the key to making it happen.  I completely understood his desperation and his willingness to force Gilene to aide him with his plan. 

This was a really exciting story that explored several unique and interesting settings.  The horror of the Empire was incredibly vivid and emotional.  It pained me to think of the needless sacrifice so many women were forced to make for the amusement of others.  The book takes the reader on a journey of the lands surrounding the capital where each was a little different but still touched by the empire's power.  Azarion's homeland was such a nice contrast to the capital and I really enjoyed learning about his village.

There were plenty of action scenes to keep the pages turning.  Azarion and Gilene find themselves in trouble at various points of the story and there were times that I found myself holding my breath because I was worried about how things would turn out.  It was fun to watch them learn to start trusting and counting on each other.  I thought that the romance that built between them felt very authentic.  I really enjoyed the extra abilities of both Azarion and Gilene and thought it added an interesting element to the story. 

I would recommend this book to others.  I thought that this book blended fantasy and romance in a spectacular manner that had me wanting things to work out for the characters more than anything.  I can't wait to read more books in this series!

I received a digital review copy of this book from Berkley Publishing Group - Ace via Net Galley and First to Read.
About the Author

Grace Draven is a Louisiana native living in Texas with her husband, kids and a big, doofus dog. She is the winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice for Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and a USA Today Bestselling author.

Author Links: Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

26 comments:

  1. Excellent, you say? I'll have to try it, then! :) I love fantasy and romance very much, so I have a feeling this could work really well for me, too. The premise truly sounds great!

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    1. I do hope you get a chance to read this one, Silvia!

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  2. i heard many remarkable things about the book! definitely going to be on my tbr if i can find it

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  3. Oh yes I really enjoyed this one too

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  4. The premise of this one sounds terrifying! I'm glad it turned out to be a good one for ya.

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    1. There were some pretty terrifying scenes in this book!

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  5. That is a lot ob women burned every year! Bastards!!

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  6. Oh yeah, I would have read through half the night if I hadn't read this starting on a Saturday afternoon with plenty of time. :) It was pretty compelling.

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    1. That first chapter just really had me want to stay up for as long as I could keep my eyes open!

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  7. I enjoyed this also, as dark as it was. I am very interested to see where things go from here. Great review. Anne - Books of My Heart

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    1. I think that I really liked the fact that this one was a bit darker.

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  8. Lovely review you have here darling. I will be reading this one this week and I can't wait for it!!! :)

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  9. I love Grace Draven. I'd read more if her but she doesn't have a ton on audio. I wish she did

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    1. I do need to read some of her earlier books now that I have read this one. It is nice to have options!

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  10. I've seen this book around. It looks really good. I'm going to have to give it a try. Great review.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Books of My Heart

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  11. Okay any book that pulls you in that much sounds like a book I need to read! I branched out a bit to urban fantasy recently and I really liked it so I'm anxious to continue expanding my genres!

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    1. This one is a bit darker but I really did enjoy it, Katherine!

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  12. I am going to have to add this either on book or audio. Great review!

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  13. I have added this to my list. Looking forward to reading it.

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