Publishing date: 20th September
Where did you get it: E-arc from publisher
Once upon a time…the Blood Sorcerer vanquished the kingdom of Elden.
To save their children, the queen scattered them to safety and the king filled them with vengeance. Only a magical timepiece connects the four royal heirs…and time is running out….
Princess Breena had been dreaming of her warrior lover when she was ripped from her Elden castle and thrown into a strange, dangerous realm. Lost and alone, she prayed for survival and vengeance for her stolen kingdom. She found both in a woodland cottage…in a dark bear of a man.
The golden-haired beauty had eaten his food and slept in his bed when Osborn found her. Though he wanted to awaken his virgin princess to carnal pleasures, Breena wanted more—including his warrior skills. Skills the once-legendary mercenary had long buried. Now Osborn had a choice—risk his life or deny his princess her fairy-tale ending.
*Blurb taken from Goodreads*
I really love fantasy romance and when I heard that some of my favourite authors were partaking in a series that features a magical kingdom, and supernatural beings, it definitely perked my interest. Lord of Rage is the 2nd book of the Royal House of Shadows quadrology which kicked off with Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter with other installments written by Nalini Singh and Jessica Anderson. Each book follows a royal sibling who are separated and are thrust across the lands to safeguard their safety after a lethal attack happens in the kingdom of Eldon. With this entry, the events focus on the Princess Breena who finds herself thrust in a forest and meeting the dream lover she has dreamt of for the past few years in the flesh.
I have to admit that whilst I did enjoy Lord of Rage, I wasn’t really blown away with the book, or the execution of the premise. My main gripe was the world-building around the magic that was used. I really felt this was vague and not much basis or explanation on how this worked. I also wished there was more description of the evil beings that attacked the Kingdom in the beginning of the book, and again this felt vague and rushed. I may have missed some of the nuance or the explanation of this because this was the 2nd book of the series and I haven’t read the previous book yet, but I did get frustrated because it felt like the magical rules were only used as a plot device rather than part of the world-building.
I was also wary when Breena loses some of her memory about why she is thrust miles and miles away from her homeland when she is cast out for her safety. Again it felt all vaguish and dreamy and although it complimented with the dream lover trope well and the fairy tale tone of the story, it also added to the lack of clarity to the world-building and I had trouble getting into the story and I found the first half pretty plodding in pace. Breena has some notion and memory that she needs help to go back and regain control of the kingdom, and this is expanded and explained later in the book, but I wished there more explanation on how her magic was used and what kind of limits she had because this was the main problem I had with the book.
Nonetheless there was definitely moments and elements that I did enjoy in the story. I really liked the take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears theme that Lord of Rage had when Breena encounters Osborn, the hero’s cottage, whom he shares with his two brothers. I chuckled when she ate their porridge, broke a chair and was found sleeping on Osborn’s bed.
I also loved the setting where Osborn’s homeland and the mythology that surrounded his people were berserkers that shares a spirit with a bear. The beginning of the book, with the descriptions of Osborn’s rite of passage when he becomes a berserker and later when his people are destroyed by an enemy force, is one of the best highlights of the story. The vikingesque type setting and society was sketched out. I quite liked Osborn and loved how he interacted with his brothers who didn’t go through the same rites as their older brother who feels guilt about this as well as mourning the loss of the way of life of their people. I really found this aspect of the book had real depth and I wished we had more of this.
Yet with the romance I was left wanting and at times feeling underwhelmed because the basis of the love story was the dream lover trope. I am not a huge fan of this trope because I think it is pretty convenient and there is no real sense of build up of the sexual or romantic tension. I also couldn’t really warm up to the character of Breena who I felt was one dimensional at times, and I also felt the same with their romance. The chemistry just felt off at the beginning and the dream sequences — which was hot — didn’t connect or resonate emotionally and I think this affected the love story. I wished there was more of a romantic punch although later there were a couple of scenes that did have that, but that was at the end when the plot developed their characterization and their guilt of surviving the massacres from their pasts. This was more of a solid basis on the romance than the dream lover aspect which felt pretty whimsy for me.
Lord of Rage had a great premise, and whilst I liked the idea of a fairy tale type fantasy romance, the execution didn’t tick all of my boxes. I know the dreamy feel and tone — especially in the beginning — was there to help lay out the romance between Breena and Osborn, but I found that this really didn’t bring the plot forward. Despite the slow start, I did enjoy the overall tone of the book and I definitely think it improved at the end of the story, but I can’t not help feeling lukewarm about it.
I give Lord of Rage a C
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