*I received a free ecopy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Don’t be fooled by the pretty, full-of-light, calm sunrise on the cover—this book was actually rather dark. It wasn’t bleak or depressing, but it was dark nonetheless.
And most of that darkness came courtesy of Dominic. Dominic was vile. He was a physcially, emotionally, and sexually abusive, cruel, manipulative, truly messed-up sociopath. So if you like a villain you can utterly hate, you’ve found one. But possibly the worst abuse was the way he messed with Sevon’s head. He spent 20 years lying, telling Sevon he loved him, making Sevon rely on him and believe that he couldn’t survive without him, making Sevon feel guilty… It was a very realistic form of abuse—just in a very fantastical context.
But then there was Sevon himself. I felt terrible for him but was afraid that, after all that abuse, he would come across as this weak, puppy-dog character, but he didn’t. Yes, he was confused sometimes about what to feel or think or do, as anyone would be after what he’d been through. And yes, he let Dominic have control over him because he literally didn’t have any other options at that point. But I still felt that he was a strong. He kept going each day despite the horror of the situation he was living in. He did stand up to Dominic sometimes and defend others, even when he knew he would be tortured for it. He tried to stay true to himself as best as he could. And, above all else, he never let the abuse turn him into a cruel person himself. I also liked Sevon for the way he broke stereotypes. He wore makeup, gowns, and lacey panties with leather pants and combat boots, and he owned it. The way the cross-dressing was included was also great because it was just a part of who he was rather than the focus of the story.
And then there was Jack, who was great from the moment he was introduced in the dungeon. He was confident, smart, observant, and caring. But he also stood up to Dominic, always managed to keep his humor even in the worst of moments, and didn’t let anyone or anything break him.
So as you can probably tell from everything I’ve said so far, this novel was VERY character-driven. I liked that though, so I never felt it was too slow. The romance, however, was a little too sappy and perfect for me. All the obstacles came from outside the relationship rather than inside, and personally I like to have some of both.
I also felt that things started jumping around from POV to POV a bit too much near the end, and there were a lot of fight scenes shown that weren’t bad but just weren’t necessary.
One last thing that could go either way depending on your preference was the complexity of the world. It was kind of urban fantasy because the characters went out into the human world sometimes, but it was also kind of high fantasy. There were aisa (basically vampires) and shifters, each with various different species within them that each had different abilities. There were also different lands where they lived within the Veil. And as someone who rarely reads high fantasy, it was a little confusing at times, but not impossibly so. I didn’t know there was a glossary in the back, so I recommend using that because it probably would’ve helped!
Overall though, I liked how character-driven the book was, how well the manipulation and effect it had on Sevon was portrayed, and the vampire/sensual feeding aspect since I love vampire books, so it was an enjoyable read!
Anyone who likes somewhat dark, character-driven paranormal romance and who doesn't mind some scenes of abuse/torture and mentions of rape (but no explicit scenes).
The once glorious aisa kingdom of Darkmore lies in ruins, and King Sevon Maraté is trapped. Sevon endures unrelenting abuse and is used as a scapegoat by Lord Dominic Ravensgrove, who rules Darkmore from the shadows. Coping by dressing in gowns and jewels, the effeminate king relishes the scraps of freedom he is given to be himself.
As a verkolai, Sevon possesses the ability to part the Veil separating his world from hundreds of others. His gift provides a chance for escape, but Dominic refuses to relinquish his tool for power. When Dominic forges an ambitious plan to invade the prosperous shifter land of Priagust, he manipulates Sevon’s desperation for his people’s survival. Out of options, Sevon has no choice but to cooperate.
On their foray into Priagust, Dominic’s men abduct a shifter named Jack. Despite being tortured for information, Jack’s loyalty to his kind never wavers. But Jack’s knowledge about Darkmore’s history unsettles Sevon, and a curious bond begins to form. Despite Sevon’s mistrust, Jack is determined to tame the beautiful king’s wild heart and perhaps earn his freedom.
As war looms, Sevon fears Jack’s kindness is another trap. Conflicted, Sevon wonders if he should risk chasing the sunrise or remain Dominic’s compliant prisoner.
Book Author: Lex Chase
Publisher: DSP Publications
Series: The Darkmore Saga
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, LGBTQIA, Paranormal Romance, Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
My Book Rating: 3.5
Series/Standalone: Part of a Series
Setting Location: Other Realms, Texas, USA