Friday, May 27, 2016

ARC Review: The Pages of the Mind by Jeffe Kennedy

Series:     The Uncharted Realms#1
Pub. Date:May 31, 2016
Publisher:Kensington Publishing
Length:432 pages

Gah! This book!  Jeffe Kennedy has truly outdone herself with this story.  From the beautiful cover to the very last word, I was captivated by this fantastical tale. I predict it will be one of my favorite books of the year.

For those of you who have not read the Twelve Kingdoms series, The Pages of the Mind is a spinoff which starts the Uncharted Realms series. While it is not absolutely necessary for you to read the Twelve Kingdoms first, it will give you a better understanding of the world and history of some of the characters.  Plus, there just aren't many good fantasy romance authors out there, so support Jeffe and read all her books!

The heroine of this book is Dafne Mailloux, the librarian at Ordnung, who played a secondary role in the Twelve Kingdoms books. Dafne was very close to Salena, the mother of the three sister queens, and became a caretaker and adviser to the girls after Salena's death. In previous books, Dafne always seemed to be there in the background, the supportive and intelligent rock that the girls needed. So I was happy to see Dafne get her own story, and it is now my favorite of the series. Dafne really got thrown out of her comfort zone in this book. She is sent by High Queen Ursula as a diplomat to an island kingdom to smooth over issues that occurred when the magical barrier expanded. When she lands on the island of a barbarian king who doesn't speak her language, she unwittingly becomes his queen. This is Dafne's hardest challenge yet, and something that Harlan told her sort of becomes her motto throughout the story:
It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a solider to fight on a battlefield.
Oh man, I am a little afraid to get started on the hero. I think I could go on about King Nakoa KauPo for days. I didn't think I would have a rivalry for my affections with regard to Dax Lahn and Kahl Drogo... but man oh man, Nakoa has rounded out my trifecta of favorite fantastical males. And it certainly doesn't hurt that Jason Momoa could play any one of those characters. Let me indulge your Jason Momoa fantasies... imagine him in this role as Nakoa:
King Nakoa KauPo's chest was bare, decorated with tattoos a few shades deeper. They reminded me of the dragons and other creatures carved into the rock, the muscles of his chest and abdomen similarly hard and ridged as the volcanic formations. As if he'd been created of the same substance and then animated... He wore his black hair loose like the Tala, but not as long. Instead it coiled around his shoulders like a living thing, and what I took at first for ash dusting the dark locks turned out to be silver and white streaks threading throughout, like lightning spearing through thunderheads. More than his coloring evoked that image, as his expression was also stormy, brooding and stern. Some of what I'd taken for tattoos turned out to be what looked like flexible scaled armor at the vulnerable parts of his shoulders, elbows, and ankles and over his groin. His only other garment was a sort of [kilt]...
Now that you have your visual going, let me tell you a little about this awesome king. NaKoa displayed a strong visage while around others... so much so that Dafne, Jepp and Kyndra were calling him the dragon king. But when NaKoa was alone with Dafne, he was gentle and understanding. He was playful and teasing, and showed just the right amount of arrogance to make him even more attractive. He is really a fierce cuddly teddy bear and I would not complain one time if he wanted to carry me around his volcanic island.

I felt like this relationship was very uplifting. Even though Dafne was originally kept on the island contrary to her desires... I never faulted NaKoa for it. You knew from the moment they met that this relationship had to be fated. I was mesmerized by the whole thing. I did feel that sometimes the relationship was one-sided on NaKoa's part and I wanted to yell at Dafne to open her eyes and heart. But I was empathetic to the conflict Dafne felt over her loyalty to Ursula and the growing connection to NaKoa. When you learn the entirety of how these two were made for each other... you will sigh and swoon and maybe even get teary. The scene surrounding this line really got to me:

You lived in a cave, and I sent you rain. 

I loved the way that Dafne and NaKoa learned to communicate with one another in pieced together words and tones.  I have to commend Jeffe on the effort she put into the various languages. She went into a lot of detail, even going so far as to work in an explanation of sentence structure and conjugation. The world building for a fantasy series seems hard enough, so I can't imagine how difficult it was to create different languages in addition to that.

Last, but definitely not least, I can't end this review without saying one more thing about this book... there be dragons! I freaking love dragons and this one is a super cool golden talking dragon. LOOOOOOVED IT!

I received an advanced copy of this book from Kensington Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 5 stars / 3 flames.

Twelve Kingdoms / Uncharted Realms

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