Monday, September 12, 2016

ARC Review: Destined for a King by Ashlyn MacNamara

Series:     Bastard Brotherhood #1
Pub. Date:Sept 6, 2016
Length:266 pages

Destined for a King is a mix of medieval and fantasy romance, leaning more toward the historical side that fantasy. A battle for the kingdom between the rightful king and a usurper is sprinkled with premonitory visions and a starcrossed romance in this first installment of the Bastard Brotherhood series.

Josse Vandal, known as Torch, has banded together a group of common marauders to help him carry out revenge against the man who stole his birthright. Torch begins the story as a magnificent warrior who storms Blackbriar Keep and takes over with little effort. Unlike other conquerors, however, Torch treats the people of Blackbriar with honor, respect and leniency. But the new lord has taken the keep for dual purposes, not only to thumb his nose at the usurper, but also to find the woman who he believes is his destiny. Unfortunately said woman's first act upon seeing Torch is to shoot him with a poisoned arrow. At that point, Torch's magnificence in battle starts going downhill. I liked Torch as a person... and liked the conviction he had for his cause. He was also a playful and fun flirt, and I liked seeing him tease the heroine. However as a hero, I would have liked Torch to be more capable. He seemed to blunder about too much to carry off the noble bearing that he will need to win his quest.

Calista Thorne is not a meek and mild lady of the keep. When trouble came calling, she dressed in leathers and picked up a crossbow to help defend her keep. Having been told by her mother that she was destined for a king, Calista fights her attraction toward the warrior who has taken Blackbriar. Though when Torch's naked form inspired lustful thoughts as she nursed him back to health, Calista began to think that the devil she knew might be a better choice than the king to whom she was betrothed. I didn't have feelings one way or the other for Calista. I think we needed more backstory for her as I felt like we didn't get to know her very well... she didn't become interesting for me until she was injured during the second battle for Blackbriar Keep.

While I felt like this story had good bones, the execution was lacking for me. A strong battle opening held promise, but the rest of the story did not measure up to the opening chapter. I was hoping to be drawn into the plot and Torch's crusade, but felt wholly disconnected from the characters and events. After that first chapter, the wrong parts of the story got bogged down with details and I would find myself skimming to get back to the action. Without the emotional connection, I was not invested in the romantic relationship - it felt forced and lacking in chemistry. For a couple that is supposed to be destined, I would have liked to see more of a grand passion between the two. As a romantic fantasy, I would have also liked to have more world building and magical aspects. Torch's story is not complete, so I hope that future installments expound on the world and magical abilities.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.