Though she is intended for the king, Calista Thorne picks up a crossbow to defend her ancestral home, Blackbriar Keep, from a gang of landless knights. She even manages to sink a poison-tipped arrow into their commander, who survives long enough to conquer the Keep and claim Calista for his own. Now, with her father’s life at stake, Calista must nurse the brigand back to health, and the strangest thing happens: She finds herself fascinated by his tautly muscled body, and enthralled by his hotly whispered demands.
Ever since his father’s death, the fearsome warrior they call Torch has been consumed by his quest for revenge. Taking Blackbriar Keep is the first step in that plan, and—by the three gods—it won’t be the last. But after taking one look into Calista’s smoldering gray eyes, Torch discovers a passion nobler than retribution. He will fulfill his destiny and take her from the usurper king, even in his weakened state. For with Calista’s love, no man has ever felt more powerful.
Worldbuilding: The medieval-like fantasy world of the Bastard Brotherhood series was charming, epic-fantasy-like vibe of kingdoms and stolen crowns and power struggles galore, magic, healers, mysterious brotherhoods who hold the secrets of the land – yep, awesome!
Characters: Calista was something of a medieval-like historical romance heroine – obedient toward her family, prepared to wed for their desires and plans. I loved how show slowly became more confident and decided to be herself rather than who or what her family wanted her to be. I loved how loyal she was to her parents and home, particularly so during difficult times.
Torch was pretty awesome too, alpha warrior type, determined, hot, charismatic. I loved how driven he was, and how aware he was of his feelings and of the greater good, in a way. Very fit to be a king, if you ask me, hehe.
They had good chemistry and were pretty hot together. I loved their banter and how teamed up when it mattered, making sense as a united front.
Plot: The arranged marriage/virgin sort of romance was fun, and the kingdom political intrigue was fun. There were good action scenes, escapes, fights – all the good stuff.
Writing: Third person, past tense narrative, his/her POV. Epic-fantasy-like style, with some humor and banter – good combo.
Curb Appeal: Cool cover, hooking burb – I actually thought it was just historical, though, when it fact the fantasy factor would have made it all the more impulsive buy material.
This is the start of a strong series, and I’m looking forward to the next one! Recommended to lovers of fantasy romance with kingdoms and kings and power struggles of doom.