New Release by Grace Draven - PHOENIX UNBOUND (review)

Grace Draven is one of my favorite fantasy writers.  She creates worlds with such detail that you feel like you are actually there.  The author always has interesting characters with intriguing storylines.  So I was very excited to read Phoenix Unbound, a standalone novel.



Blurb:

A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of RADIANCE

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different. 

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.


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Review:

5 Stars: for those of you who have been reading Anna's Bookshelf for awhile or follow me on Goodreads, know that I rarely give a book 5 star review.  

Grace Draven is one of my favorite fantasy authors and she hits this one out of the park! 

Gilene is a fire witch who also has the ability to form illusions.  Every year, women are led to the Krael's capital as sacrifices to be burnt at the stake after serving a night as a prostitute.  Because Gilene can put an illusion over herself, she selflessly goes every year to the capital so as that an innocent woman from her villiage doesn’t have to be sacrificed. The men, are gladiators that fight to the death.  Azarion is a gladiator that has been serving the empress for 10 years now.  He sees through Gilene’s illusion and see her as a means to escape and as a means to reclaim his birthright. 

I love how selfless Gilene is, but also how much she fights to survive.  I love Azarion.  He is also strong and resourceful.  While he originally plans to use Gilene because she is a fire witch, he does what he can to protect her and promises to get her back home once he accomplishes his goals. While the two start off not exactly liking each other, I enjoyed watching their relationship evolve into something more.  I am always a sucker for those enemies- to- lovers stories and the author does a great job with the slow burn romance.

The hero and heroine in Phoenix Unbound are very strong, likable, and well developed.  The book is told from a dual POV which is something that I always prefer because I like to know the thoughts and feeling from each of the main characters.  There is a lot of action and of course romance, thus keeping the book moving at a good pace.  It is amazing how the author is able to develop a world in such detail that you feel like you are actually there. It is obvious that while she builds a fantasy world, she clearly researches historical elements to add to her story.  Phoenix Unbound is perhaps one of my favorite of Grace Draven's (although I say that about almost all of her books).  It is one of the rare books that I will re-read because its as that enjoyable.  

I received this book as an ARC through Netgalley and I voluntarily leave this review.


About the Author:

Grace Draven is a Louisiana native living in Texas with her husband, kids and a big, doofus dog. She has loved storytelling since forever and is a fan of the fictional bad boy. She is the winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice for Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and 2016, and a USA Today Bestselling author.

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