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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chained by Elise Marion

Two things drew me to this book - #1 an amazing cover and #2 the hope for a well written historical romance featuring people of color. What kept me reading was the fact that it had an actual STORY and characters that weren't just there for the sake of sex or an unbelievable and instant "love." There's a lot to like about this book...

What it's About: Two realms/houses have a long history of war. In one realm the people are of light skin, easy to anger, and skilled with the sword. The other realm is filled with people of darker skin who are skilled archers and filled with pride. A third realm, that is not at war, only wants peace. Here people are often of mixed race and heritage. To establish peace the three come together under the rule of a single king. For thirty years this peace has existed, although it is rife with suspicion and deep-seated prejudices; however, events are taking place that threaten to shatter it. Things are not what they seem however. Can the truth be discovered in time, and will anyone believe it? Have things gone too far to prevent war? Can two people from different sides overcome a lifetime of distrust?

My Thoughts: I really cannot express how much I enjoyed this book. I read it non-stop and when it was over I wanted to read it again just to see if I missed anything. Chained takes the time to set the story, it introduces you to the characters, their personalities, strengths and weaknesses. It gives us history and tells the tale of war, tentative peace, love of family, duty, lies and deception, death, anger, grief, fear, and finally burgeoning love and betrayal. There is no simpering, weak female heroine who stumbles over her two feet and makes silly decisions with seemingly no thought (we've all seen this type of heroine far too often). Gwen, our heroine, is a woman who was meant to be nobility. Her actions are in the best interest of the people who look to her family for leadership and guidance. If she makes a wrong decision it is because the facts, as presented, led her to a decision that she believed was the right one. Any mistakes she makes she owns up to and tries to make right.

In Caden you have a hero who is also a person who was meant to be nobility. He is an alpha male yes, but he isn't the type that we've come to expect in more modern tales. He is  strong and accepts the fact that by birth he is a man that others look up to and expect great things from. He feels emotional pain, and is ruled strongly by passion be it for life, war, or sex (This isn't an over sexed book however. Sex happens when the storyline dictates it and it never goes overboard. No pages and pages of marathon graphic sex).
The world building is very good. But be forewarned, this isn't a book that you can mindlessly read. You'll need to pay attention when it comes to the realms and houses as this is a story that has many different players and is steeped in a history of conflict and distrust.

If there was anything that I did not like about the book it was the fact that it ended with a "to be continued..." If you follow my blog you know I'm not a big fan of that. I would normally deduct a point off of my total rating, but it does say trilogy so it was something that I should have expected. What I didn't expect was to wait until December for the continuation.  Also, if I have to pick a problem it would be Caden's behavior at the end. It seemed somewhat manufactured to me. I guess I don't see why he would behave this way over handling the situation differently. I hope there will be more insight on why he choose the path that he did in the next book.

 I've been hearing a lot of discontent from fans of the IR genre lately. Authors I'm not sure if you are listening. If you are I direct you to Chained as an example of the fresh air that is needed in the stale room that has become IR romance. Historical isn't for everyone, but the initiative and bravery to break from the pact and do something different is worthy of applause. So I applaud you Elise Marion. You are an author that I'll recommend at every opportunity, particularly to those who are looking for more diversity in books that feature black characters. This is a 5 out of 5! I can't wait until December for part 2!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
Rating: 5 out of 5
Published: July 2, 2014
Pages: 285
Available at: Amazon, Smashwords

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