Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Fantasy Romance, Magic, New Adult
Chapter One: It's All History
Reading Blade & Rose was a bet.
It popped up amongst Amazon's recommendations, and I instantly fell in love with the cover. The blurb described a book I suspected I would enjoy, but none of my GR friends had read and reviewed it and that made me extremely cautious. After some inner pep talk and long hours staring at the cover (I think it is obvious by now that I am a shallow person, ruled by her primitive urges and succumbing to cover lust) I decided to give it a go, and - spoiler alert - I am glad to say I didn't regret it!
Chapter Two: Welcome to Emauria
The kingdom of Emauria is in turmoil. Rielle, a powerful Mage of a dubious reputation, is assigned against her will to escort a Paladin (a knight devoted to the Goddess Terra, sworn to protect the kingdom, the innocent and the weak) to his destination, while her heart aches to go to the capital and find her friend who won't return her letters. What Rielle doesn't know is that the capital has fallen. That mercenaries rampage the land. That there is a faction of mages preparing to stage a coup and restore their order to its former glory. That ancient rites are more than mere superstition. And that someone really wants to murder the handsome paladin. And herself.
“The man who will ultimately stand at her side will be forged in fire. If you burn easily, don't even bother.”
Chapter Three: Diamonds in the Rough
While reading Blade & Rose, I couldn't shake the feeling that it's a diamond in the rough. Miranda Honfleur is an author of limitless potential, her writing being lush and captivating, her imagination and creativity outstanding, but the book definitely needed some polishing. First, there were unnecessary repetitions, sentences or even chapters ruminating the same thoughts, and that could get tedious. Second, the world she wove was fascinating, but it needed more explanations, a proper establishment, because it appeared as though we should know all these names and places and ranks. The land of Emauria had a rich history, and I would have liked more elaboration without my head exploding from the info-dump. And third, one of my biggest pet-peeves is insta-love. And the Jon/Rielle relationship was a serious case of insta-love and insta-lust.
Chapter Four: The Paradox
At this point I'm sure you're questioning my 4 stars rating. Well, the thing is, all those issues were not grave enough to prevent me from ruining the reading experience. Because, guys, it was delicious. Miranda Honfleur is extremely talented, you can tell it from her wonderful, eloquent descriptions, and all the effort she made to create a such an expanded and intricate world. The Mages, the Paladins, the ancient creatures, the noble houses, Miranda spread her wings wide and added so many aspects to her story, and she put them together in a way they fitted perfectly, like pieces of a puzzle. The werewolf lore, the power games, the medieval setting, the scheming and politics, the intense and various battle sequences, the vital part of magic and of Rielle's past, they co-existed harmonically and captured your interest and attention with a strong, magical grip.
“Then give me memories to live in when the hurt comes.”
In respect of the romantic element, I can tell that the relationship between Jon and Rielle was beautifully crafted. Of course the timeline bothered me, I'd preferred it if they took more time to bond, exchange I love yous and vows of eternal devotion, but the tenderness in their scenes was heartwarming, and the tension sizzling. They combined sensual and affectionate in a way that made my heart swell, I rooted for them, and cursed for all their impediments. But some impediments could be confusing.
Chapter Five: The Brennan Effect
Brennan is a riddle, he's the type of character you love to hate. He's vile, aggressive and doesn't take no for an answer. I wanted to throttle him countless times, yet I didn't want him to get hurt. Problably because if anyone has the right to kill him, that person is me (or Jon), but his presence spiced things up, and added a pinch of paranormal you usually meet in urban fantasy.
Maybe it's the Christmas Spirit that made me lenient, or the fact that I detected a raw talent in Miranda Honfleur that deserves to be explored, whatever the reason, I thoroughly enjoyed Blade & Rose, and I'll pick up the sequel soon!