Books Like This: The Kingmaker Chronicles, Serpent and Dove, Daughter of the Pirate King
For People Who Like: Magic, Enemies to Lovers, Romance, Fantasy, Action, Blackmail, Higher Beings
In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.
A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON
Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences.
A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET
Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world.
A DANGEROUS QUEST
When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.
I don't remember exactly how I discovered this book, but I am very glad I did. There are so little popular fantasy, romance books with pirates in them, I was very happy when I saw this and I had to get it ASAP. Another thing that really made me want this book was that there is no defined first book in the series. Danielle L. Jensen wrote the first two books in the series interchangeable because they're about two different pairs of people. You can look forward to my review of the other first book in the series, Dark Skies.
This book reminded me so much of The Kingmaker Chronicles, it's amazing. I mean, a grown man who is misjudged by everyone outside of his immediate circle kidnaps a strong, independent woman to accomplish his own goals and ends up falling in love with her. I had a good experience with that series (completely recommend by the way) so, right away I already liked this book. Now, the plot could've been more original (romance-wise at least), but the other plots in the book completely make up for that.
The world building, in this book, is some of the best I have ever seen. Not that most of the book I read have horrible world building, but Danielle took it to another level. Right away, I thought the empire was based on either Greece or Rome (it was ancient Rome). And, I love how she took what we know about Rome and altered it to fit her vision for this series. It's not as creative as completely making a new world for your characters, but there's a certain creativity and uniqueness that comes from basing your completely fantasy story on something that happened in the real world.
The characters in this book were really well thought out in the sense that they're not perfect and can be really really selfish sometimes. But, I think that makes them more realistic and makes the story more exciting. Especially the main characters, they do things for their people and their families without a thought for the rest of the world, which I think we all know is going to come back and bit them in the butt, one way or the other.
Specifically, the backgrounds of the characters were really well thought out and thorough (at least for Marcus that is). I mean, we see how complicated his past was and how much he's been through. Most parts of his story were so heart-wrenching I had to take a break and process. It really showed us why he loves his family in the army so much and why he continues to follow Cassius even though he despises him.
The romance was a little slow, but not slow enough to really be considered a "slow burn". It took most of the book for Teriana to start begrudgingly liking Marcus and even longer for them to actually start feeling affection for one another. I guess that's what happens when you kidnap someone and threaten to kill their family.
I also like that in this book there is a lot of diversity in sexual orientation and race. I loved the fact that Teriana's dark skin and braids were a major detail that the author kept repeating. And I loved that one of the major background details and some of the major motivations of this book are love between men in the army of the empire.
Overall, even if you're not into pirates or gods, I would recommend this book.
Congratulations to Danielle L. Jensen and I wish you luck on all of your future endeavors.