Published by Loveswept on September 6th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Bestselling author Ashlyn Macnamara, hailed by Jennifer McQuiston as “a born storyteller,” introduces the strapping, audacious outlaws of the Bastard Brotherhood in this enchanting tale of forbidden love between supposedly sworn enemies. 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.
I want to start out by thanking Buried Under Romance for hosting me today. I’m really excited about my new release, Destined For a King, because it’s a departure for me. Until now I’ve only published Regency historicals, but I’ve secretly wanted to write fantasy for a while now.
I first read The Lord of the Rings years ago as a teenager. That story started me on this path, but A Song of Ice and Fire pushed me into writing. That series so traumatized me that I had to write a medieval-style fantasy world where happily-ever-afters happened at least somewhat more often than shocking deaths of our favorite characters.
One of my favorite characters in The Lord of the Rings is Éowyn, the lonely shield-maiden who disguises herself as a Rider of Rohan so she can take part in the epic battle before Minas Tirith. In a story populated by so many male characters, she stands out, not only for her bravery but her feminism. When Aragorn tells her she ought to stay behind and lead the women, she gives a surprisingly feminist reply for a book written by a stodgy Oxford English professor in the 1950s:
“All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more.”
Éowyn rides on, of course, into battle at the Pelennor Fields and from there to meet Faramir and ultimately to her HEA.
I like to think Calista Thorne, the heroine of Destined For a King, would identify with Éowyn. Like the shield-maiden, Calista dons battle gear and takes up arms to defend her keep when it is invaded. However, Blackbriar Keep’s invaders are not the forces of evil, but simple men, though they have a fearsome reputation.
Calista stands her ground and shoots the leader, a brigand who goes by the name of Torch. His real name is a secret that just might bring down the kingdom, but Calista does not know this when they meet. To her, he’s simply a honey-tongued rogue who’s far too attractive for his own good. (I may have had Sam Heughan in the back of my mind when I conceived of Torch.)
But the rogue has taken her father’s keep. When Calista’s wound turns out to be more dangerous than it first appears, she is forced to heal Torch or her father’s life will be forfeit. This situation naturally pushes the pair into even closer proximity, and Calista must fight a growing attraction, despite the fact this man ought to be her enemy.
Will she succeed? Of course not; this is romance. The question is more how long…
~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
Destined For a King is the first book in the ‘Bastard Brotherhood’ series by Ashlyn Macnamara.
This is the story of Calista Thorne, daughter of the Lord of Blackbriar Keep. She has been promised to the King, Magnus, although she had no say in the matter. Before he has chance to claim her, her ancestral home comes under attack by Torch, and his Bastard Brotherhood. Despite being a ‘Lady’ and being promised in marriage, Calista quickly dons armour and is ready to help defend the keep. She manages to shoot an arrow into Torch’s thigh, although it doesn’t stop him and his men taking over her home.
Torch believes that he is the rightful King to the throne, and that Magnus killed his father and would have killed Torch as well if his mother hadn’t spirited him away to safety. Over the years it has been his only goal, to take the throne from the usurper and gain his revenge. Taking Blackbriar keep is his first move towards that goal despite the defences of the place being slim after they break through the gates. No sooner do they take over the place, than Torch falls seriously ill. He orders Calista’s father to be taken into the cells, and whatever fate befalls Torch will also befall her father. In other words, if Torch dies, so does Calista’s father. Calista is a healer and it’s her place to nurse Torch to health. That is what brings the two of them to spend time together and for Calista to find out who Torch believes he is, and his ultimate goal. She also finds out that he fully intends to marry her. Not because of love, although he does have a healthy lust towards her, but because thanks to a stone he has, he has seen that Calista is to be his bride, and is all part and parcel of his destiny to becoming the rightful king. She doesn’t know if she believes but thanks to a joint vision sent by the stone to both of them in a dream, she soon realises the truth.
Will she marry Torch, will he be able to enforce the defences of the keep before Magnus sends his huge army to take back the keep and rescue the woman promised to him. Calista and Torch have a healthy desire for each other, and when things turn passionate the scenes in the book sizzle. Will she even go with the army to her supposed betrothed. How can she if she has feelings for Torch. How can she not, it Torch loses the keep? Will he manage to keep Calista, the keep, and somehow manage to prove that he is the rightful king? How much blood shed will be needed before either side can claim victory?
This was an exciting read which I couldn’t read fast enough to find out how it ends. The battle that Torch endures in order to try to gain back his rightful place as King is an enticing story in itself, but add to that the romance with Calista, and the fantasy aspect of the story, and you really have a great book.
My one and only complaint is there was a lack of explanation about where the story is set, the whys and wherefores of their lores, and the different types of people etc. I found the authors website and got all the information I needed, and I think if Ashlyn was to put a section at the start of the book exactly like she has on her website, which explains everything, it would make the book that much more enjoyable. In fact, thinking about it, a prequel book could work really well too, where we can find out all about what happens when Magnus steals the throne etc!
On the whole though I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to the next 3 in the series. Book 2 is about Torch’s sister, Jerrah, and his Commander, Kestrel. Book 3 is about his brother Griffin. Book 4 is about Wolf, a woman who has been a great help to Torch in the past. I am gathering that throughout all 4 books we will see Torch’s story continue as well, which is one of the reasons I can’t wait to read the whole series!
I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for me honest review.