From Blood and Ash
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.
Double review: From Blood and Ash and A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
Ingredients to make a hot, sexy, intriguing and addictive fantasy book: take a Maiden (Poppy) who has no freedom but is the future of her people, add a villain (The Dark One) and some pretty evil sub villains (The Duke among others), mix with a sexy, cocky and very gifted personal guard (Hawke) and sprinkle all this with interesting world building and prophecy.
This is basically the key to this story’s success.
And it works splendidly!
I was supposed to read From Blood and Ash for a book club read on Instagram (as in wait for everyone to finish the book) but the month was not even finished that I had already ordered A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire because FBAA ended on a cliffy and I just HAD to know what would happen!
I read AKOFAF as quickly and now I am left on a cliffhanger, again and with many unanswered questions. It’s in these moments that I am so happy JLA is a very fast writer!
I don’t want to spoil you fun so about the story and story ARC I will say that much more is happening in FBAA than in AKOFAF, except by the end when things are rapidly escalating.
In term of plot enjoyment I think FBAA is a tad better.
Now let’s focus on the characters!
You have Poppy.
Chosen at birth by the Gods to be the Maiden. Or so she’s been told all her life.
Her parents died in a horrible attack by the Craven and she’s been a ward of the Queen, put in the care of the Duke and Duchess from a small age.
I loved how she has a rebellious streak even if she is forbidden to do anything! She can’t show her face. She can’t wander alone. She can’t talk to people…
But she learned to sneak out of her room and go exploring. Naughty Poppy! 😊
Her guard Vikter taught her to fight to never be helpless again like she’s been when the Craven slaughtered her family and marked her!
And Poppy is damn good with a bow!
Not only is she brave, defending the city at night but she also is deeply compassionate! Poppy has a gift allowing her to feel other’s pain and alleviate it somehow.
You guessed it: I love Poppy as she is pretty badass.
In FBAA she will discover some truth. She’s been lied to and it will be difficult for her to reconcile all that she’s been taught with what people are telling her is the truth!
In AKOFAF she will leave a cage to enter another one. At some point, she will have to make a choice. And when she is finally ready to go along with the plan, a terrible event happens and we are left on a big cliffy, with more questions than answers about Poppy!
And you have Hawke!
Hawke is courageous, cocky and sexy. He obviously likes Poppy a lot and wants to protect her, all along.
But Hawke also has a mysterious past that had me wondering what he was hiding and if he was what and who he pretended to be.
Without giving too much away, I think my friend Jen at Star-Crossed Book Blog perfectly described Hawke:
“He was both the villain and the hero, the monster and the monster-slayer.”
Go read her review of AKOFAF on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3518508202?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
Hawke was very handsome, very arrogant like most of JLA’s heroes. He was also very protective of Poppy, which is a trait I really love in male characters but he was not flawless.
Oh and he had a weird liking for Poppy hurting him. Literally beating him or stabbing him or …it just made him hot and bothered. BDSM you say? LOL
The attraction between these two was undeniable and the sex scenes put this definitely under the adult category, adult fantasy.
Reading that story, with that imaginative universe, the secrets, the deities, the vampires, the attraction, great main characters and plot twists was a pure delight and I can’t wait for book three!
Thanks for reading!