Flames of Auriel by Erin Bedford
Flames of Auriel by Erin Bedford follows Zoe, a fiery, headstrong princess that’s been fighting her betrothal for eleven years. She’s spent the past eleven summers growing up with him and he’s done nothing but tease her. But to be fair, her intended, Prince Asher, isn’t too thrilled about their upcoming nuptials either. Zoe is a warrior, and nothing like the pretty, manipulative princesses he’s used to wanting. Now that they’re of age, the last summer they spend together is tense with confusing feelings, attraction, and misunderstanding. Perhaps this won’t be just a politically-based alliance? Just when they make some headway, Zoe goes missing, a king is murdered and another country threatens war. Asher, convinced Zoe isn’t dead, knows he has to find her in order to keep their kingdoms safe.
This book has everything I love about historical and fantasy romances. Fiery princesses that are more than just a pretty face, arranged marriages, and even a dash of the supernatural. I even like the bickering between the betrothed pair as it builds another layer of suspense. In this case though, things fell a little short. There was a lot of arguing which I loved, as both Asher and Zoe have their reasons for not wanting to be married. But after the constant fighting, Zoe started to sound childish, and Asher was a whore. A big, big manwhore, right from the start. He of course, has the usual backwards expectations of court women and how they should act. Zoe’s kingdom is a little more progressive in allowing a woman to fight, own land, and be sexually free. She sets about shocking Asher every way possible and it’s pretty funny. Seeing her fluster Asher made me smile throughout the book. He was way out of his league! Despite all of that, I found Zoe a bit emmotionally immature for a future queen though I can understand her reluctance to state her feelings to a man that’s slept through the entire castle. Because of that and the few scenes I can’t tell you about because spoilers, but needless to say Asher was rude as well as…indelicate in his attempts to get Zoe to confess her feelings. When it does happen, it felt fast. After being humiliated and fighting, and after one emotional conversation, both characters with the help of their friends suddenly realize they love each other? After eleven years of bickering, I found the relevation to be rather sudden and bordering on insta-love. After that, well, they couldn’t keep their hands to themselves! Even though they still bickered, the emotional 180 left me disoriented for a while.
I did enjoy the other characters, though I realized that there are a lot of names with similar letters; A names seemed to be common for both people and kingdoms, and two brothers had G names. The two brothers were harder to keep track of even though they only had a couple scenes together, and once I got the characters straight in my head, their personalities helped them stand apart.
The author also gave us a new spin on angels, which I enjoyed though I wish I’d been given a bit more information. I’m a huge fan of the backstory though, and if I could, I’d have the authors give me their entire world’s history at some point in the story, so that’s just a quirk of mine. Each of the kingdoms worships a different Angel, and are bestowed a special ability depending on their angel. Auriel’s citizens where Zoe is from, used to be able to start fire from nothing, though after to the Celestial war, no one has been born with the ability since and they don’t know why. I assume it’s a punishment though I don’t remember Zoe explaining further or more clearly. Asher’s kingdom, Aldabel, are great farmers.
I did enjoy the plot of the novel. The majority of it is romance based, but with the bigger conflict between kingdoms and Zoe having to go into hiding before facing down the Big Bad, there’s plenty of adventure too.
That being said, this book would have benefited from one more read through with a proofreader to catch the little typos, awkward phrasing, and tense errors I noticed. While not numerous they are throughout the book. Perspective also jumped from one character to another, usually the main two, without warning. It was jarring at first, but I got used to it. For a debut novel, I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait to read the second book in the series.
My Rating: 3.5/5
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