A warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. When she arrives in Blackmoor, however, she finds a land cursed by a demon and ruled by an evil warlord…and discovers that the beast isn’t a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.
I somehow missed this story when I first grabbed the Night Shift anthology. And that is completely my loss – because this novella was freaking AMAZING.
I said, when I finished A Heart of Blood and Stone, that it was the start of a fantastic reading year for me – and even if Milla Vane were the only one giving me fantastic books this year, I’d count the year a reading win. She keeps hitting them out of the park and I’m just grateful to be able to go along for the ride.
There aren’t many authors that I feel truly can do the novella format well, especially when trying to build a world, develop characters, and show a convincing romance. Milla Vane does it all, flawlessly.
Before I get into the main characters, let me just fan-girl about the goddess Vela for a moment. I’m pretty enamored of her. From the moment when she takes affront at Kavik’s disrespect, cursing him, “Wait for the woman in red. When she arrives, you will know that the end is near…” To the moment when she twists the knife. I love her.
Mala, our heroine, is on a mission for Vela. She’s chosen to take on a quest for the goddess. Those that succeed in their quest are often granted immense rewards, though not always in the way expected. Mala needs just such a reward. Vela’s tasks are never easy, almost always cause pain in the person completing it, and there are severe consequences for those that fail or give up.
Mala is eager to succeed and win her reward. With her friend Shim, a horse descended from a god, her red cloak marking her, and the years of training under her belt, she’s ready to complete the task Vela set. I don’t think I can do justice to how much I love Mala. She is so utterly comfortable in herself. With good reason, she can kick the asses of almost anything that comes at her.
But it’s not just that. Mala feels at ease with who she is, and doesn’t feel the need to overly protect herself. Many people crumble under the pressures and strains that happen throughout their lives, building walls and keeping others at arm’s length. Not Mala. She remembers and feels the pain, but she doesn’t let it stop her from risking being hurt. She’s funny and confident and has so much honor and heart. I need so many stories about Mala.
So, Kavik pissed off Vela and Mala is on a quest for Vela. Their meeting is meant to be. And their encounter instantly made me fall in love with Kavik. “I waited for you, little dragon. Every night, I dreamed of you.” He’s come a long way from the boy that challenged a goddess. And their sexual tension singes, it’s so hot. But the feeling that this book brought out in me, damn.
I was saying to a friend that Milla Vane makes me feel all the feels in her books. It’s so true. And all the more impressive because she does it a novella. Romances generally don’t work in novella format, there’s just not enough page time to convince me of a happily ever after. But I was rooting for these two from their first meeting. I loved them together. Mala and Kavik are perfect for each other. And their HEA is eminently satisfying.
Milla Vane packs a punch – she brings the action, the sexy-as-hell romance, and the drama in spades. The Beast of Blackmoor is a fantastic story in the Gathering of Dragons Series, and I hope we see loads more of Kavik and Mala.