But as they journey across the war-torn land, Jade and Soran fascinate and frustrate each other, so much so that when she at last faces her chance to head home she’s tempted to do something reckless: to stay. Blending intense attraction and deep distaste, Jade and Soran’s combustible dynamic is the draw and focus of this series starter. Readers of romantic fantasy who relish a will-they-or-won’t-they—especially one where the thing they will or won’t do could be either love or kill each other—will relish Cancel’s dialogue dust-ups, moments of surprising intimacy, and eventual literal sparring.
Their arguments have snap and wit, as Soran strives to keep her distant. He hungers for her flesh, as both vampire and man, and also knows secrets about her past that, for complex reasons, he will not spill to her. Descriptive passages and scenes of action tend toward the wordy and even awkward, and the novel’s pacing is slow, with something like half of this long book passing between Jade’s arrival in Layol and the party reaching Bharath, and revelations about a prophecy and Jade’s “gift” are familiar but offer promising ground for future volumes.
Takeaway: Slow-burn portal fantasy romance with killer chemistry.
Comparable Titles: Hollee Mands’s Little Fire, K.A. Tucker’s A Fate of Wrath & Flame.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-