by Vela Roth
Books 1-3 Review
**This will probably be a long review. I apologize in advance. I was torn about waiting to include the 4th book too, but decided to go ahead and review that after.**
**I received a copy of the first book, Blood Mercy, from the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. Then I couldn’t keep myself from reading the rest of the series to get ready for the fourth book. All opinions are my own.**
Blood Grace is a fantasy romance of epic portions. It revolves around the relationship between two countries, Tenebra and Orthos. Orthos is populated by vampires, or Hesperines as they are known here. Originally from Tenebra, Hesperines were forced to leave Tenebra hundreds of years ago and are still feared and generally unwelcomed in the country. The tide seems to have shifted with Tenebra’s current king, who has finally decided to reopen relations with Orthos. Upon welcoming the first Hesperine diplomatic delegation in a long while, it seems there is only one person truly excited about their arrival, the king’s illegitimate daughter Cassia. Over the course of the negotiations, Cassia and Lio, a Hesperine ambassador, meet each other and fall in love.
Roth creates an amazingly detailed world. It is rich in history and customs. She includes stories of creation such as the origin of men and women as well as how Hesperines came to be. I especially liked how vampires are reimagined here. There’s nothing Roth didn’t think of from the governing systems to religion to social structures. I enjoyed learning about this world and was completely immersed in it. I would be more than willing to read more stories centered around other characters from here.
Lio and Cassia are the main characters, and the story alternates between their points of view. Lio is the nearly perfect love interest. His patience and willingness to answer her questions were admirable, especially when the men in her country would unlikely pay her any mind. One of his most admirable traits is his supportive nature. His belief in Cassia and her abilities elevated him in my eyes as more than just her love interest, but a true partner.
As much as I liked Lio, Cassia was the breakout star. She is constantly underestimated by those around her, much more clever than anyone gives her credit for. While women have limited rights in Tenebra–you see, many things are just too complicated for them to understand–Cassia doesn’t let those constraints contain her. She uses them to her advantage whenever necessary. Who would ever suspect a fragile woman of being able to pull off the things she does? With an initial push from Lio, her confidence grew over the course of the series, and my heart swelled to experience it alongside her.
Their relationship is one of the highlights of the series. They are perfectly suited for each other, and communication comes easily because they are willing to 1) actually communicate and 2) speak truths. I was extremely thankful their relationship was not hindered by miscommunication. Of course, I can’t forget to mention how steamy it is. I enjoyed their interactions and witnessing the two go from strangers to lovers.
As much as I enjoyed the series, there were a few things that I wish were different. I would have liked more action and political intrigue. I spent the first part of Blood Mercy trying to figure out what the book was supposed to be about. What was the plot? What was the main conflict? Peace negotiations were taking place, but I didn’t know what was going in them. I began to wonder if they even mattered at all. It also didn’t help that the first half of Blood Mercy was extremely slow. It mostly consisted of Lio and Cassia meeting and talking. It served to build their relationship and to introduce their world, but I kept wondering when something would happen. It took me nearly a month to read the first half. The paced picks up considerably in the second half with both making realizations about their changing relationship. I finished the second half in nearly a day. The inconsistent pacing hindered my enjoyment of the first book.
Blood Solace differed from this significantly because the book moved beyond Cassia and Lio to include subplots and other supporting characters. There was more tension due to the repercussions of events from the last book, and this pushed me to finish the book a lot faster. Blood Sanctuary I returned to a lack of action, but court politics played a larger role. With the addition of new characters and greater insight into character motivations, I had a much better time reading both books than I did Blood Mercy. Again, I enjoyed the second half but not so much the first half.
As dangerous as it was for Cassia and Lio to interact, except for some instances, I never felt fear or danger for either of them. Initially, I thought it was clever that Hesperines had the ability to veil themselves, but it soon gave way to things being just too easy. It was a useful way to ensure Cassia could work behind the scenes when necessary and for them to be with each other. After about nearly a thousand pages, I began to wonder if their relationship would ever be in danger. There was no fear they would be found out. I understand the focus and the barrier to a lasting relationship is elsewhere, but it began to feel too safe.
Would I recommend Blood Grace? YES!
It’s a hefty series with each book close to 500 pages or even longer. It’s well worth it if you have the time and patience because the world-building is amazing. The character development and the development of Cassia and Lio’s relationship are nicely done here. I never doubted that it was more than just an infatuation with meeting someone new and different. I would recommend reading it all together if possible. Alone, Blood Mercy can feel long because the first half is quite slow. When placed in the context of the series, it serves as a fitting introduction.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vela Roth manifested unstable writing powers at a young age, and many of her early experiments had unintended results. As she grew, a curriculum of fantasy novels with kickass heroines helped her learn to control and wield her abilities. Eventually she dared pursue the knowledge inside the most forbidden tomes: romance novels. She’s been practicing the dark arts of fantasy romance ever since, but she strives to use her novels only for good. She lives in a solar-powered writer’s garret at the foot of the mountains. Her familiar is Milly, a rescue cat with a missing fang and a huge heart.
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