The Bastard Brotherhood #1
by Ashlyn Macnamara
Published on September 6, 2016 by Loveswept
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance
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Though she is intended for the king, Calista Thorne picks up a crossbow to defend her ancestral home, Blackbriar Keep, from a gang of landless knights. She even manages to sink a poison-tipped arrow into their commander, who survives long enough to conquer the Keep and claim Calista for his own. Now, with her father’s life at stake, Calista must nurse the brigand back to health, and the strangest thing happens: She finds herself fascinated by his tautly muscled body, and enthralled by his hotly whispered demands.
Ever since his father’s death, the fearsome warrior they call Torch has been consumed by his quest for revenge. Taking Blackbriar Keep is the first step in that plan, and—by the three gods—it won’t be the last. But after taking one look into Calista’s smoldering gray eyes, Torch discovers a passion nobler than retribution. He will fulfill his destiny and take her from the usurper king, even in his weakened state. For with Calista’s love, no man has ever felt more powerful.
A heroine prepared to save her home and a rogue with more to him than his attack on Blackbriar Keep. From the synopsis, I was prepared to love this book and it opened strong, but the story didn’t hold up all the way through.
To start, Destined for a King jumps right into the action as Calista’s home of Blackbriar Keep is attacked by Torch, a known brigand and rebel against the king (who Calista is betrothed to). Clearly there’s going to be a lot of tension. Torch takes over and claims Calista as his to secure his claim on the holding through marriage. We’re introduced to a fairly large cast as each of their respective perspectives offers a different view of the people in Blackbriar, and based on the start I expected lots of plot twists and fantastic characters.
In the end, I found it more disappointing than not.
Destined for a King is a decent enough series starter but lacked that initial tension for the majority of the book. Once the original conflict of who controlled Blackbriar finished, the story turned to the romance between Calista and Torch which remained lackluster for me. The setting isn’t in our own world, though it looks as if it could be another historical romance. The plot looks like it’ll be an action-packed romance but leads to a washed out courtship. Prophetic dreams, magic, swords and poisons. This book was all over the place and definitely not what I expected from the synopsis.
I think the biggest issue I had was the characters. Calista starts strong, cross-dressing and defending her home despite the dangers of battle but one look at the man who takes Blackbriar and suddenly she’s not so sure she wants to fight back anymore. It’s a constant battle in her mind whether Torch is a villainous man as rumors suggest or something much more. Probably because she keeps noticing how attractive he is…
Torch really wasn’t much better. He’s following in the steps of the “rightful heir with a great destiny” who’s going to overthrow the usurper and bring peace. And so on. But then he’s constantly obsessing over Calista so I stopped caring whether he achieved this goal or not.
There’s no concrete setting outside of the author naming Blackbriar, the woods, a cave, etc. Destined for a King could’ve been set just about anywhere. I couldn’t even put it in our world since it’s made clear this is another place entirely, so Blackbriar floated around in imaginary space for the entirety of the book. None of the details given actually aided the book, instead solidifying the idea of indecisive flat characters.
Initially, I believed this to be standalone romance, or at least a standalone in terms of a different story for each installment in the series. Instead, the story cut off with clear intentions to pick up in the next book and continuing Torch’s destiny. But nothing about this book makes me want to see whether he succeeds or not. Nor is the romance strong enough to warrant seeing its outcome. They aren’t really facing danger as a couple so it’s essentially a happy ending from that front.
This book didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be or where it wanted to go, and for that I can’t say I plan to continue the series.