I accepted a review copy of Jacinda Hale‘s Blade & Thistle from . The book was also over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, you can hop over there, where the author provided a playlist, score, and book trailer.
Her father’s army came to conquer their homeland, but the barbarians of the Harrows will be the ones to conquer her.
Vasenia has hated her life in Eretamia ever since her father, Imperator Supreme of the Sadoran Army, forced her to join him on his military campaign. The cold, gloomy, backwater colony provides none of the high society of the capital. When her betrothed retrieves her for their wedding in the imperial city, Vasenia assumes the gods have finally shined their favor upon her.
Until her caravan is attacked along the forbidden, northern border and Vasenia finds herself in a hell far worse than Eretamia at the mercy of three ruthless warriors. No, not warriors–Harrow demons.
Barbarians. Savages. Harrow demons. Warriors Marek, Gaeb, and Ryfin know their people, the half-fae Itheni, are known by many names. Few who live south of the magical border that protects their home understand the Itheni, least of all the Sadoran invaders.
But when the three warriors rescue a Sadoran woman on their trek home, they discover she’s more than just another invader. She’s half-fae too, a descendent of the lost women whose connection to their people was severed by a curse a thousand years ago.
When an ancient bond links her to them, Marek, Gaeb, and Ryfin realize they have no choice; they must bring their enemy home. But if they want to keep her, they’ll have to claim her and reconnect her to the fae by the only means they have: pleasure.
I liked this quite a lot, but I didn’t love it. I think I might have loved what it could have been if it wasn’t Porn With Plot. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with Porn With Plot. I read a lot of it. I picked this up knowing that’s what it is. But in this case, Blade & Thistle has quite an interesting world and mythology sketched out, and by the end, when I had honestly gotten bored with all the sex, I found myself disappointed not to get more of it.
And really, that same sort of complaint paints several aspects of the book for me. I liked the characters a lot (most of them, anyhow). But all we really know of most of them is their caricature and what they are like in bed. I liked that Vasenia is self-sufficient and scheming. But eventually, it started to feel redundant all the times she reminded herself she was only doing what she was doing for the intel.
This is the first book of a series, so there’s a chance that some of the development I wanted will come in time. But the lack here did leave me wanting.
Now I want to have a little semantic rant. Let’s talk words. The writing here is lovely. I enjoyed it. But I want to complain about the word cunt. And before you imagine I’m clutching my pearls, let me assure you that’s not my complaint. I’ll admit it’s not my favorite, but it has its place in erotica. However, it is usually used in gritty scenarios to confer a certain admirable filth to a sex scene. But here, the Itheni consider sex and orgasm sacred acts of joining their goddess. So, the edginess of cunt felt horridly out of place in context. If it had been once or twice, I wouldn’t give a paragraph of a review to it, but it was frequent and pulled me out of every scene.
All in all, despite these complaints, I liked almost everything else about the book. I liked the openness of the Itheni. I liked the world. I’m invested in what happens next. So, I’ll be on the lookout for the next book.