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Lord of the Last Heartbeat

(The Sacred Dark #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  221 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Stop me. Please.

Three words scrawled in bloodred wine. A note furtively passed into the hand of a handsome stranger. Only death can free Mio from his mother’s political schemes. He’s put his trust in the enigmatic Rhodry—an immortal moon soul with the power of the bear spirit—to put an end to it all.

But Rhodry cannot bring himself to kill Mio, whose spellbinding voice
...more
ebook, 351 pages
Published September 2nd 2019 by Carina Press
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  221 ratings  ·  83 reviews


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Start your review of Lord of the Last Heartbeat (The Sacred Dark, #1)
K.J. Charles
This is a stunning debut. Incredibly rich, textured writing dripping with sensation, and an equally rich and developed fantasy world with vast hinterland. There's real world politics and supernatural mystery and a vast mythos and just an incredible amount in here, which makes it an almost overwhelming reading experience. The core relationship, by contrast is...well, it's not simple because there is a vast power imbalance (handled with great sensitivity by the characters and author alike) but it ...more
Caz
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aar, pnr, queer-romance, m-m, arc
I've given this a B- at AAR, so that's 3.5 stars rounded up.

May Peterson’s début novel, Lord of the Last Heartbeat, is an intricately constructed gothic fantasy with an intriguing storyline, set in a world that reminded me somewhat of eighteenth century Italy where dark secrets lurk behind the scenes, political backstabbing is rife and influential families jostle for power.  Adding to that particular vibe is the fact that one of the main characters is an opera singer, and I loved the way his voc
...more
Kazen
Sep 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Content warnings for fantasy violence, suicide, mind control, and homophobia.

What a ride!

The good:

- We have nonbinary protagonist Mio (he/him pronouns) and immortal Rhodry (male) together as a couple, written by a nonbinary author. Hell yes.

- There's a major power imbalance between the two, but it's handled with care. Rhodry checks in with Mio often, makes sure he doesn't feel forced in any way, and backs out of some situations where he fears consent may not be freely given, even if only in par
...more
Lisa The Novel Approach
One of the predominant markers of an author’s success in drawing me into the fantasy they set out to create is to build a lush and vibrant setting out of the whole cloth of their imagination, and then translate that through rich descriptions and the complex layering of both characters and storyline. Lord of the Last Heartbeat is not only May Peterson’s debut novel, but it is an impressive debut that showcases her talent for commingling romance with a variety of complex external forces which infl ...more
Ellie
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

This was an interesting debut queer fantasy. There is intricate world building and strong romance but I also had some issues with the story and some aspects of the romance made me uneasy, so I ended up with mixed feelings about it.

As preface I want to say that this book has strong horror elements and as someone who is not a horror fan in general, it was difficult to read at times.

The characters are involved in a sort of house murder mystery that kept me captivated throughout the story
...more
Ariadna
Oct 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 15%

This was a novel I'd been eager to read ever since I first heard about it on BookTwitter. It had a non-binary character (who was one half of the main pairing), horror & fantasy elements, and a murder mystery! My interest was piqued and then some!

Alas I had to give it up v. early (around Chapter 3 out of 26 chapters total).

I was not impressed by the worldbuilding (which felt v. incomplete to me). Based on what I read, the book is set in a world that's v. much like somewhere in Western E
...more
Quartzen
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Vermagna in the lingering aftermath of war is a city haunted, where any malcontent death might birth a ghost or a terrible curse. Mio, nonbinary and intersex and poised for a career in the opera, is the youngest child of the fallen Gianbellicci house, gentry turned criminal, his family's tenuous position secured by his mother Serafina's blackmail and her terrible mage talent of possession which she aims to use to control the new Electorate from the shadows. Mio's secret is that like her, he is a ...more
Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
Some books open their doors to you without any friction, and others push back against you. This was the latter for me; I persistently struggled to *be in it* in a way that I find both frustrating and mortifying, because it’s a really powerfully written and satisfyingly complex story.

It reminded me of Catherynne M. Valente in style, with a hysterical poetics that is always on the verge of being too much but is often beautiful. The world building is similar: baroque, often obscure, and rooted in
...more
Freya Marske
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I almost wish this had been a nice chunky fantasy novel, because the supernatural worldbuilding suffered a little from being crammed into a romance-novel space; it was all FASCINATING and I wanted it to be able to breathe! The romance was enjoyable because I liked both of the protagonists SO MUCH in their own rights, and wanted them to be happy, though the emotional path from 'meeting' to 'declaring true love' was a little speedy and smooth and unexplored to be perfectly satisfying. But it didn' ...more
Jordan Lombard
Title/Author: Lord of the Last Heartbeat by May Peterson
Series/Standalone: The Sacred Dark #1
Genre/Sub-Genre: Paranormal fantasy/romance with strong horror and mystery elements
Book Format: ebook
Length: 351 pages
LGBTQ+ Orientation: non-binary/intersex and pan-sexual
HEA/HFN: Yes
Abuse/Rape: Mio describes his own powers as “mind rape” and his mother emotionally abuses him by making him use his powers so she can get what she wants.
Violence: Yes, there is a lot of violence and talk of suicide through
...more
skadoosh
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I came here for the m/nb romance but what a twisty and thrilling plot!
M
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received and ARC of this book via Netgalley.


CW: Violence, mind control, blood and mild (fantasy) gore, past infidelity, homophobia and anti-effeminacy
 

I wanted to read this book from the moment I saw it mentioned on Twitter, and I wanted to read it extra bad because I was sure this author would pull me into a whirlwind of lush prose and intricate worldbuilding. May Peterson has always had a way with words talking about real life things, why would it be different in fiction?

Reader, it wasn’t. I
...more
Merissa (Archaeolibrarian)
LORD OF THE LAST HEARTBEAT is the first book in the Sacred Dark series, and we focus on Mio and Rhodry. Both of these have secrets and 'powers' that have an effect on their lives. Mio no longer wants to 'help' his mother, but can't see a way out. Rhodry is intrigued by the younger man, but fears trying anything due to the curse he is living under.

What a fantastical world Ms Peterson has invented, with a hint of American Civil War era, coupled with the English Victorian period, this was a great c
...more
ConM
Sep 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this a lot. But at times had trouble following everything that was happening.
Amy
Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this book!

Title: Lord of the Last Heartbeat
Author: May Peterson
Rating: 2.5 stars
Rep: non-binary intersex MC (stated by the author) Mio goes by "he/him" pronouns throughout the book.
Trigger warnings: attempted sexual assault, gore, violence, gruesome deaths, murder, descriptions of the aftermath of war, suicidal thoughts, suicide, cheating, grief, PTSD, transphobia, mafia. 



"The Lord of the Last Heartbeat" has been on my radar for month
...more
Tora
Sep 12, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am perplexed by this book. I'm fully confident it was good but what I'm not sure about is whether I enjoyed it.

The world building is intriguing, some of the scenes were genuonely moving, the writing was lyrical. But the prose were so dense and so heavy in metaphor that I honestly spent a lot of the book just... not quite sure what was happening.

Very little of the lore gets explained, and show don't tell gets taken to such an extent that I was just left confused. Please do at least SOME telling
...more
Linaria
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtq, romance, paranormal
I'm really not sure what to make of this one. I saw people talk about it on Twitter, and really felt like reading a fantasy/romance, so I gave it a shot.

I was surprisingly into the paranormal aspects of the book, maybe because the setting was historical rather than contemporary. The book had a Beauty and the Beast style romance which I am always a fan of. I also really liked Eirlys, Rhodry's (ex?)-wife. The world was interesting, but the world-building is really hard to follow. I feel like I end
...more
Book  Minx
Fascinating world and magical system but the characters just didn’t engage me much. They’ve got a lot of potential at the beginning, tho the flowery cryptic speech could’ve done with some fine tuning, but I got SO tired of Rhodry’s self-pity SO fast. Also his quips about fashion and cost didn’t seem to fit him at ALL... making me wonder if supporting bits got cut in editing.The plot tried to be twistier than the writing was able to maintain. The villain is clear pretty early and some of the spir ...more
Sue
Jul 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, romance, lgbtqia
Fantasy/romance story set in a unique world. I loved the worldbuilding and the relationships between the characters. Mio and Rhodry are fleshed out so well and their relationship is so sweet. May Peterson is so tender with these characters, they are very clear in their identities and their powers. I loved the worldbuilding and the magic system. I got a little lost in the dialogue toward the end, but the resolution was a real surprise! I'm excited to read her next book.
Emmalita
Oct 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
May Peterson’s debut novel, Lord of the Last Heartbeat is a queer, gothic, dark, fairytale fantasy m/m romance. I’m not going to try to summarize the plot, because you were either in at “queer, gothic, dark, fairytale fantasy m/m romance” or you were not. If you are so inclined, this would be a great October read.

One of the things Peterson does really well in this story is balance fantasy, romance and a ghost story. She drops you immediately into the fantasy world, doles out a lot of pining for
...more
Denise
Disappointing, but still full of promise for a debut. The author set up a beautiful gothic mood, but I couldn't follow the plot for the love of corn or beans. The world building was extremely lacking - some authors can dump you in the middle of a world with no background and slowly give you pieces and it's very pleasurable to let them build that puzzle with you. This author I think is a bit too green to know how to do that, because I spent most of the time flailing. What is magic in this world? ...more
Arnav
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Enby rights
Ash
Dec 14, 2019 marked it as abandoned
I couldn't make it through this book. The writing felt weird and so did the worldbuilding. I spent most of the time I did read this book very confused, and I couldn't find a way to enjoy it.
Allyce
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lord of the Last Heartbeat is a detailed fantasy story focused around Mio, a sorcerer whose power lies in his voice. When pushed to his limits by his power hungry mother, Mio escapes to the first place they would look, but the one he would be safest – the house of Rhodry, a cursed Moon Soul.

Focusing on Mio and Rhodry the story follows of the pair as they fight their attraction to each other and the mysterious force at work within the house. Expect twists and turns as the intricately weaved love
...more
Leigh Kramer
I was completely enamored with this story from page one. It’s clear Mio is in trouble, although we don’t know how or why. When he meets Rhodry and asks for help, I was drawn even further into Mio’s plight. He was so sweet and pure, so tangled up in what to do and how he might escape his mother Serafina. My heart went out to him and I could see why he was drawn to the strength Rhodry exuded. But Rhodry, a bear-soul, had troubles of his own thanks to a curse and I had no idea how the ghosts and de ...more
Annabelle Heath
I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it was set in a richly imagined world of magic and intrigue, where a witch can possess you if she knows your darkest secret, and an opera singer can enchant such secrets out of you with the power of their voice.

On the other hand, you have Rohdry - a love interest who is both a Vampire and a Bear Shifter, in what must be the biggest case of supernatural overkill I've ever encountered. Until events later in the story, where it seems the other
...more
Sandy
This came recommended by authors I love, whose reading tastes usually align with mine (and whose books I always love). It hit all my auto-buy buttons - paranormal fantasy, mages, shifter types, ghosts, etc. So why didn't I love it?

The writing was wonderful - especially for a first novel. May Peterson created an impressive world with beautiful descriptive prose. The characters were well-developed and interesting. The plot was unique and well written, and the twists were well done (I was congratul
...more
Felicia Grossman
Nov 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredible book. It is so unique and so thrilling in many way. There are these fantastic layers of world-building and myth making that are just done profoundly well. That's the only way I can describe it. The world and the rules and the creatures that are created are so unique, but are woven into the fabric of the story so deeply, it all seems just natural and right.

The conflict was beautifully done. I didn't want to know more, I HAD to know more, had to figure out who was behind the
...more
Laura (Bookie_mama_bear)
❄️ BOOK REVIEW ❄️
Thanks to @netgalley for my ARC for an honest review.
This book has so many good points. It touches on the paranormal, magic and LGBTQ issues. I really loved the relationship between Mio & Rhodry it’s so sweet and really feels true. I adore the ghosts and I absolutely hate Seraphina! So the characterisation is fab! The scene setting was a little basic and a little confusing at times. There was a tree in the cellar....not sure how that works but hey there you go! The story had a
...more
Xan West
Content Warnings (view spoiler) ...more
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May Peterson is rumored to be some kind of magical creature, but exactly which kind is still debated by scholars. While they sort that out, May busies herself as a romance and fantasy author and freelance editor. May has always had a deep fondness for books, animation, and comics. She’s drawn toward both writing and reading stories that are magical, hopeful, and distinctive, as well as those that ...more

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