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A Heart of Blood and Ashes

(A Gathering of Dragons #1)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  4,368 ratings  ·  828 reviews
A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil--until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody ...more
Kindle Edition, 555 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Berkley
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Val ⚓️ Shameless Non-Snowflake ⚓️
3 Conflicted Stars

Before I get started, I have a confession to make...

When requesting this book from NetGalley, I did not realize that Milla Vane is really Meljean Brook. All I saw were several glittering reviews from some trusted GR friends, the word "Dragons" in the title (more on that later), a hot barbarian on the cover, and the mention of a marriage of convenience in the blurb.

And so this was me:


Now, I have nothing against Meljean Brook. She is a wildly popular author who has written some

This book is a lusciously brutal foray into romantic fantasy, with a love story that burns so hot, you might singe your fingers while reading it. I devoured it in a single sitting and have been struggling to re-emerge back into the real world ever since. It’ll be a travesty if it doesn’t top the “Best Romance of 2020” lists.

“There are enemies, and there are monsters. Always slay the monsters first, because enemies may one day become allies – but monsters never will.”

I know we’re barely into
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

DNF @ 30%

To clarify, I'm not giving this a low rating because I was offended by the content. I've read everything from Omegaverse erotica to bodice-rippers, and there's very few things that are so bad that I will stop reading a book because of the content alone (unless it's handled incredibly badly). There are many things I'm willing to forgive a book for, but one thing I can't forgive a book for is being boring.

I'm honestly SHOCKED that
Lyn❤Loves❤Listening #AUDIOBOOKADDICT
Audio - 4 Stars. I would have preferred a male narrator, but that's just me.

Story - 5 +++ Stars


My kind of action-adventure romance because there's equal parts action and romance.

Read the blurb it’s all that and more with a fierce, fearless, strong of mind and heart heroine who doesn’t back down from an asshole-ish alpha hero. Instead her actions and words make him realize she is the SHERO, and he needs to COME CORRECT!!! And he does!!

Can't wait for the next
Melanie A. *mostly on hiatus*
"What have I done, that you do not know how I would ride across the world just to lay my gaze upon your face?"
I savored every word! There's nothing I love more than two strong characters going head-to-head in forced proximity. Then, add in a historical-fantasy road trip and I'm on cloud 9.😍😍

Plot in a nutshell: So historical fantasy plots generally elude easy summary, lol, so I won't bother. I will tell you that the world building was top-notch here and it wasn't dumped all
Nothing is better than a man who is loyal & honorable

TBH this book made me love the Romance Genre again
Another example of "Don't judge the book by its cover"
I will explain my problem with cover later on in the review...

Let's start with the review...
I knew the Hero was going to end up being my favorite when he straight away refused to take any lover
His reason was ..that his parents were searching a bride for him & while they had NOT selected a bride for him..he STILL thought it would be insulting
Geri Reads
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What do you get if you combine fantasy + captive romance + angst + dinosaurs + singe-your-eyeballs sexiness into one book? Well, you get A Heart of Blood and Ashes of course!

This book had me from the very beginning until the end. The world building, the characters, the romance—every element I wanted in a fantasy romance is in this book. Maddek and Yvenne are characters I won't soon forget.

If you're a reader of fantasy, you would recognize some of the tropes that Milla Vane used & subverted in t
Lacey (laceybooklovers)

I’ve had so much hype ever since A Heart of Blood and Ashes got on my radar. I’m always on the looking for an epic fantasy romance, and this one sounded so promising. Plus, I’d read Milla Vane years ago not just under her pseudonym Meljean Brook (The Iron Duke is still one of my favorite fantasy romances!), but also when she published a novella under MV in an anthology. So I knew she could write incredible fantasy worlds – and she didn’t disappoint with this first A Gathering of Dragons

“There are enemies, and there are monsters. Always slay the monsters first, because enemies may one day become allies—but monsters never will.”

Firstly, Thank you so much, Chandler for recommending me this fabulous book!

That being said, when I first started this book, I don’t think I was really invested into it not until the third chapter anyway, which was probably one of the reasons for my four star rating I’ll come back to this soon, but other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed the book! Even th
Lana ❇✾DG Romance❇✾
There are enemies, and there are monsters. Always slay the monsters first, because enemies may one day become allies but monsters never will.

When I realized that Milla Vane is also Meljean Brook, I knew I had to read this book. I've loved some of her steampunk books (even though I read them ages ago) and the one thing that always stood out to me was her ability to create unique worlds. And when I read fantasy and barbarian in this blurb, I was on it like a sex addict at a porn

This book. This book is fucking amazing. It was, honestly, a perfect read for me.

2019 was the year of re-reads for me. But 2020 looks to be the year of amazing new books - if they follow in the path of A Heart of Blood and Ashes.

I've read books by Meljean Brook, and I've LOVED them - especially her Iron Seas series - so I was excited when I first heard she has a new barbarian romance series coming out under her pen-name, Milla Vane. So much so that I pre-ordered the book.<

The che
❤️Emma Book Lover ❤️
“There are enemies, and there are monsters. Always slay the monsters first,because enemies may one day become allies—but monsters never will.”

This book was a bit harder for me to read..hence the time it took me to finish it, because I had to translate some words that I didn't knew before, and the language (english yes) is one that I struggled with a bit because of old format and phrases, but once I got going nothing could have stopped me and ...Well..I took it as a challenge , and I enjoyed
4 Stars

Overall Opinion: This was a fun read! I enjoy it when authors just throw us into the new world and have us get caught up as we go instead of bombarding us with backstory to start-- and that is what happened here. That being said, I did struggle with getting into it at the beginning. It might have just been my mood or other things going on at the time though and that fact is not fully attributed to the story itself. I enjoyed the magic/fantasy/adventure/ suspense aspects, the couple's deve
This series scratches the part of my id that is satiated by Old Skool romances. I do not deny the problematic aspects, but I’m self-aware enough to know when I love problematic shit. I cannot stop thinking about these books. Totally obsessed with the worldbuilding and overarching series conflict.

As I said in the novella review, A Gathering of Dragons is very dark and I would not recommend it to everyone. I also think book 2 is a better starting point to the series (especially if you have a low
Tricia Levenseller
Jun 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Perfect for fans of JLA and SJM and anyone who likes rich fantasy worlds with their spicy romance!
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
As soon as I saw this book was releasing in 2020, it went on my most anticipated releases of the year. A barbarian fantasy romance? I NEED IT NOW.

When this book started, it was definitely a slower start as we got introduced to this fantasy world. I don't think I was really invested in the tory until Maddek and Yvenne actually met and the chemistry between them instantly started sizzling between them. I absolutely loved the enemies to lovers in this one and how Maddek and Yvenne tried so hard to
Nov 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: strong-woman, fantasy
3.5 stars

I read this book in two days and I can see the potential for an amazing series. But it’s not without some issues.

It’s clear that this is not the work of a debut author. The plot was well thought through, and the world had everything that makes the fantasy genre fascinating. From the different races to territories, from gods to beasts. The descriptions were well done, and it was easy to envision it all. Most importantly I loved the group Maddek and Yvenne traveled with. The friendships b
Pavlina Read more sleep less blog
<3 4 STARS <3

I really liked the premise of this one and the world the author creates.I loved the set up and the story was intrigued!I liked the characters a lot and the writing was great!


Maddek is a commander and the story starts with him learning that his parents, the king and queen of Parsathe have been executed.Yvenne is the last heir of Nyset and she has been locked away in a tower by her father.I loved Maddek and Yvenne.Maddek is a strong hero. I loved the intimacy between these two!

I'm re

RATING: 4.5 'Warrior-Queen' HEARTS! <3

A Heart of Blood and Ashes is captivating from beginning to end, Ms. Vane delivering an exhilarating reading experience with eye-widening action, vivid imagery that stretches the limits of our imaginations, and a passionate romance with just a kiss of heartache.

What makes this read truly exceptional is not just Ms. Vane’s masterful storytelling, but also the fascinating characters that easily win us over right from the start. Yvenne, although not physically
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
WOW!!! Two excellent books in a row!!!! Yeahhh!!!!!

A fantastic tale and a new breath in the romantic fantasy world!!!

I just couldn't stop reading! It was so interesting and so very well written! I loved every moment!

Since this was a DNF for me, I'm just going to explain as briefly as possible why I struggled and ultimately decided the book wasn't for me. I really hate not finishing an arc, in fact I usually push myself through longer than I would normally in the hopes that things will eventually improve. I don't make the decision lightly, however if you're still forcing yourself to read after the halfway point, that's a good indicator that you're trying to force something that will not fit.

If I were jud
h o l l i s
This was a little all over the place for me.

First off, it'll feel long.. because it is long. Almost six hundred pages. No wonder my eyes glazed over or I skipped ahead for some scenes; I feel better knowing it was actual length and not just me being bored for why I just gave up every so often and skimmed. I did feel the worldbuilding was almost solid but often I would just be confused by references, sometimes even character names (and they weren't similar), or often not care enough to reread to
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
**ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review**

- 4.5 stars -

I was excited to read this book ever since I laid eyes on the blurb and cover. When I started reading and saw how long it was I got even more excited. In the fantasy genre, especially if it is the first book in a series, it can get very difficult and sometimes chaotic when introducing a new world to a reader. So I really appreciate it when an author really takes the time to explain everything, but not dumping the informat
Robin (Bridge Four)
4.5 Fall in love with a Warrior Stars

A Heart of Blood and Ashes has one of my favorite tropes ever, a marriage between strangers and enemies to boot. This is firmly in the Romantasy realm as it is a fantastic blend of fantasy intertwined with romance.

Maddek has come to the enemy’s territory on word of his parent’s death only to find his hands have been politically tied and he is not allowed vengeance on those that murdered them. The only possible way to thwart his enemy is to steal away the hidd
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I loved this book so much. I will admit that I am a terrible fantasy reader, and so it was kind of hard for me to get into it. But once the MCs are on page together, I was IN IT. I just thought it was so interesting and I loved how strong and fierce Yvenne is, and the fact that even though she's been literally locked in a tower, she's so amazing.

My only complaint, really, is that I think Maddek could have done a lot more groveling. ALTHOUGH I GUESS BEING AT DEATH'S DOOR WILL HAVE TO WORK.
Jenny - TotallybookedBlog
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing

‘She had promised to make his life a misery. He still believed she would. But in that moment, he’d realized his life would also be a greater misery if Yvenne wasn’t in it.’

Epic! Positively EPIC! A Heart of Blood and Ashes is, without doubt, one of our favourite fantasy romance stories ever. Embarking on this adventure of vengeance, lust, passion, loyalty and love we became instantly swept up in Milla Vane’s fantasy dark romance! We met a brave and battle hardened warrior and a heroine with the h
Jen Davis
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though it was under a different name, this author has written some of my favorite books and even though those were steampunk and paranormal romance, this journey into barbarian fantasy did not disappoint.

The story follows Maddek, a formidable warrior who is pulled from the battlefield when his parents— the king and queen— are unexpectedly killed. Maddek learns quickly that not only were they brutalized in horrific fashion, but the rest of their consortium of rulers has allowed it to be swept und
Ⓐlleskelle - That ranting lady ッ
✓Romance + fantasy.
✓Barbarian seeking revenge.
✓A kidnapped frail looking but badass queen.
✓Forced proximity.
✓Hot sex.
✓Gory battles.
✓Extended world building.

Any of this speaks to you?

I've been in the mood for fantasy lately and fatefully enough this book recommendation fell into my book pile just in time. (Thank you Geri!)
Not just fantasy with romance-lite or YA romance though, I've been meaning to find in depth fantasy world building and a strong romance arc. A
Jenn (The Book Refuge)
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lover of GoT but who want more romance and less evil. Its still dark but more bearable.
Recommended to Jenn by: Shauna
Still as amazing as ever. These characters slay me. Hard and true.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, ebook-owned
YES, praise the book gods that we have Milla Vane/Meljean Brook back in rotation! No one does an angsty speculative romance with quite as much style as she does, and I am so happy to see a series kicking off in "The Beast of Blackmoor" world. I'm somewhere between 3.5 and 4 stars, because I do think this is a bit long for my tastes-- I would have liked about 25% trimmed out. But aside from that, I absolutely love Yvenne, especially as a strong female lead who does not have to be physically stron ...more
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Milla Vane is an alternate name for author Meljean Brook.

Meljean was raised in the middle of the woods, and hid under her blankets at night with fairy tales, comic books, and romances. She left the forest and went on a misguided tour through the world of accounting before focusing on her first loves, reading and writing-and she realized that monsters, superheroes, and happily-ever-afters are easil

Other books in the series

A Gathering of Dragons (3 books)
  • A Touch of Stone and Snow (A Gathering of Dragons, #2)
  • A Dance of Smoke and Steel (A Gathering of Dragons #3)

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