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A Heart of Blood and Ashes

(A Gathering of Dragons #1)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  415 ratings  ·  131 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
Mass Market Paperback, 560 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Berkley Books
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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  415 ratings  ·  131 reviews

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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
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 SHIT, and he needs to COME CORRECT!!! And he does!!

Can't wait for the next
Lacey (Booklovers For Life)

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
Geri Reads
Feb 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
Another BLANK OF BLANK AND BLANK fantasy novel.

This one sounds like it's trying to out-Game of Thrones Game of Thrones.

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.<

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
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!
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**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
Jenny - TotallybookedBlog

‘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
3.5 stars

review to come

ARC generously provided in exchange for an honest review.
Jen Davis
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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

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
Lover of Romance
This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance

A Heart of Blood and Ashes is the FIRST book in a THRILLING adventure series by Milla Vane. Now this is the first time I have actually read this author, I, of course, have seen her name around since she has done some anthologies and other writing projects but I was so thrilled to see a full length (really full length at almost 600 pages) epic fantasy romance. I am sure I have mentioned this before but there just isn't enough of this genre
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook-owned, arc
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 ...more
Jen (That's What I'm Talking About)
A Heart of Blood and Ashes is a sweeping fantasy filled with passion, adventure, and romance. The story centers on the alliance and unlikely romance between Yvenne, rightful heir to the Syssian throne, and Maddek, High Commander of the Army of the Great Alliance and son of the slain King and Queen of Parsathe. When Maddek learns of the Syssian treachery that killed his parents and is forbidden to touch King Zhalen or his sons, he goes after Zhalen’s recently discovered daughter, Yvenne. But ...more
Izzie d
First book by this author.
Really enjoyed it.
Very good.
Brooding Hero and misunderstood heroine.
The heroine is also strong in her own way though not a warrior.
Heroine is a virgin and the Hero has been celibate for some years as he's been fighting for his country and also he is aware his parents were seeking a bride for him so he feels it isnt right to be with others.
Bit violent and some possible triggers from treatment of and by enemies, though not gratuitous.
Loads of cultural history and
FV Angela
Epic Fantasy Romance at its finest. This book will be on all kinds of best of lists in 2020.

Review originally posted at

This was my most anticipated read of 2020. Milla Vane, also known as Meljean Brook, is the author of one of my all time favorite romances, The Kraken King. If you haven’t had a chance to read this wonderful steampunk/fantasy romance yet, do yourself a favor and go one click because it’s simply amazing and Zenobia and Ariq are
Gitte TotallyBookedBlog


‘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
Douglas Meeks
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one of those books that the story is SO good you can forgive the parts you don't care for, this is the beginning of a true fantasy (trilogy?) and I love many things about it , I REALLY loved the lack of a cliff hanger ending I was expecting.
On the other side it spent too much time in sexual situations to the point I just scanned right through them after the first couple, the hero was a true barbarian for much of the book but you do grow to like him although it takes awhile. The book is

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
Kelly at
If you have not added this book to your read list go do it now!!!
Review will be posted at .

Maddek is out for vengeance and nothing will stand in his way. That is until he meets an unlikely ally. One that will test everything the Maddek knows and feels. Nothing will ever be the same for Maddek.

Yvenne has been looked away for all her life. But now she is free and she is determined to take what is rightfully hers. In order to do
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. EPIC! Review to come.
Janine Ballard
DNF at 60%.

Disclaimer: A Heart of Blood and Ashes is dedicated in part to DA contributor and site owner, Jane, who read the manuscript and provided feedback on it. I have no personal relationship to the author myself. – Janine

In the past I’ve had mixed luck with the books Milla Vane wrote under the name Meljean Brook. Demon Angel was a DNF for me, but I liked the first three books in her Iron Seas series much better. My curiosity was piqued by her new barbarian fantasy romance series written
Jaime Arkin
When I saw someone on Instagram sharing a picture of this book, I was immediately intrigued. That cover is amazing and the dude on the front sort of kind of vaguely reminds me of a buffer Charlie Hunnam which I’m totally okay with. Plus I rarely find fantasy romance out there that grabs my attention like this one did.

I’m just going to admit upfront that the beginning of this book was a bit slow for me and didn’t pull me in as much as I had hoped it would, but I didn’t give up and I’m so happy
Blodeuedd Finland
I do have mixed feelings about this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but at the same time I do not like Maddek. And that first meeting was so dang rapey.

Plus everything else he does afterwards does make me think that Yvenne should dump his sorry barbarian arse.

Yes, very mixed feelings!

Fantasy world where someone named the Destroyer had reeked havoc decades earlier (what was up with that? More please.) Sure countries, gods and such are mentioned, but I would call the world building light. And please
Jessica {Litnoob}
Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Honestly I wanted to give it 4.5 but when a hero is this dense for this long we need to call it out. This was an intense tale of vengeance and betrayal in ways that you don’t expect going in. A brutalized princess and a warrior fighting together to save their world while not trusting one another a bit. There’s a very solid found family trope here which I loved especially as there was so much focus on the death and loss around them. It was very much a journey tale and traveling is the
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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

Other books in the series

A Gathering of Dragons (2 books)
  • A Touch of Stone and Snow (A Gathering of Dragons, #2)