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A Gathering of Dragons #2

A Touch of Stone and Snow

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Milla Vane returns to a world of kings, magic, and passion in her exhilarating A Gathering of Dragons series, as a great alliance forms to stand against an evil warlord intent on their destruction.

Danger lurks in the western realms. The Destroyer’s imminent return has sent the realms into turmoil as desperate citizens seek refuge—but there’s no safety to be found when demons and wraiths crawl out from the shadows. Even Koth, a northern island kingdom left untouched by the Destroyer a generation past, is besieged by terrors spawned from corrupt magics.

When Lizzan leads the Kothan army against these terrors, only to see her soldiers massacred and to emerge as the only survivor, she is called a coward and a deserter. Shunned from her home, Lizzan now wanders in solitude as a mercenary for hire, until she encounters a group of warriors seeking new alliances with the northern kingdoms—a group that includes Aerax, the bastard prince of Koth, and the man who sent her into exile.

Though they were childhood friends, Aerax cannot allow himself to be close to the only woman who might thwart his treacherous plan to save their island realm. But when a goddess's demand binds them together, Lizzan and Aerax must find a way to overcome their painful pasts. Or there will be no future for the western realms...

398 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 21, 2020

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About the author

Milla Vane

7 books555 followers
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 easily found between the covers, as well as under them, so she set out to make her own.

Meljean lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 347 reviews
Profile Image for aarya.
1,158 reviews
August 3, 2020
2020 Ripped Bodice Summer Bingo: ‪Villain’s Love Story

A review: https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/r...

***

First impressions:

Extremely annoyed right now because I neither have the time nor energy to glom Meljean Brook’s backlist (Brook is a PNR pseudonym for Vane). Woe is me.

FYI, this works as a stand-alone if you haven’t read book 1 (I have not read book 1).

Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,484 reviews3,497 followers
November 6, 2021
3.5 Stars

Overall Opinion: This was a good addition to the series. While I think you could probably follow along if you haven’t read the first book, A Heart of Blood and Ashes, I wouldn’t recommend it. I think the lands, people, and Gods would be easier to understand if you had that as a back story. I loved their love! I loved the pain I felt for them when circumstances make it hard for them to be together. I just wanted much more of it! Once they give in to their love it seems to go to the back burner to all the suspense and world drama. Which I get! But I loved their connection so much that I was super greedy for it. I struggled the most with the pacing. It took a while for me to get into it and I even had checked the overall length at one point because I was shocked that I was barely 30% in and figured it had to be super long — but it wasn’t. It felt slow and since it’s been a while since I read the first book I was constantly trying to remember if I knew these characters. The ending also was lackluster, but again — I understand why it was the way it was for the sake of the series. But! I’m looking forward to the rest of the series and I enjoyed it overall.

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Lizzan and Aerax’s story. They’ve been each other’s closest ally for years but this story starts after Lizzan has been exiled from her home with Aerax pushing her away. Their world is falling apart, literally, as the ‘Destroyer’ has returned and is pure evil. Different lands start uniting to go against the Destroyer and Lizzan and Aerax reunite amongst this quest. There are some dark forces against them, some truths revealed, a few sexy times, and some suspenseful scenes...and they get a HFN ending.

Point Of View (POV): This alternated between focusing on Lizzan and Aerax in 3rd person narrative.

Overall Pace of Story: My biggest issue. Not the best. I never skimmed though.

Instalove: No, they were already in love when this story begins

H (Hero) rating: 5 stars. Aerax. I loved him! I loved how he cared for the h and how he had a strong character despite all the wrongs that had been done to him.

h (heroine) rating: 4.5 stars. Lizzan. I really liked her. I appreciated her strength, her loyalty, and how caring she was for others.

Sadness level: Low/moderate. I geared up a few times but I never needed tissues.

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Good. They have some good tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but not so much it takes away from the story. They are both virgins and there is kind of a slow burn type feel to it.

Descriptive sex: Yes

OW (Other Woman)/OM (Other Man) drama: Not at all!

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: No

Separation: Yes

Possible Triggers: Yes

Closure: This ends in a good place with them as a couple but with still a lot looming for them in regards to their world. I would call this a HFN ending.

Safety: This one should be Safe for most safety gang readers
Profile Image for Geri Reads.
1,232 reviews2,022 followers
August 3, 2020
What can I say? I will pledge my sword to Milla Vane forever!

This book has everything I could ever hope for. aHoBaA was hard to top but A Touch of Stone and Snow managed it quite easily. This series has truly been a revelation. Excellent world building with vividly drawn characters and a romance that broke my heart in its beauty.

This will be hard to top but I have a feeling Milla Vane will be able to do it in the next book. Again.


ARC provided by Berkley for an honest review
Profile Image for Mara.
1,464 reviews3,560 followers
June 19, 2020
First things first... the hero of this book has a pet snow cat, aka A SABER TOOTH TIGER. Do I really need to say more?
Okay, okay, I will. I feel like with this book, this series is really hitting its stride. The political intrigue is intriguing! The magical and mythical elements are interesting! The romances are targeted right at your feels! It's just a super solid fantasy romance series, though I will say, I tend to enjoy the fantasy elements of this a little more than the romance elements. Personally, I tend to like slightly less angst for my romances, and this series seems to be on the angstier end of things than the Iron Seas series was. That said-- this was a second chance romance that worked a lot better for me than that trope usually does because it was so clear from the hero's POV that he was utterly gone on the heroine... so I knew the reasoning behind the Big Misunderstanding was going to be good. It was, and I found the resolution of that part of the story very satisfying.
All in all- can't wait for the next one! Things are really heating up and the Destroyer is still coming!
Profile Image for Crystal Cook.
742 reviews1,209 followers
November 23, 2021
I can't get enough of Milla Vane's fantasy stories. This one had a great blend of such unique fantasy elements and a steamy, and sweet romance. Also I want a cat like Caeb 😍
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,337 reviews1,822 followers
April 9, 2021
I definitely liked this more than book one but not more than the prequel (which you should read after book one, by the way). But there are definitely still parts I had to slog through. Thankfully this installment is significantly shorter than book one (almost six hundred pages vs just shy of four) but.. it still felt very long, particularly in the beginning.

I'm not sure I really liked either of the main characters, which is sad as I really liked book one's heroine, but unlike the hero in book one, at least no one annoyed me in this one. I think I struggled, mostly in the beginning, because there was just so much time bouncing between past events and current that it was hard to hold onto who they were now. And also likely not helped by just feeling a little lost and without any certain footing in said beginning. The middle to almost climax was definitely the highlight for me, both fast paced and interesting, but the actual big conflict seemed.. well, dumb. And over before I even realized. It resolved so quickly it actually took me a few pages to realize it was over and they hadn't just paused for an interlude.

That said, what helped me feel better about this one was, while I acknowledged and appreciated the worldbuilding Vane put in, from day on, this was the first time I felt proper understanding of some of the mythology. I don't know if it was poorly explained or we just weren't meant to know the whole picture up until now (or I'm dumb) but.. I'm diggin' it. I'm on board. And I like what has been set up for book three, too. Of course, now that I'm caught up I have to wait like everyone else but.. oh well.

Not quite sure this is going to be a series I would go out of my way to recommend but I definitely wouldn't talk you out of it if you're already interested in diving in.

----

This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Lover of Romance.
2,702 reviews780 followers
August 6, 2020
This review was originally posted on Addicted To Romance






In The Touch of Stone and Snow we have a story that continues in the gritty world of Milla Vane of the Gathering of Dragons series. After reading the first book "A Heart of Blood and Ashes" I have been so intrigued by this style of fantasy and quite frankly I adore epic fantasy and so happy to see more authors writing in this genre. Its definitely one we need more books in. And I have been highly impressed with Milla Vane to be honest. I just love how she developed this story and I will say that I couldn't seem to get enough of this book and it turned out so different than I expected and most especially the romance turned a road I never expected and I was all in for it.



The Touch of Stone and Snow is a story that begins with a love story of two people....Lizzan and Aerax. Lizzan and Aerax were once best friends who turned into lovers, but then in a battle that Lizzan led, all of her men were killed and she was held to blame as the only survivor and she was cast out of Koth, her family living in disgrace and losing the man she loved and the only home she had ever known. Lizzan now works as a protector to lead innocent people through the dangers of bandits, and those touched by the 'destroyer'. Aerax has never stopped loving Lizzan, and will never tell her the full story but he and his pet snow cat (a saber tooth tiger) feel the loss of Lizzan in their lives. But while on the trail sent on a mission....Aerax finds her and even though there is a tension he feels more complete with her near. As Aerax and Lizzan work together and reconnect they will also have to face a danger, one they won't be ready for and it will take the both of them to destroy it and reach the HEA they so richly deserve....



I have to say that A Touch of Stone and Snow was such a endearing read. I just fell so hard for Aerax and Lizzan. Now I will say that Lizzan isn't your average heroine and not normally my cup of tea since I do have a hard time relating with such alpha females, but boy I adored her. Because even though she has such a tough exterior, she also possesses this sweetness and charming vulnerability I wanted to see more of. Now Aerax ...*sigh* he was delicious in every way. I love that even though he made his own share of mistakes, he owns up to them and isn't afraid to go after what he really wants. He has such a protective side but also appreciates Lizzan for the woman she is and supports her in every way and I found that so sexy. I was expecting so much ANGST in this book and I was pleased to see that it didn't turn out the way I expected or last as long as I was ready for which had my heart pleased. I don't care too much for angst to be throughout the whole story so to see it resolved more earlier on was quite refreshing.



Now as a plot line this story kicks booty let me tell y'all. Because wowzers, will she never cease to surprise me in that? Because I just couldn't get enough of seeing how she just pulls you into this suspense filled story. Both Aerax and Lizzan and their group have to battle off some enemies and the intensity in some of these scenes definitely keeps one on edge all the way through. Especially in the later half of the story, that is where it really picks up speed. The first half the focus tends to be the romance between Aerax and in the second half they are pushed to the test in saving the lives of their people. I found the style of seeing the growth of the story to be one that feeds your attention in the right manner.



A side note I ADORED Aerax having a pet saber tooth tiger, so so cool!! And quite frankly the bond between the three of them was adorable and I couldn't seem to get enough of it.



Overall I found A Touch of Stone and Snow to be a fantastic addition to the series that embodies thrilling adventure, the beauty of finding love again and good conquering evil ----an edgy, keep you on your toes read that will leave you eager for the next one.






















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Profile Image for Jenny - TotallybookedBlog.
1,777 reviews2,012 followers
July 21, 2020
description

“Our path leads to the crystal palace. So on we go, to glorious battle, where my name will become legend.” And where he would never, ever let her go.

“If I have to become a monster to save you, that is what I will do.”


A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane is the second book in A Gathering of Dragons, one of the best fantasy series we’ve read in a long time. Every single book is EPIC and so intricately woven into a mammoth story. It’s not often it takes us a week to read just one book, however, Milla Vane is literally the queen of fleshing out her storyline and her characters. Because of the continuing quest to defeat a common mythical enemy, we HIGHLY recommend reading in order, especially if you love barbaric and erotic fantasy romance as much as we do. This series speaks straight to our fantasy book-loving hearts. Intense, mysterious, harrowing, dramatic, action-filled and super passionate. This series is everything and the way in which it is written, SUPERB! We cannot even begin to adequately pay homage to this incredible series and Author.

“I must sacrifice myself while performing a feat so incredible that my name will reach their ears, and no longer will my family bear my shame.”

“If you leave me I will come for you. Wherever you go, I will find you, and we will be together again.”


We first heard of The Destroyer in A Heart of Blood and Ashes, which was Ran Maddek and Queen Yvenne story, and his impending arrival to slay and defeat the realms is causing terror. Factions of warrior men and women not fleeing but rather instigating an uprising, whilst the rest seek refuge and protection from the mythical Gods. The world-building in this series by Milla Vane continues to astound us, this Author is outstanding! Honestly, if we could give her a standing ovation in person we would. It’s mesmerizing, addictive, flawless and compelling, the scenery easily conjured up in our minds from the vivid and eerily evocative writing.

“Always you would stop and listen to those who were alone, for you knew that is what they often needed the most – for someone to see them, to listen to them. And I have always loved that about you.”

“It matters not how quick or slow the days are. No matter what happens in the battle ahead, and even if every day afterward is spent with you, never will there be enough of them.”


Lizzan, currently in exile, is on a personal quest to battle and clear her family’s name from the shame she has brought upon them. She’s a fighter with a heart that’s bigger than can be comprehended. We knew there was something incredibly special about her from the start, and we championed her till the end despite our worry over her wanting to die a hero. Whilst on her path she’s also running from the man she loves, Aerax, the troubled bastard prince of Koth, she grew to love with all her heart. The warrior monster of a man who owns her heart and now owns ours. Not only is this series a treat fantasy-wise, which would be amazing as a Netflix series, in A Touch of Stone and Snow the second chance romance is compelling, beautiful and incredibly passionate. The tension and the chemistry was scorching. The battle, the twists and the mythical aspect, enticing. This series is a masterpiece of epic proportions!

“You ease the pain in my heart, Aerax.”
“Given a choice no other purpose would I have.”



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Profile Image for Angela.
3,196 reviews367 followers
June 6, 2022
A Touch of Stone and Snow is a fantastic addition to this series, one that ups the ante. Milla Vane shows us more of the world, brings in awesome new characters and creatures, and even more magic and danger.

A Gathering of Dragons series is a must read! This is fantasy romance at its best. It brings love, light, overcoming (intense) adversity, and conquering evil in a time when I desperately need to see it. If I could, I’d beg Vela for a quest to gain the reward of more. Luckily, the third book, A Dance of Smoke and Steel, comes out early next year - until then I’m going to be reading and re-reading.

Entire review at The Alliterates
Profile Image for Emmalita.
494 reviews33 followers
June 21, 2020
I dove into A Touch of Stone and Snow as soon as I finished A Heart of Blood and Ashes. Lizzan and Aerax grew up together on Koth and were sweathearts until Lizzan was exiled in shame for telling the truth about how the soldiers she led were killed. They meet up again years later. The goddess Vela tasks Lizzan with protecting Aerax and promises to reward her with a glorious death in battle. Lizzan does not tell Aerax the truth about her quest or her reward. Aerax hasn’t told her the truth about why he didn’t leave with her.

Vane builds on the first book in so many interesting ways. One of the many things I didn’t talk about in my review was importance the Parsatheans put on speaking truth. I didn’t pay that much attention to it even though it was an important issue between Maddak and Yvenne. Maddak doesn’t fully become the man she deserves and the king his people deserve until he accepts Yvenne has not lied to him. Though Lizzan and Aerax are not Parsathean, they have to confront that the lies they’ve told each other and others in the past have harmed them and everyone around them. There is an even bigger lie that they have to confront about Koth.

Truth telling plays out in some of the side threads as well and those truths are likely to be resolved in the next book (or later books? Can this be an 8 book series?) One thread is carried from the first book: how will the truthful words spoken by the goddess Vela to various characters play out, because her truth is abstract. The other builds on the series arc of recovering from and preparing for the return of the Destroyer: an older woman Lizzan comes across is waiting for her son, who was taken by the Destroyer at age 4. She travelled the world trying to find him and now she waits for him to find her, even though she is certain he will hate her for failing to protect him.

I had a little bit of a rougher start with Lizzan and Aerax than I did with Maddak and Yvenne, but once I understood their conflict I fell in love with them. Lizzan might be rough for some readers at the start. She drinks too much and she is in the process of a long, slow implosion that will definitely end with her death. She is near the end of her rope emotionally, and that’s a hard place for me to connect with a character. Lizzan is a mirror of Yvenne in that she is a warrior and has the physical strength for which Yvenne longed. What she lacks is Yvenne’s knowledge of the world and understanding of all the ways people can be horrible. She lacks Yvenne’s fortitude.

It was interesting thinking about the big lie at the center of A Touch of Stone and Snow in this moment. White Americans, like the citizens of Koth, have been raised on a steady diet of comforting lies. To maintain itself, Koth must banish, shame and kill anyone who might reveal the truth. As a child Aerax and his mother almost die because they don’t fit comfortably into Kothan society. In the United States, the truth of our nation is right in front of us and some people are so hostile to seeing it that they will become monsters in order to be comfortable in the lies. Lizzan feels like she must be a monster to have been shunned and exiled. Aerax feels like he must become a monster to save the people of Koth. Neither of them are monsters, they operating in a monstrous system. That should be a familiar feeling to us all.

Vane really goes for the jugular in this book. She takes Lizzan and Aerax from the extremes of isolation and hopelessness, to deeply and happily in love, to all is lost before they get their happy ending.

“Never have you been restrained in the pleasure you give to me, and never have you held back your heart. So always I end here in this way, so utterly satisfied and fully loved, the most blessed of all women.”

She murdered me with beauty and emotion, and I liked it. If this moment had happened between two characters in A Game of Thrones, you could pretty much guarantee that one of them is about to die and the other will suffer horribly. Listening to an author panel recently one of them said that as a culture we assign greater value to misery than joy. I think there are lessons to be taken from the way we find joy. When Lizzan is suffering, the only redemption she can see is death in battle. When she chooses joy and community, her choices aren’t necessarily different, but the way she acts on those choices is directed towards a better world instead of self-absorbed misery. In this series of romances, the lovers aren’t just making choices for their own happiness or for their own family, but also for the world in which they live. They are choosing to move beyond their own myopic view and value people for who they are and not for how they fit preconceptions. They are choosing truth over comfort. Personally, I would like to live in a wold where lives were valued for themselves.

The worst thing about having read this now is that I have to wait a year before the next book.

I received this as an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It’s out July 7th, so if you haven’t read A Heart of Blood and Ashes, you have time. There is also a novella, “The Beast of Blackmore” which is referenced in the book, but I haven’t read it yet. I will though. Soon.
Profile Image for Jacqueline J.
3,446 reviews309 followers
September 17, 2020
Well it wasn't horrible but it wasn't great either. I read this because of a rave review I read on a blog site that I usually trust. But the story was slow and the plot and characters generally underwhelming. Truthfully, I was bored. This was a romantic fantasy. The fantasy was not riveting. The elements of the story are all over the place. I can't see a clearly thought out magic structure for example. The romance part was totally lame. The hero and heroine were apart for reasons, the heroine had become a drunk mercenary (in a super short time) but the minute they meet up again it's all better! Absolutely no conflict between them at all. Let's save the world together. And to top off this sundae of mediocrity the author still insists on using the awkward sentence structure which is meant to make me think this is a grand epic fantasy but in reality just makes me pissed every time she sticks it in.

Perhaps the goddess could not even hear them from the island, but no chances would Lizzan take. She prayed fiercely until Caeb licked her face, and then no more time could they waste.

I read the first one to get to this one which I had read the glowing review for. This one wasn't nearly as good as that one. I mostly liked that story except for the stupid writing style. But I don't think I will go on with the series.
Profile Image for Melanie A..
1,033 reviews377 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
November 18, 2021
DNF @ 37%

This pains me beyond belief - because I LOVED book 1 - but I'm too underwhelmed to continue. Call me shallow, but without any romance to speak of, the world building just doesn't interest me. 😥
Profile Image for Jen Davis.
Author 7 books694 followers
August 8, 2020
4.5 stars

One thing I can say about this author that seems to be harder and harder to find these days… She can make me feel. I connected to these characters, particularly the heroine almost immediately and didn’t climb out of my feelings until after the book was over.

If you enjoyed the first book in the series, you will love this one too. Be warned, this is not another story about Maddek and Yvenne. This book features an entirely new couple, Lizzan and Aerax. And it is a second chance at love story which will rake your heart over the coals.

Lizzan is the kind of woman who is brave and honorable and fierce. Her only goals were to protect the island where she grew up and make a life with her childhood sweetheart. But she was betrayed in the worst way, by her own people and by the man she loved. Oh, how I hated Aerax... because what he and the king did to her broke her completely. When we meet Lizzan, she is a drunk. She takes on jobs protecting people along the road, but the world has beaten her down so thoroughly that the only thing she has to live for is lifting the shame she has brought on her family through no fault of her own. She’s willing to risk her life... no, forfeit her life in order to do it. And I believed it totally.

Aerax grew up a bastard son of the king, but circumstances changed his fortune and he had to take a place among the royal family. Early on in their friendship, Lizzan thumbed her nose at the expectations of their people to open her heart to him, but when the chips fell and she became a pariah, he did not follow her. Now, he has left the island on a mission to form alliances to protect his people. But he’s also got a hidden agenda. And an explanation. I won’t spoil it, but I will say I did not hate him forever.

The reunion is awful, then bittersweet because there’s a clock ticking over it. They both have so much they need to do, but in their hearts what they really want for themselves is to be with each other. And I wanted it to, so much.

There is amazing world building here and an amazing story. My only complaint was that there were so many characters, particularly in the beginning. I was lost. And I read the first book. It didn’t matter. I reread the early chapters a couple of times and still could not place everyone. of course, this got better as the story progressed, but casual readers may not stick around. Which would be a shame, because this book has so much to offer.

I totally recommend for fans of fantasy romance, but be warned, you might want to take some notes along the way.

*ARC provided by publisher
Profile Image for Motaung.
352 reviews28 followers
July 27, 2020
I didn't think it was possible to love the heroine more than I liked Yvenne from the first book. Apparently I was wrong.

This book gave me Lizzan. Another unconventional the heroine that I absolutely fell in love with. A down and out drunkard former soldier, shamed, shunned and exiled by her people but still cannot resist to help anyone in trouble, even if they are after her own life.

So my rating for this book is not necessarily about the book itself, even though it is a bloody good read. All the stars are for Lizzan and her journey to redemption, even though she didn't need it. Most of the time I felt bad for how shitty the world was treating her and how she refused to be bitter because of it. I wanted her to be mad as hell, which she sometimes was, but I thought it wasn’t enough. I guess that’s why I loved her as a heroine. The path is never easy for her, and it took out of her more than it was fair but she still hung in there, trying to make it better. It pissed me off when she couldn't drink her troubles away like she would normally do because I felt she deserved a drink or two. This girl had the weight of the world on her shoulders and throughout the book she keeps on piling more until she had to learn to ask for help and rely on others.

The fact that I did not mention the H, Aerax, does not mean he was a shitty hero. He was pretty awesome and I loved their relationship. And the supporting characters were not bad. I also like Tyzen and Seri, totally rooting for them. I wouldn't mind reading their story, if ever there will be one.

I am really loving the intricate world that the author is building. I can't wait for the next book.
Profile Image for Jenn (The Book Refuge).
1,572 reviews2,275 followers
May 19, 2020
**Thank you NetGalley and Berkley Romance for providing me with an eARC of this title. All opinions are my own.**

Wow! This was just bananas good.

After devouring the first novel in this series, I was so excited to have been approved for the sequel on NetGalley. Because things just really escalated here. The magic, the creatures, the curses, the fights, everything is just ratcheted up.

In this novel we move away from Ran Maddek and Queen Yvenne to meet some new characters.

Lizzan is a shunned warrior who is now a hired protector for merchants and travelers. After being cast out by her country and separated from the man she thought loved her best in the world, she became a woman with no name and a drunkard barely stumbling through her days.

When she can't bear in any longer, she reaches out to the goddess Vela for a quest to regain her reputation and die a hero. When Vela reluctantly gives her the task to protect the next person she lays eyes on, she is shocked and horrified that it is the bastard Prince she once loved with all her heart.

The same bastard that broke her heart and refused to flee Koth with her when she was exiled.

But Aerax has been searching for her. He has a horrible task to complete and he wants Lizzan by his side no matter what it takes. He only made her leave for her own protection and he is sure she will see him as a villian when he finds out why.

This is set 2 years after the ending events of A Heart of Blood and Ashes. There are some familiar faces including some members of Maddek's Dragon Guard and Yvenne's youngest brother.

There is a SABER-TOOTHED CAT companion named Caeb, and I am LIVING for him. There is something about him though... and I want to know more.

The love story in this one is so touching. These two people who have such a deep love and layers of weight and duty upon them that have forced them apart... This was a second chance romance wrapped up in a fantasy. While Maddek and Yvenne may have burned bright and fierce. Lizzan and Aerax smolder low and deep. I adored the angst hiding true devotion. (And it doesn't hurt to have a cat the size of a horse who wants you to get back together.)

My one and only gripe has to do with logistics. This book is shelved in the Romance section, and it should be, but man, this book needs the Fantasy Novel treatment. I need a damn MAP, and a list of characters, as well as who all the gods and goddesses are. That is my only real gripe. It gets really confusing, and normally I would flip back and forth between a map and other ID pages.

Triggers: Brutality. Gore. Mentions of rape and torture.
Profile Image for Betül.
971 reviews233 followers
July 7, 2020
**ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review**
description

I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book ever since I finished A Heart of Blood and Ashes. I am a huge fan of Fantasy Romance novels, but strangely enough I don't read them as much as I would like to. So whenever I do pick up a book in this genre, I really take the time to fully immerse myself into the world the author has built. Before I go into my thoughts on this particular book, I want to say that I am amazed by the creativity of fantasy authors. It isn't easy to create a completely new world with and being able to keep track of everything. It really took me a long time to tell who was who, and what part of the world they were from. So I was happy that the book was long. Honestly, I like my fantasy novels to be huge, because it isn't easy to tell a full story in a normal sized novel.

”Never have you been restrained in the pleasure you give to me, and never have you held back your heart. So always I end here in this way, so utterly satisfied and fully loved, the most blessed of all women.”

Alright lets get into the story itself. I absolutely loved the main characters Lizzan and Aerax, they were separated but it was obvious the amount of love they had for each other. The women in this world are so strong and independent, and I loved that they weren't some damsel in distress. Lizzan took care of herself, and she also would definitely defend the lives of the people she loved. Lizzan felt betrayed by Aerax when he didn't leave with her when she was shunned by her people, because he was the one who always wanted to leave and start a life with her somewhere were they would be equal. These two are childhood friends turned lovers and true soulmates. This book was action-packed and super hot as well. The author Milla Vane found a great balance and satisfied me with the amount of action and romance she delivered in this story. There are multiple villains, and the gods and myths that were revealed were very intriguing. I honestly couldn't get enough of the story and the characters. Everything together made such an enjoyable fantasy romance novel. In this book you also meet the main characters of the next book, and I am already looking forward to their story.
Profile Image for Sometime.
1,674 reviews113 followers
June 29, 2021
It doesn't seem fair to compare book 2 to book 1 but here we are. Book 2 was not nearly as compelling or fast paced as the first. Saying that, I still really liked this book. The MCs were a pair with an epic love who were separated because of life, misunderstandings, and to protect each other. But their love for the other never wavers. Plus there is an amazing snow cat that follows them around and is just as much a character as the rest.

The plot continues from book 1 as everyone is preparing for the return of The Destroyer and they are scrambling to form alliances so that the whole country can stand together and fight. We learn more about the mythology and history of this world and I got some things answered from the last book. Things are set up for book 3 where I'm hoping we'll see the final battle. (this is a trilogy, right?)

Although it's not as good as the first book, this book is still worth the read. There are some secondary characters from book 1 that return and we get to know more about them. The H/h are great together and understand each other deep down to the bone.

Safety
Profile Image for Liber_Lady.
420 reviews110 followers
December 25, 2020
This is the second book in the Gathering of Dragons series.

Check it out if you like:
- Second chance romance
- Childhood love that is rekindled
- A snow cat as a pet who is absolutely striking and understands every conversation
- Very very steamy times
- Virgin hero and Virgin heroine
- Slow burn
- Overarching plot and personal relationship conflict
- Amazing side characters
- A LOT of action

I really enjoyed this book. However, the first book is still my favorite. I feel the main characters in the first book spent a lot of time together as opposed to the MCs in this book. The starting 25% was pretty slow when it came to romance, but once the MCs met and their journey together began, the story and my investment picked up.

I am very very excited about the next book. I love that there is this overarching plot where I know that characters from all the books will come together to fight the evil. I am all for it.
Profile Image for inês ☾.
415 reviews234 followers
April 7, 2021
Friends to lovers + second-chance.

Another solid entry to the series. These books are great if you want some angsty fantasy romance with as much (if not more) world-building and politics than romance. There's a lot going on at all times in this series — from the politics, to the magic, the world-building, the fighting, the quests, etc. — and I do think that keeps me from being fully immersed in the romance itself, but overall it was still enjoyable and I'm looking forward to the third book.
Profile Image for Hannah.
585 reviews1,042 followers
November 18, 2020
I love this world! I thought the fantasy part worked better than the romance part (I am not fond of second-chance-romances) but overall, what a joy! As always, I love stories with gods and mythology and thought Vane integrated the larger story into this one seamlessly and brilliantly. I cannot wait to see where the story goes next!
Profile Image for ❤️Emma Book Lover ❤️.
454 reviews256 followers
April 9, 2021
Entirely captivated with the intricate world this author had built. Although at times was hard to follow who's who and what land they come from and I struggled remembering some of their names too. I 've read the first book last year so I had a bit of trouble remembering everything that unfolded there,but the author mostly catches you up.

The second book follows Lizzan and Aerax from Koth. He is a bastard feral prince and she is a shunned and exiled soldier.Childhood friends, second chance romance, 2 virgin lead characters,steamy HOT and lots of action —> this book.

It took me a bit more to get into this one,the beginning was slow paced ,but once the romance took a front spot I was all in. It's hard no to fall deep and fast for the Hero and his awesome giant snow cat Caeb. The heroine seemed to me a bit of a martyr at the beginning but I become to love her too.

This instalment delves deeper into the politics,alliances and plans for what's to come when The Destroyer arrives.
I think some of this secondary characters more then deserve at least a novel ( Ms. Vanee ,a suggestion 😁 seri,tyzen, preter, maybe Kelir and Ardyl on and Riasa),

Looking forward for the next book😁
Profile Image for Jeffe Kennedy.
Author 96 books1,211 followers
March 14, 2021
I liked this second book in Milla Vane's A Gathering of Dragons even better than the first! Lizzan is an amazing warrior heroine in the vein of Kerowyn from By the Sword, with real, heartbreaking tragedy in her past. And Aerax is deliciously feral with a tasty marshmallow interior. I loved how they find strength to complete their quest in each other's love. The big bad is unusual with well-conceived and logical magic. Fantastic book, highly recommend!
Profile Image for Bona Caballero.
1,134 reviews42 followers
March 16, 2022
Esta segunda novela de la serie fue un poco bajón. Mucho viaje y bastante teología. Eso a mí no me va mucho y entiendo que ralentiza la acción. Solo en algunos momentos dispersos y, sobre todo, al final del libro, recupera el tono de fantasía épica.
En cualquier caso, ¡qué buena es esta autora...! Casi dos años después de leerla, aún recuerdo a Lizzan, la mercenaria alcoholizada y su redención personal. De todas las traiciones, la que más le dolió fue la de Aerax, el príncipe bastardo que fue su mejor amigo; él personifica todo lo que odia. Y claro, se reencontrarán en el camino. Los dos tienen heridas que curar, redimirse por cosas que no son culpa suya pero de las que se sienten responsables. Tensión romántica hay poca, porque ves que Aerax está colado por ella desde el principio. Tensión sexual, un poco más.
Me compré por adelantado el tercero, allá en 2020, y todavía estoy esperando...
Crítica más extensa, en mi blog.
Profile Image for Vee.
1,141 reviews86 followers
January 5, 2021
[7.45/10]

There are sections of these books that bore my tits off and the weird sentence structure completely knocks me out of a good pacing flow, but there is a charm to this series that is inescapable for me. And I think the majority of that charm comes from the way that some of this truly outrageous horny dialogue makes me feel like I'm back sneak-reading romance books as a teenager and wide-eyed-muffle-giggling through the sexy parts. I read a lot of romance, but rarely do I read romantic scenes in a book and then check over my shoulder to see if anyone noticed how I just blushed - especially when I live alone, haha! It's so much fun!

This second book in the series follows Lizzan and Aerax (a different couple from the first book.) They fell in love young but were torn apart when an event causes Lizzan to be exiled and Aerax to seemingly shun her. The book starts out in present day where Lizzan is just trying to get by in a world that sees her as a coward and Aerax is trying to find his lost love. So we have a bit of friends-to-lovers with some of the peeks into their past relationship, enemies-to-lovers with where their current relationship is at and second-chance-romance with Aerax wanting to make amends and yearning after Lizzan. Basically the holy trifecta of romance tropes all wrapped up into one and I was liiiiiiving for it.

I wasn't that into the overall story and I would have much preferred more focus/development with the romantic plot because that was the compelling part for me. The transition from hate-to-love seemed a bit underdeveloped and some key relationship moments were skipped over with time jumps, whereas, conversely, there were quite a few chapters devoted to some info-dumpy type world building that didn't even play into the overall story - it ended up feeling a bit like time wasted when I was purely there for the romance.

Both books should probably be more like 3 stars each if I take into account enjoyment of the story as a whole but that damn horny charm gets me every time, so low 4 stars it is!
Profile Image for Izzie d.
4,006 reviews257 followers
July 21, 2020
This just wasn't for me.
I was bored....
I think I wasn't invested enough to hear about all the history and wait for the revealing of their secrets.
I gave it three stars as I felt it was well written.
Lots of world and history to their race.
I was a bit confused who was speaking at times.
During separation there are no others.
Despite heroine's impression she gives the reader the Hero is besotted with her and sent her away to protect her.
No intimate scenes other than the Hero and heroine.
HEA but their story will continue in the series I think as they are facing a great enemy.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Leigh Kramer.
Author 1 book1,162 followers
December 4, 2020
It’s a hard call but I think this is my favorite of the series. As much as I love Maddek and Yvenne, Aerax's unwavering love for Lizzan is what puts this one to the top for me. It made me cry but it also made me laugh out loud. It's intense in places and yet I couldn't read it fast enough.

This is a second chance romance. Aerax and Lizzan were in love before he became the bastard prince and his duties and secrets took him away from her. And then he did not stand up for her during a crucial moment and she left Koth, where her name no longer exists. Names and identifies are huge for this story, as is what is essentially a caste system in Koth. Through the course of their journey, we see what the different countries value and how they see each other, e.g. the Varrin mythos. That further emphasizes the value of an alliance to fight the Destroyer but also why it's not easy.

Lizzan and Aerax have not seen each other for years and she’d prefer to keep it that way. When their paths cross again on the road, a reckoning must be had because Aerax has never stopped wanting her. The pining is intense! Their feelings for each other, even though he broke her heart, are never really in question but there are massive barriers in the form of external conflicts. And then even once she's not running from him anymore, there's a lot to overcome and what’s keeping them apart mutates in a very organic, realistic way. I really wasn't sure how it would all come together, especially since the goddess Vela said Lizzan was going to die when the first snowfall comes.

Milla Vane accomplishes so much here. Both characters have compelling arcs, especially since Lizzan, who is a soft-hearted warrior, has to confront her painful feelings instead of drowning them in her alcoholism. Aerax has been carrying an awful burden for years and is willing to become a villain to do what’s right. But he’s such an innately good guy, in spite of decades of mistreatment by Kothians. He may love few people and be loved by few in return but he loves fiercely and does what’s right. I really loved how everything played out.

There is so much sexual tension in this book, it’s palpable. This book officially has the hottest bathhouse scene I've ever read. Also the most heart-wrenching. They both want to be together and despair over how it can be possible and Lizzan particularly fears being hurt again. Plus, they haven’t had their moon night yet so there’s a limit to what kind of fooling around can happen until then. Whew. I was into it. So much steamy goodness.

Saving the best for last: Aerax’s snow cat Caeb who absolutely stole the show whenever he was on page. I adored him and the way he took any excuse to nudge Aerax and Lizzan to be together.

Character notes: Lizzan is a 27 year old mercenary. Aerax is the 28 year old bastard prince of Koth.

CW: heroine is an alcoholic and goes through detox, , past red fever, past massacre, past death of loved ones in battle, the left side of heroine’s face is scarred, hero briefly refers to being raped as a child, brief reference to a secondary character’s rape, secondary character was imprisoned and tortured, past scalping, the Destroyer enslaved children for his army, classism, description of goddess giving birth, hero’s mother was suicidal in the past
Profile Image for Alexandra.
1,835 reviews10 followers
August 3, 2020
Review will be available on *Milky Way of Books* at 4/8/2020. If you want to read it now click below!

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