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4.5 KA lovin’ stars
I love the Fantasyland series! Kristen Ashley’s wonderful imagination runs wild in this series where everyday women are transported into a parallel world, encountering magic, danger, intrigue and an outrageously hot alpha and fall madly in love.
This book features Apollo – General of the Queen’s Army, cousin of Frey Drakkar from the first book, and a widower raising his two children (the fabulous Christophe and Elan) and still morning the loss of his one great love – his wife, Ilsa.
In a different twist on the guy from the fantasy world discovering that the woman he is falling for is actually from a completely different world, this time Apollo is calling the shots. He knows all about the ‘other’ world which carries a twin of the people in his own world, and he sets a witch onto the task of finding the twin of his departed wife, and bringing her to him.
When they find her, the ‘real world’ Ilsa is living a life he would never have expected. She is on the run from a brutally violent husband who, in yet another fabulous twist, is the ‘twin’ of Apollo – but the man is an evil, sadistic bastard. So when Ilsa is saved from a beating from her husband by a guy who looks exactly like him (but also hotter, and dressed like a romance novel hero), she is understandably shaken.
I love Ilsa! She has been through hell in her life, and while being whisked away to a magical parallel world would be enough to freak anybody out, she sees it as her opportunity for a new life – one in which she no longer has to live in fear. And so, rechristening herself ‘Madeline’- both as a way of moving forward, and a way to differentiate herself from Apollo’s deceased wife – she embraces her new world, and her new life with excitement and wonder. This, combined with her great wit and caring heart, makes pretty much everybody fall in love with her. Well, everyone except Apollo.
He was expecting her to be the twin to his wife, and is shocked and disappointed when she isn’t. She challenges him, stands up for herself and battles against him, and he’s a total dick about it – even though he still intends to claim her. But after seeing how all those around her love her fiercely, and getting to know her more himself, he realises the error of his ways, and starts to realise that perhaps she could be just what he was looking for.
“He’d had a broken dove in his hand and instead of setting about mending it, from near on the moment he brought her to his world, he’d done nothing but tighten his grip, fracturing her further.”
“He wanted more.
With Maddie, he always wanted more.
But he had to win that before she gifted it to him.
And he would.”
I love this relationship! It takes some extreme circumstances for them to find their way together, but Maddie and Apollo quickly establish an intense connection that had me swooning madly and fanning myself at all of the hotness. And OMG, there is hotness! Certainly more than I was expecting (not that I’m complaining of course). Apollo is a machine! A machine with a dirty mouth who has dominant tendencies, and likes to bring some nasty into the bedroom.
“Do you want to explain that?” I asked.
His belt undone, his fingers at the buttons of his fly, he looked to me again.
“No, I want your mouth between my legs . Then I want to watch you ride my cock. When we’ve both climaxed and my seed is dripping from inside you, I’ll explain about Brunskar.”
But it’s all balanced beautifully with his gentle and tender nature. He is so loving, and seeing him with his children is absolutely gorgeous! And even though he has a lot of responsibilities that take him away from Maddie, he makes it his priority to give her everything that he can, everything that she has never had before, and all that she could possibly want.
“She needs time. I’m giving it to her.”
“This is uncharacteristic of you, cousin,” Achilles remarked.
Apollo held his gaze when he replied firmly, “I’m a man falling in love. We do many things that are uncharacteristic.”
And Maddie gives it right back to him…
“Just so you know, honey, if your intention is to give me better …you’re succeeding.”
They both have their moments of stupid, but thankfully they are short lived, and the resolution usually involves either by steamy hot sex or moments of epic swoon – or sometimes both! WIN! Apollo, particularly has moments of great dickdom, but he doesn’t hesitate to say that he was wrong, and he works hard to make amends, and OMG, he does it in SENSATIONAL Style!
“It is my responsibility as the man who loves you and wants you to be his wife to mend what’s broken in you … I’ll not forget again that I must treat you with care.”
“Remember this kiss,” he ordered on a whisper, his eyes staring into mine.
There weren’t many kisses Apollo had given me that I didn’t remember.
I didn’t share that.
I asked, “Why?”
“Because it is special,” he answered.
“They’re all special, Lo,” I pointed out and watched his eyes smile even as I felt his lips do the same.
“They are, dove,” he agreed. “But this one, the first I will give you knowing you return yours with love, will be the one I most treasure for the rest of my life.”
You can really tell the difference between published and self-published KA. This one is self-published, and is FULL of KA-speak, epically long conversations and internal monologues, and beautiful moments. And after recently reading her published work, I soaked this one up in all of its word-heavy, drawn out glory!
Fans of the series will be thrilled to know that there is a lot of time spent with the couples from the earlier books. Frey and Finnie, in particular, are very present, but Lahn and Circe, Tor and Cora also play a big part – and they have their kids with them. It was so amazing to catch up with these much-beloved characters and see how their lives are progressing, and I love how they all revel in the special bond that they share. It led to some absolutely amazing scenes.
The whole book builds to the big action scene at the end. With evil witches and bad guys scheming and plotting against our heroes, there are little bursts of action throughout the story with kidnappings (of course), attacks by evil creatures, wolf attacks, dragon attacks (awesome!), sword fights, and even Dax Lahn charging in on his horse in an epic rescue (be still my heart!). I had to concentrate to keep up with all that was going on, but that could be because it’s been ages since I read the earlier books. And then there’s the final action scene which is full-on, leading to the girls and the boys getting a chance to be all badass and save the day (along with some help from a surprising addition to the story…).
It’s all finished off with an epilogue that completes the story beautifully, and left me hugging my kindle and floating on a KA-induced high.
This is a really long book, but I felt engaged from the very first pages right through until the end. Full of old-school KA awesomeness, it’s full of humour, action, drama, beautiful family moments, plenty of hot guys, steamy time and epic romance.
I loved it! 4.5 stars.
The Fantasyland Series
For more KA awesomeness, check out our Kristen Ashley Author Spotlight