A Heart So Fierce and Broken
Author Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher Bloomsbury | 2020
Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall? (from Goodreads)
This review is spoiler-freeeeeee! 🙂 (though it’d be smart to have read ACSDAL before reading this!)
Well. To say this book was a surprise would be an understatement. Despite the fact that this was one of my most anticipated books of the year, I was actually… not suuuuuuper sure how much I was going to like it? ACSDAL was one of my absolute favorite books of last year, but- unpopular opinion alert- I didn’t LOVE Grey (certainly not as much as everybody else). I liked him well enough, but I think the fact that I didn’t want a love triangle made me not like him as much, and I was partial to Rhen and Harper. So I wasn’t jumping for joy when I learned that the sequel would be from Grey’s perspective. WELL, WELL, WELL. HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED.
“You trusted me once. What have I done to lose it?”
I LOVE GREY NOW! It shocked me how fast he rose into my good graces. His chapters were amazing, and I liked him so much more while reading from his perspective. I thought he was much more compelling when he wasn’t just Rhen’s guardsman anymore, and I found myself rooting for him pretty quickly. The awkward fondness between him and Harper was still unwelcome to me in the first part, but I don’t think (fingers crossed!!!) that the threat of a love triangle still looms, so I’ll allow it because I do actually enjoy their friendship. I thought his character development throughout this book was really good and I’m really excited to see where he goes and how he grows into his powers in the next book!
OK… now down to BUSINESS. I’ve been seeing a bunch of mixed reviews for this book and I can TOTALLY understand why. This sequel turns everything from ACSDAL on its head, FAST. Not even just the fact that we no longer have Rhen and Harper’s POVs (excluding the first and last chapter) or the fact that we spend so much of this book away from Ironrose, no. EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED. Though Harper is still around, her role is very much diminished and it’s hard to get a clear read on where she stands. But Rhen… WOOF. What a complete 180. Rhen is nearly unrecognizable. His actions in this book are wildly different from the first book, and there are times when he’s just downright awful. I was shocked by the lengths he went to in this book, and it’s easy to see why so many people have had harsh reactions to it. I guess I can see his motivations for why he feel he needs protection, but JESUS. For most of this book, he seems almost irredeemable. If it wasn’t for the last chapter, I’d probably hate him a lot more (though I still don’t particularly like him, and I’m not sure WTF HE’S DOING) and it very nicely and shockingly sets up the next (final?) book in this series. This complete change of character was a bit of a damper (plus the first chunk of Grey’s chapters are pretty slow) on this otherwise enjoyable book, so that’s the reason why I bumped it down to 4 stars.
“You are not a weapon, Grey.”
“I can be.” His hand lifts from my waist to brush a lock of hair from my cheek. “But you are by far more dangerous.”
BACK TO THE GOOD STUFF! I usually don’t like when books shift to new perspectives in sequels, but OH MAN DO I LOVE LIA MARA. She was absolutely fantastic in this and I LOVE her relationship with Grey. It brought an entirely new side to Grey that probably attributed to me loving him so much more in this book. I thought she was an awesome character; perfectly sweet and compassionate while also being badass and determined. Her chapters were great and I love that Kemmerer continues to write about strong, powerful women. Also, the side characters in this were incredible, too! I didn’t like Jake in Curse or in the beginning of this book, but he grew on me a bit by the end and his friendship with Grey was nice. Tycho was a great companion and he’s so sweet! I LOVE Iisak soooo much! He’s really cool and I’m interested to see how his storyline progresses. And Nolla Verin… wow, my opinion of her changed so much by the end and I’m so happy with her relationship with Lia Mara!
Overall, I actually loved this book. I was a bit indecisive about how I felt about it, but in the end I was entertained most of the book and the characters were great. I think the next book will definitely cement if I LOVE this book or if the series just went off the rails starting with this sequel. I have hope for the former. I’m really hoping that book #3 be a four- POV book (with Rhen and Harper joining back in with Grey and Lia Mara’s perspectives) because I love them all– except maybe Rhen at this point, but hopefully I’ll like him again– and I’d rather not add any new character POVs to the mix. It’s gonna be a wild one, but I can’t wait!!