By: Starla Huchton
Publish Date: August 8, 2016
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Series: 1st book in Hearts of Valentia series
First Impression: The growth of love between two in a fantasy world.
The war against corrupted monsters from the Void may have ended, but much remains broken in Valentia, including its reluctant monarch. To save the kingdom from the destruction of civil war, Darius Marillion had to sacrifice his heart, agreeing to a marriage of convenience over one of love.
Lady Arden Tanarian was born to wealth, bred to be a fine wife to a high lord. Despite her mother's best efforts, however, her passion for the decidedly unladylike fields of chemistry and elvish culture marks her as a different breed of woman. Though she's always been able to see the bright side of things, Arden's hopes for her life with the dashing, but sullen prince crumble around her in learning where his heart truly lies.
Dubbed The Light of Valentia, Arden has a mystifying effect on the world around her. She inspires something in people— including Darius— that he thought he'd never feel again: Hope.
Bonds of the heart forged in battle are strong, but time changes much. When the flames of war fade to low embers, peace in a kingdom can reveal love in the most unexpected places.
"Ask me again about the houses that fought at Orinda Valley."
My Thoughts and Summary:
Arden is on her way to meet her husband to be, and is beyond nervous. She's betrothed to Crown Prince Darius, and yet blindly happy about it. She knows she can help the kingdom, and Darius seems the kind of mind to let her help. Arden only hopes that she could have love with her marriage.
Darius is not thrilled about marrying someone he never met. Especially after sending 'her' away, the one person he feels made him act and become the hero and man he is now. His heart needs mending, and he's not sure he will love again. He understands he needs a wife and queen for his kingdom, and when his eyes are opened, he sees that she's of a brilliant mind and can help in the areas he's not as strong.
Arden and Darius are good people. They have kind hearts and bright souls, the perfect king and queen to rule a broken land. They enter into their relationship knowing this is for the kingdom, but Arden holds out hope for love, too.
Arden is smart and beautiful. Her mother may not want her talking of the items of state that she does, lab experiments on metals, or even cooking in the kitchen but she has a mind for it all. Arden has wonderful ideas that will help the kingdom that's trying to rebuild. In trying to get to know her fiancee Arden shows her worth in knowledge and ideas to Darius. Darius. He's a good man inside. When he sees Arden is smart and knows things that most ladies skim passed, he takes her advice. I have a huge amount of respect for Darius. He's honest with Arden from the beginning, even gives her an option out of the arranged marriage. Darius never takes advantage of Arden emotionally or physically. Also, Darius is one to stick to his word. He doesn't go back on what he's said or promised.
Darius and Arden both have strengths that are opposite each other, and makes them a wonderful partnership to learn and work out problems.
I felt for Arden through this book. I wanted her to be loved as she should be, too. Yet I understand Darius's heart and reasoning. I also see Darius not letting go of what he can't have because of his rank and letting his heart feel with Arden. He is aware of it too. Darius has moments with Arden but he stops himself. He'll fall for her, he has to!
This story is a romance set in a fantasy setting. It feels character driven more than world driven as we spend lots of time with our couple learning about them and their feelings then venture out into the world. Our couple come together and struggle through their own thoughts and lives to find their way together. The setting is a fantasy world with elves, dwarves, and magic. We visit these different cultures as we go, finding there is trouble and danger in their lives and in the kingdom. Darius and Arden are determined to help save lives, something they can work together at.
The draw of the story for me was what next will bring Arden and Darius closer, as they near their betrothal date or on their trip. What will we learn of the attractive Darius's past? And Arden's? What next will Arden suggest to aid friends and country? Or what will Arden do next to catch Darius's eye? I was entertained each time something came up, and hoped with all my heart they could find their way together.
Outstanding. Wow. I'm amazed at how in-tuned Starla is with people's emotions and actions. I could see and feel Darius's growth in caring and love as it happens, step by step, through the book. I'm mesmerized at the impeccable timing of his thoughts as we go on this journey with Darius and Arden.
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