Monday, September 3, 2018

Spotlight, Review, and Giveaway: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven (The Fallen Empire #1)

Today on the blog, I have a spotlight on an upcoming fantasy romance releasing this month I've simply fallen in love and an amazing giveaway! 

Ace Trade Paperback | September 25, 2018


A woman with power over fire and illusion and an enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

About the Author
Grace Draven is a Louisiana native living in Texas with her husband, kids and a big, doofus dog. She is the winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice for Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and a USA Today Bestselling author. Find out more about Grace Draven online at

My Review

★★★★  stars

Grace Draven's name is one that is frequently mentioned in threads looking for fantasy romance recommendations. I'd never had the chance to read her before, so when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it! And since I had been craving a great fantasy romance, I hoped Phoenix Unbound would hit the spot, and it did!

The story captivated me from the very first page and held me enthralled until long after it ended. I'm writing this review over 24 hours later and I'm still thinking about this book. I haven't been able to pick up anything else. Phoenix Unbound has everything a great fantasy novel needs. The world building is fantastic. The characters are well developed. The most important thing to me is not just are they easy to relate to, but can I understand them? And I could.

Azarion and Gilene, may at first seem to be different, but I slowly learned they shared many of the same qualities. Both are mentally strong, resilient, honorable, and defiant. They carry burdens that should not be wholly theirs to bear and much has been taken from them. The scars they carry from their lives are deep, but such an integral part of who they are. While admirable and honorable, Azarion and Gilene are both people, so they're not perfect, but also have shades of grey.

There were times when I felt Azarion was insensitive to Gilene and her frustration at being forced to help free him and then travel with him. It seemed like he was so focused on his goals and her use to him, he completely overlooked her as a person with her own goals and responsibilities. It bothered me initially, but seeing how he came to care for Gilene and understand her, I could see when he realized how selfish he'd been, and make moves to change his behavior. I thought it was rather impressive and my opinion of him when I finished the book was much higher than in the beginning.

For someone who loves romance they way I do, Phoenix Unbound had the best kind. The gradual, unhurried, and deep love that develops between two people who would initially be best described as adversaries. Watching the Azarion and Gilene getting to know each other, realizing what the other meant to them, and then watching them have to re-evaluate what their goals were was as pleasurable as difficult. I won't lie and say I didn't cry while reading this book. There are some really well written scenes that they really got to me.

Phoenix Unbound was exactly what I was looking to read. Not only was the story great, but I realized everything I'd heard about Grace Draven was true. I'm really excited to read the other books she's written and also excited to see how this new series will unfold. I would love to see more of Azarion and Gilene, but also don't want to have them suffer through more to find peace and happiness together. If you're looking for a well written and well developed fantasy romance, Phoenix Unbound is a great choice!

*Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy to review! All thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not compensated for them in any manner. *


As this is the first book in Grace Draven’s Fallen Empire series, the publisher is celebrating with a giveaway that also features other first-in-series romantic fantasy books (including books by Nalini Singh, Chloe Neill, Ilona Andrews, Anne Bishop, and Patricia Briggs). It's the perfect ‘Romantic Fantasy Starter Kit’!  This contest is open September 3 — September 19.

New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews describes the book in the most amazing way, “Fierce and captivating, PHOENIX UNBOUND is the story of a gladiator and a fire witch fighting for their freedom against an empire that wants them enslaved.  With impossible odds, breathtaking battles, terrifying magic, and an unlikely love, this book is a must read. Grace Draven is a master of romantic heroic fantasy.”

To enter, please click on this link!

Good luck to everyone!

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