Why I read it: My friend Brie recommended it to me.
CW: Extreme violence and gore, rape, torture, abuse (mostly – but not all – off page).
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil – until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.
Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.
Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…
What worked for me (and what didn’t): When I think of words to describe my reading experience, ones like “epic”, “sweeping” and “magnificent” come to mind. In ‘old skool’ romance this often means that the main characters spend a lot of time apart however and that’s so not my jam. A Heart of Blood and Ashes has the advantage of being epic and sweeping but Maddek and Yvenne are together for most of the book so it is way better than my experience of most old skool sagas.