Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

, by Kt Clapsadl

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven
Fallen Empire #1

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. And unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.
To protect her family and village, she will risk everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

PHOENIX UNBOUND was such a rich and enjoyable story! It had such a great premise and incredible characters that I was hooked from the first page. Sometimes full fantasy worlds can take me a bit to get into due to all of the necessary world-building set up that can sometimes slow the early pacing. However, this was not the case in this book. There was no sacrifices made anywhere in this book, the pacing was executed flawlessly without sacrificing anything. The world, the plot, the characters, the conflict, all wrapped together perfectly making for one heck of an enjoyable read. I felt like I was experiencing things right alongside the characters.

Onto the romance: that it centered around my all time favorite trope of enemies to lovers, only sweetened the read for me. Azarion and Gilene start out as utter enemies in the truest of sense. Gilene couldn't possibly hate him as her captor any more than she does. And yet, slowly throughout the book she starts to see him in a new light. I know some would say Stockholm, but it didn't really have that vibe throughout. Yes he kidnapped her, and yes he's using her for his own gain, but it just worked for me. The progression of the romance is slow, but believable considering the circumstance, and I loved every minute of it.

After finishing this book, all I can say is that I'm so glad this is to be a series, because I can't wait to read more in this incredible world! PHOENIX UNBOUND is an incredibly enjoyable read that you won't want to miss!

(Received a copy from the publisher)

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