Queen of the Darkest Hour Review

Queen of the Darkest HourFamily Strife Imperils the Realm
Francia, 783: Haunted by the Saxons’ attack on her home fortress, Fastrada obeys her father and marries Charles, king of the Franks and a widower with seven children and an eighth on the way by a concubine. As more wars loom, Fastrada’s greatest peril lurks within the castle walls: Pepin, Charles’s son by his embittered former wife. Blaming his father for the curse that twisted his spine, Pepin rejects a prize archbishopric and plots with his uncle and mother to seize the throne. Can Fastrada stop the conspiracy before it destroys the kingdom?
Based on historic events during Charlemagne’s reign, “Queen of the Darkest Hour” is the story of a family conflict endangering an entire country—and the price to save it.

Wow. I love historical fiction, and this one completely blew my mind. It truly tells the full story of how dark the life of royals could be, and how even religion played into this state of “darkness.”

Let’s start with Fastrada. She marries a king who already has children by his former queen, and who has a concubine LIVING in the castle pregnant with his child. At first, I thought that this was going to be the main conflict, but it didn’t even come close. Fastrada wants to assert her dominance over her new children and to take her place as the queen of the castle, but her place has already been taken by this woman. She can’t seem to keep up with the lessons, and Pepin, the king’s eldest son, seems to want to embarrass her at every turn. She is determined to please her new husband and will do everything in her power to deliver a son for her father. She is a character with two very different personalities. Sometimes she can be harsh and cruel, especially towards people who want to attack her or her kingdom, but she is also a sensitive person who reacts emotionally to many things. She nearly breaks down when her husband’s concubine and son refuse to respect her, yet she is willing to have someone blinded for daring to attack her kingdom. She also can be religious in an almost superstitious way, believing that her stepson is a devil and giving alms multiple times a day in hope of a son. At times I felt bad for her, and then sometimes I hated her.

Then, there is Pepin. He has a twisted spine that he believes is caused by his father’s sin. He wants to be treated as if he is as good as his younger brother whose spine is straight, but his father continues to protect him. As his condition worsens, he becomes even more bitter. No woman would look at him with love in her eyes due to his condition, and his father just wanted him to become a monk and disappear. He decided that he had to fight to keep his inheritance from going to his younger brother. Pepin was constantly a dark character, but the author still allowed him to have some grey areas. If his father had simply given him a wife and allowed him to go fight in the war, Pepin most likely would have been happy. He might have died, but he would have died doing what he wanted to do. He would not have died a slave to his disformity and despising the world and his father for it. But because the Christians were so superstitious and thought that his hunchback was a sign of the devil, he could never do this.

These were the two characters that stood out to me the most, and the story was told mostly in the eyes of these two people. Nevertheless, there was a whole cast of characters in this story, and each character had their own personality and story. I could go on and one about the parts that I liked and disliked about each character, but I would just suggest that you read it for yourself and find out!

I think that the part I liked the best about this story was the discussion of the church’s role in all of this madness. Fastrada thought that giving alms day after day would be able to change the gender of her child, and Pepin thought that prayer would heal his back and get rid of whoever he wanted. Pepin thought that his father’s sin against his mother caused his spine to be deformed. Even though these people claimed to be Christians in the 700s, it is hard to see how they were much better than the “heathens” worshipping multiple gods or worshipping different single gods in other parts of the world at the same time. They would have concubines and prostitutes at all other times of the week and then think that a few alms or prayers would cure their sin. This was even worse for the peasants at the time who would give some of the only money they made in the week to the church. It was just a cycle of horror fueled by the Church’s beliefs.

This book’s plot flowed smoothly even though there were time skips as the characters aged. The plot was addictive, and this book had some of the best character development that I have ever read. Honestly, there probably aren’t even that many manuscripts from the 700s preserved, but I felt like I was watching a movie of the royals’ lives. This book will definitely be going into my permanent collection.

I would recommend this novel to lovers of historical fiction.

I received a copy of this book and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6 out of 5 stars

Kiss of the Royal Blog Tour Plus Review

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KotR_1600Kiss of the Royal
by Lindsey Duga
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: July 3rd 2018
Entangled Teen

Summary: 

In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan—but try convincing their hearts of that.  

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Purchase links can be found HERE!

My Review:

Royals use their Kisses to boost the power of soldiers, break curses, heal others, and for many other useful things. Ivy is determined to save her kingdom from the Darkness, hopefully making her mother proud. When her sixth partner dies, she is determined to find another one quickly. Prince Zach is an unusual prospect, but she decides to take him anyways. When he refuses to kiss her, she is livid. He thinks that a kiss is a sign of love and not a weapon, and Ivy believes that they will not be able to defeat the egg and break the curse without it. Ivy, Zach, and Ivy’s childhood friend must go on a journey together to try and break this curse, and slowly Ivy learns the truth about her history and about Kisses and Love.

The romance in this story was pretty clear from the start, but it didn’t feel forced. I felt able to learn more about Ivy and Zach without seeing them all over each other in every scene. Also, I was happy to see that there was no love triangle between Zach and Ivy’s childhood friend with Ivy at all. It just felt natural, which definitely fit the theme of “finding out what love is” quite well.

The character development was immense. Zach and Ivy were polar opposites who were both quite stuck in their ways. They had to learn about each other’s likes, dislikes, lives, and personal beliefs before getting close to each other. It was interesting to learn about both the Romantica and Royal versions of historical stories in this way.

The world-building was also unique. I wanted to learn more about the darkness and the new creatures that appeared at every turn in this story. The world seemed to be so big even though the story in itself didn’t seem that long. The inner workings of the world were described in detail, but I would like another novel in this saga to explore it even more.

The action scenes were all intense, and Ivy was definitely no damsel in distress. I was on the edge of my seat for almost all of these fun scenes! The plot was generally smooth, with no severe slow-downs or random scenes. I read it mostly in one day, but it was long enough for me to not be able to read it in one sitting.

I didn’t notice any grammar editing errors in my advance copy of this novel, and I didn’t see any formatting errors either.

I would recommend this book to lovers of YA fantasy-romance novels.

I received an advance copy of this novel and this is my voluntary review.

Overall Rating: 6/5

lindseyduga-resizedAbout the Author

Lindsey Duga developed a deep love for courageous heroes, dastardly villains, and enchanting worlds from the cartoon shows, books, and graphic novels she read as a kid. Drawing inspiration from these fantastical works of fiction, she wrote her first novel in college while she was getting her bachelor’s in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University. By day, Lindsey is an account manager at a digital marketing agency based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. By night, and the wee hours of the morning, she writes both middle grade and young adult. She has a weakness for magic, anything classical, all kinds of mythology, and falls in love with tragic heroes. Other than writing and cuddling with her morkie puppy, Delphi, Lindsey loves catching up on the latest superhero TV show, practicing yoga, and listening (and belting) to her favorite music artists and show tunes. KISS OF THE ROYAL is her YA debut novel. 

Author Links:

Website: https://lindseyduga.com/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lindseyduga

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/linzduga/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lduga

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15853318.Lindsey_Duga

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lindsey-Duga/e/B07BJNMRHX/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1524077289&sr=1-1

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Blog Tour Organized by:

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What are you currently reading?

Wicked Woods Omnibus Books 1-6 (Wicked Woods Series Complete Set)

What have you recently finished reading?

Mistake of Magic (Power of Five, #2)Kiss of the RoyalThe King's Justice (Stanton & Barling, #1)

What are you planning on reading next?

I don’t know! I have a few blog tours coming up and I plan on making some changes here, and I have a few ARC books to get through. Other than that, I don’t really know what I am going to do with my time. I am considering completing a visual novel and doing a review on that since it still counts as a story actually. We will just have to see!