Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Heart of the Phoenix by Barbara Bettis

Release date: September 3, 2014
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical (Medieval) Romance


Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen's cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.

Can be cruel

Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.

And deadly

When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason.

Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.

My Rating: 2 Roses

An okay romance, though not the best, The Heart of the Phoenix was a nice read. There were some flaws but it was a good read overall.

Evie was a great heroine. Independent, strong-willed, and clever, she definitely wasn't some wilting flower. There isn't much else to say about her, other than that she was a very likable character.

Stephen, I'm a bit more torn about. On one hand, I knew that he was honorable, loyal, and a good man. However, a lot of that was told rather than shown through his actions. Sure, he proved several times over that the safety of the men in his band of knights and anyone under his care came first. But, he tended to be really rude to Evie. I know the was doing it to push her away and, in his mind, it was reasonable, but only on a few occasions did I actually see him being nice to her. And, it wasn't until the very end that he finally eased up and showed a little bit of how sweet he could be. But, it was a little late for that, for me. So, while I didn't dislike him, he wasn't my favorite hero.

Because of the issues with Stephen, the romance felt lacking. For most of the book, they were arguing and Stephen seemed to have a compulsion that whenever he was close to Evie, he would kiss her and it came off as really out of context. He would literally just randomly kiss her, then return to pushing her away as soon as it was over, so that ruined any chance of it coming off as sweet or whatever. I wanted them to be together, just for the happy ending. But, I didn't really buy them as a couple because I felt like I never really got to see them actually act like a couple.

Despite all this, I was kept interested enough to keep going. I was curious to see how the issue of Evie's betrothed and the conclusion of Stephen's quest would pan out. I thought both of them were tied up well. Overall, I enjoyed the story and the ending was good.

The Heart of the Phoenix was a nice read. Not the best, but I enjoyed it enough to finish it. Not sure if I would recommend it, though. But, if you feel like what bothered me wouldn't bother you, then go for it.

*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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