The King's Favorite: Daughters of Avalon Series, Book 1 Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Fearing her "gifts" will be used to defeat her sister Matilda, Elspeth Pendragon escapes the Black Mountain priory that has sheltered her and her four sisters since King Henry's death, only to find herself indebted to, of all men, a Scotsman, whose loyalties are in question....
Left to face the wrath of a new sovereign, Malcom Scott is forced to swear fealty to Stephen of Blois to keep the castle he won by slaying his own grandfather. But having done that, he's pitted himself against Scotland, and even his own father. But even as Malcom realizes there's no turning back, the late King's favorite illegitimate daughter may offer him more than he ever bargained for.
Contains mature themes.
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|Listening Length||10 hours and 5 minutes|
|Author||Tanya Anne Crosby|
|Audible.com Release Date||September 28, 2021|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #236,804 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#611 in Medieval Historical Romance (Audible Books & Originals)
#2,794 in Fantasy Romance (Audible Books & Originals)
#6,154 in Medieval Historical Romance (Books)
Top reviews from the United States
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The only daughter not his biologically (even though he never knew) was the child of incest of sister and brother and both were of a strong witch grandmother so she had a extra strong bond of witchcraft. She knew her and her sisters lives were about to take a drastic change for the worst.
She arranged Elspeth's escape at the same time Malcolm was traveling through the woods where Elspeth would hide until he came and rescued her. She saw the future love they would share and knew Elspeth was the key to all of their futures. It was vital she escape before their mother stopped Elspeth and forced a marriage they didn't want to happen.
Malcolm didn't know why he felt compelled to rescue her, but was determined to keep her safe even though he had no idea who or what she was. Surprisingly he was not turned away by her witch acts that saved them even though she was sure he would be. His love for her trumped all such problems.
"Romance" is the official category of this book, but the book falls squarely into the genre of "fantasy," not romance (and it doesn't even do the fantasy part well, which I get into below). I liked the fact that there is a detailed larger story outside of just their relationship, but the book is focused way TOO much on the larger story and barely on their relationship at all.
At first I liked that the relationship development was slower and more realistic than usual in romances. There is no immediate attraction, or description of something amazing about their appearance when they first lay eyes on each other, which has been the case with pretty much every other romance novel I've read. And at first there is a much more cerebral than physical connection, with each finding the other's conversation interesting, amusing or maddening by turns.
But as the book went on, I started wondering if it was just the first half of their story. At 70% through the book, no romantic overtures had passed between them yet, except for a first kiss that isn't even described as it happens, but only briefly referred to in a flashback! I even scrolled back to see if I had missed something. When does a romance story ever leave out the first kiss?? And their first time making love is written in the same way you'd see it in a young adult novel, describing some of the kissing/caressing and stopping there. And there are no other instances.
There are a lot of completely superfluous, irrelevant details. Like specific herbs and their uses; fabric types and the detailed designs of dresses (the author seemingly majored in fashion design); a very boring "small talk" conversation between Malcom and a chaplain, and more. I was VERY annoyed that way more words were wasted on these trivialities than were used to describe the romantic relationship--which is uuuusually why people read romances (just a guess....)
The political and magical backstory was VERY confusing and almost impossible to follow. I read some of the reviews and I'm not the only one with this issue. It seems like there is perhaps some previous book or series by the author, or a detailed knowledge of the Arthurian legends and/or medieval British history you need in order to understand the political as well as mystical details and underpinning of the story, both of which seem necessary to fully understand the story being told in the book.
One part is the political machinations: Who did what to whom, and how characters are related to each other in both a family and an interaction sense. I had to read the prologue about 3 times before I could even somewhat understand the events described in it. I never fully understood what any personage mentioned in the story did prior to the book's beginning (or even sometimes within it), which is crucial to understanding the events described in the book. All of the details of the two main characters' family members seem to be given in a very piecemeal and random way, and I had a lot of difficulty getting a clear view of the bigger picture. I found out from some googling that Malcom's backstory is a reference to The MacKinnon's Bride, which appears to be this author's most popular book.
The other part is the frequent reference to traditional magic and paganism in the British Isles pre-Christianity, with references to past events related to that (such as Avalon) which didn't make sense to me on their own. I felt that there was something else I needed to have already known to understand them, such as maybe the plot of "The Mists of Avalon," which I read as a teenager and barely remember. Or again, maybe some earlier works by this author which are precursors to this one. (Side note: I'm not a Christian but some Christians might take issue with the fact that the story centers on pagan practices and witchcraft. Since the heroine is descended from the "witches of Avalon," spells and rituals are described in detail as well as frequent references to the Goddess.)
I will also mention that there were some grammar errors that were repeated so often that they started standing out. (Why does romance so rarely have good editing??)
So yes, I was sorry to have wasted time on this book. It was neither a good fantasy OR a good romance!
VERDICT: SKIP THIS ONE (and read "A Deal with the Elf King" by Elise Kova!)
The Daughters of Avalon are dewine ("good" witches), using their "magick" for good, but not for evil. This story is the first in the series about the oldest daughter, Elsbeth. There are 5 sisters, all bastard daughters of King Henry (now deceased), whose mother has embraced the dark side of her powers and uses them to appear much younger than she is, gather power, and destroy anyone (including her daughters) that she perceives are in her way. With the encouragement of her sisters, Elsbeth escapes and "finds" her champion, Malcom (the young boy that was kidnapped in Crosby's book, "The MacKinnon's Bride", and the sweet version of that book, "Page") in the fog.
If you like romance and "magick", you'll love this book...
This story started off very sad, as the characters were well known from another of Ms Crosby's series, but gladly I can say there is a HEA for more than just the couple. And the couple, Malcom and Elspeth, oh the couple! They are such caring people, that they worry over others before themselves. If you, in any way, enjoy a good story, fantasy, romance or HEAs - this book is for you.