Title: A Heart so Fierce and Broken
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Genre: fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Source: Barnes and Noble
Publication Date: January 7, 2020
The curse has been broken and Prince Rhen is finally free. But trouble looms for Emberfall. People have heard of the rumored true heir and Karis Luran is threatening the kingdom again. Worse, Grey, Rhen’s loyal guardsman, has gone missing.
After killing the enchantress, Lilith, and discovering that he is the heir, Grey has gone into hiding. With no desire to challenge Rhen, all he wants is to live his life in peace. But when he’s discovered, he’s forced to make a choice that he doesn’t want to make. With new friends by his side, he must ally himself with Karis Luran’s daughter, Lia Mara, who is desperate to convince him to make his rightful claim to the throne not just for justice, but for the good of Emberfall itself.
I loved this book. When I read A Curse so Dark and Lonely, my two favorite characters were Harper and Grey, and I was thrilled to have a book all about Grey. I continued to love him through the whole of this book. Grey has been a royal guardsman for hundreds of years at this point. He’s loyal through and through, strong and steadfast. He has a hard time letting go of that identity once he’s free. He’s also been trapped by magic for time untold and is, understandably leery of magic. Through the book, he goes through a journey from being afraid of it to embracing his identity as a magic user. I loved every moment of his journey.
Lia Mara was also an instant love for me. She’s the eldest daughter of Kari Luran, but has been passed over to be queen in favor of her younger sister. She’s accepted it, but feels that she still has a lot of offer. Lia Mara is smart, practical, and a bit impulsive. She’s a little desperate to prove herself and make her ruthless mother proud. I really related to her and loved her POV chapters.
My only slight stumbling block was the romance. Now, I liked the romance and was glad when it advanced, but while I felt all the tension and excitement with Lia Mara, I was less sure of what Grey was going through. Now, part of it was the nature of the beast: Grey is more reserved and careful. But, honestly, I felt his battle with getting himself to drink was more explored than his feelings for Lia Mara. The little hints we got at the beginning, like him noticing her eyes or her figure, were amazing. But it felt like it went from 10 to 100 without a lot of struggle. One of the things guardsmen were denied were family and love, so I’d have like to see him struggling more.
Overall, I loved this book. I liked the journey they all took to get from the beginning to end. I liked the romance, even if I wish there was more or deeper exploration on Grey’s side, and I loved the characters. Kemmerer wasn’t afraid to go to some dark places to show the trauma that Grey, Lia Mara, and Rhen have suffered and have to deal with. It was great and I can’t wait for more.
I highly recommend this book. If you liked A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I think you should read this book ESPECIALLY if you liked Grey more than Rhen. This is not a kind book for Rhen, and while I hope he gets his redemption in the next book, if you like him best, you might not like this book. But read it anyway. 🙂