Grand Prize Winner of Harlequin's 2015 So You Think You Can Write contest
Debut author Lauren D.M. Smith delivers an epic fantasy romance in this soaring tale of a kickass warrior and the emperor she's honor-bound to defend
The bride candidates have been summoned. Their numbers are many, yet only one is an Amazzi warrior. Only one would give her life to protect him.
Evony of Aureline, warrior of her people, has no intention of becoming a hideous old man's bride. Though her people have sworn their loyalty to the legendary emperor Galen, Evony knows little of courts and intrigue. It's simply not her world.
Yet it's on the palace training grounds where Evony's archery skills gain her the respect of soldiers and legates alike. The emperor himself takes notice of the beautiful, ruthless warrior. In turn, the young, steely eyed Galen is nothing at all what Evony expected.
This man could very well conquer her heart. But does he feel the same?
As the rivalry among the remaining bride candidates intensifies and the plot for the throne unfolds, Evony must make a grave choice: fulfill her destiny and protect her people or follow her heart and pursue true love.
Either way, the honor of the Amazzi people and the future of the empire now rests with Evony of Aureline. For she is the Emperor's Arrow.
Evony is a warrior, not a simpering bride-to-be, and yet she must take part in the emperor's contest for a bride when she is called. She expects to find the whole thing a little tedious, but she doesn't expect to find herself sucked into the center of court intrigue and defending the emperor against an assassination plot. She certainly doesn't expect to find the emperor quite so attractive...
The Emperor's Arrow begins by introducing us to Evony as a fairly unstoppable warrior - she can hit a single leaf in a tree with an arrow, and her prowess doesn't diminish through the story. She's loyal to her friends and to the emperor, brave and strong, which is pretty much what I look for in a fantasy heroine. Unfortunately she's all these things to a fault - being that she doesn't really have any faults. I did enjoy her adventures as a character, but there wasn't really much character development beyond her discovering that she could fall for a man - and this also, unfortunately, wasn't all that convincing to me. She's just a bit too cool, so I couldn't totally see what she saw in the emperor. It didn't help that we don't get to know him very well - the story is entirely set from Evony's perspective and I struggled a little to fall into the romance from this limited side. There wasn't enough build up for their feelings... and then suddenly they were deeply in love.
So yeah, that's a little negative of the romance, I must admit. However, I did end up enjoying this novel. As a fantasy read, it has a lot to offer. Like I said, while Evony could do with a little more character development, she is an exciting protagonist. We also have some other interesting characters, particularly her friend Admina, who is a much quieter, but no less interesting character with perhaps even more of a story to tell than Evony. The world building in The Emperor's Arrow is also really good. I liked the court intrigue, and the descriptions of the clans and all their cultural differences. This, along with quite a bit of action, made the story worth reading in the end, even if it wasn't quite what I was hoping for when I picked it up.
The romance in The Emperor's Arrow didn't quite work for me, but it is nonetheless an enjoyable fantasy read with an exciting world. I'll be interested to see what else Lauren D.M. Smith comes up with.
The Emperor's Arrow by Lauren D.M. Smith is a fantasy romance, released by Carina on July 1, 2016.
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