Since the day of her birth, Princess Faedrah Austiere has been defined by her place within the kingdom. As the single heir to the half-blood gypsy king and his prophesied white queen, she is fiercely protected, shuttered inside an ivory castle and well-trained in the art of war. Yet neither her obligations as future queen nor the black infestation threatening her kingdom fail to hinder the mysterious pull of the antique armoire hidden in her parents’ bedchamber. And stealing the golden key for a leap through time is the only way to confront the dark lord haunting her dreams.
One face. The image of one defiant, relentless woman has been stuck in Rhys McEleod’s head ever since he was old enough paint her luscious curves on the canvas. But the day she walks into his life off the street—sexier than hell and itching for a fight—he’s not convinced she’s the same women he’s envisioned since childhood. That is, not until he spots the golden key around her neck—an object he’d never fully shown in any of his paintings.
Now if he could just persuade his lovely muse he’s not the enemy. Unless the elusive Faedrah Austiere learns to trust him, he’ll never have her in his bed—the one place he’s convinced she belongs.
First things first, I need to say that, while it is possible to read The Furious Muse without having read The Golden Key Chronicles first, you would be doing yourself a disservice to skip ahead in the Golden Key universe. Start from the start to really make the most of this incredible world. The second series is set a full generation after the first, but the world of Faedrah and Rhys is so built on the world of Rowena and Caedmon's story that I think readers would lose a lot of the magic and character intricacies if they were to jump in at this point. With that in mind, if you haven't already, read The Golden Key Chronicles right now (starting with Rowena's Key), and then come back here tomorrow to keep reading.
Since reading The Golden Key Chronicles, I became a pretty serious Nuest fan-girl. Her books are magical crack to me. So you can imagine how excited I was to be sent an early version of A Furious Muse, the first in her follow-up series The Golden Key Legacy. There was much squealing. Then when I sat down to read A Furious Muse, I was freaking blown away. And there was even more squealing.
This series is better than the first.
IT IS BETTER THAN THE FIRST.
I know, I didn't think that was possible either, but there you have it.
I have to admit I was a little trepidatious about the concept of a second generation series from The Golden Key Chronicles. Rowena and Caedmon's story is so wonderful and holds a special place on the bookshelf of my heart, so I wasn't sure I wanted to see what had happened to them 20 years on. More importantly, I wasn't sure how a new generation hero and heroine could ever really compare. I needn't have worried though.
Before we jump into meet our new hero and heroine, I want to talk a little about our old loves. Rowena and Caedmon are 20 odd years older, have well and truly settled into running their kingdom, and, most importantly, are now parents. Nuest's insight into their new lives is spot on. I was worried they would fade away in this series, or develop radically unconvincing new personalities, but instead it was just so nice to see my old friends again. They still have the same attitudes I loved before, but, of course, things do change and there's no avoiding the change of becoming a parent. Yet, how they are as parents is exactly as I would have imagined - Rowena is the loving, slightly rebellious mother, and Caedmon is the ridiculously over protective father. And they still love each other more than anything.
Of course, a wild mother and protective father might be what I would expect from Rowena and Caedmon, but they don't necessarily make for the easiest of parents for young Faedrah. And so we meet our new heroine. She's a lot more innocent than the heroines I'm usually drawn to. Particularly having been so over protected by her father, in many ways, she's quite the fair maiden. But she's also Rowena's daughter, which means that, despite her apparent innocence, she's strong, a fighter, and desperately determined to save the day and the people she loves. Which is why she's not afraid to step through the armoire to Rowena's homeland (the modern, non-magical day) in the hopes of finding a way to stop the evil wizard haunting her dreams.
This is where our tale reverses. Unlike in The Golden Key Chronicles, in A Furious Muse we begin in the fairy tale land of Austiere and traverse through to the modern world. The fairy tale qualities remain, but we gain a new magical journey - the adventurous princess leaving her faraway kingdom to find her prince and take on an evil wizard.
The majority of the world building happens at the beginning of the story in Austiere, and the fantasy detail is lovely. I missed the Austiere realm! Once we're through the armoire, we get Faedrah's confusion about the modern world, which I just loved. It's really believable and fun to read. Plus we get to see Oliver and Jon again, and they get even more of a role this time round. Oh, I love them.
And then there's Rhys, Faedrah's prince who we find in the most unlikely of places: an art gallery.
For this time, our hero is a painter. His muse? A princess who he thought was a figment of his imagination until Faedrah walks through the door.
Gosh, where do I begin with Rhys? His characterization IS SO FREAKING GOOD. Rhys' character is one of the main reasons I think this series blows its predecessor out of the water. He's a very complex character, a most unexpected prince and nothing like Caedmon. In many ways, he has quite a dark story, and a lot of issues. He is fanatical about his paintings and relies heavily on his friend Nate to keep him functional. He's a completely unlikely hero, and yet he's totally perfect. Despite the magic that infuses this story, Rhys is quite a real character, making his, quite literally, earth shaking love for Faedrah seem all the more intense.
Their relationship is...well... phwoar. Rhys is all alpha sex god, and even though Faedrah seems fragile and innocent at times, Rhys has certainly met his match in his muse. We still get the lighter elements I expect from Nuest, with laugh out loud moments in this delicious romance, but with Faedrah and Rhys we also have a more primal grungy romance that's just scrumptious.
Somewhat predictably, this book ends in the WORST cliffhanger. At least this time I was fully prepared to have my heart torn out at the hands of a book, only to be left hanging. Less than a month til Book 2 comes out though! Thank god. (But obviously, I know, that will end in a cliffhanger too, because AJ Nuest is a wicked, cruel genius of a woman).
So our Golden Key fairy tale is reversed, and our new characters are quite different from the old, but the magic remains and the journey only becomes more incredible with this new series. There are emotional layers to this story, to these new characters, that are surprising and beautiful. AJ Nuest rocks the strong heroines, but this time she's added to that a more fragile element. She's also given us a hero as real as he is swoon worthy, and yet another romance-adventure with new layers to have fans of the Golden Key Chronicles falling in love all over again. A Furious Muse is a sexy, grungy, awesome start to a beautifully evocative new series.
As you can tell, I'm pretty excited about this one. ...I'll try to be more concise in my review of Book 2.
A Furious Muse by AJ Nuest is a fantasy romance, released by HarperImpulse on November 27, 2014.
Find this book at: Amazon | Goodreads | The Publisher
More from AJ Nuest on Love Reading Romance:
Rowena's Key (The Golden Key Chronicles, Book 1) by A J Nuest - Book Review
Rowena's Key (The Golden Key Chronicles, Book 1) by A J Nuest - Book Preview
A Rowena by Any Other Name by AJ Nuest - Guest Post
Candra's Freedom (The Golden Key Chronicles, Book 2) by AJ Nuest - Book Review
Caedmon's Curse (The Golden Key Chronicles, Book 3) by AJ Nuest - Book Review
Braedric's Bane by AJ Nuest - Book Review