Friday, November 4, 2016

Review & Tour: Dark One's Mistress by Aldrea Alien

Title: Dark One's Mistress
Author: Aldrea Alien
Genre/Age: Gothic Romance/NA
Series: Dark One's Trilogy (Book One)
Publisher: Thardrandian Publications
Format: ebook via YABound
Rating: ✺✺✺.5
SynopsisFor centuries, the people have lived under the protection of their so-called Dark Lord. Now, with news of his death reaching the quiet village of Everdark, rumour whispers that his son, Lucias, is hunting for a mistress to beget him an heir. 

Seventeen-year-old Clara doesn't put much stock in village gossip, until she finds herself forcibly taken to the Lord's fortress. Escape is not easy. She has no way out and, against a man with magic, little chance of fighting back. But the Lords are still men and the death of Lucias' father is proof that they die just the same. And yet, if Lucias dies heirless, his army will be free to terrorize the land. 

Such is the goal of Lenora of Ne'ermore, an old enemy and ex-prisoner of the kingdom. She is sending a man to slaughter Lucias and, to ensure there's no chance of an heir, his mistress must die as well. 

Caught between regaining her freedom or losing it for the good of the kingdom, Clara struggles to decide her path before certain death breaches the gates.

Clara squished her face against the window and peered at the roof below. It had to be no more than a story lower. She used to clamber down such heights on a regular basis during her childhood. Surely she still could now. Her fingers caressed the latch. The metal gave a faint screech as it moved. If she could just open the pane wide enough to get out, she could escape this room. But to where?
Her brow twitched, squeaking on the glass. The longer she stared at the roof, the more certain she became of its steep pitch. One mistake could send her plummeting over the edge. There had to be another, less dangerous, way out.
A small bed sat against the wall to her left, its bedding smooth and the drapes pulled back. On the far side hung a mirror, the silver backing near opaque with age. A table stood under it, on top of which sat a candlestick, its metal bands glinting in the light as she rounded the bed end.
She picked up the candlestick and, removing the unlit candle, bounced it in her hand. The smoothed wood felt hard and solid. It might, just, be heavy enough.
Someone rapped on the door. "Miss?"
Scurrying across the room, Clara pressed herself against the wall beside the door.
Another, harder, knock came. "I would come back another time, miss, but I've been instructed to serve you the evening meal now." The rattle of a key in the lock followed, then the creak of the door handle.
She stiffened. The door slowly swung into the room. The unmistakable jingle of crockery filled the silence. Lifting the candlestick high, Clara waited for the man to step into view.
"Miss?" A head, the hair just beginning to show the signs of balding, stuck out from behind the wooden panel.
She struck with all the force she had, sending the man to the floor before he'd the chance to fully enter the room. The platter he'd been holding fell with a clang. Plates smashed as they connected with stone, their contents spilling onto the rugs.
Clara dropped the candlestick. Picking up her skirts, she hurdled the chaos she'd created and ran. Down the spiralling steps, one hand on the inner wall to keep her steady. A brief pause on the first landing, then out through the door and into the empty corridor.

Mother. Animal lover. Vampire. Fangirl. 

Aldrea Alien is a New Zealand author of romantic speculative fiction of varying heat levels.

She grew up on a small farm out the back blocks of a place known as Wainuiomata alongside a menagerie of animals, who are all convinced they're just as human as the next person (especially the cats). She spent a great deal of her childhood riding horses, whilst the rest of her time was consumed with reading every fantasy book she could get her hands on and concocting ideas about a little planet known as Thardrandia. This would prove to be the start of The Rogue King Saga as, come her twelfth year, she discovered there was a book inside her.

Aldrea now lives in Upper Hutt, on yet another small farm with a less hectic, but still egotistical, group of animals (cats will be cats). She still hasn't yet found an off switch to give her an ounce of peace from the characters plaguing her mind, a list that grows bigger every year with all of them clamouring for her to tell their story first. It's a lot of people for one head.

Author Links:

Buy Links:

 Amazon US | Amazon UK  

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for honest review.** 

A gothic kidnapping by a soul-stealing Dark Lord? Whoa...

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Clara has a serious case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. An abduction and carriage ride later, and she finds herself locked inside of a tower in the Dark Lord's fortress along with several other young women. Not exactly how she expected to end the evening.

Why was she taken? Because the old Dark Lord has died and his son, Lucias, is looking for a mistress to bear his child. His servants were only supposed to take one girl from the village, Katharina. But once Lucias gets a good look at Clara, he decides that she is the one he wants, instead.

Clara, however, adamantly refuses to agree to his proposal. Very adamantly. Very, very, very definitely and absolutely does not want to stay there. Of this, there is no mistaking her position on the matter. She protests with a passion. And quite often, too.

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Lucias might have been able to wait out Clara's anger and try to win her affection, if not for the fact that his own mother, Lenora, is on her way to his home. Oh, and she wants to kill him... This is one complicated family dynamic. And I haven't even gotten into the fact that Lucias has magic and can steal souls. Yikes!

I found there were things I both liked and disliked about this story. I liked the dark and mysterious worldbuilding. From the descriptions, I got a Sleepy Hollow vibe with a dash of Penny Dreadful. And I easily paired this book with my haunting Lana Del Rey reading playlist. It was like Halloween all over again. *wink*

I also liked Lucias. Quite a bit, actually. I could see his struggle and understand his pain after he suffered through such a troublesome childhood. I was able to connect with him more than Clara and I thought he was a lot more patient than I probably would have been in his situation.

With Clara, though, I had some trouble understanding her actions. She wanted her freedom so much that she couldn't see the opportunity in front of her. Her protests were plentiful and after a while, I began to wonder how she would ever develop feelings for Lucias when she was only ever cruel to him. 

I would have liked to see a few small moments of intimacy between them to make their relationship more believable. The change in Clara's feelings was so sudden that I'm not entirely sure I believe her affection is real. She will have a lot to prove to me in the next book.

In closing... 
An eerie tale of magic and mayhem! A good read with a little extra. 3.5 suns!

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