Ravenhearth, by Lotus Oakes
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: February 17, 2016
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
In a world covered by a deadly miasma, humans survive by way of the protection of powerful mages known as Keepers. In the town of Ravenhearth, the Keeper requests a companion from the village every ten years. What happens to them after those ten years, no one knows, for none has ever returned.
Ash is a young orphan who dreams of learning magic. When the newest request for a companion arrives, he volunteers. But when he arrives, he finds a place nothing like the fearful whispers shared around the village. Instead, he slowly grows to be a part of the close-knit family of the Keeper’s castle—and falling for Giles, the butler of Ravenhearth, instead of the Keeper he’s been sent there to attend.
Gay M/M Romance
Rags to Riches
Beauty and the Beast
Things I loved about this novel:
- Rooting for the underdog. Watching Ash’s desperation and hope as he goes from orphan to companion was incredibly well done.
- The world-building. Lotus creates a world of danger and magic, and addresses the careful balance of consent in a world where your safety is controlled by the happiness or displeasure of one person.
- Characters who are torn between duty and desire. Yesssssss.
Things that hovered in the middle:
- Ash’s desire to learn magic. His enthusiasm and motivation were delightful, but the lessons themselves were skimmed over in favor of less interesting plot-points.
- Glimpses of the outside world. A few times we get a figurative glimpse through the miasma, but the world is very contained. Not that it’s a bad thing, just sparked my curiosity.
And the dislikes…
- The sexual attraction between Ash and the Keeper. I just couldn’t figure it out! The Keeper wears a hood, so it’s not a visual-based lust… yet Ash is fantasizing about him after meeting him only once for one meal.
- Inconsistent characterizations. Certain character motivations baffled me, and were never fully explained.
- Giles. I couldn’t get a grasp on him. Ash lusts after him, but… I wasn’t sure why, because their interactions were only glimpsed at.
- I just felt like there was too much happening, and it detracted from the overall plot. Also, the plot was way more predictable than I would have liked.
If you liked Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare, then Ravenhearth may also appeal. Both have orphans moving up in the world, and mysterious and brooding lords to fall in love with. And both have characters who dream of finding romance, but have never had one of their own.
(I’m trying to think of novels where a character volunteers to become a companion or sacrifice, but I mostly keep coming up with marriage-of-convenience tropes, which isn’t quite right.)
Lotus Oakes is a new author for me, but it looks like she has several other books that you can check out! Here’s her Goodreads page.