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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: Paladin's Prize (Age of Heroes, Book 1) by Gaelen Foley

Paladin's Prize (Age of Heroes, Book 1) 
by Gaelen Foley
July 14, 2015
404 pgs
New York Times bestselling author Gaelen Foley leads readers on a magical journey to a fairytale land where good battles evil, adventure beckons the daring, and epic love awaits the true of heart.

Resolutely noble, impossibly brave, paladin Sir Thaydor Clarenbeld serves as royal champion for the kingdom of Veraidel. But when the king becomes corrupt, Thaydor speaks out--and promptly ends up banished from court, sent off as a knight errant on an endless round of quests meant to get him killed. One mission nearly does. Covered in wounds after a monstrous battle, he lies at death's door when rescue arrives in the form of the beautiful, mystic healer known as the Maid of the Mount.

The lady Wrynne du Mere gave up a luxurious life to devote herself to caring for others. When she finds the famous hero broken and bleeding, saving him will take all her skill--and a fateful dash of magic. And it will cost her dearly. For the dangerous spell will leave their souls forever entwined, and his foes, so many and so powerful, will target her, as well. Wrynne knows to survive and restore justice to the land, they must join forces. But for how long can they resist the searing temptation of desire?

Sir Thaydor Clarenbeld has always served the kingdom of Veraidel with pride, loyalty and an unwavering sense of what is right. When the king becomes corrupt, Sir Thaydor speaks out against him and is promptly banished from court and sent on countless quests with the intent of getting him killed. After being mortally wounded in one of the quests, Sir Thaydor is rescued by a mysterious healer known as the Maid of the Mount.

Lady Wrynne du Mere devotes her time to caring for those in need of help instead of living the life of luxury she was born into. When she finds the famous Sir Thaydor dying she uses all her skills and a bit of dangerous magic that leaves their souls entwined. As they spend time together, Sir Thaydor and Lady Wrynne discover an undeniable attraction along with incredible danger as Sir Thaydor’s enemies close in on them. Their only chance to survive and restore Veraidel to a land of peace and justice is to join forces.

Known more for her dazzling romances in set in Regency England, author Gaelen Foley’s Paladin’s Prize is about as far away from the London ballrooms as one can get. It’s been a long time since I last read a fantasy romance and the adjustment was a bit bumpy for the first few chapters.

It takes a lot to craft a place like Veraidel, the fictional setting of the story and there are a lot of details that need to be shared in order for the reader to picture what the author envisioned. Paladin’s Prize spent a lot of time on important things like the history of the people and places that were important to the story or may have an importance in later books. This attention to detail is common in fantasy romance but it was something I had forgotten and at times became frustrated with. If you’re not used to fantasy romance, then this might bug you too. However, I admit that the images came easier than in the romances I usually read. So it is up to the individual reader to decide whether there is too much time spent on details or just enough.

I liked the role that Lady Wrynne played from the very beginning. She saved the Sir Thaydor when he was dying and while he may have been the warrior in the relationship, Wrynne was no slouch. That was part of the appeal of Paladin’s Prize for me, the intelligence strength and power wasn’t just on Thaydor’s side, and his short comings were balanced out by Wrynne.

The only problem with the romance in Paladin’s Prize was that there was so little of it. I felt Thaydor and Wrynne didn’t have enough time together to really fall in love and make me believe in their relationship. It felt a little rushed, underdeveloped, too perfect and pushed aside in favor of the fantasy/medieval elements. Again, fantasy fans may not mind this but I’m a romance reader so it did bug me a bit. I wanted more passion and conflict between Sir Thaydor and Lady Wrynne to make me believe that these two were bound together by more than just magic. As standalone characters they were great, but as a couple they were a little too sugary sweet, too perfect and the relationship was just too easy. Some angst, a little drama and a load of development would have gone a long way in making me fall for them as a couple.

Paladin’s Prize set up an amazing world of magic, mayhem and had plenty of action scenes. I enjoyed the overall journey Thaydor and Wrynne went on, there were rarely any dull or slow moments which in any book is always a plus. Author Gaelen Foley didn’t waste time in putting her characters to work for their victory. I wish there had been more romance and growth between the main characters but Paladin’s Prize did a great job of setting the stage for the rest of the series. It may have been a long time since I’ve read a fantasy romance but with this one, I think it may be time to add a dash of them to my reading shelf.

Sheep Rating: 3 ½ Sheep

Adria Reyes
Adria's Romance Reviews
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About the Author:
Noted for her "complex, subtly shaded characters, richly sensual love scenes, and elegantly fluid prose" (Booklist), NYT, PW, and USA Today Bestselling author Gaelen Foley has written twenty rich, bold historical romances set in Regency England and Napoleonic Europe. Her books are available in seventeen languages worldwide and have won numerous awards, including the National Readers' Choice Award, the Booksellers' Best, the Golden Leaf, the Award of Excellence, and the HOLT Medallion.

Gaelen also co-writes rollicking middle grade fantasy adventure novels with her husband under the penname E.G. Foley. Their current project is a Victorian fantasy series called The Gryphon Chronicles (and Book 1, The Lost Heir, has been optioned for a movie!) Visit to learn more.

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