King of Battle and Blood Book Cover King of Battle and Blood
Adrian X Isolde
Scarlett St. Clair
Science Fiction, Fantasy, Vampire Romance
Bloom Books
November 30, 2021
Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle

From fan-favorite Scarlett St. Clair, the bestselling author of the Hades & Persephone series, comes a new fantasy filled with danger, darkness, and insatiable romance. Their union is his revenge. Isolde de Lara considers her wedding day to be her death day. To end a years-long war, she is to marry vampire king Adrian Aleksandr Vasiliev, and kill him. But her assassination attempt is thwarted, and Adrian threatens that if Isolde tries to kill him again, he will raise her as the undead. Faced with the possibility of becoming the thing she hates most, Isolde seeks other ways to defy him and survive the brutal vampire court. Except it isn't the court she fears most―it's Adrian. Despite their undeniable chemistry, she wonders why the king―fierce, savage, merciless―chose her as consort. The answer will shatter her world.

Scarlett St. Clair’s new vampire romance is action- and sex-packed

I have recently started dipping my toes into fantasy romance books—YA and chick-lit being my usual genres of choice—and it has opened the door to new exciting, imaginative, and limitless reading journeys. I was incredibly excited to read King of Battle and Blood because Scarlett St. Clair is known for dark, sexual romances, and I was in the mood for some darkness.

The Blood King

We meet our MC, Isolde, as she and her father, King Henri, are trying to decide how to respond to the imminent invasion of their lands. The vampire King of Revekka, Adrian, is determined to expand the Empire of the Vampire by conquering the nine houses of Cordova. Those who had fought him had not been successful, and now it was King Henri and Princess Isolde’s turn to face Adrian and his army.

Long story short, Adrian sees Isolde and decides she needs to be his queen. Isolde is combative and independent and won’t put with anybody’s ish. Adrian LOVES that. Their dynamic is interesting and, if you like the enemies-to-lovers trope, this is a good one. But, unfortunately, I could never let go of the fact that the only reason Adrian and Isolde marry is that he promises not to slaughter her people in exchange for her hand. So, can somebody explain how never-want-to-marry-warrior-princess Isolde is so burnt with desire for this captor that she has wild sex with him the night of their wedding a mere hours after spitting on his face and calling him a monster?

“I can be anything. Your jailor, your savior, your lover.” His mouth was closer to my ear as he added, “Your monster.”

I realize the point is that their intense sexual chemistry overpowers her reason, and I can accept that. I didn’t mind the almost barbaric nature of their relationship, but I was very bothered by how the story then shifts to preach the importance of consent. WTF?

How am I supposed to forget that these sexual encounters and this fated, developing love are born out of an impossible choice? She had to marry him, or he would invade her lands, killing her people. How is any decision she makes as a result of that hers? Are we saying imprisonment is okay as long as you are sexually attracted to your captor?

Feelings quickly bloom as Isolde struggles between the blooming love and her loyalty to her father and her people, but her future as queen starts demanding more than nightly sex sessions and her guilty feelings quickly become a weakness people around her are eager to exploit.

As problematic as Adrian and Isolde’s story can be, I couldn’t put King of Battle and Blood down. It was like a train going 100 miles per hour. Jumping off was just not an option. I enjoyed how the story is structured, leading with the intensity of war and sex, climaxing (no pun intended ?) at love and betrayal.

King of Battle and Blood is the first book in Scarlett St. Clair’s new series and, even with all my passionate critique, I will give this story a second chance, and I’m eagerly awaiting Adrian and Isolde’s next chapter.