ARC Review: Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire #1) by Grace Draven

Gilene is like a phoenix who rises from the ashes. The empire requires that a woman from every village to burn as a sacrifice to the gods each spring. Since Gilene is impervious to fire, her village sends her to be sacrificed year after year. The empire is unaware Gilene is sent every year because of her skill with illusion. One of the gladiators figured out her secret, and he wanted to use it to his advantage.

Gilene and Azarion were victims of the empire. Despite what they had been through, they persevered. Azarion’s time as a gladiator was difficult. He’d been through more than most people could imagine, but at heart he still remained a good man who wanted to do what was right. Gilene was treated poorly by the people she protected, and yet she wanted to protect them anyway.

It was a slow burn romance. They were attracted to each other but that had no bearing their relationship developing. They genuinely grew to care for each other as they spent time together. Although Gilene was Azarion’s captive, this was not a case of Stockholm syndrome. I really loved the way this story came together. My only complaint would be that it ended too quickly. Everything was wrapped up, but I wanted more.

Rating: ★★★★

I received this from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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