King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair

Today’s review is about KING OF BATTLE AND BLOOD by Scarlett St. Clair. It’s the first book in the Adrian x Isolde series. This is a dark fantasy romance with vampires, arranged marriage, and the beginnings of a “truth will out” reveal.

Author: Scarlett St. Clair
Series: Adrian x Isolde, 1
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Bloom Books
Publish Date: November 30, 2021
Print Length: 400

Want to support local bookstores? Buy a copy of King of Battle and Blood on!*

*These are not affiliate links and I do not make a commission from any purchase made using these links.

Official Synopsis

An instant USA Today bestseller! 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.

My Review

KING OF BATTLE AND BLOOD is a dark fantasy romance with vampires that is sure to scratch the itch of some fan favorite tropes. Set in the realm of Cordova, the Blood King of Revekka is slowly taking over the lands of the Nine Houses. With the vampire king on the doorstep of the House of Lara, Isolde finds herself betrothed to Adrian as part of a treat to spare her kingdom. Now Isolde must choose whether to assassinate the king and release Cordova from his thrall, or allow him into her heart and unwittingly learn more than she bargained for.

This is the first book I’ve read by Scarlett St. Clair (even though I’m posting this review quite a bit later) and it was purely an impulse buy. I don’t know much about the author except that she’s popular within the fantasy romance community. I didn’t expect much except to enjoy an easy dark fantasy romance story. And in that regard this book fits the bill. The writing style was better than I anticipated and I had no qualms with the technical editing of the writing. However, I felt that the pace was a bit too fast to provide defined relationships and well-rounded characterization.

Although Isolde’s marriage to Adrian is arranged and therefore consummation is expected, I didn’t quite expect the spicy content to occur so early in the book. Because of this I wasn’t yet attached to the characters nor invested in their dynamic. So I found myself a little annoyed at the level of spice within the first 100 pages of the book. Their dynamic does eventually progress over the course of the story. But I felt surely there could have been a way to write the beginning of their arrangement in a more relatable way.

With respect to characterization, Isolde initially comes across as stubborn, resolute, and sex positive. Yet there are scenes that conflict with these first two character traits. For someone who didn’t want to marry the vampire king, Isolde becomes jealous pretty quickly. She is naturally conflicted about feeling attracted to Adrian, but also wanting to carry out the assassination expected of her. There are some scenes where she explores these emotions, but it felt like a shallow self reflection.

Finally, KING OF BATTLE AND BLOOD is somewhat predictable thanks to the heavy-handed foreshadowing. But I didn’t particularly mind this aspect because I expected it. Instead I enjoyed this book mostly as a comfort read within a subgenre I frequent often. I found the vampire lore interesting. And I appreciated the apparent theme of revisionist history. That is, the winner twists it to serve themselves and villainizes another party to maintain power.

In summary, though this is a dark fantasy romance, it was a fun and relatively light read. It’s not a masterpiece, but it has a lot of trope elements that will please many readers.

Rating: 3.5
Content warnings: sexual content, blood, death
Reading format: Paperback

6 thoughts on “King of Battle and Blood by Scarlett St. Clair

  1. This sounds pretty good, although I agree with you about the spicy scenes showing up too quickly. There’s definitely a certain rhythm to romance novels and you expect that later in the story. Sounds like the author wanted to break that mold????

    1. Yes, I definitely prefer there to be a well-established build up to a spicy scene, otherwise I’m rather uninvested. I’m pretty consistent with that preference lol.

  2. Great review! I can’t recall much about it now but I do remember enjoying it when I read it a couple years ago. I do recall having some of the same feelings/thoughts as you, especially about the character arcs and relationship progression. I also enjoyed the lore and agree it’s a good comfort romantasy read that delivers what you’d expect. I’ve been meaning to pick up the sequel but haven’t got around to it yet but I think a re-read of this one might be required before moving forward! ????

    1. Like you said, it was a good comfort read, but I honestly haven’t felt the desire to pick up the next book in the series. At least, not with the sheer number of other books I have to read, haha.

    1. Yep, don’t set your expectations too high! It’s got some interesting vampire lore, though, but the relationship development is a bit swift. But it’s a nice, easy paranormal romance read.

Leave a Reply