Friday, June 3, 2022

The Misted Cliffs by Catherine Asaro


When one of my friends told me that THE MISTED CLIFFS was not only a villain romance, it was also a marriage of convenience romance, I basically tripped over myself ordering a copy of this book online. Unfortunately, this series appears to be out of print, which is a shame, because the covers are beautiful and the stories are really fun. I actually remember reading book one in high school-- which is about this heroine's mom when she was young-- and thinking it was okay, but kind of meh. Well, clearly I need to reread that book because THE MISTED CLIFFS, which can be read independently of the first book in the series, totally blew me away with how awesome it was.

So first, a caveat. The names in this book kind of make it sound like a teen girl's first attempt at a Wattpad fantasy novel. The heroine is named Melody. Her mother is named Chime. The love interest is named Cobalt, and his mother is named Dancer. It sounds like it might be intolerable, but the story is-- hear me out-- AMAZING. Cobalt, also known as Dark Cobalt and The Midnight Prince, is the son of the villain in the first book. He's also a ruthless strategist and conqueror who will stop at nothing to retain his birthright, when his kingdom of The Misted Cliffs was much larger, and contained several now-independent countries as part of its commonwealth.

Cobalt is the son of a ruthless family. As I said in the previous paragraph, his father, Varqelle, was the villain of book one. His grandfather, Stonebreaker, is a psychopath and a tyrant. Cobalt isn't quite as bad as either of them-- at one point the heroine says he's waging a battle between dark and light-- but the fact that he can take the time to think and plan makes him even more dangerous. That is actually how his marriage to the heroine comes about. He, his father, and grandfather are planning on how to make Harsdown theirs, and he proposes marriage as an alternative to war. He goes to her expecting a boyish tomboy and is instead struck by the beauty of the woman who can cast powerful mage spells as well as fight with a sword.

I think the author did such a good job with everything. The shyness between the hero and heroine in their rather difficult marriage. The attraction between them. Cobalt's uncertainty with everything that isn't battle. The battle scenes. The court intrigue. The history behind all of the characters, good and bad. Game of Thrones this may not be, but it has the emotional complexity that fans of fantasy love, as well as the action and the magic, but without all of the grimdark bloodshed, violence, and racism/sexism that can make such books unpalatable reads. I finished this in just under twenty-four hours and ordered books #3 and #4 in the series before I had even finished. 

As far as villain romances go, this is very gentle, but Cobalt is such a wonderful, haunted hero, and I liked how even with the heroine softening his harsh edges, he was still like YAY CONQUERING. Even if it's a bloodless conquering. I can't wait to see how he furthers his villainy in the next book, only to be thwarted by his wife at every turn. They're the ultimate power couple and yes, I stan.

4.5 out of 5 stars

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