I received this book for free from Ace in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Dragon Unleashed by Grace Draven
Also in this series: Phoenix Unbound
Series: Fallen Empire #2
Published by Ace on June 9, 2020
Genres: Epic Fantasy Romance
A dragon shapeshifter and a healer with power over the earth fight a corrupt empire in this thrilling and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.
Magic is outlawed in the Krael Empire and punishable by death. Born with the gift of earth magic, the free trader Halani keeps her dangerous secret closely guarded. When her uncle buys a mysterious artifact, a piece of bone belonging to a long-dead draga, Halani knows it's far more than what it seems.
Dragas haven't been seen for more than a century, and most believe them extinct. They're wrong. Dragas still walk among the denizens of the Empire, disguised as humans. Malachus is a draga living on borrowed time. The magic that has protected him will soon turn on him--unless he finds a key part of his heritage. He has tracked it to a group of free traders, among them a grave-robbing earth witch who fascinates him as much as she frustrates him with her many secrets.
Unbeknownst to both, the Empire's twisted empress searches for a draga of her own, to capture and kill as a trophy. As Malachus the hunter becomes the hunted, Halani must risk herself and all she loves to save him from the Empire's machinations and his own lethal birthright.
Dragon Unleashed is the second book in the “Fallen Empire” series by the epic Grace Draven. It seems like forever since we had the first book “Phoenix Unbound” and the story starts off around the time of the epilogue of the first book. We get to see the reunion again of Azarion and Gilene. So that was a delight and had me wanted to read that book again and kinda wished I had done a reread of that book because there were many connecting details that I had previously forgotten and would have preferred a retouch on before reading this one. So that is what I would recommend since these two books are connected.
Our heroine of the story is Halani who is the trade camp’s healer and trader and works with earth magic. She works for her uncle and is devoted to taking care of her child like mother. In this story we see two plot lines form before our hero and heroine have the chance to meet. Our hero, is a Drago. A dragon hidden in a man’s body until he finds an ancient artifact, one that could save him before his body turns on him. Its his “mothers heart” a way of dragons protecting their young from mankind finding Dragon children before they mature. But now he is hunting those who had stolen the artifact which rightfully belongs to him. This leads him to a trading camp where he meets Halani. As they travel together, both contain secrets from each other but there is a burning passion that erupts between them. But the empress is hunting them and will stop at nothing to have Malachus and the dragon inside of him.
Dragon Unleashed was such a delight to read, I am not sure if this book is better or not than the first book. I would say that I enjoyed both installments on the same level. I will mention that my lower rating is due to the fact that the first half of the book is a bit slower going. There are engaging moments but it doesn’t really kick up speed till really the last third of the book. The same thing happened in the first book for me. Not sure why I am struggling with the later installments of this author, when other books from her I have had no issue in getting into the stories. Or maybe it could be just me.
I will say that I adored the characters in this book. Both Malachus and Halani are fabulous characters. Malachus may seem arrogant at times, but he also has a strong sense of honor and what is right and wrong and I truly admired how he sticks by his own principles. Halani does what she does to protect herself and her family. Even when she commits wrongdoing she admits to it and doesn’t make excuses. I really admired that trait about Halani that she knows she does wrong but doesn’t hide it when she is confronted by it. She owns up to her own mistakes. Both of them have some hurdles to cross that is for sure, but the adventure and journey we see them go on in finding their HEA was pure delight and quite invigorating at times. There is such a strong level of intrigue and mystery in what unravels throughout the story and true justice happens in the end….YES!! And those who have read the first book will be thrilled with the ending and what happens with the villain.
You will always have a place among us, a place beside me, in life and beyond death when the earth sings us to dust
Overall I found Dragon Unleashed to be a truly awe opening installment, a world of mystery, danger, dragons and magic….a story guaranteed to delight its reader.