Book Review

ARC Book Review: This Dark Alliance (The Curse of the Blessed #1) by Renee Dugan

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 288 pages
Author: Renee Dugan
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: February 20th, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads


An Heiress. An Assassin. A Quest for Vengeance.
They say if you want a job done properly, don’t do it yourself; hire a Blessed to do it for you.

When the kingdom of Erala found itself full of humans exceptionally talented in various arts, they were revered as saviors. Centuries later, they’re no more than slaves. For the right amount of gold, a Blessed can make you rich. It can build you a mansion. It can turn your debts to sums.

But when wealthy heiress Elynor of Bast arrives at the Sanctum of the Blessed, she isn’t looking for a tailor or a storyteller. She’s searching for a Blessed assassin.

It’s been months since anyone required Sharek’s murderous services. With Elynor’s contract, he sees a chance to be useful – and for freedom. But when the mark goes awry, Sharek and Elynor find themselves in possession of secrets that could lead their kingdom to war. In order to prevent it, a Blessed and his hirer must learn to work together-and in the journey, learn who they truly are.

Thank you to the author for an eARC.


Renee Dugan is one of my new indie author fantasy finds and I am so excited to start a new series by her! I enjoyed this one a lot and look forward to future installments.

TDA is super fast paced and easy to move through. I thought the world building was handled well in the beginning to get a grasp of the dynamics and religious aspects that hold everything together. There’s a lot of differing opinions on how things should be done and I can’t wait to further see how those unravel and reshape.

I liked the dual POV main characters too. Sharek and Elynor both bring a plenty to the table and Dugan is known for creating amazing character arcs and I know these two are only in the beginning stages. I even see a hint at future romance??? Slow burns are my jam so I will wait it out!

Plot wise I wish a little more *something* occurred but that’s my only small complaint. It’s still engaging and I love the ease of Dugan’s writing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, attempted murder, near death experiences, physical and magical altercations, loss of a parent, poisonings

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