Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Isabel Ibañez
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: May 31st, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
Eighteen-year-old Zarela Zalvidar is a talented flamenco dancer and daughter of the most famous Dragonador in Hispalia. People come for miles to see her father fight in their arena, which will one day be hers.
But disaster strikes during their five hundredth anniversary show, and in the carnage, Zarela’s father is horribly injured. Facing punishment from the Dragon Guild, Zarela must keep the arena—her ancestral home and inheritance —safe from their greedy hands. She has no choice but to take her father’s place as the next Dragonador. When the infuriatingly handsome dragon hunter, Arturo Díaz de Montserrat, withholds his help, she refuses to take no for an answer.
But even if he agrees, there’s someone out to ruin the Zalvidar family, and Zarela will have to do whatever it takes in order to prevent the Dragon Guild from taking away her birthright.
An ancient city plagued by dragons. A flamenco dancer determined to save her ancestral home. A dragon hunter refusing to teach her his ways. They don’t want each other, but they need each other, and without him her world will burn.
ALMOST FOUR STARS.
I was really on my way to super enjoying this. I LOVED the setting and cultural aspects. Easily one of my favorite parts of this book. I felt the world come alive with the language, food and cityscape descriptions. There was great writing involved in much of that and the audiobook helped create that tenfold.
Zarela was a main character who I liked as a YA heroine lead. She truly was just trying to do her best in a rough situation. I liked her tenacity to hold on to her family’s legacy and the willingness to learn new things and make tough choices to see everything through. The romance between her and Arturo had the best kind of banter. A bit of enemies to lovers that grew into something more. I do think the steam went a bit past YA levels, but it was still relatively low overall.
What threw me was the villain. I can get behind a lot of background antagonist stories. This one was fine, I’ve seen it before, but what got me was his obsession with claiming Zarela? I don’t want to spoil so I can’t really say much more, it just didn’t click for me.
I’d say this is a pretty solid fantasy for a standalone (which are hard for me to be pleased by). A fast paced read that covers a lot. I can’t believe I almost forgot to mention there’s DRAGONS and flamenco dancing. Lots of incredible things, just a few meh.
Overall audience notes:
- YA Fantasy Romance
- Language: a little
- Romance: brief/vague open door
- Violence: high
- Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of parents, kidnapping, animal death and cruelty, murder, misogyny, grief/loss depiction