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Dive into the world of beasts and barbarians in this prequel to the exhilarating Gathering of Dragons series by Milla Vane. A warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. When she arrives in Blackmoor, however, she finds a land cursed by a demon and ruled by an evil warlord...and discovers that the beast isn't a monster, but a barbaria Dive into the world of beasts and barbarians in this prequel to the exhilarating Gathering of Dragons series by Milla Vane. A warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. When she arrives in Blackmoor, however, she finds a land cursed by a demon and ruled by an evil warlord...and discovers that the beast isn't a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself. This was previously published in the Night Shift Anthology


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Dive into the world of beasts and barbarians in this prequel to the exhilarating Gathering of Dragons series by Milla Vane. A warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. When she arrives in Blackmoor, however, she finds a land cursed by a demon and ruled by an evil warlord...and discovers that the beast isn't a monster, but a barbaria Dive into the world of beasts and barbarians in this prequel to the exhilarating Gathering of Dragons series by Milla Vane. A warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. When she arrives in Blackmoor, however, she finds a land cursed by a demon and ruled by an evil warlord...and discovers that the beast isn't a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself. This was previously published in the Night Shift Anthology

30 review for The Beast of Blackmoor

  1. 4 out of 5

    aarya

    This series is verrrry dark and I would not recommend it to everyone, but I’m really enjoying this world.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Debra Johnson

    4.75 Stars I freaking loved it! Even though I read it out of order, it was still absolutely awesome. The steam was 'Blow Your Socks Off' The main characters, both Kavik and Mala was FanTabuLous! The adventure, suspense .... Absolutely Every Element Was .... Just ..... 'PurrrrrrFect!' Highly Recommend this series and I will definitely be continuing it! No Matter What!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    I somehow missed this story when I first grabbed the Night Shift anthology. And that is completely my loss - because this novella was freaking AMAZING. I said, when I finished A Heart of Blood and Stone, that it was the start of a fantastic reading year for me - and even if Milla Vane were the only one giving me fantastic books this year, I’d count the year a reading win. She keeps hitting them out of the park and I’m just grateful to be able to go along for the ride. There aren’t many authors th I somehow missed this story when I first grabbed the Night Shift anthology. And that is completely my loss - because this novella was freaking AMAZING. I said, when I finished A Heart of Blood and Stone, that it was the start of a fantastic reading year for me - and even if Milla Vane were the only one giving me fantastic books this year, I’d count the year a reading win. She keeps hitting them out of the park and I’m just grateful to be able to go along for the ride. There aren’t many authors that I feel truly can do the novella format well, especially when trying to build a world, develop characters, and show a convincing romance. Milla Vane does it all, flawlessly. Before I get into the main characters, let me just fan-girl about the goddess Vela for a moment. I’m pretty enamored of her. From the moment when she takes affront at Kavik’s disrespect, cursing him, “Wait for the woman in red. When she arrives, you will know that the end is near...” To the moment when she twists the knife. I love her. Mala, our heroine, is on a mission for Vela. She’s chosen to take on a quest for the goddess. Those that succeed in their quest are often granted immense rewards, though not always in the way expected. Mala needs just such a reward. Vela’s tasks are never easy, almost always cause pain in the person completing it, and there are severe consequences for those that fail or give up. Mala is eager to succeed and win her reward. With her friend Shim, a horse descended from a god, her red cloak marking her, and the years of training under her belt, she’s ready to complete the task Vela set. I don’t think I can do justice to how much I love Mala. She is so utterly comfortable in herself. With good reason, she can kick the asses of almost anything that comes at her. But it’s not just that. Mala feels at ease with who she is, and doesn’t feel the need to overly protect herself. Many people crumble under the pressures and strains that happen throughout their lives, building walls and keeping others at arm’s length. Not Mala. She remembers and feels the pain, but she doesn’t let it stop her from risking being hurt. She’s funny and confident and has so much honor and heart. I need so many stories about Mala. So, Kavik pissed off Vela and Mala is on a quest for Vela. Their meeting is meant to be. And their encounter instantly made me fall in love with Kavik. “I waited for you, little dragon. Every night, I dreamed of you.” He’s come a long way from the boy that challenged a goddess. And their sexual tension singes, it’s so hot. But the feeling that this book brought out in me, damn. I was saying to a friend that Milla Vane makes me feel all the feels in her books. It’s so true. And all the more impressive because she does it a novella. Romances generally don’t work in novella format, there’s just not enough page time to convince me of a happily ever after. But I was rooting for these two from their first meeting. I loved them together. Mala and Kavik are perfect for each other. And their HEA is eminently satisfying. Milla Vane packs a punch - she brings the action, the sexy-as-hell romance, and the drama in spades. The Beast of Blackmoor is a fantastic story in the Gathering of Dragons Series, and I hope we see loads more of Kavik and Mala. More at The Alliterates

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sunseeker☀️

    4.5 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    Renégade ♥

    4 1/2 to 5 stars

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    1st read - December 2014 (Read in the Night ShiftNight Shift anthology) 2nd read - April 2020 3rd read - July 2020 I already wrote a brief review of The Beast of Blackmoor when I read it as part of the Night Shift anthology but I didn't go into much depth at the time and having reread the novella a couple of times recently I wanted to talk about it some more. This is one of those stories that I've loved more every single time I read it and I don't think I fully appreciated it the first time around. 1st read - December 2014 (Read in the Night ShiftNight Shift anthology) 2nd read - April 2020 3rd read - July 2020 I already wrote a brief review of The Beast of Blackmoor when I read it as part of the Night Shift anthology but I didn't go into much depth at the time and having reread the novella a couple of times recently I wanted to talk about it some more. This is one of those stories that I've loved more every single time I read it and I don't think I fully appreciated it the first time around. It's the first novella in Milla Vane's A Gathering of Dragons world and is a great intro to the dark and dangerous world she has created. Mala is a warrior on a quest from her Goddess Vela to tame the Beast of Blackmoor, she will do whatever it takes to achieve her goal because her people are depending upon her to protect them and she needs the Vela's gifts to help them survive. What she doesn't realise is that the Beast is in fact a man and Kavik will do anything to avoid being enslaved again. Kavik angered Vela so it's not too surprising that she has forsaken him but Mala believes that they can both earn redemption for themselves and their people if they only listen to the Goddess and follow her will. I think one of the things I love most about this series is the strong women Milla Vane has created. Not only do we have Vela, a powerful Goddess who is brilliant even as a minor character but we also have Mala, a strong and fierce warrior who stands up for people who can't stand up for themselves. This is a harsh world but Mala thinks nothing of taking on dangerous causes if she believes they are worthwhile. She chose to take on a quest for Vela knowing that the reward would be great if she achieves it but that the punishment will be even worse if she fails, she has faith that while the Goddess will make her task difficult Vela won't give her an impossible challenge so she believes that with hard work she can achieve her goal. Mala and Kavik are brilliant together, he is the rightful leader of his people but his life was turned upside down as a child by an evil conqueror. Kavik has been to hell and back but has spent his entire life focused on saving his people. He made a huge mistake when he offended Vela but you could feel the frustration he felt as a teenager and could easily understand how desperation led him to fall so low. Now he has spent years waiting for his punishment, knowing that one day the Goddess will catch up with him and the minute he sees Mala he knows she is here for Vela's vengeance. Kavik has waited years for this moment but nothing had prepared either of them for the sparks that fly. The heat between these two was intense and from that very first meeting I was totally rooting for the pair of them. There aren't many authors who can pack quite such a punch into a novella but Milla Vane manages to create a whole world, give us fantastic characters and create a romance that doesn't feel at all rushed. There was just so much to love about this book and considering I've already read the first full length book in the series, A Heart of Blood and Ashes, three times I can definitely confirm that this whole series is going to be a firm favourite.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Betül

    If you read this novella when it first released or even a year ago in the Night Shift anthology, then the world that Milla Vane has created was completely new to you. However, Milla Vana aka Meljean Brook has released her first full-length novel under this pen name titled A Heart of Blood and Ashes this year. I fell in love with the world and especially enjoyed the grittiness of the story. So when I discovered that she had written a novella in this world, I just had to read it. I am not a big fa If you read this novella when it first released or even a year ago in the Night Shift anthology, then the world that Milla Vane has created was completely new to you. However, Milla Vana aka Meljean Brook has released her first full-length novel under this pen name titled A Heart of Blood and Ashes this year. I fell in love with the world and especially enjoyed the grittiness of the story. So when I discovered that she had written a novella in this world, I just had to read it. I am not a big fan of novellas, but I just needed something to hold me over until the next book releases in July this year. The Beast of Blackmoor was a HOT action-packed fantasy romance. I loved that the heroine Mala was strong, fierce, determined, and didn't hold back. The hero Kavik is broken and doesn't think he deserves to be happy. He was broody and hard, and a great match for Mala. She is on a quest and has been sent to tame the Beast of Blackmoor. However, what does the goddess mean by taming, and who is the Beast? The author did a great job in telling Kavik and Mala's story. I enjoyed the characters a lot and would love for them to make appearances in the Gathering of Dragons series. I would've loved an epilogue just to see what they were up to in the future. Nonetheless, this was a quick and sexy read that I fully enjoyed. (I read this novella in the Night Shift anthology)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mei

    MEh... I was expecting something much better...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ally

    I’m absolutely obsessed with these books! The writing is so unique and they’re unlike anything I’ve ever read. Filled with magic, fierce heroines, and barbaric men you can’t help but love.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stephaniec

    I really loved this short story - it really rekindled all the things I liked about the first book and reminded me I haven't read the second yet :( Mala is absolutely awesome, strong, sweet, fierce, loyal and so many more things all packed into this short story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laavic

    I read it in the anthology Night Shift and I really loved it!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    ugh it took me forever to get into this. hopefully the rest of them move a little faster

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tekla ✨

    Perfect short Novella to wait for the next book coming out at the end of the month. This author has become one of my favorites, I just adore her writing style, plots and romances. 5/5 would recommend.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    Listened to the audioboook that was a part of the Night Shift anthology. I love the world Milla Vane has created it's dark and gritty and honestly not a fantasy world I would want to be a a part of. However, her heroes all remind me of Jamie Fraser so that's a bonus: Listened to the audioboook that was a part of the Night Shift anthology. I love the world Milla Vane has created it's dark and gritty and honestly not a fantasy world I would want to be a a part of. However, her heroes all remind me of Jamie Fraser so that's a bonus:

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    I devoured this novella in an evening. There's magic and fantasy, gods and monsters. Lots of fighting, lots of sexytimes. There's an exceptionally gifted woman warrior who is super strong. There's a damaged man trying to save a kingdom. I was not prepared for how hot this book would be. I've only heard good things about the Gathering of Dragons series and I need to read it sooner rather than later.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maria Rose

    I enjoyed this prequel novella to the series, which features the goddess blessed warrior heroine Mala who is sent to 'tame the beast of Blackmoor'. She thinks it's a demon animal, but in fact, it's Kavik, a warrior himself still trying to enact revenge on the man who killed his family. The worldbuilding is gritty, with plenty of violent action scenes, but also a powerful (and steamy) romance that builds between Mala and Kavik. It's on the darker side for a fantasy romance, (the author notes that I enjoyed this prequel novella to the series, which features the goddess blessed warrior heroine Mala who is sent to 'tame the beast of Blackmoor'. She thinks it's a demon animal, but in fact, it's Kavik, a warrior himself still trying to enact revenge on the man who killed his family. The worldbuilding is gritty, with plenty of violent action scenes, but also a powerful (and steamy) romance that builds between Mala and Kavik. It's on the darker side for a fantasy romance, (the author notes that it is harsh and barbaric) but very compelling. This works well as a standalone, and is a good introduction to the Gathering of Dragons series. Just a note that the violence is also sexual in some scenes involving prisoners and off page sexual abuse is mentioned.

  17. 5 out of 5

    shms

    3.5* - Really liked this and happy to see another book already available for me to read. The characters both H and h likeable but the h is standout. While the plot line has points where it wobbles especially around the 70% in, where as for most books, the conflict issues causes a schism. The writing and execution was so strong those wobbles didn't detract from an entertaining read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jenn "Awww Yeaaahhh"

    4.5 stars.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Stein

    Fabulous novella. The world is rich, the characters complex, and the stakes high. If you're curious about the Gathering of Dragons world, check this out. You'll want to read more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cait

    I read this to be a completist - I didn't think it was my jam and I was right. It was FINE, but not as good as the main two books.

  21. 4 out of 5

    LizLovesBooks

    3.5 Enjoyed. Mala & Kavik were enjoyable. I read a review saying it was very dark, nope, its wasnt. Well, not for me anyway. Great writing. Will read more from this author. 3.5 Enjoyed. Mala & Kavik were enjoyable. I read a review saying it was very dark, nope, its wasnt. Well, not for me anyway. Great writing. Will read more from this author.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I think this novella is probably better than the credit I will give it but unfortunately I was quite bored by it on one hand and then aggrieved by the brutality on the other hand. I think these are symptoms of reading this through a pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. I would skip over a lot of it, a lot of the world building. Lord Barin seemed like quite a two dimensional obvious villain. The brutality was a lot, lots of rape and sexual abuse which considering it’s such a short book f I think this novella is probably better than the credit I will give it but unfortunately I was quite bored by it on one hand and then aggrieved by the brutality on the other hand. I think these are symptoms of reading this through a pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. I would skip over a lot of it, a lot of the world building. Lord Barin seemed like quite a two dimensional obvious villain. The brutality was a lot, lots of rape and sexual abuse which considering it’s such a short book felt like a lot and for which I would’ve appreciated a content warning for if I’m honest. I knew there would be battle and killing, that was fine, just all the rape and people being leashed and collared whilst naked stuff was just too much for me. I did enjoy Mala and Kavic, I just wished to have more of their relationship and less of the world building/villains/sexual abuse stuff. Their sex scenes were hot and the best bits really. Though I did laugh out loud when Mala said “Fill me with a river of your seed” which took me out of the scene. I know others really enjoyed this and that is why I bought it and tried to read it but it just wasn’t quite the right fit for me.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alex (HEABookNerd)

    Series: A Gathering of Dragons #0.5 Rating: 4 stars - really enjoyable One Sentence Summary: Mala is on a quest to tame the beast of Blackmoor but what will she do when she realizes the beast is actually a man. I loved Beast of Blackmoor and it was so much fun to read! Mala was so badass as a warrior and I really enjoyed her confidence and sword skills. She's also incredibly compassionate and it was so nice to see a heroine who can be both strong and caring. The beast, Kavik, is everything I want i Series: A Gathering of Dragons #0.5 Rating: 4 stars - really enjoyable One Sentence Summary: Mala is on a quest to tame the beast of Blackmoor but what will she do when she realizes the beast is actually a man. I loved Beast of Blackmoor and it was so much fun to read! Mala was so badass as a warrior and I really enjoyed her confidence and sword skills. She's also incredibly compassionate and it was so nice to see a heroine who can be both strong and caring. The beast, Kavik, is everything I want in a barbarian hero and his lonely journey breaks my heart. Everyone he's ever cared about has been hurt for helping him and he's used to pushing people away, which he tries repeatedly with Mala. Their relationship is not an easy one and Kavik is not a polite or gentle hero. The chemistry between Mala and Kavik is great, though it's a bit of instalove, and the sex scenes are hot while also a bit cheesy (think historical fantasy, flowery euphemisms). But what I really loved is how Milla Vane presented consent between Mala and Kavik. There's a deep well of respect between them when it comes to sex and intimacy. I can't wait for more from this world! Originally read in the Night Shift anthology **Reader Safety** - Numerous references to rape and abuse during / after war. More details if needed (view spoiler)[This world's creation story is based on the rape of the goddess Vela by her brother, which produces two children, Law and Justice. Vela has forbidden rape in her land but the war brought by the Great Destroyer has included invading armies raping captors, regardless of gender. (hide spoiler)] - Hero was enslaved and raped as a teenager (briefly retold) - Graphic violence

  24. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Mayflower

    TLDR: The Beast of Blackmoor is a fairy-tale, with the brave knights and love triumphing over fate and evil... but set in a nightmarish world. So, if you are one of us who keep reliving their nightmares in the mornings on their way to work, having a bit of perverse pleasure in it, this is the stuff your dreams are made of. Take it :-) A longer review: It's dark and compelling - darkly compelling - world Milla Vane faces us with in her marvelously written books of The Gathering of Dragons series ( TLDR: The Beast of Blackmoor is a fairy-tale, with the brave knights and love triumphing over fate and evil... but set in a nightmarish world. So, if you are one of us who keep reliving their nightmares in the mornings on their way to work, having a bit of perverse pleasure in it, this is the stuff your dreams are made of. Take it :-) A longer review: It's dark and compelling - darkly compelling - world Milla Vane faces us with in her marvelously written books of The Gathering of Dragons series (The Beast of Blackmoor being a prequel, herald of the world-transforming events leading to the battle of good and evil that is closer by every book of TGOD). I've read A Heart of Blood and Ashes first and must admit that I've initially given up after meeting the heroine - you see, she wasn't someone you would immediately like. The hero certainly wasn't the one to be swept off his feet by her, having every intention to kill her, blinded by justified hate. I didn't like her, the hero didn't like her and it seemed almost impossible for us both to change our mind. But that damn cover... The guy in the skirt, with nothing save sweat and blood on his naked chest (oh yes, there is also a leather sword holder, but my eyes don't really see it most of the time, because - muscles). There is also that thing, his eyes being cut off from the picture so you HAVE to focus on his chest and legs and the way his leg is so confident and unstoppable in stepping toward you. So, because of the damn cover, I admit, I gave the book a second chance and by some wonder, the author managed to warm me to the heroine till I was rooting for her. It was not an easy read, because it's not an easy world and easy language - Milla Vane's writing is the same as the world, people, destinies and relations she writes about, richly complicated and demanding reader's attention, but also beautifully and masterfully executed and rewarding. The world of The Gathering of Dragons is the world of warriors fighting against all odds and embracing the heavy, so heavy burdens of their destinies. Gods here, as every god in history, are volatile and ambiguous - they will punish you if you disobey them, but that punishment may turn to reward, if you are brave enough. Or in love enough to fear nothing, not even gods, trying to do the right thing and keep your love. And love, not even love in this world is sweet, light and elevating thing. It will throw you to mud, it will humiliate you, it will test you in ways unimaginable and unbearable. It will transform you by ripping your flesh and bones (literally). As A Heart of Blood and Ashes, The Beast of Blackmoor is a story about the battle of good against evil. Mala is a warrior princess sent by goddess Vela to tame the dreadful beast of Blackmoor. Kavik is a fallen, damned and hopeless warrior whose only redemption by his own choice is to help innocents flee from his land terrorized by atrocities in human and non-human form. Years ago, he dared to insult goddess Vela when she wouldn't help him help his people - he was young and arrogant, and he is paying every day for that. No rest for the wicked, especially for the poor, brave, strong and honorable Kavik. Not until Mala walks into his life. And then there is even less rest for him, but in a good way, leading him through a desperate and challenging path of redemption and saving of himself, his people and his land. Everything is cruel here, we are overwhelmed with cruelty and fatality, and with every word, Milla Vane shows the claustrophobicity (is this even a word?) and hopelessness of life, even when describing landscapes: "A more somber land she'd never seen. If the valley behind them had been scooped out by a loving hand and seeded by a gentle breath od wind, the terrain ahead had been clawed out between sullen hills and stamped flat beneath angry boot. Leaden clouds piled overhead. A chill breeze scraped across slabs of protruding stones and skimmed the back of her neck." The chill is real. But in such a devastated land and life, love, honor and courage burn even more brightly and stronger.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    This is a little hard to rate. As always, I absolutely loved Milla Vane | Meljean Brook's worldbuilding. The setting is so lush and vivid, the gods feel real and tangible, and I adore that, even in a shorter work, we get a really good sense of all the local differences in culture. I absolutely adored the first book in this series, and have anxiously been awaiting the next one, and the worldbuilding is a huuuuuge part of that. On that side, The Beast of Blackmoor didn't disappoint. I've seen the aut This is a little hard to rate. As always, I absolutely loved Milla Vane | Meljean Brook's worldbuilding. The setting is so lush and vivid, the gods feel real and tangible, and I adore that, even in a shorter work, we get a really good sense of all the local differences in culture. I absolutely adored the first book in this series, and have anxiously been awaiting the next one, and the worldbuilding is a huuuuuge part of that. On that side, The Beast of Blackmoor didn't disappoint. I've seen the author warn for the harsh realities of this series, both on their website and their twitter. It's a Barbarian romance, and the world these characters live in is truly barbaric. It's what I signed up for, and honestly, it's what I loved so much in the first book. People finding love and tenderness in a brutal and hard world? That's so my jam. I don't consider myself a sensitive reader, and I knew what I was getting myself into, and yet... There are so many references to rape and sexual assault in this. So many. More, an important story thread is the (sexual) child abuse one of the characters suffered. It's never very detailed and always considered to be something horrible in the text. But, for me, romance is very often about healing. About dealing with trauma and having someone to support you in that. I guess there wasn't enough of that for my tastes in this story. The author has written one of my favorite romance novella's of all time Here There Be Monsters, so I'm a little sad they didn't strike that perfect balance of pace and story and emotional relief here. It probably didn't help that the first intimate scene between the characters is a kink that just isn't my thing. (view spoiler)[The heroine is hoisted up by her arms in a bar and the hero goes down on her in public. The moment is broken when bystanders threaten to have their way with the heroine as well. (hide spoiler)] This is merely a matter of personal taste of course. I did really love Mala, I really liked Kavik, and I liked their complicated relationship with the goddess Vela and how that shaped their take on the world and their personal relationship. I believed in their romance and that together they'd be glorious and awesome and be great for their people. I just wished that Kavik's trauma got a little more breathing room. Anyway, I'm still super stoked for the next book, and kind of tempted to reread the first book as well. No one does fresh and emersive worldbuilding like Milla|Meljean, and I'm ready to get lost in this world all over again.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Emmalita

    The Beast of Blackmore is a quick bite of the Barbarian world Milla Vane is building in her A Gathering of Dragons series. I grew up on barbarians. Frank Frazetta’s fantasy barbarian art graced the walls of a surprising number of hippie owned shops and restaurants, and then came the Barbarian movies of the 1980s – Conan the Barbarian, The Beastmaster, Red Sonja, and a whole bunch of others that I watched many many times on HBO when I should have been doing my homework. A lot of the artwork and t The Beast of Blackmore is a quick bite of the Barbarian world Milla Vane is building in her A Gathering of Dragons series. I grew up on barbarians. Frank Frazetta’s fantasy barbarian art graced the walls of a surprising number of hippie owned shops and restaurants, and then came the Barbarian movies of the 1980s – Conan the Barbarian, The Beastmaster, Red Sonja, and a whole bunch of others that I watched many many times on HBO when I should have been doing my homework. A lot of the artwork and the lesser of the movies were bastions of masculinity, beefcake and T&A. There were a lot of damsels that needed saving. Conan the Barbarian was my favorite of them because Conan’s first love, Valeria, was a warrior and thief in her own right. She sacrifices herself to save Conan (boo, fridging), but before that she was his equal. Milla Vane is writing the barbarian romance books I would have loved to have read where the woman are as fierce as Valeria, but they get to live past the end of the adventure. Xena Warrior Princess came along during the years I wasn’t watching tv, but she feels like she would fit into Vane’s troubled lands quite easily. Kavik, the titular Beast, is an honorable dunderhead barbarian warrior. He’s so dumb the goddess Vela emerges twice to tell him he’s an idiot. He is so noble and protective of others that Mala is intrigued and smitten with him as she sees him use his body to protect the people of Blackmoor. Mala has been tasked by Vela to tame the Beast of Blackmoor. She assumes initially that she is meant to kill a demon. Once she realizes Kavik is her quest, she sets about taming him with cheerful affection and oral sex. To Mala, taming isn’t about breaking but about creating mutual bonds of trust and friendship. Kavik is too scarred by trauma to appreciate this until it’s almost too late. The Beast of Blackmoor has a lot more rape, past and present, than either A Heart of Blood and Ashes or A Touch of Stone and Snow. The series antagonist, Anumith the Destroyer, used rape as a weapon of war and his standing for this novella continues to use it as a tool to keep the people of Blackmore under his thumb. While it’s handled with a lot more grace and empathy than in A Song of Ice and Fire, book or tv adaptation, it is brutal. Vane focuses more on the trauma of rape than on explicit depictions of the acts itself. When she is explicit with sex, it is consensual. I found myself comparing Vane’s approach to that of George RR Martin and the Game of Thrones show runners. I truly wish someone would show Vanes books to them to illustrate that you can use rape and sexual assault in a story without it being exploitative.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Visionary Druid

    Review courtesy of Romance Junkies Mala is second in line to Krimathe’s throne. She is also one of Vela’s chosen, a person who seeks the goddess for a sacred quest. Mala’s task is to tame the Beast of Blackmore. The goddess’ quests are never easy, a fact Mala acknowledges until she meets Kavik. Can Mala successfully tame Blackmore’s beast? Or is she doomed to fail not only her goddess but her people as well? Kavik wants to free his homeland from an evil warlord’s tyranny and a demon beast’s taint. Review courtesy of Romance Junkies Mala is second in line to Krimathe’s throne. She is also one of Vela’s chosen, a person who seeks the goddess for a sacred quest. Mala’s task is to tame the Beast of Blackmore. The goddess’ quests are never easy, a fact Mala acknowledges until she meets Kavik. Can Mala successfully tame Blackmore’s beast? Or is she doomed to fail not only her goddess but her people as well? Kavik wants to free his homeland from an evil warlord’s tyranny and a demon beast’s taint. His dreams are plagued by a mysterious woman. When Vela’s chosen arrives at Blackmore, Kavik knows his end draws near. However, he never thought the warrior would be the woman from his dreams. Can Kavik liberate his people from both the warlord and the demon? Or will he be enslaved once more? Mala is everything that I admire and like in a heroine. She is a proficient warrior, one who acknowledges her abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. I adore Mala’s compassion. She may be a princess, but she refuses to watch those weaker or lower class suffer injustice. I love Mala’s ability to stand up to male opposition. She is not intimidated nor cowed by men’s posturing. What I like the most about Mala is how she treats Kavik. She recognizes a tortured spirit, so she deals with him with patience and stubborn will. Kavik is such a delicious wounded hero. His life has not been an easy one. He has endured nearly every kind of horror and travesty a person can suffer. I love how Kavik never once gave up on Blackmoor nor its people. He has tried numerous times to usurp the warlord and demon terrorizing them with no success. What I like the most about Kavik is his altruism. He tries to spare his people pain by keeping them at a distance. Kavik does not want others hurt because of him. THE BEAST OF BLACKMORE is a prequel to Milla Vane’s high fantasy, barbarian romance series, A GATHERING OF DRAGONS. It is also a part of the NIGHT SHIFT anthology. This story touches on the darker side of fantasy. So, anyone sensitive to violence, rape, sexual assault, and abuse should be wary. I love this series. It satisfies my high fantasy needs short of FORGOTTEN REALMS and DRAGONLANCE, two venerated fantasy worlds inspired by tabletop games. THE BEAST OF BLACKMORE is a riveting tale of two people overcoming their emotional obstacles during a chaotic time. This novella is a great place holder to tide fans over until the next full-length installment. I cannot wait to see who is next.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Malorie

    I began this novella at 11:30 PM and finished it at 2:30 AM (with several breaks to make tea and give treats to a cat who kept demanding attention), so it is not an exaggeration to say this is an incredibly speedy read. The pace is set early on and it goes at an aggressive clip, but in retrospect I feel I should have expected that from what is described as a barbarian romance. This is my first exposure to this world, and I would say this reads as grimdark meets excessively sexy. It honestly surp I began this novella at 11:30 PM and finished it at 2:30 AM (with several breaks to make tea and give treats to a cat who kept demanding attention), so it is not an exaggeration to say this is an incredibly speedy read. The pace is set early on and it goes at an aggressive clip, but in retrospect I feel I should have expected that from what is described as a barbarian romance. This is my first exposure to this world, and I would say this reads as grimdark meets excessively sexy. It honestly surprised me by how well it worked. There are some extremely difficult themes that are addressed in the story (CW: slavery, rape, repeated abuse, graphic violence) and I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about those things roiling in tandem with highly erotic consensual sexual encounters, but I think that Mills Vane has done an excellent job in finding a workable balance. I would also like to mention that, as a prequel, this is an entirely self-contained story within this series and I think it is such a feat to create a deeply satisfying, contained story that still holds relevance to a larger series without impinging upon the gratification of the quickie we got in 162 pages. I cared about the characters and their plight, I had genuine heart-rending emotional reaction to difficult circumstances, and I was happy with the ending. This is not a typical romance read for me, but I can safely say that I do think this is romance at its finest. I am so pleased that I saw a random tweet in my twitter timeline from a person that I follow leading me to the author and to this book. Can’t wait to pick up the next one!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Dosch

    A young knight named Kavic stumbled into a temple of the goddess Vela. He asked her to give him a quest and in return he demanded 10,000 men to help him reclaim his lands in Blackmoor from the vile Baron who has taken the castle and is tormenting his people. If she would do that for him, maybe he would worship her. When Vela turns him away, he takes back his offering and pees in her offering cup instead. Goddesses don’t take well to those kind of things, so she curses him to be a pariah and tell A young knight named Kavic stumbled into a temple of the goddess Vela. He asked her to give him a quest and in return he demanded 10,000 men to help him reclaim his lands in Blackmoor from the vile Baron who has taken the castle and is tormenting his people. If she would do that for him, maybe he would worship her. When Vela turns him away, he takes back his offering and pees in her offering cup instead. Goddesses don’t take well to those kind of things, so she curses him to be a pariah and tells him when he see the woman in red, she will herald the end. Fast-forward about five or six years, and Mala comes to Blackmoor on a quest for Vela. If she can tame the Beast of Blackmoor, Vela will send her the strength of 10,000 men to protect her land from the Destroyer who is returning. When Mala crosses into Blackmoor, she sees a warrior protecting a caravan of travelers from zombie animals called revenants. She rushes to the aid of the warrior to save the travelers. Garbed in her red cloak of Vela, Kavic knows that the end is coming. He also knows Mala by her face, since he has been dreaming of her every night since he was punished by Vela. Through persistence, Mala convinces Kavic to join her on her quest until they both come to realize that the Beast to be tamed isn’t the one tormenting the villages, but Kavic himself. No matter how much he wants Mala, he won’t be collared and leashed again. Normally I wouldn’t have chosen this type of story but I did find myself enjoying it.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    Prophecy is rarely straight-forward. The goddess Vela delivered a prophecy to Kavik that has plagued him for much of his life. When he sees the woman who he believes will deliver his end, he thinks the prophecy is about to be fulfilled. Quests are rarely easy nor are they sharply defined. Mala’s quest – to tame the Beast of Blackmoor. First step, find the Beast. Finding the Beast wasn’t all that difficult, but understanding her quest is. Blackmoor is a desolate land ruled by Barin, an evil minion Prophecy is rarely straight-forward. The goddess Vela delivered a prophecy to Kavik that has plagued him for much of his life. When he sees the woman who he believes will deliver his end, he thinks the prophecy is about to be fulfilled. Quests are rarely easy nor are they sharply defined. Mala’s quest – to tame the Beast of Blackmoor. First step, find the Beast. Finding the Beast wasn’t all that difficult, but understanding her quest is. Blackmoor is a desolate land ruled by Barin, an evil minion of the Destroyer. Barin can’t be killed, though Kavik has tried several times. Some think Barin’s power comes from the demon tusker. While that is not proven, it is true that the tusker is a plague on the people of Blackmoor. Kavik and Mala join forces to eliminate the demon and maybe, just maybe, Mala will be able to figure out her Beast. The world of Blackmore is stark and gritty. Kavik and Mala are warriors, so there will be plenty of violence. They are also two people, both on desperate missions. The relationship between them is a steady powerful build and the sex scenes are pretty steamy. The Beast of Blackmoor is a prequel novella to the A Gathering of Dragons series. It can be enjoyed as a standalone. Despite its shorter length, the well-plotted piece reads like full novel. It just takes less time to read and delivers a novel value for a novella price.

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