Fantasy Book Review: Bloom & Dark by Regina Watts

Fantasy Book Review

Bloom & Dark
Author: Regina Watts
Publication Date: January 25, 2021
Publisher: Painted Blind Publishing
Genres: Epic Fantasy
ShelvesFemale-authored, Female-dominant

Bloom & Dark is what you get when an absolute goddess of femdom fiction decides to make the sword-and-sorcery genre her bitch. It's everything you would expect from the woman behind Dottie, Sabine, and Rhoda Dendron, which means it's as deep and thoughtful as it is sexy. Regina Watts is one of those authors who casts a spell over the reader with everything she writes, and this doesn't just straddle genres, it stands tall and wide across my decades of reading.

The core of this book will be instantly familiar to fans of the fantasy genre. It's old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery, full of noble paladins, adventuring thieves, metalsmithing dwarves, dark elves, vintage monsters, and more. There's adventure, drama, and romance to be found within its pages, but what makes it truly memorable is the themes of power - between men and women, gods and goddesses, friends and lovers - woven into all of it.

Rorke Burningsoul, (human) Paladin of Weltyr, and Valeria, (durrow) High Priestess of Roserpine are the couple at the heart of the story, and I loved what Watts did with them and those themes. Betrayed by surface companions he's supposed to be able to trust, and rescued by underground elves he's supposed to fear, Rorke finds himself trapped between (seemingly) opposing oaths. Ironically, in becoming branded and bound to Valeria, enslaved by her matriarchal race, he comes to find a sort of freedom in his submission that puts him on a path - as unorthodox as it may be - toward fulfilling his destiny.

Surrounded by a small cast of supporting characters who round out the emotional aspects of the story, Rorke and Valeria are deep, well-developed, memorable personalities who come to life through one another. What starts as a game of sexual submission slowly evolves into a dance of romantic reward, with an emotional bond that proves stronger than their ensorcelled bondage. As the fantasy story moves into the realm of assassination and betrayal, with increasingly dangerous monstrous attacks, it's their relationship that holds it all together.

Both a heart-pounding fantasy and a heart-wrenching erotic romance, Bloom & Dark delivers on every level. It's something familiar and new at the same time, a fun read that will have you devouring just one more page all night long.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 

My sincere thanks to the author for providing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.