Tuesday, August 23, 2016

ARC Review: The Devastation by Shay Savage

The Devastation
Unexpected Circumstances #7
by Shay Savage
Genre: Historical
Release Date: Aug 23, 2016

Although Branford is broken and desperate, he finds himself with no choice: He must declare war against Hadebrand, or Edgar’s evil darkness will envelop the commonwealth. Silverhelm’s army is grossly outnumbered, but Branford underestimates the people’s love for their commoner queen. The people rise up in support of their beloved regent, and Branford sees a glimmer of hope for his wife. He becomes more determined than ever to make up for his previous failures and secure the future of his kingdom.

With their murderous intentions, the treacherous King Edgar and Princess Whitney must pay for what they have done. They must not be allowed to destroy everything the people hold dear.
With but faint hope in his heart, Branford gathers his people and marches toward the castle in Hadebrand, gathering allies along the way. With the support of other noble families, Branford will have to find the strength to fight for the very survival of his own family and the entire kingdom.
He sees only one path: the annihilation of his enemy.With their murderous intentions, the treacherous King Edgar and Princess Whitney must pay for what they have done. They must not be allowed to destroy everything the people hold dear. With but faint hope in his heart, Branford gathers his people and marches toward the castle in Hadebrand, gathering allies along the way. With the support of other noble families, Branford will have to find the strength to fight for the very survival of his own.

He sees only one path: the annihilation of his enemy.

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What a series! Shay Savage is wickedly good and she totally kill it with this historical serial. What started off like a swoon-worthy bodice ripper with a blushing virgin turned into something so dramatic, so bloody that I left me bugging my eyes out. Seriously, Shay Savage does not know hard limit and she really tested my hard limits. 

Alexandra was a handmaid from a rival kingdom when Branford first set his eyes on her. Her life is suppose to be humble, mundane and peaceful until the heir of Silverhelm asked for her hand after he won a tournament. From then on, Alexandra life is never the same again. Not only she got herself a royal husband that she soon love, she needs to learn how to be a noble and protect herself against the evil that lurks around their kingdom. 

Branford know only revenge and he dedicated his entire life seeking for it. Marrying a commoner wife is suppose to help him trigger an impending war with King Edgar, who he believes got his parent murdered. He is paranoid against all strangers, selfish for his own motivation and cruel at times. After his impulsive decision to get marry, he soon realized that there is more to being a responsible husband that making sure his wife is fed and clothed. 

For the entirety of seven long installments, a lot of things, both fortunate and unfortunate befall Alexandra and Branford. From a blushing naive virgin that look upon the world with her innocent eyes and big heart, Alexandra turned into a courageous young Queen who is admire and love by her people. Branford himself also went through so much in his quest of revenge and learn to realize that it shouldn't be his only reason in life. 

I thought my favorite part of the series would be the beginning when Branford trying to act like a gentleman while trying to seduce his wife. Waiting for them to finally consummate their marriage really make me a cranky asshole. All these delicious sexual tension left me panting for more. But once I read the final part, I swear I love the battle and drama. It might be a tad gory and very bloody ala Game of Thrones style, and not everyone can stomach it, but it turned this series from awesome to epic. 

The Unexpected Circumstances is filled with so much love, drama and some heartache. My emotion went through the wringer for every cliffhanger I had to endure. But everything is so worth it for I got to experience such an epic battle for their ultimate HEA. I wouldn't wish for Shay Savage to change anything at all.

“I am coming for you, Alexandra,” I said into the air.  “Do not be afraid.  I will come for you.”
I closed my eyes briefly and imagined myself once again in the tight container of the hidden compartment under the carriage bench.  I heard the screams from outside.  Only this time, it was Alexandra’s voice, and she called for me, but I could not reach her.
“Please, please—keep her safe,” I whispered as I dropped to my knees.  Memories overwhelmed me again, and I felt Lord Sawyer’s arm around my shoulders as I was brought from the carriage.  I saw the bodies of my parents on the ground, covered in blankets.  At the point where I usually imagined what my mother’s body must have looked like under there, I now thought of my wife, and a choking sob emerged from my throat.
What if they were hurting her right now as I knelt here and did nothing?
What if?
What if?
What if?
The words echoed in my mind as the palms of my hands tried to push the imagined sights from my eyes.  I screamed into my fists, trying to muffle the sounds as my mind conjured all the possible things that could be happening to her at this very moment.
“Branford!  Branford, no!”
I felt the delicate hands of my adoptive mother around my shoulders and inhaled the scent of her hair as she turned me and pulled me toward her and back to sanity.  I tried to turn away, but the weakness of my mind had affected my body, too.
“They could be hurting her…killing her!” I cried.  “Right now, they could be…”
“Hush,” Sunniva said as she attempted to pull me closer.  “This will not help you or Alexandra.”
“But she could be hurt!”
“I know,” Sunniva said quietly.  She placed her hand on the back of my head and attempted to pull me to her shoulder.  I resisted at first but then dropped my forehead against her.
“Think, my son,” she whispered quietly.  “I know you wish to find her now, and I know you fear for her, but your men need sleep, and you need additional time to perfect your strategy.  You will go to Alexandra in the morning.”
“I cannot wait,” I said, my voice strained.
“I know it feels that way,” she said, “but Alexandra is strong and brave.  You must not go into a slaughter, my son.  You can only save her if you are ready.”
“What am I supposed to do?” I pleaded with her.
“You will gather and lead your men,” Sunniva said softly.  “You will remain calm, and you will encourage your army, Branford.  It is the only way you can beat Hadebrand.”
“How will I, Mother?” I whispered into her hair as I finally relinquished whatever pride I was trying to maintain and just sank against her and sobbed.  “How can I go on without her beside me?  I cannot…I cannot even think!”

Excerpt 2:
For a moment, I felt as if I were in a dream.  Here he was, right in front of me, and I wasn’t sure what I should do.  This was something I had desired for so long—to have this man in front of me without guards and with just cause to take his life—and I did not know how to respond.  It was my moment of hesitation that allowed him to slip past me and try to run from the room.  Even in my momentary stupor, he was not fast enough, and I caught up with him before he could reach the door.  Edgar quickly jumped back and raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.
“King Branford, what are you doing?”
“I’m here to destroy you and your family for what you have done,” I replied softly.  “Is that not obvious?”
“It was your own cousins who devised that plan!” he said.  “I knew nothing of the handmaid or the tea!”
His gaze shifted quickly to the door and then back to me again.  I knew he was lying, and I told him so as my sword hovered between us.
“You have already made those responsible pay for that,” he said.  “There is no more need for bloodshed!”
“No need?”  I snorted.  “You seize my wife and have the audacity to look shocked when I break down your door?”
“Seize your…seize your wife…?”
“Do not play innocent with me!”  I bellowed as I swung my sword in an arc near his head.  “I will not stand for it any longer!”
“King Branford, I have no knowledge of Alexandra’s kidnapping.  I swear—”
“Where is my wife?” I screamed.  I had tried to keep my voice calm and low before, but it was no longer working.  I was quickly losing whatever dignity I might have left.  The muscles in my arms were sore from battle but still cried out for more bloodshed.
“King Branford, you must believe me!  I have no idea where your queen may be.”
I slowly raised my sword and held it in both of my hands as I pointed it to him.
“I will not listen to your lies,” I said quietly.  “You will die for everything you have done to me and to my family.
“Branford…listen to me—”
I laughed and I stalked toward him.  I felt as if I were in a trance as everything he had caused slowly traversed through my memories—my parents’ death, the misplaced faith of the mentors I had trusted with my life, the presence of the handmaid who harmed my wife, Alexandra’s disappearance…
I heard my own voice drop to a whisper.
“Perhaps you thought I had no breaking point, but believe me—I am broken now.”

Shay Savage lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her family and a variety of household pets. She is an accomplished public speaker, and holds the rank of Distinguished Toastmaster from Toastmasters International. When not writing, she enjoys science fiction movies, masquerading as a zombie, is a HUGE Star Wars fan, and member of the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers. When the geek fun runs out, she also loves soccer in any and all forms - especially the Columbus Crew, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. Savage holds a degree in psychology, and she brings a lot of that knowledge into the characters within her stories.