An exhilarating adventure and utterly absorbing story, Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau is filled with magic, mystery, fantastic creatures, witty banter, adorable characters, and a searing romance that absolutely captured my heart and kept me reading long into the night.
Leena Edenfrell is a Charmer, a human with magical powers who tames and captures magical beasts. The bond between master and beasts is sacred and selling them is a crime punishable by death. When Leena is wrongfully accused and gets exiled, she is forced to sell her beasts in order to survive. Her only chance of going back home to Hireath is to charm a powerful beast and convince the Charmers Council of her innocence. But, with a bounty on her head, Leena has no choice but to make a deal with Noc, the realm’s most dangerous yet charming assassin. In exchange for her life, she will give him some of her beloved magical creatures.
Noc is the leader of the guild at Cruor, a group of deadly assassins. He’s been keeping a secret - a curse that causes the people he loves to become sick and die from an incurable disease. Desperate for a cure, Noc accepts Leena’s offer and journeys with her to find the beast that might just save him. With the assassin’s oath, Noc knows that he must finish the job, kill Leena, or end up forfeiting his own life. But, choosing might just be the most difficult decision Noc will have to make cause he never expected to be charmed by Leena and start falling for her.
With secrets, lies, and dark forces threatening both their lives, will Leena and Noc find a way to finally get what they both really want?
I honestly haven’t been this excited about a fantasy romance in a while and this book really surprised me in so many ways. The writing is fantastic and the world-building is lush, vivid, intricate, and so enthralling. I adore everything about this imaginative world Martineau has created and found myself absolutely enamored by all the different aspects and magnificent beasts. The plot is fast-paced, brimmed with amazing action, sprinkled with humor, and has so many fun and delightful moments. It’s spellbinding, thrilling and overflowing with twists and surprises that had me flipping through the pages.
The characters are absolutely wonderful and I dare you not to fall in love with them. They’re charming, quirky, funny, and so intirguing. I love the brotherhood between the assassins and I think they're sweet in their own ways. I also really love the friendship they form with Leena and how protective they become. I really don’t think I can choose a favorite cause each one of them has a special place in my heart. I also loved all the different beasts. They have their own personalities and quirks and I really enjoyed seeing them develop relationships with their masters.
Leena and Noc are both great MCs and their character arcs are done so well. Leena is fierce, strong, determined, and has a heart of gold. She loves her beasts and only parts with them to survive. Noc is broody and impatient, but he’s an amazing leader who’ll do anything to protect his family even if it means never having true happiness. They’re both dealing with impossible situations and seeing them handle everything together is incredibly satisfying. Oh and their romance is wicked hot and super sexy. Given their situation and who they are, Leena and Noc both try to fight their attraction to each other. I won’t spoil the fun for you, but there’s definitely some delicious tension between them and their chemistry is heart-meltingly swoony.
Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau is a stunning debut novel and the perfect introduction to a magical and enchanting series. This book has everything I LOVE in stories - beautiful writing, characters that will steal your heart, fantastic world-building, great action scenes, endearing friendships, and a simmering romance with all the swoons. Be prepared to immerse yourself in a wonderfully thrilling journey and a fantastical adventure you won’t want to end. I promise you, you don't want to miss this one!
I received an advance reader copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.