*I gave this book an A+ for the Narration and A for the story at AudioGals*
Narrated by Tillie Hooper
The Golden Dynasty is unlike any other book of Kristen Ashley’s that I have ever listened to (or any book by any other author!). Wow, simply wow! Kristen Ashley has created her own unique fantasyland (no pun intended given that is the name of the series), bringing us back to a medieval type world with a magical twist. Even Ms. Ashley’s signature writing style is different. Gone are the typical Kristen-Ashley-speak phrases that she is so well known for, though the long descriptive passages that Ms. Ashley is also well known for are there and help explain this new and uncharted world. In fact, this style is so different that Ms. Ashley has gone so far as to even create her very own language for the primitive nation of Korwahk, where the Seattle born heroine from the present day inexplicably awakes with no hint as to why she is there or where she has awoken. Moreover, not only is the story first rate, but the narration by Tillie Hooper is also top-notch making this a perfect paranormal romance title to experience in audio format!
As this is book 2 in a PNR series, I think it is essential to note that unlike many other PNR series, each book in the Fantasyland series works as a standalone. Therefore, if you haven’t yet listened to book 1 (Wildest Dreams), don’t fret as you can still go straight to The Golden Dynasty. Of course, now I want to listen to Wildest Dreams as well as the other 3 books that are currently available in audiobook format from this series.
Circe Quinn wakes up in the middle of chaos. Scantily dressed amidst a horde of women, she finds herself smack dab in the middle of an unbelievable ritual: a wife hunt (literally) for the Korwahk warriors. Fair unlike nearly all the other women in the hunt, many of whom appear to be natives of this primitive culture, her looks are sure not to go unnoticed. And though the locals are looking at the warriors in awe, many viewing this ritual as their salvation, Circe sees it as anything but. So when the Dax (King of Korwahk people) takes notice of her and decides to claim her as his wife and make her his queen (in a rather brutal ritual where the warriors stake their claim physically on the woman they choose as a bride, by force if necessary), Circe fights like a warrior which instead of repelling him only solidifies his belief that Circe is the true Golden Queen. This is something that only happens once among many centuries but when a Dax finds a Golden Queen it means that royal family becomes a dynasty rather than their typical system where a king only serves as such until a more powerful Korwahk comes along and challenges him to a fight to death to determine who will serve next.
As you can imagine, this paternalistic, macho society frightens but mostly just repulses the present day raised Circe. At the same time, even though she can barely communicate with the Dax, her husband, until a translator is found, she also finds herself strangely but very viscerally attracted to him. Once he begins to change his ways even if only subtly in response to her influence–not previously having known any other way but the brutal world he lives in where might is right–Circe begins to feel true feelings for him. Nonetheless, she has real issues with how this world treats women, a number of which she befriends (even though they are supposed to be her “slaves”) and she struggles with feelings that both push and pull her between the world she comes from and the one she was thrust upon. If she could find a way back home, would she leave? Moreover, can she influence this world to become more enlightened and civilized, including her husband who is used to being the supreme being and having his will adhered to by all without question?
See the full review at AudioGals.