Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wildest Dreams & The Golden Dynasty (Fantasyland #1 & 2) by Kristen Ashley ~ Double Review

Wildest Dreams (Fantasyland, #1)Source: Purchased.

Wildest Dreams (Fantasyland #1) by Kristen Ashley

Seoafin “Finnie” Wilde was taught by her parents that every breath was a treasure and to seek every adventure she could find. And she learns this lesson the hard way when they perish in a plane crash. But she never forgets and when she discovers there is a parallel universe where every person has a twin, she finds a witch who can send her there so she can have the adventure of a lifetime.

But upon arrival in the Winter Wonderland of Lunwyn, she realizes she’s been played by her twin and finds herself walking down the aisle to be wed to The Drakkar.

Thrown into inauspicious circumstances, with years of practice, Finnie bests the challenges and digs into her adventure. But as Frey Drakkar discovers the woman who is his new wife is not Princess Sjofn, a woman he dislikes but instead, his Finnie, a free-spirit with a thirst for venture just like him, without her knowledge he orders his new bride bound to his frozen world, everlasting.

But at the same time Frey plunges Finnie into a web of political intrigue that includes assassination plots, poison, magic, mystery and… dragons.


I originally read the first four books in this series a while ago. It was when I first started reading Kristen Ashley's books and I went on a HUGE binge of her stuff--Colorado Mountain, Fantasyland, The Three, The Will, and a few more. Not everything by her, because she has A LOT of books and my binge urge faded before I got to them all. But my point is that I read this series a while ago and I read them really fast and close together so I never got around to reviewing them (or marking them on Goodreads, which I'm in the process of fixing). So with the release of the final book in the Fantasyland series, I took the very much appreciated nudge to re-read these books and finally write a review.

And let me tell you, it was a TREAT. This series is fabulous. As a whole, I can say it's definitely a favorite of mine and I will certainly be re-reading it again (several times over, even) in the future.

But I'm here right now to specifically talk about Wildest Dreams. And, quite honestly, Wildest Dreams is my least favorite book in this series. Which isn't a terrible thing, because this book is still very good. 

As the first Fantasyland novel, Wildest Dreams introduces us to Kristen Ashley's fantasy alternate universe. It's vivid and exciting, and I truly loved spending time inside it. Like I've grown to expect (and adore) from a KA novel, the world was described and built thoroughly. 

And the characters were fully fleshed out, as well. Finnie was headstrong and Frey was fierce and together they made both a lovely couple and also a very frustrating one. All in all, I enjoyed these two together, but I will say that more than one of their arguments got on my nerves. Particularly one involving a certain lady that should have been irrelevant--but Frey refused to leave it that way. 

Still, with that said, the romance was a good, well-written one (even though it wasn't my favorite).

And overall, Wildest Dreams is a strong beginning to an enchanting series that is definitely worth reading. Romance, magic, and more are abound within this story.

3.5 stars - A well-written start to an amazing series that I definitely recommend reading!


The Golden Dynasty (Fantasyland, #2)Source: Purchased.

The Golden Dynasty (Fantasyland #2) by Kristen Ashley

Circe Quinn goes to sleep at home and wakes up in a corral filled with women wearing sacrificial virgin attire - and she is one of them. She soon finds out that she’s not having a wild dream, she’s living a frightening nightmare where she’s been transported to a barren land populated by a primitive people and in short order, she’s installed very unwillingly on her white throne of horns as their Queen.

Dax Lahn is the king of Suh Tunak, The Horde of the nation of Korwahk and with one look at Circe, he knows she will be his bride and together they will start The Golden Dynasty of legend.

Circe and Lahn are separated by language, culture and the small fact she’s from a parallel universe and has no idea how she got there or how to get home. But facing challenge after challenge, Circe finds her footing as Queen of the brutal Korwahk Horde and wife to its King, then she makes friends then she finds herself falling in love with this primitive land, its people and especially their savage leader.


Whereas Wildest Dreams was my least favorite in the Fantasyland series, The Golden Dynasty was my favorite. The two stories are so different but take place in the same world--albeit on completely different sides. This novel introduces an entirely different culture, new characters, and one of my favorite romances of all time.

The Golden Dynasty is one of the books that makes Kristen Ashley a favorite author of mine. The story is crafted to perfectly. The culture is created and described in a way that is both thorough and interesting. Circe's reactions to being thrown into a society with completely different customs than what she's used to are realistic. And the process of Circe and Lahn becoming more familiar with and growing to care for one another is beautiful.

One of my absolute favorite things about this book is the fact that Circe and Lahn start out speaking two different languages. They have this big hurdle of a language barrier that they have to overcome, and I LOVED watching them work through it. Learn each other's words. 

Another thing I love about The Golden Dynasty is the characters--and, more specifically, their growth. First and foremost, Circe is awesome. She wakes up in this new world and is so strong. She fights back. Then she settles and assesses the situation (though she was totally freaked out, but that's understandable). Then she takes it in stride and makes an effort to adapt. Second of all, Lahn, the big, tough warrior, who could be so soft and caring for his wife. He adjusted some of the things he was used to in order to make Circe happy and I not only have so much respect for that, but I LOVE it. He can be such a sweetheart. (And don't even get me started on him with little Isis. Do. Not. Even. *dies*)

The romance between Lahn and Circe is one of my favorites ever. They're both strong but so sweet and they literally make the perfect couple. It takes them a bit to get there (you know, with the language barrier and whatnot) but watching their relationship shift and grow was wonderful. Honestly, they're probably my second favorite KA couple (following Ty and Lexie from Lady Luck, of course).

Overall, with breathtaking romance and well-crafted writing, The Golden Dynasty is a spectacular addition to the Fantasyland series. It's my personal favorite of the five, though they are all so, so good and worth reading. This series as a whole is magnificent. But really, if there is one book of them all that you absolutely should not miss, it's this one.

5 stars - Without a doubt my favorite installment in the Fantasyland series!

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