Title: Marked by Fire
Series: Sons of Britain: Book One
Author: Mia West
Length: 202 Pages
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 4.5 Stars
At a Glance: There are some books I read and struggle to sink into and lose myself in; then there are others, books like this, that seem to absorb me with little to no effort. I’ll give all the credit to West’s story-crafting and her thoroughly charming characters for that.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: When two warriors collide in secret, no legend is set in stone.
Eighteen-year-old Arthur burns for two things: a warrior’s ink, and Bedwyr, his older brother’s shieldmate. Though the warlord’s son is beyond his reach, a Saxon incursion finally brings Arthur’s chance at the tattoo that will brand him a fighter. But when he abandons his training in the heat of battle, his reckless ambition costs Bedwyr his sword hand.
Once, Bedwyr trusted in two things: he was a warrior, and the presumed heir of Uthyr. Now, reeling from injury and sent away by his father, he’s lost everything. The last person he wants to see is the cub who ignited his disastrous instinct to protect. Especially when he arrives with Bedwyr’s armor and a dangerously hopeful scheme to restore him to his rightful place.
Review: Always a fan of Arthurian legend and the places contemporary authors can take it and then make it their own, new-to-me author Mia West’s Marked by Fire hit every single note I needed it to, and, based on this first book, the Sons of Britain series has won itself a new fan in me in the process. This is no mere retelling of Excalibur, the quest for the Holy Grail, or the Knights of the Round Table—at least not yet. No dragons were slain in the writing of this book, nor is it a 6th century history lesson, but rather, West spins this yarn into a whole cloth introduction of an eighteen-year-old Arthur who hasn’t yet come into his own, but he learns the first of what I’m sure will be several difficult lessons on his journey to becoming a legend, not only in his first battle against the invading Saxon hordes, but in love’s first trials with his older brother’s best friend, Bedwyr.
Originally published as a long novella/short novel in 2016, West expanded the story, more than doubling its word-count, and re-released it in 2017 in its current iteration. In the spirit of coming across this book better now than never, and giving what can only be the proper compliments for taking a story that was likely already good and making it richer and deeply entertaining, if you did read this story in its original iteration and have yet to grab this version, I can say without hesitation that I think it’d be worth the re-read, most especially if you liked the original.
With the help of a challenge, a little close-proximity, and oh yeah, only one bed, West takes something life-altering and, for a warrior such as Bedwyr, a tragic loss, and turns it into the opportunity for Arthur to lean into his courage and conviction, and his unspoken feelings for Bedwyr, and help the heir to warlord and Pen y Ddraig Uthyr ap Emrys—Bedwyr’s father—to restore his strength and return once again to the field of battle. For Bedwyr, rebuilding his worth as a warrior is an impetus in his rehabilitation second only to his growing love of sparring with “the cub”, whom he’s quickly coming to see as his own man rather than his friend Cai’s mouthy and annoying little brother. All does not happen easily for Arthur and Bedwyr, though. Secrets, as they have a habit of doing, will always out, but Marked by Fire leaves them both at a happy-for-now (it’s all about the journey right now, not the destination). The great thing about running across an older release is no waiting now to get the continuation of their story.
There are some books I read and struggle to sink into and lose myself in; then there are others, books like this, that seem to absorb me with little to no effort. I’ll give all the credit to West’s story-crafting and her thoroughly charming characters for that. I loved the way her words flowed and resonated from the page to spark my imagination, and Arthur and Bedwyr’s unlikely pairing growing into something more, yet still a bit tender and fragile, sealed the deal.
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