Title: Golden Dynasty
Series: Fantasyland (Book 2)
Author: Kristen Ashley
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Heat Level: 5 Flames
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Let me start by saying Golden Dynasty was by far the hardest Kristen Ashley book I have ever read! I am a huge Kristen Ashley fan, and have been since I discovered her books last year, but Golden Dynasty compromised so many of my personal morals I seriously thought I wouldn't be able to finish the book. Let's start with what didn't work for me.
**Spoiler Alert** Circe not only wakes up in a foreign land, she wakes up in the middle of a primitive "wife hunt" where women are dressed to the nine, paraded through the city for warriors to look upon their beauty, and then hunted until they are claimed. When I say claimed, I also mean "Claimed" as in full on mounted, stripped of their clothing and then paraded again nude through the city, in front of the citizens in an act of show-in-tale. The issue with this custom is, not all of the women chosen for the "wife hunt" are of the Korwahk culture and therefore have no understanding of their ways, but are still FORCED to participate in the event. WTF??? If that wasn't enough, after the heroine comes to terms with her situation, with a little help from a woman like herself who has lived with, and adjusted to the culture, the hero back hand slaps Circe because she was missing and he was worried.
Those are two very serious offenses which clearly left me furious, but I also found some things I really liked about Golden Dynasty. As with all Kristen Ashley books, she builds a strong female social support system for Circe. The relationship between Circe and the women of the horde was beautiful, funny, and heart warming. Circe and Lahn's courting was sweet and I really enjoyed their loving exchanges when trying to learn the languages for one another. While I didn't totally agree with the customs of the horde, I did find it fascinating how Kristen Ashley took things we would find deplorable, and then represented the Korwahk people as a group who made their riches by collecting booty and plundering villages, but some how the lewd acts seemed to work primarily because of the way it was described. The Horde was savage and primitive, however the members seemed to hone a sense of family and togetherness.
Irregardless of this fact that the book started out on shaky ground for me and I was not on board with women being raped and hit and then somehow falling in love, I persevered and finished the book. Additionally,I don't totally agree with the approach Kristen took to develop the main characters, I still have to give this one a solid 4.5 Notes and 5 Flames because it kept me engaged, sent me through a tailspin of emotions, and it was FECKIN HOT!