January 3, 2023

ARC REVIEW The Claw and the Crowned (The Book of All Things #5) by Sarah M. Cradit

The Claw and the Crowned (The Book of All Things #5) by Sarah M. Cradit
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Release Date: January 3, 2023
Format: eARC (Courtesy of the Author)
Publisher: Storyville Press (Self-Published by the Author)

The Claw and the Crowned by Sarah M. Cradit is the fifth standalone book in the interconnected The Book of All Things series, and it’s by far the darkest and sexiest book released so far. Slow burn romance fans will enjoy Imryll and Drazhan’s enemies to lovers' love affair. 

Heroine Imryll of Glasgain has never fit into the royal court of Rhiagian, and dreams of running away to see the mainland. On the precipice of fulfilling them, her dreams are dashed when she is given the “honor” of being the first of five concubines to serve her best friend, Crown Prince Torian. Everyone in her family and the rest of Duncarrow expects her to see the role as an honor, but she can only see her new status as a gilded cage. As one of the “Chosen”, Imryll is given a 24/7 guard in the form of Drazhan Winter. The knight is rude, dark and seems to enjoy making her squirm. With how much time they spend together, feelings start to grow between them, and everyone notices something is going on. As time goes on, both Imryll and Drazhan will have to re-evaluate their plans for their future and what they want out of life. 

The relationships in this book are very toxic and strange, compared to the other books in the series. Imryll and Drazhan’s relationship is not necessarily healthy. He’s one of the few in Imryll’s life to give her autonomy and a choice, but they cycle through fighting and having sex fairly quickly. In short, neither are fairly good at communicating. While it was clear that Drazhan was the love interest of the book, I wouldn’t have been upset if Imryll has ended up with Torian. He practically worships the ground she walks on. As another point of the love triangle (or love quadrangle/square?), Torian is incredibly unconventional. I was not expecting him to give Imryll a choice and respect her wishes with regards to advancing their physical intimacy.  As a reader, I was devastated for him and how his heart continued to break every time Imryll rejected him. The only one I really hated from the romance perspective was Marius, but even he had some redeemable qualities in the story. 

As a side note, I really appreciate how the author Sarah M. Cradit and her team are very transparent about what you can expect in each of the books (without traveling into dangerous spoiler territory). For example, the content warning list at the end of my review is from the author’s website. She also puts a list of tropes you can expect in each book - some of my favorites from this one are enemies to lovers, forbidden love, court intrigue, and a quest for vengeance. If you ever have a question about one of her books, I highly recommend checking out her website as its a great resource! 

In conclusion, The Claw and the Crowned is another fantastic addition to The Book of All Things series, and the larger Kingdom of the White Sea universe. I was very happy to see the happily ever after ending in the epilogue (though I do wish some of the big reveals in the book came sooner). With regard to the audience, I would recommend the book (and the series as a whole) to readers at the new adult or adult levels, especially if they enjoy fantasy romance. It’s an amazing opening to the Sceptre Cycle, and I’m super excited to see the future books in the cycle covering the side characters from this book. Thank you to the author for providing me with a complimentary review copy of the book. I appreciate the opportunity to read and review The Claw and the Crowned immensely. Please note - I voluntarily read and reviewed the book. All opinions expressed in the review are my own and not influenced in any way. 

CONTENT WARNINGS (Courtesy of the Author): Light bullying, blood and gore, violence, death of a parent, death of a sibling, references to war crimes (genocide), emotional wounds, emotional abuse, profanity, manipulation, sexually explicit scenes, sexism, PTSD, panic attacks

About the Book

Freedom is her desire. Vengeance is his price.

Slip into this scintillating tale of a young royal whose loyalty is torn between the prince she was sold to and the tempestuous knight determined to ruin her.

Imryll is unfit to be a princess. Everyone has always told her so. So when the king stuns everyone by crowning her the prince’s consort, her life is completely upended, crushing any lingering dreams of a future away from the suffocating Rhiagain court.

Still reeling from the news, she meets Drazhan, the formidable, mercurial knight who wins the right to be her personal guard. But when he defiantly refuses any show of respect, a dangerous spark ignites between them, one she doesn’t know how to extinguish. Worse, she’s not sure she wants to.

The dark knight’s licentious midnight whispers linger over her, commands she feels inexplicably called to obey. His dangerous promises spread their tendrils over her desperate, failed attempts to embrace life with the prince, her childhood best friend. They take her apart and put her back together, piece by agonizing piece.

Yet she can’t shake the sense Drazhan is hiding something important. He refuses to explain why he surrendered a life of privilege to become her guard. The roaring vengeance burning in his heart, scorching him from the inside out, is a painful mystery Imryll can’t solve.

But she will.

Because Drazhan’s revenge doesn’t just start with Imryll.

It ends with her.

About the Author

Sarah is the USA Today Bestselling Author of Epic, Contemporary, and Paranormal Fantasy. An unabashed geek, Sarah enjoys studying subjects like the Plantagenet and Ptolemaic dynasties, and settling debates on provocative Tolkien topics such as why the Great Eagles are not Gandalf's personal taxi service. Passionate about travel, Sarah has visited over twenty countries collecting sparks of inspiration (though New Orleans is where her heart rests). She's a self-professed expert at crafting original songs to sing to her very patient pets and a seasoned professional at finding ways to humiliate herself (bonus points if it happens in public). When at home in Pennsylvania, her husband and best friend, James, is very kind about indulging her love of fast German cars and expensive lattes.

Check out the Author's website here - Author Website 

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