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Book Review: Ashes of Roses by Christine Pope

Ashes of Roses (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms) by Christine PopeAshes of Roses is a novel in Christine Pope‘s Tales of the Latter Kingdoms series, where magic has been all but eliminated, but there is magic to be found in this fantasy romance. Ashara Millende is everything you would expect Cinderella to be: patient, kind and hardworking. She’s also smart and resourceful. Instead of a prince, her love is Emperor of Sirlende, Torric Deveras. Torric has been emperor ever since his father’s death, and he is fortunate to have a confidant in his sister, Lyarris.

Strong, wise, and compassionate, Lyarris is my favorite character in the book. It is her idea to have a five-day series of events, during which her brother can find a suitable empress. Given Ash’s Cinderella status in her stepmother’s home, she never imagined she’d be able to meet the emperor, but instead of a fairy godmother, she has an aunt with a talent for illusion. Among Ash’s female allies, she even finds a friend in an earl’s daughter, the resourceful Gabrinne.

Although I generally cringe at the love-at-first-sight trope, I thought this was done well. The characters are sometimes smarter than average, but still make mistakes. The dialog kept the story moving, and it’s an easy read that can be enjoyed in a weekend or a snow day.

Ashes of Roses is a smart re-telling of the fairy tale. The culture of the Latter Kingdoms is interesting, and I am looking forward to reading more stories in the setting.

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