My Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy Romance
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MF
In the Commonwealth of Tanahr, every heart can find a home.
Niamh Starsong may be a soldier to her core, but she is also a dreamer who believes in the magic of love. When she encounters Jeron Wright, a kind and gentle priest—at least that is what she assumes—Niamh is torn, struggling to hide from her feelings for a man so wholly out of her reach.
Jeron, a talented mechmage and healer, seeks out Niamh’s solemn smiles and warm conversation but doesn’t understand why she keeps him at arm’s length. Tragedy strikes their expedition’s encampment and Jeron saves Niamh from the brink of death, forging a powerful, heart-to-heart bond in the process.
As insidious dangers close in on the city of Astra, Jeron and Niamh must again risk their lives for Tanahr and discover along the way how the powerful magic of friendship can blossom into love.
I bought Valiant Heart earlier this year as the combination of fantasy, steampunk and romance appealed to me. Valiant Heart was an entertaining read and while it missed that something to really hook me, I had fun reading this one and am curious what other stories the author has planned in this world.
Valiant Heart is a romance story first, a fantasy story second. There’s also a tough topic that gets addressed after the traumatic event the blurb refers to that changes Niamh. Then there are some sprinkles of steampunk throughout it all. It made for an fun combination of genres.
Valiant Heart follows the story of Niamh and Jeron, told in dual points of view. Niamh is a soldier or a valiant as they are called here. She is a warrior and wants to find her place. There is only a bit of backstory of where she came form and her people, but mostly focuses on her now. There’s the struggle she has to go through after the traumatic event changes her and then there is her attraction for Jeron. She knows she can’t act on it because he’s a priest.
Jeron is a mage and a tinkerer. He can heal and do magic, but also craft things. It was fun to see what sort of devices he could make. Jeron is slowly falling for the brave Niamh and I like how he is there for her once she goes through something difficult.
I liked seeing the romance blossom between them, their mutual interest and attraction and how after the big event it slowly morphs into more. There is a bit of a misunderstanding with Niamh believing Jeron is a priest and can’t do romantic entanglements and Jeron not understanding why Niamh pulls away, but it was quite easily resolved. The romance is quite sweet and while I didn’t fully feel the depth of their emotions I still liked the romance. It just missed a bit of a spark for me.
The whole story/ danger plot line is quite to the point. There is a bit of a plot line surrounding an attack early in the book and someone who got injured there and the implications of which. There is some more danger in later in the book, but I never really felt the tension and danger. I actually would’ve liked a bit more twists and turns at times. It almost was a bit too straightforward. The plot line also got resolved almost too easily, while at the same time I also appreciated how it didn’t got dragged out. The plot line also didn’t fully grab me and was just missing something for me to fully get invested.
The world building quite confused me at first, we have soldiers and mages and portals. And then there is all the clockwork and steampunk machinery. It’s like medieval fantasy got combined with steampunk, but at the same time keeps the medieval type of feel. It worked quite well here, but it took me a while to get a good grasp on the world. And the whole magic and portals things are still a bit vague to me. It is quite flavorful tough and I liked what we see of the world.
To summarize: This was an entertaining read with a fun combination of genres. The main focus is on the romance, but there also is a danger/ fantasy plot line, some personal topics that need to be resolved and some steampunk elements. Niamh and Jeron are likable enough and it’s fun to see them fall in love. I liked the romance, but I didn’t fully feel the depth of their emotions. The danger/ fantasy plot line didn’t full grab me, it just was missing something and was quite straightforward. It’s an interesting world, although it was a bit confusing at first when as it took me a while to get a good idea of the world. I did like the flavor of the world with the medieval fantasy vibe combined with steampunk. All in all I had fun reading this book, but it just lacked something to full grab me.