Review: Mountain of Dragons and Sacrifice

As a member of the street team for the Sacrificed Hearts series, I have been eager to read these books about unexpected romance from many of my favorite authors. The series plays on the trope of sacrificial maidens who learn that their "captors" are not what they appear to be and grow to love them. In other words, they can be interpreted as loose retellings of "Beauty and the Beast," one of the most beloved love stories. The first book in the series, Mountain of Dragons and Sacrifice by Tara Grayce, is a quintessential starting point for this series. I recently reviewed Netflix's Damsel, which had a similar premise but was marred by modern agendas and stereotypes of what it means to be a princess today. In many ways, this story is the opposite of Damsel, taking a damsel who believes her life will be threatened by a fearsome dragon before learning she doesn't need physical strength to defeat it and that what is inside her heart is already enough.


I was eager to read this book from the Sacrificed Hearts series in particular because I already knew that Tara Grayce had a talent for writing post-nuptial romance from her other books such as Fierce Heart and Stolen Midsummer Bride. Although Mountain of Dragons and Sacrifice does not begin with a marriage, the formula of the protagonist being unwittingly thrust into the arms of a man she would grow to love remains the same. Like the world presented in Netflix's Damsel, Nessa is a girl living in a village that performs regular rituals of sacrificing maidens to appease a hungry dragon and keep their land safe. Five years prior to the start of the book, Nessa's best friend Clarissa had been chosen as a sacrifice. Now, it is Nessa's turn. What she expects to be a swift and painless death turns out to be a confusing journey to a fae world in which she searches desperately to find her place as well as the identity of the mysterious dragon who comes to visit her each evening.

Instead of a horrifying trial of fear, pain, and obeying orders, the only thing that Nessa has to fear is the rumor spread by her village about the dragon. The experiences she has with him are nothing like what she was warned about. Instead, she is immediately wrapped up in the warmth of a blanket, brought to a comfortable room, fed, and given a simple task to perform. To her surprise, the dragon's servants and kind and loyal, looking out for her best interest and treating their master with respect rather than fear. Evander, the dragon's steward, gives Nessa a tour of his "eyrie, a mountainous castle, and gives her free reign to explore on her own terms. In time, she begins to question everything she was told and realizes that no one was actually harmed by the dragon sacrifices. She is even given an opportunity to revisit the people she misses to check on them.

Sacrificed Hearts is a series of clean romances, so Nessa's romance is gradual and understated. After realizing that she cannot return to her village which is plagued by superstition, she begins to question her place in the world and finds that her life is incomplete without love. The problem is, that she is too overwhelmed by her fear of the unknown to see what is already in her heart. When she learns how good the dragon actually is and how hard he has worked to try to end the sacrifices, she realizes how lucky she is to have won him over. The story has a true fairy tale ending in which justice is served without violence or killing. I also enjoyed how deeply Nessa valued her friendship with Clarissa to the point where couldn't even think about romance until she learned what became of her after her sacrifice and that she was safe.

Tara Grayce's Mountain of Dragons and Sacrifice proves to be a delightful subversion of the classic sacrificial maiden trope. Unlike Netflix's Damsel which stumbles under the weight of modern agendas, this novel celebrates the power of inner strength and defies expectations. Nessa's transformation from a fearful village girl to a woman discovering love and her own agency is a captivating exploration of the core themes within the Sacrificed Hearts series. This captivating retelling not only emphasizes the importance of challenging assumptions but also highlights the power of kindness and understanding. Readers seeking a clean romance woven with enchanting world-building and a dash of magic need look no further than the heartwarming adventures that await within the Sacrificed Hearts series.

Comments

Sugar said…
I have my eye on this series! I love "monster romance" but I have only found the type of story I like in mangas since the romance in this category is usually of the steamy type.
I have recently started reading Stephanie Garber, she has two series that cause a lot of hype on the bookstagram and booktok Caraval (with a certain air of Alice in Wonderland) and "Once upon a broken heart " trilogy (fairy tales and love interest villain x romantic girl and innocent (with pink hair!)
goldy said…
em have recently started reading Stephanie Garber, she has two series that cause a lot of hype on the bookstagram and booktok Caraval (with a certain air of Alice in Wonderland) and "Once upon a broken heart " trilogy (fairy tales and love interest villain x romantic girl and innocent
Blogging Times said…
The story has a true fairy tale ending in which justice is served without violence or killing

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