3.5 star, YA

ARC Review: A Thousand Heartbeats by Kiera Cass

“Love has a sound. It sounds like a thousand heartbeats happening at the same time.”

Princess Annika has lived a life of comfort—but no amount of luxuries can change the fact that her life isn’t her own to control. The king, once her loving father, has gone cold, and Annika will soon be forced into a loveless marriage for political gain.

Miles away, small comforts are few and far between for Lennox. He has devoted his life to the Dahrainian army, hoping to one day help them reclaim the throne that was stolen from them. For Lennox, the idea of love is merely a distraction—nothing will stand in the way of fighting for his people.

But when love, against all odds, finds them both, they are bound by its call. They can’t possibly be together—but the irresistible thrum of a thousand heartbeats won’t let them stay apart. 

Kiera Cass brings her signature sparkling romance to this beautiful story of star-crossed lovers and long-held secrets.

Overall Recommendation:

A Thousand Heartbeats presents itself as a grand romance and it truly does deliver in that aspect, although I personally believe the enemies-to-lovers trope was too rushed to fully satisfy the perfect angst that was set in the beginning. The fantasy half was subpar with very little originality besides the entangled history between the characters’ two kingdoms. If you come at this as a romance with some fantasy, I guarantee this will be a fun read. If you want more of a fantasy, be warned this will probably not meet your expectations.

**A Thousand Heartbeats comes out November 29, 2022**

Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Don’t you know? Love doesn’t look like anything.

Love has a sound. It sounds like a thousand heartbeats happening at the same time. It sounds like the rush of a waterfall or the still of the world at daybreak. You can hear it at night, lulling you to sleep, and, in the middle of your darkest days, it breaks through like a laugh.

A Thousand Heartbeats sounds like your typical fantasy with a heavy focus on romance, and that is definitely true. Kiera Cass is known for her romantic elements and this standalone novel does not disappoint in this area. However, for a fantasy, it may just be lacking, well, enough plot. Or a whole world of it.

Lennox and Annika are sworn enemies only by where they’re born. Annika is a princess, destined to help her older brother rule the kingdom one day that has been passed on from her ancestors for generations. Meanwhile, Lennox is forced every day to make the hard choices in their encampment of kingdom outcasts who believe their ancestors’ home was unjustly stolen from them by Annika’s people. And he is destined to help them fight to bring it back to its rightful owners.

Sounds like a great set up for a star-crossed lovers’ romance, hmm? I thoroughly did enjoy how much angst went into the beginning. We alternate between Annika and Lennox’s POVs so we get a better understanding of their lives and how they see themselves and the world around them. In a way, it’s slow building because they don’t know about each other or even meet for a while into the book. The anticipation was driving me mad (and making me flip those pages faster)!

Yet, once they meet, everything happens either too fast or too slow. Everyone loves a good enemies-to-lovers, right? And while they definitely were enemies upon meeting, I felt the shift to lovers happened too quickly. For a dramatic love affair that could attribute such flowery writing as the above quote, one would think the depths of their feelings were deep. It doesn’t come from one to two encounters unless it’s insta-love. And we all know insta-love is hit or miss in books – although I’d say mostly a miss. I don’t think Kiera Cass nailed this shift very well. The only reason I enjoyed it enough was due to my investment into their grand love story at this point and being super sick at the time of reading and in need of a good comfort book.

I also alluded to the plot because this is supposed to be a fantasy. The two kingdoms and the potentially murky history between them was interesting enough. The world building wasn’t really anything unique or spectacular. Think of any kind of olden day location with no modern advances where you’d find a monarchy ruling and this is about what you get. Once again, wasn’t particularly picky because I wanted a romance to root for, but in hindsight is important to note. I wouldn’t say everything was predictable because there were a few particularly items that did manage to surprise me a little so it’s definitely not a lost cause plot-wise. Just don’t go expecting some grand high fantasy with a side of romance. This novel is most definitely a romance that just so happens to be set in a historical, fairy tale-like setting.

I’m going to conclude this review by pointing out this novel may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s solidly an average romantic fantasy but it mildly satisfies readers who enjoy romances mixed with some sword fighting and acts of heroism. A Thousand Heartbeats isn’t going to win some grand award, but it wins in the comfort read category for me.

Note: all quotes are subject to change


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