Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Banter. It is the cornerstone of chemistry. If the banter between a hero and heroine sparks instantly in a romance, then it’s almost guaranteed to make sparks build into flames. J.T. Geissinger’s Savage Hearts, the third story in her Queens & Monsters series is a textbook story of the power of banter to the growing relationship of a hero and heroine. In fact, throughout this entire series, banter is the foreplay, the impetus for the building connection between the heroes (the Monsters) and the heroines (the Queens).
Prior to Savage Hearts, I was certain that Sloan was my favorite heroine thus far. But then, Riley happens in this book, and Sloane has been displaced from her reign. In this book, Sloane disappoints. As the older sister of Riley, she’s self-absorbed and misses the hurts of their past for reconciliation. Therefore, you find yourself drawn to Riley. What ultimately makes you fall in love with her is her ability to see the truth of Malek aka Mal. You realize for much of the story that Riley seems marginalized, by her sister, by her family, by society. As such, she has a preternatural capacity to recognize the best in Mal even though society would deem him a villain. He isn’t, though.
That becomes the driving force for falling in love with a character like Mal. Riley’s observation of his life and his actions highlights his anti-heroic nature. On the outside, he is seemingly “bad,” someone whose entire existence has been grounded in violence. Yet, as we see in romancelandia time and time again, there are qualities in an antihero such as Mal that are heroic. It is Riley’s interest in him that allows him to see the good in himself.
On its surface, Geissinger has written a steamy, violent affair. This is the string that binds Savage Hearts to the predecessors of the Queens & Monsters series. If you love aggression in the bedroom, then this IS your book. But that’s but a small part of Geissinger’s story.
Geissinger is a master storyteller in Savage Hearts. One of my favorite aspects of her writing is her lyrical quality, the way that she puts words together to create impactful moments. Even more, in this book, she uses an allusion to birds that highlights Riley’s journey. Mal calls Riley “little bird.” There is a moment when Riley is flying to her sister when the plane encounters a bird strike, a decimation of a flock of birds, which seems to foreshadow Riley’s troubles. Then, Mal has a pet crow who is still wild yet also bends to Mal’s care, again an allusion to Riley and Mal’s relationship. And this is but one of the many reasons that this romance is so beautifully crafted.
I long for J.T. Geissinger’s stories. Her capacity as a writer coupled with her ability to craft multi-dimensional characters who force your love draw you into her romances. There is more to come in the Queens & Monsters series, and I simply cannot wait: more independent wily “queens” who know how to slay the hearts of their “monsters.”
In love and romance,