Tuesday ARC Review: Given by Nandi Taylor

45734870Title: Given

Author: Nandi Taylor

Pub date: January 21, 2020

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Goodreads 

*Note: I received a free copy of the book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*


A subversive fantasy-romance steeped in West-African and Caribbean traditions.

Yenni has never been this far from home. With only her wits, her strength and her sacred runelore, the fierce Yirba warrior princess is alone in the Empire of Cresh. It’s a land filled with strange magics and even stranger people—many of whom mistrust anyone who’s different. But Yenni will prove herself, and find a cure for her father’s wasting illness. She will not fail.

No one warned her about the dragons. Especially not about him.

Yes, there is something powerful and compelling about the violet-black dragon known as Weysh. In human form he’s muscular, beautiful—and completely infuriating. What kind of arrogant creature claims a stranger as his Given; as his destined mate? Yenni is no man’s—or dragon’s—plaything. But other magics must be at work here, because Weysh might just be her best hope at finding the answers she seeks.

Only now Yenni can’t tell if she’s fighting her attraction to a dragon…or fighting fate itself.


My Review:

I’m a sucker for shifter romances in general, so this book caught my eye off the bat. A lot of people seemed to hate on the cover art, and while I do think the illustrations could have been better arranged, the dragon art is what initially drew my interest.

From the way the summary is phrased, I went into this book expecting a journey tale of sorts, with the main character meeting the dragon along the way. However, in the book, Yenni actually meets the dragon at a Hogwarts-like school, where other magical beings study. I really wasn’t expecting a Hogwarts vibe from the book. It wasn’t bad per se, just kind of unexpected and a bit overplayed. I know as a reader I can’t really dictate plot, but I really do feel like the story would have been more engaging if the scene of the book hadn’t been a magical school.

The romance itself is cute, not really very intense or charged. I did appreciate how it slowly built and how Yenni and Weysh come to understand each other. It definitely wasn’t my favorite YA romance, as the characters just didn’t have a really big spark, despite the nature of their relationship. Similarly, I felt like Yenni’s development kind of went backward. She started out really badass, but she struggles at school and by the end, a lot of things about her change in order to be with the love interest. There’s nothing wrong with prioritizing love, but I was a bit let down by the lapse in badassery. 

Overall, I think it’s a sweet story and a good introduction to shifter romances if you’re looking to start on the tamer side. But if you’re already really into fantasy romance, I think you’ll be partially let down by this one.

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