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Book Review: Shadow Kissed (Marked by Blood) (ARC)

Published March 16th 2022

Author: Rebecca L. Garcia

Some fates belong to the shadows…

Olivia knows everyone at the guild is on high alert, but no one will tell her why. She’s certain the death of her boyfriend is behind it, but the truth is far worse. Darkness has come to the mortal kingdom. When the guild protecting them is attacked by vampires, Olivia is swept away from the safety of her home when her mom and best friend are taken.

Before she can get away, she’s captured by a vampire, Sebastian, who insists he’s protecting her. But when she’s taken to the City of Nightmares, the most dangerous place in the vampire kingdom she realizes she’s been made prisoner.

As she fights to survive in a world where mortals are nothing more than things to be fed on or traded, Olivia must use her wits and place her trust in the handsome, but deadly Sebastian, if she’s going to figure out a way to save her loved ones.

However, some of the world’s most vicious vampires want her dead. Others want her for themselves.

When the truth comes out, Olivia realizes the ones she loves have been shielding her from a fate worse than death. Can she escape the clutches of her bloody destiny, or will she succumb to the shadows?

Shadow Kissed is the first novel in the Marked by Blood series. As I have, so far loved everything written by the author, my expectations going into this novel were very high. I am thrilled that it did live up to them and I honestly cannot wait to read the sequel, even though the wait will be difficult. The story follows sorceress and empath 19-years-old Olivia who just lost her boyfriend, Astor, a few weeks prior. As vampires covet her kind, she is in hiding and being protected by her mother, also a sorceress, and the Guild in the mortal kingdom of Baldoria. This kingdom was very interesting as it was modern realism (existence of cars and melatonin) and the fantasy along the lines of urban fantasy territory.

When the Guild is attacked by vampires, Olivia’s mother and a mortal friend are taken to Sanmorte, a kingdom filled with vampires which has a more medieval yet modern feel. Olivia is taken by a vampire, Sebastian, who says he is trying to save her from the others. She soon learns that her mother was taken to the Vampire King, Sargon, but her friend is still missing. She is determined to find both as she discovers many secrets along the way. Although Sebastian says that Olivia is not his prisoner, she is not free to roam around to attempt to find answers on her own. Along with Sebastian, Zach and Erianna, both vampires, are determined to keep Olivia safe from the others without telling her the reasons.  The banter between these four characters was amazing as I loved how each interacted with Olivia and each other. Sebastian and Olivia have amazing chemistry with a slow-burn romance beginning to form between them although becoming closer is not easy.

While the characters, both heroes, villains, and those that fall between, were all enjoyable, Seb steals the show as he is the perfect mix of mysterious and snarky with hints of kindness. The story itself starts off a little slower as Olivia’s character is introduced, and the vampire threats begin to build. It takes off and continues at a faster pace once Olivia is with Sebastian and his group. The novel as a whole was a quick read as it was simple yet very interesting and enjoyable. There are bits that are predictable, yet they were written well so I did not mind. I loved all of the plot twists as they were spread out throughout the story, and each built on the other for the reader to begin putting all the pieces together along with Olivia. Overall, this novel did not disappoint as I loved reading it and really cannot wait to see what happens after that semi-cliffhanger ending!

**I want to give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this enjoyable novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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