An Ember in the Dark is a fantasy romance novel co-written by Samantha Raffles and Ashley Lepak. This novel debuted on Kindle Unlimited on April 11th, 2022. I was asked to be a part of the ARC team, and after having read the description, I simply couldn’t say no!
Our story follows Raena (Rae) through her journey from the human world to Elysian, where she meets Emrys — a prince, and now captor of sorts. The Prince, struck by an inexplicable need to possess and protect our heroine, brings her into the Castle under the pretense of her being a Royal Courtesan. Their relationship is steamy, boasting all the trappings of star-crossed lovers. Or rather, lover, singular, as Emrys’ heart was pre-destined for a long-since missing Princess. She’s a human in the world of fae — woefully out of place, and incredibly out of her depth with royal politics and courtly subterfuge.
I, admittedly, was a bit unsure about my feelings toward the beginning of the book. I have a soft spot for anything set in a castle — be it paranormal, fantastical, or otherwise. These are the kinds of stories I tend to devour, but I was a bit leery with the insta-lust dynamic unfolding between our heroine and Emrys. For those of you who have followed my content for a while, you’ve likely heard me say that I’m not the biggest fan of insta-anything. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around (I’m, admittedly, an over-analytical fuck-nut), but I try to approach each book with the “everyone” glasses. Just because something might not be for me doesn’t mean that it’s not for someone else.
The chapters are quite short — a few of them I remember being four pages long. As someone who likes to pause between chapters, this was a boon. The writers made sure that every word counted, keeping their prose to the point while moving the story along. As a reader, I couldn’t help but wish for a bit more elaboration on some of the more developmental scenes — moments between Emrys and Raena that could have given us a stronger baseline for their feelings and the conflict they felt. However, as a writer, I know that there is a thin line between “just right” and “overwritten.” It’s tricky, but these two show an incredible amount of potential, and I have no doubt that before long they’ll be hitting the mark with every scene.
It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I was deeply engaged. Frankly, the ending was what saved it for me. I was engrossed — flipping through the pages with the fervor of a stay-at-home mom trying to find her car keys minutes before the kids have to be off to dance class. I was deeply invested, and quite keen to see what happened next! I will be reading the second installment, whenever that hits the shelves!
There are some things I feel are important to note, however. This book seems to be largely (if not entirely) self-edited. There were a few pockets where the tense switched from third-person to first-person. There were other instances of typos and formatting errors. As a lover and supporter of the self-published/indie space, I don’t allow that to take away from my reading experience (editors are pricy, and not a lot of people have the capital to start to justify the several-hundred-dollar bill — and often don’t see returns on their books until months after they’ve been in rotation). I mention this, only because I know, for some, this can be a deal-breaker.
All in all, I think this was a strong start to a series. My criticisms, and my advice (unsolicited, of course), fall in the arena of “get a strong team of beta readers”, “emotionally blackmail someone to proofread — preferably with coffee and baked goods”, and keep going!
If you’re someone who enjoys star-crossed lovers, a boatload of spice, lovable side characters, and fae/magic, you’ll definitely want to add this piece to your TBR shelves!
You can find our lovely authors: Samatha Raffle’s Goodreads, Ashley Lepak’s Goodreads, Samantha Raffles Amazon, Ashley Lepak’s Amazon, Samantha Raffle’s Instagram, Ashley Lepak’s Instagram, Samantha Raffle’s Website, Ashley Lepak’s TikTok, Ashley Lepak’s Facebook.
If you liked this blog, please give it a like, a comment, and share it with your friends! It really does help a lot! For more blogs like this, subscribe below to be notified of my next post! You can also follow me on Instagram, Twitter, like my Facebook Page, or follow me on Goodreads!
2 thoughts on “An Ember in the Dark by Samantha Raffles and Ashley Lepak”