Update: this book is free today! (May 24th)
Wow, this was great fantasy romance tale with a medieval feel. Mages, elves, shape-shifters, dragons, griffins, fairies and humans battle again a powerful king and his evil empire set on their annihilation. A perfect read for young adults as the steam level is mild (kisses only).
The Tears of Elios is a compelling and highly imaginative fantasy story with two romances. The story switches back and forth between Galen's story, a high elf commander, and Ranealya, sister to Galen and a shape-shifter being hunted. Their stories mesh midway and together we learn all about the Kings wrath and their plans to save themselves at any cost.
Ranealya finds herself indebted to Gregor, a human mage living in isolation who has family connections to the evil King. Gregor saves her life from a brutal attack, and soon finds he will do anything to help her and her brother stop the king.
Galen meets Kira, a young mysterious human with extraordinary magical powers. He is drawn to her and soon begins to teach her how to harness her gift. While he tries to resist her, there is something that connects these two that he can't simply deny.
Both couples take a separate journey to find the hidden Tears of Elios, which has them meeting danger and all kinds of interesting and imaginative characters along the way. We learn that the Tears of Elios are necessary for a final battle of all battles, and the only way to ensure the King's own annihilation.
The romances were sweet and chaste (kisses only), and secondary to a great fantasy story and world building, but still very solid. There are HEAs, but with a slight caveat. Galen and Kira are together but missing at the end of the book. No doubt they will be found/rescued in the sequel, but they did get their HEA before they disappeared.
This is book 1 in a series, so I imagine some of the other characters will get their own HEA and feature more prominently in future books.
I saw this book compared to one of my all time favorites Master of Crows, so I had to read it. And while I understand the comparison I didn't find it in the same caliber. MOC is a sensual and steamy romance among a dark and richly woven world, while TOE is a lighter story with a young-adult feel to it. Both were enjoyable, but uniquely different as well.