Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Dark ShoresDark Shores is a story about two people, both with secrets, brought together in an unlikely alliance in order to protect the people they love.

I confess that I got off to a shaky start with this one.  Ultimately it redeemed itself and was an entertaining read but it was touch and go there for a while.

Dark Shores brings to us a world divided into East and West.  The Celendor Empire in the East is heavily inspired by Ancient Rome, particularly it’s desire to conquer and become rich on the spoils.  It remains oblivious to the West however and particularly to the ways to reach it’s shores, until that secret is spilled in a moment of unguarded naivety.

The tale is told from two POVs.  Teriana is a young woman of the seas.  Her mother is captain of the Quincense that regularly travels between East and West bearing goods for trade.  Teriana is one of the Maarin.  The Maarin are devoted to their Gods and indeed protected by them for keeping the secrets that prevent the ambitious war mongering East from discovering the rich plunder on the soils of the West.

Marcus is the commander of the infamous 37th legion.  A legion that is well known for their ruthless tactics in conquering the East.  Marcus has something of a history with his own family, who gave him up as a tithe to the Empire, but all isn’t quite as simple as it may at first seem – the family are keeping a secret that could lead to their downfall and the problem with secrets is they have a way of coming out of the woodwork.

I’m going to start this review with why I struggled at the start.  Firstly, as the book began I found Teriana a little annoying – simply put she came across as very immature which made it difficult to buy into her being the Second Mate on board a ship particularly when her actions serve to put everyone and everything she knows in danger.  On top of that the initial chapters felt too modern – Teriana and her friend acted like teenagers from the modern era – not one that is akin to a civilisation from many many moons ago.  Okay, I don’t expect the language to be all ‘ye olde worlde’ but I think there has to be some sort of nod to the fact that this isn’t a modern world and attitudes might not be quite as they are today.  The other area that I took issue with was the Celandon empire, trading on a regular and quite long standing basis with seafarers from the West, and yet never having turned their attention in that direction – until a certain secret is spilled.  In fairness, the reasoning behind why the Celandon Empire couldn’t conquer the West becomes more apparent as the story unfolds so I advise patience on that front.

I’m not going to give too much more away about the plot other than to say that Teriana and Marcus are thrown together and in spite of their mutual distrust have to learn to rely on each other if they’re to succeed in keeping the people they love alive and, after a shaky start, I found myself enjoying the story more than I’d expected.

In fact I think that I enjoyed the story more once the protagonists left the shores of Celandon behind.  I enjoyed the adventures at sea, the choppy waters and the dangers that had to be faced in order to find the route to the East.  I enjoyed the way the Gods play into the story with their meddling and I enjoyed discovering more about the West.   I thought that what was really well done here was that although the Celandon’s are trying to conquer in some respects they didn’t really come across as the baddies.  I liked the way the legion comes into their own displaying their discipline, tactics and loyalty, setting up boundaries and establishing a strong foothold.

Now, you may be able to see a romance in the offing between our two main characters and that is the case.  Fortunately this isn’t rushed and in fact when the two do eventually give in to their own feelings they still have a good deal of trust issues to work through.  I liked that they didn’t overnight forget their bad history.

Overall this was a fun read that I found more enjoyable than I expected to following the opening chapters.  I would advise that if you’re expecting a world of really rich world building based on history then this probably isn’t the read for you but if you’re in the market for an adventure and a budding romance then this could be just what you’re looking for.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publishers, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




15 Responses to “Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen”

  1. dreamingofcats

    great review! I’m a bit hesitant about this one, I was initially all for it as I adore enemies-to-lovers, but I’ve read a few reviews about Teriana being annoying. the female protagonist who is wilfully stubborn and hot-headed and will cut her nose off to spite her face really gets on my nerves, and that’s the impression I’m getting of her. but it sounds like the romance is well-done and the plot improves as the book goes on, so hmm.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I certainly had issues with parts of the story – the beginning really put me off tbh – the attitudes, dialogue and certain things didn’t add up but once we got onto the high seas it was more fun. Teriana improves but she’s not a character that I fell in love with. This is a book that definitely ‘feels’ YA but providing you have that in mind when you pick it up then it’s a fun adventure.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Tammy

    I’ve been hesitating over this book and after reading your review I can see why. I’m not sure the modern language would work for me at all.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, it’s difficult, like I said, I don’t expect really out of date language but when I’m reading something akin to the Roman empire I also don’t expect eye-rolling and lots of ‘yeahing’ and overall modern day attitude – I almost expected a ‘whatever’ to pop out. I do understand that this is aimed at YA and so there’s that issue of making your characters relatable so it’s tricky. It just jars me a little. Thankfully I felt like it picked up when the povs set sail for dark shores.
      Lynn 😀

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The dichotomy between the time setting and the more modern attitudes of the characters might prove a problem for me, especially when it comes to reckless adolescent behavior, but on the other hand the “adventure factor” is beckoning to me and a good seafaring story is something I always enjoy…
    Thank you so much for sharing this! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I mean, to an extent, the reckless behaviour I can see – I suppose all youngsters can act rashly or impulsively, it’s modern that the characters felt too modern, particularly at the start. But, once the adventure got underway it was a fun read. I just had to adjust my expectations a little.
      Lynn 😀

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  5. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I agree it was a fun book. The beginning was a bad slog for me though, I almost resigned myself for a boring read. Happily things got better, around the time our two main characters’ threads finally linked up.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yep, I almost put it down and considered just letting the publishers know it would be a dnf. It picked up and was a fun read once the adventure started. I think it was the sort of book that I had to stop looking for holes and just enjoy the story.
      Lynn 😀

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  8. waytoofantasy

    This is one that I’ve had my eye on. I’ve read another of her books and enjoyed it (even though I did go on a rant about food sourcing) and am really interested to see what she did here. I think I’ll probably check this one out. Great review!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I read her first series but I didn’t enjoy the ending so at first almost didn’t request this one. I liked it – it didn’t totally wow me but I decided to treat it as more of a fun adventure than a serious fantasy and so it worked better for me with that frame of mind.
      Lynn 😀

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