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24402674 I received this e-book from NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there’s no escaping the spotlight–or the danger.

Even though he’s my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what’s supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious “accidents”, it looks like someone will do anything to win–no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn’t have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconic is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone’s going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing’s for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else…

Nothing makes me happier than when the second book in a series is even better than the first, as is the case with this second book in the Black Blades series.

Lila is trying to balance her growing feelings for Devon Sinclair with her responsibilities as his bodyguard. Once again there’s no love triangles and little romantic drama, although Devon is becoming slightly frustrated with Lila keeping him at arms length. Their relationship takes a much welcome turn by the end of the book though.

What I really loved in this story is how Lila’s gone from being pretty much a loner to being surrounded by friends she can rely on. She’s still a kick-ass heroine, but she’s one who knows her weaknesses and has no problem accepting help from her friends. 

There are two storylines happening here. One involves the Tournament of Blades which is a little derivative of what’s been depicted in other YA books like The Hunger Games, but these are less bloody and there’s a lower body count. Jennifer Estep puts her own spin on them so they still made for exciting reading. The other storyline focuses on the big villain of the series, Victor, and what his endgame is. When the big reveal comes it’s not a big shock, but it’s a nice set-up for the next book.

Dark Heart of Magic is a fantastic urban fantasy that will appeal to YAs and adults. The author continues with her wonderful world-building, and includes plenty of suspense, romance, and humor. I’m eagerly anticipating Bright Blaze of Magic which is coming out in April 2016.