While traveling to Fren, Allyssa and Odar are hijacked by a ruthless assassin who divulges a stunning secret that changes everything.
Trying to come to terms with this newfound revelation, Allyssa is taken to Russek and delivered into the hands of a malicious and twisted royal family. She finds herself an unwilling pawn in a risky political game that will either end with her death or the annihilation of her beloved kingdom. Unsure of where the lies end and the truth begins, she must survive the brutal family and escape the fortified castle, all the while coming to grips with her feelings for Odar.
In a kingdom filled with darkness, Allyssa enters a game where one wrong move means death, secrets hide around each corner, and it will take every ounce of cunning she has to survive.
Blurb and cover from Goodreads
4 out of 5 stars
It only took me three months to read this, right? No biggie. Not shameful at all. That’s entirely on me as this was an absolutely fantastic book, though I thought there were a few problems.
Mainly, I thought the author underestimated herself in conveying emotions. It was a “show, don’t tell” issue in some scenes where a character’s feelings/intentions were displayed very well, but we still had Allyssa put it to words in her head. If those sections had been cut, I wouldn’t have had any problem rating this a full 5 stars. (Goodreads and Amazon don’t let you rate in halves, so I try to do my own ratings accordingly.)
Book #1 ended with an ambush/murder/kidnapping and the action picks right back up. Romance, torture, betrayal, and a tangled web of duties and deceptions. This series continues to have the same feel of the True Reign series whilst being its own and I’m loving it!
Allyssa does some interesting growing, realizing that her responsibilities to her kingdom are much bigger than what she wants. She matures a lot, especially with what she goes through in Russek. It was amazing to see how much she grew, but also sad. No one should have to age 10 years in a few weeks. My poor baby.
I really didn’t like Odar in this at all. Even before we get to the twist at the last quarter of the book, I was starting to dislike him. I mean, planning to let the princess of Emperion marry his squire in a deception? What the hell, dude? Never mind the unrenounced, misogynistic bastardry of his homeland, Fren. And the whole “don’t spare my feelings” debacle. Jerk. To be honest, he started irritating me most once Kerdan turned up.
I want to marry Kerdan. It’s hard for me to explain why without dissolving into besotted blubbering, but we have a duty-driven badass loved by his soldiers while struggling to do the right thing. How can I not love him? At one point, it was like “Odar who?” Not to mention Kerdan has never actually lied to Allyssa (unlike SOME PEOPLE). I’m sorry, but it’s so freaking true.
Soma, Shelene, Jana, and Eliza were just…raw evil. I prefer my evil medium rare or at least blanched, but this is middle YA, so I didn’t count off for that. I’m not sure why, but I found the final scene with Odar and Shelene highly disturbing. Usually, I’m not bothered by violence in books, but…I don’t know. Still, that was probably my favorite scene with any of the step-royals because it was the most humanizing.
I’m super excited for book #3 this fall and it looks like my favorite character from the True Reign series will be coming back. YES. Just give me Nathanek and Kerdan bantering for a whole book and I can die happy.