Books With Romances I Actually Enjoyed

Top Ten Tuesday(77)

Hello my fellow book lovers!

I think it’s safe to say if you’ve been following me for a bit that you all know that I am not the biggest fan of YA romances, romance heavy plots, or just the romance genre in general. However, I promise you my heart is not completely made of ice! Here are a few of books that had romances that melted even my heart!

Also just a fun little side note that I had “We Go Together” from Grease stuck in my head the entire time I wrote this for some reason:

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So of course I’m going to be talking freely about the romances in these books and why I loved them so much and as a result there will be potential spoilers for some of the books. Some books it comes pretty obvious who is going to get involved with who but a few of these are surprises so here is the spoiler warning!

**** Please note that there are potential romance related  spoilers for the following books: The Night Circus, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Queens of Geek, The Diabolic, And I Darken, My Lady Jane, The Forbidden Wish, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, The Winner’s Curse, and Six of Crows!!*****

Anyways! I will link up my full reviews for each title if I have them!

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Celia and Marco’s romance is subtle, magical, and star-crossed what’s not to love about all of that? Their romance does have elements of insta-love but I honestly didn’t mind it at all since it felt like they were fated to be together from the very first pages (which of course they were since that’s what the book is about but you get what I mean!). They’re the kind of pairing that felt destined, like soul mates and I couldn’t wait for them to be together!

I don’t have a full review up for this book unfortunately, I just don’t know how to review it!


The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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This romance is between Aladdin and Zahra, the genie of the lamp, and as the title implies it’s a bit of a forbidden relationship. There were no tropes present here at all and Aladdin and Zahra’s relationship actually takes quite a while to develop, a nice slow-burn romance if you will. I was so desperate for them to get together while reading and was so satisfied when it finally happened!

You can read my full review of “The Forbidden Wish” here.


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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I don’t think I’ve shipped a paring so hard in a long time! Monty and Percy were straight up adorable and I think what made me ship it even harder was that they were both so clueless to the other’s feelings that they spent a majority of the book thinking their love was unrequited! They’ve been friends forever though and we start the book with both of them secretly loving the other so there aren’t any tropes such as insta-love here!

I do have a full review up for this book!

I just can’t link it since both posts were pre-scheduled as I am currently on vacation sorry for the inconvenience but if you’d like to read it you can search for it under my review index or search bar!


Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

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Love, love, loved the romances in this book! There are two different relationships that develop throughout the story and that would be between Taylor x Jamie who have been friends for a while already and Charlie x Alyssa two YouTube vloggers we also get to see some awesome diversity here since Charlie is Chinese-Australian and Alyssa is African- American and both are bisexual. Plus on top of all of that the romances are just so positive, fluffy, and adorable!

You can read my full review of “Queens of Geek” here.


The Diabolic by S.J. Kincaid

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Nemesis and Tyrus kind of  had a “forbidden love” romance and there were definitely NO tropes or cliches with it either this was a complete slow burn romance and it definitely is secondary to the plot. I think that Nemesis and Tyrus fit so well together because they’re both ruthless but also with a strong underlying goodness to them. I also spent a good chunk of the book waiting for them to just love each other already! 

You can read my full review of “The Diabolic” here.


And I Darken by Kiersten White

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The romance definitely isn’t the only thing going on in this book which is probably part of why I liked it so much, it was more in the background. There definitely isn’t any insta-love at all and it’s actually quite a slow-burn romance, however, there is a love triangle but it isn’t your typical love triangle since it’s two sibling competing for the same man and is completely unrequited on the one side. It’s actually really complicated now that I think about it….

Anyways I really wanted Lada and Mehmed to get together just because they both spent so much time pining after one another in secret. The tension! I just wanted them to kiss!

You can read my full review of “And I Darken” here.


My Lady Jane by Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand

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While this may not be the most swoon-worthy romance to me it was still amazing because it was slow-burn and trope-free! Jane and Gifford were extremely cute and adorable and I loved how they disliked each other right away but slowly grew to care for one another by being themselves. It was realistic!

You can read my full review of “My Lady Jane” here.


The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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This was one of those books that I thought was going to be a mess of YA romance tropes but fortunately I was proved very wrong! There is no insta-love, no love triangles, or anything! Kestrel and Aren’s romance is very much slow-burn and forbidden love but I loved all of it! I felt that both characters were just really good for each other as well.

You can read my full review of “The Winner’s Curse” here.


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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The romance between Karou and Akiva is a little rocky for me because on one hand it’s very much insta-love (even though that’s justified later on) but on the other hand I loved the forbidden romance elements in this story. I think when characters can’t be together my brain rebels and declares “THEY MUST BE TOGETHER NOW!”, I’m seeing a pattern here. I digress, I really liked how well developed their romance was though and blame any misgivings I have on the romance due to the fact that I’m not the hugest fan of Akiva in the first place…I’m just not.

You can read my full review of “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” here.


Honorable Mentions

(aka romances I also enjoyed but not enough to go into great detail)

  • Alice by Christina Henry
  • The Wrath & The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • Red Rising by Pierce Brown
  • Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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Have you read any of these books as well? What did you think?

Did you enjoy any of these romances or not so much?

What are some of your favorite bookish romances?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

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Top 5 Wednesday: Series That Got Better!

Top Ten Tuesday(1)

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Ginger Reads Lainey. You can check out the group’s Goodreads page for this month’s topics!

I’m not much of a series reader I’m usually the kind of person that can start a ton of series and then not actually ever finish them. So this list was a little harder for me especially since I feel a lot of series really get worse the farther they go on for me, however, here are a few I felt got better!

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5.) Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld

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I read this series such a long time ago but when I read the first book I honestly didn’t think much of it, it was okay. However, I decided to continue on and read “Pretties” and “Specials” as well and in my opinion both of those books were a lot better than “Uglies”. I never did read “Extras” but I don’t really feel like I need to either since it isn’t from Tally’s POV.

Would I still think this if I re-read these books now? Maybe but from what I remember when I was younger I thought the books got way better as they went!


4.) Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

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Once again this was a series that I read when I was younger and thought it was amazing! Of course my opinion might change if I read them again now but I like to live in my nostalgia…..

The first couple of books in this series are kind of so, so there really isn’t anything too crazy special about them but as they go they get a lot more action, plot twists, and more interesting back stories!


3.) The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

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This might be cheating since I haven’t actually finished the series! BUT I have read the first two books and I definitely loved “The Dream Thieves” even more than I loved “The Raven Boys” so I’m just kind of assuming the series will only continue to get better as well!

You can read my full review of “The Raven Boys” here.


2.) The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

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Once again I haven’t fully completed this series but I’ve read the first two books just not the last! I was really leery with the first book since I wasn’t sure it was going to be good or not and I was actually really pleasantly surprised by it! So of course I devoured the second book which was EVEN BETTER than the first one! So I think it’s safe to say this is one of those series you should stick with after the first book.

You can read my full review of “The Winner’s Curse” here.


1.) The Inkworld Trilogy

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This is my most prime example of a series that gets WAAAAAY better as it goes, the jump in awesomeness from “Inkheart” to “Inkspell” is huge! While I did really like the first book I still wasn’t super impressed with it but since I already had the second book I pushed on anyways and I am so glad I did! “Inkspell” is ten times the fun with way more characters, magic, and world building! Then there’s “Inkdeath”……I didn’t know it could get any better than “Inkspell” but it did, there are so many plot twists and so much emotional turmoil! The ending was perfect though.

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What are some series you think got better?

Do you agree or disagree with any of these series? Have you read any of them?

Are you big on finishing series or, like me, start them more than finish them?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Top 5 Wednesday: Gateway Books Into YA Fantasy

Top Ten Tuesday(1)

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes and created by Lainey @ Ginger Reads Lainey. You can check out the group’s Goodreads page for this month’s topics!

This week’s theme is gateway books into our favorite genre! These are books that I feel are great to introduce readers into the world of YA Fantasy, which are just my own personal picks! YA Fantasy is hands down my favorite genre after all though I read many, many others as well. Hopefully some of these might interest you and get you into this genre too!

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5.) The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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While world building is definitely an essential part of every fantasy book and in “The Winner’s Curse” it is considerably light on that matter, I still consider it a great gateway book into Young Adult Fantasy.

It has a fantastic heroine, Kestrel, who isn’t a damsel or a warrior, she is in fact, a master strategist which is a breath of fresh air in a world where most YA heroines usually are either damsels or very gifted warriors. The politics that are so much fun in fantasy books make an appearance here as well with Kestrel using secrets ad information to gain the upper hand.

It’s such a fun book and definitely a recommendation from me!

Read my full review of “The Winner’s Curse” here.


4.) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

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While I had problems with Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy I had none with the first book in her new series The Dregs. What I found lacking in “Shadow and Bone” I found plenty of with “Six of Crows”, there was fantastic and unique world building and a top notch cast of characters. I could go on and on with this rant but just trust that you won’t be disappointed with this one and once you’re done you’ll be looking for more just like it which is why I consider this to be an excellent gateway book into YA Fantasy!

Read my full review of “Six of Crows” here.


3.) Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

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This is a book that I can only describe as a YA version of the A Song of Ice and Fire series complete with betrayals, revenge, and other really fucked up happenings that will make you want to throw your book down. It’s awesome. So if you want to get into fantasy books but just can’t gather the courage to read the whopper of a book that is “A Game of Thrones” then maybe go ahead and give “Half a King” a try because not only is it as good but it also has less pages……

Read my full review of “Half a King” here (and forgive me it was one of my very first reviews).


2.) Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

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While some people may not consider this an actual YA book, I do. It has a young adult protagonist and there aren’t any elements that I would see as strictly “adult” or things that might fly over a young adult’s head. It has everything any fantasy book needs: great world building and mythology, great characters, and a great story these are also things every book needs period. “Stormdancer” is one of my favorite books of all time for sure!

See my full review of “Stormdancer” here.


1.) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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This, I think, is a very popular series and for good reason it’s simply amazing. For those of you who like a little more swoony romance in your fantasy books it’s absolutely perfect and if you’re like me and don’t really want that….it’s still perfect. Fantastic world building and such a unique premise this book is worth all the hype and is one of the best books to introduce you into the world of YA Fantasy!

See my full review for “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” here.

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That wraps up this week’s Top 5 Wednesday I hope you all enjoyed it!

Are any of these books on your list this week?

Have you read any of these?

What books do you think are gateway books into YA Fantasy or other genres?

Feel free to link up your T5W as well!

The Sassy

Hyped Books: The Good & The Bad

Top Ten Tuesday(2)

Hey guys! So today I’m just going to discuss a couple of really hyped up books in the book blogging community, ones that I’ve read at least, and share my opinion on whether I think they deserved all of the hype they got or not. Some of these are new and some are older series but nonetheless we hear a lot about them in this community.

I’d just like to remind everyone again that these are strictly my opinions and I mean no offense to any of you if you liked or disliked any of these books!

I will also link my reviews to all of these books as well!

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The Good

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

This book and series may not be quite as hyped anymore since it ended but it is still pretty popular. Not to mention it feels like everyone who reads it ends up loving it! I’ve been seeing this series around for a while and with Laini’s new book “Strange the Dreamer” coming out this fall I decided it was finally time to see what the hype was all about.

Laini Taylor’s writing is absolutely gorgeous and I would read this book just for that but also the mythology, the plot, and the world building are amazing as well. I don’t think I found a single flaw while reading it! So in my opinion “Daughter of Smoke & Bone” definitely lives up to the hype.

Illuminae ( The Illuminae Files #1) by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman

This one is a fairly recent release and so the hype is big especially since we’re all anticipating the sequel “Gemina” this October. Everybody seemed to have read this right when it came out and the reviews were a bit mixed, people either hated it or loved it. So of course I was extremely nervous to read it because I wanted to like it!

Long story short I ended up LOVING it! So for me the hype surrounding this book was worth it.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Probably the second most hyped YA series out there, next to Throne of Glass. I don’t know but The Raven Cycle is CRAZY hyped, everybody loves it and talks about it all the time. Plus with the recently released “The Raven King” it was practically blowing up the blogosphere so of course I couldn’t stand it any longer and finally caved.

I didn’t think I would love this one as much as everyone else but boy was I pleasantly surprised! It was a ton of fun to read through and left me craving more and that craving caused me to go out and buy the rest of the series without question. Worth the hype? You bet.

The Wrath and The Dawn (The Wrath and The Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh

This one came out last year with the sequel being released this year so the hype was pretty insane. Seemed like everybody was reading it and loving it and giving it great reviews!

This book gave me the warm fuzzy feelings, it’s full of adorable-ness and magic. Rarely does a romance based book win me over but this one certainly did.

Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo

This book was a big deal last year mostly because it was a new series by Leigh Bardugo and her Grisha trilogy is very, very popular. Since I wasn’t a huge fan of “Shadow and Bone” I wasn’t really sure I would want to try “Six of Crows” but there were just so many glowing reviews that I was curious enough.

This is SO MUCH better than “Shadow and Bone” the characters are better, there are multiple POVs, the action is better, and the world building is more complex. It is a fast paced book and it’s just awesome. So when you hear everyone talking about how great “Six of Crows” is, listen to them.

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Lots of love for this series but maybe not quite as hyped up as a few of these others on this list. Don’t get me wrong it’s definitely a very popular book and series BUT we don’t hear about it as much as Throne of Glass or The Raven Cycle, especially since the last book of the trilogy came out this year.

This one I was a little leery about since it looks like it’s a bit too fantasy lite for me with more focus on ballgowns and dancing and boys. While there are elements of those things in “The Winner’s Curse” it most definitely isn’t the focus, it has some great action and politics. However, with this first book it pays off to be patient with it until the end!

The Good(1)

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

This was an OK read for me, it wasn’t horrible but it was not as great as I thought it would be either. This is probably one of the most popular YA series out there and so my expectations were pretty high and honestly I should have gone in with none so I wouldn’t be so disappointed.

Celaena was not as badass as the book promises which was my biggest pet peeve, I mean how hard was it to give me some assassin action? Celaena is apparently the deadliest assassin out there and it just doesn’t show. Overall the hype surrounding “Throne of Glass” didn’t really feel worth it to me and I might have enjoyed it more if there wasn’t so much hype.

Shadow and Bone (Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

You’ve heard of the Grisha trilogy, right? Probably, it’s pretty popular and still is.

It has magic and is based off of Russian culture/folklore, how could any of that go wrong? Well it went wrong with the characters if you ask me that and some very light world building. Not worth all the hype it gets to me but maybe the series gets better? I’m willing to give the rest a try.

Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

This book was plastered all over Twitter for the longest time up until it’s release, then when it was released it felt like the entire world was reading it! So of course when you see a book that much everywhere you look you want to check it out, right? I did and I almost wish I hadn’t bothered.

It got pretty slow paced, lacked great world-building, and the plot had quite a few holes and left me with more questions than answers. For me a fantasy relies heavily on the world that’s built for it and “Truthwitch” didn’t really have that. Not worth the crazy amounts of hype it received and I don’t know if I’m even interested enough to read book 2 when it arrives.

Soundless by Richelle Mead

Not as hyped up as other books but since it was a book by Richelle Mead it still received a lot of attention. Did you read her Vampire Academy series? If you did you’ll understand why everyone was so excited for a new standalone book by her that was “steeped in Chinese folklore”. Yeah that’s how it was marketed and it was basically just that, marketing. This book really didn’t contain any Chinese folklore or mythology to speak of and there was next to no world building at all.

Big disappointment especially since I loved her Vampire Academy series a lot but I think I may just have to give up on any other books she writes.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare

Just thinking about this book makes me want to rage. It’s HUGE of course since it has a movie and a TV series now and there’s also tons of books plus their spin off series. Too much if you ask me but then again I’m not a fan.

This book just failed to captivate me I was left wondering what the heck the big deal about is was. I have no interest in ever reading anything else by Cassandra Clare either since it seems she won’t write anything outside of the Shadowhunter universe.

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

Don’t hurt me, please,I know The Lunar Chronicles is a super big deal! It seems to be yet another one of those books/series that pops up everywhere and everyone’s read them. I actually read “Cinder” a long time ago and didn’t really enjoy it because I thought it was too predictable. I mean the “big twist” at the end of it wasn’t even a little surprising and to me that makes the book a bit boring.

However, I do own “Scarlet” and it seems that that the series may get better so I’m willing to continue with it and find out.

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So are there any books on this list that you thought were worth the hype?

How about not worth the hype?

Have you read any books that received crazy amounts of hype, not on this list?

Let me know in the comments!

The Sassy

Book Review: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

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Winning what you want may cost you everything you love…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

review

This is a book where I honestly did not expect to love it as much as I did. It’s a very romance oriented book and all I was expecting were balls, dresses, and boys. It also seemed like it was too fantasy lite for me and  “The Winner’s Curse” is also extremely hyped. For once the hype is definitely justified.

PLOT

As I mentioned the world building was a little lite making this book have a very simple fantasy setting, it wasn’t high fantasy there were no mythical creatures or magic here. It’s also something that, for once, was easy for me to overlook in a YA fantasy. It didn’t need all of those things to satisfy me and I still felt that it had the atmosphere for a fantasy and I was still able to immerse myself in this world.

The plot itself focuses a lot on Kestrel and Arin as well as balls, upper class parties, and gossip. At least for the first half of the book, so if you find these things boring don’t be disheartened! Things definitely get more exciting towards the end of the book and it’s worth it to push onward. All of the twists and politics you were promised or expected start to come out of the woodwork in the end, I promise you! I can’t say too much without the risk of spoilers so you’ll have to trust me on this.

As far as the pacing goes, it was a bit slow to start. Ultimately I believe the first half with the slower pacing is setting the stage for the latter half of the book, since everything really starts picking up later. I’m going to go ahead and stress this again, stick it out to the end and the slow beginning is really worth it.

What really kept me reading though was Rutkoski’s writing, it’s gorgeous and downright addictive it  compelled me to keep turning pages. Something about it just flowed so naturally making “The Winner’s Curse” both easy and fun to read through.

characters

Let me tell you something about our main character Kestrel: she is probably one of my new favorite heroines. I loved the fact that she wasn’t some badass warrior who could kick the living crap out of anyone and everyone. Instead, Kestrel’s strength lies in strategy where she relies on her wits to make tactical decisions. It was such a breath of fresh air to have a character that wasn’t your average female fantasy heroine.

Arin’s character was also really likable he’s mysterious, smart, and determined in everything he pursues. He’s just as much of a strategist as Kestrel, which I really enjoyed. He’s a pretty swoon worthy character too…just saying…..

 

There weren’t as many developed secondary characters as I would have liked in a fantasy but Kestrel’s and Arin’s POVs prove interesting enough where I didn’t mind a whole lot. They’re both so well developed and likable that I didn’t feel a lot of loss as far as having other important characters. Although in a fantasy setting I do like more POVs or at least more characters to get insight into the world and happenings.

romance

I actually really liked the romance in “The Winner’s Curse” which was a surprise since I almost never enjoy the romances in YA books. I figured this one would be loaded with your usual tropes: insta-love, forbidden love, love triangles, and so on. However, these weren’t really present except for the forbidden love which I’ll get to….

Usually I don’t really like the whole forbidden love thing but in this case it was done very well, it really helped that there wasn’t any insta-love and the romance was more of a slow burn. So the fact that it was a slow burn romance and the fact that they shouldn’t be together, in the end just made me want them to be together. I’m rebellious like that.

After reading through this I really found out how much I love a good slow burn romance, it makes me want the characters to get together even MORE.

In the end I really, really adored Kestrel and Arin’s romance. I am now a hardcore shipper of these two!

in conclusion

While I didn’t really like the slower pacing at the beginning of the book or the lack of important secondary characters these were some very minor dislikes compared to my overall enjoyment of the book as a whole. Kestrel was an amazing main character, the romance was surprisingly enjoyable, and the plot was very intense.

I have so much love for this book now and it was definitely a huge surprise since I didn’t think it would be something I’d enjoy. I am so glad I decided to take a chance with it and hopefully you all do now as well. It’s worth it! (Especially since the sequel is even better!)

RECOMMEND

Definitely! Even though the fantasy element is a bit lite and the plot does have its far share of romance and ball gowns, it’s definitely worth reading for the plot and unique heroine. Usually I’m a stickler for heavy world-building and zero romance but even I was won over with “The Winner’s Curse” so hopefully that’s a good enough example for you to check this amazing series out!

Links: Goodreads / Amazon

The Sassy