When her father dies, Princess Amarande is given an ultimatum: Marry the leader of one of the four neighboring kingdoms, or lose her crown—and possibly her life. And to force her hand, her beloved, the stable boy Luca, is kidnapped. But Amarande was raised to be a warrior, not a sacrifice. And nothing will stop her from saving her true love and rescuing her kingdom..
I’m not sure what drew me to this book first. The title, the cover, or the fact that I loved this author’s other book, Throw Like A Girl. But I do know that I was very, very eager to read it. I mean, a princess is determined to save a stable boy, whom she loves? Yes, that sounds amazing. Trigger warnings: sexism, torture
Sarah Henning is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Everything about her books appeal to me and I can’t help but fall in love with them. And this one was no different.
Let’s start off with the writing, since that’s as good a place as any. Henning’s writing gives her books a light, fluffy feel, even if the content doesn’t quite match. It creates something that I was able to fly through and was able to get every drop of enjoyment out of. It reads fast and it works very well for the story.
Despite feeling light and fluffy, or maybe because of, the writing allowed the emotions of this book to be so bright, clear, and strong. I was stressed pretty much the whole time because the tension and suspense were spot on. I was able to feel the fear, the pain, the love, the hope, and every single thing a character was feeling. It was great, even if I felt that “let’s go, let’s keep moving, what’s gonna happen omg” urgency in my stomach the whole time.
It was also told in third person omniscient POV, which I wasn’t sure of in the beginning, but worked out very well. There were multiple POVs, many of which I didn’t expect, but I really enjoyed getting into the minds of so many characters. It allowed the world to fill itself out and allowed the plot unspool itself at it’s own pace. In all, it worked for the book.
While I would have liked the world to feel a bit more expansive, that does not mean I didn’t love it. It’s filled with greedy rulers and slippery politics. And the kind of politics that I actually enjoyed! There’s secrets and fire pits and fallen kingdoms and kingdoms poised for war and councils that won’t allow a woman to lead. It’s twisty and very interesting.
The romantic relationship was so, so strong. I loved how it was so solid. They are so steadfast in their feelings for each other. They support each other, they care for each other, and they fight for each other. It’s just so great.
Let’s talk about Ama. Wow, was she a great princess. She’s stubborn, strong-willed, kind, unbending, and just has this sureness about her. She’s going to go into any situation with her head held high and try and get the best out of it. But I also liked how there’s still things she needs to learn. And she’s willing to learn them. She’s still growing. She’s going to make a fantastic queen.
And Luca. Let me start off by just professing my deepest love for him. He was so sweet and gentle and kind. He was so sure in his love. Just, a really, really sweet guy. His heart is so pure and he only wants the best for everybody around him, even the people who are supposed to be his enemies.
There were also side characters that surprised me. I wasn’t expecting some to be so fleshed out or to fall in love with some of them. I really, really hope two of them have a big part in the sequel because they have such a great dynamic. Even the schemers and jerks were interesting.
The epilogue threw me a bit. I’m not quite sure how I feel about it because I felt like it was just thrown in there. I felt like it was there to add conflict, but I felt like the ending could have worked without it. Or maybe I would have just liked more foreshadowing and development for it.
Nevertheless, I’m very excited for the sequel. This book was so enjoyable, filled with horses and secrets and strong love and characters who won’t back down. It was truly amazing.
Thank you for reading!