‘One kingdom to save. One kingdom to destroy.’
Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil – and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara’s homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.
But as she infiltrates her new home – a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas – and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?
The Kingdom of Maridina is the homeland of 11 of the most fiercest, and unsuspecting spies, the daughters of the Maridian King. These princesses have been trained since childhood to be lethal spies, as one will be sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace. Their real motive? Bringing the legendary Bridge Kingdom to its knees.
Maridina means everything to Lara, from an early age fanaticism for her Kingdom was bred into her. She has been starved, beaten and has had to fight for her life, all in the name of making her stronger, to teach her to endure. Her masters had given her someone to blame for her impoverished kingdom, Ithicana, whom control all the trade and travel between lands. Whose ruler has been allowed to enrich himself and deprive Lara’s homeland for too long. And so, she is willing to destroy their kingdom to save her own, so no Maridian child will suffer again.
Of all Lara’s sisters, she believes she possess the most necessary skill to be the Queen of Ithicana and fracture its defences from the inside, ruthlessness. I won’t argue against Lara being ruthless, because she does have a ruthless attitude. But I thought where her secret mission was concerned, it was her knack for deception and acting that helped her succeed best. She is sneaky and tactful, and I enjoyed every moment of her sweet deception.
I think stories like this can be very fickle with readers, especially in an era where we want more villainous, more morally grey characters. I felt that Lara was constantly active in trying to achieve her goal, up until she realises her mission might not actually be shared by her father, and instead his true ambition might not be in the name of altruism.
I felt this book is a really good compromise of the female lead not necessarily sacrificing everything for romance, but instead sacrificing her beliefs for the people most at risk of her actions. But in saying that, people who enjoy romance should be also happy. Especially if you like New Adult. This book isn’t overwhelmed by romance either. I enjoyed how deceiving Aren becomes a moral dilemma for Lara the more she gets to know and care for him. Their relationship grows organically, with an unsuspecting ending that has me wanting to pick up the sequel immediately.
Whilst I really enjoyed the romance, I don’t think Aren is anything but your typical hero. Honestly though, that isn’t even a gripe and I still liked him a lot. He’s relatively progressive for a leader, has altruistic motives for his people and seemingly wants to be a good husband. I just don’t necessarily think his character was innovative. The easiest comparison is to Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury. The reader gets a modest amount of chapters from his perspective every now and again, and I think it worked well with the story the author was trying to tell. Although I enjoyed that most of this book was from Lara’s perspective.
My biggest gripe with this book is that it desperately needed a map. I often found myself very confused with the different types territory we were exploring, and how it related to one place or another. I would’ve loved something to reference. I do think this is going to be rectified in the sequel. However if my confusion was alleviated I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed this book marginally more.
I’d highly recommend this book for readers who enjoyed Bring Me Their Hearts by Sara Wolf or The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, but are perhaps are looking for something more New Adult, with a little more steam but equal amounts deception.