I am not a huge fan of fantasy books, and I think a lot of that is because I have the same problem with them as I do with a lot of paranormal stories. The world building usually loses me and I find that most of the time I just get lost in the details. But I have to say that I knew I would have to read this series when I saw K.A. Linde was writing it. I absolutely love her writing, and she has created some of my absolute favorite books and characters ever. After reading this book, I am interested to see where the series goes and I am glad that I took the chance on this series.
Cyrene Strohm is chosen as an Affiliate to the Queen on the day of her Presenting in front of the Byern Court and her family. She thinks that all of her dreams are about to come true and can't wait to finally travel the world. But not everything is as it seems, and Cyrene quickly finds herself in the middle of a very dangerous situations. Not only does she have a mysterious letter and an unreadable book that everyone else sees as blank, but she finds herself drawing the attention of the King himself. While Cyrene tries to put the pieces together of what is happening around her, she begins to develop feelings for King Edric as well and she can't deny the connection they share. Can Cyrene unravel what is going on around her and what it all means, while also deciding what to do about her connection to the King?
There are a ton of players here, and it was hard to keep everything straight at first. Those who are familiar with Linde's work know that she tends to write love triangles. For those worried about that here, let me put your minds at ease. This story is primarily a fantasy with some romance aspects, and as Linde has said herself, though there are more than one interested in Cyrene it is very clear who her feelings are for. But that isn't the focus here at all, and actually I would have preferred it play a much larger part. I felt like the romance that was in this book was told more than it was shown. We see very little interaction or dialogue between Edric and Cyrene, but rather are told that they spent time together and grew closer. I would have liked to have seen some of that connection forming, because I really feel like I wasn't very invested in them or finding their feelings to be as real or believable as they could have been. Also it seemed as though they weren't really together much because of themselves, but rather because of the Consort's constant manipulations.
The other thing that I had some issues with was the world building and story itself. It was very confusing at times, especially at the beginning of the book. I also found the entire King/Consort/Queen/Mistress situation very hard to grasp. I felt like it wasn't explained at all, and that the reader was left to guess what the dynamics there were. It was made to seem as though King Edric had at one time been physically involved with Consort Daufina and that it ended because she only wanted his power, thus ending up as his adviser. While it was also made to seem as though the King was never interested in the Queen other than the few times he had been with her to try and produce an heir. He was so opposed to the idea of a mistress, yet the more he spent time with Cyrene the more he wanted her. Though to be honest that whole relationship developing also seemed to be far fetched because the driving force behind it was actually the Consort Daufina pushing them together. I am curious to see where this series goes, and I did like a lot of the characters. But I have to admit that I was confused for much of this book, and I felt like there were so many things that were never fleshed out. I am hoping that we get more information in the next book, as I still feel like I really don't know a lot of what is going on. There is so much to the past and history here as well as so many different players and agendas that I really just don't know which way is up or down, and I feel like after reading the entire first novel in the series that I should have a better idea of what is going on. I still love K.A. Linde, but I am still a bit up in the air on what i'm feeling here.
**ARC Provided by Inkslinger PR**