A dark Adult Fantasy Romance that follows a human woman from our world who is transported to an alternate world with vampires, fae, demons, gods, and other fantasy creatures; she wakes up in a kingdom as the princess from another kingdom who murdered the parents of the current king, the ex-fiance of her former body’s inhabitant.
Cursing, slavery, violence, torture, consumption of humans, bodily fluids, on page sexual content, implied mentions of sexual violence as a concept, poverty, class inequality, poisoning, imprisonment, child abuse, breeding of humans, pregnancy, death of parent, religious cult, burning people alive, homelessness, mental illness/psychosis, gang violence, and more.
“Gifted thief Romeria has flourished from her days as a street kid pilfering wallets to survive. Now she thrives, stealing jewels from the rich under the involuntary employ of New York City’s most notorious crime boss. But when an enigmatic woman secures her services at swordpoint, Romeria is plunged into a startling realm of opposing thrones, warring elven, and elemental magic she cannot begin to fathom.
Her quest is straightforward: Steal a stone from Islor’s sacred garden without anyone discovering her true identity, which would earn her certain death. But the identity she has inexplicably assumed is that of the captured Ybarisan princess—an enemy to Islor after she poisoned their beloved king and queen on the day she was to marry the prince.
Her betrothed, the newly crowned King Zander, detests her with every grain of his handsome being. Fortunately for Romeria, she is more valuable to him alive than dead. Zander gives her a choice: life in a cell, or an acquittal of all charges in exchange for her help in exposing the growing plot against him.
Romeria sees no other option and embraces the tricky role of smitten queen-to-be until she can escape, a ruse that brings her far closer to the king than she anticipated and threatens more than her safety. As she digs deeper into this sacred garden and the ancient feud between Ybaris and Islor, she discovers monstrous truths that could spell ruin for all.
She would know the world of vengeful gods and monsters, and the lengths one would go for love. And nothing would ever be the same for her again.” -Synopsis from Goodreads
My Rating: (9.71/10)
This book has some really brilliantly written characters. Romeria’s character is highly complex due to her situation as a human in a completely foreign fantasy world. Each character has a distinct voice, is flawed, and has complexity. Tucker did an amazing job with creating these characters to be real in the way that, despite their shortcomings, we still love them or are intrigued by them.
I loved every character that I was supposed to, felt conflicted about the ones I was supposed to, and was angry with the ones I was supposed to be. Overall, I have zero complaints about the characters, and I can’t wait to be back with them in book two.
To my surprise, my favorite character is the main character, Romeria. It is not often that the main character is my favorite, so this is one for the history books (for me).
The world that Tucker has created is dark, vivid, and layered in history. This is an old world with an origin story, a muddled history, religious lore, and a changing future. The thought and precision that Tucker put into this setting is clear while reading this book. From dark, ancient castles with glamorous upholstery to the dark alleys dressed with dirty cobblestone, the reader is shown it all. Not to mention that the total atmosphere change from our world in New York to this fantasy world without electricity is flawless.
I would be ecstatic about a companion novel covering this world and it’s lore. If Tucker chooses to write one, I will be all over it. This book is beautifully written with little to no flaws in terms of its writing. As always, Tucker has crafted an excellent story and executed it with precision. This is a complex story, but it is written to be easily digested by a wide audience, which is not an easy feat.
This book is excellently paced with adequate time given to the important moments and a swiftness during moments of action. The only possible drawback for some people may be that there are longer paragraphs in the slow moments where characters explain the world to Romeria (and the reader) that may drag on for anyone who is not deeply invested in the world or yearns for the action to start back up again. Some people call this “info dumping”. If someone has a strong pet peeve against “info dumping”, then this book will likely not work for them.
Additionally, this book does not wrap up the entirety of the overarching story plot in this first installment; so the story is incomplete until the author publishes the subsequent novels in this series. If you don’t like a cliffhanger or waiting for sequels, maybe wait to pick up this binge-able series once all of the books are out.
I personally loved what happened in this book. There is a decent balance of romance, action, fantasy politics, and character growth. I was never thrown out of the story or felt like my reading experience dragged on, but I was also heavily invested in learning more about the world and characters.
Not only does this book take an old concept and make it new, but it also utilizes an entirely unique fantasy world with its own religion, politics, races, and even species in order to keep the reader licking up every last drop of new and interesting information about the setting. This story is complex in the best of ways, and it is written in such a way that the plot, characters, and setting are all equally intriguing. It isn’t common that a book is character, plot, and setting driven.
I could not put this book down once I began reading. I literally would read this book for hours in the middle of the night while caring for my baby, and it was well worth putting off sleep. This is my favorite book by the author, and I am devastated that I have to wait for the rest of this series, because this book ends on a spicy cliffhanger. Well done, Tucker, you got me.
For a fantasy with a plethora of magical and paranormal beings in an entirely new world, this book does an excellent job of explaining lore, alternate worlds, and magic. It may not be real or even realistic, but Tucker has really covered all of the bases in terms of trying to create an entirely new world with unique characteristics, cultures, and mechanics. There is very little one can even find to complain about in terms of logic, because the only logical thing we can judge (that isn’t entirely fantasy) is the main character’s reactions to a whole new world. And those reactions read as thoughtfully and intentionally written by the author.
I personally found the characters to react to the situations that they were in, in exactly the way I would imagine them to. I only found it a bit hard to believe that a certain character wouldn’t have seen a certain betrayal coming at the end of the book. But that was a personal nitpick.
I enjoyed the toast out of this book, and I am quite literally overflowing with anticipation for the sequel. There really isn’t much else to say, other than that this book is one of my favorite romances and probably my favorite fantasy romance to date. I would absolutely read this book again some time in the fall or winter due to its dark atmosphere.
Thank you for checking out this review! If you enjoyed this piece, please consider checking out my other recent review for the YA Dark Fantasy Novel, Incendiary!
-Knight of Cups ❤
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