Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Published by Bloomsbury Australia on March 12, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.
As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
You know that feeling you get when you reach the end of a book and expel a satisfied, warm and happy breath? That was me upon finishing The Winner’s Crime, despite the cliffhanger ending which left everything in an unresolved state.
This has been a year of amazing sequels, with The Winner’s Crime building upon the foundation of the first book by making everything better. This sequel had deeper world building, political intrigue, more romantic development, betrayals and war tactics. We experience so much more of the world with it’s three major countries: Valoria, where Kestrel is currently held, Herran, where Arin resides, and Dacra, the eastern kingdom.
She’d felt it before, she felt it now: the pull to fall in with him, to fall into him, to lose her sense of self. There would be scandal, and then there’d be war.
While the first book was mainly focused on the slow burn romance between Kestrel and Arin, there is so much more that happens in The Winner’s Crime. Kestrel is trying to honour her father by meeting the Emperor’s wishes and getting ready for marriage to the Verex, Crown Prince, while still looking after the rights of the Herrani people. Arin travels between all three districts to secure allies for Herran and to look after his rights. Whilst all of this is happening, Kestrel finds herself in a precarious situation as a spy, while coping with her best friend Jess’s emotional distance. Although there wasn’t much action in the book, there was never a dull moment with a flowing plot filled with surprises.
Kestrel and Arin continued to dance around each other with their feelings. Their meetings seemed to be wrought with constant misunderstandings, with Kestrel needing to explain herself more than a few times after sending mixed messages. She’s trying to achieve a lot with her time at court, with conflicting interests. But even a master strategist can’t please everyone, as she’ll soon learn. I just wanted to shake them and push them together, but with a brewing war and an inevitable wedding standing in their way, the stakes are so much higher for this forbidden couple.
He, too, wanted what he shouldn’t. He, too, felt how the heart chooses its own home and refuses reason. Not here, he’d tried to say. Not this. Not mine. Never. But he had felt the same sickness.
To complicate their relationship further, there’s signs of a love square (hexagon?) creeping into the book with Kestrel growing closer to the Crown Prince and Arin getting to know the kidnapped princess, Risha. I wanted to hate Verex, but he was actually quite respectful and understanding of Kestrel’s reluctance to marry him. More than anything, Verex seemed like a victim of his circumstances, and seemed to recognise the same in Kestrel. Risha actually reminded me a lot of Nehemia in Throne of Glass, as an eastern princess held at the court. Although she’s pretty mysterious in this book, I’m looking forward to what the future holds for her.
The Winner’s Crime balances romance, political intrigue and competing agendas. It’s filled with betrayals, power plays, heart break and heart ache, with a new host of secondary characters and an expanded world. With it’s gorgeous writing and riveting plot line, this series is a must read. Just be prepared for the major cliffhanger at the end – you’ll want the next book now!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.