This was equally as fun to read as the first one. I enjoy the pacing of this one. Enjoyed how the relationship progressed, there’s not much to dislike here.
Bedros’ character is well defined. He cares for his people, does what he must to ensure their safe, and comes with a troubled past. Even though his past, for which he clearly wishes he can erase, comes with some serious baggage against his recent guest he handles it well. He states his feelings but doesn’t allow that to be the main focus of his world when saving his people is. And, when he brought it up with the guest, Warren, he said the same. They were adults and surely they can act like them.
This also made Warren a good character. He came to the castle with low expectations of Bedros and, based on observations, was willing to accept that this Bedros was not the man he once knew. He didn’t bring any of his childhood baggage with him, or any of their adulthood tensions. When he first talks to Bedros alone he says as much.
This type of handling of the romance, angst, and adult situations is what makes me love this series so far. The author doesn’t go out of their way to create unnecessary drama. The drama, both to do with the main plot of war, and the side plot of romance have their bumps based purely on how life creates its own drama.
The pacing was good as well. The sabotage plot, the preparation for war and a hint of romance all transpired simultaneously without anything overpowering the ultimate goal of saving the town But it was the ending that took me away from giving this five stars.
Firstly we know they are winning the war so that was a given. The problem was it was too easy. After all the talk about Nerek’s mom and she runs? I highly doubt after so many years as a soldier that she would not put up a fight. A good one, hell even if she managed to kill a few before she herself ultimately fell that would’ve made for a better ending. There is some good stuff that happens with Bedros during the fight but this story is not in first person. That left more than enough room to leave Bedro’s POV and have Nerek go chase after his mother. There was also a little bit lacking in not being able to see Warren’s POV also.
During war, especially with so many of the main characters in the middle of it fighting, not being in first person gave this story so much more room to have an epic ending scene, unfortunately, seeing as there are no other POV’s throughout the entire book, it would’ve seemed misplaced. It worked well with no complaints in the first book but this time my opinion of the ending and the overall book itself would’ve lent itself a bit better to multiple POV’s. Mostly because of the scale of this one. The end of this book just wasn’t as satisfying.
Using the overused pretend to be married/lovers/dating trope usually gets me very annoyed, but again this book is a testament to it’s not the trope but how it’s handled. Since, like I already said, instead of fighting the situation, and drowning out the pretence with all the ‘He wouldn’t want me and I don’t deserve you’ angst on Bedros’ part and also without the ‘why should I give him a chance after he’s made my whole life hell’ angst on Warren’s part, this fake unison that turned into a real one didn’t have any of the type of immature forced tension that drives me crazy. Instead, as a reader, you are able to focus on them growing together and accepting their past mistakes rather than the usually let’s drag the heroes along whining till the end and avoiding each other for some epic dramatised I love you moment at the end. This also allowed it to take a back seat to the main plot of the story.,
My other real issue however did fall slightly into the we just need drama stuff. Bedros and Warren had made it clear they wanted to be with each other. Yes, I can see him being surprised to see Warren back at the castle, but the reaction was so awkward. After the shock why not run over and hug him. Instead, he behaved like he thought he’d never see him again. I couldn’t see this being true. The author made it seem like he just wanted to sort out stuff with his land and people. And with such a vindictive king there wasn’t a chance in hell he’d let him stay after such a catastrophic defeat. He had to leave home whether he came back to the castle or not. All that being said it almost fell into another one of those typical forced end of book drama moments, thankfully it didn’t but almost going there was still just as grating because it began. That emotion couldn’t be whisked away from my soul because the fight and declaration didn’t follow it.
For me even though this story hit just as many of the things I loved about the first book and even with the ending also rounding out this novel well, the story as a whole felt a little incomplete which is why, unlike my first review, the ending in this one does matter. The fight felt like it was lacking, this story had a touch more depth and could’ve served better with two more POV’s from Nerek and Warren. That plus the awkward almost declaration of love monologue ending seemed out of place when other such forced romance drama wasn’t really present. It still gets four stars because as a whole it comes together quite well but it didn’t have as much of a complete feeling as the first one did which made me notice that other POV’s were absent whereas in the first one their absence wasn’t felt as much.