She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade’
When Lia, an idealistic queen, falls for Xania, her new spymaster–who took the job to avenge her murdered father–they realise all isn’t fair in love and treason.
Lia won t mourn her uncle: he’s left her a bankrupt kingdom considered easy pickings by its neighbours. She s sworn to be a better ruler, but if she wants to push through her reforms, she needs to beat the Court at its own games. For years, Xania’s been determined to uncover her father’s murderer. She finally gets a chance when Lia gives her a choice: become her new spymaster, or take a one way trip to the executioner s axe. It s an easy decision.
When they fall for each other, their love complicates Lia s responsibilities and Xania s plans for vengeance. As they’re drawn together amid royal suitors and new diplomats, they uncover treason that could not only end Lia s reign, but ruin their weakened country. They must decide not only what to sacrifice for duty, but also for each other.
I received a copy of this from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review and can confirm all opinions are my own.
When Lia receives a rider she knows the news he bears, her Uncle is dead and she is to return to court to become the next Queen. Xania has been plotting vengeance for her fathers death for years, she just need the proof to back her up. Though they don’t meet on the best of circumstances Lia and Xania form a wary sort of alliance, tempered by their mutual friend Matthias. Lia will help Xania proove that Vigrante was behind the murder of her father if she becomes her Whispers, the head of Lia’s spy network. Through late night meetings and confessions they start to uncover their feelings for each other, feelings that might get in the way of Lia’s picking a husband. But when three suitors from neighbouring Kingdoms arrive Xania starts to unravel a web of secrets. Secrets that not only put the Queen at risk but also make Xania question everything she knew about her father and indeed herself.
Though I felt that the pacing of this book was a little off, a long slow beginning and a slightly rushed ending, I did enjoy that is was full of court intrigue. The majority of this book is actually set in the Castle and there is virtually no world building, but this added a whole other depth to the story. We get to see behind the scenes of how a Queen rules, how many battles she faces daily, deals with the threats on her life, knows that she must put Country before her own heart an of course how she deals with all the scheming members of court of which there are plenty in this book.
The book is split between Lia and Xania’s point of view and my only issue is, as they spent the majority of their time together there was little chance to develop any minor characters. We know who the bad guy is, but we don’t get as much of an insight into his scheming as I would have liked. That being said we do get Matthias, the Queens oldest friend and the boy that Xania’s father took under his wing. He is the epitome of a cinnamon roll and I thoroughly enjoyed the parts of the book where he was included. Lia and Xania’s characters are cemented early on in the book. Lia wanting to be a better Queen than her Uncle was King, she is determined to bring her country back to it’s former glory. Xania simply wants vengeance for her fathers death, and if becoming the Queen’s Whispers is what is takes then she see’s that as a small price to pay.
My main issue with this book is it seemed to be almost do a 360 on itself in parts. When we first meet Xania she is hell bent on killing Vigrante in vengeance for her fathers murder, but as soon as the Queen offers her the Whispers it seems to be forgotten about. Lia and Xania understand that them being together is an issue and then the Queen tells Xania to tell her family, and parades her in front of court and her suitors. This story is wholly about Lia and Xania’s relationship and everything else seems to play a back burner which, if you’re looking for something romance heavy is fine, I just felt that it left the characters slightly underdeveloped.
The main romance in this book is F/F and we also have a minor character who is Gay. Same sex relationships seem accepted in this world and it is only that Lia is Queen and expected to make an Heir that there is an issue with her feelings for Xania. Their relationship plays a main role in the book.
Overall I enjoyed this book but I doubt I would pick it up, or other set in the same world again. It was a little romance heavy for my liking, and though I am all for romance in Fantasy, or any genre, I just feel that it overshadowed the other plot points that could have been developed and rounded the story out a little more.