Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

Quick Thoughts and Rating: DNF at 66% (for now)! My first indication that this book might not have been for me probably should have been when it has taken me more than a week to make it halfway. I just kept telling myself that I was busy and that it wasn’t the book’s fault, but after making a concentrated effort to dig into it yesterday, I still found myself wanting to put it down out of boredom.

I won’t lie, I’m extremely disappointed that not only did I not really enjoy this book up until this point, but that I didn’t even find enough reasons to finish it. I truly loved the idea of a f/f romance in fantasy as it’s not too commonly represented, particularly in YA, and so I desperately hoped that I would be able to champion this book and the relationship within it. Sadly, that doesn’t seem like it will be the case. I’ve almost called it quits several times already, hoping that on the other side of this wall filled with repetitious scenes and stalled pacing, I’d eventually make it to the place where Mare and Denna finally tap into their deeper emotions and feelings they have for one another, and somewhere around the 50% mark, it almost felt like we were making progress, but then that was thwarted once more and now I just really don’t feel like I can go on. Furthermore, I feel like the plot is taking us in general circles, and it’s not even the exciting variety that keeps you guessing about the villains and the real traitors to the crown, but rather the frustrating kind that makes you wonder if all the run-around the author is giving you isn’t just for the sake of word count. Additionally, I’ve found it rather challenging to connect with any of the characters, especially our two narrators, and that makes caring about the progression of their love and the plot even more difficult. As individuals, I truly liked their personalities well enough, even if they both bordered a bit as one-note personalities, and I enjoyed the potential I had in my mind’s eye for them, but even as as slow-burn romance, it felt extremely slow. I think a major contributing factor to that is based in the way the author delivered the story, which felt more like showing me–Look, see they like each other!– instead of letting me experience firsthand through the girls and their interactions with one another. There was a time period at the end where it felt like it was developing more naturally on the page, but I shouldn’t have had to wait well past the halfway mark to notice that kind of budding energy. Lastly, I feel like a major pitfall for this book started in the very beginning when we were cast headlong into this storyline with very little world-building or setup for the countries and territories around it, nor do we know why some territories are magical and others are completely against magic-use and see it as heresy. In addition, even at this 66% mark, we’ve still discovered little more about any of this. I had hoped that the magical aspect of this novel would carry my interest where the gaps of other intrigue was missing, but seeing as Denna knows little of how to use her magic or why she even has the affinity for it in the first place– nor does she seem particularly curious to learn at this point– I find my hope dwindling on the magic-wielding being the saving grace of this plot either.

There may come a point in time that I may pick this up again because I admit to being in a rather foul reading mood as of late and perhaps that’s hindering my reading experience of this novel all the more, but as for this moment, I simply have little desire to continue on with this book.

Seeing as I do not officially rate novels that I don’t complete out of respect for the author, book, and the publisher, I can not offer a rating or recommendation for or against this book. I’ve personally seen both high and low star ratings for it thus far, so it seems to be a person-to-person basis, and this book just wasn’t my cup of tea.

♥ A very special thanks to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.

*Disclaimer: An e-copy of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.

I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥

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