The Winner’s Crime

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Goodreads Summary:

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

Oh, these two, they are going to break my heart. This book was a roller-coaster of emotions! The way Kestrel constantly has to deceive Arin to protect he and his country, the way Arin knows she’s hiding things from him and then eventually gives in to the belief that her deceptions are true – then has a change of heart but Kestrel can’t come clean to him like she wants to, the overall depths that the Emperor is taking to keep Kestrel in his grasp and destroy Herran, and ultimately the strained relationship between Kestrel and her father. There was just so much!

I honestly don’t know what to expect for the next book. There are so many things that need to be resolved, and I really hope that Arin and Kestrel achieve that quickly in the last book. I am slightly worried that Arin won’t be able to forgive Kestrel since he’s tried so hard to get her to admit her true feelings and she hasn’t given them to him, but given his character and how he’s always known her true self (not to mention her current situation) I think he’ll come to understand everything when she explains it. I can’t wait to see Herran and her ally move against Valoria, and what that means for Kestrel and her father. I’m also wondering what’s going to happen to Verex given the Emperors plan to silence Kestrel.

– My hope is that Verex and Risha will be the new Valorian rulers, and Kestrel and Arin go back to govern Herran, and everyone lives happily ever after, obviously.

Anyway, I really like how we get to see Kestrel through Arin’s eyes, she shields herself so well that it’s hard for the reader to see her true self sometimes – but then again, I don’t think she knows her true self either until the very end. She’s pulled in too many directions from a deep rooted sense of loyalty to those she loves, and she doesn’t let them love her back in her fierceness to protect them or prove herself to them.

I also really appreciated that Kestrel and Verex have a tentative friendship. With these kinds of situations I think it’s really easy for authors to introduce a love triangle, and I was so happy that wasn’t the case! I think their friendship makes so much sense, as they have common beliefs. I also really liked that Verex so easily saw the real reason behind Kestrel’s actions (her love for Arin and Herran), allowing her to be honest with at least one person.

I simply can’t wait for the next one, it’s going to be a long year!

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