Review: The Winner’s Kiss

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Goodreads Synopsis:

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

I waited so long for this book! I really enjoyed the first one, loved the second, and could not wait to get this in my hands. The wait was worth it, this was pretty close to perfect.

I loved that while we picked up right where we left off in the second one, time still passed pretty quickly in the beginning, catching us up on the drama of war before swiftly moving into the drama of Arin and Kestrel. Man, they have never had it easy, and I was not prepared for what would happen in this one to give them yet another challenge to overcome.

I really enjoyed though how they got to know each other again. Outside of the politics of the Imperial palace, they were able to be themselves around each other, for probably the first time in their relationship. It was so nice to see them both admit how much they have changed, to see them both reconcile who they now are, and to see if and how they could work themselves together. It was so well done, painting a more realistic romance than often happens in these sorts of books as a result to the stressors they have been through.

Also another thing about the romantic element, is that it’s not the only major thing happening in this story. All of the political turmoil that has been developing in the previous books is finally at its boiling point and we are in the middle of a war the entire time. We’re watching Arin navigate the need to save his country with the political chessboard of tricks and secrets of his allies; seeing Kestrel come into her own as a warrior – though on her own terms – and utilizing her tactical strengths to fight for a country she loves; and watching a ‘new’ character sit in the middle of all of these emotional and political arenas and have to decide where he lies.

I can’t lie, I did want a little more swoon, if only because it was such a long road for these two, but like I said, this was basically a perfect conclusion. It didn’t want for action, resolution, or new plot twists and supplied great character arcs and intrigue. I’m definitely going to be rereading this series regularly.

 

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