A queen and her rebel prince turn from enemies to lovers while evil forces plot to destroy them in this lush romantic fantasy.Following The Orchid Throne, Conri and Lia’s marriage of convenience has turned into an uneasy alliance. If only the two leaders could agree on something. Driven by revenge, Conri wants to attack Emperor Anure before the tyrant gets to them first. But Lia needs to keep Calanthe safe, and refuses to sacrifice her kingdom. Their ongoing battle for control has built up tension they’re both more than happy to release in bed, the only place where they find common ground. But Conri and Lia are developing deeper feelings for each other that are complicating matters. In the second book in the Forgotten Empires trilogy, Conri and Lia find their loyalties torn, and with Emperor Anure’s threat growing, will they be able to risk everything with each other before it’s too late?
Check out my review on GoodReads over here!
Despite not loving the first book, I ended up enjoying it to an extent and thought I would give the sequel a chance. It seems that Kennedy’s writing and I just don’t jive. First and foremost to understand is that this series is very dialogue-driven. More than half the book is dialogue, and people talking to “figure things out.” The characters go to one place, talk, and then go to another place, and talk. Not much happens beyond that until 70% into the book, where something actually happens. Finally!
The story switches between Con and Lia’s first person POV’s. Both are trying to defeat the evil king Anure, but with different paths. Lia is risk-averse and doesn’t want bloodshed on the land of Calanthe, which she is a part of as an Elemental. Con, on the other hand, is militant and more than happy to use explosives and make sacrifices to get at Anure. This creates some tension as both characters don’t back down in their ideologies and won’t reveal all the facts to the other. Despite being married, both characters hoard secrets like dragons and reluctantly share them throughout the book. You would think more happens, given we’re in a fantasical world, but those were the exciting bits.
There is some ambiguously-written magic, plot development, and unraveling romance. It’s just… so slow. All the characters do is talk and talk and talk, with repetitive thoughts coming from both sides about the other. I guess if you’re into politics, you would have the patience for this kind of writing. The romance kind of popped up throughout snarky dialogue and lustful interactions (as the book says, the only stable ground Con and Lia have is in the bedroom). And as for the plot… I wonder if the author sat down and said, “Okay, in this book we’re going to have one MAJOR event happen. And now I have to plan the dialogue that leads up this event…” and then that dialogue becomes the majority of the book? Because it certaintly seemed so.
“Without the world, the sun would continue to shine, but there would be nothing to receive its rays. Only the cold, vast darkness. Somehow, somewhere along the way, I’d lost the thread of vengeance. My focus had slipped and Lia had become the center.”
Well, there are also moments of vulnerability between Con and Lia that helps with the romance. It was nice, but nothing too special that got me excited.
I think this series is a light read in that it’s not too deep with its world-building and characters, but has some special moments that keep readers’ attentions (like the climax). The characters are a bit slow on the uptake and at some points it kinda felt like, “Blah blah blah” (an inundation of dialogue), but some readers are more patient than me. As a reader who’s more action-orientated though, this series isn’t really doing it. Nevertheless, I’m taking this “so-so” book from a 2.5 stars to 3.
graphic torture and violence
Thank you St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for the review copy!