Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.
Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?
The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.
This book took me forever to read and I’m not sure if it was the book or me. I’m leaning towards it being me, but I also could have been thrown off by it following two different main characters from the first book (even though I did like the POV characters in this one!).
So, in this sequel we’re following Grey and Lia Mara, two characters with a lot of baggage. Grey has all this ‘lost heir’ stuff going on which has caused him to abandon Prince Rhen for Rhen’s own good (unbeknownst to Rhen) and Lia Mara is kind of a mess. She’s the eldest daughter of Karis Luran but is treated like an afterthought while all attention and focus is given to her younger sister, expected to carry on their mother’s legacy. Lia Mara lacks confidence in herself and maybe Grey also lacks confidence, which is why he ran away instead of thinking Rhen would see reason after hearing Grey’s new truth about his birth. Either way, they’re both interesting characters with tons of room for character growth at the start of the book.
As far as plot, it takes a little while for this one to get going because honestly there’s just not a lot happening at first. There is a lot of Grey in the kingdom, trying to blend in and seeing how crappy things are. And then you have Lia Mara, traveling as part of her mother and sister’s entourage to Emberfall to propose an alliance between their two nations. The traveling seemed to last a while. Or maybe it just felt that way since it was taking me a really long time to get through the start of this book. First there’s traveling in and around the kingdom, to Emberfall, then back to Lia Mara’s country (I forgot the name whoops). But really the main plot is that Emberfall is on the brink of civil war, Lia Mara’s country is threatening to invade if they can’t come to an agreement regarding port access, and Grey is running away from his responsibilities even though he’s convinced himself it’s to save Rhen. Eventually things come to a head and even though things were a little predictable, I appreciated the hell out of the character arcs of our two POV characters.
I have to give it to Kemmerer though. It takes guts to take a character that people loved from book one and make them one of the villains in book two. Rhen takes a HUGE turn in this one. I think, for the most part, it’s explained well. At one point Noah remarks that he thinks Rhen has PTSD because of the curse, but also because of what he did while under the curse. Of course not all of that is going to be magically cured just because they broke the curse and he fell in love with Harper. So when he’s faced with this new threat and everything starts falling apart, he starts to regress. In a major way. He’s been betrayed before and he feels like he’s being betrayed again. The explanation is just that, an explanation, it’s not an excuse. Quite frankly I’m surprised that Harper chose to stick by Rhen during all of this and maybe that’s one thing I do have a bit of an issue with. The other thing is the ending. If Rhen’s trauma was due to what he went through while under the curse from Lilith then….what the hell, book? Either way, he’s a mess in this book and he does some really deplorable things here. Will he be able to be redeemed in book three? Do we even want him to? That remains the question.
As far as sequels go, I can see why folks are so divided on this one. I actually wound up liking it quite a bit. Maybe not as much as book one, but I really loved spending time with Grey and Lia Mara because they’re both such good people who want to do the right thing and just need to find the courage to do so. I love that they grew to be that strength for each other, able to lift one another up and encourage each other. I think that is what made the book work for me, more than anything else. 3.5/5 stars.