I snagged a copy from Netgalley when this title was available as a read it now.
I’m almost not sure what to make of this one. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. It had its moments. There was nothing particularly outstanding. It was a vampire romance wrapped up in a fantasy (even though the word vampire was very cleverly not used) the Athonites, the Blood, had to feed on women with elongated teeth thanks to an ancient curse cast down by a vengeful Goddess.
There’s two races at war, the Vidari and the Athonites, the one conquered by the others the Athonites are the royals and the nobles, the ones in charge and have been for a hundred years. The Vidari are seen as wild and savage. Each race has their own beliefs and customs. The mythology and the world building was one thing I particularly enjoyed about the book. Each race’s customs are though out and impressive. The two cultures completely despise each other.
Given the way the Athonites treat the Vidari people it’s really not surprising.
Enter our heroine, Seri, a Vidari girl who lives a hard life working her family’s farm, with a blind sister and an ailing father. Seri is a sweet girl, if a bit dim and naïve. She wants to support her family, and marry her childhood sweetheart, Rilen.
On a trip to a market in the Athonite grounds when Seri is desperate for food and medicine for her sick father, she makes the unwanted acquaintance of a noble lady, Lady Mila, who offers her a huge sum of money to be her servant for a week. Seri initially says no and pretty much tells Lady Mila where to stick it. Smart girl. So she does have a little backbone. She’s proud, but then her betrothed, has become involved in the Vidari rebellion and convinces her that Seri needs to go work in the Castle and can be the rebellion’s spy. Seri isn’t all too thrilled with this idea but the more Rilan presses the more she thinks how badly she needs the funds for her family. So she agrees.
Seri’s love and willingness to do whatever she has to for her family when she just knows its going to be utterly terrible is pretty amazing. While she was not a character I particularly liked, she did have some very notable traits and her bravery and devotion to doing the right thing was one that really stood out about her.
In the Castle things go from bad to worse and Seri finds herself in the horrible positon of being told she’s the legendary Eterna, a mate promised by the Athonite Goddess to sate Her curse on the royal Prince. However the prince Graeme, is more than he seem.
He’s not impressed at all with Seri. He comes across as an arrogant cold ass. The Goddess has spoken and it’s pretty much to hell with Seri’s beliefs and the fact she’s engaged to someone else. The Athonite word is law and that’s that. Seri is naturally devastated. But true to form, she holds out and sticks to her Vidari ways as much as she can get away with.
Moronic fiancé, though, Rilan, thinks this is a great thing. She can be their spy for even longer! From a reasonably nice village boy, Rilan has had his head filled by talk of rebellion and its making him a jackass. He pretty much blackmails Seri into going along with the Athonite’s ruling.
The more Seri plays into Athonite hands and learns more about prince Graeme and their relationship deepens. The romance started off for me as eye rolling insta love. At first they hate each other, then after Seri is discovered as the blessed Eterna they share one simple lips on lips kiss and then it’s like everything explodes. Their connection through this Eterna bond is thrown wide open and it’s impossible for one to be without the other. It was irritating to say the least. At first.
Though to give credit where credit’s due there were some fairly steamy scenes of sex and sharing blood. Some of the language felt a little clumsy, though the imagery was pretty good. And it wasn’t just the sex scenes where the language was a problem. It wasn’t vulgar or coarse or anything at all like that it was just choice of words. It happened a bit throughout the novel.
One thing that drove me up the wall was the spelling of the word princess. Which in this novel was spelled princesse. Like adding a ‘e’ on the end makes it extra speshul. Speshul snowflakes do not do well with me. While Seri didn’t start out with the dreaded speshul snowflake vibe, it was pretty obvious something was going to happen when she got to the Castle and it was going to mark her for something bigger. It was her personality and character traits of devotion and a good heart that made her likable. And while she tries her hardest to stick to her principles, it just felt like the more the novel progressed…there was just something that was missing for me.
Seri is torn to between following her heart as the story progresses - or sticking with her Vidari customs. Her beliefs in both are tested throughout the novel as the more she and Graeme get to know each other and try to gain some understanding and connection, their romances goes up and down. At the same time the Vidari rebellion is going on and Seri learns some shocking things about the people she thought she knew. Both she and Graeme have to try to overcome their personal differences to come up with a sensible solution. The story had its ups and downs in these parts.
Graeme is not the jackass he first appears to be, in fact, he can be very kind and appears to want to learn about the Vidari so war can be avoided. He warms to Seri and has his own struggles with her Vidari heritage and wanting to appease her and his people. Same things she struggles with. It did feel a little repetitive, and got a bit irritating in the fact that in one moment Graeme is doing something sweet and kind for Seri, and the next he’s pushing her away and acting like an ass and making her cry again.
It wrapped up appearing to have most of the loose ends tied together, though in a way, it kind of felt like a sickly sweet ending where everything wraps up nice and neat. After all that struggling. At least to be fair, though, while things were resolved, they were all smart enough to know there would be struggles ahead, it still felt blah.
While it had its moments, overall, I just didn’t like it all that much, really.