Thank you to Orbit books for this arc in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book and really loved both main characters.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.
But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.
TW: Discussions of abuse and torture
This story focuses on Jainan and Kiem and how their worlds collide when they have to get married to keep their respective planets alliance. Both of them agree to it as it’s their duty but they don’t really have much time to really know each other before getting married and are thrown straight into the deep end.
They are both such different characters and have such different personalities that they initially have difficulty understanding each other and I was literally screaming at them at points because they are both smart yet are completely ridiculous when it comes to each other. Their miscommunication results in a lot of angst and tension and I was living for it. It built up the tension so much so that when they finally resolved it, it was so satisfying. Also we got the only one bed trope with a twist and I just loved seeing their relationship develop as they learnt to understand each other.
I felt the story is very character driven, we spend a lot of time in both the main characters heads and we really get to know about them and how their pasts affect them now and I loved how we get to see them trying their best to make the marriage work but just not reading the other correctly because of their own past traumas and assumptions and it just felt so real. Jainan is a cinnamon roll and I will protect him with my life, he suffered so much especially the things we find out about his marriage to Taam and honestly it was so difficult to read about it. Kiem is so sweet and truly I need more characters like them in books.
I loved how they worked together using their own skill sets to help each other and find a solution to stop a war from happening and that they encouraged each other in pursuing their passions.
I do wish we had gotten to see more of the world, we get glimpses but mostly how the politics affect the characters and them trying to work out what happened to Taam. We do get indications of a wider world and I would love to read more stories in this world. One of my favourite side characters was Bel who we get to learn a little bit about and honestly I could read a whole book with her.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and the characters arcs were so great to read.