What if you fell in love with the one person you’d sworn to destroy?
Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil – and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara’s homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.
But as she infiltrates her new home – a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas – and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore.
Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?
Warnings: child abuse, violence, drugging someone, self-harm
Note: not a YA novel; also contains explicit sex scenes
Jensen’s new-adult fantasy romance comes with a side of spy intrigue, an enemies-to-lovers arc and a political plot. When Lara took the place of her chosen sister to become Aren’s wife, she does so with the idea that she would do this one thing for her country and then disappear into the world. Being brought up for the last 15 years as a secret weapon and spy, she is highly trained and determined. Her husband-to-be is the King of the Bridge Kingdom which controls the monopoly on trade routes between the northern and southern parts of the world, and whose secrets she is here to uncover, to help her own starving kingdom take over and control the flow of goods. Aren, meanwhile, is super suspicious of his new wife, but since the marriage is to fulfill a peace/trade treaty, he decides to let it play out, while keeping an eye on her.
The romance is slow-developing: while they each find the other attractive early on, the fact that their goals are at odds with each other means there is a lot of distrust in the start. Also, Lara’s job is to get close to him and she sees that playing hard-to-get would be the strategy to pique his interest. While she tries to get as much information as she can get from the palace where she lives, he still is smart enough to keep the secrets of the bridge as well as the real heart of his kingdom away from her. Slowly, however the ice between them thaws, and for Aren, he sees the strength and determination in her, while for Lara it is the realization that maybe she has not been told the truth about the kind King. Still, her job being what it is and her kingdom’s fate in the balance, there is always the conflict haunting her: that to save her kingdom, she might have to destroy his.
Besides the romance, the book also does a fantastic job with the world building. I was intrigued by how the bridge works, and it certainly didn’t disappoint with how legendary it is. There’s also an interesting set of secondary characters, including a prickly grandmother and an ultra-suspicious sister. And with that ending, I am so invested in what comes next!
Released on August 13, 2019