Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, Kestrel has two choices; she can join the military or get married. Kestrel has other ideas.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in Arin, a young slave up for auction. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him – for a sensational price that sets the society gossips talking. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid is much higher than she ever imagined.
If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know I’m skeptical when it comes to a book with a lot of hype. The Winner’s Curse was absolutely raved about at Teen Con 2015 in Sydney, so of course I had to read it, but I did so with one eye brow raised.
The first chapter provided excellent set up and introductions to the main characters. It was detailed and fun and a world I knew I’d enjoy reading about.
Unfortunately, from there it pattered off and I found the first, maybe, third (?) of the book was a lot of standing around chatting as the characters waited for something to happen. Thank goodness I stuck with it though, because once they got their act together it went from ho-hum to hold on!
Kestrel is the MC and she is all kinds of awesome. She’s clever and sneaky and I loved reading the way she toyed with her marionette strings. The whole book she acts so in control and on top of everything but little does she know…
Arin is the slave she buys and he, of course, has a secret. He’s a bowl of yum, and I felt he had a lot of depth for a love interest (thank God!). There’s chemistry to boot between the pair and just when you think things will be sweet with them, Rutkoski’s all like, nope!
The climax was great to read and the plot kept me turning pages, but I take issue with the change in Kestrel’s character. She jumped between a defiant aristocrat and a submissive kept woman. I get that the situation she finds herself in would be hard, but a little consistency isn’t too much to ask for.
Now, I would have loved to give this one a solid 4-4.5 stars BUT there is a certain plot devise that I take issue with. That devise is rape. Yes, it unfortunately happens, and yes, it has a place in fiction, but it is NOT an easy way to paint your love interest as a hero. DON’T DO IT! The fact that it was so obvious what was coming just made it that much worse. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it was almost cliché. RAPE IS NOT A CLICHÉ!
*skulls a glass of water*
Other than the, ahem, issue, I really enjoyed what I read and I will definitely pick up the sequel. This book is the first in a series and it is left open-ended.