When I was at the RT convention in April, I had the extremely good fortune to be introduced to Jeffe Kennedy and we became Facebook friends (look at me, name dropping). A few weeks ago, her book Oria’s Gambit was released and it sounded extremely interesting. I will buy any book at any time, but if it’s written by someone I know, it’s definitely 1-click time.
Since Oria’s Gambit was the second in a series, I had to also buy the first. OBVIOUSLY.
You should buy them both and then be happy that the third is going to be released soon, too.
Book the First
An Unquiet Heart
Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince…
A Fight Without Hope
When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception.
A Savage Bargain
Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.
Book the Second
A Play For Power
Princess Oria has one chance to keep her word and stop her brother’s reign of terror: She must become queen. All she has to do is marry first. And marry Lonen, the barbarian king who defeated her city bare weeks ago, who can never join her in a marriage of minds, who can never even touch her—no matter how badly she wants him to.
A Fragile Bond
To rule is to suffer, but Lonen never thought his marriage would become a torment. Still, he’s a resourceful man. He can play the brute conqueror for Oria’s faceless officials and bide his time with his wife. And as he coaxes secrets from Oria, he may yet change their fate…
An Impossible Demand
With deception layering on deception, Lonen and Oria must claim the throne and brazen out the doubters. Failure means death— for them and their people.
But success might mean an alliance powerful beyond imagining…
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this series thus far is that Lonen and Oria are equals. She might be more physically fragile (and was treated thusly by her family and others in Bára), but their relationship is one of equals.
They have a real rapport and although trust is slow, they aren’t doing stupid things like actually refusing to share information when it could benefit the other. There are too many books out there where the main romantic protagonists waste so much time not communicating to the detriment of all when you really want to shake them both and just yell, “Talk to each other already!”
Oria and Lonen talk. She’s reluctant to share information that could mean her death if her people find out, but she ends up sharing because it makes sense! I love sensible romantic leads!
The world building is quite well done. I have such a clear picture of the lushness of Bara (built with stolen water, those bastards) with rooftop gardens and hummingbirds flitting about as well as the more desolate regions where the Destrye are trying to rebuild their lives after the brutal war ended. I like a world where there are clear magic rules that the author has obviously put some time and thought into – and the rules of sgath and grien that the residents of Bára possess.
As for the sexy-times – this is definitely an area in which Ms. Kennedy shines. Due to the nature of the magic that Oria possesses and the differences between their two peoples, Lonen and Oria cannot have skin to skin contact without causing her immense pain. This obviously makes sex extremely hard. (heh. twss.)
The sex scene, which involves no actual skin-to-skin contact, is still wicked hot. Remarkably so. I read a lot of romance books and I was impressed.
This was one of those books that you hate to reach the end of, because you need more, dammit! I’m hopeful that the “book three coming in September 2016” means that the wait will be extremely short. The love story of Lonen and Oria is just beginning and if I don’t get more soon, I’m going to be extremely upset.
I paid for this book with my very own cash money and Ms. Kennedy has no idea that I’m writing this review. Hopefully we’re still FB friends after this.