Ragdoll Rating: 4/5 Buttons
Recommended For: Fans of fantasy romance
About the Book
Princess Jenna has escaped from the clutches of her abusive and evil husband and headed across the seas aboard the Valeria. On the journey she meets a warrior priestess called Kaja who helps her conceal her identity and make her own way in the world. But her husband and his goons are never far enough behind.
This book is equal parts fantasy adventure and romance novel.
Trigger Warning: This book contains references to serious sexual assault, abuse and bodily mutilation. It’s not particularly graphic, but it comes up a lot and might be distressing (I certainly found it upsetting).
What I thought
It took me a little while to get into this book, and it wasn’t until I had finished it that it was the second book in a series, which explained why I thought the author assumed a whole lot of knowledge on my part when starting the book. My bad. But once I got my head around the setting I found it a very enjoyable read.
The book focuses on Jenna, beginning with her passage on the Valeria (under the name Brian), and quickly see’s her becoming an acolyte of the Goddess Danu, under a new name, Ivariel. We see Ivariel go from her sheltered, submissive (and horribly abusive) past life in Dasnaria to becoming a warrior and making her own way in the scary new world.
I liked the fact that Ivariel wasn’t just dumped in the world and competent. In fact she was beyond useless in most regards and stayed that way for most of the book. Her strengths came from the skills she actually had experience of. She was given a knife to practice with and couldn’t even grip it – but she was athletic and able to learn because of the way she was raised. This meant that Ivariel was believable and very relatable.
This book contains constant reference to the horrors of Ivariel’s old life – which as I mentioned above, is horrific – and it’s upsetting. Upsetting to the point where I’m not sure if I could read the first book because I’m worried what it might contain. That said, this book also tries to focus on her path to healing the wounds of the past, which is considerably nicer. Ivariel goes from mentally scarred and disassociating when sex is referenced, to having romantic and sexual feelings for another character. Which I can understand to a point, although one element did stick out like a bit of a sore thumb – please skip the following box if you want to avoid spoilers:
Spoilers: Ivariel takes a vow of chastity (and silence) and the start of this book, which she chooses to end over the course. The bit that stuck out for me is that the very last thing that happens in this book is that she gives up her vow of chastity – something she took because of how psychologically (and physically) damaged she was in regards to sex – and it seemed like an incredibly big leap for her to take for no apparent reason. Yes she’d just had her life saved, but her only ‘sexual’ interaction in the books at that point had been a kiss, where she had punched the kisser in the face, and a forced stripping where she killed everyone. I just can’t imagine that she would give up that vow just to say thank you, or because someone mentioned in passing that the vows were a sort of shield. But perhaps that’s just me.
I also liked that the romance in this was not too heavy. It was there and building the whole way through but it didn’t take precedent over the plot of starting a new life, which I worried it would.
I enjoyed this book, although I could have done without quite so much horrible backstory. It’s a good read, but if you think for even a minute that the triggers I’ve highlighted might be an issue for you, then don’t risk it, otherwise it’s worth a look in.
Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!