The Winner’s Crime – Marie Rutkoski – Published 3 March 2015
Book two of the dazzling Winner’s Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.
As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
What a heart-stopping book. Intrigue, court life, games, battle, deception and a tangled net that is woven tighter around each of the players.
The Winner’s Crime picks up where The Winner’s Curse left off. Arin is now the governor of Herran. And Kestral is at the Valorian capital awaiting her marriage to the prince. Kestrel is good at playing dangerous games but the Emperor has infinently more practice. Out of her depth, Kestrel struggles with her decisions and whether she should act and how. When the court is assembled for the engagement ball, Arin receives an invitation. Faced with the very reason Kestrel made her agreement with the Emperor, Kestrel is determined to maintain her composure, but is unsure whether she should keep her motives from Arin or risk everything to be honest with him.
The romance is achingly sweet and heartbreaking, particularly as Kestrel tries so desperately to hide her feelings for Arin as she sacrifices everything to protect him. Arin’s just not very good at leaving her to do the protecting, as he pushes back at the walls Kestrel has build between them. As so often happens with second books in trilogies, The Winner’s Crime perfectly sets the story up for the third book. The ending is rather explosive, not sure if I would call it a cliff hanger as such but there certainly is a lot of unresolved issues and some pretty big twists right at the end, as well as throughout the book. With enough romance and plenty of intrigue, The Winner’s Crime will keep you engaged and leave you desperate for book three.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Juvenile Fiction: Ages 12 and up. Fantasy.