I received this free digital ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.
Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.
Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll take to her grave if she must.
Dip into the Cliche
Based on the blurb for this story, I expected something exciting and dark. I was hoping for a story rife with intrigue and secrets, a story with something always lingering under the surface waiting for the reader to uncover it. However, that’s not what I got. The secrets were obvious. The intrigue was non-existent, and the main plot seemed to take a backseat for a sub-plot, which left me underwhelmed and disappointed.
Right from the get-go, this story offers an inviting new fantasy world for the reader to explore. The first few chapters draw us in, show us a glimpse of the beauty, the splendor, and the darkness. However, that seems to be the most development the world gets. Much of the rest of the world felt under-developed, falling on real-world items to fill in the gaps.
And the pieces that were unique to the world were never truly explained or given more detail. Thus, I couldn’t tell why they were the way they were or whether they were even important to the story, which bugs me because I want to know everything about cool fantasy worlds!
The biggest problem I had with reading this book was that I never connected to any of the characters. Unfortunately, that means I don’t care about them and I don’t believe their developing connections with other characters. It honestly felt as though most, if not all, the relationships in this story skipped the ‘acquaintance’ stage and were thrust straight into ‘I kind of know you, but I don’t’ stage. From there, the relationships wobbled like they didn’t know what they were, which only made me more hesitant about them, too.