The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski: Book Review

“Marry him,” Arin said, “but be mine in secret.”

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆Goodreads Synopsis: 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.

Commentary: I really enjoyed the first book so much, but I found the second book in this series to be a bit more frustrating than the first one because of all of the miscommunication!! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the book, but it was an emotional roller coaster ride for me when I was reading. I found it stressful because so many things were happening! The Winner’s Crime focuses more on politics rather than romance. (⊙︿⊙✿)

What I really enjoyed about this book was how the drama was built up. I didn’t know what to expect from this book! Kestrel was so out of her element. She was still the intelligent, cunning strategist from the first book, but she did not have the upper hand. No matter what she was doing, it felt that the Emperor was always ahead of her. Kestrel tried to do what was best for her and Arin by distancing herself. She tried to be indifferent even though she still loved him. She believed it was best for Arin not to know that she was helping him. She didn’t have allies with her, not even Verex. Kestrel suffered a lot more in this book than the first one. Jess, her best friend, did not want to associate herself with Kestrel. Jess was resentful and hateful towards Kestrel even though Kestrel saved her in the first book. Then there’s the constant abuse she endures because of the Emperor. Lastly, her father turning her in to the Emperor. That part crushed me the most. Kestrel adores and loves her father, but I just knew he would pick Valoria over Kestrel even if she is his only family. Right in the feels. ๐·°(৹˃̵﹏˂̵৹)°·๐

I wanted to slap Arin. I was so frustrated with him. He always kept coming at the wrong time! Why couldn’t he try to meet Kestrel in secret? Why did he always have to show up in the worst place possible? So many problems could have been avoided if Kestrel and Arin communicated with each other and teamed up. Arin was focused on building alliances with the Eastern people in order to stop the tyranny of the emperor. Then that kiss scene with the queen! Nope, nope nope. I do not like that pairing at all! (┛◉Д◉) ┛ 彡 ┻━┻

I thought that Prince Verex was going to become Arin’s rival. I assumed a love triangle was going to be formed. That did not happened, instead Verex was more of a friend to Kestrel than anything else. Even though his role was small, I really liked Verex. He was in the same position as Kestrel was. He was forced into a marriage like Kestrel, and loves another. He is far more compassionate and kind than his father. I really hopes he inherits the kingdom and marries Risha. Hoping Princess Risha is the one to get rid of the emperor.   ⁽⁽(੭ꐦ •̀Д•́ )੭*⁾⁾ ᑦᵒᔿᵉ ᵒᐢᵎᵎ

The ending broke my heart! The cliffhanger. I wasn’t ready for it. It was good and I just can’t believe that happened. Why didn’t Tensen give Arin the letter?! ლಠ益ಠ)ლ That would have cleared so many things! He would have known the truth! It just upsets me that Arin doesn’t know that Kestrel is going to a labor camp. I don’t think it’s possible that this series will end on a happy note. Praying it’s not a tragedy. I hate the emperor. I really hope he gets what he deserves in the end. I am excited to see how the upcoming war will unfold. I just want the book now! ԅ(¯﹃¯ԅ)

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.25) ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski: Book Review

“You don’t, Kestrel, even though the god of lies loves you.”

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: 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, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. 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 for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Commentary: Oh my gosh! This book was so good! There is so much I want to discuss! First of all, this book is very political and complex. The book starts off several years after the Herran War. The Valorians were the winners of the war and forced the Herrani into slavery.

Kestrel Trajan, what a character. She isn’t your typical fighter, she’s a strategist. She is cunning, smart, manipulative, and caring. She is the General’s daughter and is constantly pressured into joining the military for her skills. Her father sees how much good she can bring to the empire if she joins. One of my favorite scenes, had to be when Kestrel won her duel against Irex when she blackmailed him, even though he was far more superior when it came to fighting. Kestrel doesn’t want to be in the military, she wants her own independence. She is far more compassionate towards the slaves compared to any other Valorians.

Arin, is a slave and spy. He is just as intelligent as Kestrel. He works under Cheat, the leader of the Herran Revolution. He and Kestrel have a complicated relationship. They think they know what is best for each other. It did feel that both of them kept playing a game to get the upper hand in their relationship. What I really appreciate about this story is that both protagonists don’t instantly fall in love with each other. Their love slowly grows and I love the theme of forbidden love so much. I loved how much he tried protecting Kestrel. He protected her from taking the poison, he protected her from Cheat’s advances, and he protected her from becoming a slave. Secondly, I loved the two alternating pov. (۶ꈨຶꎁꈨຶ )۶ʸᵉᵃʰᵎ

Praise the Lord! No love triangles! Sorry Ronan! Kestrel and Arin are perfect for each other. Ronan tries really hard to gain her affections, but she always ignores him and falls for Arin instead.  ੧| ‾́︶ ‾́ |੭

I did not like Cheat at all. He was corrupt and creepy. I, for one, am glad that he is dead.  Man, he was definitely my least like character next to Irex.

Kestrel and Arin have conflicting ideals, and they have to overcome their issues. Arin wants his people to become a nation, while Kestrel doesn’t want any more deaths for both sides. While reading, I felt sad for the people who suffered on both sides. I was rooting for the rebels to take back their lands. I was not that ending of the book! It was so good!!! I was shocked that the she was forced into a loveless marriage, just so the Arin and his people would have their independence, but at a price. I am really excited to see what’s in store for the second book cause I am hooked!! ╰(◉ᾥ◉)╯

Quotes: 

“Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not.”

“The truth can deceive as well as a lie.”

“My soul is yours”, he said. “You know that it is.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆