My rating: 4 of 5 stars
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for review.
When Alexa and Marcel's parents are killed in the ongoing war between their own and a neighbouring kingdom, their future is uncertain. Female orphans are sent to the king's "breeding house" where they are provided for the amusement of the king's soldiers in order to produce the next generation of soldiers. Boys are sent to train and eventually join the army. A skilled fighter, Alexa is convinced by her brother to cut her hair and become Alex and become a soldier. Several years later, Alex and Marcel are serving in the Prince's guard and Alex is acknowledged as the best fighter among them. Unfortunately, it's getting harder to hide the fact that Alex is really Alexa, and when she is assigned to guard the prince even more closely, she fears her secret will come out.
Alex isn't the only one with secrets, others have been forced to hide who they really are in order to survive the king's brutality.
This is, at its core, a teen romance. There are supernatural elements but they really are secondary to the developing love triangle and its resolution. Those looking for high fantasy will possibly be disappointed by this, although there is scope for the fantasy elements to develop more in subsequent books.
One thing I did like is that although this is clearly the beginning of a series, the story had its own resolution - there is nothing worse than a book that doesn't actually end!
If you enjoyed Throne of Glass and the Avry of Kazan series then this is worth a look.
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