“Fear and bravery are often one and the same. It either makes you a warrior or a coward. The only difference is the person it resides inside.”Jennifer Armentrout
Poppy has grown up belonging to everyone but herself. She was raised as the Maiden, which translates to having absolutely no freedom. She can’t speak to anyone, can’t be looked upon, can’t engage in activities, can’t do anything. Poppy is covered by a veil and sits quietly while she does as she’s told. As Poppy waits for her Ascension, she would much rather be defending people and daggering the Craven – a terrifying type of monster that destroys and kills…including having killed Poppy’s parents long ago. Then, one day, she gets a new guard and everything becomes beautifully confusing. Poppy wants less to do with her Ascension and more to do with living the life that was stolen from her. As Poppy struggles with following her heart, an old and fallen kingdom is beginning to rise and rebel. Lives are in danger, including Poppy’s. She can either fight or she can remain the perfect, pure maiden…what will she choose?
This was the first Jennifer Armentrout book that I picked up. I ended up using this book as my ‘reading before bed’ book, so it took me longer to read than normal. I first saw this book on TikTok when someone said that it was more steamy than ACOMAF. I was intrigued but didn’t want to add another book to my collection just yet. Then, someone I follow on twitter was raving about this book so I decided to download the kindle version. Since I hadn’t read this author before, I didn’t have any idea what to expect. The first chunk of the book dragged for me. I enjoyed what I was reading, but it felt slow for me. Although…I then simultaneously decided to read the book Forever With You, by JLA as well! I loved that book so I continued trucking through this one, and I’m glad I did!
Let’s start with Poppy…I LOVE her!!!!!! What a strong character. This poor girl is put through HELL, but she entertains herself and breaks some rules, too! I love a good badass, and Poppy is definitely that! Reading about how she was forced to live her life was so unsettling and upsetting, especially her lessons with the Lord and Duke. I don’t know how she didn’t lose her mind with all the rules she had to follow…I wouldn’t have lasted 18 years. Then, there’s Viktor whom I also love. He helped Poppy see a little bit of life by training her to use a dagger and defend herself. He saw behind her veil and knew Poppy as a daughter. I also enjoyed Tawny’s character and how she was so much more than Poppy’s handmaid. They cared for each other and Tawny saw Poppy as a person and a friend, not just the Maiden.
Then, there’s Hawke. We meet Hawke early on in the book, then he disappears, and then he returns. I loved him the moment I met him. Then I fell even more in love with him…then I hated his guts…then I loved him…then I hated him…it’s a love/hate roller coaster. I picture him distinctly in my mind but I can’t put into writing how I imagine him. The way he and Poppy talk to one another is my favorite and I love them so much (I’m saying that a lot). But then, JLA throws a wrench in things and my heart is very, very confused. However, I finished this book and NEEDED the second book ASAP. Luckily, I chose a great time to finish this book because the new one came out today (Sept. 1).
Now, I’m going to move onto the writing. I like JLA’s writing style. But, like I said before, this book took a while for me to get into. I don’t think it was the writing that bored me, but the plot and learning the back story and piecing together what was holding me back. However, I soon wrapped my mind around the story and ended up loving it in the end. Once it got going, it sure took off! Some of the semantics of the setting and Lords/Ladies/Duke/Duchesses were confusing and I didn’t love them. Although, I do see how they add to Poppy’s backstory and the plot of the book. As for Fantasy, this book has some great creatures (the craven, Atlantians, Vampyrs, Wolven, and giant rat monster things). Honestly, I would have loved to see more of the Craven and the blood forest. We see more of the wolven in the last chunk of the book, but I liked them and am excited to (hopefully) see more in book 2.
Holy plot twist. I 100% did not see that coming until it was right under my nose. Maybe I was blinded by love, but that was an SJM twist if I ever did see one! Again, playing with my emotions in books is something I rank highly…it means I’m invested.
I do have to say that this book may house my favorite ever sex scene that I’ve read. This book didn’t have a lot of sex in it, maybe three scenes tops (toward the end of the book too), but there was a lot of sexual tension! I’ve read quite a few smut books in my days, including books that aren’t romance but have sex in them, but this one just did something to me (TMI maybe?). ACOMAF for example, has a handful of sex in it. Love the book, love the romance, chapter 55 amiright? But this books second big sex scene, in the closing chapters of the book, was just something utterly raw and carnal and beautiful. So, congrats on JLA for writing a filthy, wonderful sex scene into this book and making me love those few pages more than anything ever. The atmosphere and events surrounding the scene had a lot to do with the portrayal of emotions, too. It didn’t just happen and it wasn’t an “omg I love you, so show me” scene. It was unexpected and powerful…for me anyway. It will definitely stick in my mind until I read something equivalent or better (as if).
Overall, I am so happy I stuck it out with this book. I cannot wait to read the new one (it should be here in physical form by Friday…ugh) and see where the story goes. I also bought a handful of JLA’s books based on how much I liked the two I’ve read this month. Hopefully they’re just as good! Hawke has been added to my book boyfriend list and may be second under High Lord Rhysand. Just saying.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this book. Leave me some comments if you’ve read this! I love a good discussion!