The Reluctant Queen: {ARC Review}

Publication date: July 4th, 2017
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Series: The Queens of Renthia
Format: Paperback ARC, 368 pages
Source: Publisher

Everything has a spirit: the willow tree with leaves that kiss the pond, the stream that feeds the river, the wind that exhales fresh snow . . . And those spirits want to kill you.It’s the first lesson that every Renthian learns. 

Not long ago, Daleina used her strength and skill to survive those spirits and assume the royal throne. Since then, the new queen has kept the peace and protected the humans of her land. But now for all her power, she is hiding a terrible secret: she is dying. And if she leaves the world before a new heir is ready, the spirits that inhabit her beloved realm will run wild, destroying her cities and slaughtering her people. 

Naelin is one such person, and she couldn’t be further removed from the Queen—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Her world is her two children, her husband, and the remote village tucked deep in the forest that is her home, and that’s all she needs. But when Ven, the Queens champion, passes through the village, Naelin’s ambitious husband proudly tells him of his wife’s ability to control spirits—magic that Naelin fervently denies. She knows that if the truth of her abilities is known, it will bring only death and separation from those she loves.

But Ven has a single task: to find the best possible candidate to protect the people of Aratay. He did it once when he discovered Daleina, and he’s certain he’s done it again. Yet for all his appeals to duty, Naelin is a mother, and she knows her duty is to her children first and foremost. Only as the Queen’s power begins to wane and the spirits become emboldened—even as ominous rumors trickle down from the north—does she realize that the best way to keep her son and daughter safe is to risk everything. 

**I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Harper Voyager. **

 The Reluctant Queen picks up 6 months from where The Queen of Blood left off. Daleina is settling into her role of Queen, still in shock over the massacre in the Queen's Grove that left everyone dead but her. She is also ill, which is causing her power over the spirits to waver, which results in death. So she and her champions must find a suitable heir before it is too late.

As far as sequels go, this one was very solid. Usually sequels end up being so bad that it causes the reader to stop reading the series, but I became even more invested in the world of Renthia after completely this story. The stakes are so high for everyone, including the entire kingdom of Aratay. Aside from the Queen's deadly illness, there is also the threat of invasion from a neighboring kingdom. That is a lot to contend with.

The story brings back familiar characters, but it also introduces us to new ones, including Naelin, the protagonist of the story. She is a mother of two children, and she does not want her power. She just wants to remain anonymous in the woods so she can protect her family. But then Champion Ven and Captain Alet come calling, and her world falls upside down. They know that she might be the one who can save them all, if she will just accept her power.

My biggest issue with the book was how easy it was to figure out who was the one that betrayed Daleina. It was blatantly obvious from the first few chapters, and then once the story progressed, this character began acting strangely and saying odd things, so those were also large clues.

I LOVED Ven and Naelin's very slow burn romance. They were two jaded people who came together in their darkest hour, and it was great! I wanted more. Plus, I really like both of them. Naelin was quite the mama bear and she wasn't afraid to speak her mind. Ven is the strong, silent type of man who also has the soft and loving side.

With the end of the book, there were quite a few surprise twists that I wasn't expecting. As I figured out in book one, Bayn is important. We know that he's not your average wolf, because he is intelligent and can understand humans. I am interested to read about his story, and to see what will come in book three.

Keep Bayn and Ven alive! Do not touch them!!

I was very impressed with this sequel, and am eagerly awaiting the conclusion to the series, The Queen of Sorrow


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