Title: The Winner’s Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Winner’s Curse is your classic enemies-to-lovers story about the daughter of a high-ranking general and her slave.
Kestrel’s people, the Valorian, conquered the Herrani and made them their slaves. Kestrel’s father has tried to convince his daughter to enlist in the military, but her skills lie not in combat but in her strategy; she has a mind for military tactics and planning.
When she sees Arin for sale at the slave market, Kestrel feels a pull toward him and bids. And wins.
Unsure of what to do with her new slave but in need of an escort due to the backwards rules and traditions of her home regarding women, she asks Arin to fill this role. Soon, rumors begin to circulate between the two of them, and feelings begin to develop, yet their stations in life make it impossible to choose. Loyalty to family, culture and country? Or love?
Sadly, I almost didn’t finish this. I have many books to read and no enough time to dedication to reading books I’m not loving. The Winner’s Curse wasn’t measuring up in the beginning, no matter how intriguing the concept was. It did start to pick up toward the end but ultimately, this debut novel was very slow.
It wasn’t all bad. I enjoyed both main characters very much, making it easy to continue and remain invested in their lives and their star-crossed attraction. Kestrel was tough, and while she was fairly open about her lack of skills on the battle-field, she constantly proved her intelligence and calculating nature.
Arin was continuously at war with himself and his feelings for Kestrel while also planning a revolution against the Valorians. It was interesting to be in his head.
I loved reading any interactions between Kestrel and Arin; their chemistry was flamin’, and Arin was absolutely precious. So basically any fall-backs that this story had, the romance and the main characters more than made up for it.
While this first installment may not have been my favorite, I can see how it can be improved on in sequels and I am very excited to see what happens considering I’ve seen many rave reviews for the rest of this series. I’ll keep you all posted!