Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Published by Context Literary Agency on August 13, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance
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What if you fell in love with the one person you'd sworn to destroy?
Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil - and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara's homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.
But as she infiltrates her new home - a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas - and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore.
Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?
I’m going to start this review off strong by stating that this was one of my favorite reads of 2019. I literally finished it in one day, and was absolutely chagrined to discover that there was no release date for the sequel.
The Bridge Kingdom has a lot going for it. Most importantly though is the clever world building. The main conflict is about trade between countries, and the island kingdom located between them that possesses a mysterious bridge allowing them to control said trade. No one has succeeded in taking control away from the Bridge Kingdom, and therefore cannot do anything to ease the cost of travel and trade through the bridge.
That’s where our main girl, Lara comes in.
Lara is a princess. An assassin princess. Sent to the infiltrate (aka, marry the king) the savage and brutal bridge kingdom so that her country can flourish again. But when she gets there, of course, she discovers a country and a people very different from what she’s been taught.
Aren, the king of the Bridge Kingdom that Lara is forced to marry, is of course, handsome, brooding, selfless, caring, etc. We love Aren. Aren’s the best.
I won’t lie. The romance is very important here. It’s a slow burn. I actually really enjoyed the way their relationship developed. Aren wants to trust Lara, and of course, Lara is manipulating him at every turn, all while falling for him as well. Don’t forget friends, this is labeled as New Adult, meaning it gets pretty steamy.
There’s a really great cast of secondary characters here too, from siblings to soldiers, crazy grandmothers to evil fathers. Never a dull moment.
There is some rather crass dialogue from the soldiers, which I didn’t care for, but it wasn’t present enough to bother me into giving the book less stars. Just another reminder this is NEW Adult, not Young Adult.
The climax of the story does occur because of kind of a stupid mistake, but I tried not to be too annoyed. Especially since it led into the prep for the second book. And the way it unfolded actually worked quite well based on the character development.
Overall, The Bridge Kingdom’s real strength is the world building. It’s a clever idea that I personally haven’t read in a book before, so I was very engaged by the presence of the mysterious bridge. Aren and Lara’s slow burn romance is delicious, and the constant invasions from other countries and typhoons across the islands kept the plot moving at a breakneck speed. Now I just need the second book. ASAP.