TW: this book contains rather a lot of a (former) abusive relationship, which is hinted at until near the end when there are some pretty vivid flashbacks. The abuse also really drives a lot of one of our mc’s actions for most of the book.
This book was such a joy to read. There were a lot of my favorite romance / fanfic tropes (more on that in a minute), sympathetic characters, conspiracy and peril, and enough drama and action to keep me reading for hours without even realizing it. You know the type – when you tear yourself away from the book and realize it’s nearly 11pm and you’ve been reading since early afternoon. There wasn’t a lot of worldbuilding but what there was was fascinating. I really need to know more about the remnants. Remnants of… what, exactly?
This is an arranged marriage slooooooow burn romance (mostly due to some misunderstandings at the start) which means you see each character fall in love while trying to hold themselves back because the other one *obviously* doesn’t feel the same. There is also a “there’s only one bed” moment and an absolutely delightful incident with a bear when our mcs find themselves the focus of a murder attempt and take an unexpected detour through the snowy wilderness. Kiem and Jainan have a distinct fanfic flavor to their personalities and relationship, which probably added to my enjoyment. I’m just really into the ‘affable, friends with everyone but can’t shake the mishaps of his college days so no one expects him to amount to anything’ and ‘uptight, private and self-contained, brilliant but mistreated and so just sort of floats along’ character types, I guess.
Kiem and Jainan realize pretty early on that they’re up against something big, which only gets bigger the more they try to discover the truth of what’s going on and who they can trust. I was really pleased with how it all turned out, as I didn’t guess a lot of it ahead of time. I also really liked how it ended. It was very satisfying.
Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for providing an e-arc to review.