"Did you know Jatin is coming back today?"
It's a complete farce. Adraa hasn't seen Jatin since she "punched" him in the face nine years ago and now he's coming to Belwar after completing his schooling and the two are about to meet - having been betrothed for all these years.
Will they be a good match? Adraa is the heir to the throne of Belwar. Jatin is the heir to the throne of Naupure. She may be the most powerful witch in the land of Belwar but she fears she has not been Touched by the gods - one arm is bare where the other shows the markings of magic. Is she enough?
What unfolds next is some serious sexual tension woven into intrigue and betrayal. When Adraa turns 18 in 45 days she will "showcase her talent" -we're talking talent with magic - before all nine gods to receive their blessing. She is the future maharani of Wickery and she cannot rule unless she receives the blessings of every one of them. She has to control all nine types of magic in front of the gods and her people.
Does she believe in herself? Not entirely because when she looks down at her arms one of them is a glorious swirl and design and the other - well, the other is bare. That could be a big problem.
Belwar is awash in dealers of a substance called Bloodlurst a powder that can upgrade your powers and now it seems the same dealers are selling "firelight" at a price no one can afford. Adraa invented firelight. If you add a little bit of this red magic to your fireplace, it will keep it lit for two months. She created it so every citizen of her land could afford it and it's been selling in the marketplace at a fair rate until now.
Adraa is determined to find out who is behind the firelight trickery so she agrees to work undercover in the seediest part of town using her magic to fight. What she doesn't know is that her partner in this dark world is actually her betrothed.
Set very naturally in a world that feels like India so we have the element of diversity working here.The story hinges on the fun that Adraa does not know Kalyan is her future husband and she is spending hours with him watching the Vencrin to discover who is selling all the firelight at such an unaffordable price. It is filled with moments when this young woman finds her own power and relies on herself. It's filled with hilarious scenes where the heir to Naupure is getting blown away by his future bride - and that future bride doesn't even know she's falling in love with her future husband. Plenty of action and romance and ...oh...did I mention the sexual tension.
Who is the enemy? Can Adraa master all nine colors of magic? When wiill these two reveal themselves to each other?
Totally swoonworthy. Looking forward to the next book so I can hear them talking to each other again and we can get to know more and more about what Adraa can do....have a feeling we haven't seen the depth of her power - very empowering and satisfying. We need all the strong women role models we can get!
448 pages 978-0593124215 Ages 13 and up (kissing and sexual tension)
Keywords: fantasy, action/adventure, magic, power, romance, intrigue, betrayal, duology, diversity, diverse books, 13 year old, 14 year old, 15 year old
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
The first book in an epic, heart-pounding fantasy duology about two royal heirs betrothed to be married, but whose loyalties are torn, and a ruthless enemy who threatens their world, perfect for fans of Sabaa Tahir, Hafsah Faizal, and Renée Ahdieh.
Adraa is the royal heir of Belwar, a talented witch on the cusp of taking her royal ceremony test, and a girl who just wants to prove her worth to her people.
Jatin is the royal heir to Naupure, a competitive wizard who's mastered all nine colors of magic, and a boy anxious to return home for the first time since he was a child.
Together, their arranged marriage will unite two of Wickery's most powerful kingdoms. But after years of rivalry from afar, Adraa and Jatin only agree on one thing: their reunion will be anything but sweet.
Only, destiny has other plans and with the criminal underbelly of Belwar suddenly making a move for control, their paths cross...and neither realizes who the other is, adopting separate secret identities instead.
Between dodging deathly spells and keeping their true selves hidden, the pair must learn to put their trust in the other if either is to uncover the real threat. Now Wickery's fate is in the hands of rivals..? Fiancées..? Partners..? Whatever they are, it's complicated and bound for greatness or destruction.---from the publisher