What would you choose? Seventeen-year-old Kestrel, daughter of General Trajan, has grown to the place where she has to choose. Will she follow her father's plan and join the military or will she follow the path of society and marry for power and influence?
Kestrel knows how to think for herself. She follows her father's order to hone her fighting skills through daily practice but realizes she will never win in a physical battle. She knows herself well enough to recognize that her strength lies in her ability to strategize and outwit her opponent whether it's in hand-to-hand combat or playing a game of Bite and Sting.
Then, the day comes when she and her best friend, Jess, are shopping the marketplace and Kestrel finds herself standing and watching a slave auction. Kestrel's people, the Valorians, conquered their enemies, the Herrani, in battle and now the Herrani people are sold as slaves in the Valorian auctionplaces. Her attention and possibly her heart captured by discovering one slave can sing, she bids fifty keystones for him and wins. Along with the slave named Smith has she also brought home the Winner's Curse? Has she paid too high a price?
The story resonates with the sexual tension rising between Kestrel and her slave, Smith, real name Arin, rising and rising. But is Arin who he appears to be? The undercurrents of revolution are stirring in the Herrani community and Arin may be source of information and weapons that will send them into full scale battle against the Valorians.
As Kestrel faces her life choices, the General and his daughter stand at the edge of war.
Delicious, captivating and satisfying this is an action-adventure story centered on a young woman who has no magical powers except the all-important one...her own spirit.
355 pages Ages 12 and up 978-0374384678
Sequels: Winner's Crime; Winner's Kiss
Read alikes: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas; Crewel World series by Gennifer Albin; Divergent by Veronica Roth; Defy Trilogy by Sara B. Larson; His Fairy Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers; Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen; Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com