First, thanks to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an egalley of this title. This is actually my first book by this author, and I can say that I will definitely be reading more! I really enjoyed this story. The characters were ones that I really liked, and the story was a great one as well.
We have a couple main characters that the story is told from their viewpoints. And then there are a couple chapters that are another side character’s viewpoint. While I know some reviews said this was kind of confusing, I didn’t really have any problem with it. The first main character is Princess Aerity. Princess Aerity has had a pretty good life. She has wonderful caring parents, who because her father married for love, he has always said his children could do the same. Until the great beast comes to their land. They keep sending their best hunters and troops out to kill it, but nothing works, and more people keep getting killed. The townspeople begin to blame the “lashed”. People who are able to do magic. But they have been banned from doing magic ever since one of them tried to take over the countries and killed many people. In order to try to keep peace in the land, the King comes up with the only thing he can think of to draw in the best hunters from all around, the only thing left to get them to risk their lives. He offers his daughter, Aerity, in marriage. Aerity understands it must be done, that even though she’d always thought she would get to choose, this was the life of a royal.
Our other main character is Paxton. He is one of the townspeople in Princess Aerity’s kingdom. He is one of the best hunters, and while he is not a fan of the King or any royalty, he does enter the contest, mainly for the money. He enters with his younger brother, Tiern, who is kind of the people person in the family. Paxton is more of a loner, and very standoffish. But once on the royal grounds, when he sees Aerity, he feels a pull towards her, even though he is sure that he will not be able to stand her, that she will be an uptight snob. Now Paxton has reason to be the way he is, and we will learn about that when things get bad on the hunts, and his brother’s life is at risk.
The connection between Paxton and Aerity is one that she decides she wants, even though he keeps his distance and pushes her away most of the time. There are other hunters that Aerity already knows, such as Harrison, her childhood friend, who is in love with her. Then there is the Lord that comes from a country far away, but seems to only have eyes for Aerity’s cousin Wyneth. Wyneth who lost her betrothed to the monster at the beginning of the story.
What will happen if someone who doesn’t love Aerity wins? What will happen if Paxton wins, but refuses to marry her? And will they be able to defeat the beast? What do the lashed have to do with the beast, or do they have anything at all to do with it? While many in the kingdom do treat them badly, Aerity and her family have never really been that way. In fact an older woman who is their healer is a lashed, and Aerity feels like she is a grandmother type of figure.
Paxton and other men in the contest will be interesting characters. Aerity’s younger siblings both Vixie and her younger brother, are fun and such a great part of the story. There is an ending that is kind of sad, what happens to the beast, who Aerity must marry, and have they really solved it all? And will Aerity, as well as everyone in the kingdom, be able to accept Paxton, even with his secret? I look forward to book two, to find out what will happen.