I gave this enemies to lovers romantasy a 4.1/5 stars. I loved Nikolai’s scenes & the world building was done pretty well. Keera’s gradual character growth was done expertly and I appreciate the reality of it. But I won’t be reading the rest of the series later when they come out because of the slow pacing, the heavy prose and the unfinished feeling of the last chapters.
Here are my live thoughts while reading:
I love Keera’s name since my current protagonist I’m writing is named Kyra, pronounced with a long ‘y’ though. She already seems like a bad ass warrior and or assassin who is looking for The Shadow and willing to kill to find him. It’s her job to track down criminals and enemies of the crown. Even though she is a halfling herself she needs to hunt them down.
I’m learning the world of Shades and Blades and the Order. Poor Keera has no friends and isn’t seen as having any value other than killing for the king.
The first chapter was a bit slow by teaching the reader of the world and it’s rules through dialogue but we did learn the personality of Keera, the king and the prince. Will she capture the Shadow? Will the Shadow by Killian? Will the Halflings have an uprising? Will the Dark Fae attack?
In chapter 2 we learn of Keera’s drinking problem as a coping mechanism for all the lives she has ended. She also carved each of their names into her skin afterwards as a reminder. The prince seems cruel and our villain but what I can’t tell so far is if she believes in her loyalty to the crown and enjoys it or despised her title and feels trapped/owned.
Keera’s motivation is unclear and conflicting. She’s acting like she wants to keep her title as Blade more than anything yet she also sounds like she hates the duties forced upon her and that her hands are tied. Which one is it?
Keera’s personality isn’t quite likeable yet. She gives money to the poor behind the king’s back but because of her gloomy, hopeless, defeated energy, it’s hard to root for her. She’s just trudging along without caring much about anything so I want to feel her passion and spark.
After chapter 4 I’m a little bored by the politics and hope there’s more to the story than that.
So Keera found a mysterious person who may be from the other side of the Burning Mountain. I’m intrigued at why that character has traveled here and what purpose they have making secret, shady swaps in an alley. But I want to care more than I do because Keera isn’t invested in anything. She doesn’t have a friend I need to worry about or a family I hope she returns to. She’s flat and two dimensional so far because there’s nothing driving her that she loves.
I’m not really a fan of the repetitive torture and violence. I know she gave a trigger warning in the beginning but it feels like not each encounter needs to go the same way.
Page 71 was first time I felt truly invested. Why did he say it’s impossible?
Keera’s sudden angry outbreak about the Trials seems out of character especially when her reaction is showing vulnerability in front of those she just disciplined.
I’m confused why Hildegard is helping her because they didn’t seem friendly before.
The stakes are finally raised after her meeting with all three royalty so her decisions will make more sense now. Killian is obviously the Shadow. But I don’t understand the differences between elves, Fae, mortals, Halflings and who ages or doesn’t agree. And who were all murdered and who is still left.
I’m unsure if I should be rooting for Keera and Gwyn as a couple or if they’re solely friends. The 40+ year age gap is a bit weird.
The message about Volcar feels like a giant turning point.
The setting finally comes to life in Aralinth. If this was intentional then well done, Melissa.
I feel distracted now. Is Riven the Shadow? And is Rivan and Killian possible brothers? Who am I supposed to like? Plus if she was in love with a female in the past, am I supposed to be rooting for a guy love interest at all?
Another side character that we don’t truly need was just added. I’m wanting the main characters to feel more focused instead of so spread out in plot and purpose.
I feel like she’s becoming more layered in chapter 17. I’m rooting for her now. Yay!
Nikolai is the comic relief we needed. I adore him. He reminds me of Cass in ACOTAR.
When Keera finally has a group of allies and something she is fighting for I like her so much better.
I predict that the vial is gonna be unknown poison later or something.
At the halfway mark Keera says she’s fine with any outcome. I need more than that from her. I want that passion and fight to return so she’s only satisfied with the better outcome. Otherwise, what is there to care about if she’s going to give up?
Phew. The scene with Alys was rough.
The traveling scenes are a bit monotonous but it seems the purpose is to slowly establish her friendships so trust isn’t won overnight.
One bed trope!!!
Oh the masquerade is a great scene.
Aaah! I don’t know who to trust!
The scene with the scars was needed and beautiful. I wish her awakening moment of seeing a new perspective in chapter 37 wasn’t as rushed. It felt like Keera spent 345 pages thinking one way and then it took 1 single page to shift the outlook. Other plot points were more gradual, but this introspective moment felt like a light switch from off to on and seemed too sudden.
At chapter 39 I’m a bit worried that the novel will run out of pages and the climatic scene won’t happen until the sequel which I don’t like. The action beats earlier made sense for the timing but I’m starting to think the big “bam” scene won’t happen.
Well I hated the last chapter. I felt like it was for “shock effect” for the reader but not in-character for those involved. Also, I was correct that the big scene didn’t happen. The bridge scene long ago should’ve been the climatic scene & then the book resolve afterwards OR the ending of this book should be the scene right before the punch scene. So, it felt very undone/unresolved. I understand that authors want a cliffhanger, but there are ways to do that by still finishing the plot arc of the first novel, then giving a hook to re-interest the reader for the continuation of the story. Unfortunately this story just wasn’t completed.
Riven’s solo chapter point of view was interesting because it brought us back in time.
If you’d like to read a different enemies to lovers romantasy please check out my preorder for Scorched, with a contemporary vibe but in an epic world with elemental magic.