by Marie Rutkowski
Published on March 29, 2016
Synopsis from Goodreads: War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him. At least, that’s what he thinks. In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her. But no one gets what they want just by wishing. As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?My (spoiler free) take: I'm happy. This was a fantastic ending to a really great YA trilogy. I don't know what I was expecting (and these days, I tend to go into series enders with a HUGE amount of trepidation and low expectations) but this book exceeded it. It was everything I hoped for!
I'm not a huge fantasy reader. I don't have a lot of patience for books with tons of bloody battle scenes. I love a heroine who uses her brains against the brawn of others. Thus, this was probably my ideal YA fantasy-ish series (I still think this feels a little like historical fiction, and it seems to me that it's somewhat inspired by the history of the Roman empire.)
I'm also a huge sucker for romances in which the couple completely misunderstands and misjudges each other, and then finally realizes how completely wrong and stubborn they've been. The Winner's Kiss is all about that good stuff. Arin has made a lot of assumptions about Kestrel and in this last installment, he learns that he's misjudged her. But do they fall into each other's arms once he's realized this? Ha ha ha - I also love romances where the couple really has to earn their happy ending and that's certainly the case here.
If you haven't read this, get on it! (In fact, I'll be offering up a copy this Friday.) If you haven't read this series and, like me, are more a fan of historical romance than hardcore fantasy, put this series on your list. You won't regret it!
Have you read this or any of the books in this series? Tell me in comments!!