Series: Stolen Brides of the Fae, Book 4
Genres: Fantasy; Romance; Fae; New Adult; Young Adult; Fairy Tales
Publication date: May 28, 2021
A desperate sister. A cold Fae prince. A dangerous trick, and a spark of passion that might set a fragile peace ablaze…
Sephia has always known that her younger sister was destined to wed the prince of the Sun Court.
Long ago, the human kingdom of Middlemage struck a bargain with the neighboring Fae that resulted in peace between them. As part of that bargain, one of the two ruling Fae courts lay claim to a human bride from each new generation. As long as anyone can remember, this is how it has been: The Fae come to take their bride on her eighteenth birthday, the humans allow one to be stolen away, and the peace continues.
Until the Sun Prince comes for her sister, and Sephia does the unthinkable: She disguises herself with magic and goes to the altar in her sister’s place.
And she doesn’t intend for her marriage to end happily ever after.
But Sephia soon finds that all is not as it seems within the cruel and sparkling Court of the Sun. The king is sick. Strange shadows paint the halls of his palace, leaving death in their wake. The prince is desperate to find answers, whatever the cost. And Sephia is the wrong bride, but she may be the right woman to help the prince save his world—
That is, if they can somehow find a way to work together… while ignoring the forbidden passion igniting between them.
“It doesn’t please me for you to call me my prince,” he said.
She stiffened. “We aren’t yet wed. I can’t call you ‘husband’.”
“You could call me by my name.”
“Is your false name so different from me calling you ‘my prince’? At least the latter is true enough.”Chapter Four
As this quote proves, Sephia is a strong willed main character – just how I like them. Sephia knew she was destined to do whatever she needed to in order to save her sister. No. Matter. What.
Marry the fae prince that her sister is destined to? Why of course. Trick the entire human country that she was raised in? No contest. Fight the evil that she didn’t know was plaguing the fae lands? If she must. Fall in love with the very creature she’d sworn to destroy? If she must….
I loved watching her navigate the fae courts. Sure she might have been raised a human princess, but Sephia truly wasn’t raised to conquer the fae lands. Her sister was the one destined to be married into the role, after all. But Sephia’s love for her sister is strong enough to persevere. To do the unthinkable and trick the fae into accepting her. She’s not the sister they thought they were getting, but she’s certainly the sister they needed. Even if they didn’t know it.
This story certainly lines up with the kind of book I find myself seeking out when I make trips to the book store. The fae are a weakness of mine, in case that isn’t obvious by the amount of fae stories I read, and a strong willed female lead is the icing on the top of the cake. The idea of the Sun and the Shadow courts and an ancient bargain between humans and the fae is the exact thing that pulls me in.
I truly did enjoy my time in this story. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found myself reading something else by Gaither and enjoyed it. While I don’t currently have anything by her on my TBR, there’s always tomorrow.
One of my favourite parts of this read was seeing the contrast between the Sun Court and the Shadow Court. As two opposing courts, it’s clear that they’re going to be run drastically differently. Yet the way this is actually written out in the story gave it a unique flare that “opposing courts” doesn’t quite cover. And that was great.
Two tropes in this story are at the forefront of my mind when I think about it – opposites attract and enemies to lovers.
Sure Sephia might have been magically glammered to look like her sister throughout most of the story. Yes, Tarron didn’t know who Sephia really was or what she looked like for most of the story. But their personalities alone showed just how different they were going into this story. It wasn’t only their different personalities that brought them together, but it certainly helped them learn each other. By being so different, they were able to really see the strength of the other and to compliment them. Sure being from different courts/kingdoms meant that they were intrinsically different, but their personalities clashed just enough for them to be able to see the strengths the other possessed and learn how they might compliment each other.
In regards to the enemies to lovers trope, that’s one clear from the beginning. Sephia begins by wanting to kill the Sun Prince in order to save her sister and her family from the bargain the humans struck long ago. Yet instead of killing the prince she ends up falling in love with him.
I found the way that Gaither portrayed this trope to be quite enjoyable. Of course it wasn’t ground breaking stuff – this is a trope that I read quite often, so I know I enjoy it – but Gaither’s writing was still able to make it feel fresh. And that’s really all I want out of a read like this one. A classic trope, but with a fresh feel to it.
Another part of the story that was really cute was Ketzal. This griffin certainly loves his sweets! His sweet tooth made it easier for Sephia to find her way into his heart. While not a major plot point of the story, it’s an element that added more depth to the world and its inhabitants. Likeable side characters and animal companions are a weakness of mine – I will always cry over the death of an animal companion while humanoid deaths rarely bring me to tears – so Ketzal was a great bonus for me. His existence added another layer to the story and I loved it.
This sweet toothed griffin might not be a character that should exist in the real world – after all, he’s a creature that could do some serious damage in the world – but that doesn’t stop me from hoping I could meet him. I’d certainly try what Sephia did and use sweets to slither my way into his good graces.
All of that being said, one critique I’ve read about this story a couple of times now that I agree with is feeling like the ending was a bit rushed. To me, the story felt like a buildup to nothing in a way. The characters were starting to develop, the world was being flushed out, and Sephia’s real identity wasn’t discovered until pretty late in the story. The climax of this story just didn’t have a really powerful hit.
As a novella, and a fantasy one at that, it can be hard to find the balance between the story you want to tell and the facts that make it feel real. And this balance was just shy of being there for me. Of course the Sun Court was shocked to find out the truth about Sephia, but it didn’t hold as much of an impact as I’d hoped it would have.
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