Sara B. Larson
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Alexa continues to harbor a secret love for the newly crowned King Damian, yet she remains by his side as his guard and ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion's people. However, when a new threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on the once friendly nation of Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. Once again the fate of her country hangs in the balance. Will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy -- before it's too late?
Ignite is a beautiful follow up to last year’s Defy, thrusting us immediately into the emotional aftermath of Alexa’s decision to bury her feelings for now-King Damian and stay his personal guard rather than become his queen. Many a reader might breathe a sigh of frustration at Alexa’s “for your own good” reasoning as to why their relationship can no longer be romantic, but given they live in a world where public perception can have a profound effect on whether or not Damian goes unchallenged as king, her reservations about her suitability as queen are not entirely unfounded. We can feel the pain and hurt traveling between them on a never-ending loop–her feelings feeding his and his reactions to those feelings only magnifying hers further–and our hearts simply ache for the two of them as they struggle to make peace with the way things are.
Alexa is as physically impressive as ever with her sword and her bow, but she's also strong mentally as well, dealing with her feelings for Damian while attempting to come to terms with the significant facial scarring she suffered in her battle with a black sorcerer. She hates that she has to pretend her feelings for Damian are no longer what they once were, but her utter conviction that it’s what’s right for Antion has us seeing her side of things even as we want to scream at her to just be selfish and go for it, consequences be damned. She never wallows in her pain though, taking Damian’s coolness toward her as her due, and when Rylan presents himself as an opportunity to seek comfort and warmth, she handles it with a maturity far beyond her young age.
She could easily have upped the angst factor of this tale, gladly taking what Rylan so willingly offers, but while she’s undoubtedly tempted, she’s also able to look at the situation objectively, fully understanding that any happenings with Rylan would in no way change her feelings for Damian. For better or worse, her heart and loyalty belong to the latter, and she holds fast to that knowledge throughout. We’re not forced to endure an entire book of pain and longing however, as eventually circumstances rip the “I’m doing what’s best” blinders from her eyes and give her the chance to see a bit more clearly, and we can’t help but smile at the two of them even as the shadow of war hovers ominously over Antion.
Overall, Ignite is a sequel free of a single trace of middle book syndrome, raising the stakes both emotionally and physically for Alexa, Damian, and those they care about most. We’re left with a solid enough conclusion, but there’s an undeniable weight still on our shoulders as we close the back cover, a number of things exactly as they should be on the last page yet several ends remain free of their ties, threatening the temporary happiness our lead couple has found.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.