Title: The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria's crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement… if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret. As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country's freedom, he can't fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
The Winner's Crime is enthralling, captivating, and brutal. Now comes the dark politics, the plots and plans that come out of and lead into war. The inescapable stranglehold of a cruel ruler who will not let anyone stand in his way.
Again, Kestrel and Arin are trapped. Even more so by their own doing. She was the one who went to the emperor, saving lives but condemning herself to becoming his puppet. He was the one who wouldn't read between the lines, who took her at face value, who believed she used her intelligence and cunning against him. They need each other but they cannot trust each other. They refuse to. All they remember is the hurt and suffering the other caused. But trust is what will save them.
Deception and deceit, spies and secrets, they all drip from each page, leaving the truth to be a subtle thing, tucked into each word. Waiting to be uncovered.
What is the cost of winning? Should everyone whose lives will change pay the price, or just the person who started it?
The war between the Valorian and the Herrani has ended, but it is not over. The emperor will not stop until everyone is under his thumb, paying tribute and obeying his orders. His is an experienced and highly intelligent kind of cruelty, one carefully crafted. It will not be easy for Kestrel and Arin to battle against him.
How strange it is to read a tragic love story when each of them find that their falling in love is the worst thing that could have happened. And how intriguing it is to see both of them battle between emotion and duty with duty winning. It's clear that they love each other, that they both want nothing more but to escape to where no one knows their names, but they cannot. The entire world is working against them. This second book is even more perilous and dangerous than the first. The conclusion is sure to have the biggest, most painful surprise of them all.
(I received an advance copy of this title to review from Raincoast Books.)