What emerges is a complex portrait of love and recovery focused mainly on one character. Caethari Aeduria is the hard-bodied cinnamon roll that every romance novel needs, yet it is Velasin who holds our attention. The survivor of a viciously homophobic parent culture and brutal mistreatment from loved ones, Velasin has a past that will be sadly relatable to many readers. But his will to live and his profound emotional intelligence are also familiar, and it is Velasin’s refusal to surrender to despair or hate that gives the book its title.
... unfolds on two plot lines: the very sweet romance between Val and his husband-to-be and the very bloody political intrigue that erupts due to objections to the political alliance their marriage represents. Overall excellent and I highly recommend it.
Political intrigue and personal redemption are central to Meadows’ latest, a queer, romantic fantasy rife with violence, hope, and emotional healing sparked by the arranged marriage of two protagonists from countries with vastly conflicting cultural mores ... While certain plot points are rather too neatly concluded, readers will still find themselves captivated by Meadows’ sumptuous, well-crafted world and the healing and growth ultimately experienced by the two protagonists.
This lushly drawn fantasy romance from Meadows offers a delicate meditation on trauma, loyalty, and trust ... Meadows skillfully integrates gripping mystery and satisfying slow-burn romance. The result is sure to delight fans of CL Polk’s Kingston Cycle series and Everina Maxwell’s Winter’s Orbit.