{ARC Review} The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Crime
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: 3rd March 2015
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: eARC provided via Netgalley fair & honest review
Rating: 3/5

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince is the event of a lifetime. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. 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. She's a spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

A Slow Beginning With An Impressive Finish!

The story:
I have to admit I'm torn with this book. While I did enjoy the overall story, I felt it was very slow to get going and it made it very difficult to get into. For the first 50% of the book, nothing really happens. There are a few developments here and there, but for the most part it just felt like there was lot's of talking and parties and…that's pretty much it. Things started to get repetitive and the plot stalled. It wasn't until the 2nd half of the book that the pace started to pick up and the story started to captivate me. The last 10% was the strongest most exciting part of the story, where I couldn't read fast enough and the ending left me desperate to read the final instalment!

The characters:
Kestrel has changed since the first book. She's tougher, stronger and in an attempt to shield her from all the horrid thing going on she has developed an almost coldness to her, appearing like nothing phases her. But it does. That warmth is still there, especially when she's thinking of Arin and the her loved ones, but she sees it as her responsibility to protect all sides in this war.

Arin is as aloof as ever. He wants to stand up for his people and protect them from the emperor, but in doing so he continually puts himself in danger. Arin's selflessness is unwavering and despite his better judgment he continually tries to not only save the people but also hopes that Kestrel is not lost to him forever.

The romance:
The romance between Kestrel and Arin is very minimal is this book. Not that this is a bad thing, as the other elements of the story did require the main focus. The development of the war between the two countries and all the intrigue between different characters. There was some rather strong sexual tension between them when they were together, but their 'on screen' time is quite limited and we don't really see much of the relationship at all.

The writing:
As I mentioned earlier it was the pacing of this book that let it down for me. It felt like this 2nd instalment is designed to set us up for the 3rd book rather than tell any important story itself. Even the blurb is extremely short and says very little. It makes me wonder if perhaps this series should have been a duology.

The actual writing was quite beautiful. Rutkoski's prose is simply stunning, with language that made you just want to stop and appreciate it's beauty.

"If an emotion could have a sounds, Kestrel thought that the one she produced by that question might sound like the glass petals had, ground beneath the heavy vase."

"The way they don't look feels like they're staring."

"Spring pinched the world open. Tight buds split along their seams and spilled out their colors."

I've seen so many amazing reviews for this book, so perhaps it was just me that felt the pacing was just too slow. I will most definitely read The Winner's Kiss and I really hope it continues with the same level of intrigue and excitement that the end of this one had!

Sexuality: mild
Violence: medium / several stabbing and descriptions of war violence
Language: mild
Drugs & alcohol: mild / some underage drinking (which is acceptable in this world)