I received this book for free from The Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on October 30, 2023
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, LGBT, Love & Romance, Romance
Source: The Author
NEVER CATCH THE COURT JESTER’S ATTENTION. AND NEVER BE ALONE WITH HIM.
Those were the rules. And I’d broken them.
The jester had been a dark temptation. Forbidden. Magnetic. Seductive. His wicked tongue was impossible to resist.
Captive to my enemy’s heated embrace, I became his obsession. And this devious, sensuous trickster became my destiny.
Now our fates are linked. In a kingdom where passion and power clash, I’m the ruined princess he’d walk through fire to protect.
But deadly threats are closing in. A dangerous game has begun against the Crown. And if I don't make a cruel deal, my heart will be forced to choose.
My claim to the throne. Or my desire for the jester.
That is, if his sizzling touch doesn’t shatter me first.
I’ve ruminated on this review for a few weeks now. I usually don’t struggle this much with writing reviews but this book blew my mind (in all the best ways) so it has taken me some time to settle my thoughts and put them into some kind of order that would be easy for people to follow. Long story short – I utterly adored this book and no words will do it justice (but I will still try!)
Before I dive into my review of Ruin, I need to state that I am on the author’s ARC Team and received a copy of this book early in exchange for my honest review. This in no way affects the content of my review – all opinions (good and bad) are my own though I’m forever grateful to Natalia Jaster for giving me the chance to read this book early. Now, onto my review!
I am a huge fan of the Foolish Kingdoms series and was so happy when I first found out Natalia was returning to this world again in a new, more adult-themed (or perhaps more accurately new adult-themed) series following the original protagonists: the princess Briar and her lover (and court jester) Poet. These two met and sparks flew from the very outset and their romance was my favourite kind – super slow-burn and not without its share of steam and true enemies-to-lovers vibes.
The original version of Trick was slightly more YA orientated, however this newly revisited version had more content, more steaminess, and even more Poet and Briar interactions. It kicked off a new series focussed on their story (although other characters from the original series do make an appearance in Ruin and I imagine more will follow in subsequent books).
I loved reading the new edition of Trick but was truly looking forward to getting a new story for these characters in Ruin. We had glimpses of the continuation of Poet and Briar’s love story previously, but it was never truly enough for me so to say I was excited for this book was an understatement.
I dove into Ruin the very minute it hit my inbox and got re-acquainted with these characters all over again. What a wild ride it was. It took awhile to shake off the book hangover (and boy, was it a book hangover of the ages!) but now I think I’m properly ready to share my thoughts so buckle up…
Ruin begins pretty much where Trick left off. Briar and her entourage are returning to the Kingdom of Autumn, bringing with her Poet, her new love, and his son Nicu, after they were expelled from the Spring Kingdom. They know the path ahead of them won’t be easy but are determined to make it work despite the obstacles they know will be ahead of them.
Pretty much from the word go this story gallops ahead and all you can do is cling tightly to the reigns and hope like hell you don’t fall off. Despite the fact this book is primarily a romance, don’t let it fool you into thinking there will not be much of a plot. Because you would be dead wrong.
Before they even properly make it to Briar’s home; events take a turn for the worse when one of the soldier’s protecting the party is brutally killed and which sets off an investigation into who could have done such a thing and why. Briar has to face up to the fact that someone is plotting against her directly and is using Poet and Nicu as bait.
Poet is determined to protect his princess and his child, even if it means putting his own life in danger. On top of that, their mortal enemy – the King of the Summer Court – is taunting them at every turn. They know he must be involved somehow (as his very unwelcome presence in their court attests) but they also have to face the hard truth that something within their own court is involved. Both are trying frantically to protect the other and cracks begin to appear in their relationship as they both try to keep their heads above water.
Will their relationship be able to withstand the challenges they face?
If you’ve read the Foolish Kingdoms series you will already know the answer but that in no way makes this book and the events that transpire any easier to digest. This book is a tough read. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. There are times you will get frustrated, at the plot sure, but also at Briar and Poet’s stubbornness.
This pair are perfect for each other but at this stage of their relationship their communication pretty much sucks, at least until they begin to listen to each other and take into account the other’s strengths and their own weaknesses (they are the perfect foils for each other because they balance each other out – where Briar is blunt, Poet is charming, Briar is book-smart whilst Poet is street-smart and so on). They compliment each perfectly and when they take stock of this they have the power to change their world. However, it’s going to take them some time to get there and that’s alright – because without those challenges to overcome we might not have had this series!
The plot is exciting and heart-breaking at the same time. Briar and Poet are doing their level-best to improve the circumstances of born fools – those that their society have deemed lesser. This is something close to their hearts because Nicu (Poet’s young son) is one who would be classed as such. They are determined to improve the lot of these poor souls but change takes time and not everyone is impressed with their goals and will do everything in their power to ensure nothing changes.
At times, it feels like Briar and Poet have the weight of the entire world on their shoulders but over time they come to realise that they do have allies willing and able to help them: Queen Avalea (Briar’s monarch mother), Briar’s best friend Elliot, the ladies Posy, Cadence and Vale, First Knight Aire, plus an unusual child fans of the original series may recall…
However, the opposition they face is fierce and events soon tumble out of control for the pair. I’m not going to lie – this book ends on a nasty cliffhanger (and I mean, it’s a doozy) and there are times when you will feel like the floor has just dropped out from under you. I’m a big fan of angst in my reading choices and this book delivers on that front. However, even if you don’t like angst I would still recommend this book – because you know there is going to be a sweet, sweet resolution on the other side of it – we all just need to be patient (but why, oh why, isn’t the next book out yet?!?)
to sum up
Overall, I cannot say enough good things about Ruin. It is everything I wanted it to be and more. If I was occasionally banging my head against the wall at Briar and Poet’s antics… well, that just means I care all the more, right?
Seriously though, it was a blinder of a book, a fantastic follow-up to Trick, and the precursor to what I know is going to be a fabulous conclusion (though come to think of it, I’m note sure how many books are to follow – hopefully a few to keep me going!!) I honestly cannot recommend this book (and series) enough.