I know I say this about each Orc Sworn book – I KNOW I do – but this one really is my new favorite.
I adored these characters. Geva really spoke to me, both in aspiration and desperation. It was the promise made to so many young women of my generation: work hard in school, get a good education, and you’ll be rewarded with a challenging, rewarding career. Only we weren’t. We hit the glass ceiling. We were resented by our peers. We got passed over for roles that absolutely should have been ours. I knew *exactly* what frustrations and fears drove Geva because I have absolutely been there. I though Gwen from Midwife and the Orc was my spirit animal but no, not after I met Geva.
Rath initially seems so, so wrong for our erstwhile governess. He’s a rogue. A thief! He destroys her career and puts her life in serious danger without so much as an apology. But as the story twists and turns (and there are LOT of twists and turns – I love all the Ash-Kai scheming!), it became clear that Rath was exactly what Geva needed. Good girls love a rogue, don’t they? And Rath’s roguishness had some surprisingly sympathetic roots. I complain sometimes in reviews about couples who don’t earn their HEAs. Rath and Geva *really* earned theirs.
I also loved seeing series characters again. The denizens of Orc Mountains feel like friends at this point and it’s always wonderful to visit with them. The story arc with Kesst is one of my favourites and it plays out beautifully here. Eft has a line that absolutely stopped me in my tracks – I won’t say what it was because of spoilers, but you’ll know when you get there – and you’ll know what it means if you’ve read Sins of the Orc. My heart melted. There is no better mate for our cynical, sharp-tongued Infirmarian.
I can’t review an Orc Sworn book without talking about the amazing world building in this series. This author has developed a world that’s viscerally real – I can touch, taste, hear and smell it in every scene. I’ve always liked the contrasts between the “outside” world of men and the “inside” world of Orc Mountain. It works particularly well here as a metaphor for the mindsets and relationships between the characters. Rath’s “trove” is a particularly deft touch; when the author used the detail of where Geva’s book is to off-set what seemed like Orcish callousness and cruelty, it brought tears to my eyes.
As with the rest of this series, there’s plenty of steam in this book, but I absolutely adored the role reversal in this one. It was so satisfying.
This is a book I will read many, many times and highly recommend.