Monday, January 2, 2017

ARC Review: The Edge of the Blade by Jeffe Kennedy

Series:     Uncharted Realms #2
Pub. Date:Dec. 27, 2016
Length:400 pages

In this latest installment of the Twelve Kingdoms spinoff, we are off to the Uncharted Realm of Dasnaria, where men are self-important and women are seen and not heard. I was very much looking forward to this book to see how Jeffe's strong-willed heroines fared in such a misogynistic society. This book takes place somewhat contemporaneously with The Pages of the Mind, and I do not recommend reading any of these as a standalone. Read them in order to the full continuing story arc.

Flirting is to sex what training was to martial expertise, a woman had to keep limber, make sure her head and body stayed in shape for the game. Didn't get rusty or flabby in either arena. 
Our heroine in this book is/was the Captain of Queen Ursula's Hawks and the Queen's best scout, Jesperanda (Jepp). She was an interesting choice to be paired with this particular hero, and to be undertaking this particular mission. Why? Because Jepp is arguably one of Jeffe's more tomboyish heroines, to the point of being androgynous in personality and behavior. She is a skilled soldier, prefers fighting leathers to feminine accouterments, is a bit oversexed and lusty, and enjoys the touch of a woman just as much as a man. She was unapologetically her own person and she wasn't going to change for anyone. I quite liked her. 
It's not good for a woman to believe a man listens to her - she beings to think to influence his opinions. 
General Kral of Dasnaria and Imperial Prince of the Royal House of Konyngrr was attracted to Jepp's lethal beauty from the time they met (and slept together) in the earlier books of the series. Kral didn't quite know what to make of the women of the Twelve Kingdoms, who voiced their opinion instead of looking meekly down and doing what they were told. He loved sparring with Jepp, both verbally and physically, but her refusal to conform to the ways of a Dasnarian female also frustrated and infuriated him. He really was obtuse in his views on feminine ideas and behavior, but it was attributable to his upbringing in the male-dominated society of Dasnaria.

Dasnaria and it's political structure reminded me of the historical Ottoman/Byzantine empire, with a sheikh or sultan at the head and women kept as concubines in a huge harem. Jepp definitely stuck out like a sore thumb, but I was so glad that she did. I didn't want her to conform or try to meet the outdated Dasnarian ideals of feminine obedience and service. 

The relationship between Kral and Jepp was fun. I liked to watch them pick at one another as it was a clear case of opposites attracting. I also liked watching Kral realize that he preferred a brash outspoken woman to the meek and mild untouchable females in Dasnaria. I really wish that I wasn't reading this one over the holidays as I kept getting interrupted by family commitments and couldn't really devote the time to the book that I would have liked. That kept me from becoming fully involved in the story, but once I was back home yesterday with some quiet time, the last quarter of the book zipped by in a blink. Most of the action occurred in that last quarter, but I thought the build-up during the first part of the book was necessary, and it was entertaining as well.

I love fantasy romance and wholeheartedly recommend this series to other fans of the genre. The previous book, Pages of the Mind, made it onto my Top Reads of 2016 list. I just couldn't get enough of King Nakoa KauPo. Mmmmmm.  I am excited to see where Jeffe takes us next!

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the author and publisher.

Twelve Kingdoms / Uncharted Realms

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