Let’s start off with a summary from Goodreads:
Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.
Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He’s grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear…not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?
Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.
When Nash’s secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.
This book had my mind going ALL OVER THE PLACE (in a good way). You know how some stories spend a good chunk of the beginning slowly breaking you into the book? Yeah, not here. It didn’t leave me wondering when the real plot was going to pop up because even in the first pages, action burst forth and I was HOOKED. There were some instances where I felt like the characters came to terms with some information too easily, that there wasn’t appropriate opposition. BUT this story-line and this world? FANTASTIC. It kind of brings to mind the sort of kingdom-like realms of Graceling, Throne of Glass and His Fair Assassin; it has that same sort of flavor without being anywhere near the same as any of those stories. So I couldn’t help but love it, of course.
Now, those boys–OH those boys. See, this is what had my mind all over the place–I started off wanting Layla to be with one, but then I changed my mind in favor of the other, and this process happened at least three more times throughout the book. And typically in a series I pick a guy and root for him through the entirety of said series, but not here. Nash’s fierce, strong, and wittily charming personality had me hooked from his and Layla’s first encounter. And initially Wil’s quiet, sure, calm nature didn’t strike a chord with me like Nash’s character did, but the more the story progressed and the more I got to know him, the more I loved him. And all this binding business served to throw my thoughts into even more disarray. Even now, I’m not 100% positive who I would choose if it were me (this is really puzzling me).
As for Layla . . . *sigh* Okay, so I understand why she is so, so wishy-washy about choosing between the two guys, especially with all the sneaky bonding business going on, but it was still kind of bothersome that she was so back and forth, you know? Come on, choose one for more than two seconds! (Says the one who wasn’t able to choose for the whole book . . . ah, hypocrisy.) But other than that, I really like her–she has real fight in her and I love when a heroine can hold her own.
All in all, this was a captivating story-line with memorable characters that I honestly NEED to hear from again, soon. Because that ending? Whaaaa–? WHY, ERIN, WHY?! I didn’t even realize that was the end of the book until I turned the page and SURPRISE! no more story! I suppose I’ll just have to wait for the next installment, but there are some pretty important questions that need to be answered. So I guess I’ll just sit here, waiting, rapt in AGONY AND SUSPENSE, because authors hold all the cards and they love to torture us (don’t worry, I still love you). The final tally: 4.78/5 stars 😉