Book 1 in The True Reign series
Within these pages lie kingdoms with castles and princes who fall in love with fair maidens, but make no mistake−this is no fairytale.
His father's kingdom is on the brink of upheaval and at the center of it all is an ordinary girl who could be the key to its undoing. When faced with the ultimate choice, will he choose the girl he's falling in love with or the kingdom he has sworn to protect?
An ordinary girl with an extraordinary past... All she wants is to be free. What she doesn't realize is that freedom comes with a price she can't afford to pay. She's forced to accept the proposal of a prince she despises, even though her heart belongs to someone else... his brother.
Seventeen-year-old Rema lives in a brutal kingdom where travel between regions is forbidden, people are starving, and looking at someone the wrong way can mean death. Nineteen-year-old Darmik is the king's son and Commander of the King's Army. He spends his days roving the island, doing his father's bidding and trying to maintain control over the people.
When a chance encounter throws Rema and Darmik together, they share an instantaneous connection, but any sort of relationship between them is strictly forbidden. Darmik's brother, the Crown Prince, notices Darmik's interest in Rema and, in a calculated, political move, blackmails her. Faced with an impossible choice, Rema is forced to sacrifice her heart in order to save her family.
As Rema is taken to the palace with the Crown Prince, Darmik confronts the growing rumor that a legitimate blood heir to the throne exists and is trying to overthrow Darmik's family. In Darmik's quest to hunt down and kill the threat, he discovers that nothing is as it seems. Locked in the king's castle, Rema finds herself a key player in a massive power struggle. When Darmik shows up, she's not sure if she can trust him. The line between friends, enemies, and loyalty becomes blurred. As truths are unlocked, Rema understands that she just might be the key to finding the rightful heir and restoring peace to the kingdom... if she can manage to stay alive long enough.
I found out this book was free after I visited the publisher's website. It sounded like my kind of book so I downloaded it right away.
The prologue is gripping. I fell completely into the story, immersed in a fantasy realm with an interesting hierarchy and a rich history. The POV was third person, which I find rare and a little more difficult for a good writer to pull off. Davis has a steady voice and a good flow for storytelling. Rema is definitely a relate-able protagonist, and Darmik is easy to fall in love with, and Lennek is easy to loathe. Maybe a little too easy. I wish the evil characters would have been just a bit more rounded out; given some little hint of sweetness to soften their edges and make them more believable. I wanted to understand why Lennek felt the need to be so cruel, and why the king didn't really care for Darmik, his second son.
The Key was a page turner, mostly because I enjoyed being in that world so much. The kingdom and Rema really resonated with me. I wanted to return to it as often as I could, which to me is the sign of a great book. I was able to decipher the "clues" in the story long before the characters figured them out, but I get the feeling the reader was meant to have a head start. But there's still a lot of enticing mystery to fill up two more books and I'm very much looking forward to them.
Especially because the ending really wasn't an ending at all! I'll admit I was a little miffed when everything just went black, without an explanation. I understand the hook of a cliff hanger, but I don't really feel like any aspect of the story was wrapped up. And from what I've heard, the sequel is the same way. So even if I wasn't planning on reading the second one, I definitely am now. I'm grateful the first three chapters of Red, book 2 in the True Reign series, are included at the end of the ebook.
So definitely download The Key if you love lords and ladies and princes and sword fights, but don't expect to get any sense of resolution out of it.
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