Goodreads: The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1)
Published: 09 June 2020
Genre: Fantasy Romance (Romantasy)
A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.
The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara’s homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.
Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.
I buddy read this with Julie @ One Book More and I’m so glad because I really needed someone to wail to when shit hit the fan and hit the fan shit really did! 🥺 We loved this first book so much and were so shook by that ending we immediately started the second book!
TL;DR: There’s a lot of hype around this book and it’s definitely for good reason. This was an extremely binge-able read that I had a really hard time putting down. I’d recommend this if you enjoy romantasy, but more specifically: vivid fantasy worlds, slow-burn enemies-to-lovers romance, a plot full of deception and heart-pounding action, and a romantasy couple that will have your heart swooning with happiness and weeping with angst.
The Bridge Kingdom had me hooked from the very first chapter. The world-building was vivid, the characters were compelling, the romance was a swoony slow-burn, the plot was full of tense political manoeuvring, deception, and there was plenty of action to go around! These are nations that have long been at war with each other and many have formed a tenuous peace with each other for trade purposes, especially with Ithicana as they control the bridge. I enjoyed reading about the different nations and how they differed in climate and cultures but it mostly focused on Maridrina and Ithicana, where our two main characters are from. Although there’s a peace agreement between the two, their peoples loathe each other for all they’ve suffered as a result of the cruel actions of the opposing monarchs (of course, there’s more to the story than meets the eye)! When the book kicks off, the stakes are already high and there’s plenty of scheming and subterfuge as the story progresses. Most of the story is set in Ithicana and it wasn’t at all difficult to picture the lush jungle terrain, the frothing waters of an angry sea, and (my worst nightmares) plenty of deadly snakes and shark-infested waters. *gulp* I’m 100% sure I would not survive Ithicana.
I was intrigued by Lara from the moment we meet her and her first actions, as jaw-droppingly shocking as they were, really set the tone for her character and I loved it! She has spent her life (essentially) being trained to be one of Maridrina’s most fearsome assassins and has also been brainwashed to believe the worst of Ithicana and its king. She’s fierce, cunning, often ruthless in the pursuit of her goal, but she’s also extremely loyal, caring and thoughtful. She loves her sisters enough to sacrifice everything for them, and it’s very clear early on that she would do anything to give her people a better life. She had such great character growth! Although her motives are initially driven by hatred and she begins intending to deceive, she doesn’t harden herself to what she learns and experiences in Ithicana. It takes time for her to fully accept she’s been made a fool of her whole life, and she makes some heartbreakingly frustrating and ultimately devastating decisions that made me want to give her a good hard shake, but it wasn’t untrue to her character. It was so easy to root for her. She’s the ultimate QUEEN! 👑
Similarly, I knew I was going to love Aren from the beginning. Outside of Ithicana, he has a reputation of being cold, cruel and practically a demon, but we quickly learn that’s the biggest lie out there. He’s a bean. The sweetest man with the biggest heart. As corny as it sounds, he’s a man of his people. He fights alongside them every day and I loved seeing his genuine interactions with his soldiers and with the Ithicanians who clearly adored him (I mean, I totes get it)! He’s determined to give his people a better life (not unlike Lara), one where they aren’t confined to the bridge out of fear that the other nations will destroy their homes. He cares so much for his people He’s such a great character and deserves everything good! 🥺 The Ithicanians also quickly won my heart, especially Jor, Lia, and Taryn! They were such good people and I loved all the cheeky banter exchanged within the group.
When it came to the romance, it was a delightful slow-burn that even had me feeling butterflies whenever Lara and Aren interacted with each other (which was often lol). I loved watching them go from enemies to tentative friends to partners and eventually to lovers and it was so satisfying to watch them shatter their preconceived notions of each other and slowly fall in love. That said, the sparks were there from the start when they playfully antagonised each other and their chemistry only grew to become more explosive! There were so many swoony and heart-happy moments between them that had me grinning in delight, which is also why that cliffhanger ending was an even more bitter pill to swallow! Oof, talk about ramping up the angst! 🙈
Hit me with the next one, please!
Have you read The Bridge Kingdom or is it on your TBR?