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Review: The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso (Swords and Fire #2)

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The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso // VBCThe Defiant Heir (Swords and Fire #2)
Melissa Caruso
Published: April 19, 2018 (Orbit)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review Source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Beth

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

Lady Amalia never meant to become a Falconer—though technically she isn’t. She never meant to become an agent of her government, either—though here she is. Her last mission, though things didn’t go as planned, was considered enough of a success that she now has the mixed blessing of being noticed, both as a possible key to the Cornaro fortune, and as a possibly power broker. Neither of which pleases her.

When Falconers and their mages begin to show up dead, and the Witch Lords begin consolidating power, Amalia is sent as an envoy with her mage Zaira to try and put out the flames of war. Trouble is war may be inevitable unless they can figure out a way to best the Witch Lords at their own games.

I read the first book, The Tethered Mage, and enjoyed it enough to want to read the sequel. However, I have to say that I enjoyed this second book even more than the first. The settings are similar as in the first book, though the descriptions of the various Witch Lord territories really worked well and seemed to fit their various personalities. Frankly, there are a couple of them that I’m not sure I would want to “visit” even as a reader—they would be terrifying. Such is the power of Caruso’s descriptions.

The characters really were the best part of the story. With those who we remember from the first book, we learn more about their motivations, how they’ve grown (or not) as the stories progress, and we even get a few lingering questions answered. With the new characters—and there were many—none of them come across as caricatures or fake. The biggest challenge, I would think, would have been to create the various Witch Lords and make them distinct personalities, without overdoing their fear-factor or their beauty or what have you. Caruso did a great job here. I found myself open-mouthed at times, sort of shuddering at others. It is also very nice to have two strong female main characters who are totally distinct personalities.

The story this second go-round moved at a quicker pace, probably because so much of the back store of Amalia and Zaira and their partnership was already explained in book one. Once it starts, it just thrums along at a nice pace, and never really quits. As mentioned, we do get some questions answered, and yet there are so many more that are discovered. Once I started reading this, I really didn’t stop (except to make dinner) until I had finished it—which meant I was up WAY too late on a work night. It’s been a while since I’ve done that, so that speaks volumes right there.

I’m glad I gave the second Swords and Fire book a chance and I am really VERY excited about book three. Without any spoilers, there are games and romance and intrigue aplenty in The Defiant Heir, and it will be fun to see how some of the lingering and new unanswered questions get their answers. 

Sexual content: none

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