One of the most popular tropes you can find within the fantasy genre is “enemies to lovers,” and let me tell you, I am a sucker for a good enemies to lovers. After finishing up Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times Bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I was experiencing a reading slump of a lifetime. Naturally, I turned to bookstagram in order to get some enemies to lovers recommendations that might pull me out of my book hangover. Universally, I was recommended Danielle L. Jenson’s Bridge Kingdom duology. After seeing both The Bride Kingdom and The Traitor Queen at a discount on Amazon, I decided I had to purchase.
THE BRIDGE KINGDOM
Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil – and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara’s homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.
But as she infiltrates her new home – a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas – and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?
THE TRAITOR QUEEN
Lara has only one thought when her husband is taken prisoner: I will do whatever it takes to set you free.
A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.
And it is bait she fully intends to take.
Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared.
But as Lara and her companions formulate a plan to free Aren from her father’s palace, they soon discover that while it is easy to get in, it will be quite another thing to get Aren, and themselves, back out. Not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed.
With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or for herself.
The Bridge Kingdom and The Traitor Queen follow Lara, a princess of a tyrannical kingdom, and her husband, Aren, the king of a rival country. Aren and his kingdom own and control the bridge that allows for trade, with his taxes and fees constricting the goods Lara can afford to import into her country. To remedy this problem and gain control of the bridge, Lara enters into an arranged marriage with Aren, hoping to find and exploit the bridge’s weaknesses and take it over for her home country.
Lara, to put it simply, is a badass. Throughout the first few pages of the duopoly, we come to learn that Lara has trained since childhood to be deadly–trained in poison, code, combat, stealth, and seduction. She has been sheltered her entire life, and yet despite her training, she displays naïveté throughout the first novel, but grows tremendously through the remaining storyline.
Aren fell flat for me. Despite both books being presented from Lara’s and Aren’s points of views, I felt as if he never developed much of a personality. He is portrayed as a man who has a love for his kingdom and his wife, which sometimes are in conflict, but we do not come to see Aren develop much more depth than that.
I had difficulty being pulled into the plot of The Bridge Kingdom. Although the plot premise promised political intrigue, approximately 80% of the first book was spent developing the romantic tension between Lara and Aren, with some world building thrown into the mix.
The Traitor Queen; however, had me entranced. The plot was fast-paced, with a slow-build of romance throughout the entire novel, eventually coming to an absolutely thrilling conclusion to wrap up the book. I was so very excited to hear that a third book would be released in the series following some of the side characters.
The Bridge Kingdom: ★★★/5
The Traitor Queen: ★★★★★/5
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