Gambit by C.L. Denault


I received an ARC of this book.

3 out of 5 stars.

Willow has always lived in a poor village outside of the core cities, not allowed the technological luxuries of urban life, but surrounded by friends and family. Soldiers disrupt the peace by charging in, killing and beating some of the locals, and claiming Willow is actually the daughter of one of the most powerful houses in the core and that she has to leave everything behind to go start a new life. The manifestation of a new set of superpowers seems to confirm their story, but since the new life in the core will involve marriage to a  stranger and a 24/7 security detail, Willow is anything but happy. She has to get her new powers under control and learn to survive in a new, back bitingly political world.

I give the action/ science fiction parts of this book 4 out of 5 stars and the romance/ relationship parts 2 out of 5 stars.

Willow gaining superpowers and having to travel to a new city and start playing complicated political games is awesome. Having a social hierarchy based on superpowers is a fun idea and I would have loved to see more of that. A society partly made up of super powered demigods and partly made up of ordinary people is a neat premise, and added to that is the social structure being dependant on alliances and marriages between super-powered people in order to produce babies that will also have powers could make a fabulous world in which to hold a story. I want more of that world and more exploration into what kind of world you could build with that social fabric in place.

Willow as a character is, unfortunately, not very interesting and her romantic relationship with the rather cold and bloodthirsty Captain Reece who came to kidnap her back to her birth family is irritating. Reece is one of those love interests who is halfway to being physically abusive and most of Willow’s time is spent trying to figure out if she is in love with someone who mercilessly slaughtered someone from her hometown. This facet of the book just ruined it for me and it took up too much of the plot to be ignorable. Willow’s entire character seems to be hingeing on her relationship with Reece and her inability to control her own powers. I cannot find any other personality outside of those two things, and since she is attracted to someone I find morally repellant, I lost interest in her and her story. I just cannot sympathize with those female protagonists who want to fall in love with someone who is nasty as hell to everyone else as long as he is occasionally sweet to her. I would rather read about girls and women who have some self-respect and some backbone.


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