Author: Sharon Shinn
Title: Royal Airs
Series: Elemental Blessings 2
Genre: High Fantasy
Rating: Three Petals
On the Author's Website:
Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city.
Rafe Adova, an outcast since he was born, lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no ambition other than cheating at the card tables—until the night he decides to help a girl named Corene, who looks like she's stumbled into the wrong bar. She, too, is a princess—sister to Josetta, who finds her with Rafe. He fascinates her.
Josetta has never encountered anyone like him—someone seemingly devoid of elemental blessings. He is drawn to her, though he thinks they are unlikely to ever meet again—but their connection grows strong when she nurses him back to health after he is assaulted by foreign mercenaries.
And when they learn the reason he's being hunted, they know that the truth about his history could endanger not only their love but also their very lives...
I had a hard time figuring out this book. It's a direct continuation of the first in the series, with a different main character, yet the plots don't appear to have any connection. Yes, everything that happened in the first book in the series absolutely has weight on this second book, but it's such a divergent plot that it took me a while to settle in. In some ways it felt like book one was was supposed to be a stand alone book, which meant it hadn't provided anything for an entire series, so when book two came around Shinn had to force it a bit.
Josetta went from a spoiled princess to a woman that has dedicated her life to helping the poor. She opened a half-way house of sorts where people can spend a night, seek food, and get medical attention. It's a dangerous job, but she appears to be completely ignorant of that fact. Her life is idyllic; the scum of the district where she set up her house never seems to touch her. It honestly got a little ridiculous at times how ungrounded she could be. Yet, I had to remind myself that this is the world where blessings dominate the psyche. She was supposed to be flighty and a bit silly because that's the blessings she was born under. Her personality was as much a plot device as when Corene is saved by Rafe.
I found Rafe to be a much more interesting character, which might be because his personality wasn't entirely dictated by the blessings. He is an outsider trying to fit in, is obsessed with flying machines, and can't help falling for Josetta at first glance. I liked him.
I found this story a little difficult to settle into. The plot is so drastically different from the first book, with very little connections to smooth the way, that it took me some time to figure out what was what. That wasn't helped by the fact that Josetta's personality was gratingly stupid at times--exactly according to her blessings--and only Rafe's timely interference saved this book. I do recommend it, but I liked the first book in the series better.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.