We are so excited to participate in the Lady Smoke blog tour! We loved book one, Ash Princess, and couldn’t wait to get our hands on this book to find out what happens next for these characters. Before we tell you our thoughts about the book, let’s tell you a bit about it! Make sure you scroll to the bottom of the post toLady Smoke by Laura Sebastian
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads)Published by Random House Children's Books on February 5th 2019
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Girls & Women, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
The Kaiser murdered Theodosia's mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo's country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess--a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn't realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.
Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage--Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser's rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.
To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.
Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself.
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Lady Smoke is book two of the Ash Princess trilogy by Laura Sebastian and I’ve been waiting to get my hands on this book since I turned the last page of the first book. No spoilers for Lady Smoke ahead but if you haven’t read Ash Princess, I can’t promise anything, so you are officially warned.
This book picks up right after the end of book one which was great. Theodosia has escaped from the Kaiser, she’s taken back her title of Queen, and is now looking for a way to get her throne and Astrea back for her people. The biggest (I can’t say only) problem is, Theo doesn’t have an army big enough to take on the Kalovaxians but Dragonsbane has made a deal that will help her get one.
Theo has shown some growth since the first book. Not only is she learning more about herself, but she is putting her years of experience in court to good use. Her years of being under the thumb of the Kaiser has helped her in that most people underestimate her, and it absolutely helps when she is in Sta’Crivero. See, the deal Dragonsbane, Theo’s aunt, has made is that Theo will choose a husband even though that has never been Astrea’s way.
There are a lot of secrets and when Theo finds herself in the midst of a dangerous situation (again), she has to figure out who she can truly trust and clearly it isn’t everyone. There are some murders happening around Theo and her suitors are the targets, but the question is who is responsible? Unfortunately, someone in her entourage is accused and Theo has to figure out how to get them out of trouble on top of everything else that is going on.
Speaking of her entourage, Theo’s shadows are some of my favorite characters and I loved seeing how her relationships with each of them evolved over the span of this book. I’m not going to lie, there is a love triangle in this book and if there is one thing that had me on the fence, it is that…mostly because it felt off to me. I mention this because Blaise, while one of Theo’s oldest friends, never really felt like more than a friend to me, even though it came across as something more. Heron is great and even though he disagreed with Theo, he still supported and helped her. I get where he is coming from and can’t blame him for his feelings toward the Kalovaxians. And then you have Art – she doesn’t cut Theo any slack and Theo is better for it, I think. Art challenges Theo and pushes her to be someone more than what the Kaiser made her.
Dragonsbane is one of the other characters I will briefly mention here. It is clear she has her own agenda and I don’t know if I trust her even now that I have finished this installment. I get it, she has had her own issues but I don’t like how she treats Art and that is all.
I don’t think I mentioned it yet but if you read Ash Princess, you know how Theo’s relationship developed with Prinz Soren. You also know then, that she kidnapped him and while he started out as her hostage, it is clear their relationship isn’t as simple as that. I have to be honest here and say that he is the one I feel is the better fit for Theo. Even though she was lying to him almost the entire time in Ash Princess, things shift a bit in Lady Smoke for them and Theo begins to rely on Soren to help and guide her. Even though she tries to hide from (or one could say avoid) her feelings, she can’t for very long and Soren tells her how he feels as well but the thing I love about it is that he’s realized she is more than Thora, the girl who needs to be protected.
As things come to a head in this book, it’s clear something big will happen. I have to admit I didn’t see what happened really coming…at least not yet. Because of that, I am very interested in seeing what happens next for all characters involved.
Sebastian does a great job of building out the world in this book as well. In book one, we really were stuck within the Kalovaxian court so getting outside allowed me to get a better picture of the world outside of Astrea and characters that inhabit it.
So…I can’t say much more here without potentially giving something away, so I won’t. If you enjoyed book one, I think you will love how Sebastian continues this story. I will definitely be picking up the next book in this series as soon as I can get my hands on it. Seriously, I need to get on that waiting list. If you’re looking for a fantasy that has a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, and a great story with interesting characters, consider checking this one out.
Thank you to the publisher for the copy in exchange for an honest review.
Make sure you check out the rest of the blog tour!
3 winners will receive a finished copy of LADY SMOKE, US Only.
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