Author: Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined, #1
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
“Emelina Flores has nothing. Her home in Ruina has been ravaged by war. She lacks the powers of her fellow Ruined. Worst of all, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders and watched helplessly as her sister, Olivia, was kidnapped.
But because Em has nothing, she has nothing to lose. Driven by a blind desire for revenge, Em sets off on a dangerous journey to the enemy kingdom of Lera. Somewhere within Lera’s borders, Em hopes to find Olivia. But in order to find her, Em must infiltrate the royal family.
In a brilliant, elaborate plan of deception and murder, Em marries Prince Casimir, next in line to take Lera’s throne. If anyone in Lera discovers Em is not Casimir’s true betrothed, Em will be executed on the spot. But it’s the only way to salvage Em’s kingdom and what is left of her family.
Em is determined to succeed, but the closer she gets to the prince, the more she questions her mission. Em’s rage-filled heart begins to soften. But with her life—and her family—on the line, love could be Em’s deadliest mistake.”
“An elaborate jeweled sword hung on the wall not three steps away, and another one, sheathed and ready to be grabbed, sat on the dresser in the corner. Five seconds to kill the prince. If she hadn’t just saved his life, she might have been tempted.”
With a cast of likable characters and a high-stakes scheme at center stage, Amy Tintera’s Ruined is a delightful fantasy. Emelina Flores watched as her kingdom of Ruina was destroyed and her parents were murdered. In a desperate attempt to save her little sister, the only family she has left, and avenge her kingdom’s destruction, Emelina poses as the last heir to the Vallos throne. As Princess Mary, Emelina will have to marry Cas, the prince of Lera, and fool him as well as the king and queen if she has any hope of finding her sister. Hiding her true identity and her hatred for Lera’s ruler becomes harder with each passing day. While Emelina has always been convinced that the royal family deserves to suffer the same fate as her parents, her conviction begins to waver when she unexpectedly finds a sympathetic ear in her new husband.
Emelina has always stood out her world, just not in the way she would have liked. As a Ruined without magic, Emelina has never been regarded as the heir apparent to Ruina’s throne. Still, Emelina feels a responsibility to her people and her sister Olivia who has been taken captive by the king of Lera. Driven by anger and blood-lust, Emelina risks everything by impersonating the princess of Vallos. Rescuing Olivia and working with another kingdom to overthrow Lera’s king is the only way Emelina can ensure the survival of her people. The strongest influence in Emelina’s life has always been her mother. I loved every glimpse we got of this woman. Wenda Flores was efficient and merciless when it came to ruling. She saw magic not as a gift, but as a symbol that those like her are destined to rule over those without it. Emelina has spent so much time trying to accomplish her mother’s vision of the world that she hasn’t had the opportunity to ask herself what kind of world she wants to live in. Her relationship with Cas has her calling into question who she wants to be and not just what others have told her she must be.
The king and queen of Lera have waged war on the Ruined. In an attempt to snuff them out for good, they make an alliance with Vallos, arranging a marriage between their son and the Vallos princess. Cas is more open than his parents and when Emelina challenges him to think about what his kingdom is really doing to the Ruined, he can’t help but listen. I loved that Cas isn’t the most confident person in the room. He can be shy and awkward, but in this novel it felt like he gained a voice. He was able to stand up to his father and challenge the beliefs he’s been told he needs to just accept. No one’s actions in this novel are entirely justified. Emelina and Cas have both erred, but they also take the first steps to taking control of their own lives instead of letting their parents’ battles dictate who they are going to be.
I was hoping for a little more magic in Amy Tintera’s Ruined or at least a broader look at the kind of magic the Ruined are known for, but the ending opens up so many possibilities that I’m eager to dive into the next book.