Zenobia and Ariq are stuck in the Red City as Ariq tries to negotiate Nipponese politics to try and gain access to the Empress and stop the devastation wrought by her war fleet; all used to try and force Ariq’s hand
While they are in the city the two become close, their relationship becomes public and Zenobia begins to understand what marriage to Ariq means
This is the first book of this episodic series that disappointed me and I wasn’t a big fan of. And it’s entirely down to that episodic nature. This is the book where Zenobia and Ariq get a lot closer, have sex and reaffirm their love a lot. And, as part of the main book if all these episodes are lined up it would work. As it is, this episode is overwhelmed by it, it takes up most of the book and doesn’t leave a lot of room for much else. There’s a lot of anticipation of sex, having sex, wondering about sex and generally drooling over Ariq’s super duper sexiness – and none of this would be out of place in the full novel. In the episode, it left me tempted to skip ahead to the actual story.
That’s not to say it doesn’t continue the excellent elements of the previous parts. Zenobia is still smart and snarky and funny. She doesn’t lose every ounce of common sense because she happens to be in love and nor does he. Even though they’re in love and overwhelmed by the sexy and even married under Ariq’s customs, she’s clear that they need to spend more time together before he commits to long term marriage. She knows they hardly know each other, she knows it’s too soon. She has that wonderful common sense about her. They both still have their causes and their passions. Zenobia is clear that if Ariq wanted her to stop writing she wouldn’t consider him a possible husband – there’s no sense of either of them epicly sacrificing their lives to ensure their love is proven to be true – if they love each other they love the whole of each other.
And I love what writing means to Zenobia, how it is a rebellion over her father, how not just the act of writing but what she writes is a sign of her victory over him, her triumph and a symbol of her freedom.