The War of Two Queens by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The From Blood and Ash series has taken the literary world by storm. I first came across this series on BookTok about a year ago, and, since then, JLA has published three additional books in the series, and the first in a prequel series.
At the end of The Crown of Gilded Bones, our favorite lovers, Casteel and Poppy, are separated by the woman who birthed Poppy!
I'm going to be honest, one gripe that I have about this series is how overcomplicated everything has gotten. I will keep reading it until the story is over, but I feel like I should point this out now before I go any further.
That being said, this was probably my favorite in the series so far. Not because of the heat or the romance, but because of the world. In this book, the characters are literally going to war. They're trying to take down the blood queen, while saving each others lives, and, oh yeah, the king is a prisoner, so we gotta save him too.
This book was different in that there wasn't a sex scene every other chapter, and let me say, sometimes, I get exhausted from the heat in these novels. It feels like the same thing over and over again, and while I read it because I enjoy the story and the characters, it was refreshing to have at least half the book where that wasn't a thing. So that when the characters did finally reunite, the steam was well earned.
One of my favorite parts of this book is seeing Poppy as she comes into her own as queen. She's devastated that Casteel has been taken, but there's more at stake than just the man she loves. Seeing her balance the need to save him alongside moving forward in the war and bonding with those around her was incredible. I especially loved seeing the growth in her friendship with Kieran.
Now. I must address the controversy. I'd heard from the time TWOTQ came out that there was some giant issue with the novel. I couldn't understand why. I had a feeling it had to do with the Joining (where Poppy would bind not only Casteel's life to hers, but Kierans).
First: the Joining has been foreshadowed for three books.
Second: If you didn't think it would happen, you obviously haven't been paying attention.
Third: there is absolutely nothing wrong with how JLA wrote it. The Joining itself was less detailed than your average sex scene in a JLA book.
I was shocked to see all of the controversy was because she did include the Joining. Angry readers attributed it to JLA wanting to "please her FB moms" in her FB group, but come on. She's been building to this point.
Quite frankly, if I didn't get the Joining in this one, I was going to be mad. Because we got TEASED by Sarah J Maas that there would be a threesome scene in ACOSF and it DIDN'T happen.
All that said, the Joining was incredibly tasteful. JLA didn't harp on which body parts go where but rather the emotional connection between the three of them. This isn't to say that they're a throuple or that Kieran and Poppy will ever even have anything aside from the Joining. I thought it was beautifully written.
Honestly, anyone who's mad about it surely hasn't been paying attention.
Being an author is hard, y'all. You won't please everyone.