Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Queen's Ransom by Isabel Wroth
Narrator: Marnye Young
Published by Tantor Audio on March 19, 2019
Genres: Fantasy Romance
Length: 13 hours, 28 minutes
Amazon, Audible, Audiobook
Jalia hasn't ever played a game she can't win.
The Promise of a Queen's Ransom is too much for life-long gambler Jalia to pass up. The untouched planet of Minos is rumored to be so wealthy, one can walk along the beach and pluck diamonds from the sea. According to the contract, all she has to do to win is solve a few puzzles and navigate a labyrinth or two.
But she didn't read the fine print...
She isn't competing to win treasure, she's competing to become Queen of Minos. Marriage to the king: Mandatory.
A king who sends men to their deaths by the dozen kills anyone who dares speak against him, and his people live in fear of his wrath.
Bound by the contract, Jalia has no choice but to try or die while the challenges grow ever more deadly. Even if she wins, marrying the Monstrous king of Minos may be a fate worse than death.
Queen’s Ransom is a standalone Romantasy (Romance + Fantasy) novel set on a very interesting premise. A competition against other women to win the Queen’s Ransom, a prize that will set Jalia up for life, in the lap of luxury. But Jalia didn’t read the fine print and if she wins the contest, she also wins a marriage she didn’t bargain for to the King of Minos. Now Jalia has to solve Nine Labyrinths, that are deadly on their own, but some of the other contestants are also out to kill her since she has seemed to capture the attention of the Mighty and Deadly King. It is a little like the Bachelor meets Survivor except Dhega doesn’t go around kissing all the would-be Queens and if you are voted off the Planet most likely you are dead.
This book has a lot of things going for it.
I like the premise for sure and the culture on the planet of Minos. Their history goes back thousands of years when the former masters of that planet bred them as slaves and made them run the labyrinths for entertainment and to cull the strongest, until the slaves rose up against the masters and took control of the planet.
I liked both the main characters Jalia and Dhega. They seem pretty well suited to each other and you could feel the attraction between them from very early on, even if there were other women in the competition. Jalia brings a different view to Dhega and is able to show him some ways to be strong and compassionate all at the same time. She proves to have a strategic mind, time and time again that will be an asset to Dhega ‘IF’ she become his Queen.
I liked that the king was not a manwhore. I’m leary sometimes of a set up like this with multiple women vying for one man, but it was clear who held Dhega’s interest in a romantic sense and that he would prefer that she win.
I liked the overall plot arc, especially the twist at the end and the side characters that were on Jalia’s side as they added quite a bit to the story. I especially liked the assassin turned bodyguard, Tom, and really wanted to know more about his character in general.
A few things that could have been better
Don’t get me wrong; I really enjoyed this but some of the other contestants were a bit one dimensional as the competition goes. I’m not even sure how many women were there to compete for the Queen’s Ransom it seemed like seven or eight but we really only spend page time on three others.
Jalia, I liked most of the time but some her animosity with one other contestant seemed slightly mean. I almost felt bad for the Princess from a species that poops 3x as much as it eats. That is an unfortunate species trait but some of the name calling and jokes made just seem a bit speciest and even cruel. Sure she wasn’t a likeable character but she was often referred to as ‘the shitter’ and I really thought it made Jalia seem a bit cruel at times.
Something I really wanted
This seems to be a standalone book but I really wish it wasn’t. Honestly there isn’t enough romantasy out there for me and I would have loved to see another book with Dhega and Jalia or a few of the side characters as they also find love and bring Minos into the Universal Fold updating their tech while still maintaining the beauty of their planet and protecting their culture. There is a complete story to win the Labyrinths and then there is a slightly rushed story with Jalia and her family and then. I would have loved the next book for this series to be about Jalia’s sister and Dhega’s brother but that was taken care of in a few chapters in this book as well. Then there is the revelation at the end and that seemed like a story all unto itself. So the take away is that even though this is a complete book I really wanted more books in this world. I really hope Isabel Wroth decides to revisit it in the future.
“While I’m here risking my life to prove myself worthy to be yours, you face no task or challenge to prove you’re worthy to be mine.”
This is my first book performed by Marnye Young and she did a good job. She was able to make most of the characters come to life and did well with both the male and female voices. A couple characters sounded similar but overall, I enjoyed her performance. I listened to this at my normal 1.5x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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