08 March 2021

War Bound by Tara Grayce, 2020

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Marriage to an elf is complicated…especially bringing him home to meet the family.
Princess Elspeth of Escarland married the elf prince and achieved peace between the elves and her human people. But after a recent ambush by the trolls, it is clear the trolls are trying to start a war between the elves and humans once again. To keep their peoples at peace, Essie and Farrendel travel to meet Essie’s family and negotiate peace.
Yet in Escarland, not everyone is happy with peace. Traitors lurk in both Escarland and Tarenhiel, and it will be up to Essie and Farrendel to flush them out. The consequences of failure might be more personal and deadly than they fear.
(326 pages)

I recently reviewed the first book in this series, Fierce Heart, where I waxed poetic about how much I love this series and all of the characters in it. I also mentioned I've reread all three published books in the series several times since I discovered it about six months ago.

All of this gushing holds true for War Bound, and then some. Frankly, this is the one I've reread the most. It's just such a delightful book.

There are two big changes to the story this time around. The first is the addition of chapters from Farrendel's POV. While we lose the advantage of viewing the world solely through Essie's head - getting to know Farrendel alongside her - this is more than made up for by the joy of entire scenes from his point of view, where we not only get to see him internally fawn over Essie but we also get a deeper understanding of his thought process, culture, and psychology. A great example of this is the scene where Farrendel, Essie, and Farrendel's sister Jalissa are playing a board game on their way to Escarland. The elves have an interaction that Essie doesn't even notice. When Jalissa silently laughs at Farrendel for how much he is staring at Essie (a breach of elven propriety), he shrugs her off, reasoning that "as Essie would probably curl up and fall asleep on his shoulder once she wound down for a nap, Farrendel being unable to take his eyes off Essie would not be the worst offense against propriety."

The second big change is the change in scenery! This time around our couple is visiting Essie's family in the human country of Escarland. They're there to stop a war, but to be honest I must admit I mostly skim the political parts. What I don't skip? All the scenes with Essie's family! Continuing the long list of things I have in common with Essie, I also come from a large, close-knit family. So I especially loved getting to know her three brothers, her mother, and even her sister-in-law and nephews. Their initial coldness toward Farrendel, and rather bumpy road to getting to know him, is a lot of fun to read.

This book really shines when Essie and Farrendel are dealing with their demons, getting to know each other better (after all, they really haven't been married for that long), and exploring their cultural differences. The part where they go to the market and Essie introduces him to hot chocolate, and they start joking around, may be my absolute favorite scene from the entire series so far.

Before ending this review I should address the negative aspects of the book, because of course no book is completely perfect. I really wasn't interested in the political aspects of the story, beyond the impact of looming war on our protagonists. I didn't really keep track of the politicians, so the plot twist at the end didn't do much for me. Also when I reread the book I always stop a couple chapters early because it gets super stressful right at the end. Be warned that there's a particularly painful cliffhanger at the end of this book, so you should have ready access to Death Wind before you finish War Bound. Finally, while I love Essie and Farrendel's relationship, there were one or two places where I felt its development could have been a bit subtler. They'd be doing something together and then everything would stop for a couple paragraphs while Essie internally processed a realization about how "this is love - not just the big moments, but the small ones like right now." On one hand, I feel like those realizations weren't really necessary: we can already tell their relationship is developing! On the other, not gonna lie, those passages do still make me smile every time I read them so I really can't complain too forcefully.

At the end of the day, War Bound is great because it's got fun characters, a sweet story, and clean romance without ever getting too cloying. I've binged a lot of romance novels over my six months of living alone, and this is the one series I return to the most. Highly recommend for when you need a pick-me-up.

1 comment:

  1. I am not familiar with this series so will look for it. Hope you continue reviewing!


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