I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
After the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.
Move over, Machiavelli, now we have Jude to give you a run for your manipulating money!
For a very young woman, she has managed to make everyone dance to her tune and has out-maneuvered much more experienced politickers. Now her challenge is to control herself! When she first placed Cardan on the throne of Elfhame, he was more interested in drinking and carousing than in ruling. Will she still be able to control him if he develops an interest in governing?
After the very dirty trick that she played on Cardan to get him on the throne, the tables are turned and he proves that Jude is not the only one who can play hard-ball. When Jude shows him how to use emotional manipulation to get information, she did not expect him to learn the lesson or to practice on her.
Black has written a fascinating second stage in their relationship--one in which neither one of them is willing to admit how attracted they are to each other. They are still very much at odds. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I keep feeling like they will eventually be a couple and I can hardly wait for the third book to see how Black accomplishes this about face.
OMG, I have to wait until some time in 2020 before I get my next hit of Jude & Cardan! It is going to be an agonizing wait.
Oh, and incidentally, that is a gorgeous cover illustration!