There were times during this book where I just wanted to stop reading it, but I couldn't because I wanted to find out how it ended. It was more a case of my curiosity than an actual love for the book. I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to - I think it was that it felt like I had read the story before. Maybe not the characters, but the plot.
It was girl falls for forbidden boy, while being forced to end up with someone she wasn't really fond of, but who her parents loved. In the middle of all that was the fact that she was more than attracted to one character, but she couldn't resist the smell and kiss of the other. It seemed like some weird attempt at a love triangle, but, at the same time, not being one. It just didn't gel for me.Although there was more to the plot than just that. I just felt that, until the last hundred or so pages, it was suffocated under all the love triangle-ish stuff.
There were stages in the book where I liked Princess Alera for her strength and other times where I wanted to scream at her stupidity. I did like how she was happy to try new things, even though others warned her against it. At times, her judgement was seriously jarred. She was a relatable character as in that she was flawed. Her relationships with the other characters was interesting. She loved London, her bodyguard, but in the end didn't trust him - even though he had been with her since she was a small child. Then she felt remorse when he got angry with her. It was strange, but all I could think was what did she expect?
Steldor drove me nuts. I wanted to punch him in his egotistical and arrogant face. He spoke down to Alera, flirted with Alera's sister and belittled just about everyone he came across. If ever there was a good character to hate, it was him.
Narian was the one who held my interest. There was such an aura of mystery about him that continued as a theme throughout the book, but I really liked him. He was quick, intelligent and almost knowing. He knew the weaknesses of Alera's people. I think Cayla did quite a good job with him. She left me with the feeling that although I liked him, I wasn't entirely sure he was a character I could trust.
Then there were comical characters like Tadark. He was the worst bodyguard ever. He made me laugh in how he tried so hard to be serious when he was anything but that. Narian got the better of him several times.
All in all, it wasn't a bad book - it just wasn't my type of book.