This series by Jennifer L Armentrout was number 16-20 of the year and was another TikTok recommendation, this one was from one of the ‘spicy’ lists.
A sort-of plot summary
Poppy is the maiden, the chosen one, she’s lived her life of confinement under a veil. She has strange powers that allow her to sense other’s emotions, which she was forbidden from using. Once she turns 19 Poppy will ascend, a mysterious process which turns people into immortal beings. But Poppy doesn’t know if she wants to ascend, even though that is what she has supposedly been chosen by the God’s to do.
Poppy is following the ascended’s plan for her, despite her reservations about the system she finds herself in and the abuse she suffers at the hands of the Duke and Duchess. That is, until she meets Hawke, a handsome royal guard, who is assigned to be her personal guard after a failed attempt on her life kills one of her existing guards.
This guard is different, he sees past the veil and he protects her from the abuse of the ascended. After the palace where Poppy lives is invaded, she is sent with a group of guards to the capital, where the Queen resides. Poppy’s feeling for Hawke are growing and she decides to give it all up, the veil, being the maiden, for a chance at a real life, with or without Hawke. But suddenly, she finds herself held captive by Hawke and his crew. It turns out they are the enemy she’s been raised to hate, Atlantians, who were the rivals in a destructive war hundreds of years ago.
She learns that Hawke is the worst of them all, the Dark One, the legendary head of the Atlantian army and crown prince. He regrets betraying her, as he hadn’t intended to actually care for but instead to use her as a bargaining chip against the ascended, who hold his brother captive. Hawke tries to convince her how terrible the ascended really are, the class system of oppression they’ve created and the truth behind their immortality.
The rest of the books follow the events that unfold as Poppy and Hawke fall in love, discovering plots hidden with both the Atlantian crown and the Blood Crown (the ascended). Poppy also discovers the truth behind her powers, what happened to her parents and how the conspiracies within both kingdoms relate to her.
So, overall, I did enjoy reading these books. The world, the magic system and the plot are interesting. The writing is… not perfect. The style is a little, immature? It doesn’t take away from how much I enjoyed the story, I definitely got sucked in and was gutted to find out that the series had another instalment to go!
Now, to address the spicy elephant in the room, I have read books with smutty scenes in before but oh wow, these are… detailed to say the least. I accidentally took these on a family holiday and they definitely weren’t appropriate for that setting! However, at some points it did feel like the story was mostly just sex scenes with some plot occasionally happening around them.
So yeah, in conclusion, these are fun read if you’re looking for some harmless fantasy to get into.