This story was originally part of a multi-book collection I bought last year but has since been released to purchase on its own.
A human princess. A dark-elf prince. A kiss of fire and powder.
After a failed courtship in an ally kingdom, twenty-one-year-old Princess Alessandra returns home to a land torn apart by mutual hatred between the humans and the dark-elves. The "Beast Princess," as Aless is known by courtiers, confidently sets her mind to ways of making peace, but her father has already decided for her: she is to marry one of the mysterious and monstrous dark-elves to forge a treaty, and go on a Royal Progress across the kingdom to flaunt their harmonious union. While she intends to preserve the peace, the Beast Princess has plans of her own.
Prince Veron has been raised knowing his life is not his own, but to be bargained away by his mother, the queen of Nozva Rozkveta, to strengthen the dark-elf queendom. When his mother tells him he is to marry a self-absorbed, vile human, he is determined to do his duty regardless of his personal feelings. After arriving at the human capital, he finds the "Beast Princess" rebellious and untamed—and not to be trusted.
Aless and Veron face opposition at every turn, with humans and dark-elves alike opposing the union violently, as well as their own feelings of dissonance toward each other. Can two people from cultures that despise one another fall in love? Can a marriage between them bond two opposing worlds together, or will it tear them apart for good?
In this story, you have two races, humans and dark-elves. Tensions are high between both races and war is close. To prevent war, Princess Alessandra - Aless' - father seeks to marry off one of his daughters to a dark-elf prince.
Aless steps up to the marriage to free her sister from the obligation despite her reluctance to so so.
Aless is feisty and opinionated but completely wasted in the male-dominated world in which she lives. I liked her a great deal but her delusion about escaping her marriage got tiresome incredibly quickly especially when Prince Veron was anything but a beast.
Prince Veron feels a deep sense of duty to his people and will do as he was instructed by his mother the queen - for dark-elf society is matriarchal - and marry the human woman despite her being everything a dark-elf woman is not... At least on a superficial level.
He is kind, considerate and thoughtful as well as a strong leader and fighter.
He wants what's best for his people but he also wants Aless to be happy.
Aless and Veron's romance is very slow burn but the way they slowly came together was beautiful and felt natural. Each had to overcome their own prejudices and let go of all their preconceived notions of each other in order to help both their peoples overcome their prejudice and bigotry and avoid war: A war neither nation could afford.
It wasn't hard to see that Aless would find her place amongst Veron's people. She may not be a warrior but she is strong and fierce and Veron's people respect that - even expect it - in their women.
As the story drew to a close, I had that lovely warm fuzzy feeling that no matter how unlikely this pair seemed, they would make it. They would be happy. And that made me happy.
My only complaints about the book are that it is overly descriptive on stuff that doesn't much matter and it was too chaste! It was definitely a low heat - high sweet type of romance... I don't need to be a smutty voyeur to their every sexual encounter (there was one, fyi) but there could have been a few more kisses at least! sheesh.
I love the cover!
It captures the two main characters beautifully while giving a nod to Beauty and The Beast.