Just Finished Reading: The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Crime (Winner's Trilogy #2)
by Marie Rutkoski
To be published by Farrar Straus Giroux
on March 3, 2015

Source: Thanks SO much to Macmillan for sending me an ARC
Synopsis from Goodreads: The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret. As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them. 
My take: Loved! I was a HUGE fan of the first book in this series, The Winner's Curse, and The Winner's Crime did not disappoint. I loved it as much if not more than the first book.

My favorite kinds of books are those that are psychologically complex -- the kinds of stories that really dig deep and see what makes the characters -- and by extension, people in general -- tick.

In The Winner's Curse, Kestrel and Arin find forbidden love. The Winner's Crime features a common YA strategy -- separate and test the loving couple -- but that wasn't all. The story really questioned whether this very unlikely couple -- she once bought him at a slave auction, her people conquered his -- could ever be together.

As the book opens, Kestrel is engaged to another man, the meek son of Valoria's cruel emperor. I love Kestrel's character. She's a born strategist and in this book she will put that strategic mind to work, but she'll also question all her prior choices and decisions. I think Arin is actually the more emotional of the couple, and in this book he has to question his feelings for Kestrel and whether or not they are misplaced, if what they shared in book one was just a moment out of time. This aspect of the story was so great -- I mean, isn't there a moment in every relationship when you look at the other person and think: who are you?

But the themes of strategy and power that run through these books extend far beyond this couple's relationship. Kestrel is Valorian, and her people have conquered and enslaved many other groups, including the people of Herran. The Valorian army -- led by Kestrel's father -- is again on the move, and Kestrel is again swept up in political intrigue, trapped in the palace as the soon-to-be daughter-in-law of the emperor, with all eyes constantly on her.

So ... this book has romance and intrigue and psychological depth. What else? Really well-drawn characters. Just when I'd meet a new character and think I'd met that type of character before, they'd say or do something that surprised me. Some ... gruesome scenes. Some lovely turns of phrase -- I had a lot of underlinings on this one. A ton of emotion. And a truly excruciating cliffhanger.  I can't believe I have to wait a year for the final book!


  1. I made the bad (best?) decision to read The Winner's Crime last week and now I'm dying for this book. At least I don't have to wait too long now?

  2. I finished The Winner's Curse yesterday, so I'm really looking forward to this

  3. It's a crime that I haven't read the first book yet lolz :P I will though. Soon. I needs to read that pretty hardback on my shelves!

  4. I loved this one too! There were a couple parts that made me cringe but it was worth it for the story. I'm so glad I gave The Winner's Curse a try last year even though it's not my usual read, feel free to interpret that as Kate made me read it ;)

  5. I have the first book on my shelves and I hope to be able to read it soon. If I like it I will of course read the sequel as well. Great review, Jen!


  6. I have so much irrational jealousy for this review! lol

    You described the plot perfectly WITHOUT spoiling!

    I've spent a month trying to figure out what to say then did a draft for a review yesterday that is a rambling hot mess.

    You are awesome! (but I'm still filled with jealousy! hehe)

    Karen @For What It's Worth

  7. These books do look good. I have been waiting to read them, if this does have such a big cliff hanger... maybe I will keep waiting. Great review :)

  8. So I have to admit that I wasn't the biggest fan of The Winners Curse. I liked it - but felt disconnected somehow. Anyway - I am excited to see how their story continues here though. And THANKS for no spoilers :D

  9. Yes to all of this! This is way more than just a 'testing of their love'. Ugh. I read this so long ago and now I'm getting upset all over again! :-)

    Kate @ Ex Libris


  11. I was hesitant to try this one because I read the first fifty pages and it was all wallowing in self-pity over Arin and Kestrel and it was chocking me, but I feel more willing to read this now that I know it will have more psychological and political intrigue later on. And I'm really interested in seeing how Arin will handle the emotions he's getting! Usually we get the heroines to be the emotional one in a pair, so this is a nice change.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  12. I love the covers on these books. I am anxious to read this series! I am so glad you liked it. I have a love/hate relationship with cliff hangers...hehe

  13. While I wasn't a super big fan of The Winner's Curse, I can definitively say that The Winner's Crime made me fall head over heels. There's just something fascinating about the way the characters and the plot are written in this second novel, and I loved it.

  14. This is one book that I honestly have to say I've been a little envious of those that received an early copy. However, now that I know there is a cliffhanger I'm okay with that. ;) I can wait and maybe read the 2nd and 3rd books closer together. So excited for this one! Fabulous review!! :D

    Tressa @ Wishful Endings


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