Pros: Intense, action-packed, romantic, and hot!
Rating: 5 out of 5
Ann Aguirre’s wonderful Ars Numina series continues with The Wolf Lord (Ars Numina Volume 3). Princess Thalia of the Eldritch needs to make a marriage alliance, fast. She’s beset by enemies on three fronts, and she needs resources and reinforcements. To her surprise, it’s Raff, the leader of the wolf pack, who shows up at her front door. She has a reputation as an ice princess, and he has a reputation as an indolent partier and drinker who likes to sleep around. Both of them quickly figure out that there’s more to each other than meets the eye. But Thalia’s enemies have not stopped seeking to eliminate her–she and Raff have a lot of work to do if they want to keep her and her people alive.
I love that the ice princess… kinda isn’t, right from the start. It’s the face she puts on for her people, and we don’t have to suffer through the old trope about how it just takes the right man to thaw her out. Instead, both Thalia and Raff are more than they seem, and they start exploring that early on. She’s also definitely not an ice princess in bed!
I also love the fact that the pairings in these books were not established right away in the first book, unlike so many of these types of series. With each book you never quite know what you’re getting–except that it will be sexy, hot, steamy… all of the adjectives! Once again consent is a minor theme, which I love. (Content note: explicit sex. Obviously.)
There’s plenty of excitement and danger to supplement and inform the relationship-building. The Eldritch are prone to using poisons, traps, and assassins, and we get some open combat as well, on more than one occasion. Thalia and Raff make excellent partners in combat as well as in bed; they save each other on multiple occasions.
There’s a nice sub-theme of intermarriage and racism, without it being heavy-handed at all. Both the Eldritch and the Animari are, collectively, biased against each other. Not everyone is going to be okay with Raff and Thalia’s marriage.
Excuse me, I have to go start reading the next book in the series now!