Brave by Jennifer L Armentrout Book Review
Updated: Jan 19
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Jennifer L Armentrout
Book 3 in A Wicked Trilogy
Ivy Morgan hasn't been feeling like herself lately.
Not like anyone can blame her. After all, being held captive by a psychotic fae prince hell-bent on permanently opening the gates to the Otherworld is bound to leave some mental scars.
It’s more than that, though. Something dark and insidious is spreading throughout Ivy, more powerful than she could ever imagine... and it’s coming between her and the man she’s fallen deeply in love with, elite Order member Ren Owens.
Ren would do anything to keep Ivy safe. Anything. But when he makes a life altering choice for her, the fallout of his act has far reaching consequences that threaten to tear their lives apart.
If Ivy is going to have any hope of surviving this, she must put aside the hurt and betrayal she feels, and work with not only those she loves, but with an enemy she would rather kill than ever trust. War is coming, and it soon becomes clear that what Ivy and Ren thought they knew about the Order, themselves, and even their enemies, has been nothing but a cluster of dangerous, deadly lies.
Ivy knows she must be more than just brave to save those she loves--and, ultimately, to save herself.
Because behind every evil fae Prince, there’s a Queen….
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy #UrbanFantasy Action-Packed
Violence #Romance Sexy
Brave by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the third and final book in A Wicked Trilogy, and centers around Ivy, struggling with the trauma she has suffered during her kidnapping in the last book. She eventually needs to come to terms with what she has been through, though, as she and everyone she loves is still in danger.
So, a large part of me loved this book, but a small part of me is left feeling kind of ... annoyed. Brave still continues A Wicked Trilogy's unique story-line, and our main characters, Ivy, Ren and Tink are still all kinds of awesome, but the story felt unfinished to me. There is no real conclusion to the story. It's left very open. I know that there is a series of novellas published in the Wicked world, but the main books are a trilogy. They shouldn't end with the enemy off licking their wounds. There should be a conclusion. There was also some consistency issues. The most aggravating of all: In the first book, it's said that a very specific stake carved from a tree from the Otherworld is the only thing that can kill Ancient fae ... by the third book, it only weakens them. There is also Ivy's age. In the first book she is 22, but in the third, she is 21, turning 22.
That being said, the characters were just as amazing as they have been the last 2 books. Ivy goes through a tough time, trying to deal with her memories of her time of confinement. There were times I wanted to shake her, but once she decides to actually try, she is back to the Ivy I know and love. A fighter. Brave. Jennifer L Armentrout knows how to write the perfect male love interest. Ren is just all kinds of awesome. He stands by Ivy, trying to help her, despite her pushing him away. Kind. Has a sense of right and wrong. Sexy. Then Tink ... how can you not love that adorable, sometimes tiny, sometimes tall brownie? Funny, with a strong love of life. Loyal. Sarcastic as hell. Brave. Loving. Incredibly loving. Tink gave me lots of feels this book.
There were problems with this book, but I still loved it. There were some wicked twists that I was NOT expecting. That very rarely happens. I just wish there was more of a conclusion to the story. I wish there was more consistency between the books. It doesn't subtract from the story itself though. A Wicked Trilogy was a fun, sexy, thrilling read.
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Ivy: "You're an asshole."
He smiled proudly
Tink: "I am many things. An asshole is one of them."
Tink: "Why are you in here running so much? Are you preparing for the impending zombie apocalypse that I know nothing about? Because if you are, we need to find the nearest redneck to become best friends with, one that is hot in a diry, rugged way. You know, the kind that probably smells like sweat and man, one with a complex background that makes you hate him at first, but slowly, over time, you grow to love him."
I stared at him
Ivy: "You've put a lot of thought into this."
Tink: "I have. I like to be prepared. Since we're in the south, it shouldn't be hard to find one."
Ren: "I'm going to make two things painfully clear. First off, you will find out who did this, who was involved and knew about this, and why. Then you will tell me exactly who those dead motherfuckers are. And the second thing you better understand all the way down to your bones is, if Ivy doesn't come out of this, laughing her laugh, smiling up at me as she's walking out of this damn room, I will burn this motherfucker down with all of you in it."
He was there in an instant, by my head. The tips of his fingers were on my chin, slowly turning my face to his.
A kernel of panic blossomed in my guy
Ivy: "I ... I don't feel right."
Ren: "What do you mean, Sweetness? What does she mean?"
Ivy: "I can't ... feel my legs."
Ren cursed and started to pull away
Ivy: "Don't! Don't leave ... me."
The panic spread as I tried to lift my hand. If he left, I didn't think I'd see him again.
His hand brushed over my forehead
Ren: "I'm right here with you. I'm not leaving. Ever. You know that, right? Never leaving you."
Ren: "I love you, Ivy. You know that? There's only been you. There will only be you. I love you so fucking much and that's why I have to do this. I'm sorry, Sweetness. Forgive me."
Confusion swept through my foggy thoughts. Forgive him?
Tink all but shoved Faye forward. The fae, normally graceful and nimble, stumbled. Stopping by my head, she shot a glare over her shoulder
Faye: "I don't agree with this. If you knew he'd done to her and how it -"
Ren: "I know. I know, but I'd rather her pissed off and hating me than dead. Do it now."
Faye: "Tink. You don't want to do this. We don't know what it will do to -"
Tink: "If you don't do this, I can promise you it will be a very unwise life choice. I mean it, Faye. I like you, but I like Ivy more. You let her die, you're doing so with the last moments of your life. So, don't get it twisted."
Tink: "Ivy. He's still alive. And I'm still traumatized by the fact you were about to become a live-action porno right in front of me."
Ren: "What is happening to her? I thought we'd healed her?"
Tink: "We did. Now she's paying the consequences."
I stared at him.
Ivy: "My skin is shimmering and my ears are pointy now."
Ren: "I didn't even notice. All I was paying attention to as the fact you were standing and breathing. But now that you mention it, I'm kind of digging it."
My mouth dropped open
Ivy: "How in the world could you be digging that I look more like the creatures we were born to hunt and kill? That doesn't make sense."
Ren looked taken aback
Ren: "You don't get it. Your skin could be green and your ears the size of UFOs an I'd still think you're absolutely stunning."
At that point, I started wondering if Ren was high
Ren: "I'm about to sound cheesy as fuck and I'm kind of surprised that I even have to say this, but it's not just about how you look. Don't get me wrong, that's a way nice bonus, but it's you, Ivy. What's on the inside, Sweetness."
Ivy: "It was never your choice, Ren! It was mine, and it was taken away from me."
Ren: "What choice did you have? You were dying, Ivy. There was no time to get a surgeon or take you to the hospital. You were bleeding out right in front of me. There was no choice, because allowing you to die was never an option."
Ivy: "If you'd done that at least then I wouldn't have been forced to feed on you just like the Prince made me do!"
Ren's face paled
Ren: "You'd rather be dead, Ivy?"
I sucked in a breath
Ivy: "I'm not saying that."
Ren: "Then what are you saying exactly, and Sweetness, I need you to be real detailed, because I'm thinking the worst."
I turned away, thrusting my hands through my hair. I wasn't stupid. If Tink and Ren hadn't forced Faye to do the compulsion, I would be dead. And I didn't want to be dead.
But I didn't want to be this.
God, I just didn't want any of this."
Ren: "Ivy. When I found you outside, I thought I was too late. When I carried you into that damn room, I was covered in your blood. Drenched in it. And when that fae doctor said that you were dying, it felt like a piece of me died right then and there."
I opened my mouth
Ren: "Let me get this out and you can yell at me and be pissed all you want. I have never been more afraid than I was right then and there. I was going to lose you before I even got to have you. And when Tink said there may be another way, it was the only choice knowing you could hate me for it. I made that choice knowing that it could hurt me. I made that choice knowing that you may never forgive me for it. I'd rather have you pissed off at me for the rest of your very long life than to allow the world's brightest fucking star to go out. You can hate me today and tomorrow, but at least you'll have a tomorrow, and I'll make damn sure you have a whole bunch of them to be angry with me."
I didn't know how to respond to that. Emotion crawled up to my throat. Tears filled my eyes. I stepped back and then to the side. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, I leaned forward, dropped my arms into my lap. Ren didn't make a sound, but I felt him move closer. He dropped down to his knees in front of me, surprising me. Looking up, he placed his hands on either side of my hips, close but not touching me.
Ren: "I'm sorry that I took part in making you feed. I hated doing that, knowing what you'd been through. I hated the fact that I wasn't with you when you were attacked. Fuck. I wish I hadn't walked away from you the night you told me you were a halfling. I could've stopped all of this."
Ivy: "Ren -"
Ren: "Yeah, you're going to say that wasn't my fault, but if I hadn't acted like a dick and gotten myself captured, the Prince would've never been able to masquerade as me. None of this bad shit would've happened. And I have to live with that for the rest of my life. And I'll have to live with the choice I made and the choice I took from you. I'm more than willing to do that, but I do not regret one second making that choice to save you, even if it means that you hate me."
Deep down I knew the truth and how messed up it was. If the shoes were on different feet, and Ren was a halfling and dying, I would've done the same to save him.
I would've take his choice from him.
I would've taken his will away.
I would've saved him even if it cost me his love.
Ivy: "I don't hate you."
Ren: "I can't lose you."
Ivy: "You haven't."
Tink: "What? Like a big fight? Or a small one? Oh my God, are you two breaking up? Who will I live with?"
Ivy: "Who will you live with? You're not twelve and you're not our kid."
Tink: "But I need to be taken care of. Loved. I need access to Amazon Prime."
Ivy: "Then get a job, Tink. You look human enough to do it."
Tink: "A job? The loss of blood must've done something to your brain because you're out of your mind."
Fae: "Who is this?"
Tink: "She's Buffy with the bad hair."
Slowly, I turned and looked up at him.
Ivy: "Buffy with the bad hair?"
Tink: "Yeah, like it's a combination of Buffy and Beyonce, the two greatest females of all time. You're like Buffy. Bad ass. But you're not Becky with the good hair. You have bad hair. We all know that."
I stared at him
Ivy: "My hair isn't that bad."
Tink: "Oh, it's bad. You definitely aren't a Becky."
Tanner: "Ivy was captured by the Prince at one point. She's understandably a little ... murderous when it comes to him."
Ren: "She's not the only one."
Ivy: "I'm not a little murderous. I'm a lot murderous."
My mouth dropped open. Oh my God, it was like having a conversation with a ruder Tink. Who, by the way, was practically shimmying with excitement as he leaned in, whispering into my ear.
Tink: "I like this guy. I really like him. Can I keep him?"
The Summer Prince heard him and interest sparked in his pale blue eyes.
Fabian: "I've never been kept by a brownie before, but ... I've heard things. Interesting things."
I so needed an adult right now, but the adults were all staring at the ceiling, pretending like a live version of Fae Tinder wasn't going down right in front of us.
Tink: "Do tell."
Fabian: "Is it true that a brownie's co-"
Ivy: "We need to find him, put him back where he belongs, or kill him."
Ren whirled on me
Ren: "Are you out of your mind?"
Ivy: "Excuse me?"
Ren: "You don't need to do anything but keep your pretty little ass here. The Prince might be on the hunt for another halfling, but you're still a halfling, Ivy."
Ivy: "No shit. Bit only I get to say where my ass gets to go and doesn't go."
Ren: "Not trying to be an ass about it, but the further away you are, the better."
Ivy: "So, I'm supposed to sit around and do what exactly? Tend to the garden outside? Maybe take up knitting classes?"
Ren: "At least then you're doing something."
One side of his lips kicked up
Ren: "Idle hands are the devil's playground, or so they say."
I was going to hit him.
Ivy: "I'm about to shove these idle hands so far up your ass, you'll think you've become a puppet."
Ren: "You know what?"
Ren leaned forward, lowering his voice
Ren: "I might actually enjoy that."
Ivy: "I'm not staying behind, Ren. Not going to happen."
Ren: "You're impossible to reason with. I swear to God."
Tink: "Stop fighting. It makes me anxious."
Fabian: "It makes me wish I had popcorn."
Ivy: "First off, if I want to leave here, I will. No one is going to keep me here against my will. I've already been down that road and have the baggage to prove it. I'm not going for round two."
Merle opened her mouth, but Tanner placed a hand on her arm, silencing her.
Tanner: "That is true. We are not holding her against her will. She can walk out of here whenever she pleases."
Ivy: "Secondly, you're seriously overreacting at this point. When I learned that the Prince could get through the glamour here, I did plan on leaving. My presence here was too much of a risk for me to live with, and I don't give a fuck if you agree with that or not."
Merle's eyes widened slightly
Ivy: "But I agreed to stay until the guests got here. None of that matters now. Drake has found another halfling, and while that's a hell of a relief, that doesn't mean my duty has ceased to exist. You really do not want to have that argument with me. Seriously. Because you aren't going to win."
Tink: "I already lost my family once. I do not want to lose my family again, Ivy. And that's what you are to me - you and even Ren. You two are all that I have. If you had left me, it would've killed me."
Tink: "All if forgiven. But if you ever think about doing something like that again, I will not forgive you."
Tink: "And I will go onto Amazon and order some weird shit. Not only that, I'll make my wish list public, which means it will be your wish list. You don't want that."
Ren: "My face is up here."
I flushed as my gaze jerked to his
Ren: "Not that I mind you staring at me like you want to take a bite out of me, but right now, I'm kind of worried you might actually bite."
Ren turned in the water toward me, his eyes wide with surprise.
Ren: "You pushed me into the pool."
Ivy: "You pulled me into the pool!"
He stared at me for a moment and then did the craziest thing. Ren started laughing - laughing deep, belly laughs as he held on to the other side of the pool. Something about his laugh was ... infectious.
My lips twitched and then a giggle escaped. It was like a levee breaking. Our laughter reached the high ceiling, and my stomach cramped from the force of it, because this - us - was ridiculous.
Ivy: "We are so stupid ..."
I trailed off because I'd looked over at Ren. He was just staring at me, mouth slightly open like he'd just witnessed a total solar eclipse.
Ren: "I ... I just haven't heard you laugh like that in a long, long time."
Ivy: "It ... feels like it's been a long time. It's nice to laugh like that."
Ren pushed away from the wall, wading out into the center of the pool
Ren: "It was beautiful."
He reached the end where his feet could hit the bottom. A moment passed as his chest rose and fell sharply.
Ren: "I just wish I heard it more often."
Ren stopped moving.
Ren: "And all I want is for you to feel it more often. At the end of the day ... that's what I wish."
Ren: "We fucked up, didn't we?"
My breath hitched again. He wasn't looking at me, and I felt my stomach drop like I was on a roller coaster.
Ivy: "I know you probably don't want to do this with me anymore. I know I hurt you and - hell, you were right when you said I've always been running. You don't have to keep chasing me. That's not right. We never even got the chance to have a normal relationship. Can't be surprised that this isn't working out. We can't -"
Ren cut through the water like he was born in it. Within a heartbeat, he was right in front of me and then his hands were touching my cheeks, cupping them.
Ren: "Let's hit pause for a second, because I want to make something real clear."
Our gazes locked, and I couldn't even formulate a response.
Ren: "I was pissed at you. You're probably still pissed at me. We're fighting and we got some shit to work through, but that's normal. What we're dealing with outside of us isn't, but we are still an us."
His gaze searched mine
Ren: "I still love you. I'm still right here with you. Has that changed for you?"
Ivy: "I'm still here. I'm still with you. I still love you. I never stopped. I can't."
Ren: "I've missed you. Fuck, I've missed you so much."
Raw emotion swelled as my body shook. He kissed his way down my throat, coaxing my head back.
Ivy: "I missed you. I've missed all of this."
Ren: "Not anymore. Never again."
Ren: "Are we okay?"
Ivy: "We're going to be."
Ren: "When we were in the pool, and you were letting m e make your dreams come true -"
Ren: "How were you feeling? Besides being blissed out of your mind?"
I rolled my eyes
I felt him hardening under me. My brows lifted
A lopsided grin appeared
Ren: "I don't know if you remember this or not, but you're not wearing anything under my shirt and you're straddling me."
Ivy: "Good point."
Ren: "And like I said, you overpowering me is hot as hell."
I laughed as I tipped forward, marveling at the way his abs tightened in response and how his eyes deepened to a forest green.
Ivy: "It must be nice being a guy."
Ren: "It is when I have you sitting on my dick."
A laugh burst out of me, and I got blessed with two dimples appearing on his face.
I spun, kicking out and catching the Ancient in his stomach. I landed in a crouch as the Ancient stumbled and lost his balance, going down on one knee. The surprise that filled his gaze mirrored what I felt.
A normal kick like that would've taken down a human for hours. It would have stunned a normal fae, maybe knocked it to the ground, but an Ancient? It would've made them stumble.
I was stronger.
Rising, I smiled widely as my grip tightened on the daggers.
Ivy: "Surprise. I'm not your normal halfling."
Ancient: "You'll be a dead halfling soon."
Ivy: "Oh, I don't know about that. Sort of already did that. It didn't stick."
Ivy: "Where did you get that?"
Tink: "I stole it from a little fae girl. Hashtag thug life."
Ivy: "I don't want you in danger."
Tink: "Ivy-divy, I know that I'm fucking cute and adorable, but I think you forget what I'm capable of."
Tink: "Wait. Have you two stopped fighting? Oh my Queen Mab, you guys are in love again!"
Ivy: "Tink ..."
Ren: "We were never not together."
The blue and red bag slipped to the floor as he clapped his hands like an overexcited seal.
Tink: "You guys are! This is amazing."
Tink: "Thank the faery lords and ladies, I will not be a product of a split home."
Ivy: "For the last time, we are not your parents, Tink."
I shook my head as I started to turn but stopped.
Ivy: "Pick up your bag."
Ren leaned in as Tink snatched the bag off the floor.
Ren: "You sound like his mom."
Ivy: "Shut up."
Ivy: "Why are there four?"
Fabian: "Because I will be joining you."
My jaw clenched as I turned around.
Ivy: "Yeah, you're going to need to find a different car to ride in."
Tink: "Ivy. He will be riding me."
Ren choked on his coffee and turned, wheezing softly.
I turned to Tink
Ivy: "You want to maybe rethink what you just said?"
Tink: "Oh, no. I said that right."
Ivy: "If he's going to be in the car with us, he will not be riding you while we're in there, okay? I think I'm going to find who Faye is riding with -"
Ren: "Oh no."
He caught the back of my shirt
Ren: "You are not leaving me with them."
Tink: "I don't think she can honestly brush it. Because when she does, it just turns into a giant poof."
Fabian: "So she doesn't comb her hair at all?"
Ivy: "I comb my hair, you assholes."
Ivy: "Let's talk about you, Fabian."
Fabian: "I have no problem with that."
Ren: "Of course not."
Tink: "Someone is shooting at them! Let me out. Oh my Queen Mab, let me out! I am so going to kill them shooting at my new friends! I'm going to go full Tink on them!"
Ivy: "You hit the childproof locks?"
Ren: "Damn straight."
Ren: "Keep yourself in one piece, because when this is over I have a lot of ides on how I want to work out some of the adrenaline this fight is going to give us."
The was definitely great motivation to stay alive.
Stretching up, I grabbed his chin and brought his mouth to mine. i kissed him with everything I had in me, and it was harsh and fierce. When I pulled back, I almost didn't want to let him go.
Ivy: "I love you."
Ren: 'Prove it to me later."
Tink: "That was kind of hot. Literally. Figuratively."
Ivy: "I think you should be really, really careful with him."
Kyle: "You look like a goddamn fae. You're disgusting."
Striking like lightning once more, Ren's fist connected with Kyle's stomach.
Ren: "I think you meant to say she's beautiful, but I understand. Words were never your forte."
Fabian: "I heard you guys last night."
Ivy: "I don't know what you think you heard, but it wasn't us."
Fabian: "I heard you and Ren talking to the man inside there."
Ivy: "Oh. Oh. Carry on then."
Fabian: "That is why I am waiting."
My gaze flew to him. A terse moment passed, one full of understanding, and then Fabian stepped aside. I reached for the door.
Fabian: "I did hear you moaning also. You sounded like a wild moose grazing."
My mouth dropped open
Ivy: "A wild moose grazing?"
Fabian: "Yes. That is correct. It was quite ... disturbing."
Kyle: "He's going to have to kill me, you know that? Sooner or later. Because I will find you and I will kill you. Then he'll come after me, and if he doesn't kill me, I'll kill him. He's a traitor."
Ivy: "He's not going to kill you."
Kyle: "You're a dumb bitch if you think that's a smart move."
Ivy: "Guess what? I'm a bitch, but I am not dumb. I get why he thinks letting you live will help build a bridge with the Order again. He's just that kind of person. A good person. He's better than you."
Kyle: "He's fucking a halfling."
I let out a cold laugh as I backed out of the bathroom.
Ivy: "And he enjoys it. A lot."
Kyle: "He'll do it. I promise you that. He and I will see each other again."
Ivy: "You're wrong, so very wrong about that. Ren's not going to kill you later. I'm not going to allow that."
Kyle: "What? You're going to do it? Then lie to him about it later? Kind of hard to kill me when you're all the way over there."
Ivy: "No. I'm not going to do it either, because I made a promise not to lie to him anymore."
Kyle: "Isn't that sweet."
Ivy: "It is. But I didn't say no one was going to kill you, Kyle."
I stepped aside.
And the Summer Prince walked in.
Ivy: "No one is with us right now. But we didn't come alone. We came with backup."
Daniel: "For what?"
Ivy: "To take out the Prince, what the hell else?"
Daniel: "Girl, you and that tone. Watch it."
Tink: "Why don't we live in something like this?"
Before I could answer, Fabian was by Tink's side.
Fabian: "Where I live, it would put this place to shame."
Tink: "Do you have Amazon Prime?"
Fabian: "Of course."
Tink looked over at me
Tink: "I'm moving."
Tink: "I'm calling dibs on the bedroom!"
Tink raced past us, carrying his luggage against his chest. His Wonder Woman backback thumped off his side.
Fabian: "Is he always like that?"
Ivy: "Pretty much."
Fabian: "I like it. His thirst for life is ... infectious."
Ren: "You call it a thirst for life, I call it a hyperactivity disorder."
Fabian lifted a shoulder in response.
I eyed him closely
Ivy: "Are you into Tink - like, really into him?"
Fabian: "If you are worried that I will somehow hard or hurt him, you have nothing to fear."
Ivy: "Tink is like a brother to me - a really weird, often annoying, brother. I know you said you won't hurt him, but if you do, I will find a way to end you. And it won't be pleasant."
Fabian: "Oddly, I am starting to like you."
I frowned, thinking that was a weird response.
Ivy: "All righty then."
Ivy: "Who I am hasn't changed."
Miles: "Kind of hard to believe that when I'm looking at you, seeing that you've changed."
Ren: "Just because she looks more beautiful than she did before, doesn't mean she isn't still the kickass Ivy out there fighting the good fight."
Tink: "Heard we'd be taking a field trip this morning. Figured I'm too cute to kill in this form. Plus, I'm less intimidating this way. That's why Ren didn't kill me at first."
Ren: "That is not why I didn't kill you at first."
Ivy: "Is your backpack still in here? The Wonder Woman one?"
His little brow puckered
Tink: "Yes, actually. It's in the back."
Ivy: "Okay. I want you to get into it."
Tink's' nose wrinkled
Tink: "But I'll suffocate!"
I rolled my eyes
Ivy: "I'm not going to zip it all the way closed. I think it's just smart if you stay unseen at first."
Tink: "Fine. Whatever. But if I suffocate, I'll come back and haunt you for the rest of your life."
Ivy: "Can you grab the backpack for me? Please?"
Fabian: "Wow. You said please. That must've hurt your soul."
Ivy: "It did."
Liz: "What is in your backpack?"
Ivy: "My ... my friend is in this bag."
Daniel: "Your friend?"