The Traitor Queen
by Danielle L Jensen
Published by CLA
Book 2 in the Bridge Kingdom series
A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction.
But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.
And it is bait she fully intends to take.
Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared. But not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed.
With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or herself.
The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen is the second book in her Bridge Kingdom series, and finishes off the story between the King and Queen of Ithicana - Aren and Lara. The Traitor Queen picks up shortly where The Bridge Kingdom ends off, with Lara being held in the dungeons, while her sister-in-law, Ahnna, decides what to do with her. After losing many good soldiers to trying to rescue Aren, Ahnna decides to have Lara help. While Ithicana's citizens despise her, Lara does everything in her power to rescue Aren from her father, and free Ithicana from her father. They can feed her to the sharks if they want to, Lara will not stop till Ithicana, and Aren are free.
This book was as good as the first. Truly. It was filled with action right away, and it didn't slow down to the very last page. There is not a page wasted here, and I love it. The story felt fresh, and despite KNOWING that it had to have a happy ending, I was still filled with all the emotions of not knowing what was going to happen next. Aside from Danielle's wonderful plot, her characters are what truly make this book so much richer. You feel Aren's anguish over his country and Lara. You feel Lara's guilt and determination. And while wanting them to work out their issues, you understand why Aren is so angry and heartbroken. While rooting for Lara, you totally get why Ithicana's people hate her. So everything standing in their way makes sense. And while the romance was light in this book - I mean, hard to get romantic with everything going on - the moments there is romance, makes it much more meaningful. Once again, not as steamy as those on #booktok says it is, but I honestly didn't miss it. The story was amazing enough without it.
The Traitor Queen totally lived up to it's predecessor. It was a thrilling adventure from page one to the end, and while I am bummed that Aren and Lara's story is done, I am excited for where the rest of the series is headed. Danielle L. Jensen has wrote a story worth reading.
Lara finding her sisters.
Lara walking across the dinner table, laughing at her father while her sisters come in
Sarhina standing up for Lara with Aren
Lara saving Aren's life in the desert, and in turn, Aren helping heal her, and deciding to let his anger go
Aren's acting to rescue Lara from the pillory
Aren telling Lara he forgives her
Aren finding Lara trying to stitch herself up after she is injured in the fight, and him helping her. Then the sex.
Lara facing her fear of the water to save Aren and her people and face her father
Aren saving Lara's life after her swim with the sharks
Aren telling Lara that she can stay with him
Lara: "If you let go of me, I shall not be pleased."
Aren: "It's only waist-deep."
Lara: "That's not the point."
Smiling, he bent and kissed her lips, tasting her thoroughly before whispering,
Aren: "I'll never let you go."
Aren: "No desire to rule?"
Keris: "It's a thankless burden."
Aren: "True. But when you have the crown, you can change the décor."
Aren gestured at the corpses lining the garden walls.
Coralyn: It will entertain me in the afterlife to watch how well you sleep knowing that every wife you have and every wife you ever take will be watching and waiting for a moment to take revenge for what you've done. The harem protects its own, and you've proven yourself our enemy. I think you'll not drop those trousers of yours so easily knowing that all the pretty mouths you surround yourself with have teeth. So by all means, Silas. Martyr me. All it means is that I'll have an exceptional vantage point to watch you pay for your crimes."
Coralyn: "Forgive her. She loves you."
Aren: "She doesn't know what love is."
Coralyn: "That's why you should forgive her."
Sarhina: "Lara made a mistake. If she'd trusted you with the whole truth, none of this would've come to pass. But please understand that her coming to trust you at all is nothing short of miraculous. She's as much a victim of my father's machinations as you and Ithicana. Though unlike you, she isn't willing to let him win. Lara remains Queen of Ithicana even if you've given up on being its king."
Lara: "I know hard choices, Aren. I know what it feels like to sacrifice the lives of innocents in order to save the lives of those I care about."
She gestured to the island full of bones of servants and musicians she'd done nothing to protect.
Lara: "And it haunts me, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't do it again, because the alternative was the lives of my sisters. Just because a choice is hard doesn't mean you don't make it."
Aren: "We're too far away for anyone to heart. But you knew that, didn't you?"
Timin: "Who are you? What sort of demon are you?"
Aren: "The sort who's had his fill of backstabbing pricks."
Aren replied before sliding his blade across the man's throat.
Aren: "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get my wife back."
Then his lips brushed hers, and it felt like everything fell away. Like there was nothing in all the world but the two of them. She trembled, puling herself closer against him, until he whispered,
Aren: "Lara, no matter where you are in the world, if you need me, I'll come for you. Please know that."
Lara: "The pain was better."
Lara lifted her shirt to scratch at her peeling back.
Lara: I've never been more goddamned itchy in my entire life."
Aren: "You've certainly never looked worse."
he responded around the dried apricot he was chewing, then dodged sideways when she tossed a piece of dead skin his direction, a laugh tearing from his throat.
Lara: "Asshole. I'm going to have a bath while you cook. You might consider doing the same at some point - you smell like camel."
Aren: "And yet you don't dote on me half as much as you do them."
Lara gave a low chuckle.
Lara: "Keep watch, then. I'd rather not have to leap out of my bath and fight ruffians in the nude."
Aren: "Might work out to your advantage."
Lara: "I'm advantaged enough, thank you."
She winked, plucked up a knife, and strode barefoot to the stream, her hips swaying in a way that made it impossible to look anywhere else.
Lara: "I said keep an eye out for soldiers, Aren. Not keep an eye on my ass."
Aren: "The ass that's peeling like a ship's boy with a sack of potatoes?"
Whirling around, she slowly raised her middle finger, giving him a pointed glare before turning back to the water.
Lara: "I love you, Aren. But it's over between us. It has to be, and we both know it. Pretending otherwise is only going to make it worse when I walk away."
She was right, and he knew it. But in his heart, he knew that even if he never saw her again for the rest of his life, it would never be over.
She would always be his queen.
Aren: "Awake or asleep, all I see is your face. All I hear is your voice. All I feel is you in my arms. All I want is you."
Aren: "There is no one in the world like you. You are my goddamned damnation, but there will ever be anyone but you."
Aren: "It was a mistake. It won't happen again."
Aren: "I just needed to get her out of my system."
Jor handed him back the bottle.
Jor: "You could bed that woman every night for the rest of your life and never get her out of your system, Aren. That's the trouble with love."
Father: "You are a traitor. To your family. And to your people."
Lara: "No, Father. That's what they'll say about you."
Aren: "I've got you. I won't let you go."
Lara: "You need to let me go. You need to get somewhere safe."
Aren: "No! I'm not leaving you."
He slid an arms through the bars, wrapping it around her waist. She flinched as fingers pressed against the wound on her side, saw the way his face tightened as he realized how deep it was. Turning his head, he shouted,
Aren; "Where the hell are those tools?"
But Lara knew they'd never make it in time
Reaching through the bars, she caught hold of his face.
Lara: "Look at me. Listen to me."
He resisted. Like he knew what she was going to say. But then he met her gaze.
Lara: "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry for all the hurt that I caused you. All the hurt I caused Ithicana. And I need you to know that I'd die a thousand times over if there was a way to undo it."
Aren: "Lara -"
She shook her head violently, because she didn't want his forgiveness. She didn't deserve it.
Lara: "My father is dead. He's dead, and he can't hurt you or Ithicana anymore. Keris will be king, and there will be a chance for Maridrina and Ithicana to be allies in truth. For the first time, Ithicana has a chance at a better future. But it needs you to make it happen. Don't sacrifice that for me."
Aren: "But I need you."
He pulled her tight against the metal, his forehead pressing against hers through the bars.
Aren: "I love you, and I've never stopped. Not one, not even when I should have."
He kissed her then, his mouth hot against her chilled skin, his tongue tasting of the sea. And she leaned into him, the tears running down her face washed away as the waves hammered them.
Aren: "Since the day we met, there has never been anyone but you. And there never will be anyone but you. You are my queen, and I need you."
Lara: "I can't."
Aren; "You can."
He kissed her hard.
Aren: "I've never once seen fear make a decision for you."
Lara shook her head. This was too much.
Aren: "I need you. And I need you to keep fighting."
Lara: "I heard you call my name. I heard you order me to fight."
Aren: "First damned time you ever listened."
She smiled, but sadness swelled in her chest.
Lara: "Don't get used to it."
Lara: "I swore to fight by your side, to defend you to my dying breath, to cherish your body and none other, and to be loyal to you as long as I live. And that means where you go, I go, too."