Scarlet Princess by Elle Madison and Robin D. Mahle

Death was a hefty price to pay for vodka.

I mean with an opening line like that you know it’s going to be a great book right?!

Regular readers will know I’m a bit of an ElBin fangirl and often devour their books in 1 or 2 days. Scarlet Princess was no exception: I kept my kids fed and held down my full-time job for the day but the rest of the time was spent reading this amazing return into the Lochlann world.

Scarlet Princess is the first in the Lochlann Feuds series which is based approximately 20 years after Autumn’s Reign, the final in the Lochlann Treaty series. However, you don’t have to read the Lochlann Treaty in order to read Scarlet Princess: the world building, plot and characters shine just as brightly for this to be a standalone novel.

“It’s a lotus flower. They’re rare, complex flowers. Difficult to keep alive.”

“That doesn’t sound like anyone I know”

Scarlet Princess introduces us to Rowan, the Princess of Lochlann and her cousin Davin, whom we briefly met in the Lochlann Treaty. The cousins give the impression that they either go looking for trouble, or trouble just finds them! Therefore, it shouldn’t be so surprising that when we meet them, Rowan and Davin are just about to find themselves imprisoned in the neighbouring kingdom of Socair.

Sadly, Socair and Lochlann don’t have the friendliest history so getting home will be no easy feat for the cousins, if they can escape death first.

Amicable and accommodating, Princess. I wonder if you are capable of either.

Rowan is, without a doubt, a product of her parents: with her fiery red curls and equally fiery attitude it is easy for us to assume that Rowan takes after her father but then you find yourself internally shouting (or externally- no judgement) “why did you do that?!” and suddenly you see her mother’s emotional, impulsive nature.

The smart mouth and the booziness? Well that’s just what makes Rowan, Rowan! And we love her for it!

Am I boring you Princess Rowan?” He sighed.

“Always”

As Rowan’s journey continues though we see that she has been deeply affected by her parents’ quest for love. Our princess is quite closed off to love and is happy for a marriage to be arranged for her. At her young age Rowan equates love with warring kingdoms, losing children, losing husbands: ultimately, she equates love with loss.

Maybe that is why Rowan hides behind a mask of sarcasm and glib comments, seldom ever facing the reality of her predicament until it is too late.

I didn’t want the kind of love that could break you.

Behind her sarcasm though it is clear Rowan cares deeply about issues such as poverty and equality. She is forced to see that her life is very different in Lochlann, where villagers are not suffering and are looked after by their leaders; women are not seen as quiet mice who need protecting as they are in Socair. Maybe, just maybe, her life in Lochlann wasn’t as bad as she thought? But will Rowan ever see Lochlann again?

Besides, I never had been good at making the smart choice.

The cast of characters surrounding Rowan are equally as amazing as our princess. Davin is a ladies’ man just like his father, Iiro is authoritative one minute but then casually tortures his brother sensibilities the next and Mila is a great friend who comes swooping into Rowan’s life – there is definitely more to Mila than meets the eye though.

Rowan’s escort through Socair and the poor soul on the other end of most of her sarcasm is Lord Theodore, her captor and the heir to the Elk clan. Theo is fair where Rowan is fiery; stoic where she is scandalous and the tension between them …. oof it’s enough to make you swoon!

You know when something just catches your attention and you can’t explain it?

I loved revisiting Lochlann only to be immersed in the Kingdom of Socair: the mysterious enemy lurking behind the mountain. The 9 clans created a whole new dynamic from the previous books and the plot arc could have easily got lost within all the clan politics but it flowed beautifully. 

All I will say is that I really shouldn’t trust Robin and Elle with happy endings – they will always rip it away with a few chapters to go. These two are the Queens of cliff-hangers!

Grab your copy of Scarlet Princess on August 27th 2021. Devour it in one day and then join me anxiously anticipating the sequel, Tarnished Crown in November 2021.

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