64 points, 3 ¼ stars
Can love and sacrifice conquer a curse?
When Felyn was a young, defenseless witch, she was cursed to live as a shape shifter—a deadly panther. She might have been rescued and raised by a noble and powerful leader, but she lives in fear she will hurt those she loves in her animal form so each full moon she hides deep in the forest. But how can she refuse her adoptive father’s plea for an arranged marriage with a new ally? After all, it’s temporary and in name only…
Varz agrees to an arranged marriage reluctantly because he needs the military and diplomatic alliance. He has secrets and a growing power struggle back home. He’s relieved he need only marry the young witch for a year until he meets his bride. Felyn is beautiful and intelligent and not easy to ignore, but Varz is a man of his word. His vow to leave his bride untouched will be the hardest one he has had to keep.
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“You can tell Varz whatever you wish. But he has much more important things to do than worry about how you spend your time when you are not in his bed.”
Felyn’s Curse was written much better than Thalgor’s Witch. It is like the author took all my beliefs in her as a writer, and took them to heart. She definitely grew as an author between books one and two of this series. I’m really glad for the growth. While I suppose this could be read as a standalone, I don’t think you should. I think this is really meant to be read after book one, when you’ve already gotten to know some of the major characters.
Unfortunately, I just was unable to connect to Felyn as a character even more than I was unable to connect to Erwyn. I enjoyed Erwyn’s plight more. Felyn isn’t as sure of herself, she flounders more as she tries to figure out what to do in the position she is in. It also doesn’t help that everything Felyn went through, Erwyn went through as well. It was a lot like treading the same ground with a new person. A character who really doesn’t have much of an effect on anything in the story. She was a catalyst more than an agent.
Varz is 100% better than Thalgor, and helps makes this book, though. Varz is so much more understanding. He looks up to the person Thalgor became by the end of the first book as a role model. While this was an arranged marriage, there was actually a courting period this time around. It was after they were married but, eh does that matter? I don’t think so! While Varz and Felyn have growing pains and fights as well, I feel like Varz has legitimate fears and Felyn is right to be hurt. No one was in the right or wrong this time. I just wish these two would have talked more.
The thing I disliked the most about this was actually Felyn’s curse. So much mental energy is spent on how she is cursed and oh my god it is so bad and why her. It is..It is utterly ridiculous to me. Maybe it is because of my background in urban fantasy where were-creatures happen all the time, but I just don’t think turning into a panther is that big a deal, especially when those around you know you are cursed and can help you. I just..big fucking deal. I understand part of it, but not all. This is what caused most of my disconnect with the entire book. The entire book hinges on this, and I just didn’t care and found it not worth the worry.
The enemy is a bit more lackluster, too. In the previous book it was them vs. the entire world, including within the camp. There was a lot of internal strife here as well, but it felt like treading the same ground. However, it isn’t really them vs. the world anymore. There are minor skirmishes with a big bad I assume will be dealt with in the next book, since it wasn’t here. Most of this was them vs. …a panther. A panther that isn’t Felyn. Though that is a minor part, it is mostly about Felyn trying to win over the village. Just wasn’t as big of stakes.
I’m genuinely curious about where this series is going, though. While I had some problems with the story, I did mostly enjoy reading it. I am looking forward to seeing the improvements Nancy Holland will make in the next book. I’m going to continue to look towards what the author has in store for years to come because I think she is going to grow into herself marvelously.
I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Nancy Holland, Tule Publishing, and Netgalley for providing this copy for review!