Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pride, the final book of Willow Aster’s Kingdoms of Sin series, ends the series in all of the glory. This reader has been there since the beginning, Downfall, when the pain bled on the page from Luka’s spurning of his arranged bride, Eden, through their eventual happy ending to Mara and Elias’s story in book 2, Exposed, to Ava and Gentry in book 3, Ruin. Each book’s characters were singular. The journeys of their heroes and heroines were specific to that story. All along, though, Willow Aster has stretched a story of intrigue and political treachery. Each book serves up a piece of that romantic suspense, and it’s the thread that binds you to this series.
In book 4, Pride, the final book of the series, Aster pulls that thread taut, revealing the final piece of the puzzle. I’ll be honest. There isn’t really any surprise as to the culprits behind the political betrayals. It’s clear through all of the books who the political puppetmasters are. It’s in this book, though, where Aster shines integrity over these hidden entities and allows the “good guys” to win in the end. If you are hoping for a satisfying ending with Pride, then you will be happy.
Underpinning the suspense of the Kingdoms of Sin series is its romance. Again, each book engages in a different romantic trope. With Pride, my favorite romantic trope is realized: enemies to lovers. Delilah Farthing is the daughter of Jadon Safrin’s kingdom’s enemy. When she decides to secretly meet with Jadon to attempt to resolve kingdom conflicts, the enemy’s daughter and Jadon feel an instant attraction. There is something about Delilah that Jadon feels drawn to, and Delilah feels the same. As the story progresses and Jadon must step in to protect Delilah from her father’s machinations, he will stop at nothing to keep her safe. However, their journey is a complicated one, and Delilah will have to save herself and her kingdom first.
Unlike the other books of this series, the journey for the hero and heroine in Pride is a bit different. Delilah and Jadon do not fight their feelings for each other for long unlike Eden and Luka, Mara and Elias, and Gentry and Ava. Their journey is complicated by kingdom intrigues. As such, the tension of this book lies in their survival as their lives are met with danger at every turn. This is also the weakest part of the book, as the tension is elongated too far into the book.It feels contrived at times, drawing away from the burgeoning relationship between Delilah and Jadon.
With that, Aster crafts a chemistry between Delilah and Jadon that burns the page. Even more, Jadon is the strongest hero in this series. It’s been clear since the first page that he is stalwart and resilient in the face of difficulties. In Pride, Aster elaborates on this by showing us his integrity and compassion for both Delilah and the less fortunate. He is a great king and a great person, so, as the reader, you root for his success in wooing Delilah and saving her from the political danger. I would have liked for the danger to have been edited to a few moments. Instead, they sometimes take over the story, losing some of the romance in its journey.
One of the divine parts of this story, though, (besides Delilah and Jadon’s romance) is the focus on women as chattel. It is clear that this is a modern-day story, yet Delilah’s experience illustrates ideologies of the past in terms of women. She is seen as a negotiable piece of her father’s property, and she strives throughout the book to gain personal power as protection. She recognizes her lack of knowledge about her father’s kingdom, and she attempts to remedy that by allying herself with his enemies. Even more, she takes a stand as a way to protect her future. She spurns the help of Jadon and does this in her own will. Yes, at some point, Jadon becomes her ally and helpmate, but Aster creates a heroine who saves herself first. Aster shows us through her story that Delilah’s true power exists from within. Love simply helps manifest that power.
In the end, Willow Aster has carefully crafted a series that intrigues, titillates, and challenges you. With Pride, she brings a perfect resolution to a series that has been fraught with character anxieties and challenges. Yet, in true romance fashion, everyone finds their happy ending, and the kingdoms thrive in the world of “happily-ever-afters.”
In love and romance,