Review of The Queen’s Gambit (Rogue Queen #1), by Jessie Mihalik

I borrowed an audio copy of The Queen’s Gambit, by Jessie Mihalik, through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

When the Quint Confederacy and the Kos Empire went to war—again—young Queen Samara wisely kept her Rogue Coalition out of the conflict. But staying neutral in a galactic war doesn’t pay the bills, not when both sides refuse to trade with neutral sectors.

With her people on the brink of starvation, Samara hatches a daring plan to snatch the kidnapped Kos Emperor from the Quint mercenaries holding him. The Kos Empire will pay a fortune for their emperor’s return, enough to feed the Coalition’s citizens while they wait for the return to a begrudging peace.

But when her plan goes sideways, Samara finds herself evading Quint mercenaries with the very man she intends to capture. And the more time she spends with Valentin Kos, the more she realizes that he’s not the coldly indifferent villain she imagined. Torn between duty and desire, Samara must decide if saving her people is worth giving up the one thing she’s always wanted.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, it was just kind of weak. The plot was weak. The romantic development was weak. The world-building was a little less weak, but still not strong. It felt like someone had taken a knit comb to a full length novel and picked out everything that fleshes a story out. What we’re left with instead is an unlikely couple who experience almost insta attraction, a galactic war in which the two largest, most powerful, wealthiest combatants can’t swat a minuscule fly of a woman, political intrigue that can be solved with an email or two, and a happily ever after that is so pat it feels like an afterthought. 

Now, I know none of that sounds positive. The story development really was lacking. But once you get past all the gratuitous-to-the-plot physical descriptions of the male lead (which I wouldn’t have minded if they had been balanced with more actual plot development) the story is entertaining. And when it comes right down to it, I value that over a lot of other elements in a book. 

Now, a word on the narration: I disliked how Dulude read this. I thought she made everyone (but especially Emperor Kos) sound a little too soft and….well weak, which was problematic with an already weak plot. But more that, her speech pattern had regular micro-pauses (I don’t know what else to call them) that interrupted sentences, broke them into pieces. It drove me absolutely batty. To be fair, it might not bother anyone else at all though. 

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