I admit I liked the Megan Derr's stories I read for the past couple of years but I didn't love them. Not like I loved some of her earlier works such as Dance with the Devil, Dance in the Dark, Midnight, or The Bastard Prince. This one though, I definitely loved.
The world-built was well developed. Duly noted it wasn't too complex but it didn't matter. Because the idea was good: every 75 years, at least one immediate member of the royal and noble families must marry a commoner and to prove their suitability, the 'commoner candidates' will compete physically and mentally in a tournament of challenges called "Tournament of Losers". I loved reading about the challenges, even if the names were silly sometimes *lol*. But it was so much fun it kept me glued to the pages to know what challenges would be next for our hero, Rathatayen Jakobson.
Oh and how I loved Rath. While Rath kept saying that he was just a dock worker, a whore, basically a nobody, he was clearly more than meets the eye. Rath was noble, loyal, and brave. I loved him from the very start, when he was forced to produce money to pay his father's debt. I sympathized with his situation and it was easy for me to root for him for the winning prize. Oh, and I also loved the fact that Rath seemed 'older' than most of Megan Derr's characters in this kind of situation -- usually they're in their 20's, but Rath was 33 years old.
There was a lovely romance too between Rath and Tress, a younger High City noble who sometimes "slumming it in" at the Low City. At first Rath was dismissive of Tress; it was just for a good time in bed after all, because High City nobleman not really consort with Low City commoner. But Rath's grew caring for Tress when Tress showed him that he didn't look down on Rath. Tress took care of Rath when he needed it and the High City was really sweet. Their relationship was build wonderfully and my heart was content with how their love affair resolved.
I wish some of the challenges were written longer, for example the part where Rath needed to go to three villages. We only had the story in one village and not the other two. I also thought that the reason behind the threat for Rath's life was a little unclear. But when it comes down to everything, I enjoyed this book a great deal and it made me really happy.
The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.