Top critical review
Somewhat disappointing book 2
Reviewed in the United States on September 19, 2020
The first book in this series was a fun read, and I was interested to see what would happen next. This book was a disappointment, though. There are jarring contradictions between the two books in terms of plot, timelines, and character development. Timelines and backstories don't make sense, central plot points hinge on tired cliches, and phrases meant to add humor are overused and derogatory rather than funny.
This book directly contradicts a number of things that happened in the first book, though it tries to cover some of these with revisionist explanations (oh, he didn't mean "love" when he said it the first time around...). Another example: in the first book, the Winter Prince's true name was a tightly kept secret, using the cliche of names = power over someone. But in this book, not only does our main character, Summer, know and use his name regularly, so do his other friends. This issue of true names doesn't come up with anyone else, including the new rival Spring Prince. The importance placed on the Winter Prince's name in the first book is seemingly gone without explanation or acknowledgment.
In this book, we get two new cliches: The bond between the Winter Prince and Summer isn't truly completed until they "consummate" it. And supposedly, despite the Winter Prince and Summer Princess having found each other as "mates" and been in a relationship previously (some number of years ago? the timelines don't really make sense), they never once actually had sex? This also contradicts things that were said in the first book.
Edited to add: the obsession Summer develops with the WP saying he loves her--this is another tired cliche, and one that doesn't mesh with what we know of Summer's character at this point.
The continued use of references to Summer being from the real/mundane world to try and add humor and personality to her character--Ruby, too--does not work well, either. Throwing pop culture references and jokes into a fantasy novel is tricky, and it falls flat more often than not in these books. I'm especially tired of reading the phrase "like a horny hooker" to describe Summer feeling attraction/desire, for one. It's not funny--it reinforces an idea that women who accept their sexuality are bad, using a derogatory term for sex workers to describe these feelings or behaviors. It's probably just a turn of phrase the author doesn't realize she uses so often, but... think about it a bit, please.
I wanted to like this book, and I do enjoy the author's other books. I wanted this series to live up to the potential I saw in book 1. I hope the third installment gets back on track and picks up without dragging the central relationship out too long or getting buried in cliches and revisionism. Honestly, this book feels like an afterthought--like the author is spending more time on other projects and rushing this series on the side. Better to take more time and get the revisions done before publishing!