Book Review: Gleam by Raven Kennedy

Author: Raven Kennedy
Series: The Plated Prisoner #3
Age Category: New Adult
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: May 31, 2021
Print Length: 601

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Official Synopsis

Book 3 of this adult fantasy series continues in this epic story inspired by the myth of King Midas, fae, fated romance, and insurmountable greed.

“I don’t choose him. Not anymore. I’m choosing me.”

King Midas made me the woman I am today. Notorious. Unattainable. His.

The thing about being confined is that you believe it’s to keep the bad out. …Until you realize it’s about keeping you in.

I’m now in a strange kingdom surrounded by liars, with no allies of my own, but I won’t sit idly by and let myself wither. No, there’s something that’s bloomed from the pit of my repression. Something dark. Something angry.

But the last thing I expected was for my anger to call out to him. King Ravinger.

He’s sinister and powerful and entirely too seductive. I’ve learned my lesson with trusting manipulative kings, so why does my chest constrict every time he’s near? I need to tread carefully, or I’m at risk of losing much more than just my freedom.

Regret and revenge war inside of me, and I need to figure out a plan fast before I get tangled up in the schemes of kings and queens.

Because I won’t be caught in a cage again. No, this time, it’ll be me setting the trap.
…I just hope my heart comes out of this unscathed.

My Review

Warning: The review contains spoilers for GILD and GLINT, the first two book in the series.

Now back with King Midas in Fifth Kingdom, Auren must fight to keep her freedom. Armed with the knowledge that she holds his illusory power in her hands, she forces a fragile agreement: he can use her gold touch so long as she can roam unfettered. But Midas is always one step ahead and uses her compassion against her to keep her in check. Forced to play the long game, Auren takes every chance she gets to explore the grounds and plan for her escape.

As with GILD and GLINT, the plot unfolds in two general locations. Most of the events occur in Fifth Kingdom, mainly from Auren’s point of view. There are also scenes from Queen Malina’s perspective in Sixth Kingdom; there she quickly finds herself dealing with escalating unrest from the people. Like the first two books in the series, GLEAM focuses on Auren’s character arc–her emotional healing process and plans to escape. It’s a very intimate look at overcoming one’s instinct to hide from the world, or refuse to ever become prisoner to fear again.

“But the eyes of liars are tricky things. They can show you what you want to see without ever reflecting the truth.”
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GLEAM is a raw, sordid view of the power struggle between the abuser and the victim once the victim becomes fully aware of their circumstances. With eyes wide open, Auren sees Midas for the abusive, manipulative person he truly is. Time and time again he tries to regain Auren’s submissiveness, but she won’t go back. With few to turn to and no means of escape from the harsh elements, Auren treads delicately to remove herself and those she cares about from Midas’s clutches.

“There comes a point in your life when you have to choose between having regrets and the possibility of making mistakes.”
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Auren’s new default reaction is to rely and trust only herself, an instinct that wars with her growing attraction for Rip. She slowly realizes that she’ll need to learn to trust others, men in particular, but she can’t help but feel betrayed by Rip’s lie about his identity. A lifetime of abuse at the hands of men made her wary and distrustful. Auren must decide whether to trust and love again, or remain captive to her fear.

I really enjoyed reading about Auren’s personal growth. It was amazing to watch her take control of her life as best as she could given her current situation. And when I say there’s an epic plot twist, I mean there’s an epic plot twist. My jaw dropped in utter disbelief; I walked away from the book for a while. I absolutely did not see this plot twist coming in the best kind of way. I also appreciate that the author wasn’t afraid to create unredeemable characters; not everything or everyone, unfortunately, has a happy ending in life, and Kennedy understands this. The writing improves even more from the last book, though I was pretty content with it in GLINT. There are so many relatable quotes that I found myself highlighting quite a bit in GLEAM. (Not that quotable passages are necessarily the mark of a good book!)

If GLINT fascinated you, then GLEAM will enrapture you. This is the build up to Auren’s potential. This is the calm before the storm that is female rage and retribution. And I absolutely loved it.

Rating: 4.5
Content warnings: torture, physical abuse, drug use, sex, death
Reading format: Kindle e-book

For additional thoughts about GLEAM, check out reviews by One Book More and Shelf Life Chronicles.

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