The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

the winners curseFrom goodreads:

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.


I love this book.

I might be obsessed.

While I was disappointed in the lack of fantasy, the writing and the story itself make up for it tenfold.  Seriously.

You’ve read the blurb.

You have an idea what this is about.

Yes, two countries at war and I mean that in the past and present tense.  Enter: the Valorians and the Herrani.

“Happiness depends on being free, Kestrel’s father often said, and freedom depends on being courageous.”

Kestrel who happens to be the General’s daughter and Valorian, becomes friends with Arin, a Herrani slave after she aquired him at the auction. Becoming friends might be a strong statement to make but that’s what it evolves to, eventually.

Our fearless heroine is probably one of my favorites that I’ve encountered so far.  She’s all about embracing her feminine side but her strength is being a strategist and HO BOY does that talent ever come in handy during war time.

“Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not.”

Arin is just brilliant.  He keeps his eye on the prize even though it feels like a betrayal, it isn’t.  At least that’s not the way I perceived it to be.  There’s more to Arin than being a slave and slowly but surely those details are revealed.

This is how a forbidden romance should be written.  There’s no insta-love and it all started over a game of cards. There’s not even a mention of how handsome he is or how stunning she is, nothing.  Feelings are developed over time and through secrets that are shared.  And that, boys and girls felt incredibly genuine.

Marie  Rutkoski has delivered a beautifully written story about a Valorian and Herrani that despite all odds, fall in love. *dreamy sigh*

Oh and I should mention, the ending is gut-wrenching.

“I agree,” Arin said, “under one condition. You mentioned emissaries. There will be one emissary from the empire. It will be you.”

You might want to hold out reading this book until The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy, #2) is released on 3/5/2015.  Just sayin’.  ;)



  1. says

    Hi! I saw that you stopped by my blog, so I had to come over here and visit you! You’re blog is lovely! *follows* I’m so glad you loved The Winner’s Curse. As you saw from my review, I didn’t love it as much — I had reservations — but I am so. excited. for book two. Just SO EXCITED! I mean, I feel like the ending of the Winner’s Curse was the best part. You’re just left completely wanting more. The wait is agonizing!
    Ellen B recently posted…2014 End of Year Book SurveyMy Profile

    • Cristina says

      Hi Ellen! YOUR blog is beautiful!!! *follows back* ♥

      But yes, I kinda went bananas over this book. I even ordered a physical copy for my collection. *shrugs* Book 2 is gonna be wicked good, I just know it. That ending gutted me. GUTTED. ME. I will have to patiently or not so patiently wait until March 2015!

      Here’s to new book friends… *raises coffee mug*

      PS: your bio moved me *big hug*

      • says

        I’m planning on buying a physical copy of The Winner’s Curse as well! And I’ll be buying The Winner’s Curse as well.

        Thanks for the kind words about my about me section! I decided to write a personal one on a whim, and it really gratifying when I hear back from people about it.

        Here’s to a new blogging friendship! *clink*
        Ellen B recently posted…The Diviners ReviewMy Profile

    • Cristina says

      It’s fantastic! Brittany…you will love it and it’s smart to wait until March because it’ll be easier on your heart! *wink*


  2. Tricia says

    Yay!! So glad to hear you loved this one!! It’s been on my TBR list for awhile – it sounded really cool! I think I will wait til the 2nd one comes out since the ending sounds like a gut-wrenching cliffhanger!! Awesome review!!

    • Cristina says

      Thanks Tricia! ♥ I actually thought this series was complete when I one-clicked and when I went to purchase the second book…I almost had heart failure! *bangs head on desk* UGH…oh well, at least I have March to look forward to! *snickers* Next time I should do better research! :)

    • Cristina says

      Julie…it’s so good! Just keep in mind, it’s light on the fantasy but the journey of their relationship is absolutely fabulous! ♥

  3. says

    Ahh I\m so happy to hear that you liked this one! I remember being a bit skeptical of it before I read it (because of all the hype) but I was completely addicted. I lloved the slow burn romance and just the characters themselves. I do wish there were more fantasy elements but I think TWC really left a lot of room for those to be explored in later books. Lovely review Cristina

    • Cristina says

      Thank you Lily! ♥

      I agree with you totally about the element of fantasy being explored in the next two books. It has to or they wouldn’t label that way, right? *shrugs*

      And yes, that story is so addictive and I’m dying for the second book. DYING. ;)

    • Cristina says

      Becca you will LOVE this!!! It was so addictive and all the characters were so compelling. Simply put, it’s fantastic! :)

    • Cristina says

      Since you read more contemporary and this is labeled as fantasy….you will still enjoy it because that element is totally missing, that’s why I couldn’t give it five stars. And the forbidden romance alone is just PERFECT! ;)

    • Cristina says

      Meg…it’s subtle and simply wonderful. You will totally feel it once you start reading it and don’t even get me started on the ending. So worth it!!! ♥


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