Ruined by Amy Tintera

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Allen & Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760290641
(Age: 14+) Recommended. Fantasy. Romance. Emmeline of Ruina, needs to restore her rightful place in her country and help regain its independence. But she has been exiled, her mother and father killed and her sister, Olivia, imprisoned. And unlike them she does not have the powers of the Ruined, relying instead on her skills at swordsmanship and her own cleverness.
She plans to infiltrate the enemy's stronghold and help her sister escape. She kills Princess Mary of Vallos taking her place as the betrothed of Prince Casimir of Lera (Cas). Following this is a story of the growing romance between Em and Cas, as the two are now betrothed. Beautiful and expensive gowns, detailed with relish, different customs and a growing rift between Cas and his parents causes some hesitation on Em's part, as the need to free her sister becomes secondary to her growing love for Cas. She becomes less sure of herself and the reason she is in this place. In captivity Olivia's powers have grown and Em's indecision has created a distrust between the two girls.
A solid fantasy read, the background of the rivalry between the two kingdoms is nothing new but the writing is fast paced and the romance enough to impel any reader to turn the pages.
Fran Knight