The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill
Kit Brightling is one of the few women captains in the Queen’s Navy, and one of the youngest due to her prowess in battle and her magical abilities. Her true abilities, however, are kept secret, until she’s assigned on a rescue mission alongside Rian Grant, a viscount and veteran of the Continental war. Kit never asked to work alongside Rian, but they definitely have chemistry…
Solidly entertaining, however I was annoyed by the lackluster (and tbh, kinda lazy) worldbuilding and the fumbling romance aspect.
Military action should be about physical skill. Mental prowess. Leadership and hardiness.
This is obviously not what the book is about, but one of the many encounters Kit has with those who want to shoot her down and diminish her worth and abilities. In this case, it’s her dual womanhood and magical abilities that make her a liability, even though this is a world where *technically* women are equal (but misogyny still exists).
However, this quote resonated hard, because how often are women in the military (in the real world) faced with this kind of logic? That if you can’t keep up physically (hah) you don’t belong at all? That your only worth as a leader is how many pull-ups you can do or how fast your three-mile time is?
Anywho, off that soapbox and into what this book is about, beside showing that there are different types of leading and the one with an open mind is naturally the one that’s going to win.
This was a pretty standard reluctant-partners-to-partners-to-kinda-lovers book, with two people (land and sea) thrown together and find that they work together despite their initial misgivings and in spite of any real chemistry between the two. And it’s set in a pretty familiar world, where Napoleon—er, Gerard or whatever—has recently been defeated and sent to exile on an island but he’s gathering up his forces and shit and plotting something diabolical in order to retain power.
It’s basically Regency England with a queen slapped in position for Feminism™️, some magic to make it fantasy and changing a couple of names for…posterity? I guess?
I think much of my skepticism and unwillingness to suspend my belief came after the much-better alternate worldbuilding of The Once and Future Witches, which had many flaws but the twisting of history was not one of them.
However, I would have been more willing to slide away from the lazy worldbuilding (okay, yeah no, if there is one thing that irks it’s alternate history that pretends to be clever by changing two names and a few events but keeping the rest in place) if the two leads had had any sort of connection.
I don’t really get Kit’s Great Hatred towards the nobility. Yes, she is an orphan (and I wished her sisters had had more screen time instead of being used as convenient plot devices), but her mother is wealthy and she’s had the benefits of that wealth and privilege? Sure, she’s not nobility, but is this a ceiling she really wants to break into? I dunno, I wasn’t feeling it, and it felt that her and Rian’s reluctance and general bitchiness towards each other was unfounded and made up entirely for Plot Purposes.
And when they do get together, it’s just as awkward as their initial dislike. There’s a mention of them coming together and her pressing against them like the snapping of a sail going taut, and I just…is this supposed to be romantic? Because I was laughing my ass off at the image.
And there was little to no chemistry between the two, as Kit was a blank canvas of Girlpower™️ and Rian was a half-eroded block of wood.
However, despite all this, I’m still giving it three stars.
Because despite its flaws, it was entertaining. The plot had some sagging moments (yawning at the lounging in the manor, because why???), but when the plot got hopping it got hopping! And the general tropes of Regency period (masquerades, pretty dresses, a fine manor house in disrepair, the scoundrel younger brother, a flock of women angling for better, the great threat of France/Gaul, etc., etc.) was enjoyable to read once I turned my brain off and powered through.
Although, I have to admit that this cover got done dirty. It’s like they were trying to go off the Throne of Glass illustrated covers (which I hate) and hired a twelve-year-old to draw something.
I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review