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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey is book one in the Sovereign series. Julia has never ventured outside the Blue and is warned of the Red's many dangers. Her role is to serve the Nobles and she refuses to become an Attendant, but then she becomes the Attendant for Lucas. He's not what she expected. Instead of cruelty like she's heard through stories, he shows her kindness. She finds herself drawn to him in a way she can't explain. Meanwhile in the Red, Cameron will do whatever it takes and fight whatever danger lurks to bring Emmy back to the Blue. His search uncovers several surprises, but none more surprising than the mysterious Felix. The two make a deal to find those missing, only to find unexpected monsters hiding in plain sight and betrayal in the Blue.
Josie Jaffrey weaves a tale full of adventure and with engaging characters that make the story completely addictive. The story is split between two journeys and perspectives, one exploring life within the Blue and the other exploring the dangers faced in the Red. An in-depth look at each of the places contrasts the lives of Julia and Cameron while also highlighting the dangers faced and exploring two significant potential romances. Both journeys have some mystery as Julia works to uncover the secrets of the Nobles, which could cost them everything, while Cameron ventures through the Red to find answers about Emmy's disappearance. Julia's journey consists of her role as a server and her distrust of the Nobles who are beings equivalent to vampires. She's highly aware of her position and doesn't believe in the notions of some servers who believe in a fairy tale love story with a Noble. She has a realistic and often pessimistic outlook about the Nobles, seeing them more akin to beasts.
The relationship between Julia and Lucas is unexpected in this society as he's the opposite of everything she's believed to be true. He's quiet, genuine, and treats her as an equal. Their dynamic is sweet with complications due to their status and the delightful progression of both characters. Felix and Cameron have an amazing chemistry between them which makes you want to see more of the potential between these two surprising allies. Every scene they share has a great back and forth with surprises around every corner. Their common interest brings them together, but Jaffrey grows this relationship through dangers, loyalty, and a shocking twist. Though the two journeys are primarily separate, Jaffrey links the two through various events which move each journey forward. Everything coincides and slowly weaves back together at the end in an exciting conclusion. The Gilded King is an amazing tale of adventure, friendship, and loyalty with a tone reminiscent of fairy tales and a unique fantasy spin on vampires in a journey so complex and addictive you'll immediately want the next one.