Divine Rivals  by Rebecca Ross

Grade : A-
Reviewed by Kayne Spooner
Grade : A-
Sensuality : Warm
Review Date : December 25, 2023
Published On : 04/2023

I have been seeing readers rave about this YA Historical Fantasy all over social media and so I decided to give it a try and I’m so glad I did. The book takes place during an alternate World War I world that began when two gods were fighting each other. The novel has magic, romance, and a sizzling plot–I didn’t want to put it down!

Iris Winnow is eighteen years old and sad to see her brother, Forest, head off to fight for Enva, the Skyward goddess. Enva is battling Dacre, an Underling god whose hounds, wyverns and eithrals (dangerous mythical creatures) destroy anything in their path. Her brother asks Enva to take care of their mum and stay in school but it isn’t long before her mother is drinking herself to death and Iris has to drop out of school and go to work to survive. She takes a job at the Oath Gazette writing obituaries but is soon writing articles and competing with Roman Kitt for a coveted position as a columnist.

Roman is nineteen and has his own tragic story. He comes from a wealthy family but all is not well at home. He wants to go to the university to study literature but his father wants him to work at the newspaper and has set up an arranged marriage for him. Roman enjoys his work at the paper especially because he gets to work with Iris, who he admires and it’s wonderful to watch him fall for her. She thinks he’s handsome but sees him as a rival and believes he has advantages because of his wealth.

One of my favorite parts of the story is when the two start using magic typewriters to write letters. Iris hasn’t heard from her brother since he left and decides to write a letter to him on a magic typewriter she inherited from her grandmother. She remembers her nan using it to send her words of encouragement at school when she was young. She slips the letter under her wardrobe and it disappears. A letter comes back but it’s not from her brother! Roman realizes who she is and writes her back but he decides to remain anonymous so he doesn’t scare her off. Roman’s nan gave him a magic typewriter when he was ten with hopes that he would become an author like his grandfather. His nan and Iris’s grandmother used the typewriters when they were girls to write letters to a friend who was sick with tuberculosis. According to the legend, the sick girl’s father found an inventor who made them with magic. Iris and Roman continue to write each and become close as they share their secrets and find comfort in their letters.

Iris decides to go to the front lines as a war correspondent to report back on what’s happening and to search for her brother. I admired her strength and courage. This part was heartbreaking – there was so much devastation from the war – but Iris built friendships with the other women at the front and I loved their found family. Roman follows her to be with the girl he loves – swoon – and when their romance takes off, it’s beautiful and uplifting.

The hardest thing about this book is it ends with a huge cliffhanger and I have no idea how it will all work out. This is the first book in a two book series. Luckily, the second book, Ruthless Vows comes out later this month. I can’t wait!

Kayne Spooner

Kayne Spooner is a retired science teacher, dog owner, and proud grandma who lives in beautiful Colorado. While she's an avid reader of all genres, romances have always swept her off her feet. Kayne gravitates toward stories with humor, swoon-worthy love interests, and memorable furry sidekicks, although really, if there's a happy ever after, she's here for it! She loves sharing her passion for books with the romance community and connecting with fellow readers. https://www.instagram.com/kspoonerfish/.
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