Jeffe Kennedy's The Talon of the Hawk
Before I even START writing about the story here, I want to say that the cover is like one thousand percent offensive. Ursula is a bad-ass, competent warrior princess and she would not be wearing a strapless top! Come on! Anyway. This is a disappointing follow-up to the first two--I hadn't mentioned this, but the characters have a religion with three sister goddesses, each an analogue for the three sisters of the story, and that is all pretty interesting. There's also a theme with each sister gradually losing her loyalty to their father, and I was interested to see how that would play out with Ursula, his heir. But the romance here actually kind of put a damper on the plot--it doesn't feel as natural as the other two, just the love interest constantly cajoling her about being into him (and it's not like she's not attracted to him, but like, after the first ten times she expresses her disinterest, maybe leave her alone a little). (I also admit to kind of hoping she'd be into the helpful librarian lady who's been hanging out for all these books, but heteronormativity carries the day.) Their mostly-bickering romance just takes up too much room in the story, especially compared to the previous books. And it turns out there is also a lot of troubling abuse in Ursula's past, and of course only the love and touch and reassurance of a man can cure the princess of her sadness and make her see her worth. It's like this fun series suddenly got super dark and I am not into it. And then all the political stuff I thought this series was building to is addressed in like five pages--very anti-climactic. Sigh. B/B-.