As far as I know this is a stand alone novel by Lauren D. M. Smith. It is written in third person from Evony of clan Aureline’s POV, and briefly in Emperor Galen’s.
This book is kind of like the Bachelor set in the past. Evony comes from an Amazonian type clan called the Amazzi. After winning an archery contest, she finds that her “reward” is to present herself to the Emperor as a possible candidate to become his wife. Evony is not thrilled about this, especially as she is told how very old and mean he is. However, the Amazzi are loyal to the emperor, and she will present herself, holding for a quick elimination. But in the mean time, she’s looking forward to finding a potential “stud” or “lifemate”. Read book for an explanation!
The Amazzi are very different from the rest of the empire. Almost everyone on their island is female, and they are trained from birth as warriors. This doesn’t mean that they cannot have another job, but they are all taught at least basic self defense. When Evony gets to the Empire, she is an oddity. She doesn’t see any other female warriors, which concerns her. For what reason do the women avoid battle. But then by being different, she catches the Emperor’s attention.
This book was surprisingly clever. As someone who isn’t a huge fan of the bachelor (SO much drama!!!), this does a good job of avoiding what I hate: the man/ woman is down to a few people they think they love, and they all think he/she loves them back, but someone has to go. I just feel so bad for the people who get hurt. Luckily, this book doesn’t do that. No one is cruelly manipulating others into love. Doesn’t mean there are not some power plays, but not too many emotional ones. You can tell there is a connection between Evony and Galen pretty quick, but there are reasons for this scheme.
I definitely would recommend this book, especially if you enjoy warrior women teaching the men a thing or two. And it’s nice seeing Galen thaw. He’s pretty cold at the start, but as you learn more about him, he becomes more real.