About the Book:
Title: Divine Rivals
Author: Rebecca Ross
Series: Iris at the Front #1
Page Length: 368
Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Synopsis: When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, they must face the depths of hell, in a war among gods, to seal their fate forever.
After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.
To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish―into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love.
Shadow and Bone meets Lore in this epic enemies-to-lovers fantasy novel filled with hope and heartbreak, and the unparalleled power of love.
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Wow. What a fantastic read! Unique and intriguing with a fantastic cast of characters, a compelling plot, and an epic romance, Divine Rivals entranced me from start to finish. Ross is such a wonderful storyteller with the ability to make you feel all kinds of emotions. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking, intense and dark and hopeful, and I loved every second of it.
Rival journalists at a newspaper and vying for the same job, Iris and Roman are both layered and compelling characters. Their backstories are different, but they are similar in many ways, especially in their passion for journalism and writing. With war brewing between the gods, men and women on each side are joining the fight, including Iris’s brother, and there is a tense and foreboding tone throughout the story. Reports of missing soldiers have everyone concerned, and when Iris doesn’t hear from her brother, she joins the war effort as a front-line reporter in the hopes of finding out what happened to him.
I found myself easily immersed in this complex and layered world. It feels like early twentieth century but with gods, monsters, and magic. It was so interesting, as was the mythology and history of the world. The story is cleverly constructed with a plot that slowly increases in intensity and pace as the story progresses. It all leads to a climactic ending that completely shocked me and might have made me cry a little.
Iris and Roman have a unique and complex relationship made even more interesting because they get to know each other as rivals and as pen pals. The pair exchange letters, though Iris has no idea she’s writing to her rival. The letters are wonderful! In them, Iris and Roman are both vulnerable and exposed in ways they never are in their lives, and the letter writing gives them a safe place to express their deepest fears, worries, and more. They connect on such a deep and visceral level. After reading this book, I firmly believe I need a magical typewriter in my life, and I will be patiently waiting for that day to come.
To have a beautiful romance bloom in the midst of such violence and chaos and tragedy is a striking and powerful contrast. The backdrop of the story is bleak and dangerous, yet these wonderful relationships balance out the darker elements well. Oh my word, there are several scenes that had me absolutely swooning! Plus, it has one of my favorite tropes – the found family! I love this for Iris, who has lost most of her family. And Roman’s grandmother is fabulous too. She is wise and astute, and I’m hoping we’ll see more of her in future books.
This was a brilliant read and one I loved so much that I preordered a print copy even though I already have a digital one. I NEED to add this to my bookshelf of favorite reads! It’s intense, suspenseful, and so intriguing, and I adored Iris and Roman and their swoon-worthy love story. It’s the kind of story that makes you gasp out loud and shout at the book and laugh and cry and immediately look up the release date of the next book in the series even before finishing this one.
Did I purchase two other books by Rebecca Ross after reading this one? Yes, yes I did. I am determined now to read everything the author has ever written after loving this book so much.
I would definitely recommend checking out the content warnings before starting the story. It does not shy away from the harsh realities of war and economic insecurity and includes violence, death, loss, PTSD, addiction, and more. Special thanks to NetGalley, Wednesday Books, and Rebecca Ross for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
How effortless it is to lose oneself in words, and yet also find who you are.
Time will slowly heal you, as it is doing for me. There are good days and there are difficult days. Your grief will never fully fade; it will always be with you-a shadow you carry in your soul-but it will become dimmer as your life becomes brighter. You will learn to live outside of it again…You are not alone.
Sometimes strength isn’t swords and steel and fire, as we are so often made to believe. Sometimes it’s found in quiet, gentle places. The way you hold someone’s hand as they grieve. The way you listen to others. The way you show up, day after day, even when you are weary or afraid or simply uncertain. That is strength, and I see it in you.
- magic/fantasy elements
- found family