Author: Shawna Barnett
Captain Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fights. She fights the King’s Navy. She fights to balance power in oppressive Vioria. She fights for respect as a female, bisexual, pirate captain. But she’s losing her biggest fight: to escape her secret past as a lost Princess.
With a mysterious letter and a stranger threatening to expose her, Liana is blackmailed into attending a royal ball and protecting her counterpart, sheltered Princess Rhian. The pretenses are suspicious enough, but Liana takes the risk in hopes to finally unveil the magic plot that killed her parents and forced her into hiding.
When Liana encounters Rhian’s own lightning-wielding powers, the ball erupts in violence. The sheltered princess falls into the care of Liana—and her band of pirates. On the run, the only safe haven for the Windfall crew to hide is the most-dangerous place of all: under the thumb of Liana’s narcissistic, abusive brother-in-law.
In order to protect her crew, her family, and naïve Rhian, Liana must demand sacrifices from herself and the people she loves. Her choices will make powerful enemies; good thing Liana Foley knows a thing or two about fighting those.
Windfall is the first novel in the Legends of Vioria series. There is also a prequel novel, Seabird, which I need to get around to reading as it features the main character’s journey from princess to pirate captain. When the reader meets the main character, Liana Foley, in this story, she is already a captain. There is some backstory given throughout this novel, so the reader would not be lost if they did not read the prequel. As a word of caution, there is an attempted rape near the beginning of the novel, so it is just something to keep in mind while reading. This novel and I had a semi-rocky start as it took me a few tries to get into reading, however, it could just be me as a reader and not the novel. I am glad that I tried again as I was eventually captivated by the story and I am curious to read more when the eventual sequel is released.
The story starts with the introduction of Captain Liana Foley and her quartermaster Ameen Almasi in the early 1700s and her ship, Windfall. She steals in order to help those less fortunate while also hiding her true identity as a princess. Her foster family and brother know the truth after her parents died. Her backstory is explored a little about how she transitioned to the life of a pirate and I enjoyed her portrayal as a captain. She makes mistakes, but she looks out for her crew and in turn, her crew respects her. She is a very interesting and complex character and I loved her and Ameen. They had great chemistry and it is obvious to the reader how much they care for each other early on in the story.
When Liana attends a ball, she is blackmailed into protecting Princess Rhian by Captain Dillon Whyte, Rhian’s lover. After Rhian displays some magic, she is semi-rescued by Liana and they are forced to be on the run. The representation in this novel was well done as both Rhian and Liana are on-page bisexuals, along with some secondary characters, and Ameen is on-page asexual. I enjoyed that these were written as natural parts of their characters and did not feel forced. Although the synopsis of the story makes it seem Rhian and Liana establish a firm romance with each other, their story is more complicated. They have an attraction to the other, but each of them is also in a relationship. I enjoyed the romance aspect of the story, but I can see how the synopsis and the actual content do not fully align and could lead to some readers being disappointed. As this is a series, there are still many possibilities for any of the characters, which is another aspect I enjoyed.
The world-building was very imaginative and descriptive, so it was easy to picture the world where the characters lived. The pacing of the story is fairly slow at the start as the world and characters are established. The action picks up towards the middle and then slows a bit at the end setting up the cliffhanger that will lead to the sequel. There is some character growth in this story with a lot of potential in the rest of the series for more. Although the synopsis portrays Liana and Rhian as main characters, I felt Ameen was more central in this story than Rhian. Overall, this was an interesting introduction to this universe and fascinating characters.
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, Hansen House, and the author for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**