I think you get the point.
But just in case you don't, the book literally opens with an orgy, so you know what you're getting into straight away. Which is an ADULT book. Despite the YA-looking cover, and its striking similarity in title and design to the Marissa Meyer book GILDED (which I keep mixing it up with), this is not a book for the kiddies.
BASICALLY Auren is the king's favored, and her thing is that she's solid gold (cue Austin Powers memes). In fact, I'm just going to refer to King Midas as Goldmember because I'm pretty sure only oversight kept him from making his dick a twenty-four karat dildo. Goldmember's thing, apart from the gold, is power. He wants it. Lots of it. And he's going to fuck and hack and treason his way into getting it, because that's how he rolls. He's the ultimate Rebel with a Cause. The cause being that he causes a lot of unseemly shenanigans within his kingdom.
Auren is half-convinced that she's in love with this leather pants-wearing orophile, but she's brain-washed as fuck. And when she's not being a gold-plated sex toy for the man who casually uses her love for him like a bartering chip, she's Mithridates-ing her liver with continuous doses of wine. All that changes when Goldmember sends them away-- I forget why. Safety? Scouting? Anyway, they're ambushed by bad people (Snow Pirates, actually, which sounds like a character you'd see on Neopets, only, you know, cuddlier and without the sexual sadism and rape). I don't want to say too much more, but let's just leave it as sometimes help comes from the unlikeliest of places, and also if you like Rhysand from ACOTAR but thought to yourself, "You know what would be even hotter? If he lost the wings and looked more like a scaled orc with Bowser spikes," then you're going to love this book. And Commander Bowser, which is what I'm going to call Spiky Rhysand, because that's better than Rip.
Rip is what you do when you fart. Or put on your gravestone when you die. It is not what you scream while having (I imagine) orgiastic spiky faerie sex. Sorry, but I'm just calling it like I see it.
Personally, I thought it was okay. It wasn't as good as the first ACOTAR but was leagues better than the second ACOTAR and FBAA. The writing was good and it actually felt like a fantasy book, even though the dialogue was modern-ish, and the story was just compulsively readable for me to want to find out what happened. Actually, this book ticks a lot of the boxes of what I DON'T like in a book, so the fact that I didn't hate it is nothing short of a miracle. I had similar thoughts while reading Royals of Forsyth, which was a series that rang all of my NOPE alarm bells and somehow became a guilty pleasure read. I will say that Auren is a hard character to like because she's so damaged but inconsistently so, because she'll back-chat and front-- even when it's stupid to do so-- and the ribbon thing was so WEIRD. I applaud the author for creating an unreliable narrator who is so convincingly brain-washed that some readers actually seem to take her lust for Goldmember at idiotic face value, but there wasn't really a lot else going for her or that made her relatable, and that's hard as a reader. You need SOMETHING.
Will I read the next book? Yes, because I'm trash. But I'm not going to rush for it. I'm going to walk-- very slowly-- in its general direction while pretending I don't actually give a damn (but I do).
3 out of 5 stars