Nemesis by Anna Banks
"Princess Sepora of Serubel is the last Forger in all the five kingdoms. The spectorium she creates provides energy for all, but now her father has found a way to weaponize it, and his intentions to incite war force her to flee from his grasp. She escapes across enemy lines into the kingdom of Theoria, but her plans to hide are thwarted when she is captured and placed in the young king's servitude.
Tarik has just taken over rulership of Theoria, and must now face a new plague sweeping through his kingdom and killing his citizens. The last thing he needs is a troublesome servant vying for his attention. But mistress Sepora will not be ignored. When the two finally meet face-to-face, they form an unlikely bond that complicates life in ways neither of them could have imagined.
Sepora's gift could save Tarik's kingdom from the Quiet Plague. But should she trust her growing feelings for her nemesis, or should she hide her gifts at all costs?"- summary from Amazon
This book took me a little bit of time to get into- I've read a lot of fantasy lately and it was becoming a bit paint-by-numbers for me and I almost DNF'd it but I should've known Banks wouldn't let me down. I always enjoy dual perspectives too and this was even more fun since the reader gets to see the slow build in Tarik and Sepora's relationship and the obstacles in their way. Both of them are fantastic main characters and Banks did a great job writing a compelling narrative as well as building a strong world. I had hoped that this was a stand-alone but at least since it's a duology, I don't have to follow along with it (or keep up with the narrative) for two extra years. I'm definitely eager to see how this all turns out.
FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.