Ever the Hunted captured me from the first page and never let go. This was due in part to Summerill’s whimsical descriptions, in part to the love story, and in part to the mysteries in the plot. I enjoyed trying to solve these mysteries along with Britta, the main character. Some were fairly easy to figure out; some surprised me, especially the one introduced at the end of the book.
4.0 stars on Amazon
3.58 stars on Goodreads
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Clash of Kingdoms Series
#1 Ever the Hunted
#2 Ever the Brave
Point of View
This book is written in first person from Britta’s point of view.
This book is set in the fictional countries of Malam and Shaerdan.
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Ever the Hunted?
Britta’s all alone. Her father passed away two months ago. The mourning period is over, so she is now allowed to leave the house. No one brought her food, so she is starved and goes hunting. She brings down an elk.
That night she dreams of Cohen, her father’s apprentice who she fell in love with. He took over her father’s position as a bounty hunter. Britta thought he would come visit, but he never has. She longs to tell him how she feels about him, but with his new position he is eligible to marry a noble girl. With her illegitimate status because her parents’ marriage was in Shaerdan, she has no hopes of marrying well.
The next morning, Britta goes down to wash up in the lake. She sees fresh footprints and scans her surroundings. Britta heads into town. She hears the normal whispers around her as people recognize her. They suspect she is going to join the Archtraitor, Millner Barrett, because everyone believes that’s where her mom is. He was the captain of the king’s guard until he disagreed with the purge and border closure between Malam and Shaerden. Britta’s carrying the elk meat to the one man who would always trade with her. But even he won’t trade with her now.
Six of the king’s men ride up on her when she’s almost home. She tries to hide her bag of elk meat. They quickly find it and accuse her of poaching. The men put manacles on her wrists, throw her on a horse, and take her to the palace. They pass the throne room and she sees the young, handsome king. She hears the former regent talk of battles on their border. They leave go to the dungeon. The conditions are horrible.
Britta is sentenced by the king’s right hand man, Lord Jamis. He tells Britta that Cohen is accused of killing her father. He produces a dagger and cloak that Britta easily recognizes as Cohen’s. They’re stained with her father’s blood. There were two eyewitness reports. She can’t believe Cohen did this. He loves her father and is a good person. They want her to track him. In exchange for this, she will be pardoned for her poaching and inherit her father’s land and cottage. She has to travel with the king’s captain and two of his men. She reluctantly agrees.
Britta gets cleaned up and dresses as a boy. She has to ride manacled along with Leif. They arrive where Cohen was last spotted. She see some signs that he may have been there. They’re so apparent they seem sloppy. Britta wonders if Cohen was leaving signs on purpose. They see Cohen’s next tracks leading north, toward populated areas.
Captain Omar orders her manacles removed and asks Britta to go hunting for meat. The creepy Tomas accompanies her. He ends up shooting a fawn but not killing it. She asks Tomas to let her track the fawn and kill it. When she finally makes it back to camp, Tomas is already there. She is in big trouble for leaving him. The captain orders Leif to tie her to the tree for ten lashes. Omar only give her four.
Leif cleans her wounds. Tomas is mouthy to her. Omar takes away his lunch rations for two days. Omar says if Cohen continues on this path, they’re going to skirt the southern war camps. The king has a new order in place, requiring all able men (not just one from each family) to join the army. They have been out numbered for too long.
Britta awakes from another nightmare about Cohen and has the prickly sensation she’s being watched. The three guards are sleeping, so she goes to look for their observer. An arrow whistles by and lands deep in the tree beside her. The word dove, Cohen’s nickname for her, is carved into the arrow.
The last time she saw him, they had both just been injured by a mountain cat. When she was better, they met up and she told him about her feelings for him. He kissed her and asked her to meet him back there in the morning. He never returned.
They arrive at Fennit, a border town where many soldiers are lodged. Shaerdan tried to re-establish trade with Malam. Malam refuses to trade because they think the Shaerdanians’ witchcraft is what killed their king. These skirmishes launched a war.
Britta is mad that she thinks of Cohen all day long, someone she should hate yet can’t. Cohen was asking around about an old Spiriter, a rare Channeler magician. They follow the trail all around town and get to a hut in which Britta can sense Cohen inside.
Britta is shocked the captain leaves her unattended. She’s making her way to a horse when strong arms grab her from behind. She hears Cohen’s familiar voice and starts to struggle. He tells her not to fight. She does anyway, bloodying his nose in the process. He put her out with a chemical.
She wakes in a small house. Cohen is sitting by the fire. He tries to touch her face. She won’t let him and says she will kill him. She tries to leave but sways. Cohen lays her back down. They will talk in a few hours.
Britta discovers her dagger is still in her boot when she wakes. She pulls it on Cohen and asks why he killed he father. Britta feels his truth when he says he didn’t do it. She explains her ability to him so he knows why she believes him so easily. Cohen says he’s been trying to track the real murderer. He has a lead on a lady named Enat and wants Britta to go with him to find her. They begin their journey the next morning. Enat lives in Shaerdan. Entering Shaerdan is a crime punishable by death.
Britta fights her attraction to Cohen. She doesn’t want to pursue it because he left her without a word. One night, they stop early. She goes to the stream to bathe. When she returns, Cohen’s locked in a sword battle with Leif. Tomas is nearby, injured and unconscious. Omar is nowhere to be seen. Britta begs her friends to stop fighting. Tomas moans. Leif looks his way. Cohen uses this distraction to knock Leif out.
Cohen and Britta leave. He admits he had noticed their tracks earlier and followed them. Cohen sent Britta to the stream so he could get a closer look. They ride until dawn to make sure they’re far enough away and take turns sleeping just a couple hours each. What they did with their time apart comes up. A question slips out about why Cohen never came back. He lies about it; she can feel the coldness in her gut. Cohen gets off the horse to walk a while to let it rest. He tells her to stay on.
They become dehydrated and talk less and less. Eventually Britta can’t take the silence and tries to get him to talk. Cohen talks of seeing the ocean for the first time. They’ll see it together in two days. Britta thinks Cohen might kiss her. He realizes what she’s thinking and draws away and asks her how she’s spent their time apart. They talk about why he left. The story confuses her, but she feels the warmth of his truth.
Britta goes to beg a lady at a well for water. The woman’s dog is sick. Britta uses a power she didn’t know she had to heal the dog, taking on some of the sickness herself. She heals quickly, sleeping against Cohen as they ride. They sidetrack to a town off the beaten path to get a couple good nights’ sleep at an inn.
Britta and Cohen have to share a room because Britta is posing as a boy. They fight over who will sleep on the bed and end up in the bed together. Cohen teases her at first, but then abruptly rolls over and they sleep as far apart as possible.
They attend a town festival and Cohen asks Britta to dance. She says she can’t because she’s dressed like a boy. Cohen pulls her hat off. He’s flirty afterward, which makes Britta wonder how many other girls he’s flirted with. This quickly douses her joy.
Cohen discovers Enat was sending letters to someone in Malam. They stopped about three months ago. Britta wonders if the letters were going to her father since this is when he passed away.
Cohen hears something in the stable when he’s retrieving his horse. Britta follows and discovers Tomas is there. He knocked Cohen out. Leif grabs Britta from behind. Omar appears and asks if she’s ready to return to the dungeon. They tie them up in a room, Britta manacled to the bed and Cohen tied to a chair.
On Tomas’ watch, he harasses Britta. One morning, when they have one hand free to eat breakfast, Tomas comes in and bothers Britta again. When he leans over to take her manacles off for a trip to the privy, she punches him. A fight ensues. They finally knock him out.
Jacinda, the lady from the well, appears. She heard they were captured, knows the owner of that inn, and came to rescue them. She’s returning the favor for Britta healing her dog. Britta doesn’t know what this gift is. Jacinda tells her many people would want access to this gift and to be careful. They gather their weapons and Cohen’s horse and ride away.
Britta admits she shared their destination with Omar to try to gain his trust, so they stick to the main roads and don’t worry about covering their tracks. Britta mentions her bonds aren’t the worst they have done to her. Cohen demands to see her back to see if it’s healing well. Britta’s embarrassed but relents and lets him.
They arrive at the ocean. Cohen goes to visit a blacksmith he knows. Britta gets bored and goes wandering.
She notices a shop with a symbol on it signed that matches the one on her dagger. The woman in the store tells Britta the symbol shows the different kinds of Channeler magic. One type is spirit magic, the ability to control spirits of both humans and animals. In return for answering Britta’s questions, she asks how Britta’s mother is. She mentions how rare spirit channeling is and how the last time it was used publicly there was a woman who saved a little boy. When that boy’s sister died, people began to view it as black magic even though it that isn’t necessarily true.
Britta asks where Enat can be found. The lady gives her general directions, tells her she lives in a cave, and gives her a compound of herbs to help her find it.
Cohen bursts into the store looking for Britta. His contact didn’t have any information on Enat. Britta’s delighted to tell him she knows. They head that direction. It comes up how Cohen’s father died and his brother was forced into the army. He promised his mom he would save him if they ever actually get called to battle.
When they get close to the cave, they seem to go in circles. They finally figure out the entrance. Enat almost doesn’t let them in but finally relents. What they heard is true: she was exchanging letters with Britta’s father. He suspected the young king was being influenced by magic from a Spiriter, likely his murderer. He thought someone else was pulling the strings and orchestrating this war. Enat lets Britta read the letters. It’s good yet hard.
Britta asks Cohen if he knew this. He didn’t, but she still feels like he’s hiding something. They ask what lead there is to follow. Enat says to go to Millner Barrett, the Archtraitor and Britta’s father’s good friend.
Cohen and Britta share their first kiss as they go out to draw water from the well together. The next morning, Cohen goes into town to try to find more information on Millner. He discovers the three guards have arrived in town. There is a bounty totaling a year’s wages on both of their heads.
Cohen and Britta want to leave to make sure they’re not putting Enat in danger. Enat insists they stay. She says her place is hidden by charms and is the safest place they can be. Eventually, she convinces them.
Cohen and Britta head to town to do surveillance on the three guards that night. Britta stay on the roofs with her bow. Cohen goes into taverns to try to find information. They discover Omar is posing as a soldier and the Shaerdan soldiers have been mobilized. So the three won’t be able to stay in town for too long.
Cohen and Britta find a large troop of soldiers on the move. They put on disguises and head back into town the next evening for more surveillance. Just as Britta is leaving after questioning the innkeeper, Leif comes in. He catches her on her way out ask her a question but doesn’t seem to recognize her.
When Britta and Cohen meet back up, he tells her a meeting is arranged with the Archtraitor. Malam is headed to war, so Cohen needs to go home to make sure his brother Finn is safe. So they have one day and then they have to leave. Britta asks Enat if she will accompany them to Malam. They think she has the ability to break the spell on the king if she can get close enough to him. Britta also discovers she is a spirit Channeler. She asks if Enat’s her mother. She’s her grandmother.
Cohen can see something has passed between them. When Britta is sent to the well for water, she comes back, eavesdrops, and realizes that Cohen has known that Enat is her grandma. Her father knew, too, and told Cohen about it before he disappeared. She feels betrayed. She runs outside and grabs her grandma’s bow. Cohen rushes out. She asks him to stay away.
Cohen leaves her alone for a while but eventually approaches when he hears her telling his horse she just doesn’t know how she can forgive him. Cohen says he hopes that’s not true. He explains her father made him promise he wouldn’t tell. Cohen didn’t reappear after her father’s death because he immediately started searching for the killer. It breaks his heart to hear the hunger and pain she went through. He says it’s stupid of him not to have realized this would happen.
Cohen asks if Britta remembers their last days together. She has blocked a lot of the mountain cat attack. He describes it to her in detail and fills in the gaps in her memory. She discovers he was going to die and she healed him. That is how he discovered her powers. Her father said no one could know how she healed him. He asked Cohen to leave to protect Britta. So he did. He confesses his love to her, both then and now. Britta says the same. They kiss again.
Millner comes to visit with them. He’s not what they expected. But he has the information they need. One of his friends was at the tavern the night Britta’s father was murdered. He escaped before being noticed and rushed to Millner’s house to tell him. It was a king’s guard described as Omar. Millner’s daughter Lirra arrives. Britta doesn’t like how she’s ogling Cohen and how she seems to have such an easy relationship with Enat. She longs for a close relationship with her grandmother.
Against Millner’s wishes, both Britta and Cohen know they need to return to Malam: Cohen to save his brother and Britta to set things right and possibly avoid war. Britta asks Enat to not go with them. She doesn’t want to risk her safety and just asks her to teach her how to release the spell on the king. Enat says she is not ready to give up her only relative who she is just found. She says the spell is a difficult one that Britta would not be able to pull off.
Britta then asks her grandmother to tell her about her mother. It’s painful to do so, but she tells the story. The part with Britta’s father sounds very similar to how things went with her and Cohen. Their love was true. She died while she was trying to get Britta’s magic removed by Enat so she could live a normal life.
The three of them travel day and night, only resting when absolutely necessary, to try to beat the guards back to Malam. Enat teaches Britta how to use her magic during their journey. Cohen doesn’t think it’s a good idea. He wants her to keep it a secret to keep her safe. Britta is furious he doesn’t want her to learn it.
A storm comes up and lightning strikes a tree by Enat. Her horse bucks and she falls off. Britta heals her. This zaps her energy. She wakes up tired and achy. While she’s healing, Cohen tells Britta she’s all he’s ever wanted from the first time he saw her. Enat says the only surefire way to break the bond on the king is to bring him close to death and then bring him back.
The next morning, Britta hears someone in the woods and investigates. It’s a king’s guard who is friends with Cohen who has come to warn him Finn is being sent to the front lines. Britta insists Cohen go save his brother. He doesn’t want to leave them, but in the end he does.
Soon Britta and Enat are overtaken by Omar and Tomas. Tomas attacks Enat with his sword. Before she dies, her grandmother says “find her.” Britta wants to try to heal her, but she will not allow it because it will steal too much of Britta’s power.
Britta awakes in the dungeon cell. Leif has pulled some strings and is the one there with her. Britta needs his help. She needs to use her grandmother’s herbs to make her look dead. The plan works. Britta wakes up next to a dead man in the dungeon morgue. She quickly escapes but ends up in the hands of Jamis.
Omar is there and has captured Cohen, too. He questioned her about not holding up her end of the bargain of capturing Cohen. She tries to explain what happened. Britta asks them to test her with true and false statements to show them her ability. Jamis gives her one, telling her that he grew up hunting and tracking with her father. She knows it’s true.
Then she shouts that Omar killed her father. He says he didn’t do it, and she can sense the truth of his words. So who was wearing the five striped jacket to kill her father? Omar says Jamis asked to borrow his coat. He tries to deny it with vague statements, but they can sense his guilt. The guards drop their hold of Britta and move in on Jamis.
Britta escapes and goes to the king’s chambers. He is alone in an unconscious sleep. She slit his throat and waits until she feels the magical bond broken before she begins to heal him, taking all her energy to do so. When she is almost unconscious, Cohen rushes in and tells her to stop. She can tell from his energy that he is hurt badly and regrets not being able to heal him. He says to take his energy to help her heal the king because he can see she is fading. She does so until she can feel that he is not on the brink of death anymore. She hears the king stir and wake.
How did Ever the Hunted end?
Britta awakes six days later in the cottage she used to share with her father. One of the king’s healers is attending to her. Cohen has been by her side, but the young girl finally convinced him to go to the palace to get some rest and heal. She says he’s doing fine. Britta is confused about how he can be safe in the palace.
Omar and Leif walk in. Britta moves to get a weapon. But they are there in peace. Omar apologizes for Enat’s death and says Tomas was working on his own and deserves punishment. He says they are going to uphold the end of the deal she struck with Jamis. She is absolved of her poaching and will inherit her father’s cottage and land. He acknowledges how she helped the king but does not mention her Channeler abilities. Apparently they are going to overlook them.
They ask if she knew who was controlling the king. She doesn’t, but she could sense the Channeler’s energy when she was in with him. Britta just didn’t have time to search for her. She asks the men to leave so she can get some rest. Cohen appears. Britta realizes she did not sense him approaching. He curls up on the bed beside her. They discuss their time apart. The news about Finn was just a ploy to try to draw Cohen out of hiding. Finn’s unit was immobilized, but he was never in any danger. Then Cohen rushed back to the castle.
Cohen is in the woods, and Britta senses his return through the connection they share and is excited to see him. But then a knock sounds on the door, and it is the king instead. He has come to thank her for helping with everything. When Cohen appears, she realizes once again she does not feel that connection. She loves him very much still, but that connection she felt has transferred to the king. She is going to keep this a secret.
There you go! That’s what happened in Ever the Hunted, the first book in this series. Ever the Brave, book 2, is set to be released December 5, 2017!
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