The Cerise

Kingdom of Lies Book 1

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Pub Date 21 Feb 2024 | Archive Date 27 Mar 2024

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Description

I had a plan. Find the soldier who killed my family and make him pay. It should have been an easy feat. I’d done it over a dozen times, taking out each member of that regiment one by one, but the mission went sideways. It all started with the man in the woods. The one my webs of magic couldn’t sense even when he stood before me. Then my partner made a mistake, and now he’s lying in one of the Crown’s dungeons fighting for his life. I couldn’t leave him to die, but I couldn’t just walk into the castle either.

Or maybe I could.

With the help of some unexpected allies, I entered the Culling—a one-in-a-lifetime chance to become queen. I have no interest in winning the prince’s heart or the crown. My only goal is to get into the castle, find my friend, and get out before someone realizes I’m a Cerise.

But when the welcome ball turns from a grand event into a nightmarish dance of death, all eyes are on me. As if that’s not bad enough, the soldier, the one who took my family, he’s here.

If you loved "The Selection" by Kiera Cass and "From Blood and Ash" by Jennifer L. Armentrout, get ready to fall in love with this enchanting fantasy romance!

I had a plan. Find the soldier who killed my family and make him pay. It should have been an easy feat. I’d done it over a dozen times, taking out each member of that regiment one by one, but the...


Advance Praise

"★★★★★ ""This fantasy romance, forced proximity, he falls first romance was magical."" --Reviewer

★★★★★ ""I loved everything about the story. From the plot to the characters. It grabs from the beginning and don't let you go!"" --Reviewer

★★★★★ ""This book has so many twists and turns and will leave you guessing what happens next. I'm not sure how I feel -- in a good way! I'm continuing to come up with theories days after reading this."" -- Reviewer

"★★★★★ ""This fantasy romance, forced proximity, he falls first romance was magical."" --Reviewer

★★★★★ ""I loved everything about the story. From the plot to the characters. It grabs from the...


Available Editions

ISBN 9781959724292
PRICE $4.99 (USD)
PAGES 246

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Average rating from 127 members


Featured Reviews

Fast paced fantasy romance. A witch in a world where everyone, including family, want to kill witches. . Particularly those who are Ceries, a type of witch hunted most drastically, of which our main girl is.
The first chunk of the book is world building, though not tedious. It really picks up around the 37% mark and just speeds through it seems, and before you're know it, it is over!! I am going to need the next book ASAP.
This book being 221 pages of story is too little. There is so much covered in such a short space of time, the book could've done being around 400 pages to get us into the world and events more comfortably. I did enjoy it nonetheless, but, more would've been great to fully explore the characters, world, and situation more.

I do recommend this book, and again, I'm excited for the next one!

Read this book if you like:
⤷ a witch in a world where magic is illegal
⤷ a rescue mission
⤷ a touch of enemies to lovers
⤷ a revenge mission
⤷ he falls first she falls harder
⤷ 2 love interests (neither reverse harem nor love triangle)
— genre’s: fantasy and romance

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Thank you to NetGalley for the Advanced Copy of The Cerise. This review is my honest opinion.

The main character, Khiara is a Cerise, or a witch. The story is fast paced, mile a minute, non-stop action that grabs you in the first chapter and demands that you finish it in under 24 hours. Like other reviewers, once I started I couldn’t put it down. All 3 of the main characters, Khiara, Bash and Riot are well developed, likable and interesting. There is everything you could want in a story: Magic, World Building, Political Intrigue, Love Triangles and Deception.

The downsides: The story has excellent “bones” but sometimes I felt like things were glossed over and hurried. This book could have easily been 500 pages and still action packed. I found myself wishing some things were detailed a little better, like Khiara’s relationship with Ezra. There were some minor typos in my copy, which distracted and broke the magic of the story.

Trigger warning: This book deals with sexual assault and issues of non-consent. I don’t feel like this is a spoiler, but it is important to note there is also an instance the main character’s free will may have been tampered with. I will say I felt like the author handled both topics tastefully and with sensitivity. There are also instances where male characters strike female characters, which may be objectionable to some readers. Again, it was done with care by the author and the book did not contain gratuitous violence. I didn’t feel like any of these issues detracted from the book or were disrespectful to victims, but each reader will need to use their own judgement here.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The writing and world building was spot on, but it did leave LOTS of unanswered questions. I don’t know if it was on purpose and will be addressed in subsequent books or if they were an oversight by the author- time will tell. It also ends on a MAJOR cliff hanger- which doesn’t bother me, but you may not feel the same way.

All in all, a good way to spend a sunny afternoon on the back porch.

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The main character is a cerise which is basically a witch. Determined to seek revenge on the people who killed her family. She’s sidetracked when a friend is in danger. It was hard to get into in the beginning. sometimes it was confusing. Maybe I missed something but I’m not sure how Ezra got from the red room to the healers house. I like the concept and the whole thing is very creative and imaginative. I liked it and I will be reading the other books.

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Thank you NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for this eCopy to review

I really enjoyed The Cerise, I felt the characters of Khiara, Riot and Bash were well developed and very likeable. It was well paced and I loved the descriptions of the cloths and settings. The magic system was easy to understand and Khiara's feelings were well conveyed.

Khiara is on a mission to kill all the soldiers responsible for killing her mother and brother, we meet her as she is trying to kill the final man, Graves who cut her neck and raped her. But her friend who has helped on all the previous missions Ezra tries to make her fall in love with him by giving her a love potion. He falls foul of a disease which turns people feral and Khiara has no choice but to enter the culling (a contest to find the future Queen) so she can get into the castle to rescue him.

The love triangle of Bash, Riot and Khiara is intriguing by the end I'm really not sure if either man is trustworthy time will tell

The novel ends on an epic cliff hanger I cannot wait to find out what happens to Khiara next

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Thank you NetGalley, and Bailey Black for the ebook in exchange for a honest review.

Khiara has magic, in a land where it is illegal. If anyone finds out she will be killed. She put herself at risk seeking revenge. When her friend befalls a curse she has to enter into the castle of those hunting her to save him.

This is a 5/5 for me. I love when a book truly starts on page one and doesn’t stop until the very last page. I was absolutely involved from the first page to the very last sentence. I did not want to put this down.

Khiara is a strong main character. Her internal dialogue was all over the place but that made her more endearing to me. I felt like I could’ve been one of the friends she tried so desperately hard to save! I loved her magic and how she wasn’t sure of all of it how cautious she was about truly using it. I loved how her history is sprinkled throughout the book.

I thoroughly enjoyed how the book was sprinkled with the world building. It wasn’t just thrown into the first chapter. I felt it really flowed with the story.

Bash- what can I say I squealed when the name Bash came up. I’m a fan of Reign so hearing Bash I immediately said ooo girl trust him. But my initial reaction to him was he’s shady. He is a love interest of Khiara and at first I was like oh okay they are destined to be together I’ll let this slide. But as the story progress that feeling in the back of my mind that he’s trouble wouldn’t go away.

Riot- broody bodyguard of the prince who challenges Khiara at every turn. I enjoyed that he was very up front with his feelings towards Khiara and her influence on Bash. I LOVED how his character and story developed. I did not see that coming. There was one part that stick out in my mind (no spoilers) that made my heart break and heal all at the same time and it’s all his fault. I didn’t even have time to cry because he was already fixing it. He was so well written. I’m swooning.

Graves- he’s not a good guy. The worst kind actually. I hope he gets what’s coming to him.

Ezra- I’m undecided on him. I don’t love what he did to Khiara but I can level with him a little. Other than his love for her I need to know why? I hope the next books give us answers. He knew her history so to take choice away from her was very frustrating. However I also don’t feel he deserves his current state.

There was a laugh out loud description of a man’s penis in this book. I never thought I’d laugh given the circumstances, but I can honestly say I will never think of the color purple the same.

There were hard topics that came up in this book, abuse against women, and sexual violence. I think they were handled in such a graceful manner. I am impressed by the male characters in the book and how they approached the MC regarding these topics. You can really tell these parts were written with care!

I usually don’t love books that end on cliffhangers, especially if I have to wait for the next one but this series is one I think will be worth the wait!

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Khiara is a witch, and magic is punishable by death. This is single POV, fun, fast paced, and even has a pronunciation guide. Which honestly, I wish more fantasy books included it.

While on a mission to kill the man who murdered her family, things go terribly wrong:
-She meets a suspicious man in the woods who seems immune to her magic.
-Her bestie gets sent to the royal dungeons after getting cursed and trying to kill her.
-The only way to sneak into the castle and rescue him? She’ll have to join The Culling. Which is essentially the bachelor, but during ye old times.

There’s a lot to unpack here. Does the premise make total sense? …no. But is there intrigue around the mystery man from the woods? 1000%.

As for her bestie? I couldn’t tell you why she was so hell bent on saving this man. He was cursed after attempting a love spell on Khiara. Then he tried to kill her when the magic took hold of him. She’s convinced she can unbind him from the curse but…eh, debatable.

If you read this, do it for the vibes. It’s super quick, under 250 pages, and the writing flows super well. It does end abruptly though, so it’s not the cliffhanger I was expecting. We'll probably get more answers in book 2?

TW: murder and flashbacks to rape.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for my advanced digital copy!

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I love being pulled into a story right away, and that's exactly what happened when I started reading The Cerise a few hours ago.

Khiara is what's known as a Cerise, a woman with red hair and strange powers. Since Cerise are being hunted and destroyed throughout the royal territories, Khiara has learned how to hide her hair color and play the role of dutiful niece. However, she's also on a mission to avenge her late mother and brother who were killed by the crown. So far, she's found and dispatched of all but one of the king's guard who carried out the attack to her village. Finally, Khiara has located him and sprung her trap, but her closest friend, Ezra, makes a mistake that forces her to ally with king's soldiers, Bash and Riot. In order to get back to Ezra, she must enter the Culling, which is essentially The Bachelor, and use her forbidden appearance to win the prince's heart.

Things I enjoyed:
- From Blood and Ash (as advertised) + Belladonna vibes
- Hinting at the past with familiar scents and shadows of memories
- Possibility of a "What does it feel like... to lose?" moment in the next book

As a big fan of new adult and adult romantasy, I really enjoyed the author's writing style so I could sense where some of the story was going. I still have questions about Khiara's past and which characters are actually "good" and "bad," but I know the author is being intentional with her reveals. I was surprised by the emergence of a second love interest and I'm not sure who Khiara is going to end up with at this point, which means the love triangle is love triangling!

I'm really excited for the next installment of the Kingdom of Lies series! Thank you to the author and her publisher for an ARC of The Cerise.

Stars: 3.75

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This review is hard for me.

My heart loved it. The writing was compelling and the plot was interesting, even though the witches are called Cerise which bothered me a lot because Cerise is French for cherry. The witches are called cherries. And they have red hair. This felt a tad unoriginal.

Also, the FMC is the one well-defined character. She is independent, bold, and a feminist. Plus, her unexpected love interest caught me off guard with how much I loved it.

However, my head saw a lot of flaws, things that could have made the book so much better. I do not love an unnecessarily long book, but this one was too short. Many events are only glossed over, making it hard to feel emotionally invested. For example, (this is not a spoiler it’s mentioned in the first pages) the FMC was physically abused at a younger age, which is in itself sad, but I still didn’t feel empathy towards this specific event because the author did nothing to reach for our emotions. It’s mentioned a few times, without dwelling on it or giving that much detail.

Along the same lines, some other events are just hard to comprehend. As if the author wanted so much to keep it short, she condensed the descriptions to a point where I didn’t really understand what was happening. The same is true with the characters’ development. We don’t know any of their backgrounds, making them one-dimensional. They unfortunately don’t have a lot of substance.

Finally, the world-building also took a hit in this department. The author created new places and names, but it’s never explained how they fit together. I am a sucker for a map, but, even without it, it would have been nice to have more explanations on the geography of the world the author created.

Finally, the ending really nicked the rating for me here. Endings are hard, but this one was just anti-climatic. Because I read it on Kindle, I didn’t even know I was only a few pages to the ending, because nothing could have prepared me for it. There was no build-up to it. It’s okay to want to add a little suspense, but, in this case, for me, it fell flat. There was absolutely no resolution after a ton of information dumping, giving us the impression we were about to learn something big, that a plot twist was coming, but it never did. It’s nice to end on a cliffhanger and keep the readers wanting more, but you still gotta leave us a little something.

All in all, this was a 3.7 stars for me.

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Like other reviewers here, I finished reading this in just one day with the page count coming in at just under 250 pages. It is a very engaging story, and I enjoyed reading it. The plot kept me going with a fast pacing and good writing overall. The weaknesses here include the character development and the length of this novel. It feels unfinished as a story, and the cliffhanger ending only intensifies this feeling that this is only half a book. Our main character, Khiara, is motivated very strongly throughout the novel to help her best friend, Ezra, but I couldn’t tell you why she cares that much about him. The story provides glimpses into their life before the story began, but without Ezra having time on the page to elicit sympathy, I do not care at all what happens to him, especially when it is beyond Khiara’s best interest to continue helping him. Honestly, I disagreed with her entirely and feel like he really deserves what is happening to him, which is also extremely unclear by the end of the novel. While I liked the characters, I did not understand or buy the motivations that were established. I intend and look forward to read the next book in the series, but I wish they hadn’t been split into separate books from the start.
Thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for this ARC!

TW: Rape is mentioned multiple times. Consent continues to be an issue.

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The Cerise by Bailey Black
Published by BooksGoSocial
5/5 stars!!

Love love love this book!! Such a quick read with a enchanting plot and loveable characters! I wish it ended a little differently as I feel like a lot more could have happened to lead onto the second book. Riot and Khaira's relationship was interesting and I do think they have a great chemistry compared to Bash.
Revenge, a little bit of spice and a fast pace story line, this is such a good read if you are only starting to get into fantasy books. I would defiantly recommend this book.

I wish that some areas were explored more and that the relationship between Riot and Khaira was explored more. I cannot wait for the second book in the series.

Thank you to Bailey, the publisher and NetGalley for this beautiful arc!

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"Your Mother would be screaming in her grave if she could see you now"

I finished this book in a day, it was THAT GOOD! Impossible to put down, the fast pace, plot twists, blindsides, surprise moments, mixed with the witty banter, humorous monolog, unlikely allies/Enemies to loves turn love-Triangle made it irresistible. The cover and description of this book had caught my attention, and I am so glad I got the change to read this because it was on a whole other level.

A well written, strong FMC, two enticing MMCs, a ruthless antagonist, a kingdom at the brink of war, lies around every corner, and truth in plain sight - The Cerise is THAT book

Khaira's stubborn nature, Bash's "Prince-Charming"-ness, and Riot's hardheadedness with a gentle kindness, made this trio one of my new favorites, I can't wait to hear news of the next book in this series, that cliffhanger was shocking and I MUST know more!

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This was a 3.75 star for me, but upgraded to 4.
"The Cerise" by Bailey Black is a whirlwind of magic, intrigue, and romance that kept me hooked from the very first page. With its fast-paced plot and powerful witchy magic, this book delivered a thrilling ride. The dilemma of choosing between the prince and his guard added an extra layer of tension to the story, keeping me guessing until the very end (Still not sure who she will choose). And that cliffhanger ending? It left me desperate for more. I can't wait to see what happens next!

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This was such a good read! I was immediately sucked into the story and could not get enough of the characters. I went on a full emotional journey with these characters and I really enjoyed it. The book was easy to read and kept a good pace where I was never bored. I will be recommending this book to all of my friends and family.

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The Cerise - Bailey Black
5+✨
Going into this I was not sure what I was going to get, I have seen so many books that says to read it if you like FBAA, (I don’t) BUT I love The Selection! So I had to give it a try, and boy am I glad I did. I was hooked from page 1, I might have a slight obsession with female assassins and revenge. Khiara is all that and more. The boys, well let me tell you this, I am team Riot all the way! There is something with Bash that doesn’t sit right with me, he seems a bit controlling and idk something is off for me.
The plot is amazing, we get twist and turns around every corner. I never felt even a tiny bit bored. I wish I had a time machine so I could go to when book 2 is released, and Bailey you did me dirty with that cliffhanger!
Anyways enough rambling, here is what you can expect from this book,
🗡️FBAA x The Selection
🗡️Badass heroine
🗡️Revenge
🗡️Secret powers
🗡️Strange curse
🗡️Enemies to lovers ish?

I highly recommend you go straight to Amazon and get yourself this book right now!
Thank you Bailey, NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for this book!
I am leaving this review voluntarily💕

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It takes at least 100 pages for me to be engrossed into a book and I was giddy even before page 100!!! The characters are interesting and there is so much mystery I’m excited to have resolved in the next book!

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Well this was a fast paced read for me, I really enjoyed the magic system in the story and thought the plot was interesting and I just wanted to read more and more. The characters were fun and I have a soft spot for Riot i must admit!

A fun read!

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Thank you NetGalley and it's publisher for the opportunity to.read this e-arc. This is my honest opinion.

It's a very fun,quick read, it's dark has exiled witches and a selection for a queen. It isn't cut throat like many other book series has and not really a big part of the story which I like it's more about finding her friend. The world itself is slowly being built and you jump right in to the story. The FMC chemistry with the love interest is amazing and I hope to see more of it in the next books. Super easy "lighter" dark romantasy read.

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Wow! This book was different than I expected. I enjoyed how her magic is so different from any other book I have read. This was a very creative twist on magic as a whole.

I enjoyed the fact that she was able to hold her head high and stay so strong during everything that she was going through. She was able to play the part of a bar maid and a lady in waiting, all to reach goals.

I do think that there was a part in this where the author changed her mind on who she was to fall for.. The random meeting of him in the woods to when she was in the castle and found out who he really was, it is like his personality changed.. I found him to be enduring and somewhat captivating when she met him in the bar, but after that, I was annoyed by him. He ignores her ad then when he is with her it is nothing but sweet promises..

I do think that the guard is a better option for her. He not only tests her boundaries to gain her trust but he also takes the time to look after her. Even though it is all under the pretense that it's what the prince would want.

There are little things that bothered me, besides being left on a huge cliff hanger and not getting any answers... There are too many unknowns... will she finally have her revenge? Will the prince find out? Will the brutal King make an actual appearance? Can we get the answer on if Riot has actually killed a Cerise? how does Riot know so much about her? Why can she not sense Bash?

I feel like the story went great lengths, but nothing was really discovered that makes sense.. I am hoping that there is more than one more book coming.. I don't think everything could be tied up in one more book.

I am giving it four stars though. It is creative, there is lots of action, and it keeps you hooked on the story. So much so that I want to be a Cerise.. Are there more Daughters of legend to be introduced in the next book to make up all of the elements? One can hope.

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This was a fun and intriguing read that had me turning the pages and now hanging on by a thread to that cliffhanger. The Cerise, natural born redheads, are thought by the Kingdom to all be witches, thus aren’t well trusted and often killed. The FMC, Khiara, is a Cerise blessed with coveted magic even she is not experienced with. The book description is pretty much spot on with how this book starts, but there’s some surprising twists throughout and we see Khiara’s magic grow throughout the book.

There are two love interests in the book, and I won’t go into detail on them as to avoid spoilers, but the tension is steamy! Is it bad I kind of want the sequel to be a why-choose Romantasy?

Overall, I liked the premise of the book and the elemental magic system that we keep learning about. The story picks up and it becomes hard to put down. My criticism would be that the writing was a bit too fast paced leading to choppiness here and there. The author introduced a lot of plot holes that we may or may not see resolved thus making this read lack some cohesiveness. The characters and side characters lacked a bit of interest and depth, but perhaps we will see growth or more execution with that in the next book. Despite those few things, I still really enjoyed the book and it was a quicker read. I’ve already preordered book 2 and hope to also get to read the ARC for it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bailey Black for giving me the chance to read and review this book.

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I really enjoyed the concept of this book, both fantasy but also dystopian. As soon as it said it was for those who love the “blood and ash” series I knew it would be a hit for me. I read this in two sittings over two days as I couldn’t stop! Very well done!

Our main character is a Cerise (someone with magical powers) named Khiara whose life mission is to get revenge on those who have killed her family. While getting into some trouble, with her best friend Ezra, she finds herself entering a culling to potentially become the next queen in order to save him. Some things she does are impulsive and you want to question her why?! but, it didn’t take away from how strong of a female character she is. She is relatable and frankly a badass and I can’t wait to learn more about her and the array of powers she has.

There are two love interests introduced, Bash (the Prince) and Riot (Bash’s personal guard). I wouldn’t be upset with whom she ends up with and I’m curious how these relationships will develop in book two. She has chemistry with both and different relationships with both but I definitely have a favorite (ahem Riot).

The world building was very well done and I could picture everything perfectly in my mind while reading, and loving, every page. While I love a cliffhanger I also hate them at the same time as I can’t stand waiting for the next one. But I’m SO looking forward to the next release.

Thank you NetGalley and publisher for this e-arc and opportunity to read and review a fantastic book.

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All I can say is wow.

I read this entire book in one night I was sucked in from the first chapter. The plot is captivating and the pacing is just perfect.

I found myself giggling and kicking my feet like a teenage girl and that’s exactly what I want when I read a book.

Our FMC is witty and charming and just a blessing to read about. I can’t even describe how much I loved her.

I’m so sad I have to wait for the next book.

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Firstly, the cover is eye-catching and immediately draws you in. I agree that it definitely has a sense of From Blood and Ash about it (one of my favourite series). A strong FMC is also nice and refreshing. Looking forward to reading the next one.

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I really liked the book. It was quite interesting with all the world building and the lore. Definitely a nice read.

The selection vibes were also a nice touch. Definitely give this a try if you're into quick fantasy reads.

It did feel a bit rushed and slow at times. So the pacing could've been done better.

My only issues: Khiara tried to act too much like Poppy from FBAA and like her, didn't show that she has fighting skills. All the men are so creepy and disgusting. The best friend uncle, the king, the prince, his guard..every single one of them is gross. Is there no normal man in this story? The Bash-Khiara-Riot thing was a bit icky. The cheating, the lying..ew.

But overall, its a nice short fantasy novel you can finish in one sitting.

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I am HOOKED! This book has a captivating plot, lovable characters, and amazing tension. A must read for any fans of JLA’s From Blood and Ash. With so many questions left unanswered, I already can’t wait for the next book in the series.

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The only reason this book didn’t get a full five stars is because I found myself a little lost a couple of times, but otherwise, it has everything I want in a book. Enemies to lovers. Unexplainable connections. Magic. Corrupt royalty and a competition for the prince’s hand.

But man… I do not know who to trust! Khiara is a bad ass but what is going on with these men??? I don’t know who is the bad guy, if we’ve got a love triangle going on, or why she has these far off memories of people she hasn’t even met before. And now I have to wait until NOVEMBER???? Not fair. This is so good.
Riot, Bash, Jinx… is it safe to love any of you? I NEED TO KNOW. New favorite fantasy story unlocked.

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Wow, what an adventure and the cliffhanger was out of this world, when I tell you I finished this book in less than a day...
If you are a avid reader of magic in an unforgiving world, she doesn't fall first but wow does she fall harder romance, or a revenge mission that goes not quiet as Khiara planned then this book is for you.
The character building is incredible and felt with all the characters that grow on you, the growth with just Khiara is something you feel in your heart as you read, and don't get me started on the world building you can really tell the author put their all into this book.
If I had to offer any criticism it would be the cliffhanger, nothing bad about it, I just can't stop thinking about what is going to happen next in Khiara's story.
The Cerise is most certainly going on my favorites shelf. 10/10 recommend this book, I know I will be reading it again while waiting for the next part of a jaw dropping adventure.

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I wasn't expecting to like this as much as I did and I'm looking forward to reading more. I need to know more about the daughters of legend and see more of the culling process.

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“blood was the key to it all. it cursed, and it cured, but not without cost.”

OML, bailey black, that cliffhanger?! 😨 seriously criminal! gonna be stressing about my babies till november. but, like, i can't wait! 🤭

and, guys, EVERYONE needs to read this book RN! it's seriously awesome, loved it so much. just a tiny issue, but it's almost close to perfection. the world-building, the plot, and OML, THE CHARACTERS 🥹. such a ride, and getting that ARC approval made my week. bailey, you rocked my world with this book, even though you also shattered it with that cliffhanger! 😵‍💫

➛ tropes:
⤷ a witch in a world where magic is illegal
⤷ a rescue mission
⤷ a touch of enemies to lovers
⤷ a revenge mission
⤷ he falls first she falls harder
⤷ 2 love interests (not a reverse harem nor a love triangle)
— genre’s: fantasy, romance

➛ plot summary:
so, there's this girl khiara, right? she's on a mission to save her friend, ezra, who's stuck in the kingdom dungeons fighting for his life. she can't just let him die, but walking into the castle? risky move 😬. but, guess what? with some unexpected allies, she dives into the culling - this one-time shot at becoming queen. khiara's not into winning the prince heart or the crown; she just wants to storm the castle, find her friend, and bounce before they figure out she's a cerise.

sounds cool on paper, huh? but when the welcome ball on the first night turns into a messed-up dance of death, everyone's eyes are on khiara. and as if that's not wild enough, the soldier who killed her whole family back then is also there. yeah, khiara's in for a crazy ride 😭

➛ the writing:
okay, so that little issue i mentioned? yeah, the start of this book was a bit of a drag 🥱. seriously, it felt like forever to get into it, and i almost gave up, but thank the stars i didn't because i would've missed out on this masterpiece. for me, things started getting good around 37%, and from there, it was just up, up, up 😍. loved every second, it became a total page-turner. i was hooked, couldn't do anything else but read to find out what happens.

around 60%, i was loving this book so much that i didn't want it to end 😣. had to force myself to drop it for like 8 hours before i was back to clinging desperately to it. yeah, i'm seriously attached. the writing is cool – it's a fantasy, but not all fancy and complicated. easy to read, kinda contemporary vibe, and i'm all about it. plus, the second half's pacing was spot-on, had me on edge till the end. super awesome! 😋

꒰🕸️ ⌗ khiara:
⤷ little bird / princess
SPITFIRE! 🔥 i'm telling you, i'm lowkey obsessed with this girl 😫. i'm all about those strong, badass female main characters, and khiara is owning that title. her no-nonsense attitude is off the charts, seriously remarkable. even with her whole family death, she's standing strong, doing her thing. she's independent as heck, fights her battles solo, but hey, if someone decent comes along, she won’t say no 🫣

and her sass? legendary. khiara's comebacks to the mean girls in the culling? priceless 😂. she demands respect, and you better believe she gets it. overall, she's on a mission for revenge and justice for her family and all the cerise’s. if you're into fierce female leads, khiara's your girl. i'm legit in love with her, and bonus, she kinda reminds me of alizeh from this woven kingdom. anyway, did i mention i love her? like, a lot 🤭💘

꒰👑 ⌗ bash:
he's legit charming, like giving off major jacks vibes from once upon a broken heart. so witty, it's hilarious, feisty, and sweet all rolled into one. i'm loving how he instantly clicked with khiara and has been glued to her side ever since 🥹. she's got him wrapped around her finger, and it's just adorable how into her he is. he's like a super welcome highlight to the story, seriously awesome, no lie. can't wait to see what he's up to in the next book, especially after that ending 👀

꒰🗡️ ⌗ riot:
OML, let's finally talk about riot because HOLY MOLY, #teamriot all the way! 😍 this guy is a whole mood. he's like hazan from this woven kingdom, but cranked up to a hundred in the sexiness department. riot is the bomb, seriously. he's this perfect mix of sweet and hot, protective, witty, and sassy – just like khiara. and get this, he COOKS for her. like, cook for me, and i'm head over heels! 😫 plus, he'd probably kill anyone who even glances at khiara. total gentleman move – he gives her his coat so she won't freeze, like, all the time! i'm just in love, major swoon vibes! 🥹

oh, and did i mention jealous riot? hell yeah! he's like a sulking baby when he's jealous, and it's freaking adorable. like, let me kiss that frown off your face! 🤭 and his mouth? unreal. wink wink 🤪. when he talks, i'm on the floor every time. the things he says about khiara, to her – it's all too much. i just NEED riot to be endgame, you feel me? 😣

꒰🕊️ ⌗ khiara and bash:
so, these two haven't hit the relationship gas pedal like khiara and riot, but they're chill and comfy together. their interactions? super cute. right now, though (early days, you know?), they seem more like tight pals than anything romantic. but hey, who knows? things might spice up in the next book. for now, it's all cozy and platonic vibes. 🤷🏾‍♀️

꒰❤️‍🔥 ⌗ khiara and riot:
if these two ain't endgame, i swear i’m gonna riot, 'cause OML, they're just perfect for each other, and i'm dying to see more of them 😭. the chemistry is off the charts, and the tension? i can't even! and that spicy scene? hold up, i did not see that coming – jaw on the floor moment, for real 😳. these two might just be the death of me, but i want them together, crazy in love, forever and ever 😋. they're adorable, perfect, match made in heaven – i'm all heart eyes for them. yeah, my review might be a bit biased, but can you blame me? these two are the real deal, and i can't help but gush about it. 😍🔥

➛ overall.
"the cerise" is a magical, mind-blowing adventure. the twists, the characters, the plot – it grabs you and won't let go 🤭. it's out everywhere, so seriously, grab it. if you loved “the selection” and “from blood and ash,” this is your jam. also, if you vibed with “once upon a broken heart” and “this woven kingdom,” trust me, you'll be screaming about this one too!

P.S. november 5th, come faster! 😫

”thank you netgalley, booksgosocial, and the author for sending me a copy of this e-arc. opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.”

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I wasn’t expecting to like this as much as I did, because books that are compared to “ The Selection” have mostly disappointed me over the years and never come up to my expectations. But boy, did this book exceed every one! I loved the vibes throughout the entire thing and read it all in one sitting which I rarely do anymore.
Our main character is Khiara and she is a Cerise, someone with magical powers, and typically red hair. Her family was killed, and she's made it her life's mission to get revenge and to do so she has to enter the Culling to potentially become the next queen. I loved Khiara, she's a super strong female character and a total badass and her character development was super good.
We seem to have 2 love interests, Bash the prince and Riot his soldier and honestly I won’t be upset if she ends up with one or the other. I enjoy both but the book doesn’t seem to be a why choose so I’m curious on who she’ll end up with. ( Please be Riot just bc ) . She has good chemistry with both and I’m excited to find out who it is in the next book.
The world building in this story is also extremely good and I found myself loving every second of it. The only downside to this book in its entirety was the cliffhanger at the end. Like I don’t think I’ll be able to survive that long without knowing what's happening next!
Thank you to Netgalley and BooksGoSocial for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

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This was a really good book. Good magic system and decent world-building with a likeable main character.

However, I have a lot of unanswered questions and it ends on a cliffhanger. The plot is a good, but I have more questions than answers from the first book. I hope the second book ties some of this together.

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"Cerise" by Bailey Black introduces a trio that steals the spotlight – Khiara, Bash, and Riot. These characters bring a dynamic energy that elevates the narrative. Khiara, with her unapologetic sass and charisma, adds a layer of complexity to the story. Her character is a refreshing departure from conventional archetypes.

Bash, the charming counterpart, brings a magnetic presence to the ensemble. His interactions with Khiara are a highlight, injecting humor and warmth into the plot. Their chemistry contributes to the novel's engaging enemies-to-lovers dynamic.

Riot, the wild card, introduces an unpredictable element that keeps the reader on their toes. The contrast between Riot's impulsiveness and the calculated nature of the others creates a fascinating dynamic. The interactions within this trio form a captivating subplot, adding depth to the overall narrative.

While the focus on Khiara, Bash, and Riot enhances the book's appeal, certain pacing issues and predictable plot twists prevent it from reaching its full potential. Nevertheless, their presence contributes significantly to the charm of "Cerise," earning it a solid 3.5 stars. Fans of character-driven narratives and intricate relationships will find this trio's story arc a compelling aspect of the book.

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3.75 stars!!

If you loved the Selection series, if you love cool powerful witchy magic, if you like the FMC being called nicknames (emphasis on nicknameS!!), if you like your fantasy with a little intrigue of "what on earth is happening here," then the Cerise is for you!

Khiara is at risk of being murdered- because she's a redhead. No, not because the king just really hates gingers, but because red hair in this world typically signals a person with magical powers, and that is something that will not do! Through a wild series of events that involve some light ransom of her best friend, Khiara enters the Culling, a Selection-style event held at the palace where the prince is meant to pick his future bride from 12 (in this case 13! what a good witchy number!) eligible bachelorettes. With some fun twists, and a love triangle that's not quite a love triangle, Khiara finds herself torn between the prince (who she had met before, and feels extra familiar to her for unknown reasons) and the head of his guard (who seemingly hates her, but is it a cover for something?).

This book was a fun addition into the romantasy genre, and that CLIFFHANGER left me waiting excitedly for book 2 so I can check some of my theories when trying to understand what just happened!!

Thank you so much to Bailey Black and NetGalley for a chance to read this in exchange for an honest review! The Cerise is out now!

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This was a great book. I loved the setting and the plot. If you loved the selection books as a teen I think you will live this book.

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I loved the world building and the entire dystopian concept of this book.

It was really interesting to read about the Cerise and how the red haired were considered abnormal and dangerous in this world. I do think that the fmc Khiara was too impulsive at times which was infuriating as she kept chasing trouble and falling into it.

The author added two love interests, but this is not a love triangle as towards the end Khiara gravitated more towards one person. I would have preferred the romance to be between her and Bash rather than Riot as it didn't feel too realistic. Riot was too hot and cold with her. At first, he hated her, so I found it hard to believe feelings being developed between them so fast.

Apart from the romance, everything else was spot on and I definitely plan on reading the next book whenever its published.

Some of my spoilery thoughts on different chapters has been posted in my Goodreads review as we can't use spoilers here.

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Thank you NetGalley and author Bailey Black for the copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

"I had a plan. Find the soldier who killed my family and make him pay. It should have been an easy feat. I’d done it over a dozen times, taking out each member of that regiment one by one, but the mission went sideways. It all started with the man in the woods. The one my webs of magic couldn’t sense even when he stood before me. Then my partner made a mistake, and now he’s lying in one of the Crown’s dungeons fighting for his life. I couldn’t leave him to die, but I couldn’t just walk into the castle either.

Or maybe I could.

With the help of some unexpected allies, I entered the Culling—a one-in-a-lifetime chance to become queen. I have no interest in winning the prince’s heart or the crown. My only goal is to get into the castle, find my friend, and get out before someone realizes I’m a Cerise.

But when the welcome ball turns from a grand event into a nightmarish dance of death, all eyes are on me. As if that’s not bad enough, the soldier, the one who took my family, he’s here."

I devoured this book in one sitting. It has the Ruined by Amy Tintera vibes. I love reading this. I can't wait for the next one.

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After a confusing start, this story quickly became an exciting action/adventure.
Khiara is a Cerise. Gifted with the ability to create fire from within, she is hunted for her red hair (I know, weird, hey?) and is determined to kill the soldiers who killed her family. This leads her into a compromising position where her best friend, Ezra, tricks her with a love curse that backfires in the worst way.
This book has a lot of promise but suffers from choppy scenes and leaves readers hanging with a cliffhanger the size of Mount Everest.

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I devoured this book in less than 24 hours. I really enjoyed it. A completely unexpected love interest, a unique and interesting magic concept, and political intrigue. There was a lot of tension between several characters. A sort of love triangle situation as well. There wasn’t a lot of spice, but it was well-written and enjoyable. this was a super fast-paced and very short read. A lot of questions were left unanswered. I can’t wait for the next one.

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The Cerise is romantasy book about a witch who enters a competition to become the queen. The beginning of the book was a tad confusing and took a few chapters to really get into the book, but then it really takes off. I feel like there was something for everyone in this book; a prince, a competition, mystery, a sexy guard, fighting, some spice, and magical powers.
The ending ends on a huge cliffhanger and will make you want the next book now!

Stars: 3.75/5
Spice: 2-3/5

Thank you Netgalley, Bailey Black, and Booksgosocial for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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4/5⭐
2/5🌶️

Khiara Hargrove is a Cerise. These people are killed because they are feared. On her quest to seek revenge for what has been done to her family, her friend Ezra ends up in a dungeon. The only way she can help him get out is through participating in the Culling (think the selection).

I flew through this book not only because it was short, but because there was never a dull moment. All the characters were highly likeable and there were 2 love interests. I was rooting for Bash in the beginning but Riot quickly found his way to my heart with his charming ways. Khiara is a badass & I can't wait to see who Khiara ends up with. This book ended on a cliffhanger & there are questions that are left unanswered. I'm eagerly anticipating book #2.

Thank you netgalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Firstly thank you to NetGalley and Baileybbooks LLC for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review

I literally finished this book and I’m still internally screaming. I was hooked from the first page.

I’ve always enjoyed morally grey hero’s and our FMC character is deeply interesting. Our male leads are shrouded in mystery and the overall story is very much a tale of lies, betrayal and magic. The best way I can explain it is The Selection meets Serpent and Dove meets from Blood and Ash.

It’s face paced, has plenty of romance and found family and is super faced paced so you don’t get bored. Word of warning it’s a cliffhanger!

I cannot wait for book 2!

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absolutely loved this book i was hooked from the very beginning it was well written and the plot was so good i really loved the characters and the magic system in this was done really well i left a review on goodreads and storygraph

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4/5 stars ⭐️

In "The Cerise," readers are whisked away into a world where magic intertwines with politics and romance. At its center is Khaira, a captivating witch with fiery red hair and formidable magical abilities. She is thrust into the cutthroat competition of Culling, where contenders vie for the chance to become future queens.

The story unfolds with a delicate dance of power dynamics, as Khaira navigates the complexities of the competition while grappling with her growing feelings for both Bash and Riot, creating a tantalizing love triangle.
“Little bird”

The cliffhanger at the end was so good and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I would have liked a little more context and story on Bash and Riot but otherwise this is a good book.

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I’m rating this 4 stars!

It was fast paced, gripping and a wonderful read!

The characters and this world are amazing, I just fell in love with it all.

The premise sounded so unique and interesting to me, and I was not let down, especially in the second half of this book, the pace really picks up.

And the ending left me needing the next book immediately!!

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I love the cover and it fits the book so well!
When I started reading it took me some time to get into the book but I started loving it pretty fast! It is told from a 1st person pov which makes you connect with the MC quickly and I loved that. It was a great romantasy read and it kind of reminded me of The Selection series. The book ended with a huge cliffhanger and I'm excited to see more!

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An enjoyable and intriguing plot that is well-paced and leaves you wanting more.

This is a typical tale of kingdom in jeopardy, magic powers limited to a few, oppressive leadership and deception. However, Bailey Black has added an intriguing twist and built a believable world to escape into.

This book is romantasy lite. It’s not as fantasy as ACOTAR or Fourth Wing and is more like Once Upon a Broken Heart and Belladonna. However, it’s spicier than either of those two with some truly cringey descriptions of sex. Thankfully those scenes are short and few and don’t detract from the overall story.

At times the writing slips out of fantasy style and when I found out the author also writes contemporary romance, it made total sense.

With a cliffhanger ending, I’ve already pre-ordered the sequel as I look forward to seeing where the author takes this tale!

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The Cerise was such an enjoyable read and I just cannot resist books about witches! The characters are well developed and you find yourself feeling invested in their lives. The magic system was well explained and easy to understand and the author does a fantastic job with describing settings and even clothing, one of my favorite things is to imagine the beautifully intricate designs characters are wearing.

The premise of the story is that the female main character, Khiara, is on a mission to kill all of the soldiers that were responsible for killer her mother and brother and while on the mission to kill the final man, whose actions the author describes really make you understand what brought Khiara to this moment, things go awry. The situation leads her with no choice but to enter the culling, a contest that aims to find the future Queen, to help her finish her mission.

You meet Riot and Bash as the story progresses and a love triangle forms. I'm not one to normally enjoy love triangles, however this one leaves you with so many questions wondering if either of these two are trustworthy. The story leaves you wanting more and I cannot wait to see where Khiara's story takes her in the future.

Thank you NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the ARC.

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5 STARS ALWAYS! This story is something else! Everyone needs to read this at least once. Love the author, the plot twists, the story of itself!

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The start was a bit confusing for me; but once I got past that aspect I really enjoyed this story. The main character is relatable and strong willed. I really loved her. The twists were excellent and the writing was nice!

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thank you to netgallery, the author and publisher for the ARC!
this selection-esque tale of a girl with secret magic in a world of royals amidst a competition to become the queen was surprisingly enthralling.
the plot itself was slow at the start, but soon sped up. the glamorous setting of royal balls and midnight meetings revealed a world of hidden plots and intrigue, and kept me turning pages.
khiara was a character I loved rooting for. right from the beginning, her loyalty and devotion to her loved ones, as well as her tenacity and determination to survive amidst difficult odds, made her one to watch. she wasn't a perfect character, and definitely made her share of mistakes, but they just made her feel much more real and helped me sympathize with her more.
there was so much about this book that I loved, from the romance to the way the story developed, and I would definitely read the rest of this series in time!

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"The Cerise" was a surprisingly really enjoyable read for me! This book had such an interesting plot and characters that kept me guessing for a lot of the book. I will agree with others who said that the start was a little slow, but my opinion is that it only feels slow when compared to the last three-quarters of the book (which felt considerably faster paced). I think we really had to get into the relationship dynamics of Khiara's love interests. I would have enjoyed more world-building possibly but I can appreciate that it's a shorter Romantasy read and thus it's easier if we learn more as the plot progresses rather than info dump at the front end. I actually liked that a lot in particular (the revealing of the world and society as Khiara experienced things and interacted with other characters).

This is a Team Riot household. If they aren't end game, I will be throwing hands. Their chemistry is out of this world (especially after reading those scenes 👀) but also the way they take care of each other. It's really sweet and sold me on them, truly. I will riot (hehe) if we don't get more Riot fr.

The cliffhanger was brutal and 100% solidified my need to read the second book. I physically/spiritually/emotionally have to know what happens next.

Thank you to NetGalley, BooksGoSocial & the author for sending me a copy of this ARC in exchange for my honest thoughts!

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Thank you to Netgalley and Bailey Black for letting me read the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you loved the Crimson Moth then this is the perfect book for you. This book had such fast pacing which hooked me from the start. This book follows Khiara’s journey to save her friend that has been cursed but leads her to be tangled in a competition to be the princes bride. Khiara is a witch/cerise in a world where they have been hunted. It is a single POV and as a FMC she is just so funny and relatable.
It hit so many of the tropes I love:
>Witch + Witch Hunter
>Hidden History
>Multiple Love interests
>Rescue mission

This book ends on a cliffhanger which is usually expected of a series, but this one felt like it came out of the blue. But perhaps I just didn’t want this book to end. I will definitely be looking out for book 2 in this series as I feel Khiara’s journey is only just getting started.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoy this first book in a series. It was slower to start but then right as I was hooked and curious what was going to happen, next it finished …ON A CLIFFHANGER (but I do love those so I’m even more excited for the sequel). I wish the book was longer to flesh out the characters a bit more and expand on the world building a bit more. I would have liked to see the magic explored a bit more. It was just beginning to elaborate on the different elements of the magic system so I’m looking forward to see where that goes in the next book.

I loved how much of a badass the FMC was. She had been through so much and refused to tolerate any crap and protected those around her from abuse as well. I really liked seeing her stand up to the others girls and look out for Jinx (though something is definitely going on with her in those final scenes 👀).

THE ROMANCE - wooooh I LOVED how that played out. So of the two MMC in this book I’m definitely favouring one over the other. One is just too nice and charming, I’m highly suspicious. The other is just sassy and an asshole so of course I love him 😂 (can you tell I’m a Delena Stan?) I’m a huge enemies to lovers fan so this was right up my alley. I wish we had more scenes but I can’t wait to see how that continues to unfold in the next book.

This book is perfect for those who love:

➾ Romantasy
➾ A touch of Enemies to Lovers
➾ Witch in a world where magic is illegal
➾ Royal Competition (think The Selection)

Readers should check TWs before going into this because there are darker elements.

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Forbidden powers, hidden societies, mortal enemies, multiple love interests, what's not to love?

Khiara is special. She has secret forbidden powers, & beautiful red hair. The men in her life can sense that she is special, & it seems everyone wants in on her magic. Two of the four main men in her life try to take from her forcefully, and one succeeds -leaving her on deaths door, but her magic saves her. Her focus from then on out is revenge... until her best friend decides he is no longer happy being a friend & tries to force her hand. Along the way, she meets a stranger, and his guard, who become allies and additional love interests to complicate things. All the while she still needs to exact her revenge & save her friend.
It seems "men want what they can't have, and a Cerise is the ultimate guilty pleasure."

I really enjoyed this story and will read any sequels - especially considering that cliffhanger ending!

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Ok first off, the cliff hanger has me hungry for the second book! I loved everything about this book! From the characters to the witchy vibes! I couldn't put it down! The Cerise was an unexpected 5 star read!

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This was a quick read for me. I wanted to sit down and get it all done in one sitting but that unfortunately didn’t happen. However, when I did get to sit down and read, I was pulled in and engaged the whole time. The plot of the book was overall good and kept you wanting more.
Khaira is a Cerise and her kind is normally killed. People fear her type and do not want them around. Khaira is out for revenge for her family and isn’t going to stop at anything until it’s taken care of.
We are then introduced to two guys who catch Khaira’s attention. Bash is a charming guy who instantly clicked with Khaira but man does she get him wrapped around her finger and quick.
Then there is Riot who instantly won my vote. He was the perfect guy, witty, protective, sweet and had the looks. He was so protective over Khaira the whole time and didn’t want anything to happen to her!
The book left off on a cliffhanger which I hate but it just makes me want to read the next book that much more. The book was well written and kept you engaged for not only the plot but also the love triangle going on!

Thank you, NetGalley, for giving me the chance to read this book and give my honest review! Thank you, Bailey Black, for writing a book that kept me engaging and wanting more! I can’t wait to read your next book and more from you!

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Love triangle, power struggles, and a complex FMC. This book caught me by surprise and I'm glad I stuck with it. There's a great blend of magic and romance, but not overly graphic. Looking forward to the next book in the series, because WHOA I wasn't expecting it to end like that.

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This story was so beautifully written! I loved the plot and the character development. Can’t wait to read more from this author!

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Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for giving me access to this ARC.

I was originally drawn in to the story because I the synopsis sounded like something I would like. I’m a huge fan of romantasy books. It had a lot of my favorite tropes! I liked the characters a lot and can’t wait to see if there’s a second book.

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Omg wow!! Ok I was skeptical about this in the first quarter of the book but, it really finds it's footing! The world building is really interesting and the political aspects add a lot of complexity to the plot and romance. I really enjoyed the magic portion and how it was explained like a web that Khiara controls at will. Riot was %100 my favorite character. I love a good grumpy soldier! I think what I didn't enjoy was how indecisive Khiara was. The whole first third of the book her emotions and intentions changed so often I couldn't keep track. This pretty much stabilized after like page 70 but it made the book hard to get into. I will be reading more after that sick ending!

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The Cerise is a book that really reminds me of The Selection, as the description said. I didn't expect it to go that way at first, since the FMC is on a mission. To kill the man that destroyed her family and took everything for her (btw, you may want to check the TWs).

While the book is fast paced, I didn't feel like the characters were plain. Instead she has an interesting past that was heavy influenced by her mother (and I hope we get more about that), complex relationships (and while she's a loyal friend, we get a love triangle) and all in all, she's a badass Cerise, which is some sort of witch.

I still have many questions left unanswered, but the next book is the perfect opportunity to get some answers, and while they are shrouded in mystery, it feels very intentional.

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This book originally started out slow so I was a bit skeptical, there also was not a lot of spice for my preference at the moment. Overall though, I believe it was well written and was a quick nice little read. I am looking forward to the next one!

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I liked the magic, romance, plot and characters! This was a good one! It was super fast paced for me. I really enjoyed it! Definately recommend!

Thank you for the ARC!

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⭐️⭐️⭐️.75 stars
🌶️🌶️ spice

What an epic cliffhanger?!? I’m going to be in despair until I find out what happens, that was not how I expected the book to end!

I was very into the way these main characters were developed - they leaned away from stereotypes, there was room for grey area. You’re left not knowing who you can fully trust and where it’s going, which makes for an exciting reading experience. Not to mention having two love interests! This was seriously giving Dorian, Chaol and Celaena vibes.

Without giving any spoilers, I did see that identity reveal coming as soon as an alternate name was mentioned. One is a nickname for the other so I do wish it had been something completely different to make the reveal more impactful.

I do wish the book was slightly longer so there was space for some more world building. The plot focused on a few key moments and avoided big info dumps, which I appreciated in a first installment of a fantasy series. Not a whole lot happened, it wasn’t plot dense, but I feel as though it’s setting up for a larger story arc to come. I really enjoyed this book far more than I expected, a great start to a new series and will definitely be continuing this one.

Tropes:
🗡️Marriage Trials
🗡️Forbidden Romance
🗡️Secret Identities
🗡️Two MMCs (not really a love triangle though)
🗡️Enemies (ish) to Lovers

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This book surprised me with its engaging pace and unique magic system. While it started slow, it quickly picked up, offering a well-executed love triangle and addressing dark themes, though potentially triggering. The cliffhanger ending left me eagerly anticipating the next installment. However, the story fell flat, with confusing character motivations and unresolved plotlines. Despite this, the unexpected love interest, political intrigue, and tension between characters added depth. Overall, a quick and enjoyable read with room for improvement in character development and world-building.

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I enjoyed this opening to the Kingdom of Lies series, it had a great overall feel going on and enjoyed from the genre. It was a beautifully done fantasy romance element and glad it had everything that I was looking for. The characters were what I wanted and thought they were wonderfully done for the story. I’m excited to read more in this series as I enjoyed the way Bailey Black wrote this.

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This book was a bit slow to start, however when the action started it had me hooked! I love how Khiara is such a strong female lead, who doesn't take anything from anyone. Her story is powerful, and focused around her and the knowledge she is unaware that she is seeking. Riot is my favorite, though tough and bitter, I would love to learn more about all of the characters! I'm eagerly awaiting the next book!
Thank you to Bailey Black and NetGalley for this ARC!

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I am a sucker for royal selection stories, assassins, and strong female leads - of which this book has each of these elements in spades! This book ended on a cliffhanger so I'm very excited to see where the second one goes, but I'm hoping the main character evolves a bit and is less contradictory and more clear with her motives & decisions as she progresses. It's written with a more modern feel than some of the other stories in this vein, and sometimes took me out of the magical setting. Overall, I enjoyed it and would like to see where this series goes.

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I have been slowly getting back into fantasy and I ATE THIS UP. SO GOOD I loved the storyline and it kept me enticed the whole time

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4 Star Rating ****

Plot
The book opens with our protagonist on the hunt to kill a man that harmed her in the past (SA trigger warning), but when an unknown curse strikes down her best friend, she is forced to attend a royal selection ceremony at the palace to get close to him. Ensue love triangle between protagonist, prince, and prince’s guard.

Genre
Overall, I cannot say this is a work of literary genius, and if you are into advanced world building and character development this is probably not the book for you. But, if you are into cozy fantasy with cute characters, a fast-paced plot, and an overall cozy feeling, you would enjoy this book. The story to me was similar in feel to “A curse of true love” by Stephanie Garber, and “These Hollow Vows” by Lexi Ryan in the protagonist attends a ball with no interest in falling in love with the arrogant prince, she is just their for her own means, but ends up charmed regardless.

Likes
Firstly, when I picked up this book, I was told it was a love triangle, but I was NOT expecting who between. I was on board with an Ezra/Bash love triangle, but way to just eliminate Ezra and throw Riot in the mix! And then make him my favourite! Way to throw me off my game from the very beginning!
The thing I appreciated most in this book is the author is not afraid to make you really emotionally invested in a character or relationship, and then kill them off. For me this gives the book real stakes and an atmosphere. I feel the characters tension when things so wrong because it genuinely is life and death and I know the author is not afraid to pull that card.
I really liked the characters in this book, they felt fleshed out and unique, but were still realistic (with the exception of Bash in the last 50 pages who apparently put his charisma down somewhere for forgot to pick it back up). Riot and Khiara and super cute and defo my endgame.

Dislikes
A few negatives were that the story felt a little juvenile at times, with a slightly predictable premise. The romance between Khiara and Riot sort of came out of nowhere and it felt a little forced to begin with, like the author wanted a love triangle and Riot was just sort of the only other male around, but in the end, I really liked their chemistry and thought they were super cute together.
Another issue was the beginning of this book a long time to get going. The writing was very slow and nothing much happened for the first third of the book or so. I wasn’t sure based on the beginning if I was even going to like this book, as the whole mood was much more sombre and darker, with a focus on some very heavy topics. There is then a complete flip when the whole tone of the book becomes much lighter and enjoyable, and the main character stops being so introspective and becomes the sassy, fiery Khiara we know.

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I really enjoyed this one - I was pulled in from the moment that I saw this being suggested to fans of Kiera Cass' 'Selection' series, and I was not disappointed!

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