Title: The Skull Ruler
Author: Penelope Sky
Publisher/Year: Createspace Publishing 6/4/19
Length: 345 pages
Series: Skulls #3
Instead of handing me back to Lucian so Balto can get everything he wants, he keeps me.
He pledges to fight for me until I’m free.
But as the weeks pass, freedom isn’t as appealing as it used to be. This place has become my home.
This man is my home.
I’m not sure if I’d ever want to leave…even if Lucian was dead.
This is the first time that i’ve had to wait for the next installment in a series and i don’t know that i liked it! Because i’ve been so immersed in the other stories that our amazing author has penned, it took me a second to get back into the swing of things with Cassini and Balto. Once i got a few pages in though, it was like i was back where we were with them.
The dynamic here is an interesting one – we know that Cassini was forced into all of her situations, being with Lucien because her boyfriend at the time got mixed up in a few things (until we learned that wasn’t really the case and he was paid to hand Cassini over), and then Cassini found herself ‘willingly forced’ into her relationship with Balto. There wasn’t a safer place to be, but the struggle here was real.
In this third installment, we come to the point in time where Balto has to make the trade back with Lucien to get his skull diamond – that means giving Cassini back which in his head isn’t such a hard task since he’s the Skull King and being in a committed relationship isn’t in the cards for him. When the time comes though and Cassini makes it clear that she’s got nothing to live for and she’ll just kill herself if she goes back, well that pulls at Balto’s heart and we find ourselves at an impasse – where the trade doesn’t happen and we know that there will be implications.
That’s the undertone for the remainder of the story. When will Lucien strike since we know that he considers Cassini his property, and who will die when this interaction happens. Lucien is a wizard with explosives, so that makes things more complicated since Balto isn’t willing to mindlessly go into anything with him without preparation. The choice is taken away when someone they love is taken as collateral, and our story takes yet another turn.
Just when we think that these interactions are bringing Balto and Cassini closer together, we find that Balto is so set in his ways that it tears them apart. He gives Cassini her freedom, and with that, she still chooses him. that’s not an option for him and he does everything that he can to push her away. Similar to how we see this play out in all of Ms Sky’s stories, we end up seeing Cassini find her footing in a new life, with the help of her brothers. Yet more unexpected things happen now that she’s without Balto, and of course that means that our story will take more weaves on this rollercoaster.
The questions still beg to be asked, who will make it out alive and who will be happy. What roles will Heath, Case and Dirk play in everything and what does the future hold for the Skull King? Is Cassini strong enough to be on her own, create a new life and move on? Well we know the answer to that since all Penelope Sky leading ladies are beyond capable. I’m sad to see the closure come to this story and i can’t wait to see what’s next. Enjoy!