I liked the first two books in this series, quite a lot.
I liked the main character, Eugenie, during those first two books, quite a lot. (Her name, on the other hand, I've never liked, but you can't have everything)
And then there was THIS.
After months of anticipation, I finally had the book, and....
At first all is well; our heroine is doing her thing, and being queen-like when she needs to be, and basically seems to be growing into her responsibilities quite well (while still enjoying herself on occasion).
Then, things go off the rails.
During the 'realization scene', where she suddenly has the horrible realization that ::GASP!!!:: Dorian has acting in a completely Dorian-like fashion, by manipulating her (in such a way as to make her more powerful, in such a way as to end the war--just as she wanted--, and in no way whatsoever as a betrayal of her)....
Well, that was the exact moment when the plot of the book drove into a massive hole in the road which jarred me completely out of the story.
Seriously, it seemed to me EXACTLY as if, while outlining this book in preparation for writing it, Richelle Mead had at one point written "And then, right about here, Eugenie has to do another 180 degree turn, and decide she hates Dorian, and wants Kiyo again. (don't worry about all of the very excellent reasons she left him; that was all the way in the last book, and my readers will have forgotten alllllll about that by the time they read this one).
The speed with which she decides to throw away her relationship with the man who has unfailingly supported her, in favor of the one who has NOT, is just dizzying. The speed with which she drops her pants and leaps into a session of nasty sex with Kiyo, as 'revenge' on Dorian, is sickening.
Yes, I completely and totally agree that it's her body, and her life, and she can do whatever she wants, but this turn of events read as SO irrational, and so bizarre, given what had happened up to that point, that it just made her look like a vile, sleezy, all-around beotch.
I lost a LOT of respect for Eugenie after that; to be perfectly honest, roughly 60% of my enthusiasm for reading the rest of the book vanished at that point.
As for the Pregnancy issue... again, I was very, very disappointed. She'd made her statements, over and over and over again, regarding what she would do if she were forced to deal with this situation. And yet, when the time came, her iron resolve vanishes in an instant.
This person only vaguely resembles the character I followed through the first two books, and I find I dislike this new version quite a lot.
Even leaving aside the problems with the main character, the 'Quest' she undertakes is frankly laughable. For something so awesomely powerful, the Iron Crown is 'guarded' by a set of obstacles that any competent adventurer could best in her sleep. Certainly it nearly put ME to sleep (failing mainly because it was over so quickly; I barely had time to close my eyes before it was over).
I seriously doubt that I'll buy the next book in this series, unless I find it in a bookstore and skim the first chapter to find some seriously impressive stuff to change my mind.
1 and 1/2 Stars for this one.