Ruling Destiny (Stolen Beauty, #2)

Ruling Destiny (Stealing Infinity, #2)
Age Range
Release Date
June 06, 2023
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The second I stepped through the doors of Gray Wolf Academy, my world disintegrated. Here, time is malleable. It can be manipulated, shifted. Changed. And for those of us who Trip—or travel through time—the possibilities are infinite and perilous.

Now my life is caught in the secrets of everyone around me. Arthur, the eccentric billionaire who rules this school. Killian, who could be the only honest person here…or the biggest liar. And Braxton, magnetic, gorgeous, and unfathomable. The only thing I trust about him is our electric connection.

Whether we’re Tripping through Renaissance Italy or thieving from a ball in Regency England, my life’s become a web of lies and strange truths. And beneath the surface is an elaborate puzzle, filled with cryptic symbols and priceless treasures scattered across history—all somehow connected to my strange ability to see through time.

But Arthur has a dangerously ambitious agenda. And if what my dad taught me is true, I’m not just a threat to everyone at Gray Wolf.

…I’m a threat to time itself.

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engaging sequel
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RULING DESTINY is the engaging sequel to STEALING INFINITY that picks up right where the first book left off. Natasha is becoming fully ingratiated at Gray Wolf Academy while she also deals with her feelings over the way her Trips went in the first book, particularly when she had experienced the Fade. The school psychologist has cleared her for her next journey, and Arthur plans to send her to renaissance Italy, where she is to get another piece of the Antikythera Mechanism.

As she prepares for the journey, she also searches for answers of what happened to Song and navigates the growing complexity of her romantic life, considering the way that everyone at Gray Wolf lies. While she loves Braxton, she knows that he is not telling her everything, such as the truth about the shoes he keeps as a reminder. Killian is also trying to get close to her, and Natasha is not sure who to believe. As her Trip partner is replaced at the last minute with Killian, she begins to get to know him better - but this Trip will make all the difference with new knowledge and secrets coming to life in ways that will irrevocably change everything for her.

What I loved: This continues the first story well, giving us a lot of answers to the questions raised earlier and bringing up new ones along the way. While the reader may have figured out some of the bigger truths on their own, Natasha has not yet done so for herself, and this is her journey to self-discovery. Natasha is a compelling character who definitely feels like a teenager. She does not always make the smartest choices, but she is doing her best with the knowledge she has. While she feels trust for certain people, knowing that they are all liars makes it harder for her to trust her gut, and this can put her in some difficult positions. As she begins to get answers to her questions, her strategies change, and these revelations alter everything for her personally.

The love triangle is certainly light, but it is very present in this book. The two love interests represent very different parts of the story with one embodying Gray Wolf and its mission and the other having more of a sense of a morality about what they do and how they do. Similar to the way she has a choice of partner, Natasha also has a choice to make in terms of how she will proceed with her missions for Arthur and what she will choose to do, and importantly, how she will do it. The ethics and morality of what they do is ever in question. With Gray Wolf providing all her core needs, such as shelter and food, these decisions can be blurred.

Other themes around exploitation, conflicts of interest among faculty/staff, friendships, betrayal, heritage, history, and good vs evil make this quite a compelling story. History is written by the victors and can be twisted according to who is recording it. As what they do is rooted in history, they make decisions that could have large ripples but is also influenced by the way that history was written - which isn't always strictly factual. Similarly, Natasha is trying to define the people around her as good or evil. This is particularly tough because she assumes she is on the side of "good" while those who are attacking her are on the opposite (such as the Timekeepers), but nothing is quite so simple. While she begins to redefine those roles, the reader sees that nothing is so black and white, and there is a lot of gray area in between who is good or evil.

The historical facts are also a really fantastic part of these books with the art and items mentioned being real things. They are well-researched and pull this story into reality, while also giving readers a start on learning more about them. They are very cool.

What left me wanting more: As a small thing, there is a really big gap between the reader figuring things out and Natasha doing so, and it could get a bit frustrating in places, as it felt really drawn out. The beginning of the story meandered a bit and felt a bit easier to put down, but it definitely focused and picked up towards the end.

Final verdict: RULING DESTINY is a compelling and intriguing YA fantasy sequel in a series that will delight readers who enjoy strong romance, thought-provoking themes, and a bit of mystery/suspense. I cannot wait for the next installment!
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