Content Warnings: Drugged, Abuse, Sexual Content, Killing
Gleam is the third installment to the Midas-inspired, Plate Prisoner series. This book will have you rooting for Auren, pulling your hair in anticipation, and gasping at all the truths that are revealed. It’s a beautiful continuation showcasing Auren’s growth and reclaiming herself while trying to wrestle away from her abuser, Midas.
- Picks up right after Glint ends
- The well-written and planned plot
- Poem at the end
- The ending!!
- The plot twists
- Super slow burn
- No map
- Auren’s story dragged a bit
- Malina surviving
- Ends in a cliffhanger
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
Auren’s Plot Line
- Auren’s goal is to fight back against Midas, yet please him enough he won’t hurt Digby, as she plans her escape with Rissa.
- During her initial time at Ranhold, Auren is getting the lay of the land and slowly turning items gold before delivering them to Rissa. Once Auren settles in, Midas begins over working Auren by gold-touching everything for 4 days straight.
- On the final day, when she finally gets to go back to her room, Auren can’t walk and Rip comes to carry her back. It is during this time that Rip tells Auren he has chosen her, he just wishes she would choose him. To which Auren tells him that she chose herself.
- Rip and Auren then spend time out on the balcony together. Auren voices her anger about Slade lying and the betrayal she feels with him. But Slade informs her it shouldn’t matter because he’s still the same person and she should trust him.
- The next night Auren, is asked to attend a dinner with Midas to welcome Queen Kaila from Third Kingdom. During the dinner, Auren talks back to Midas and initially denies him his show of gold-touching a goblet. Midas also uses his knowledge of Commander Rip carrying Auren back to her rooms to embarrass her in front of the guests.
- When Midas and Auren return to her rooms after dinner, they argue about Auren’s behavior and Midas slaps Auren— the first time he has hit her. After this Midas leaves and doesn’t return to Auren until her cheek is healed of its bruise.
- In the meantime, Auren is scouting the library for blueprints and runs into Slade. He notices the bruise and gets pissed, but Auren is able to calm him down.
- He tells her that he would kill Midas for her if she asked him to, but hasn’t because of the consequences. He then turns on Auren and asks why she hasn’t yet, thinking she still loves him. Auren informs Slade she is trying to escape instead— to leave Midas behind and disappear.
- The next night, Auren visits Slade and tells him that she chooses him, too. They have sex and he tells her Lu will help her escape to the camp the next night.
- The following night, Lu helps Auren escape and Auren spends time with Slade and his Wraths. Auren then confesses the whole plan to Slade and the Wraths about her escape plan with Rissa, and the issue with Digby. It is during this time that Slade tells Lu to look for Digby and get him out.
- Upon returning to the castle, Queen Kaila is waiting for Auren below her balcony and asks Auren to join her on a walk. Queen Kaila asks if she’ll be a problem and then tells her to run away with the commander so she doesn’t have to kill Auren. Which, Auren agrees.
- The next day, Midas forces Auren to gold-touch some remaining rooms and items for the ball, in exchange that she can then see Digby. After finishing gold-touching and eating dinner, Midas leads Auren to see Digby in the dungeons.
- It is here that Auren realizes Midas has drugged her with Dew, telling her that this will correct her behavior. He then proceeds to cut off her ribbons and leave her in the dungeon with Digby for a while.
- Later, guards return and force more Dew into Auren, knocking her out before dragging her away. When she wakes, Midas is gold touching things against her skin, telling Auren to get dressed, and giving her instructions on when to gold touch the mezzanine during his speech at the ball.
- Finally, Auren’s head clears and she denies Midas of his gold-touch show during his speech. Afterward, Auren goes off on him, telling him that she’ll leave him and he won’t find her, and how much she hates him.
- Midas, in turn, tells Auren that he is actually Barden East from Derfort Harbor. He followed her to drag her back and make an example out of her. But when he learns of her powers and Midas changes tactics to become her savior and lover instead.
- Once done with his confession, Midas ties Auren up with her own ribbon and goes off the make a toast. Auren then sees Slade in the crowd, but before he can make it over to her, Midas calls him to the dias. After the toast, Prince Niven falls dead, poisoned. Everyone thinks Ravinger did it because of the marks on Niven’s neck.
- Auren makes her way down to protect Ravinger from using his power and starting a war and confronts Midas saying he killed Niven. Out of anger, Midas orders everyone out of the ballroom and then tries to convince Auren to come back to him as she stands beside Slade. When she doesn’t, he uses a cheap trick to grab her and put a knife to her throat.
- Upon hearing the word “helpless” Auren’s magic beast unlocks and attacks, turning all her gold-touched items into liquid gold. She kills the guards and Midas, but she can’t regain control of her magic which is killing her.
- Slade then rots Auren to get her to stop and runs out of the room with her, not knowing if she will be okay or not.
Midas’s Plot Line
- Midas is throwing a party with Fourth and Third in attendance for a new, peaceful alliance.
- When Midas finds out about Mist’s pregnancy, he sends word to Malina and tries to force her to pretend she is pregnant until Mist gives birth.
- When Milana refuses, Midas sends Hood, a fae assassin, to kill her.
- In the meantime, Midas focuses on keeping Auren in check, gold-touching the palace, and setting his sights on Queen Kaila.
Malina’s Plot Line
- Malina is slowly turning Highbell back to the way it was before Midas. The way her family had it.
- Midas wants Malina to pretend she is pregnant and lock herself away for 6 months, so when she reappears, she’ll have the bastard child of Midas. However, Malina refuses to pretend this baby is hers and sends Midas’s messenger back with her notice.
- The citizens start rioting in the streets soon after, trying to get to Malina. Sir Pruinn informs Malina that Midas’s messenger is behind the uprising by spreading discontent between the people.
- Malina orders her guards to kill anyone who breaks in the castle once the riots get too bad.
- In the middle of the night, Jeo wakes Malina to get her to the royal safe house— the citizens have broken into the castle and most of the guards abandoned their posts.
- Malina, 2 guards, Jeo, and Sir Pruinn escape to the safe house.
- They are there for 4 days and relationships are deteriorating, especially between Maline and Jeo.
- The 2 guards tell Malina that Midas’s forces have taken over the kingdom and calmed the rioting. Word has also spread that Malina was killed in the riots. This is Midas’s way of re-establishing control.
- Soon after the guards return, an assassin finally comes to kill Malina, but ends up killing everyone except for Malina and Sir Pruinn, as they escape in a carriage.
The plot was well-created and strong. I didn’t pick up on any plot holes or inconsistencies. Even when I questioned Midas’s absence from Auren for a while, it was because he hit her and he was spending time with Queen Kaila. It made sense.
The plots also melded well together. For example, when Auren found out Mist was pregnant and then we get Midas’s thoughts on claiming it as its heir and sending word to Malina.
The ending was spectacular, too. I was wondering where Auren’s powers would take her and how they would evolve. And boy was I not disappointed! I honestly wasn’t expecting Midas to die here, but the way he went out was perfect. Killed by his own greed.
Auren’s plot was slow, but it was okay. I thought I’d really like where this book was headed when I first started reading it, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I was expecting Auren to leave with Slade sooner and at some point. But that didn’t even happen.
I enjoyed her journey of reclaiming herself, establishing her interest in Slade, planning with Rissa, and standing up to Midas. It was necessary to establish Auren and the plot, but I wish there was less round-and-round going on.
Barden East/Midas Reveal
I never picked up that Midas was Barden East. I know East was mentioned a lot, but his and Zakir’s influence on Auren was a large part of her trauma. I love how that story came back full circle and Auren was finally able to let go of Midas.
I like the idea that he wanted to drag her back since he wanted the painted girl so bad, that he followed her. Then when he learned of her new powers to changed plans and took advantage of her. I find it fitting for his conniving character.
Also, if Barden East was a fake name, is Tyndall Midas a fake name, too? If so, what’s his real name?
We finally find out who Fake Rip is and it’s Slade’s brother! I love the twist! It makes so much sense that he would trust his brother with such a big secret. I know I’d trust my sister to play me in this situation.
I’m interested in how Malina will come back later because I know she wasn’t killed. She escaped and will eventually land in Seventh kingdom, but what will that do? How will her story be tied back into Auren’s?
Also, if Midas is dead and Malina on the run, who will lead Fifth and Sixth Kingdom now? What will happen?
Thoroughly enjoying Rip and Auren’s forbidden love. Auren is a bit reckless and hard-headed, while Rip is protective and hell-bent on letting Auren be herself.
However, their relationship is a bit confusing in the sense that Auren doesn’t see Slade as a lover, but Slade sees Auren as one. Will he respect her boundaries or will he turn out like Midas?
Auren’s growth journey really is a mess, but an understandable mess. She’s finally learning herself, how to figure things out on her own, and what she wants/likes. So, of course, Auren will make mistakes and make dumb decisions. But I love her all the more for it.
Regardless of her past and everything that she’s been through, Auren is still selfless and willing to put others before herself— Digby, Rissa, and Mist. While it can be a flaw to an extent, it is a strength for Auren because she hasn’t let her horrible past deter her from loving and caring for others.
Throughout the series, I’ve been wondering how powerful Auren actually is and what else she can do with her powers. And boy, was I not disappointed! I wasn’t expecting her to turn everything she has touched to liquid gold, but I’ll take it because it ended up being a great weapon.
My only question is, was the original material still underneath all the gold? Were the items plated?
So, I like Slade. He’s mysterious, smart, caring, and supportive, but I feel like he has an ulterior motive with Auren. Does he want to use her, too?
I just feel like we’re missing a vital piece for Slade’s character and his obsession with Auren. Are fated lovers a thing in this series and he isn’t telling Auren their fated? Or is that how he is as a lover?
I ask all this because even the Wraths seem to know the extent of Slade’s feelings, but not Auren. He was also so domineering towards her during sex that it put me off and make me question his motives.
Besides his romance with Auren, Slade is wonderful. He balances his shifting between king and commander so well and plays each character marvelously. It’s honestly such a useful tool to have as a ruler.
I want to learn more about Slade, his history, and his kingdom, so I’m excited that the fourth book (possibly) will take place in his kingdom. I think things will start making sense for me in the next book, and if these inquiries are answered.
Midas. That manipulative, conniving prick. I can’t stand his self-centered greedy ass. He 100% deserved his death and everything he got at the end. Every time he came around in this book I wanted to scream and throw a knife at him.
If he wasn’t such an abusive ass, his ability to plan and scheme was marvelous. In that aspect, he made a great ruler and interesting character. He was brilliant, but an absolutely horrible person.
I will say, though, I didn’t expect him to die in this book, but I’m glad he did.
When we first were introduced to Malina and her plot in the second book, I was all on board of her taking Midas down. However, as her story has progressed, I find that I hate her more and more.
She doesn’t deserve to rule. She’s so entitled, selfish, and self-centered. Sixth Kingdom’s people had every right to overthrow her. Although, I do feel she might have been a better ruler than Midas.
Even though I wish Malina was assassinated, I understand that she couldn’t be. So, I wonder if she’ll be humbled on where ever her journey takes her. Will she be an enemy to Auren or will they become allies?
I like Rissa. She’s just a woman looking out for herself and wanting a better life. She’s hard-headed and takes everything in stride. She doesn’t let life drag her down and knows what she wants.
Rissa is the epitome of a strong woman in this series.
He’s alive! I truly thought Midas was lying about Digby being alive to get Auren into a cell.
I feel so bad for thinking Digby was the traitor in the first book. He truly tried to keep Auren safe. He didn’t deserve what Midas had done to him. He did everything he could. The caravan was just caught off guard thanks to Malina.
Jeo didn’t deserve his death. He did everything he could for Malina— was her saddle, saved her from the riots, provided for her. But Malina disregarded him when it mattered and it broke my heart. He deserved so much more in his life than to please and protect Malina.
Who is he and what does Pruinn want?
I would like to start this section off by saying I like how Midas is blond with tanned skin and Slade is dark-haired with pale skin. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual tall, dark, and handsome main love interest trope.
I absolutely love the independent and women supporting women themes of the book. I honestly don’t think I’ve read another series where this was focused on so much, but I’m here for it!
These women have been used and abused by men for so long that they deserve to escape and reclaim their lives. I love it. Absolutely adore this theme.
All the character’s actions, dialog, and responses made sense and felt like things actual people would do instead of imagined scenes by an author.
Most the characters were 3-D, with the exception of some of the minor characters, like Scofield, Lowe, and Mist.
Throughout the book, Kennedy utilizes different points of views (POVs) to tell the full story of what is happening in Orea. We get Auren’s, Slade’s, Midas’s, and Malina’s; all of which have different voices and tones, making it easy to get into the mindset of that character.
I love this because sometimes with different POVs the various characters can sound the same, but here Kennedy was meticulous to select the right tone, words, dialog, etc., for her characters.
- Auren- she had her usual sarcastic tone, except this time we got to dive into more of her problem-solving and analytical skills.
- Slade- he used more cuss words than Auren and had a more informal tone than how you think he would talk based on appearances.
- Midas- his tone was condecending and covered with greed and entitlement.
- Malina- her’s was similar to Midas’s, except minus the greed. We also got to see her confidence break at one point and her panic show through her chapter’s voice.
Slade’s Use of “Baby”
I didn’t like Slade’s crass sex talk or his use of “baby” when referring to Auren. It felt too modern, even though the book kind of has a modern feel dialog-wise.
I cringed every time I had to read a sentence with “baby” in it. He could have used “love” or “dear” or “darling,” something more fitting of his kingly and caring character.
Cringy and Out of Touch Sex Scene
The first sex scene between Slade and Auren felt wrong and disconnected, especially after Auren shared her story about the abuse she’s faced, particularly about her body.
Slade doesn’t acknowledge her as a person or comfort her or anything, he just says that he wants her. He talks dirty to her in a controlling way, similar to what she’s already had to endure.
So, for him to start commanding her to stripe and take her hair down made him feel no better than the other men that have used Auren. I think they could have been intimate in a different way besides sex.
I might have enjoyed their relationship a bit more and understood it a bit more if this were the case. It was built in such a loving and supportive way but ended up being rough and demanding, which feels out of place for a woman who has been objectified and sexually abused her whole life.
I’ve mentioned this in the other reviews, but I love the poem at the end of the book. I think it sums up everything beautifully and really captures the mystical elements of the whole plot. And it also has me thinking in rhymes for the next few minutes.
I enjoyed Gleam. It didn’t go in the direction I thought it would— Auren and Slade escaping at least mid-way through the book, but I still like the direction it took and how it ended. Especially the ending!
Even though Slade and Auren’s relationship is a bit confusing for me, I still adore those two and the found family has with Slade and the Wraths. I can’t wait to learn more about Slade and Fourth Kingdom. I think dots will start connecting for me then.
I’m also, interested in seeing how things plan out politically, and for Malina and Auren. What do their futures hold? How will their paths cross?
The Plated Prisoner books, so far, are enjoyable and I can’t wait to continue with the series.
What did you think of the book? Did you like it or could you have done without it? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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