At times, I feel like I write so many reviews which ought to contain the words 'I really wanted to like this book, but...' and A Dance of Water and Air is just another one of those reviews. For starters, the title itself feels awkward as the elements are just the wrong way round for it to seem natural. That is the least of this book's problems from my perspective.
The basic premise of the book is that we have two neighbouring kingdoms in a universe where people have elemental magic but tend towards having an affinity for one over the rest. You can tell it's a fantasy book because Affinity gets a capital A every time it appears. Said kingdoms are threatened by another neighbour and a plan is hatched to marry the eldest son of one kingdom (Edmund) to the queen of the other, with Edmund getting shipped off there a few months before the wedding so he can get to know his prospective bride.
Since she pretty much ignores him once he arrives, Edmund inconveniently falls for the queen's brother (Arden) and also eventually gets accused of an attempt on the queen's life. This forces Arden to make a choice and he chooses to rescue his putative boyfriend, who's been thrown into a dungeon. After fleeing back to Edmund's kingdom and the queen reluctantly agreeing the two of them can marry, Edmund and Arden are discussing the threat from their neighbours and then the book just stops - I think it's meant to be a cliffhanger (maybe?) but instead it left me wondering if there was a problem with the file.
I liked the overall world-building but sadly the characters didn't manage to be as interesting, being generally pretty two-dimensional. There's also a surprise 'oh, by the way I have breasts' moment for one of the characters that I really didn't see coming. Likewise, I found the convenience of the pairing off of Arden and Edmund's respective secretaries just a bit too much like high school and double dating to take seriously. But then all of them were very much working on 'oh, he's so handsome that I must fall in love with him' levels so I guess it's not a massive surprise.
I received this book from Netgalley on condition of giving an honest review.