A Free Dreamer Review: Blood Borne (The Republic #3) by Archer Kay Leah


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

For Ress, survival is a complicated nightmare. Caught between two masters on different sides of the law, his life is falling apart one bad decision at a time. All he wants is to be is a good person, a loyal family man, and a successful metalsmith–a dream he can never obtain while he works for the Shar-denn, the violent gang that plagues the republic of Kattal.

To make matters worse, he works as an informant for the High Council. He scrapes through both jobs waiting for his last breath. As the Shar-denn motto says: the only way out is dead.

No stranger to living complicated decisions, Adren is caught between worlds of cir own. As the child of a Shar-denn faction boss, cir life is conflicted tangle of expectation and duty. When cir family is arrested, Adren manages to escape, but nowhere is safe. Desperate and on the run, Adren is determined to punish Ress for turning in cir family. No one who betrays the gang can live. Ress must pay the price, even if Adren has to go against everything ce is.

“Blood Borne” is the third and final book of the series. Just like the previous two books, this one can be read as a standalone without a problem. The MCs from book two do play a somewhat important role here too but everything is explained.

While this isn’t my first book with a non-binary protagonist, it is the first time I’ve read a book that uses gender-neutral pronouns other than “they”. It definitely takes some getting used to and it didn’t help that the word “ce” always reminds me of endless French lessons I had to suffer through at school. I’m not sure if it helped that the author switched between Adren’s and Ress’ pov. It’s the only book in the series that’s told from both povs. I felt like I was just getting used to Adren’s “ce” and “cir” and then the author switched back to Ress’ “he” and “his”.

Adren is the only non-binary character in the whole series. So it felt a bit odd how accepting everybody was of Adren’s choice of pronouns. Only the bad guys didn’t immediately adapt to cir wishes. Nobody ever slipped up once after they’re told it’s not “she” but “ce”. That seemed a little unrealistic. I’d expect at least a little confusion. This complete lack of resistance would have seemed  a lot more realistic, if there had been other non-binary people in previous books. As it was, it seemed like Adren was the first ever person to not identify as either male or female.

I never really bought into the romance aspect. That shift from “I hate your guts because you ruined my family” to “You’re sweet and kind and I’ll love you forever and ever after” just never happened for me. Sure, we find out that there’s more to Adren’s history than ce thought and I do get why ce would be reluctant to kill Ress. But that’s still a far cry from true love.

“Blood Borne” definitely has the most fantasy of the whole series. Adren has some sort of special abilities that lets ce make bodies disappear without a trace, amongst other nifty things. Sadly, we only see those gifts in action once. I’d have loved more showing and less telling. It’s a shame, really, because the gifts seemed really cool.

I was thrilled to see Tash and Mayr again. They played a fairly important role and we got to see quite a bit of them.

Overall, this was the weakest book of the series to me. It had quite a few weaknesses and I never really found a connection with the MCs.

The cover by Natasha Snow is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the best cover of the whole series.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
SeriesThe Republic #3

One thought on “A Free Dreamer Review: Blood Borne (The Republic #3) by Archer Kay Leah

  1. Hi, thanks for reading the book and for your thoughts. Though just a couple points of clarification for readers: this isn’t the last book in the series (just #3), and Adren isn’t the only non-binary character around, just the only one Ress has met up close and personal. The other characters have had different experiences, just not on-page/talked about. Book #5 actually features another non-binary MC.

    Thanks again,


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