Vines and Vices

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Vines and Vices by Kate Sparkes (All the Queen’s Knaves Book One)

A Jack and the Beanstalk Retelling

“Are you a wolf, Jesamyn? Or are you a lamb I should have slaughtered the moment you drew your first breath?”

Jes has lived her life in the control of her mother, Mav. Together, they’ve lied, conned, and stolen their way across the kingdom. But Jes is ready for more, if Mav would only let her try. 
When Prince Balthazar stumbles across their path, Jes thinks she might finally have a way out. Too bad Mav has other plans for the pair.

“It would be one truth masquerading as a lie in a life built on lies that were meant to sound like truth.”

This quote pretty much sums up Jes’s struggle throughout the book. She wants nothing more than to escape Mav’s web of lies, but she goes about it the only way she knows how – via lies and manipulation. 
Balthazar, aka Cas, is also not above using people for his own means. A prince with an unorthodox skillset, he joins Jes in the con of the decade. Either they’ll pull it off or lose their freedom – and possibly their lives – in the process.

I loved this Jack and the Beanstalk retelling. The heist aspects were so much fun to follow, and the developing relationship between Jes and Cas was a delight. The mistrust due to stereotypes between the giants and humans was carefully intertwined into the plot.
All the characters were carefully crafted with their own needs and wants. Even the bad guys you love to hate.
The settings were vividly drawn, and throughout the story you have a sense of being drawn in and becoming part of it.

???? I loved the story and the twist, but there were a few elements that I struggled with.
??? Mild swearing throughout. Several S’s and D’s, and many instances of using “god” as a swear.
?? Only a couple of kisses, but discussion of intimacy and pregnancy outside of marriage.
⚔️⚔️ Minor injuries that bleed, but no great detail.