The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski begins with Kestrel enjoying the city with her appointed escort and they are both doing things that they know are not allowed for them, such as gambling with the locals. They wander into the slave auction and a slave with blacksmith skills and singing talent comes up for bid. The slave is told to sing for the audience, but he refuses. Kestrel admires him for his pride and bids on him. She outbids everyone else at the steep price of fifty keystones and she’s told this is the Winner’s Curse. Kestrel spends time with Arin, her slave, and she’s not sure what to think about him or his background because he is strong like a slave with manners and knowledge like an aristocrat. Strange events began to happen and Kestrel is trying to figure out why. This story has espionage, intrigue and suspense and the romance is kind of a mystery all its own. The Winner’s Curse is an enjoyable read and it left me anxious to read the sequel – 4 stars!