Ruthless Vows Summary, Characters and Themes

Ruthless Vows is the second book in the Letters of Enchantment duology by Rebecca Ross. It is a young adult fantasy novel that continues the story from the first book, Divine Rivals.

The story follows Iris Winnow, who has returned home from the war front, heartbroken and bruised. However, the war is far from over, and Roman, her love interest, is missing. The city of Oath remains in a state of disbelief and ignorance, and Iris must navigate the complex relationships and political tensions to find Roman and bring peace to her land.


In Cambria, war erupts between the Skyward goddess Enva and the Underling god Dacre. Iris and Roman, recently married journalists, are separated during Dacre’s attack on Avalon Bluff. 

Iris resumes her work at the Inkridden Tribune, while Roman, stripped of his memories, becomes a war correspondent for Dacre.

Iris and Attie, another reporter, are sent back to the war front. Iris begins receiving messages from Enva in her dreams and decides to contact Roman, who is now living with Dacre, using an enchanted typewriter. They start a secret correspondence, with Iris using the alias “Elizabeth.”

Meanwhile, Roman struggles with fragmented memories and receives mysterious letters from an unknown sender. 

He learns about Dacre’s plan to attack Hawk Shire and warns “Elizabeth.” Iris delivers the warning, leading to the evacuation of Enva’s forces to Oath. 

Iris, Attie, and Tobias, their guide, become trapped near Hawk Shire. Roman finds Iris and helps her escape, triggering his lost memories.

Back in Oath, Iris discovers a magical doorway in Roman’s family home. Dacre sends Roman to meet Iris and recruit her as a reporter. 

They meet secretly and rekindle their love. Roman provides Iris with a map of the city’s ley lines, where magic is strongest.

Dacre and his advisor arrive at the Kitt Estate. Shane, Dacre’s lieutenant, suspects Roman of being a traitor and forces him to deliver a letter at Dacre’s press conference.

Iris and Attie decode a divine message in their dreams, believing it can weaken Dacre. Iris attends the press conference, but the letter’s delivery fails. A bomb explodes, and Iris escapes while Roman is taken home.

Iris obtains an enchanted sword capable of killing a god. Dacre threatens Oath with destruction unless they surrender. 

Iris publishes articles revealing the truth and providing information on safe shelters. Dacre imprisons Roman, believing him to be a traitor, and sends Val to retrieve Iris. Iris kills Val and steals his key to Dacre’s doorways.

Chaos engulfs the city. Iris, Attie, and Tobias seek refuge in a café containing a magic doorway. 

Iris and Attie enter the under realm, where they lull Dacre to sleep and Iris beheads him with the sword. Roman is freed by Shane.

Months later, Oath begins to rebuild. Iris and Roman move in together. Enva, now the sole remaining god, explores the under realm with newfound freedom.

Ruthless Vows Summary


Iris Elizabeth Winnow

Iris Elizabeth Winnow is one of the central characters in “Ruthless Vows.” A resilient and determined journalist, Iris’s journey throughout the novel is marked by her unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth and reuniting with her husband, Roman Kitt. 

Separated from Roman during the attack on Avalon Bluff, Iris’s life is further complicated by the trauma of wartime violence and the responsibility of living with her brother, Forest, who has been manipulated by Dacre. 

Her intelligence and resourcefulness shine as she uses the enchanted Alouette typewriter to communicate with Roman, showcasing her strategic thinking. Iris’s dreams about her mother, Aster, who is revealed to be Enva, add depth to her character, blending personal history with the broader conflict of the gods. 

Her courageous actions in the face of danger, including stealing the enchanted sword and killing Val, underscore her bravery and determination to protect those she loves.

Roman Carver Kitt

Roman Carver Kitt, Iris’s husband, is a war correspondent whose memory loss and subsequent service to Dacre create a complex narrative of identity and loyalty. 

Initially portrayed as a dedicated journalist, Roman’s character arc delves into the psychological impact of memory manipulation and trauma. His struggle to recall his past and his dreams about his sister and Iris reveal a deep sense of loss and confusion. 

Despite his amnesia, Roman’s innate decency and commitment to the truth remain, as evidenced by his covert correspondence with Iris and his ultimate recognition of her. 

His imprisonment in the under realm and subsequent rescue by Shane highlight his resilience and determination to overcome the control exerted by Dacre. 

Roman’s recovery and reunion with Iris symbolize hope and healing, reflecting the novel’s themes of identity and the necessity of pain in the healing process.

Forest Winnow

Forest Winnow, Iris’s older brother, is a tragic figure whose life is profoundly altered by the war and Dacre’s manipulation. 

Initially a soldier in Enva’s forces, Forest is mortally wounded and subsequently healed by Dacre, who steals his memories to ensure his loyalty. 

This loss of identity and autonomy makes Forest a poignant representation of the novel’s exploration of trauma and its effects on identity. Forest’s struggle to reconnect with his past and his ultimate demise in Dacre’s attack highlight the devastating consequences of war and manipulation. 

His relationship with his sister, Iris, adds an emotional layer to the narrative, emphasizing the personal costs of the larger conflict.

Thea “Attie” Attwood

Thea “Attie” Attwood, a fellow journalist and close friend of Iris, plays a crucial role in supporting Iris throughout their journey.

Attie’s determination and courage are evident as she accompanies Iris to the battlefront and engages in their covert mission to thwart Dacre. Her dreams of “Alzane’s Lullaby” and her subsequent preparation to play the violin piece to lull Dacre to sleep demonstrate her bravery and dedication. 

Attie’s presence provides emotional support for Iris, and her musical talent becomes instrumental in the novel’s climax, showcasing the power of art and creativity in the face of adversity.


Dacre, the Underling god and antagonist of the novel, embodies the destructive and manipulative forces of the war. 

His desire for revenge against Enva and his ruthless tactics in the conflict reveal his complex motivations and the dark aspects of his character. Dacre’s manipulation of humans, including Forest and Roman, highlights his strategic cunning and willingness to exploit others for his gain. 

His eventual downfall at the hands of Iris and Attie underscores the novel’s themes of justice and the ultimate triumph of good over evil.


Enva, the Skyward goddess and primary rival of Dacre, represents the duality of power and vulnerability. 

Her ability to absorb the powers of other gods and her manipulation of magical music illustrate her formidable strength. However, her vow not to kill Dacre due to their past marriage introduces a moral complexity to her character. 

Enva’s interactions with Iris, particularly the revelation of her true identity, add a mythological depth to the narrative and connect the personal struggles of the characters to the overarching divine conflict.

Tobias Bexley

Tobias Bexley, the post runner who assists Iris and Attie, is a secondary character whose loyalty and bravery contribute to the protagonists’ efforts. 

His role in delivering messages and helping the journalists navigate the war-torn landscape underscores the importance of communication and solidarity in times of crisis. 

Tobias’s actions, though less central to the plot, provide crucial support to Iris and Attie, highlighting the collaborative efforts needed to combat the novel’s antagonistic forces.

Marisol and Keegan

Marisol and Keegan, the hosts who shelter Iris and Attie in River Down, represent the resilience and solidarity of civilians caught in the crossfire of the gods’ war. 

Marisol’s bravery and Keegan’s role in Enva’s army illustrate the various ways individuals contribute to the war effort. 

Their interactions with Iris and Attie emphasize the novel’s themes of community and the shared struggle against oppressive forces.

Val and Lieutenant Shane

Val and Lieutenant Shane, Dacre’s trusted advisors, embody the loyalty and treachery within the ranks of the antagonist’s forces. 

Val’s role as an enforcer and his eventual death at Iris’s hands highlight the brutal nature of Dacre’s regime. Lieutenant Shane’s suspicion of Roman and his eventual betrayal by freeing him demonstrate the internal conflicts and shifting allegiances within Dacre’s camp. 

These characters add depth to the depiction of the antagonist’s forces, showcasing the complexities of loyalty and power.


Bruce, Roman’s father’s work associate who rescues him after the press conference bombing, represents the lingering connections to Roman’s past and the enduring bonds of loyalty. 

His actions highlight the importance of personal relationships and support systems in the midst of chaos, adding a humanizing element to Roman’s narrative.


How Trauma Shapes Identity

In “Ruthless Vows,” the theme of how trauma shapes identity is explored through the experiences of Iris Winnow and Roman Kitt. 

Both characters undergo profound changes as a result of the traumas they endure, particularly their separation and the subsequent loss of memories for Roman. 

Iris’s trauma stems not only from the physical dangers of war but also from the emotional toll of being separated from her husband and the grief over her brother Forest’s altered state and eventual death. 

Her determination to survive and reconnect with Roman illustrates how her identity evolves to include resilience and adaptability. 

For Roman, the erasure of his memories by Dacre represents a loss of self. His struggle to remember his past life and feelings showcases the importance of memory in forming one’s identity. 

As he gradually recalls his past, he grapples with integrating his old self with the person he has become under Dacre’s influence. 

Together, Iris and Roman’s journeys underscore the notion that trauma, while deeply scarring, also has the potential to forge new facets of identity and strength.

Pain’s Necessity to Healing

Pain’s necessity to healing is another central theme in the novel. The characters’ physical and emotional wounds are integral to their development and eventual recovery. 

Iris’s pain from losing her loved ones and the ongoing war fuels her drive to find Roman and bring an end to the conflict. Her grief and suffering are not just obstacles but also catalysts that push her towards action and growth. 

Roman’s pain, both from his physical injuries and the psychological turmoil of his lost memories, is crucial in his journey towards healing. His eventual recollection of his past and reunion with Iris symbolizes the healing power of love and memory. 

The narrative suggests that pain, while often unbearable, is a necessary step towards recovery and self-discovery. 

It is through enduring and confronting their pain that the characters are able to heal and rebuild their lives.

What Is Versus What Could Have Been

The theme of “What Is Versus What Could Have Been” permeates “Ruthless Vows” as characters reflect on their current realities and the paths not taken. 

Iris and Roman’s separation and subsequent reunion highlight the contrast between their present circumstances and the lives they might have led had the war and Dacre’s interference not occurred. 

This theme is particularly poignant in Roman’s struggle with his lost memories, as he contemplates the life he had versus the one he is forced to lead under Dacre’s influence. 

Similarly, Iris’s reflections on her life with her family and the changes wrought by war emphasize the stark differences between her past and present. The novel also delves into this theme through the broader conflict between Enva and Dacre, illustrating the devastation of war against the backdrop of a world that could have been peaceful and whole. 

The characters’ dreams and the potential futures they envision serve as a reminder of the impact of their choices and the enduring hope for a better future despite the challenges they face.