Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A modern retelling of a classic
Scavenge the Stars, by Tara Sim
The story is modeled on The Count of Monte Cristo. It takes place on another world, but I'm not sure whether to call it AF or fantasy: there's no magic, and no technology beyond pistols.
At age 10, Amaya is forced into slavery aboard a fishing boat to pay off her father's debts. At 17, she saves a drowning man, and he helps her escape. They plot revenge on the merchant who owned the slave vessel, and Amaya reinvents herself as a "Countess."
The merchant's son, Cayo, is a semi-reformed playboy, trying not to fall back into drinking and compulsive gambling. His beloved sister needs expensive medical care that his family can no longer afford. Naturally, he and the "Countess" have an unpleasant first meeting, then try to use each other for their respective goals - or are they developing feelings for each other. There's a lot of scheming and betrayal, and nobody is who they seem to be, including Amaya's rescuer, Cayo's father, or even Amaya's deceased parents.
A lot of the characters are LGBTQ+, including Cayo, who is bisexual or pansexual. A male ex-lover of his plays a pivotal role at the beginning of the story, and I was surprised that the character disappeared from the rest of the story.
There were a couple of surprisingly violent scenes for a YA book, particularly toward children.
The ending ties up some of the plot threads, while leaving some mysteries to be solved in the second book in the duology, Ravage the Dark.