Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 301 pages
Rating: A List
Blurb: Prince Allen has trained his entire life to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious mother, who has made their kingdom one of the wealthiest and most influential in the empire. For the past few years he has trained to become the new consort of the High King. The only thing no one prepared him for was the stubborn, arrogant High King himself, who declares Allen useless and throws him out of court.
High King Sarrica is ruling an empire at war, and that war will grow exponentially worse if his carefully laid plans do not come to fruition. He’s overwhelmed and needs help, as much as he hates to admit it, but it must be someone like his late consort: a soldier, someone who understands war, who is not unfamiliar with or afraid of the harsher elements of rule. What he doesn’t need is the delicate, pretty little politician foisted on him right as everything goes wrong.
Publisher note: this is a highly expanded, completely re-written version of the free short that was previously available under the same title. (That free short was great, but this version is even better!)
Review: A great story that pulled me through a range of emotions and kept me smiling and laughing throughout. There were even a few tears that made it hard to see my ereader a time or two. I’m in love with this world and the people who inhabit it and am hoping that we will be returning again soon. I really want to see who finally snares Lesto’s heart.
There are some great characters and tons of banter and playful bickering. The kind that only happens with long and loving acquaintance. The Arseni brothers, Lesto and Rene, have been best friends with High King Sarrica for most of their lives. The way that Lesto and Rene supported Sarrica, and when he came into their lives Allen as well, was beautiful. They could have been resentful or petty towards the man who was coming into the place that their brother had been and instead they were voices of reason. They prodded healing, acceptance and creating a happy future. I adored them both.
This story has some length and weight. Which means that we get to know everyone. Relationships are forged as trust and affection are built amongst this tight knit group. When we finally see Allen and Sarrica as a couple their lives have become inextricably entwined. There is a slow build to any romance and many misunderstandings and blunders. Hurt feelings and tweaked pride make for some stupid decisions and risks. There are some dark and hopeless times. And when they finally start actually communicating we are so happy for them. They’ve earned their happy ending.
There are moments where both Sarrica and Allen need to be smacked. You can’t help but want to be the one who gets to do the smacking. At the same time they pull at your heartstrings and you can’t help wanting things to work out.
When Sarrica is so mean to Allen when they first meet I wanted Allen to flip Sarrica off and walk out. But Allen is smarter and more patient than I am. When Allen takes off to prove himself I felt like I do when you’re watching the scary movie and you’re yelling at the pretty but stupid people to not go off alone to investigate the scary places. And I was right and things did not go well for them. That’s an area where you might get a little teary eyed. While it was epically moronic it also was a vehicle for change and established Allen in the eyes of the soldiers and the kingdom in ways that years of diplomacy and interpretation couldn’t have duplicated.
I loved that Allen was smart and sweet, but also tough as nails and with the heart of a lion. That Sarrica was grumpy because he was overwhelmed, overworked and lonely not because he was mean. How both men became idiots who said the wrong thing or couldn’t say anything when they were together because it mattered too much. That neither of them could stop looking at the other and finding all the things that made them special. No matter how much they kept trying to talk themselves out of it. Their slow slide into love was a delight to watch.
This book is sexy and fun, lots of humor and action with soldiers and intrigue. The author created a world that doesn’t conform to our own standards and limits in regards to sexuality, gender, gender roles, or marriage. I liked the options there better. Highly enjoyed and heartily recommended. Seriously go get this book right now.
Reviewed by Nina