Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Rating: 5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: All Rath wants is a quiet, peaceful life. Unfortunately, his father brings him too much trouble—and too many debts to pay—for that to ever be possible. When the local crime lord drags Rath out of bed and tells him he has three days to pay his father’s latest debt, Rath doesn’t know what to do. There’s no way to come up with so much money in so little time.
Then a friend poses an idea just ridiculous enough to work: enter the Tournament of Losers, where every seventy-five years, peasants compete for the chance to marry into the noble and royal houses. All competitors are given a stipend to live on for the duration of the tournament—funds enough to cover his father’s debt.
All he has to do is win the first few rounds, collect his stipend, and then it’s back to trying to live a quiet life…
Review: Pretty sure this one is going on my favorites shelf. I started this and read way into the early hours of the morning because I didn’t want to put it down. AND I don’t regret it one bit. I’m floating on a book high and lots of caffeine! This is a story about the nobles and the common folk and the Tournament Of Losers that brings them together. The MCs Rath and Tress are a very unlikely pair but they’re so good together. For me this book gave me a wonderful romance and a compelling story with great world building.
Rath has always struggled to get by. He works at the docks and sells his body when needed for money. Rath’s father is always getting him into debts with unsavory people. Which is why he’s forced to enter the Tournament of Losers. A series of competitions where the victors get to marry into a noble family. Hence no more being a poor poppers. Rath spends a fun sex filled night with Tress, an obvious High City man who has never known struggle like Rath a day in his life. Rath enjoys their time together but when he leaves his bed he never expects to see him again. When Tress keeps popping up Rath can’t help but wonder why. He knows Tress will eventually get tired of slumming it so he tries not to care for him. Of course that isn’t the way it goes at all. There’s a clause in the tournament that prohibits any unfair help from the noble families. Since Tress is one of the men who will be married off at the end of this thing he feels it’s best to not reveal his family name to Rath. The tournament also puts a time stamp on their affair because at the end of this thing they’ll both be promised to marry other people. Their rendezvous have to be secret so there’s also that forbidden charge that adds to the intensity of their time together. Rath never wanted to win. He just wanted the money to pay off his debt. He intends to quit but being the kind hardworking honest man that he is he helps him stumble his way through qualifying rounds in the most endearing ways.
I found the entire tournament and the people we meet along the way a lot of fun to read about. Lots of great characters that add to the richness of the story. I loved Rath and Tress as a couple. Neither are perfect but that just made them more endearing to me. They’re from very different worlds. I like reading about couples from different social standings falling in love. Theirs goes from a fun one night stand to sneaking around to falling in love. Tress is obviously smitten with Rath since he does most of the pursuing in this book. Well, that and the fact Rath has no idea how to track him down. Doesn’t matter because Tress goes out of his way to be with and help Rath. I also like how they learned to from each other. Rath learned not all High City people are as bad as he’d thought. He also learned it’s okay to dream big. Growing up hard had crushed a little of his hopes and dreams but the process of the tournament and finding Tress brought them alive again.
This book had a fairy tale feel to it which I really enjoyed. It’s all tempered in a little grit as to not come off too sweet. The MCs are adorable together. I loved every minute of their page time together. The teasing back and forth was a lot of fun. The cover is beautiful. This is a book I’d love to have in paperback form. I think the ending was was obvious but I didn’t care one bit. I loved this book. I obviously highly recommend it.