Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Rating: 3.5 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Prince Istari has spent his life reviled: his parents wish he had never been born, the royal court of Belemere avoids him for fear of angering the king, and everyone else is kept away by his notorious reputation as a deadly sharpshooter. Now a hostage of peace in Tallideth, he is subjected to their hatred as well—even that of Regent Vellem, who once considered him a comrade in arms.
Unexpected solace comes in the form of Lord Teverem, a sad, quiet lord who assumed the title when his brother was killed in the explosion for which Istari’s father is to blame. He is kind and sweet and a sorely needed bright spot in Istari’s life—until Istari meets his family and learns of a dangerous family secret with unexpected ties to Istari’s past, a secret that could drag Tallideth and Belemere right back into war…
Review: This story was pretty angsty. The first half is slow paced and I struggled with it a bit. Istari is subject to being held prisoner for his father’s role in the treachery in the first book. Istari loses everything including his fiancee thanks to his captivity. The anger and hurt of those around him is still fresh and those in the castle treat Istari like the enemy despite him not have played any role in the murders. Istari also has major debilitating injuries from his years as a soldier and assassin in his father’s army. He feels all alone until he runs into a man named Teverem. Teverem lost a majority of his family in the bombing but he’s still kind to Istari. He’s also thrust into taking the family position with the court and caring for three children orphaned. Istari offers him advice when solicited and the guys form a friendship. The story really picks up when we learn the real identity of one of the children. The enemies seek to kidnap the child for their own power. This leads to a marriage in name only between Istari and Teverem in an attempt to keep the children safe.
After finishing the first book in this series, The Engineered Throne, I wanted to pick up the next one as soon as possible. I was surprised this was Istari’s book given his minimal role in the first book. Although the second book lacked the intensity the first book it was still a pretty good read. I did feel like he plot relies pretty heavily on he characters being careless or taking their safety for granted. This became frustrating considering there are multiple assassination and kidnapping attempts. I realize the bad guys are going to keep trying until they accomplish their goal but for me that just meant those in danger and those meant to protect them should have been more aware. I did enjoy a lot of the characters in this book. Istari has some interesting friends and his relationship with his brother was nice to see. Istari the bastard son of the King. A King that used him as a killer his most of his life. Istari was good at it and had long ago resolved his life was not his own but belonged to his father. He does feel guilt over all the people he’s murdered. He doesn’t feel worthy of Teverem despite being a Prince. Their romance is a slow build. I’m not always a fan of children in my books but the kids were pretty cute and they gave the guys a reason to bond beyond their attraction. I liked this book but not quite as much as the first one. I am looking forward to the next one if it’s about one of the characters from the first book.