Title: The Queen’s Librarian
Author: Carole Cummings
Length: 68,666 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy**
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None (a couple, fade to black)
Keywords/Tags: Established Relationships, Magic, Alternate World Historical, Animals/Pets, Otherworlds, Royalty, Funny Guys
Rating: Really Liked It
All Lucas Tripp wants is prosperity for the tenants of his family’s estate; good weather for the harvest; suitable matches for his sisters; a little money left over at the end of the month; and more quality time with his boyfriend, Alex Booker. That’s not so much to ask for, right?
Wrong. When his sister’s new suitor suddenly disappears, Lucas is drawn into an adventure of a lifetime—kicking and screaming all the way. Magical beings who were allegedly banished hundreds of years ago are coming through portals that were supposed to be shut against them—and that’s only part of Lucas’s problem. The rest consists of missing princes, breaking and entering, suspicious magicians, well-meaning women who are far too interested in Lucas’s sex life… the list goes on. Lucas is decidedly Not Amused, but he’ll get over it someday. Probably. After all, there’s always Alex.
Oh Carole… I just had so much fun reading that. You know, Carole has said several times that she thanks Fen for this book. Fen, for those of you who might not know, is her main character from the Wolf’s-own series and his head is just a mess of angst. It’s all for good reason because Fen lives in a really messed up world, but back to Carole. She has said that she needed to go somewhere happy, somewhere carefree after spending so much time (4 novels!) in his head. And I’m glad she did. This book is definitely the antithesis of those, of course with the exception of writing talent. I’m glad that I knew that about this book going in, because otherwise I might have been expecting a more serious style than her previous two series.
The book opens with one of the most hilarious chapters I’ve ever read. It is so easy to become endeared with Lucas, especially in the inner drunk ramblings of his mind at his first visit to a tavern. Trouble doesn’t really come until he’s had one too many and decides that it wouldn’t be too unseemly to have a pee outside, where he promptly becomes entangled with a bush. In a cruel twist of fate, someone seems him — pants partially open and wrestling with the arms of his coat — a man with long silver hair and speaking a lot of nonsense. It doesn’t seem too strange in his ale fuzzy brain when the man simply disappears after a whole lot of yelling words that neither understands back and forth but well, he’s still stuck in the bush.
When the man starts turning up in strange places to again shout incomprehensible words at him, Lucas starts to become alarmed. Especially when the man starts stealing his books. But it isn’t until his sister’s suitor disappears and Lucas is begged to find him that he runs into the man again, this time speaking some words Lucas understands. What he hears alarms him, especially because it appears that the man wants something from him and in the meantime intends to kidnap his cousin the prince as a trade. Lucas is so dead for losing the prince, but he knows that he has to do something to get Laurie back.
Really, the best part of this book are the characters. There is such a wonderful cast of characters that all have their own well-rounded personalities, characteristics and motives. But they have such a great banter. In reading the prior work from Carole Cummings, I always admired her writing which is at the same time intelligent and accessible, but I also never knew that she could write in such a playful way! It is really a delight to read. And just the same as it was for her, I think this is a really good book to read when you need a break from something, or from reading a more intense book. When I first talked to her about this book she referred to it as fluff, to which I immediately replied that I thought she could probably never write fluff. But I know exactly what she means now. This is a book you should read just for the pure enjoyment of getting out of your own head and into someone else’s for a while. And Lucas’ head isn’t a bad place to be 😉
There is quite a lot of banter between the characters, but mostly in the narration. Carole has written Lucas to have an imaginative mind that often banters with itself. That’s why I think this is a good book to read when you really need a break, because while the plot in this story is interesting in and of itself, sometimes the focus wavers from it to Lucas’ own thoughts, and those often take precedence over the action. Now, if you followed my advice then this is just a nice detour, but if you’re really focused on the plot and pacing then you might find yourself swept away on the tide of his thoughts. Sometimes the banter — Lucas’ runaway thoughts — seem to get in the way of the action a bit. And while I always enjoyed what he was thinking (and occasionally talking about with Alex) sometimes the timing is inopportune. Occasionally I wanted to smack him and tell him to pay attention!
Still, that is minor criticism on my part and I really, sincerely hope that Carole continues to explore this quirky side of her writing. Hopefully in the future we can get those style alternately — a book like Fen’s that rips out your heart and completely sweeps you away and then something later to cool you down and look on the sunny side of life.
**I didn’t categorize this as a romance. This is really a fantasy book to me. Sure, Lucas is madly in love with Alex and vice versa, but the story isn’t about their relationship. Their relationship is part of the story.
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors A-C, Fantasy, Heat 1 - Sweet/None, Sex Freq 1 - None Tags: Alternate World Historical, Animals, Carole Cummings, Dreamspinner Press, Existing Relationship, Funny Guys, Magic, Otherworlds, Pets, Royalty
Title: Find a Way (Prince and Trader #2)
Author: RG Green
Length: 74,653 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Series Finale?, Sword & Sorcery, Magic, Battle/War, Friends to Lovers, Royalty, Childhood Friends, Secrets & Lies, Family Issues, HEA
Rating: Pretty Good
**This review contains spoilers for those who have not read the prior book, And So It Begins.
Passion has blossomed from the lifelong friendship between Kherin Rylle, the second prince of Llarien, and Derek Resh, a trader employed by the crown. But left on his own in the border city of Gravlorn, Kherin soon draws the anger of the Defenders and his own brother as charges of cowardice and treason are thrown at his feet. Meanwhile, the increasingly dangerous attacks of the northerners bring more than the threat of war to Llarien’s border. Rumors of an ancient northern magic promise a danger far greater than war, and Kherin can’t say the rumors aren’t true.
Only now he has to learn the truth on his own.
Derek left Gravlorn in search of answers for the unexpected happenings at the border, and although Kherin is determined to keep what they found together, growing tensions, hidden jealousies, and unforeseen revelations about the northern lands threaten to take away everything he has worked to gain. As the border grows more dangerous, Kherin faces the reality that courage and honor may not be enough to end the northern threat, and love may not be enough for Derek and Kherin to find happiness.
To see my review of And So It Begins from last Friday, click here.
I will admit that I’m a little bit confused. This review came down to the wire, writing this right at 7am Monday morning because I wanted to get the review up for release day. So, I didn’t have time to look around and try to find out more about this series. So, if anyone does know and I make a mistake in my review, please let me know. From what I can gather only from reading these two books, they were one book that was broken in two. For some reason I had assumed that there were more after this but from the way this ended, which pretty much everything wrapped up and with and HEA, this is the final book in the Prince and Trader series.
We left And So it Begins with Kherin in Gravlorn at the northern border of Llarien in a war against the people of the Northern Plains. They have been sneaking into the Defender camp seemingly at will and no one, including the princes, can figure out how. Or, more importantly — why. And then after their confrontations no one can figure out how they slink away back across the border. Kherin’s plan, while his brother Adrien is still getting better from his own run in with the northern tribes, is twofold: either try to figure out what is going on and get some information from the northern prisoner he captured, or try to sneak across the border with a small contingent of Defenders to find some information about the people they’re fighting.
In the meantime, Kherin’s new relationship with the King’s trader, Derek, is on the rocks. Though they committed to one another on the eve of Derek’s departure to gain more information in the seaside port of Dennor, where a revolution has been stirring among the children of the city officials to find the magical power of the ancient people to use for themselves, Kherin and Derek’s separation leave them both unsure of the other’s real feelings. Still, Derek has his duty to the King, Kherin’s father, to find out all the information he can and no one has a better idea of how that information might help Kherin’s current war more than Derek. The information he finds in Dennor is more than he ever expected. The scholar Dar is there, waiting for him in his alley way and still denying the uprising their information. But, Derek meets another man there he never expected, Tristan. The man who was fired from his job in the royal stables because of his sexual relationship with the prince has grown violent in his anger, and may pose a threat that the trader and prince never expected.
It is only when the two can find themselves reconciled and able to share information that they might finally understand what is going on and find a way to save Llarien for good.
As I mentioned before, I do think that some of my enjoyment of this book was robbed. Maybe that’s a harsh word. But, all I know is that because this was labeled as a series I suppose I had the idea that this wasn’t the end. So my mind kept expecting the book to go farther than where it did. I don’t lay the blame for that anywhere in particular. I certainly could have done more research to find out if this was just really one book that was broken up and I wouldn’t have had that problem. But I will also say that I probably wouldn’t have had that problem if this book was presented as just a standalone book, even if it was around 150k words in the end. Maybe that’s a hard sell, such a long book for Dreamspinner. I don’t know all the reasons that went into the choice to split this book up into two, it might be something else completely that I don’t know. So, it’s fine and I understand. But, I would like to see more from this couple. Because even though my expectations weren’t met, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t really like this book (counting as one, of course). The writing is simply beautiful and I’ve already gone back to find the books that I’ve missed by RG Green to read.
Because of the split, I did feel like I lost a bit of the romantic momentum in the second book. The first book is continuous in the relationship between Kherin and Derek, right up until the end where their relationship solidifies. I think that the split in the book added with their separation in the book for the first half of this sequel lost some of those momentum and I never quite found the same tension between them. This book, the second half of the story, was almost entirely about the external plot. And while it did come together nicely, I think I did feel a bit of a letdown because I was expecting the book to go further than it did, so the wrap-up seemed a little too nice. I’m not letting that affect the rating, because as I said before I don’t want to place the blame for that in any specific place, especially when I could have, hopefully, found out that information myself, but it is the way it is.
But this book really made me appreciate this author’s writing. These two books are the first I’ve read by RG Green, and I’m looking forward to reading more in the future. Hopefully, she’ll continue writing fantasy as well even if she’s finished with this couple and world. It would be nice to see their journey’s however, if she does have anything more planned for them 🙂 So, definitely, I recommend these books. I really liked them and I had a great time with this story. Just make sure you have both books handy to read back to back 😉
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors G-I, Fantasy, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Battles/War, Childhood Friends, Dreamspinner Press, Family Issues, Friends to Lovers, HEA, Magic, Prince and Trader, RG Green, Royalty, Secrets & Lies, Series, Series Finale, Swords & Sorcery
Title: Sky Hunter (Skybound #3)
Author: Fae Sutherland
Length: 53k words
Genre: m/m Sci Fi Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Series, Series Finale, Netgalley, Space Opera, Royalty, Second Chances, Secrets & Lies, Unrequited Love, Bounty Hunter, Coup d’état, X-Dress
Rating: Pretty Good
Jeret hasn’t looked back since running away from life as a crown prince and joining the Crux Ansata’s crew, but when the Ansata returns to his home system, he finds his father ill and a traitor maneuvering for control. Now that he’s a full-grown man, he can’t just walk away again.
Letting Jeret escape was the biggest black mark on bounty hunter Dagan Nu’aim’s otherwise distinguished years as a royal guard. When he catches Jeret back in-system, Dagan seizes the chance to regain his lost honor and bring the wayward prince home.
Jeret’s not so sure he wants to go, but the reignition of his old crush on Dagan complicates the issue. As the two unravel a tangled plot against the crown, their old friendship lights up with a fiery new desire. And when the traitor strikes and the two men must choose between duty and freedom, neither is certain which to pick.
I’ve been looking forward to this Skybound series finale ever since the first book when I knew I wanted to read Jeret’s story most. I think that a lot of other readers have felt that way too, at least from what I’ve seen. Of all the crew of the Annie, Jeret is the one who seems to have the most secrets. He’s secretive himself, but enigmatic and funny at times, always with a smart quip in response to the others and always wanting to prove himself since he’s the youngest and in many ways considered the baby on board by Torrin. Whether it was intended by the author for Jeret to become such a favorite, I’m not sure. But it does mean that a lot of people who read this series were eagerly awaiting his story, which gives this third book in the series a lot of pressure to stand up to.
Of all the secrets that Jeret could have had… I never expected that he’s a runaway prince! That in itself was a surprise, that I wish that I had found out in the book and not the blurb. But, it’s a good hook to bring people to the story, even if they haven’t been reading the series up till now. The runaway prince is a solid character that always seems to draw in readers. Torrin, Rain and Jeret are the only ones left on the Annie after Cookie left in Sky Runners to live with his new love Neith, who the crew rescued from an intergalactic brothel where Neith had been sold and kept against his will as a whore. Now, with the crew reduced to three and two of those — Torrin and Rain — in a relationship themselves, Jeret feels a bit like the third wheel. Add in the fact that he was always seen as the baby of the crew anyway, and it had Jeret thinking about his past.
When Torrin announces that they’re headed to a planet near the one that Jeret escaped from, he does everything he can to convince Torrin and Rain that heading for a job there is a bad idea, especially when he learns that Torrin has agreed to ferry a shipment that must have come from his home planet. Jeret knows that something is wrong if those on his planet are smuggling off the expensive ore, underneath the nose of the COP, but his caution is ignored by the others.
When they land on the nearby planet, Jeret has no idea that Dagan — once the man who was his guard, his best friend, and the man who held his unrequited love as a 15 year old crown prince — has resumed the search for the heir to the empire under the name of his king. When Jadakira (Jeret’s real name) escaped as he always wanted to do at 15, Dagan lost everything. His failure to protect the prince led to the loss of his whole world and his ultimate banishment from the planet. But Dagan knows Jadi well and it only takes him six months to track his whereabouts and learn about his tenure as part of the Crux Ansata’s crew.
But Jeret, no matter his remaining feelings for the man he once loved as a kid, will not allow anyone to return him to his home planet. He has never had a desire to be king and what he loves most is the mechanics of the Annie, his crew and their adventures in space. His birthright is a cage he escaped years ago. But when he learns that his father, the King, is dying and a traitor planetside is angling to steal the throne, Jeret knows that he has to find the culprit. But he’ll fight Dagan and his “duty” to the King the whole way, and hopefully in the end be able to return to the life he wants to lead.
There are parts of this book that I really enjoyed. There is quite a bit of history between Jeret and Dagan and I thought that their relationship played out beautifully. Both are stubborn and refuse to budge from their ultimate goal: Jeret to return his home planet to the way it should be and then return to the crew of the Annie; and Dagan wants to help Jadi, still not quite understanding his true desires. The fact that Dagan failed in his duty all those years ago is a mark against his pride and he will do everything to return Jadi to his father before his death. The reconciliation of their desires takes most of the book and we really get to see their stubbornness play out against each other over and over, though not too far as to be frustrating. The push and pull between them gave the story the most enjoyment for me, because as the story evolves and they learn to work together for a common goal their true feelings come to matter more than their pride.
On the other hand, I was pretty disappointed in the external plot. The plot to overthrow the king and Jeret and Dagan’s plan to ferret out the traitor. For most of the book the tension mounted and they moved closer and closer but the ending really fizzled for me. First, the traitor was not who I expected, but that was because I never felt as if they were introduced into the plot to even become a suspect. I’m not a big fan of when authors do that. The culprit should have been introduced much earlier. And second because the final confrontation, while a bit satisfying for the characters, seemed a bit… anticlimactic.
So the real interest for me in this story was Jeret, and his love interest Dagan. I enjoyed their back and forth courtship, and I will admit that the tension created by the external plot was more of a device to play into their feelings for one another than the other way around. I think that if you read this story alone, without reading the first two then you might not have the prior interest in the characters to make this a very satisfactory read. I read this because I’d read the first two, and I had an interest in learning more about Jeret. And while I did find what I wanted, this book as a complete story was a little bit disappointing.
So, I recommend this for those of you who, like me, have read both Sky Riders and Sky Runners. For all the books, I found the romances in them the best part of the books. Looking back at this as a series, I would have probably enjoyed more of a central story arc over the whole series that drew them together. But, they are the way they are 😉 And I did find enjoyment from them.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors S-U, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, SciFi, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Bounty Hunters, Carina, Coup d'état, Fae Sutherland, Netgalley, Royalty, Second Chances, Secrets & Lies, Series, Series Finale, Skybound, Space Travel, Unrequited Love, X-Dress
Title: And So It Begins (Prince and Trader #1)
Author: RG Green
Length: 80,031 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy!
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Sword & Sorcery, Magic, Battle/War, Royalty, Friends to Lovers, Childhood Friends, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Really Liked It
For hundreds of years, the kingdom of Llarien has maintained a defense against the barbarians. Now, activity at the border draws attention from Kherin Rhylle, the less-favored younger son of the king. Kherin suspects a deeper purpose behind the attacks, but his father refuses to grant permission to travel to the border, despite Kherin’s obligated tenure as a Defender. Not even unprecedented deaths or the serious injury of Kherin’s brother, the crown prince, can change the king’s mind.
Then Derek Resh, kingdom trader and Kherin’s closest friend, convinces the king to allow Kherin to travel with him, and an unexpected journey to the border proves the threat real—while an unexpected intimacy with Derek makes Kherin realize that his feelings go deeper than the friendship they have shared for most of his life. But even that turns devastating, as Derek won’t pursue anything more intimate when the king’s disapproval is certain.
Grasping at straws, Kherin is caught between a danger he doesn’t understand and the desire for a deeper relationship he can’t have. And then there’s the magic that threatens to return after being banished hundreds of years ago…
This is the first book by this author that I read, and I was intrigued immediately from the blurb, but I’ve been sitting on it for a month or so now not tempted enough to read it yet when I have so many other pressing reviews to do. But when I saw that I’d have to make a decision to keep reviewing the series with the release of the second book (Find a Way) this week, I decided to give it a try. And I’m very pleasantly surprised by what I found. Just a tease for the other side of the summary 😉
Kherin Rhylle is the second prince of Llarien. At the start of the novel, he’s laid up by a broken leg, left to sifting through the books in the royal library while off of his feet. He is supposed to be fulfilling his current post at the border in the north, where Llarien borders the Northern lands. And he is not happy that his older brother Adrien, the Crown Prince, is currently fulfilling his duty at the border, a post that every man of Llarien takes for three months of the year at the start of their seventeenth birthday. Instead, Kherin is left to his idle games at the castle, which include his well-known promiscuous sex life (currently with the stable boy Tristan) and the enmity between his father and himself.
The only reprieve is Derek, one of his best friends and a highly valued trader by his father. Derek is a master trader, traveling Llarien and trading in secrets which he brings back to his father. He’s a master indeed at hearing what the people are saying and in plying and bartering for sensitive information. But that also means that Derek is always leaving and rarely staying in any one place for a significant length of time. Derek has brought interesting news, that a northerner was apparently found and killed and of growing instability from the sons of nobles of one of Llarien’s most valuable ports. These young men are stirring a rebellion. But it isn’t until word travels back to the castle of the injury of his brother Adrien and of the mass simultaneous attacks from large groups of northerners that Kherin really feels useless. A request from his son won’t go far to convince him that Kherin needs activity and to do something helpful for his brother and the country, but a stern warning from his trusted trader that Kherin’s behavior might spin further out of control if he’s given nothing constructive to do is just the thing that Kherin needs to get out of the capital, and to follow Derek on his next trip.
The first and maybe most important thing that you really need to know going into this series is how slow the pace is. We’re given much time to get to know the characters, which I love, but the plot moves very slowly. In fact, I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to tell you that by the end of the first book much less happened than I thought it would. Still, I was really into it, but I might have been more upset if I didn’t have the second book to immediately start reading. The style of writing in this fantasy reminds me a great deal of Ann Somerville’s writing in Kei’s Gift. That book is a total of 300k words, but it is okay because it isn’t broken up. My suspicion is that this is a choice by Dreamspinner, but I really wish that the book was kept in tact. Of course, I’m going on assumption here, but the ending of the first book seems as if it was just the first part of one book that was split into smaller pieces. And while the author did a pretty admirable job to give this first book a climax, it’s done in the romance and not the external fantasy plot. That means, of course that you pay more. Now, I hate to say this since I’m getting this book for free in trade of a review, but I would pay for these books, even if I had to pay double. I mean, I pay more for other books anyway. But it does change how you read this series. The fact that only a month separates the release dates shows me that the second book was already written. Anyway, what that means is that I’m really glad that I waited to read this first book until I had the second in hand. And I’ll tell you now that the first book is worth it now that the second is coming out. I only hope that it is either the end of the series or that the third and following books will come as quickly.
I’ll have much more to tell you about the story when I finish and review the second book this week. But I will say that I think the romance in this story is so far going superbly, with lots of natural tension and angst between Kherin and Derek and the (im)possibility of a future relationship between them because of the king. As for the fantasy plot, well… it’s coming. There is still so little known at the end of the first book that I hesitate to really get into it, other than to say that pretty much everything is an unknown and up in the air at this point. As I said before, I like that style of writing, but I also prefer the books to not be so cut up…. but, fair enough. So, if you’re a fantasy fan then I definitely recommend you get your hands on this one right away, if you haven’t yet, so that you’re ready to start the second book, Find a Way, when it is released this Monday. See you then 😉
Posted by Cole in 5 Really Like It, 76-100k, Authors G-I, Fantasy, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Battles/War, Childhood Friends, Dreamspinner Press, Friends to Lovers, Magic, Prince and Trader, RG Green, Royalty, Secrets & Lies, Series, Swords & Sorcery
Title: The Battle for Galerir (The Galerir Saga #2)
Author: Anna Lee
Length: 68k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty (1 really hot scene!)
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Dragons, Sweet & Light, Battles/War, Warriors, Knights, Royalty, Death, Established Couple, Meet the Parents, Magic, Mages/Sorcerers, gods, Secrets & Lies, Middle Book
Rating: Pretty Good
**Review contains spoilers for those who have not read the first book in the series**
Sword against sword, magik against magik, dragon against dragon, the Battle for Galerir is being waged and victory will come with great sacrifice.
A traitorous plot seals King Antony’s fate and the enemy is days away from reaching the kingdom of Galerir. Prince Tomas must become regent and ensure Galerir is prepared for war. Tomas must also learn to balance duty and love when he lifts the ban on magik and fights for the chance to openly love his knight, Griffin. Together, he and Griffin face their destiny.
After reading and reviewing the first book in this series, The Prince of Galerir in February of this year, I was excited and interested to see where Anna Lee would take this story. I had quite a bit of criticism for her then, even though I really enjoyed reading the story, and I was particularly interested to see the writing in this sequel. I wasn’t disappointed 🙂
We left Tomas and Griffin in the end of the first book in the capital city of Galerir and in the castle. Tomas has been accepted by the people and crowned as Crown Prince Tomas, nephew of King Antony of Galerir. Tomas didn’t know his uncle for all of his life, and only learned about his real heritage and family in the first book, after the events were set in motion for war for Galerir from a lost descendant eager for the throne and the weakened health of Antony. Until then, he was the son of a lord and his best friend is Griffin, now his knight. The two grew up together and fell in love. And only when it was the choice of a life married to a girl he doesn’t care about (and he’s gay) or running away with Griffin did the two admit their feelings — with a little help from a baby dragon they found and bonded with that helped them share their true emotions. But then, Tomas found out that King Antony was really his uncle and that he’d been hidden away until he was needed to secure the lineage and the throne.
This sequel carries forward in the outside plot more than the romantic plot. Tomas and Griffin are quite in love and committed to one another. They are engaged, and ready to change the laws that say one man cannot marry and love another, and eager to come out to the people themselves. Until that time however, they have a lot to deal with. Galerir is preparing for war from the lost descendant of one of the past kings and the rogue, evil dragon named Ator that he convinced to help him in his cause. King Antony is growing weaker and may be dying if they cannot find a cure to what is ailing him. And that means that Prince Tomas has even more duties than normal, acting as interim Regent while his uncle Antony is bedridden. Can they find those across the border that once had to flee Galerir when magik was made illegal? Will the elves, centaurs and dragons there help them in trying to unite Galerir as it once was? And will it be in time to stop the war that is coming?
I was really, really pleased with the writing in this story. I thought that Anna Lee’s writing grew leaps and bounds between the first book and this book. Perhaps it is also that Griffin and Tomas have been together a while and now are committed rather than very new lovers, but I also felt that the overly sweet and constant declarations of love were way toned down. Their relationship is still very sweet, but most of the tension and conflict in this series is not internal, but rather external. However, I really liked that their relationship grew in this book, and that was partly done because they, at times, but heads and argue. I loved that. I liked seeing a more dynamic relationship between them. The other reason that they grew together was the appearance of Griffin’s family, especially his father whom he has a rocky and abusive relationship with.
I got confused a few times. I’m not going to really spoiler you here, but I will tell you that this book ends with the end of the war. At least, I assume that’s the case unless the next book is going to introduce an even bigger villain that we didn’t know about. But, a few times I wondered if I had it wrong and this wasn’t the second book in a three-part series. Was this a duology and the battle and the end of the war was the end of the series? That is typically the end of the series arc in fantasy stories. But, according to the info at the end of the book, the third book Reuniting Galerir is to continue and I assume finish the series with Tomas and Griffin’s adventures to visit the magikal creatures I mentioned earlier to reunite the country. If that’s the case, then I’m really excited for the third book. The structure of the overall plot arc was not what I was expecting at all, but I’m excited by it. The forte of this story isn’t the politics of the world and the war, those act simply as a catalyst to explore the magikal world, creatures and people and mostly the relationship between Tomas and Griffin. It is, if I could describe it well enough, a more sweet and gentle exploration of a fantasy. I like that. I liked the first book okay, but after reading the second one I’m really interested and hooked on the series.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors J-L, Fantasy, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Anna Lee, Battles/War, Death, Dragons, Existing Relationship, gods, Knights, Light & Sweet, Mage, Magic, Meet the Parents, Middle Book, MLR Press, Royalty, Secrets & Lies, Series, The Galerir Saga, Warriors
Title: A Knight to Remember
Author: Anne Barwell
Length: 65,490 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Dragons, Royalty, Alternate Reality Historical, Quests, Secrets & Lies, Merlin-fic, Magic, Mages, Shifters, Amnesia
Rating: So So
**This review contains some spoilers**
“The last of your line will be in the embrace of a dragon.”
Aric, Crown Prince of Astria, has been brought up to believe that all dragons are evil. But when he speaks with one, he finds himself questioning those beliefs. The dragon tells him to find a sword in Sherwin Forest to save not only his kingdom but also his sister, Georgia, who must otherwise wed the prince of a neighboring kingdom.
At the start of his quest, Aric dons a disguise and meets Denys, an archer and herbalist who lives alone at the edge of the forest. Denys agrees to guide Aric into the forest, but then Georgia appears, revealing Aric’s true identity.
However, Aric learns he is not the only one keeping secrets. Denys has a few of his own that could change both of their lives forever.
I was immediately drawn to this book for two reasons. First, I’ve wanted to read an Anne Barwell book forever. I’ve bought all of her’s as they’ve come out. They’ve all seemed rather interesting to me but for some reason I’ve never had time to actually read them. So I was really excited that she had written another book, which secondly, seemed rather Merlin-esque. You’ve got a crown prince, a king that has banished magic and is a pretty crappy father, and the fable of dragons which are supposed to be extinct, but really aren’t. How could I refuse, right? It’s like Merlin, but with gay guys!
And my reading went much like I thought it would, at least for the first half of the book, roughly. We meet Aric, the crown prince living under his father’s thumb and doing just about everything he can to make his own way and hold true to his own beliefs under such a stifling reign. His father has banished magic and Aric and his twin sister have grown up with quite a biased education about their history and the history of magic and magical beings in Astria. His beliefs are challenged when he once again sneaks out to visit his aunt, his dead mother’s sister — a forbidden act by his father — and is instead greeted in a forest glade by an ancient dragon. He’s baffled to see it at all (believing them to be extinct) and even more confused when the dragon doesn’t show the signs of aggression he was taught. Instead, the dragon speaks to him, the most surprising thing of all, and tells him that to save his kingdom and his sister, he must set out on a quest to seek the sword hidden in Sherwin Forest.
The Sherwin Forest is legend, a dark place said to once be the home of magic and dragons themselves, a place where no living person returns. But Aric must believe that what the dragon said was true. Their kingdom is in danger from their allies and a marriage treaty that would see his twin sister Georgia married off to the son of the neighboring King. Aric doesn’t trust them, however. It isn’t, as his father thinks, because he won’t let go of his sister, but because of a treacherous conversation he overheard, in which Georgia will become a pawn for their so-called allies to take over Astria. Georgia would just become a pawn and her happiness means more to Aric than anything else, even the kingdom he’ll one day rule.
My experience reading this book was good and disappointing at the same time. The first half of the book had me enthralled. I love a good sword and sorcery story and the first half of this book started well and continued strongly. Soon after Aric sets off to find his way to retrieve the sword from the fabled forest, he meets a handsome man in the woods that seems to have a special magical affinity, no matter how much he denies it. The man, Denys, is keeping his own secrets, but seems to believe what he says, which only makes him more mysterious. He reluctantly decides to help Aric, of whom he also knows very little. But Denys knows what happens to those who venture into the forest and how strange it is — how it can mess with your mind and how changed you are if you can make it back out. His strong and confusing connection to Aric make him want to help.
For me, this story really changed while they were in the forest. While I don’t begrudge an author a choice in their own book simply because it’s a plot device that I’m really not fond of (amnesia), that was the turning point for me in this book because after that the story seemed to collapse in on itself. Before that point, about midway through the book, there seemed to be a clear drive in the plot with their trek through the forest and getting to know each other. Afterwards, the story seemed to explode in different directions and it all became a little confusing for me. I felt like maybe the story wasn’t sure where it wanted to go. And yes, while it did eventually come back around, it felt like it was leaving out quite a bit of the story. I mean, it didn’t feel finished, which brings me to another issue. I wondered if this was the beginning of a sequel. If it is, then I really wish that Dreamspinner would promote it as such. That has happened before with some their books, where they’re the first part of a series but it isn’t written about anywhere. And maybe that decision comes later — it’s possible — but that changes my perspective on how I read the book and it definitely means that I consider the book in a different light. If it isn’t a first book in a series, then this story felt greatly unfinished. I didn’t particularly feel like the romance was finished but the main plot seems like an early part of a much longer story.
I pretty much knew the direction that the story was going to go — the main “surprise” if you will — from reading the blurb and at the very least from the minute that Aric meets Denys just after he speaks to the dragon. It’s not a very big leap to assume that is the case. And I was right. I suppose what disappointed me was the confusion in the way it got there. It seemed a bit messy. I have avoided, so far, reading other reviews for this book, but I would be interested now in taking a look or talking to anyone else who read this to see what they think. It’s possible, of course, that I just didn’t “get” this one and that it wasn’t for me. Maybe it’s the author’s style, as this is the first book of her’s that I’ve read. But part of me thinks not, since I felt such a change between the first half and the second half.
No matter my ultimately feelings, however, I still liked the book okay. I just wanted to like it a lot more.
Posted by Cole in 3 So So, 41-75k, Authors A-C, Fantasy, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Alternate World Historical, Amnesia, Anne Barwell, Dragon Shifters, Dragons, Dreamspinner Press, Mage, Magic, Merlin-fic, Quests, Royalty, Secrets & Lies, Shifters