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    A unique and engaging read

    Megan Derr is one of my favourite LGBT authors, as she always manages to write something uniquely different. The Engineered Throne was the first of her books that I read, and it left me hooked. And the second installment lived up to that, as well. Istari is not your typical prince: a royal bastard trained as a sharpshooter, he'd much rather be painting, but instead he's a hostage for his country's good behaviour in a land with good reason to despise him and his family. His fiancee has deserted him, he's still recovering from wounds received before his journey to Tallideth, and his 'hosts' treat him with contempt. Life is looking bleak when he meets Teverem, who has newly inherited a title he doesn't know what to do with, and three children that, thankfully, he's much more confident about. The children quickly become the bright spot in Istari's days, and he grows increasingly fond of their guardian, too. Then a secret about the parentage of Teverem's nephew draws him back into the world of intrigue, politics and death he'd left behind. If all goes well, he could have the home and family he's always wanted, even if it's only due to political expedience. If it doesn't, Istari's life is not the only one on the line. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this: it's a novelty to me to read a romance where characters are on the asexual spectrum, where sex is not a driving force in bringing two people together. Istari is not a 'typical' romantic hero - while he's confident in his skills as a painter and a sharpshooter, he's far less so in his relationships with other people. The dark thoughts and self esteem issues made me think that he suffers from depression, even if its not explicitly stated. He's also, as Teverem accuses him, a 'soft touch' with the children. Teverem may be a newly minted earl, but he's uncomfortable with his title, and would far rather be taking care of the children. The characters felt relatable, and the conflict kept me guessing as to what would happen next.
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    This is what I read Megan Derr for

    This book contains all the elements that keep me buying Megan Derr's work: swashbuckling adventure in a fully-developed fantasy universe with compelling characters and an undercurrent of M/M romance. She's a prolific author, hence somewhat uneven in her output, but when she hits her stride like she does here, it's a great ride. In the fantasy world, the times they are achanging and danger besets the central characters at unexpected times and from unexpected sources. The heroes undertake a true hero's journey, defeating not only the enemies without but childhood wounds and inadequacies within. Good stuff.

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