🌟One of my faves!🌟When an incident sees Prince Kadou nearly exiled and costs his guard his job, he's assigned a new guard, Evemer, who thinks the prince flighty and careless but will protect him nevertheless. But as they investigate a counterfeit crime, face danger, and spend more time together, Evemer realizes how wrong he was, and the two start developing feelings.
I loved this! Such a lovely, romantic book.
Kadou was a lovable mess. So kind and compassionate and brave (despite thinking otherwise), but riddled with anxiety and panic attacks, never thinking anything through but also simultaneously overthinking everything, leaving his rooms dressed mismatching and haphazardly, trying to escape his problems with wine or fights or other bad decisions (mostly wine). But it was actually his anxiety that made him so caring (or maybe vice versa, or a bit of both). He was so conscious of his actions and never wanted them to hurt anyone or to impose on anyone, so he lived with constant worry that he was (and honestly I find that very relatable, though I could only dream of being as wonderful of a person as Kadou).
Evemer was by-the-book, rule-oriented, rigid about what he believed to be right and wrong, hardworking, and analytical. He needed time to fully consider things before responding or making decisions. He had difficulty expressing his feelings. He was also kinda judgy at the start, though able to realize and willing to admit when he’d been wrong about something or someone. And he was loyal and devoted and also so easy for me to love and care about as a character once I got to know him.
I don’t know why some of the characters didn’t like Tadek, I loved him! He was gossipy and flirty, but lots of them were gossipy, and consensual flirting (or more) doesn’t hurt anyone. He was loyal and charming and clever, and when it came to Kadou, he went above and beyond what was asked and was willing to risk his life to protect him. He wasn’t the right person for Kadou romantically, but I still felt for him right from the start. And as the book went on, he was such a little shit sometimes with his teasing, but the kind that you can’t help but love. I would absolutely read a book about Tadek, if the author were ever to write one.
I would say the main focus of this book was the romance, and the dynamic between Kadou and Evemer at the beginning was so fun! A stubborn guard (technically more than just a guard, but I’m not getting into a whole explanation in my review) who disliked the “careless-flighty-negligent” prince he was stuck with but was going to protect him, damn it! And the equally stubborn prince determined to make Evermer’s job of both obeying him and protecting him impossible.
The game paused when Evemer returned with a fresh bottle of wine for Kadou and very deliberately placed a cup next to it, which Kadou equally deliberately ignored as he wrestled the cork out of the bottle and drank.
But of course that changes over time, and it’s somewhat of a slow burn. I say “somewhat” because I have a high tolerance for slow-burns, but also because, though it took them a while to actually admit their feelings and even longer to have the sex, the tension was somewhat mitigated by the “Kiss me so they won’t think we’re spying!” moments and then the other things they did once they did admit their feelings. But I’m not complaining, the “fake” kissing was still lovely and full of secret wanting! The first one especially was *chef’s kiss* And the real kissing was lovely too. Seeing Evemer—rigid, stoic Evemer—come apart the way he did was also *chef’s kiss*
There was the whole prince/guard thing and how Evemer took oaths to serve Kadou and took orders from him and was willing to die for him, which could be considered a power imbalance, or it could be considered really fucking sexy. Once his opinion of Kadou changed, and especially once he started having feelings, Evemer’s devotion went above and beyond. It wasn’t just about oaths anymore. He wanted to serve Kadou, because he had always hoped he’d be assigned to someone worthy of his fealty, and Kadou very much was. And Kadou never saw it as a one-sided thing. He was very big on reciprocity and making sure he valued and gave back to his guards as much as they gave to him, just in a different way.
Anyway, Evemer’s devotion was terribly romantic. (“Terribly” being used in the good way.) The whole book was romantic. You might think, “Well, yeah, it’s a romance,” but the word “romantic” doesn’t normally come to mind for me as a descriptor of a book. It suits this one though. (Quote below is not actually a spoiler, just hidden in case anyone wants to experience every moment of the romance for themselves in the book.)
“How am I supposed to get you to kiss me if I don’t flirt?”
“A snap of your fingers and a word,” he said. Another might have said it with a smile. Evemer’s voice was low and deadly serious.
There was a plot, and it was enjoyable too. That probably sounds unenthusiastic after all the gushing I’ve done, but I did like learning about this world, the kahyalar (the guards), the metal touch-tasting ability, the truthwitches, etc. The plot seemed to take on a background role, and it facilitated the romance and character development nicely without ever being confusing.
The audiobook, narrated by Casey Jones, was great. Voices weren’t super different, but they were different enough, and the way he voiced them always suited the characters’ personalities and brought them to life.
Overall, I just loved this! It was romantic and lovely with complex, lovable characters and a romance so full of devotion I think I may have swooned!
Anyone who likes m/m fantasy romance, prince/guard romance, somewhat slow burn, all the devotion, the "kiss me so they don't suspect we're spying" trope, anxiety rep, side characters who are (lovable) little shits, and characters who are lovely, good people.
I tried reading this and DNFed it because it was not working for me, but now I’m wondering if maybe I should give it another chance some time! ? If I do, maybe I’ll try the audiobook since it wasn’t working for me reading it visually. Great review!
I saw that you DNFed and was surprised! I’ve read books before and not been super into them, but then listened to the audio and enjoyed them, so maybe that’ll work. I hope you enjoy it more if you do end up giving it another try!
Nice. Glad this one was so good.
I had to laugh at the “mostly wine” part. 🙂
So good! Lol he did like his wine.
Sounds like this one was a real winner. I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for the great review.
It sure was to me!
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