In Despair

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Expected Release Date: July 8, 2014
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Imprint: N/A
Author’s Website: http://maderr.com/
My Source for This Book: Netgalley
Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Princes of the Blood Series
Series Best Read In Order: Works well as a standalone
Steam Level: Steamy
Pet Peeves: Mentions of sex outside of a monogamous/polyamorous relationship (not infidelity), “underage” sex
Favorite Tropes: Enemies to lovers

Official Blurb:

Prince Telmé Guldbrandsen has been groomed since childhood to become a Prince of the Blood and Commander of the Legion. He will be the youngest person to ever take the Blooding—if he can behave long enough to prove he can be trusted with the responsibility. But behaving is difficult when he is constantly forced to endure Korin: heir to the Reach of the House and the Temple of the Sacred Three, and the snotty brat Telmé is expected to someday marry.

Then the unthinkable happens, leaving Castle Guldbrandsen—and the Legion—in pieces. Overwhelmed by fear and grief, Telmé convinces Korin to help him attempt the impossible. But rather than relief, Telmé’s triumph is met with anger and rejection …

This is my first experience with a Megan Derr book, but if it’s indicative of her work, it certainly won’t be my last.

This was the third installment of the Princes of the Blood series, and yet it was very easy for me to follow along, probably because most of the story was told in the form of flashback to the youths of our heroes, Telmé and Korin. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the enemies-to-lovers trope, which helped to both build the tension between our heroes and to highlight the chemistry that already existed between them.  Add to that the extra strikes against them such as the differences in their magic, and the apparent disdain that they received from their elders, and it seemed as though their relationship was doomed from the start. The emotional turmoil caused by the discord between Telmé and Korin, as well as some of the other events in the book added just the right amount of angst to the story without being overwrought.

Another aspect that drew me to this story was the fact that even though the romance remained a steady factor, it never overshadowed the action.  The world-building was fantastic, with a fascinating premise of the Legion itself, the Blooding, the Temple, and the mystery behind the murders of the Legion.  Throw in plenty of movie-worthy fantasy action, and I truly couldn’t put this one down.

Only thing I wasn’t keen on was the whole bit where it seems priests have sex with other people as part of their priestly duties, but that wasn’t dwelled upon, and was probably explained in earlier books.  This is one of my own personal hangups — I prefer all my sex in romance novels to occur within devoted monogamous or polyamorous relationships, and even though it seemed that all involved parties were perfectly happy with the arrangement, it wasn’t something that I was particularly comfortable with. 

Some readers may be a bit bothered by the fact the protagonists are what modern readers would consider to be “underage” for most of the book, but in their world, it obviously wasn’t an issue, so it wasn’t an issue for me either.  

Overall, I absolutely devoured this book.  Highly recommended for fans of action-packed fantasy with a delicious m/m romantic subplot.

4halfA very solid 4.5/5