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This story is filled with ghastly, horrific tortures and evil intent. It is not for those who like their romances light and fluffy. There are few scenes that are wholly comfortable in the ways of traditional M/M romance tropes. The writing is outstanding. The characters are fresh and not the usual images we see in M/M writing. In fact this is more of a gay love story hidden in a fantasy historical book. Excellent narration and a happily ever after ending.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This story was written as a part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group’s Love’s Landscapes event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors selected a photo/prompt that spoke to them and wrote an accompanying short story.
I enjoyed this beautiful tale of honour, bravery and love. It is set in an alternate world, the Kingdom of Weydata, which is sort of a mix of medieval and Georgian times with fantasy. There are stage coaches and inns, fortified castles and sword fights, kings and princes, mention of wars and political intrigue. There’s no magic or fantasy creatures, so the world Kim Fielding created almost appears historical. I particularly liked that a person’s sexuality and partner were not an issue in this reality. Any relationship was accepted without question and seen as commonplace. The sights and sounds of this kingdom ooze from the tale, painting a clear picture of life for these people. There's plenty of details about the culture and costumes woven into the story, which we see as events unfold.
This enemies-to-lovers story follows Volos, a war hero and guard in the king’s castle, who willingly risks his life to rescue Berhanu—the rude prince who apparently despises him—after he is kidnapped while on a secret peace/trade mission to a neighbouring country.
The journey and search for the prince culminates in a tense and exciting rescue. There’s a gang rape scene during this time that Volos’ witnesses. I’ve wondered about the purpose of this plot point because Berhanu appeared to suffer only from the physical after-effects of this ordeal. I think it helped the two men connect because Volos had received similar brutal treatment previously while in prison. Perhaps it was also there to justify Volos’ slaughter of the captors.
Volos ensures Prince Berhanu succeeds in his original peace mission and gradually the prince moves from treating Volos with cruelty and contempt to showing him love. Their early sexual encounters are very much like their relationship—rough and desperate. Yet as they become friends they gradually grow closer. There’s more tension when the two men return to the castle. But we are treated to a happy ending which includes a beautifully romantic scene. I liked Volos’ noble character from the start and gradually came to like the prince as he showed his more tender and compassionate side. I did wonder early on if Mato, the innkeeper, would win Volos’ affections. Mato now has his own separate love story.
With all the unusual names and places, this was one of those stories where I was glad that I’d read the story first and seen the words before listening. Not that the story was difficult to follow. Greg Tremblay gives a steady and professional performance as always. His voice is generally clear and easy to listen to, with plenty of emotion where needed, which helped me picture the characters, events, and places. I found one or two of his character voices were a little inconsistent at times, though, which threw me. Some had a cross between an Irish and a Scottish accent, although it varied. Overall, it was a very enjoyable audiobook and one I will listen to again.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Good story [and a freebie at time of posting this review]. Needless to say great audio as per usual. Greg's British accents are spot on.
Greg Tremblay is, to me, the epitome of awesome narration. He brings every story to life in a way that perfectly fits that particular tale. Berhanu's English accent here is spot on, although I wasn't quite sure where Volos came from, he seemed an eclectic mix of accents at times, but that didn't at all detract from my listening enjoyment. As with the print version, I felt like I wanted the end to be a little more drawn out, but overall this was a great audiobook and one I will listen to again.