Author ~ Megan Derr
Publisher ~ Less Than Three Press
Published ~ 4 November 2015
Genre ~ Fantasy M/M Romance
Prince Allen has trained his entire life to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious mother, who has made their kingdom one of the wealthiest and most influential in the empire. For the past few years he has trained to become the new consort of the High King. The only thing no one prepared him for was the stubborn, arrogant High King himself, who declares Allen useless and throws him out of court.
High King Sarrica is ruling an empire at war, and that war will grow exponentially worse if his carefully laid plans do not come to fruition. He's overwhelmed and needs help, as much as he hates to admit it, but it must be someone like his late consort: a soldier, someone who understands war, who is not unfamiliar with or afraid of the harsher elements of rule. What he doesn't need is the delicate, pretty little politician foisted on him right as everything goes wrong.
Publisher note: this is a highly expanded, completely re-written version of the free short that was previously available under the same title.
I couldn't put this book down! I loved it – the writing is wonderful and the story itself captivating. I dare say The High King's Golden Tongue gave many of my high fantasy favorites a run for their money!
Allen is a prince, a third son who has been training for years in order to be able to navigate any court, and as of two years ago, chosen to become the consort of the High King himself. He arrives to Harken confident, prepared to follow every etiquette and be officially presented in front of the King. However he wasn't prepared for the cold and dismissive reception High King Sarrica gives him. Sarrica, still unable to let go of the memory of his late husband has agreed to a new Consort, since the Kingdom is in the brink of war and he can't keep on ruling alone and juggle state, court and military affairs effectively. While he is resigned to what he plans to be a marriage in name only, he wants and expects a soldier as his new husband but the man before him is - to his eyes - a glorified politician, someone young and beautiful that would do fine in an intrigue filled court, not in a battlefield. The communication between them doesn't improve with time and Sarrica keeps on being insulting, making Allen feel unwanted and isolated. Prince Allen is desperate to prove himself, ensure there will be a wedding and remain by Sarrica's side as his consort, so he makes a bold decision that puts him in danger.
Allen is a very strong character and a testament to why you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Young, beautiful and polished he could easily be dismissed as a songbird, but in reality he is a man of great skills and deep knowledge. I was so pleased with how he was written; despite having had a very strict education and training as a kid and later young man, Allen isn't a sheltered person and won’t be intimidated or shy from challenge. There has been a dark period in his past that didn't leave him unscathed, in more ways than one, and is probably the reason he has an iron grip on showing his emotions, a skill that might be invaluable in court but could misinterpreted as “coldness” from others. This of course couldn't be further from the truth as is evident in Allen's interaction with his new friends and his delight in having any for the first time in his life. His reactions to Sarrica and the way his feelings evolved were adorable to witness and just completed the puzzle of an adorable character.
Sarrica for all his military experience and imposing stature is a man who feels deeply. He regrets his initial reaction to Allen and despite his best efforts to make amends he can't help misinterpreting the intentions of the expressionless young man and keeps on putting his foot in his mouth. When he tries to be considerate he unwittingly comes off as condescending and he has left Prince Allen with bruised pride and every excuse to expect the worse. Leaving the past behind seems to be something he struggles with and a lot of his actions can be seen differently under that light. Sarrica is a loyal person, just, and bound to his duty and family and I could tell that a switch was turned when he saw those same values in Allen and tried to do the right thing, even though it could have been too late. I wanted to shake him and then hug him and I can honestly say his predicament of developing all kinds of feelings for Allen was one of the things I enjoyed the most.
The slow burn romance and the miscommunications and political developments that complicate the MCs' relationship may be center stage, but the secondary characters were a huge part of this book not only for the role they played in the story but on their own merit. Extremely nuanced, interesting and likable they went a long way to make this book that much more interesting. I laughed so much with the banter among Sarrica, Lesto and Rene, his brothers-in-law and head of the army and a band of mercenaries respectively. Lesto is a personal favorite and I could sense that the author has a soft spot for him too. He threw the best insults and had no qualms in putting the King in his place whenever needed (which was often). Rene was a younger more easygoing version of Lesto and his interactions with Allen were one of my favorite aspects of the story. Also, I was instantly smitten with Tara. He was the most lively and kind character and gave a lighthearted note to a spy and intrigue ridden court.
What was really brilliant in this book was the word building. The more I read the more fascinating it became. A world were languages are too complex and diverse that 'silver tongues', people who can speak multiple languages, are worth their weight in silver. Titles and prestigious positions are as likely to be held by a woman as by a man and that goes for any occupation really, from mercenaries to secretaries. It was eye opening when I caught myself assuming someone's gender because of a title or societal role only to be set to my place by a pronoun two rows down. There are some things mentioned in the story that are left without proper explanation, and that I believe is a hint to a system where genders are perceived as non-binary by default. It gave my whole reading experience another dimension. There were a few brief “history lessons” seamlessly incorporated in the story that helped me understand the “hows” and “whys” of the political upheaval that Saricca has to deal with.
I wasn't bored once. I just want to see more of this world!
I gave the book 5 stars without second thought. I had an amazing time reading it and if there were any flaws they were insignificant. In one word: Beautiful. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book, since it's Lesto's story I am sure it will be a treat!
P.S. You should take a moment to admire the brilliant cover - it's a perfect match to the story!
Meet Megan Derr
About the Author: Megan Derr is a long time writer of LGBTQ romance and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she’s not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies. She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all over the internet. For more information on other books by Megan, visit her website: www.maderr.com.