Friday, December 08, 2017

Book Brief: Poison Marked (2017 Advent Calendar - Stocking Stuffers) by TJ Nichols

poison markedTitle ~ Poison Marked

Author ~ TJ Nichols

Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press 

Published ~ 1st December 2017

Genre ~ Fantasy, M/M Romance, Holiday





Kill his lover or disobey his king and instigate civil war?

As the feared court poison master, Nikko is sworn to do as his king bids. As the lover of the king’s nephew, Lord Rodas, Nikko must hide his affection or risk being labeled a traitor and punished. A former thief who clawed his way into the palace from the filthy streets, Nikko longs to be deserving of Rodas’s love.

A respected war hero, Rodas is in a delicate political situation. He is not the kingdom’s natural heir, though many support his claim over the wastrel, Prince Fortin. The last thing Rodas wants is war. His highest ambition is for Nikko to openly wear the jewels he’s bestowed on him as a public declaration of their love.

Neither man is prepared for the king to order Nikko to poison Rodas during the solstice feast or for the deadly intrigue they’re plunged into, which exposes their affair and rocks the foundations of the kingdom.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar "Stocking Stuffers."


Freya’s Book Brief

A suspicious King, a jumped-up prince, a war hero nephew and an apothecary who poisons at the king's command, are the main characters in this yuletide tale. Nephew, Rodas, is loved by the people, and by Nikko, the poison maker. After a mock battle that doesn’t show the Prince in a good light, the King orders Nikko to rid the land of Rodas. Umm, conflict of interest much?

Forbidden love and the fate of a kingdom are at stake. Rodas doesn’t want the throne and is prepared to die to protect it. His battle honours prove it. To hide their love Nikko and Rodas have secret signs that give them a language of their own, and Nikko has gifts from Rodas that he longs to wear in public, but knows he never will.

In short, I loved this story.

Rodas is an honourable man (and gorgeous – it helps!!). Nikko is a man surrounded by death. But, as he points out, he can cure too, as disease is just another thing to be killed. No one is supposed to like, let alone love the poison master, and hearing his take on his position is illuminating.

The story is told from Nikko’s POV, and in my enthusiasm, I’m in danger of giving away too much. So, I’ll cut things a little short. There are dreams of a future neither can have. From the blurb, it is obvious murder is in the air. But, there is still anticipation of who will kill who as Rodas and Nikko are prepared to die, if necessary.

For me, this was a dream of a short story – 56 pages, right up my ally of reading. There were no sappy gestures that can only be gotten away with at Christmas. The angst and drama starts on page one and continues to the end.

Purchase Links




Meet TJ Nichols

TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily, writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the everyday.

With two cats acting as supervisors TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.



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