Author: Megan Derr
Length: 20,000 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
To save the life of the crown prince, Starwick took a curse upon himself, but the curse leaves him in excruciating pain alleviated only by Tyrwick, the king’s bastard son and a man who has always despised Starwick. If he wants to live they must find the man who cast the curse and take back the ring he stole, but Starwick’s real challenge is not hunting a man—it is fighting his own despair, reinforced by Tyrwick’s cold disregard and his own shadowy life.
This book is a follow on from Wick, a set of shorts which deal with a group of wizards. I haven’t read that book and I didn’t feel like it was necessary to have read Wick first.
Starwick has spent years protecting the royal family, doing things that others would balk at. This has left him filled with self hatred. Now he’s been cursed whilst protecting the prince and the only person who can help him is the king’s bastard son, Tyrwick, who shows him nothing but contempt. Together the pair travel to the city where they are told the curser can be found in a race against time to save Starwick’s life.
Like many Megan Derr stories this one was original and entertaining. The world building was solid and the characterisation strong. The story hangs on how well you like the main character Starwick. He’s very morose and often reflects bitterly on his past, his lack of laughter and love in his life and his frustrations. He’s also very independent and whilst longing for human contact, he’s too proud to ask for it and too down on himself to believe that anyone would return his affections. The person he likes is Tyrwick but by being so aloof he is giving out the wrong signals. Instead of encouraging a friendship he ends up pushing Tyrwick away until a confrontation forces Tyrwick to take action. I enjoyed the interplay between the pair and the way that the romance built between them.
The slight mystery plot was sorted quickly but as it was secondary to the romance and a subplot which involves Starwick setting aside a few past ghosts, I wasn’t too bothered about that. The fun of the story is seeing Starwick begin to realise that he’s not as worthless as he believes and to stop taking himself so seriously.
My only complaint is that I found the fact that everyone in the story has ‘wick’ on the end of their name vaguely distracting and that I wish more time had been spent on the romance towards the end. However, that wasn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment too much and I would recommend this story to those who like fantasy, and especially those who like this author’s stories.