Author: Cooper Davis
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Sometimes you have to risk everything, to follow your heart
“Noble Pleasures, Book 1”
In a world where gentlemen openly court and marry fellow noblemen, the threat of scandal still lurks behind every velvet drape for kings and princes. Such has been the fate for King Arend Tollemach, forced to sacrifice his heart on the altar of regal duty.
Now that his wife is dead and his royal obligations are at an end, he s ready to take an unthinkable risk. King Arend seeks a concubine from Temple Sapphor, a secretive, gated world where he will finally shed his virginity as least as it pertains to making love to a man.
Julian never thought he d spend ten years on the temple shelf, passed over again and again. Just when he despairs of ever finding placement in a nobleman s bed, Arend walks into the temple. A lonely eyed, beautiful king who could easily steal his heart.
Arend discovers he has no problem opening his bed to the exquisite concubine. The problem lies in finding the key to his long-shuttered heart.
Warning: Contains a beautiful, virgin king desperate to bed another man, a concubine who fantasizes about being claimed and revered by a strong monarch, and a sea of scandal set against a sensual, palatial backdrop.
Cooper Davis was recently a guest of Prism Book Alliance. Be Sure to check out their guest post here.
We had such fun buddy reviewing this book! We agree with so many of each others’ points and yet had different reactions to some of the others. hi5 So great. 🙂
What follows are my letters I’ve penned to various characters from this story, with notes in between. I was inspired to take such action, due to a particular scene that was obviously pivotal, and I ran with it. PS: This is a decently long novel, so my and Katie’s reviews are also rather lengthy. 🙂
Dear Alistair, or Finley as some lovingly call you.
You, sir, are the type of best friend, of chosen brother, that everyone deserves. That King Arend claims you, and plays the same role for you, is a beautiful, honest (sometimes brutally so, as it should be), and vital part of this story of yours, and everyone’s. Navigating these treacherous Lord’s Council waters would be nigh on impossible without you, without this team of you and the King. I, and Julian, am forever indebted in gratitude for your intelligence, humor and fortitude. Just, uh, lay off the spirits a bit, eh?
Alistair is an early and constant presence in this story, playing his part in keeping things off-kilter, thwarting most attempts in figuring out just what might happen at the next turn of the page. He and King Arend, a friendship from childhood that crossed over many a social boundary often impossible to traverse and find acceptance, share a number of heated and humorous conversation. The kind in which only longtime friends can engage without fear of longer lasting pain and not accomplishing whatever goal is placed in front of them. They are a team, even if sometimes they don’t realize that each truly taking the smartest path.
Not at all dear Mallon,
I struggled to understand your motivation, except for the excruciatingly obvious. It appears this is the only type for which you were useful. Why use such harsh words about King Arend behind his back, this man who has trusted and kept you in his employ, his confidence, for so many years? Why did you show nary a concern over possible punishment for such reprehensible treatment of these others whom the King holds dear? Your actions seemed a forced effort at creating conflict and misunderstanding (short lived, thankfully) twixt Arend and Julian. It was unnecessary, as they demonstrated talents of their own for both of these faults. No one needs a friend like you.
Both Arend and Julian are of a certain age that brings with it the strength to face things head on more often than not. Most of those conflicts and misunderstandings were handled quickly, despite the aforementioned Mallon’s lame attempts. There’s a lot to be said for a King in his 40s and a concubine in his 30s. They’ve learned a thing or two, or a hundred.
My dearest, dearest, dearest Julian,
Your heart and humor and emotional intelligence, your observance of body language, know practically no bounds. For as shuttered a life as you lived for that decade at Temple Sapphor before joining your even more darling King, your strength is hard won and beautifully wielded. I wanted to yell “You go, boy!” more than once during this tale, but you’re neither a boy nor someone who deserves anything less than everything the world has to offer… with your Arend. 😉
Julian is arguably the heart of this story. We get both his and Arend’s point of view in a roundabout way, but his is filled with that heart, and almost obsessive need to be honest with Arend about, well, everything. He’s often the one in control. That power does flip now and then, both he and Arend coming to this arrangement with knowledge aplenty in some areas but wholly lacking in others. It was fun to watch them try and work it all out.
Oh! Jim! What news have you? Do tell! I know, that you know, that I know, that you know all. And I don’t just mean headlines provided on parchment. Spill! Your humor filled expressions always make me smile.
Jim doesn’t have much page time but, when he’s on, he’s on. He, maybe more than anyone else, is a catalyst for what happens in the final quarter of this book. Love him. As someone also in King Arend’s employ for many a year, he provides an example of how to comport one’s self. Unlike the aforementioned fellow associate who shall remain nameless. Looks up
Samuel! Samuel, Samuel, Samuel, you devil with the bottomless depth of heart. Such an excellent cousin you make to your King Arend. Telling it like it is, sussing out the truth, and calling Arend on it with just the slightest of smirks or feigned look of innocence. Oh, how you get the King’s blood up! And, most of the time, it’s with great intention and result. Most of the time. 😉
I almost can’t believe I’m going to say this, given some of your questionable choices, but I wish you every happiness and the things that will help you feel fulfilled. Most of all, do right by your Lucille, she’s a keeper one thousand times over.
PS: Keep up the teasing of your dear cousin, it’s oh so entertaining! Such robust humor deserves to be rewarded handsomely. whispers Maybe in the next book, we’ll find out just how handsomely?
Honestly, this pretty much sums up Samuel’s role in this story. He’s an instigator, a loving one at that, and wishes the best for Arend, and Julian, and even Alistair, despite their sometimes (falsely) cantankerous interactions.
Arend, what say you?
What say I? All that needs to be said is that you fight like the right Dickens for what you want, for what you need, even if the determination doesn’t lead to action until this point in your life, the point in which Julian appears. You fight for what you deserve: to be with the one they love and enjoy the happiness that follows. And the strife. And the laughter. And the passion, frustration, and celebration. May you do all of these and more with your darling Julian for the rest of your days… if and once they start.
This is a love story and, yes, it took us writing all of this to tell you that LOL.
There were a few places where formatting errors occurred, as well as some sentences that were missing a word or had one too many, often when dealing with tenses.
The believability of Julian and Arend and their actions in certain situations might appear, well, unbelievable from 30,000 feet. However, I don’t read from 30,000 feet, I read with my kindle a few inches from my face and I can tell you that, given their life experiences leading up to their meeting and the decisions and choices that follow, they’re all rather understandable. The language is such fun to read, the characters are all rather well fleshed out, the story keeps a good pace and I would definitely read more by this new-to-me author. Most especially, book two in this series. I want to know what happens next!
* I own a copy of this book.
Rating: 2.75 of 5 Stars
I picked this one up based on the blurb. I have been wanting to try out more historicals and this one seemed to be perfect. The thing I have disliked in the few historicals I have read is that the MCs usually have to hide for fear of being found out and potentially sent to jail or worse. So when the blurb stated that this was set in a world where men were free to court other men, I just knew I had to give this a try.
Overall I enjoyed this, but in the end I had a few issues with the execution of this story in relation to the promises given by the blurb, whether explicit or implied. I want to start off and talk about the things that I liked about this story. I really loved the writing style. Many people will be turned off and call it purple prose, but for me, it worked. The language and syntax used highlighted that this was a story of noblemen and royalty. The language favored the educated and gave this story an upper class feel and was descriptive without being distracting.
I also liked the fact that the MCs were older and that they talked through their issues. There were so many instances of misunderstandings and of contradictions, but they worked on them together instead of just stewing or bottling everything up until it erupted. And I loved the types of interactions between these men. From the first time they met, a flirty and snarky tone was set. They interacted so naturally together and their personalities blended very well. I loved watching them banter. I found myself chuckling on more than one occasion and I like that.
I loved that both men were well developed. They had histories that were made known to the reader. They had personalities and expectations. And most importantly, they had the ability to grow and develop. The author kept the reader in the loop for almost all portions of this novel and that made me happy.
But now, I have to talk about the things that left me feeling let down. First was the idea of a world without fear of reprisal for marrying another man. I never felt this was true. Maybe it was because the story focused only on the noble class, but I never got a true feeling that this world was very accepting on male/male marriages. There were times that Julian, as a concubine, was likened to a woman, indicating that even though there are male concubines, they are still seen as the woman in a relationship. Why was this necessary if it was OK to for men to be with men? There constantly were remarks that made it seem demeaning for the King to be with another man. In a world where it was OK for two men to be together, why was there the need for such judgmental behavior? It just didn’t add up for me.
The blurb also indicates that Arend was finished with his royal obligations and was now free to pursue his desires to be with a man. The blurb then goes on to imply that the only barrier between these men was the King’s stubborn desire not to fall in love. So, two issues with this. The first was that while the words coming out of the King’s mouth (to everyone except Julian) indicated that he only wanted a physical relationship, his actions and many of his words to Julian indicated that he in fact did want to be in love. His behavior from the very get go was contradictory and lead poor Julian on in many cases. It just rubbed me a bit wrong that the blurb made it seem like a big deal, when in fact, Arend never really tried to harden his heart at all and gave in so easily and almost instantly.
The second issue I had with this portion of the blurb, was that the fact that King Arend didn’t want to fall in love was really only a small portion of the many things destined to keep Arend and Julian apart. The blurb indicated that this would be a love story, when it was actually so much more and so much less. But that has to do with a later point I will be addressing.
So we also know from the blurb that Arend had been married and Julian had been on the shelf for ten years. This told me that both men were older than your typical MC. However, for me, this story had a very juvenile and first young love quality to it. Both MCs were rather more immature than their ages suggested which lead to many moments of eye rolling and melodrama for me. This overall young feel added to the contradictory nature of Arend and left me feeling like the full potential of this story was not reached.
Finally, the thing that really got to me the most was the abrupt ending. Just as things were getting to the point of cohesion and forward movement, it just stopped. With no warning. As I turned the page to read more, to have all the questions floating in my mind answered, I was treated to the author’s bio. It actually took me a moment to realize that I was no longer in the story. It was that abrupt and unexpected. I realize that this is the start of a series, but I did not realize it is also the start of the story itself. I spent a good bit of my time hoping that book two would be Finley’s story. Or that maybe the author would give us insight into Mallon as he finds redemption. But nope, everything was just left hanging in a less than stellar TBC type ending.
I could have overlooked some of my disappointments and some of my misgivings if this was a complete story that had a nice resolution. But when the ending left me feeling pissed off, sorry, all the things that irked me become more important and overshadowed all the good the author achieved.
Would I recommend this book? With only this one book released, nope. If the entire series was out from start to finish, maybe.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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