Author: Katie Howe
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Rating: 3.00 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 10/26/2015
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Science Fiction
n an earthlike planet ruled by the Elite, a rite called “the Gleaning” is used to select suitable spouses for those of merit. Nico Stamford is a member of the Geisha class. Though he has been trained for marriage all his life, becoming a healer and a priest in the process, all he wants is to cook and open a restaurant. Instead he becomes a candidate for the ritual. He hopes the Goddess will look kindly on him and eliminate him before the final choices are made. Alex DeVrie is a member of the Warrior class who has recently returned triumphant from a clash with an alien enemy. Made a duke of the Sixth Land as a reward, all Alex needs now is a husband. As soon as Alex sets eyes on Nico, he refuses to settle for anyone else.
Tradition says they can part ways after a year and a day. But love begins to grow as they unravel the mystery behind tragic events in the Sixth Land, and they uncover a conspiracy that could change their society.
While this is set on an earth-like planet, this story had more of a fantasy feel than SF. In fact the world building felt somewhat odd, it was not one thing or the other, or even a happy mix. They had sophisticated means of communication, including email, and aircraft, yet they go to live in a castle (with a tiny staff). There are passing mentions of magic, plus a rather feudal lifestyle for at least some of the populace. While this sort of mix has certainly been done before and well, in this story the melding of technology, monarchy, religion and other societal elements did not quite work for me. I had too many questions and this stopped me from being able to lose myself in the world the author had created.
The MC, Nico, is a young orphan was has spent eight years preparing for the possibility of being selected as a husband (for only a year and a day, if he wishes) by a member of the ruling class. Nico has other ambitions and definitely doesn’t want to be chosen, and married off. He wants to be a chef (hmm, okay), despite being a priest and a healer, and in fact something more as well, as is later revealed. Of course he is chosen by Alex (the warrior of the title and now a Duke) to be his husband.
At the start of the book I was sympathetic to Nico, as I was supposed to be, however I found him somewhat inconsistent, and a bit too perfect, as the book continued. And Alex, the warrior, I found him rather, well, less than a strategic thinker, to put it kindly. For example, despite being told by priests and the royal family how important Nico is, Alex just dismisses ‘his boy’s’ importance to the wider society, to concentrate of getting Nico into the bedroom and ‘protecting’ him. There were other instances where Alex seemed to miss the bigger picture.
I really wasn’t sure where this book was going. Yes, obviously Nico is the ‘good guy’, kind, caring, almost saintly, and with some sort of predestined role, while Alex is the not-so-bright macho protector. To be honest I was not that invested in either the characters or the world as the book progressed. There are political machinations, city rivalries, a very ineffectual royal family, Grand Seers, Priests, a dog and so it goes on. Into this mix we have added the relationship between Nico and Alex, which didn’t convince me as a romance.
I had expected the relationship to be centre-stage, but there is so much going on in this book, and some of it seems to be just window dressing.
I believe this may be the first in a series, hence the ending, which is somewhat abrupt.
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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