Prince Brier Snow has lived in the shadow of King Snow’s exalted memory. However, his fate changes when he nears his majority and Lirend’s steward queen attempts to dethrone him by exploiting an obscure requirement in the late king’s will: a yearlong sabbatical.
Brier travels to the desolate land of Aire to train under the Ceve guild, scorned refugees of war, including their guarded leader, Roland. Brier’s skillful master unlocks hidden potential, and what begins as a dutiful bond turns into ill-fated affection. When Brier returns to the capital, he’s carrying proof of his indiscretions with Roland—and his condition grows more apparent with each passing day. An affair with the huntsman is a scandal Brier’s enemies can use against him, but the birth of an heir is a burden even Brier is not sure he can bear.
Roland Archer, a man with a murky past, is skeptical of the contract to train the prince but willing to do anything for the guild’s freedom. Despite his best intentions, he is smitten by Lirend’s future king. Roland has resigned himself to solitude, but fate has other plans—for him, for Brier, and for Lirend’s oppressed subjects. Can Roland help Brier face a power-hungry queen and a country torn asunder? Either they will bring equality to a land that desperately needs it, or they’ll be thwarted by cunning enemies and an illusory curse.
This story had a little bit of everything. Angst, action, suspense, intrigue, romance, secrets, and mpreg mixed into a retelling of the fairytale, Snow White. The prologue gives you an idea where the story will head and some of it isn’t a surprise unless you haven’t read or seen Snow White. I really enjoyed the extra touches with Brier’s “curse” or what he calls his scars. The fantasy world had some modern amnesties and the occasional modern words like schlepping mixed in with antiquated words that gave this it’s own flare.
The story is told in three distinct parts. The queen hires Roland to take Brier, Brier returning home to take the thrown… and I don’t want to say for the third part because it would give away spoilers. If you are familiar with Snow White then you know there is another prince involved in the fairytale. Honestly, I couldn’t allow myself to like him because I wanted Brier and Roland to be together. I adored the slow burn romance between Brier and Roland. I agonized with Roland and the secret he was keeping from Brier. At the beginning there were so many characters introduced with Roland that I was a bit lost on who was who until further into the story. And the book is very long. I had a hard time putting it down when my reading time was up. This did have a bit too much angst for me at times and the middle is rife with it. But I know that there are those who love angst and this should squeeze a bunch of tears from you. I also love reading mpreg stories and hold onto the good ones like they are gold. This is one that I’ll come back to reread. I was pleased with the epilogue that promised more to come in this fairytale world and I look forward to digging into it.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves to read fantasy and/or fairytales with a twist. The story had depth that I could sink my teeth into. Brier was endearing and as the underdog, I cheered and cried for Roland. It’s a fantastic story all the way around and a world I would gobble up if more books were written in it.