Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A King Undone by Cooper West

Title: A King Undone (Noble Pleasures #1)
Author: Cooper Davis
Purchase at Amazon 
Purchase at All Romance eBooks
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Genre: fantasy (with historical feel)
Length: 85000 words
Formats: mobi, pdf, epub, print

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.

I loved the concept of the virgin king and concubine. With the possibility of a transactional affection beoming real, I was all ready to follow along. However, having met the writing and the pacing of this story, I don’t think I’ll be getting to the payoff at the end of book two or possibly three.

This review was a long time coming, partly because of my own struggles, and partly because I had to offer the author the chance to have me not review. I haven’t heard back more than reasonable time, and I won’t sit on content forever, so… I will say I liked the style, which is a little on the purple side but well within my tolerance for fantasy and royalty. The whole was a throwback to a more formal era, and had charm. It aided the worldbuilding, which seemed fairly well-rounded. But...

The pacing and characterizations had me gritting my teeth. Arend, the king who had discharged his royal duty to procreate for the dynasty finally felt free to act on his own desires, without thinking things through very well for the next generation. He selects a concubine, Julian, who has his own tragic backstory and current insecurities, and watching them mesh has some cute moments and nice dialog, but the UST isn’t all that tense and the pacing to wrap up the first arc left the ending (well, the inciting incident for the whole ) left some good stuff squashed into the end, in a situation that has the seeds for trouble. Not all is as it seems elsewhere in the realm.

Arend’s decision affects the realm, of course, and the Council has its own ideas on the suitability of the king’s love life and of the Crown Prince’s, leading to the kind of trouble that was  entirely avoidable and left me muttering at the Kindle. Arend didn’t seem like a capable leader at all, nor has he thought matters through, and Julian doesn’t seem aware that because his new lover is a king, he might actually have king-things to do. (Or he thinks that Arend considered some of this stuff more ahead of time. He wants a strong monarch: he'll have to adjust his expectations.) This lack of situational awareness on both sides leads to conflict, but not the sort I’m interested in following through to the end, however rationally it may follow on from its beginning.

The secondary characters of Alastair and Samuel (not a couple) interested me more: they have the problem of being close to the throne when the throne’s occupant is a loose cannon.

With this book I have writing that appealed to me and a story with characters that did not. I would try other of this writer’s work, but not in this same series. 2.5 marbles

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