~THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE~
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.
~THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE~
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.
Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.
“I’m not human, wife,” he whispered into the darkness. Shock rounded his eyes at Ildiko’s response, slurred with sleep and nearly incoherent. “But you’re still mine, husband.”
Well, this just worked for me. I read this in one sitting and I have no regrets, except that I couldn’t start book two right away because I needed to write this review first. This wasn’t perfect, but I absolutely adored it. The characters are the first couple in quite a while to reach favourite status. And the world is pretty cool, too. And the story. And just overall I loved this book.
The plot is, all things told, pretty simple. A human woman and a Kai male, a sort of made up, alien fantasy fae race, have had an arranged marriage to secure a treaty. Neither of them are really in line to the throne, which is good since humans and Kai have never had a child together before, in previous (non-royal) unions. And that is kind of it. Almost the entirety of the book is Ildiko and Brishen getting to know each other, fall in love with each other, and just genuinely caring for each other.
I just… yes. I liked this. I don’t know how else to put my feelings for this relationship into being. They just work together. There is no conflict between them. From the first time they meet, in a chance meeting in the gardens before their marriage, they become friends. They like and care for each other. They support one another. Even if they find the other hideous. There is no drama. They fit each other well. I loved every moment reading this.
Ildiko is strong. She is funny. And more often than not she gets her way just by being so charming. Or in the case of Brishen’s mother, just out-thinking the foul woman. Despite being the only human in the middle of the Kai kingdom, in a one-of-its-kind marriage between those in the royalty class, Ildiko is determined to find her place, get along with the people, and make things work. It is kind of adorable.
But not more adorable than the cinnamon roll that happens to be her husband Brishen. Brishen is kind and caring. The opposite of his parents. He is also strong, because as one of the rulers of a warrior race he kind of has to be. However he never turns to violence until it is first given to him. He much prefers to talk with the enemy and make them his friend. His adoration for Ildiko just makes him even better.
The conflict in this book always comes from outside. At first it was because of Brishen’s mother, who is a horrid woman who hates everyone. Ildiko easily outmaneuvers her and she is only there for a portion of the book. There is also another conflict that comes up at the very end of the book that changes course of the entire story going into the future.
The epilogue really changes the game, too. And I’m kind of scared for the next book. But also I really wanna see more of Ildiko and Brishen and I really, really hope that this couple continues to be my favourite through the rest of the series.