Despite his rescue, Jaime is not left without scars, both mental and physical. Traumatized by his experience and hiding his gift, Jaime struggles to earn his place in the kitchens of Angharad Palace, the heart of Taliesin City. His former life as a student of the healing arts leaves him at a disadvantage in the kitchens, and his damaged state is becoming more apparent by the day.
One day, when necessity and fate intervene, Jaime meets someone unexpected—Prince Maxim, youngest son of the Pyrderian king, a sword master and a devastatingly kind man. Unaccustomed to powerful people with compassion and heart, Jaime flees. A cascade of events reveals Jaime’s hidden talents of healing, and he finds himself not in chains, but at the beginning of a new life.
This swift change of fortune opens Jaime up to new possibilities, including a smitten prince who cautiously courts Jaime, easing him away from his fears and reminding him that compassion and love can make him strong. The winter solstice is quickly approaching, and Prince Maxim shows Jaime the enjoyment and excitement to be found in a land that embraces the ice and cold, and the mysteries of all things magical. He learns to see the man under the royal mantle, and Maxim is more than even Jaime suspected.
The winter solstice is nigh when tragedy strikes, and Jaime learns that his past of grief and sorrow can be a pillar of strength for his solstice prince. If there is one thing that Jaime believes above all else, it is in the healing power of love.
- Read all at once (riveted)
- Thanks to the author for including the maps and placing them at the beginning of the book; really helpful
- The bell system was really cool, and reminiscent of Downton Abbey only these seem to also use a type of Morse code that specifies the type of meal wanted, etc. and someone has to stand by to translate orders for the chef*
- The illustrations were such a great idea, and a nice touch
- That for once, the royal family seems to actually love and care about each other, and everyone seems to love their king; no conniving power grabs here, and servants and nobles can talk to each other without fear of reprisal
- The swashbuckling former queen**
- The royals, and other servants treated everyone well, no matter their station, including Jaime; it was such a nice change
- When Maxim had a hard time with his dad's illness, Jaime actually comforted him; too often, characters are all stoic and it makes the story a bit stilted
- The sparring circle was really neat, and seemed much more useful than the typical straw figures
- Chest deep
Mood Upon Completion
- Eagerly awaiting the sequel
- Could use a better editor^
- Decently hot
- Decently sweet
- Poor Jaime has had a really hard life***
- Yet another guy who constantly blushes
- Jaime's name; with the way it's spelled, I keep pronouncing it HI-may in my head, not JAY-mee like the author likely intended
- Around the 63% mark, it got a bit schmaltzy, and Cinderella vibes were present around 75%
- Weakly emotional
- Abuse (physical/emotional - neglect, major, one, past)
^There are some words that are misused
^^There’s only one sex scene in this book, but I find I don’t mind it in this case; it’s fairly lengthy, plus the rest of the story MORE than made up for any more scenes. It was near the end of the book, however.
*The servant’s passages have different colored arrows that correspond to different locations in the castle; this reminded me of those same navigational arrows on the floor in hospitals; it’s also cool that they have an elevator.
**It was so cool to read about the king’s first wife, a somewhat reformed buccaneer who wore pants and kicked ass
***No matter what world authors write their books in, there’s always someone who’s punished for being different because of ignorance. Jaime has gone through so much, yet still want to help others. What a guy. Plus, he seems to make friends everywhere he goes.
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