When forces both inside and outside the palace walls threaten the life of Crown Prince Akoni, he finds himself in need of a guard. Someone who will protect not only him, but also his secrets – and he may have found the perfect man for the task.
Being a soldier is Jeffery’s life. He won’t be defined by his past, but fights for the present, not some future he will never see. Yet, his mandatory reassignment to the palace as Prince Akoni’s personal guard forces him to set aside his plans. His role places Jeffery in the presence of nobles whom he despises, and Prince Akoni is worse than most.
Can two men learn to trust each other, or will the secrets they carry bring about their own demise? Will having Jeffery close to him help Prince Akoni to become King – or cause more deaths? They need to depend on each other, for the sake of the future, because if they cannot, the past will only repeat itself and neither of them will survive.
If you like fantastical adventures, a blending of magic, sword fighting and technology then you will love this intriguing first instalment by Caitlin Taylor.
Jeffrey clenched his fists, digging his nails into his palms so hard he would not be surprised to draw blood. He tried to take a deep breath, to calm himself, but his heart beat so fast, and his mind was a hazy mass of memories. A flash of a boy being hit and falling backwards, a soldier dragging him away to await his flogging. The panther tore his leash and pounced. “You’re cruel and vicious, taking your anger out on others who cannot defend themselves against you. You’re mendacious and pernicious, careless who in your path may suffer from your actions. You were born a prince, given privileges beyond reason, and all you do is squander and abuse it.”
“That’s quite enough.” The prince sat back in his chair, his gaze leaving Jeffrey to stare at his palm. He flexed his hand as if testing its movement for the first time.
Jeffrey wheezed hard, his outburst not easing his tension in the least, instead fanning it, like wind did a flame. How could the prince remain so calm? “Do you not even care a small bit about the people around you? About the pain you inflict?”
The prince rose, closing the distance between them. Jeffrey stood unflinching. He could smell the prince now, a dark and musky scent. An unwelcome spark shuddered down Jeffrey’s back. There were only inches between their faces when the prince spoke.
“Pernicious and mendacious. Those are some big words for a solider. Do you even know what they mean?”
Jeffrey’s gaze was momentarily drawn to a pair of pink lips, full and curved. He glowered but remained quiet. They were so close, he could see the prince’s eyelashes, long and curved, framing deep-blue eyes, as closed off as the rest of the prince. Yet, Jeffrey could see depth in them, a depth he knew from another. The desire sparking inside him was utterly unwelcome, and his anger flared all the more.
“You’ve been wanting to say all that to me since you first met me. Haven’t you?” The prince’s gaze bore into Jeffrey’s, almost as if searching for something. It dropped lower. A pink tongue came out to wet dry lips. His gaze lifted when he continued, “Is there more? I bet there is.”
The prince cut Jeffrey off by wrapping his hand around Jeffrey’s throat. He did not press hard—yet. Jeffrey’s skin prickled where the prince’s hand lay.
“Enough.” The prince spoke quietly, his gaze drawn to his hand where it touched Jeffrey. He cocked his head to the side and frowned. Their eyes locked again. “What are you?” he asked, gentle, curious.
Jeffrey scoffed. “To you? Another toy to play with it seems.”
“Another toy? I never had one…”
The prince worried his lip, and Jeffrey found his gaze drawn to the sight.
“Play with you? I would enjoy that, but not the way you think.”
“Do you take anything seriously?” Jeffrey kept himself still. It would be easy to shake the prince’s hold, but to do so would constitute an attack on royalty. Even in his current state, he knew better; he could not cross that line. He must not.
The prince smiled wryly. “I take a great deal of things seriously. You think I don’t care, that I sit around in my castle playing games. You’re a soldier, you couldn’t possibly understand the battles I fight every day. They may not be with swords, but they are no less lethal.”
“Battles.” Jeffrey laughed. “You’ve no idea what a battle even is. You’re not even able to fight with a real sword.”
The prince’s frown deepened. “What makes you think that?”
“You practise with the marshal, and every time you leave him you’re in pain. You can hardly walk. I bet you’re covered in bruises.”
“You’re observant. This week was the first in many years that I’ve not been able to defend against him. Thanks to you.”
“Me? I wasn’t even there!” Jeffrey sneered.
“But you are. I feel you all the time…” The prince trailed off, his gaze once more returning to his hand wrapped around Jeffrey’s throat. He let his thumb move over Jeffrey’s skin.
Caitlin Taylor is the author of the Curse of the Crown series.
She lives in the west of Ireland – that is, until the rain stops being a good enough excuse to stay indoors with a good book and mug of hot cocoa! She has lived in Germany as well as Canada, loves travelling and exploring foreign places and meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds.
Reading has always been a beautiful escape for her and she has been creating fantastical worlds in her head for as long as she can remember. Ties of Destiny is her debut novel.
With a focus on LGBT and specifically m/m romances, expect fantastical worlds to get lost in with a side of sexy men, (probably kinky) sex, sword fighting, magic and more…