Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: The Prince He Loved by Michael Barnette

The Prince He Loved by Michael Barnette
Publication Date:  July 31, 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
Dreamspinner Press
Formats Available: .epub, .mobi, html, pdf
Other formats: Paperback
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Prince Raphael d’Alleven flees for his life after his family is murdered and the government of Alleven is taken over. Exhausted and unable to find a way off world, Raphael literally runs into his best hope for salvation: a genetically engineered soldier named Hadrian Ice. Ice hadn’t planned on taking service with anyone, but understanding the predicament Raphael finds himself in, Ice is unable to turn him away.

With bounty hunters on their trail and Vicount Alfonso Macchoine, scion of the House responsible for the coup, joining the hunt, it will take all of their combined skills to restore the government of Alleven to its rightful ruler, Raphael’s missing twin sister, Raphaella. As long as they don’t get killed first.

I first encountered Michael Barnette through his Dragon and Fenyx books and since then have been on the lookout for more releases. His stories, at first glance of the blurbs, read much too formulaic but those of us who do read him find he has a uniqueness in terms of writing style.

The Prince He Loved is a great example of a formulaic plot of protagonists and antagonists. After reading the first few chapters, the readers are going to conclude that the plot is as formulaic as it can get. However, it is soon apparent that there is a difference in the manner of storytelling. He not only writes with great character and plot development, but he also manages to draw his readers deeper into the tale by involving the antagonists and the other minor characters into the mix in more than the usual formula. 

One good example of the depth of character development in the main antagonist, Vicount Alfonso Macchoine. He is a egotistical and sad character, lost in his own delusions of grandeur to the demise of the ruling family scion and most of the relatives and staff. He also manages to attempt to make moves on the d'Alleven politics by installing his brothers and purported coup supporters who have to kowtow to his every whim despite their knowledge and realization of the man's insanity. His was a fantastic read.

As for the two main characters, these two men actually meet, get attracted to one another, but go through the whole process of getting to know the other before taking their relationship to the next level. They both focus on the problem at hand, how to counter the Macchione move, and one way is when Ice decides to train and hone the skills of Raphael. In this process, Raphael perfects his role as the young prince that he had been brought up to be. Of course many would expect lots of tango in the sheets or some garrish angsts that are the expected twists, but no. Author Michael Barnette does not fluff his tale with unnecessary twists, turns and sexually-based-emos that only manage to get the forward button or page turned at the fastest rate possible. The readers have to read through the whole page and the succeeding pages or they miss out on the maze of politicizing Alfonso and other dirty politicos get into to get their hands on the crown of Alleven. Raphael and Ice manage to weave their way through that maze and along the way, their budding romance start to tickle the readers but never take them to the erotic path.

The Prince He Loved is not that fast paced, it is not too long a read to be considered a full length epic novel, neither is it a short read that one could pick up now and fling off to be forgotten in the next hour. This is a book that makes the readers moan the pace could be a tad slow. However, having said that, it is also apparent that this build up is paced just right to make sure the readers do not skim off towards the end. The way I read it, it felt like the story came in waves of ebbs and highs. There were times I felt the lows were just too long and then find the lows went lower, and then there were times when I felt the highs peaked too much. Honestly, it was quite exhausting to read this as this story contained so many political moves - and politics personally exhaust me. Then again, it was quite exciting to see the plot moving at a fast rate and trying to predict what the next political move would be.  

I know, I am confusing you readers, I am just trying to make you all realize that I found reading this a bit tasking at times but it was a very enjoyable tasking process. It was also quite strange to get addicted to this story despite its peaks and lows, and just like any addiction, it was hard to put down.

This is a book not for those who want to have a quick read, neither is this the type for those who want to imagine romping within the sheets of these science fiction fantasy men. I would say the heat ratio would be around a 2 out of 5 and that is quite low. The story was fantastic though, it did not show us a weakling, whinging, submissive or hide-behind-the-back-hero-mate in Raphael. Ice is not the I-am-alpha-do-what-I-say type either. Alfonso was a deluded Napoleonic type of man and was very believable in his delusions.

Overall, I may have sighed and stomped my feet a few times but I must rate this high: 5 Stars. I totally enjoyed this and if I get to ask the author a question it would be: could we have more of Marcus if there is a second book? Please?

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