The Prince’s Consort (Chronicles of Tournai #1), Antonia Aquilante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Alt-Historical, Fantasy, Shifter, New Adult, Virginal, M-Preg
Length: 303 Pages
Reviewer: Kazza K
**TREAT AS A SPOILER REVIEW**
Legends tell of large cats defending the principality of Tournai, but such creatures have been lost to time.
Or have they?
Prince Philip inherited the throne at a young age, and since then, his life has centered around ruling his country and resisting those pressuring him to take a wife and conceive an heir—forcing him to hide his attraction to men. When kind-hearted Amory is offered to the prince in exchange for more time for Amory’s father to complete a commission, both Philip and Amory are horrified. But Philip agrees to keep Amory at the palace, where they gradually become friends, then lovers. For the first time in his life, Philip is free to share not only his heart, but the magical shape-shifting ability that runs in the royal bloodline.
Neither Amory nor Philip imagined falling in love, and they certainly don’t expect the lengths those who oppose their relationship will go to keep them apart—maybe even resorting to murder.
Amory is seventeen, soon to be eighteen. His best friend is Tristan and both Amory and Tristan are gay. They kiss and they flirt, but that’s about the extent of it all until one day Tristan and Amory get a little handsy. Amory’s older brother catches them touching one another and he can’t wait to tell his father what Amory has been up to. Tristan is worried sick that they will tell his father as well and he’ll be disowned. Amory is pretty sure he’ll be in for a very hard time at home. Much to his surprise, his father actually asks Amory to escort him on his next business trip to the palace, in Jumelle.
Amory’s father, Arnau, has the leading glass-making business in Tournai, but he’s running late with a chandelier commissioned by the prince as a gift for a neighbouring country. Amory’s father somehow knows that the prince is gay, obviously his second born is, and he sees professional opportunity. He offers Amory up as a bartering chip for an extension of time and for his business to remain the royal glass artisans. He implies that Amory is also a virgin, that must make it a better deal.
As soon as Prince Philip sees the auburn-haired Amory he feels an attraction, but he’s horrified at the fact that this young man’s father is whoring his own son out to gain him time and to ensure his business. No matter the fact that Amory is attractive, Philip won’t allow Arnau to speak on behalf of his son. He takes him elsewhere to speak to Amory alone, to ascertain just what’s going on. Perhaps Amory is in on the deal his father is trying to broker. People will do many things to curry favour with royalty.
Philip soon discovers that Amory is guileless and had no knowledge of what his father was planning to – and did – propose. They chat, seem to get along in a quick timeframe, and Philip invites Amory to stay at the palace to see how well they click. To see if there could, in fact, be something between them. At the very least they could make a friend of one another and both young men like that idea.
Philip’s mother and father are both dead and his Uncle Umber has helped him settle in for just over a year as the Prince of Tournai. The problem is, Uncle Umber oversteps his mark in his opinions to the prince. Philip may be younger but he’s been raised to rule Tournai. No one particularly minds Philip taking Amory as a lover so long as he’s discreet but Philip is not about to lie about his sexual orientation. He’s had one lover, Vasco, previously but it was kept quietly behind closed doors. Amory has had none, aside from his minor flirtations with Tristan.
His father was correct. Amory was a virgin with almost no experience to speak of with other men. He had no idea what the prince would expect of him.
There is a cast of family members and staff in The Prince’s Consort but it’s very easy to follow. There is love that grows between Philip and Amory. There is a mystery – someone is either trying to scare Amory off or kill him when things become serious between the prince and his lover. And there’s growing relationships between other characters. On top of these threads, both men have a “Talent” – Amory’s is (basic) healing and Philip has shifter powers. I would have liked more on both of these Talents but it wasn’t to be. The primary focus is really on the protagonists relationship/romance and the attempts to harm/kill Amory.
I really felt like a book with nice characters and no angst when I chose this one, and I certainly found what I was looking for. Amory and Philip are the sweetest MCs. I also very much liked – and this is why the book is 4 stars as opposed to 3.5 – that both young men had a backbone. When Philip was under pressure by family and peers to take a wife and produce heirs, to leave Amory altogether, or at least keep him locked away, he wouldn’t have a bar of it. He clearly stated that his mother and father were a love match and he deserved the same – no matter his partner. I liked that Philip knew his own mind.
“You’re making a mistake. This was my brother’s country, my brother’s throne, and I refuse to stand by and watch you harm it.”
“Yes. Tournai was my father’s country. My father’s throne, and now it’s mine. I would never harm it.”
“You will if you proceed on this course.”
“Enough,” Philip interrupted. “This discussion is over. I’ve heard your opinion, though it was unsolicited, and I don’t agree. Even if it turns out to be the mistake you think it is, it’s my mistake to make. It’s my throne.”
He was also adamant that Amory was more than he ever dared dreamed he could have and he was not giving him up. Amory’s father was a bully and a boor, but Amory did not allow himself to be overwhelmed by this. No matter what, they stood by one another and the author avoided adding unnecessary angst to the story just to ramp up emotions – and she could have. The book is angst free reading. The fact that love is love was very much present throughout but I liked the way it was never used as a battering ram.
I have mpreg in the tags at the top. It is a spoiler, however, I think it needs to be known as it can be polarising for readers. So, yes, there is an mpreg storyline, but like the rest of the book it’s a very sweet take on that theme and, honestly, not much is made of that aspect. If you normally don’t like mpreg you may well be fine with this book. If you are a hardcore mpreg devotee you’ll probably feel it’s a blip. Not a lot of time is dedicated to it, it’s nearer the end, but it’s in keeping with the romance, the love between Philip and Amory.
Do not go in to The Prince’s Consort thinking high fantasy and lots of world building because you’ll be disappointed. Go in looking for a character driven alt-historical fantasy romance with lots of kissing (lots of it) and hand holding, with a little bit of steam – only a little bit – and you’ll be much happier. I downloaded a sample before I bought this book and based on the sample, and my mood, I liked it enough to purchase it – and I can obtain DSP e-books as review copies, but I wanted to add this one to my personal folder. If you’re interested, then I suggest you download a sample and see if it grabs you too… because it’s pretty indicative of the rest of the book. Nice romantic gay fantasy reading. 4 Stars!