King’s Conquest (Mending the Rift Book 1)
Author: Valentina Heart
Genre: Gay fantasy & fairytale
Length: 96 pages (novella)
Please note that I read the first edition of this book, which was published by Silver Publishing in 2012. A second, expanded, edition was published with Totally Bound Publishing in 2014.
The only way for Prince Rin to save his kingdom is to marry a king and bear a child, but will he survive his fate?
In a world where two kingdoms are constantly at war, Prince Rin, heir to the throne of the Kari kingdom, has been demanded as a war conquest by King Merinej of Jeda. The prince must travel to his enemy’s kingdom and share the king’s bed, bearing him a child, or the war will continue. But the prince will not lower himself to what he sees as nothing but the title of a whore, so he demands a contract requiring the king to be faithful to him. After all, giving Merinej a child will threaten Rin’s life.
Even going into the marriage headfirst, Rin expected nothing more than a business arrangement. Instead, he receives affection, yet the more surprising realization is his willingness to give love back. However, the king cannot save Rin from those who wish him harm, and their union might be over before it can fully bloom.
Why I love it?
The way the story was told was reminiscent of Memoirs of Geisha (“When I was a little girl…”). The initial premise of the story was haunting (because who wants to find out that you’re being sold for world peace), and the author’s tone lent credence to that. I felt like I sitting next to the characters, years into the future, listening to them recount in the first person narrative the circumstances that lead to their meeting
I also liked how realistic Rin’s reaction, to the news he was a war conquest, was. He bravely accepted the fact he was being married off to a total stranger – no fits, no trying to persuade the council otherwise – and he continued on to make sure he was protected. He thought about his future, trying to see how he could make himself indispensable to Merin, so the Jede would have no choice but to take good care of him (you can’t really kill you baby baring spouse when you are not allowed to sleep with anyone else). Even after Rin’s father spent his entire life trying to make Rin dependent on him (and I guess whoever the father would have married him off too if he had lived), Rin kept his wits about him.
The were little speed bumps along the way to love, such as Merin thinking that Rin was the power behind the Kari throne, and Rin assuming that Merin’s requesting him as a war conquest made him a total brute. The awkward moments ceased to matter when Rin realized that Merin wanted to give the marriage a real try, and their hesitant relationship blossomed into one of quiet devotion and enduring love.
Other than the premise of being married off to a new country with its own culture, dress, and customs, there was also the premise that not everyone was happy with the merging of the nations. While the Kari people were anxious about what changes the merger would bring, the dangerous malcontent was ironically not from the peacefully overthrown kingdom of Kari, but from the Jeda Kingdom itself.
Most people would think that royal concubines (uralains) would be happier to leave the service of the king, but in this story, we had a uralain who seemed to have developed Stockholm syndrome. The antagonist had deluded herself in to believing that there was more to her relationship with the king then there truly was. I mean, sure the man provided for her; food, clothes, sex, you name it, and she got it. However, instead of thinking jeez why am I being kept here for this man’s pleasure, the antagonist sought to fight off a perceived interloper who insisted on changing the status quo. At first her focus was to get rid of Rin, but then as she realized that Merin was falling in love with the Kari, she felt betrayed by him. That just made me sympathize with her, even though her reaction to imagined rejection had passed deep into crazy town (could you imagine what would happen if people just started killing off the objects of their unrequited love?).
Then Valentina Heart neatly set up the plot for the next book in the Mending the Rift series, by intimating that the true attacker had not been caught and revealing Rin’s pregnancy. She left me wondering if the nut-job uralain would be crazy enough to continue with her vendetta against the royal duo, even knowing that her “crush” had happiness (plus anyone who hurts helpless babies is beyond help). She also made me hope that Rin and Merin could conquer what ever came next.
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What do you think of arranged marriages? How would you have reacted if you were in Rin’s position?