Owner of my Heart (Mending the Rift Book 2)
Author: Valentina Heart
Genre: Gay fantasy & fairytale
Warnings: Male pregnancy, part of a series
Length: 133 pages
Please note that I read the first edition of this book, which was published by Silver Publishing in 2012. A second, revised and re-edited, edition was published with Totally Bound Publishing in 2014.
Can King Merin face his loss, save his husband and protect his kingdom, or have his enemies finally found a way to defeat him?
When an enemy Merin thought defeated takes his unborn children away from him, he’s at the end of his rope and still has to find enough strength to save his husband Rin from the clutches of sorrow. Unable to find peace, they must deal with an aggressor who plots to ruin any chance of happiness they might have. To make things worse, the newly united countries must prepare for a war against a vicious invading army that’s using the weakened state of the kingdom for its benefit.
How will Merin and Rin recover from their terrible loss and give their people heirs? Will the newly united countries work together as one to save Merin’s kingdom—and his family—from the ongoing dangerous challenges? Can love truly push through all obstacles, or will their enemies discover their weaknesses and finally achieve victory?
Why I love it?
The second installment of the Mending the Rift series was written from Merin’s POV, so we got to see the commanding King Merin overseeing the merger between the Kari and Jeda kingdoms. Immediately, I was right back to feeling like Rin and Merin were telling me their life story by a campfire, and it was Merin’s turn to narrate.
Since the previous book ended on a high note, I thought this book would be dedicated to growing the couple’s relationship, and resolving if they had truly caught Rin’s mystery attacker. The shadowy antagonist (remember the crazy uralain?) did strike again, but this time it was more personal. She didn’t use any intermediaries to do her dirty work, and the attacked were more malicious. I think in the first book, she hoped to scare Rin off, and after he was no longer in the picture, she hoped Merin would take her back. This time, she focused on coming after Merin, attacking him where she knew it would hurt the most: Rin and their babies.
Yes, the antagonist proved that she was beyond all help when she caused the death of Rin’s unborn children. The traumatic birth and not knowing whether Rin himself would survive, made for one of the most gut wrenching moments in this book. I literally wept when they named their babies, little Ull and Ura, before burying them.
The death of their children showed that Rin and Merin have really different ways of dealing with trauma. Merin focused on eliminating the threat with a vengeance, threatening his soldiers with execution if they failed in their duties, and instituting an order of royal seclusion to prevent future attacks. Merin didn’t get a chance to properly mourn, as the Kari council intimated they would replace Rin as the ruler of the Kari kingdom, lest he not be involved in the decision-making process of the unified nation (the insensitivity of some governments knows no bounds). A new threat also made itself known, as a mysterious mutual enemy seemed to be moving towards attacking the still divided nation.
Poor Merin had to deal with all everything falling apart alone, as Rin had receded into himself, bereaving the loss of his children in solitude. Rin stopped functioning, not eating or talking, completely isolating himself in his grief. Merin did an admirable job of holding down the fort, but as the blows kept coming, he finally broke down, desperately begging Rin to help him and to just be with him. The breakdown was cathartic for Merin, and his desperate call for help made Rin snap out of his own funk (if only if hadn’t taken that for him to come to his senses). The sex scene that followed was perfectly placed, revealing to the readers Merin’s fear of trying to have children again. The end of the chapter reflected the end of desperation and sadness phase of the book, as the story moved toward a more empowered perspective.
Rin finally, finally, stepped up to the plate, coming in to lay the smack down on the Kari council for even considering making his cousin, Tynin, take the throne. Things started to look up as the formidable duo began working together as a couple. Of course, all that did was piss of the uralain enough to try assassinating Merin.
I really enjoyed Valentina’s cinematic reveal of the mysterious antagonist’s name. Merin, almost incapacitated from poison, recalled all he could about the vengeful Nerina, how if only she hadn’t been so cold, they could have built a life together. First, it made me want to know why people think it’s okay to date crazy people (and why they get all surprised when the crazy person does crazy things). Then I wondered how impatient she had to have been to not wait for the poison to work. I mean, if you were going to kill someone, wouldn’t it be important to maintain anonymity for as long as it took to see the job done? My heart did do a little happy dance, because even though Merin thought I would have put a ring on that crazy girl, his priority was to keep Rin safe. It made me feel like even if Nerina had survived her assassination attempt, Merin would have never gone back to her because of his dedication to Rin. It was touch and go as we weren’t sure that Merin survive both the poisoning and stabbing, but Valentina Heart was not cruel as to kill off the character who was telling the story.
Three points of conflict were resolved halfway through the book: the identity of Nerina the murderous uralain, putting the self-important Kari council in their place, and the proper grieving of the loss of Rin and Merin’s children. That left the new enemy who trying to take advantage of the internal struggles of the unifying kingdom, and Merin’s unwillingness to risk having more children. Alas, Merin didn’t really have an option with that last one. During his recovery from his poisoning, Rin pseudo-raped him for his sperm (not the Merin minded the extraction process), and Merin grudgingly allowed himself to be convinced, pushing away the fear of another Ull and Ura.
Merin’s convalescence turned the tables on Rin, as he had to be the strong leader to deal with the imminent Riki invasion. At least he had willingly given counsel from Merin, who I thought should have let Rin squirm a little longer (vengeance: reason number 12 on why I would make a horrible queen). The campaign against the Riki was both scary and cool, as I thought Valentina would finally kill of Merin in one of the skirmishes with the Riki, but I loved the tactics used in the fight scenes. The call to war itself helped unite the kingdom (the enemy of my enemy, and all that), and I think that knowing that Rin was pregnant again permanently capped the Kari council’s thoughts on replacing Rin. For Merin on the other hand, it brought back the fear that he would lose both the babies and Rin, especially since he had to go into the conflict zone as the commander of the royal army. I would like to think that the fear of loosing Rin was what made him fight so hard to survive. It also helped that Rin had no problem forcing the army to go back Merin up.
I prayed that Rin and Merin would have an easier time of delivering the babies the second time around, and thank you, Valentina, you heard my prayers. I adore how obsessed the soldiers at the camp were with Rin and his pregnancy. They kind of made him their unofficial war mascot. It was nice to end the story on a high note (Merin pranking Rin), giving us hope that the next book will be a little more light-hearted.
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How do you react to devastating events in your life? Are you more like Rin, or do you tackle things head on like Merin?