Title: A King Undone (Noble Pleasures: Book One)
Author: Cooper Davis
Publisher: Samhain Press
Pages/Word Count: 340 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: Sometimes you have to risk everything, to follow your heart
In a world where gentlemen openly court and marry fellow noblemen, the threat of scandal still lurks behind every velvet drape for kings and princes. Such has been the fate for King Arend Tollemach, forced to sacrifice his heart on the altar of regal duty.
Now that his wife is dead and his royal obligations are at an end, he s ready to take an unthinkable risk. King Arend seeks a concubine from Temple Sapphor, a secretive, gated world where he will finally shed his virginity as least as it pertains to making love to a man.
Julian never thought he d spend ten years on the temple shelf, passed over again and again. Just when he despairs of ever finding placement in a nobleman s bed, Arend walks into the temple. A lonely eyed, beautiful king who could easily steal his heart.
Arend discovers he has no problem opening his bed to the exquisite concubine. The problem lies in finding the key to his long-shuttered heart.
Warning: Contains a beautiful, virgin king desperate to bed another man, a concubine who fantasizes about being claimed and revered by a strong monarch, and a sea of scandal set against a sensual, palatial backdrop.
Review: Cooper Davis’s A King Undone takes me back to the earliest days of my discovery of genre romance, when I was a wide-eyed and hopeful girl who loved a good swoon-worthy love story, precisely what this novel is—an Alt U historical romance that appealed to my most earnest romantic side.
A king’s duty to the crown is the source of the conflict in the novel’s plot, something that is an issue primarily because of how this world is built. In a country where it is not uncommon for men to marry men, young Prince Arend Tollemach was forced by his father to break his engagement to Prince Darius of Agadir, and enter into a loveless marriage with a woman in order to carry on his family lineage. He earned a son he loves from the bargain, but decades of denying his own desires and happiness has brought the forty-one year old “virgin” king to the point of his own rebellion after his wife’s death leaves him awash in the need to finally be intimate with a man; though it doesn’t mean he’s looking for emotional entanglements, which leads him to Julian, the man for whom Arend has paid to warm his bed for the duration of a year, and no more.
The relationship Cooper Davis has fostered between these two men thus far is a pendulum swing of emotion and distance, Arend at once realizing his feelings for Julian are emerging as something other than master and servant, tipping dangerously close to warmth and affection—possibly even love—while throwing up walls to keep the beautiful and magnetic Julian at arm’s length. I like how the author kept Arend and Julian’s roles in balance, at times making it feel as though Julian was truly the one with all the power, while Arend, with the sometimes overwhelming burden of being king, was glad to give it to him. Those warring feelings become problematic, though, as Julian is a man who leads with his heart after a decade of being overlooked as a concubine worthy of service. Complicating things even further is a Council mandate that threatens Arend’s son’s marriage and may leave him impotent in his desire to lead his own life, to be the man he’s meant to be, forcing on him the appearance of a figurehead rather than the monarch of his realm.
A King Undone is a character driven novel, led by two men I grew to love, each strong and vulnerable in their own ways. There’s not a lot of world-building in the novel, just enough to keep up the alternate universe feel while focusing on the budding relationship between the king and his concubine, and all the corresponding complications that come along with it. This is escapist fiction at its best; touching, poignant, exceedingly romantic, with bright points of humor and flirty banter between its two heroes.
As this is book one in the Noble Pleasures series, there are ends left untied, the loosest being how Arend and Julian’s relationship will move forward with all the obstacles that still lay in front of them, ones they have to overcome before their fates can be sealed.
If you’re a fan of an impassioned historical romance, A King Undone is just that, as well as a lovely start to a series I’m looking forward to following to the end.
You can buy A King Undone (Noble Pleasures: Book One) here: