Reviewed by Nikyta
Title: The Painted Crown
Author: Megan Derr
Series: Unbreakable Soldiers #2
Heroes: Istari & Teverem
Genre: M/M Fantasy
Length: 89k words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: November 16, 2016
Available at: Less Than Three Press & Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Prince Istari has spent his life reviled: his parents wish he had never been born, the royal court of Belemere avoids him for fear of angering the king, and everyone else is kept away by his notorious reputation as a deadly sharpshooter. Now a hostage of peace in Tallideth, he is subjected to their hatred as well—even that of Regent Vellem, who once considered him a comrade in arms.
Unexpected solace comes in the form of Lord Teverem, a sad, quiet lord who assumed the title when his brother was killed in the explosion for which Istari’s father is to blame. He is kind and sweet and a sorely needed bright spot in Istari’s life—until Istari meets his family and learns of a dangerous family secret with unexpected ties to Istari’s past, a secret that could drag Tallideth and Belemere right back into war…
As restitution for the role Belemere played in the tragedy that struck Tallideth, Prince Istari is considered a hostage of peace and stuck in Tallideth for the next six years. Used to having hatred directed at him, Istari isn’t too surprised when he’s met with contempt during his stay. So when he meets the quiet and flustered Lord Teverem, he’s surprised by how nice Teverem is to him and a tentative friendship ensues. Until Istari meets Teverem’s nephew and uncovers a dangerous family secretly tied to Istari’s past. What comes next causes a whole host of unexpected and challenging situations that put Istari, Teverem and his family in one dangerous situation after another.
My word! What an unexpected surprise this story turned out to be. For one, I didn’t expect it to have so much angst. Istari is definitely a wounded (mentally and physically) hero who hasn’t had the best life, even if he is royalty. I loved that he was so damaged and still a bit insecure even with everything he’s gone through. Add to that, I liked that Teverem was the complete opposite. The contrasts between them actually brought them together and made them fit better together as a whole, IMO. One of the highlights of this story, though, is the kids. Those little rascals were so adorable and I loved how much they had Istari wrapped around their fingers!
I was waffling back and forth on how to rate this book but ultimately it came down to the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed this story to the point it kept me awake at night. I adored the characters and I adored the storyline. The reason I struggled with the rating, though, is because when it was all said and done, I realized that there weren’t many moments between Teverem and Istari. So I was a little saddened that there wasn’t more on-screen time with them getting to know each other…. outside of life/death situations, that is.
All in all, though, I adored this book. I’ve always loved Megan Derr books but this one really called to me. It had all the elements I love to read about – royalty, assassins, barely any sex and kids! I loved those kids but more than that, I liked the journey Istari, Teverem AND the kids took and where they ultimately ended up. If you’ve enjoyed Derr’s stories before and you liked the previous book, definitely give this a go!
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*