Reviewed by Nikyta
Title: Ties of Destiny
Author: Caitlin Taylor
Series: Curse of the Crown #1
Genre: M/M Fantasy
Length: 341 pages
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: October 26, 2018
Available at: Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: When forces both inside and outside the palace walls threaten the life of Crown Prince Akoni, he finds himself in need of a guard. Someone who will protect not only him, but also his secrets – and he may have found the perfect man for the task.
Being a soldier is Jeffery’s life. He won’t be defined by his past, but fights for the present, not some future he will never see. Yet, his mandatory reassignment to the palace as Prince Akoni’s personal guard forces him to set aside his plans. His role places Jeffery in the presence of nobles whom he despises, and Prince Akoni is worse than most.
Can two men learn to trust each other, or will the secrets they carry bring about their own demise? Will having Jeffery close to him help Prince Akoni to become King – or cause more deaths? They need to depend on each other, for the sake of the future, because if they cannot, the past will only repeat itself and neither of them will survive.
Ties of Destiny is the first book in the Fantasy series Curse of the Crown.
If you like fantastical adventures, a blending of magic, sword fighting and technology then you will love this intriguing first instalment by Caitlin Taylor.
I’m at a loss for how to review this one because I liked and didn’t like it. What I didn’t like far outweighs what I did like BUT the biggest draw of this story for me was Prince Akoni and Ignacio. I loved that the prince had such a bad reputation because he’s experience the consequences of what its like to be a loved prince and someone dear to him paid for that. Those around him get hurt or injured and it’s just easier to make everyone think you’re horrible. Deep down, though, he’s sensitive to those around him and learns as much as he can. He knows every one of his servants even if it doesn’t seem like it. He’s like an onion, you peel off one layer and you find one more and one more and one more. I loved seeing what would come next once Jeffrey found out something new about Akoni. I also loved that Akoni was a warrior. He wasn’t one to sit back and let others fight but would be right in the thick of things.
It was intriguing seeing him try to figure out Jeffrey and how Jeffrey played a part with his magic. Although, we don’t come to learn why Jeffrey had such an influence on Akoni’s magic, Akoni does change a lot over the course of the book. Whether that’s because of Jeffrey or because Akoni finally feels safe enough to let some of himself out for others to see, who knows? Still, I loved Akoni even when he would go into his little rages. He wiggled his way into my heart and made me love him. Plus, there was Ignacio who was such a sweetheart and I hope we get to see him find his HEA someday.
On the other hand, I had a lot of issues with this one because I honestly did not like Jeffrey. However, to start, the blurb makes it seem like this is a romance (or maybe I read too much into it?) but there’s really not much of a romance in it and that’s what I went into this one expecting to find. Akoni is interested in Jeffrey and has made his intentions clear MULTIPLE TIMES but for a majority of the book, Jeffrey is sleeping with other guys and pushing Akoni away with vague excuses of why they couldn’t while never telling him the REAL reason why he thinks they could never be together. Even when Jeffrey finally gives Akoni a chance and decides on a date, he then freaks out and runs. TBH, I didn’t like Jeffrey. I grew annoyed at him constantly judging the prince when he wasn’t much better by throwing in Akoni’s face that everyone BUT the prince was good enough to sleep with. Add to that, I grew frustrated with the lack of answers in Jeffrey’s past.
Throughout the book, we’re led on to believe that Jeffrey did some heinous crime but we never figure out WHAT he did. It wasn’t until 70% when I thought we would get some answers but we only get HALF of Jeffrey’s secret and that just left me more confused and aggravated in not getting full answers. I wanted to know why Jeffrey left his life, what did he do that caused him his FIRST flogging and why he’s so afraid of someone finding out he’s more than just a guard. But at the end of the story, I was just left with more questions and none of the answers I wanted. Plus, I thought Jeffrey was just a big coward. The story starts with Jeffrey’s reputation of being this mindless killer but all I got from his characteristics and actions was that he’s a coward and a slut and that did not warm me to him at all. It’s hard to like someone when they’re just leading on others and not seeming to give a shit on the emotional damage they’re giving others. It made me sad for Akoni and Kieron because he just kept leading them on all the while knowing he’d never be what either of them wanted. Even when he’d put an ‘end’ to his relationship with Kieron, it was never really over because there was always that ‘one last time’ over and over.
Aside from Jeffrey, I still don’t understand the ultimate premise behind this series… the curse. What is it? How did the curse start? Why does it only hit the king? Akoni has powers but who’s to say that he would ultimately ascend? Yet he was still able to touch on that magic before ascending. Which leads me to ask, does Ignacio have powers? If not, would his powers manifest if he was king? Does no one else in royal family have magic except the King and Akoni? WHY NOT?? And how has no one written a journal or anything on what could make the curse manifest or how to avoid it? It seems like the curse has been around for generations and yet no one has thought to write something helpful to future generations on how to make it bearable? Akoni’s great grandfather was able to live with it, why did he not try to teach his son or grandson on how to deal with the curse while still being a good King? So many questions and yet none of the answers I wanted because I felt like the author focused more on Jeffrey’s sexcapades than on furthering the premise of the series, which to me felt like it should have been THE CURSE. Maybe the series name should have been changed to something that relates to Jeffrey instead of the prince seeing as this one seems to focus majorly on Jeffrey and only a little on the prince. I mean, we only get a few of the prince’s POVs and that’s really at the very beginning and at the very end. The rest is from Jeffrey’s POV and his sex life. However, I won’t deny that Jeffrey was loyal and I did love that he put Akoni’s life before his own when it really came down to it.
In the end, I’m very confused on this book. I won’t deny that the author weaved a very intriguing tale but it’s overshadowed by the unanswered questions and Jeffrey, who I’m not a fan of. I did love Akoni, even though he gets a bad rep and I was intrigued by the whole curse, even though I’m severely confused on how no progress has been made to make it bearable. Ultimately, it seems like I didn’t like this one but it was a book I couldn’t put down and I can’t deny that I had the urge to keep reading even with how frustrated I was with most of it. I wished Jeffrey hadn’t slept around so much and thrown it all in Akoni’s face and wished it had focused more on furthering Jeffrey AND Akoni’s relationship. I wish for some much in this story, considering it was so long, it should have advanced more, developed more. In the end, I was left disappointed that I just read 341 pages and Jeffrey still had not developed character-wise. It’s hard for me, right now, to decide if I’ll read the next book because I can’t take another 300+ pages of Jeffrey giving Akoni excuses and not opening himself up while sleeping with everyone and their father and then rubbing it in Akoni’s face. I just can’t do that again. Plus, I wished I would have known before hand that this one ends on a cliffy.
BUT if you like fantasy stories and you’re okay with a bittersweet ending, give this one a go and try it for yourself. I know most readers don’t have my hang ups so you should definitely try this one for yourself if you’re into smut and not too picky on how many people a certain character sleeps with.
Overall Impression: I liked it
*I received a copy of this book from the author in return for a fair and honest review.*