After plotting against his incompetent king, Han and his supporters are driven from the Hittite Empire and seek refuge in Egypt. Instead, he finds only suffering. Taken captive by Prince Itamun to ensure the village of refugees will follow the pharaoh’s will, Han plots ways to turn the young prince’s desire for him into a weapon. Soon, desire becomes a double-edged sword and it’s no longer clear who’s seducing whom.
Itamun was sent to defend the borders of Egypt by his own father, Ramesses II. His heart heavy with the guilt of bloodshed, he’s all too willing to seek relief in the arms of his captive. From the start, Han satisfies Itamun’s dark needs for dominating a lover, desires Itamun never knew he had. But with so many scars on Han’s soul, can Itamun ever convince his captive that they may have something more together than temporary pleasure?
Review by Sally Davis
At the beginning of the book, where I had expected the blurb to be, was an excerpt that included the words submission, entry, plunder and cock, so I started reading with no particular expectations other than that the protagonists would be at it like knives. Sure enough, no sooner do they meet than they are. Lovers of stories that have a lot of sex scenes [almost one third of the book] will be pleased by this one.
One protagonist is Hanilis, exiled prince of the Hittites, who has brought a group of his supporters and their families to squat on the fringes of the Egyptian Empire after unwillingly participating in a failed coup attempt. Expert archer, commander of men and laden with issues, Hanilis is in mourning the lover whose life he failed to save in battle a year before. His opposite number is Itamununemwia, youngest son of Rameses II, a glossy, privileged youth used to having his own way, who has been sent to collect tribute from the area inhabited by Hanilis people to toughen him up a bit.
Both have certain specific unrealised sexual needs that they find fulfilled by the other. The POV alternates from chapter to chapter so the reader gets a good idea of the motivations of both characters but there are some interesting secondary characters, too, though not much time is spent fleshing them out.
There are also two subplots beyond the romance between the two princes, but it is their sexual relationship that is the main point of the story. I should also mention that this relationship has strong BDSM themes, to which I have no objections but may not be every reader’s cup of tea.
There are minor editorial issues, which surprised me because Amberquill markets itself as being the best, and the all-American lad on the cover, so neatly cropped and styled, made me assume that the book would be 20th century history rather than Ancient. I have to admit that I’m no expert on either Hittite or Egyptian history so Google has been my friend as I tried to locate the story on the historical timeline. The author has obviously done his/her research and has fitted the action of the story into actual historical incidents. There are also plentiful cultural references, some of which may be a bit too educational in tone for some tastes. This is, I suppose, the drawback when dealing with one of the less familiar periods of history. An author writing ‘Romans’ wouldn’t need to take the time to describe what a toga is because the majority of readers have a mental image associated with the word. But a ‘shenti’ requires some explanation.
My own reactions to stories are very much coloured by my reactions to the protagonists. It interested me that the author had chosen to make the younger protagonist the dominant character while the bigger, older, warrior type took the submissive role. The reasons for both are explained adequately and I think the sex worked quite well. However, I need to feel sympathy for the protagonists in order to enjoy their journey. Unfortunately both Hanilis and Itamun forfeited my sympathy in chapter one when, as military commanders during a battle, they left their men to fight unsupervised, and in Hanilis’ case to die, while they got busy in a hut. That one scene was a hurdle I couldn’t get over. I’m sure that if the author had used a different method to bring them together, for instance just having Hanilis captured, I would have enjoyed the story far more. Also, I’m passionate about plot and only one of the subplots was brought to an emotionally satisfying conclusion for me. It’s possible that this was deliberate and that the author was using it as a red herring to distract attention from the other plot. But both had been given equal weighting in terms of anticipation so when the first was resolved so easily I was more irritated than relieved.
A decent story, with plenty of sex for those who want it and some interesting elements, but it didn’t push many of my buttons
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