Prince and Assassin (Perilous Courts, #1) Tavia Lark
Rating: 5 Stars
Publisher: Self Published
Tags: Gay Romance, Fantasy, Magic, Hurt/Comfort, Slow Burn
Length: 283 Pages
Purchase At: amazon
He’s supposed to kill Prince Julien. Not fall for him.
Whisper doesn’t remember his real name. All he knows is the elite assassin guild that raised him—and controls him with the threat of blood magic. Plagued by nightmares, he doesn’t get to refuse assignments, even when his new job doesn’t make sense:
Infiltrate Prince Julien’s court, protect him until the signal arrives, then kill him.
Julien hides his own schemes behind a sordid reputation. He trusts nobody besides his brothers, and he certainly doesn’t trust the aloof, beautiful new stranger at court. But he doesn’t have to trust the stranger to be drawn to him, especially when he saves Julien’s life.
Then Julien saves Whisper too, and Whisper’s reserve shatters.
Beneath Julien’s playboy facade is a warmth Whisper can’t resist. Whisper’s never been comforted before. He’s never been cared for like this. As his nightmares darken, Julien’s touch is his only solace—but falling in love could ruin them both.
Because Whisper’s mission hasn’t changed, and the price for failure is worse than death.
Prince and Assassin is a high fantasy gay romance, with secret identities, hurt/comfort, and magic tigers with attitude. The Perilous Courts series is best read in order, but each book follows a different prince and his Happily Ever After.
I’ve never heard of this author before but it seems they have a few books to their name. I don’t even know how I discovered this book, it might have been a rec from Amazon off the back of The Alpha’s Warlock. Although, that can’t be right, Amazon usually recommends me Amish knitting books or the like. I’m serious, I get the worst recs.
Whisper is the eponymous assassin of the title. He’s young, twenty, a Hound in the Kennel of his Father. Not his biological father. Father means Barnaby Reo, someone who has owned and controlled Whisper since he was very young. Father runs a boutique assassin for hire organisation. He uses blood magic via phylacteries to control the lives of his young corps. It’s in the Hound’s personal interest to be successful, otherwise their young lives are very short. Potential clients know this so they feel confident paying a premium for the Kennel’s assassins. Whisper has killed since he was fourteen, is very good at quick up-close assassination, and when you think about that, that’s pretty damn dark. He wears every kill on his arm in the form of a bound keepsake bracelet, and throughout the book the kills are all remembered. Whisper may be good at his particular skillset, and the Hounds all have their own specialities, but that doesn’t mean it sits well on him psychologically. The boon he asks for, that he’s entitled to for his upcoming kill adds another burden to Whisper’s load. And this book, whilst not heavy as such, has a quietly brooding quality.
Prince Julien is the second brother in the royal family of Silaise. Their mother, Queen Margot, can choose any one of the brothers to lead the kingdom as the succession is not borne of birth order. While his older brother, Audric, is stoic and dutybound, and Bellamy is, apparently, sickly, Julien lives more of a second-in-line lifestyle. He sleeps around, goes to all the parties, keeps different royal company, however, this is how he keeps up with the neighbouring noble houses, their territories and machinations. Sometimes people underestimate him, he’s aware of this, but Julien is no fool. He has Sandry magic, which is plant based, but there’s more. He suppresses some very powerful Rue magic. He’s also incredibly mistrustful of others, but when a striking and potential new hire for Julien’s Second Oathguard accidently catches his eye at a party Julien’s hosting at Greenhaven, he’s very interested.
Julien’s happy, his interest piqued even more, when the gorgeous blond-haired, purple-eyed “Will Hadley” – aka Whisper – is employed by Nadine, the head of his Oathguard. But “Will’s” eyes mean he’s of Draskoran heritage. So there’s a story there already for Julien to ponder because “Will” claims he’s from Fellran, his references support this and he speaks the language fluently – High and Trade- but there is tension between the neighbouring lands. However, “Will’s” love of animals, his dedication to and care of the magnificent and magic fellcats Julien has recently been gifted all add to the physical attraction. So Julien creates a position where “Will” is no ordinary guard, but Master of Cats. It’s a promotion that keeps him nearer. That he isn’t easily seduced by Julien, that he seems so concerned for Julien’s wellbeing, so enigmatic, kind but with a shadowy edge, including eventually wanting to submit and be bruised, continues to sell Julien on the whole package that is Whisper. However, there is a worldly weariness to young “Will,” and Julien’s gut says that there’s far more to the story than he’s being told. To this end, as he’s falling for Whisper, he asks the head of the Greenhaven Oathguards to dive deeper into his past. This also makes the romance a slow burn. I’m very partial to a slow burn romance.
The narration is from a first person dual POV. I liked being in both MCs heads and I believe it wouldn’t have worked as well without knowing what both of them were thinking and feeling. They have different voices and the dual POV always added to the narration of the individual, the romance, the intrigue, and progressed the flow of the story.
There is some diversity to distant or secondary characters of Prince and Assassin. Nothing is particularly expanded upon but it’s noticed just the same. Women are strong, whether being spoken to or alluded to. It helps make the world seem more inclusive. It also looks at prejudice too: Whisper has the purple eyes of a Draskoran, a race the Silaisans and others aren’t fond of, so people talk about Whisper negatively. That isn’t aided by how attractive he is, that Prince Julien is same-sex attracted and “Will” is promoted quickly and often seen with Prince Julien.
I loved these MCs. Whisper has a quiet sadness combined with a pragmatism about him. A kindness in spite of a brutal profession that has been thrust upon him. Whisper and the large fellcats, Rumi and Fisk, are a joy to see on page together. He’s protective and caring of them from the start, and they of him. The fellcats were such a highlight throughout but I worried, and I kept quietly chanting, ‘don’t hurt the big kitties, don’t hurt the big kitties’ as I read. Their personalities and subtle abilities add to the world building and dynamic of the fantasy at hand. The same as wyrm hunting. The surroundings. The talk of dragons. There are no dragons, just mentions. Julien is laidback but strong, sure of mind, and kind with an edge. He’s also fair, and I agree with Whisper, he would make a good ruler of Silaise. This character obsessive was invested.
The world building is excellent. It’s never too much or too little. It’s visceral and envelops you piece by piece by interested piece.
Fellrin’s forests and immense cities sprawl to the south. The rendition of mountainous Draskora to the west gets less and less detailed with each mile away from Silaise. The greater continent of Alantha curves around the Jaws, a sea rendered in dark-stained wooden ripples.
Prince and Assassin is an incredibly engaging, moreish book, one that I’m so happy to have found. It’s not always easy to find books that suit my mood and reading needs, and to give me some much needed escape. This is one of those books that gave me everything I wanted, and then some. A huge surprise. I love when that happens. I love finding new authors I may be able to read more of. Yes!
This book was good. Really good. It’s well written, well edited, well paced, the romance was stealthily sultry, and the fantasy world was nicely established by the author. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, albeit with a different couple. I truly wish Tavia Lark had made this a trilogy with the same characters. I think that could have been something amazing. Anyway, don’t be greedy, Kaz, it is as it is. I loved it, and I’m glad to have been in Whisper and Julien’s lives for several days. I loved this pair and I’m certain Prince and Assassin will be a re-reader. 5 Stars!
“I could have died because I fell in love with him. Instead, I’m alive because he fell in love with me.”
Karen August 20, 2022 at 9:39 am
Yes! It’s lovely to find a gem amongst the others that don’t work or are same-same. This was such a good read.
Thanks, Cindi 🙂
Prince in Disguise (Perilous Courts, #2), Tavia Lark – On Top Down Under Book Reviews October 11, 2022 at 7:13 am
[…] I had some trepidation around Prince in Disguise because the premise didn’t grab me like Prince and the Assassin. However, book #1 was so good I had to see where this would take me and I’m so glad I jumped […]
Kazza’s Books of the Year: 2022 – On Top Down Under Book Reviews December 18, 2022 at 8:18 am
[…] author, Tavia Lark made me a devotee of this series with this first book, Prince and Assassin. The second book is also amazing, reviewed here, and I’ve already pre-ordered book #3 for […]
Prince and Pawn (Perilous Courts, #3), Tavia Lark – On Top Down Under Book Reviews February 9, 2023 at 8:06 am
[…] love this series. As soon as one of them is out, I pounce. Prince and Assassin, Prince in Disguise, now Prince and Pawn are each about one of the House of Sandry’s three […]
This looks SO good, and hallelujah for strong female characters. I’m like you with the bad book recs. Mine these days are all secret babies, billionaires, and books with one or more doormat character – both male and female.
Don’t you love when you find a gem and don’t even realize how you found it?
The quotes are awesome and I love the visuals. Loved the review.