Title: A King Undone (Noble Pleasures Book 1)
Author: Cooper Davis
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: historical fantasy, m/m romance
Source: copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley
Rating: 3 stars
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Blurb: Sometimes you have to risk everything, to follow your heart
“Noble Pleasures, Book 1”
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: Oh, what to do with A King Undone. The ambiguous title suggests lots of hot man love and romps between the sheets, in the stable, on the table and wherever. The truth is, this book is a slow seduction. Very slow. A little too slow for my tastes. I very much love a story where the characters don’t dive straight for the bed, but in this case it’s a bit of a contradiction.
A King Undone is about King Arend Tollemach who has finally found the courage to do as he has wanted for a very long time, but was unable to do due to royal obligations. He’s going to get a lover. A male lover and it’s going to be all about sex. No love involved. Or so he thinks.
Enter Julian, temple slave and soon to be Arend’s concubine. It is pretty much love at first (irritated on Arend’s part) sight. Julian’s looking for love. The question is, can he find a place in Arend’s heart?
Julian may need a crowbar for that, because ho boy, does Arend have his heart locked up tight.
This book left me with mixed feelings. I pretty much liked the blurb, but the book is very slow going. Very detailed, but very slow with a bit of an anti-climatic end.
I did like the world setting. It’s a historical fantasy setting with lots of political intrigue. It was set up nice. It’s neither too focussed on the historic setting (with added customs and traditions) or the fantasy (no dragons flying about).
The story is mainly focussed on Arend and Julian and their slowly slow slow going romance of sorts. We get to know a lot about Julian and Arend. There are several secondary characters, but we never really get to know them. They are fillings for Julian and Arend’s story. There is a lot of potential there, especially Arend’s son and his husband, but we only get scraps.
Arend is arrogant and with a big mouth, but he has a big heart, which has been stomped on too many times. He hides behind his facade of arrogant King who just wants to be loved. I found there was little balance between the facade Arend puts up for the world and the man he wants to be with Julian. As such he is a hard character to like. There were instances I wanted to slap him (hard).
He is written as a strong king, but in truth he’s weak, as he lets his underlings pretty much walk over him and the council dictate whatever they like. For example, the stunts his manservant pulls on Julian? No king would allow that. Nor the dictates of the council. He lets them get away with dictating his life way too much. As a king he should be ruler, but this felt more like Arend was there for show and the council is the one in power.
There is also the part where Arend is a virgin in man loving and tells us as such many many times. He had me raising my eyebrows a few times. No man would state he is a virgin as much as Arend does. And while he is very eager to shed his virginity…he takes a bloody long time. He is a man…right? With a concubine? Right?
Julian, however, is a very much likable character with an adorable cat. Sold by his brother to the temple, he has overcome his fate and to find his place in the world. Except that he’s been on the temple shelf for having a too feminine voice. He is observant and strong and doesn’t just lie down and die, but fights for what he wants. And he wants Arend. Even if they have a few misunderstandings.
The writing was good and detailed. At times I found it too detailed so that it took away from the flow of the story. There are some things worth expanding on, but there were some scenes that went on way too long, for example Julian and Arend meeting for the first time and some of the conversations they have in the castle or in bed.
All in all A King Undone is a likable story. I liked getting to know Julian and Arend, even if Arend is not a favorite character. There story is a sweet one, with some bitter undertones.
Why you should read it: A King Undone is definitely for those who like a slow romance in a historical fantasy setting.