Title & Link: The Lost Prince
Author: Harper Fox
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Publisher: Fox Tales
Buy Link: Buy Link The Lost Prince (A Midwinter Prince)
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Rating: 4.5 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: A worthy sequel to a compelling and beautiful love story.
Blurb: Laurie and Sasha have built a bright new world together. Sasha is working for the Immigration Guidance Council, and Laurie is landing theatre roles he could once only have dreamed of. Best of all, they’ve spent the past two years enjoying the love they snatched from the jaws of Sasha’s violent, dangerous past.
But Laurie has a history too. He’s on edge, his talents increasing beyond his ability to deal with them. And although his father is dead, Laurie can’t deny the turbulent genetic heritage the old man has bestowed on him. Only Sasha’s love is keeping him anchored and sane – and Sasha is vulnerable, shaken by bad dreams about his life on the streets.
Then Laurie learns that Sasha’s Romanian gang-lord father is on the loose in London, and his deepest fears boil to the surface. The last time Stefan’s shadow fell, Sasha made a run for it, and Laurie can’t bear the thought of losing him again. When Laurie lands a part in the latest Hollywood blockbuster, he abandons England for a dream of safety in the States, persuading the astonished Sasha to come with him.
But the dream becomes a waking nightmare for both of them beneath an alien Californian sun. Laurie must meet his demons head-on, and Sasha must confront the inner barricades that have kept him from treating Laurie as a comrade as well as a lover and a friend. The frosts of a midwinter London brought them together – will this blazing summer crack them apart, or forge enduring love from first romance?
Review: Without giving away some fairly important plot points, I cannot divulge much more of this story than the thorough blurb above has done. Instead I want to talk in-depth about why these two characters are so intensely compelling to the reader and why this rather lengthy sequel worked for the most part.
In The Lost Prince, we watch the steady and most assuredly gut-churning decline of Laurie Fitzroy into a driven, obsessive and frightened young man. From the moment he discovers that Sasha’s father is free and has not been deported as they had thought, Laurie is running on borrowed time. First, the emotional cost of acting often unhinges Laurie as he plumbs the depths of his characters with such single minded intensity that he tends to lose himself to the role. Couple this with a gut sure knowledge that he could never trust Sasha to not run away again once he discovers his father is on the loose and you have a young man who now will do anything to keep his lover safe, even moving him clear across the ocean to America.
With fascinating clarity, author Harper Fox, unravels Laurie’s psyche to the point where past demons come to the fore and he begins to exhibit the addictive tendencies of his emotionally lost mother and the tight-fisted anger of his deceased father. Sasha is shocked as he watches his “prince” devolve into a secretive, paranoid shadow of the man he loves and must himself come to terms with the fact that the more Laurie pushes him away, the less Sasha can feel their connection that has kept them both grounded over the last two years. The disturbing changes that are happening within Laurie are so effectively nuanced in the bedroom. Once a compassionate and caring lover, now Laurie “needs” with an almost animal like ferocity as if the more brutal the act of lovemaking the less he will feel the immense guilt that threatens to both choke him and destroy his relationship with Sasha.
Lest you begin to think that only Laurie is walking the fine line of destructive behavior, you must know that Sasha has his own unique set of demons. For the first time, Sasha begins to weave a web of lies concerning his imaginary counseling sessions that are meant to be helping him overcome the near crippling nightmares that attack his sleep with more and more frequency. Then, Sasha is pulled from London by the impetuous Laurie and placed inside a compound where guards mark Sasha’s every move in order to keep him safe. There he meets the illegal immigrant Mateo, a pool boy, and we watch with growing unease as Sasha begins to desire something other than Laurie for the first time in their partnership. I found myself hoping that somehow Laurie would see what his erratic behavior had done, how it had caused Sasha to doubt. Unfortunately, Laurie was in his own downward spiral that the relocation to Hollywood only fed and a quick drink and a tranquilizer or two become his way to cope with the unstoppable fear that he was losing the one thing he loves, his Sasha.
It is here that the true genius of Harper Fox shines. While I felt her novel was at times a bit long-winded, with way too much exposition being wasted on the mechanics of a Hollywood movie set, every moment she gives us of her two main characters is absolute gold. There were times when I just wanted to shake both men into seeing how they were pushing the other farther and farther away. The all consuming love these boys had for each other was terrifyingly real and breathlessly intense. However, they had spent the last two years not relaxing into one another’s love but, instead, walking on eggshells around each other, always fearful that the axe was about to fall and their love would be the ultimate victim. What a self-fulfilling prophecy became in so many ways.
The bottom line was that here were two young men, deeply in love with the other but never fully trusting that their love was enough. They were so busy “saving each other” and keeping each other from the dark and gritty shadows of their pasts that they nearly lost each other in the process. I cannot express to you the power of Harper Fox’s narrative. The way in which she allows the reader to crawl inside her character’s minds and see the layers of love and guilt and fear that tear at your heart as each chapter unfolds. It is truly stunning. I wish I could describe the visceral way in which this author writes about the need that arises within each of her men, the need to trust, to love even when everything is falling apart. Perhaps her words will give you an idea where my own feeble attempts cannot.
“Yes, though Sasha might want to pin him, peel, him, find out by brute force what was growing inside that too-small skin and so learn how to keep it when it burst free…He sobbed, glad his throat was stopped and silenced. He would trust.”
On and on this novel goes, spinning an incredibly beautiful story that wraps itself around your heart. My only hesitation in giving this novel a full five stars stems from the earlier comment that there were passages that seemed to just mark time in this story. Some of the acting mechanics, the adjustment to the hollywood movie set and endless gnawing flashes of self-doubt from Laurie began to weigh down the plot causing it to stall at times and lose its momentum. However, Harper Fox is an amazing writer and an adept storyteller and she never allowed her novel to flounder. Just as I began to worry that the plot was grinding to a stop, she picked it up by the scruff of its neck and threw us back into the action.
All in all, The Lost Prince by Harper Fox was a very worthy sequel to its predecessor and a beautiful love story that resonated long past the final words on the page.