Title: Heartsong (Brothers Fae Trilogy #2)
Author: S.W. Vaughn
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy/paranormal
Length: Novel Plus
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A guest review by Jenre
A good Urban Fantasy which combines interesting world building with unusual characters to provide a story which mixes a sweet but steamy romance with violence and political intrigue.
Trystan Raines loves cock. That’s a bonus in his line of work–he’s a prostitute, and damned good at his job. But pickings have been slim lately, and he’s homeless and flat broke. So when a stranger offers him a million dollars to play escort for a month, he jumps without looking–right into a world most humans don’t know exists. The world of the Fae. And his new master-for-a-month is their gorgeous prince, Braelan, who wants to “experience” New York with a human.
Uriskel also serves Braelan, as a bodyguard, but his term is a lot longer than Trytan’s: life, without possibility of parole. He’s also Braelan’s half-brother–but he can’t let the prince know that, or the King will have him killed. Uriskel is less than pleased when Braelan introduces his new human toy, and informs him that he’s to play bodyguard to the prince in the human realm.
Trystan thinks Uri’s an asshole. Uri thinks Trystan’s a fool. But when the prince forces them to perform sexual favors with each other for his amusement, they discover mutual lust that deepens to love. Unfortunately, there’s no way the prince will let them be together–unless it’s over Uri’s dead body.
Brothers Fae Trilogy
Heartsong is the sequel to Skin Deep, a book I enjoyed and which was reviewed by Wave here. This book focuses on the character of Uriskel, who is half Seelie/Unseelie and brother to Cobalt from the first book. As the book starts Uri is imprisoned in Arcadia, the land of the Seelie Fae for failing to perform his duty to the king, due to events that took place at the end of Skin Deep. His punishment is to be tortured and humiliated in front of the Seelie court. Part of that humiliation involves Trystan, who also featured briefly in the first book. Trystan is a male whore, and one time favourite of Cobalt, who has been offered 1 million pounds to be the prince’s companion for a month. After Uri’s punishment the prince, Braelan, Trystan and Uri travel to the human world so that the prince can experience it for himself, leading to Trystan and Uri becoming close and some unexpected truths being revealed.
There was much to like about this book, especially in terms of the characterisation in the book. Uri was quite an enigmatic character in Skin Deep, and perhaps not the most sympathetic. In this book we learn why he behaves as he does, and that underneath the tough exterior and gruff personality, he’s actually incredibly noble. I have to admit I’m a bit of a sucker for this type of character so Uri worked well for me. I also liked that he had his weaknesses, and found some of the most touching scenes in the book involved Uri’s fears rather than those where he shows his incredible strength of mind. If I have any complaints it’s that I found it a little frustrating that Uri is so controlled by others, that he has to suffer much through no fault of his own. However, I think that was probably the point – I was supposed to feel that frustration – still there were parts I could hardly bear to read because of it. Trystan was also likeable in that he was pretty innocuous and a generally amiable person. He too has his weaknesses which were exploited towards the end of the book and a sadness in his life which gave him substance. I was surprised though at how startlingly naive and tender-hearted Trystan is for a whore. I expected more brashness and a dose of bitterness to his character which never appeared. Instead he’s a little bit twinky in that he is young, prone to tears, likes sex and is happy to perform in front of others. He jumps into the initial situation without very much forethought and then tries to make the best of it. He also falls in love quickly. All this combined to make Trystan rather shallow but also very difficult to dislike, and he was perhaps the perfect foil for all Uri’s twisted bitterness and dark thoughts.
The book contains a lot of sex, both on and off page. Some of the sex scenes crossed the line in terms of pleasure/pain and dub con, especially at the beginning of the book and I found that a little uncomfortable to read. Those who are not interested in reading about voyeurism, violence, and characters who sleep around may not find this book to their taste.
Like the first book, I found the world-building in this book to be one of its strengths. I learned more of the Seelie court and the casual cruelty of the Fae. There’s also a lot in terms of political machinations within the court and the balance of power which I found interesting. The character of Prince Braelan was also well defined. He’s an odd mix of open-mouthed wonder at the human world, and brutal malice in the way he treats Uri. At one point I seriously doubted that I would find him sympathetic in the least, but as the book progresses Braelan develops away from the evil stereotype into something more nuanced by the end, and I found I did like him, much to my surprise. I have a feeling that Braelan will be a hero for another book, in which case I await how the author develops his role with the world of the Fae.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and found reading it a very satisfying experience. I liked the unusual Fae setting, the characters with the mix of the sweet Trystan and the brusque Uri, and the plot which was fast paced and exciting. If you like Urban Fantasy books and don’t mind lots of sex and violence mixed with your romance then this book is for you.