Title: Tournament of Losers
Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Release Date: February 10, 2016
Genre(s): Fairy Tale/Romance
Page Count: 229
Reviewed by: Renée
Heat Level: 1 flame out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
All Rath wants is a quiet, peaceful life. Unfortunately, his father brings him too much trouble—and too many debts to pay—for that to ever be possible. When the local crime lord drags Rath out of bed and tells him he has three days to pay his father’s latest debt, Rath doesn’t know what to do. There’s no way to come up with so much money in so little time.
Then a friend poses an idea just ridiculous enough to work: enter the Tournament of Losers, where every seventy-five years, peasants compete for the chance to marry into the noble and royal houses. All competitors are given a stipend to live on for the duration of the tournament—funds enough to cover his father’s debt.
All he has to do is win the first few rounds, collect his stipend, and then it’s back to trying to live a quiet life…
This book was an absolute pleasure to read! I love Megan Derr’s writing style. This is probably going up there as my favorite of hers.
Rath is a poor man, just trying to make an honest wage, day to day, to keep a roof over his head and food in his belly. Unfortunately, Friar, his world’s version of the big, bad bookie, comes to collect Rath’s father’s debt from him. Friar knows he will get it from Rath before he’ll ever see it from Rath’s father. Friar has unfortunate timing, however, when he interrupts Rath and Tress as they sleep. See, Tress is the man that Rath picked up the night before in a pub. He is beautiful and interesting….and watches Friar’s goons beat up on Rath to scare him into paying a significantly large debt for his dead-beat father.
An amount of money in three days time that Rath could never hope to come up with. Until a friend gives him the idea to enter the Tournament of Charlet, which is about to begin. It’s only offered every some-odd years, and it’s a tradition where any non-royalty may enter for a chance to win a betrothal to a member of the royal family of the kingdom. Several different members actually. There are 4-5 winners within different layers of royalty who will marry an earl, a baroness, etc. with the Prince at the top. Just making it past the first two rounds will give Rath the money he needs to pay off his father’s debt. And the first two rounds will be over within three days, within his time frame for Friar.
As he goes through the first and then second rounds, he sees some of his own “wrong side of the tracks” people along with “rich city folk.” Oh, and Tress. He’s there too. And Tress shares that he’s one of the betrothals who will be marrying one of the winners of the tournament.
This book was quite a surprise. It’s not light-hearted. It was fun, yes. But it’s deep, too. It’s got angst, heartache, regret, and hope. Rath learns a lot about himself along the way. He forms new friendships along the way and comes to realize he may have to let go of some of his own prejudices. The growing relationship with Tress and what that means for them the second Rath is out of the tournament is always at the forefront of his mind. Will he ever see Tress again?
I read this in one sitting. It was THAT good. So why not 5 stars? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If Megan Derr put steam in her books, she would be on my list of all-time favorite authors in this genre. Unless that happens, I can’t give higher than 4 stars. When I read m/m romance, I want to see the physical part of those relationships. I feel slighted otherwise. If I had steam here, this would have easily been a 5 star book. The story is brilliantly written and was an absolute joy to read. I’d still recommend!
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