Title: Guarded (Guarded #1)
Author: Kim Fielding
Publisher: Goodreads Event: Love’s Landscapes
Release Date: June 9th, 2014
Word Count: 36,754
Reviewed by: Lily G Blunt
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5 (Warning: rape scenes)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
We are on the run, me? a bodyguard? and him? a prince. I have admired him for so long, but he hates me.
Two very muscular, shirtless men stand under a cascade of water. The man on the left kneels and rests his head against the other’s torso. His eyes are closed and his palm is pressed against the other man’s heart. The man on the right leans over his companion slightly and gathers his companion’s long wet hair with one hand. He looks down at his companion with tenderness and concern.
This story was written as a part of the M/M Romance Group’s “Love’s Landscapes” event. Group members were asked to write a story prompt inspired by a photo of their choice. Authors of the group selected a photo and prompt that spoke to them and wrote a short story.
I enjoyed this beautiful tale of honor, bravery and love. It is set in an alternate world, the Kingdom of Weydata, which is a mix of medieval, Georgian and fantasy. There’s stage coaches and inns, fortified castles and fighting with swords, kings and princes, war and political intrigue. There’s no magic or fantasy creatures, so the world almost appears historical. I particularly liked that a person’s sexuality and partner were not an issue in this reality. Any relationship was accepted without question and seen as commonplace. The sights and sounds in this kingdom oozes from the tale, painting a clear picture of life for these people. Plenty of details of the culture and costumes are woven into the story as events unfold.
This ‘enemies-to-lovers’ story follows Volos, a war hero and guard in the king’s castle, who willingly risks his life to rescue Berhanu—the prince who apparently despises him—after he is kidnapped.
The journey and search for the prince culminates in a tense and exciting rescue. There’s a gang rape scene during this time. I’ve wondered the purpose of this as Berhanu appeared to only suffer from the physical effects of this ordeal. For me, I think it helped the two men connect because Volos had received similar brutal treatment previously while in prison. And perhaps it was to justify Volos’ slaughter of the captors.
Volos ensures Prince Berhanu succeeds in his original peace mission and gradually the prince moves from treating Volos with cruelty and contempt to showing him love. Their early sexual encounters are very much like their relationship—rough and desperate. Yet as they become friends they gradually grow closer. There’s more tension when the two men return to the castle. But we are treated to a happy ending which includes a beautifully romantic scene. I liked Volos from the start and gradually came to like the prince as he showed his more tender side. I did wonder early on if Mato, the innkeeper, would win Volos’ affections.
We do learn more about what happens to Mato as he has his own story.
The innkeeper in a nowhere town, Mato always yearned for adventure. He had a taste of excitement when two mysterious men arrived in town–badly needing his help. Now a new group of strangers has arrived, including a soldier named Desto. Is Mato ready for a new adventure?
This is a short but sweet tale set in the same fantasy world. Mato gets his happy ending, plus we hear more of what’s been happening between Volos and Prince Berhanu since they returned home.
I was wondering if there was a missing chapter at the end because the story ends so abruptly. I would have liked to find out what happens next.
Available to download free from Goodreads.