Title: Poison Marked
Author: T.J. Nichols
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 1st 2017
Genre(s): Historical, Fantasy
Page Count: TBC
Reviewed by: Maya
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Kill his lover or disobey his king and instigate civil war?
As the feared court poison master, Nikko is sworn to do as his king bids. As the lover of the king’s nephew, Lord Rodas, Nikko must hide his affection or risk being labeled a traitor and punished. A former thief who clawed his way into the palace from the filthy streets, Nikko longs to be deserving of Rodas’s love.
A respected war hero, Rodas is in a delicate political situation. He is not the kingdom’s natural heir, though many support his claim over the wastrel, Prince Fortin. The last thing Rodas wants is war. His highest ambition is for Nikko to openly wear the jewels he’s bestowed on him as a public declaration of their love.
Neither man is prepared for the king to order Nikko to poison Rodas during the solstice feast or for the deadly intrigue they’re plunged into, which exposes their affair and rocks the foundations of the kingdom.
Once a starving street thief, Nikko is now poison master and serving directly the king. Bad luck continues to dodge him, as he finds himself between a rock and hard place: he has to either poison and kill his lover, or he will be signing his own death warrant. Nikko appreciates his new life, but the cost may be too high.
The dialogue is a little bit cheesy, but since this is a historical it does fit into storyline. It manages to convey both the tenderness of two lovers unable to acknowledge each other in public and desperation they feel. The world they live and their circumstances in are depicted well without choking the story.
Several different plots swirl in the court forcing Nikko to act. He enjoys what might be the last night with his lover. They both face choice between honor and death and their reactions to events do a good job of describing what kind of men they are. I waited with baited breath for resolution. I could practically feel the light-bulb over my head turn on as Nikko connected the dots and raced to do everything he could to save his lover. The ending neatly tied all ends.
Overall, this was interesting read and solid choice for lovers of political intrigue in historical setting. My only complaint is that it’s too short: I would have liked to see more of the characters.
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