Title: The Solstice Prince (Realms of Love #1)
Author: S.J. Himes and Joel Leslie (Narrator)
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release Date: April 30th 2018
Genre(s): M/M Fantasy, Romance
Length: 6 hrs and 1 min
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Rescued from slavers, healer novice Jaime Buchanan finds himself alone and free in Pyrderi, a kingdom of magic, mythical creatures, and a culture as open and kind as his homeland was cruel and close-minded.
Despite his rescue, Jaime is not left without scars, both mental and physical. Traumatized by his experience and hiding his gift, Jaime struggles to earn his place in the kitchens of Angharad Palace, the heart of Taliesin City. His former life as a student of the healing arts leaves him at a disadvantage in the kitchens, and his damaged state is becoming more apparent by the day.
One day, when necessity and fate intervene, Jaime meets someone unexpected—Prince Maxim, youngest son of the Pyrderian king, a sword master and a devastatingly kind man. Unaccustomed to powerful people with compassion and heart, Jaime flees. A cascade of events reveals Jaime’s hidden talents of healing, and he finds himself not in chains, but at the beginning of a new life.
This swift change of fortune opens Jaime up to new possibilities, including a smitten prince who cautiously courts Jaime, easing him away from his fears and reminding him that compassion and love can make him strong. The winter solstice is quickly approaching, and Prince Maxim shows Jaime the enjoyment and excitement to be found in a land that embraces the ice and cold, and the mysteries of all things magical. He learns to see the man under the royal mantle, and Maxim is more than even Jaime suspected.
The winter solstice is nigh when tragedy strikes, and Jaime learns that his past of grief and sorrow can be a pillar of strength for his solstice prince. If there is one thing that Jaime believes above all else, it is in the healing power of love.
This could be the start of a beautifully romantic fantasy series.
Jaime Buchanan was captured by slavers during one of the darkest periods in his life. Reeling from grief, he contends with horrible abuse before being rescued by a twist of fate. That twist brings him to the Angharad Palace and eventually into the arms of the youngest Prince, Maxim.
The story actually begins after Jaime is rescued, and the reader/listener is only given slight anecdotal glimpses of the cruelty he lived through. When Jaime perceives a threat through a small misunderstanding he runs, but is found and elevated quickly from a kitchen boy back to a healer apprentice.
S.J. Himes and Joel Leslie continue their audio partnership and it serves them both well. They complement each other greatly with Joel bringing out a lot of nuance to S.J.’s stories that might be missed by simply reading. Joel’s rich character voices, accents, and timing serve this audio beautifully.
The story moves quickly and has some time jumps, and while it has an interesting premise and world building, it suffers a teeny bit from too much telling and not enough showing. The romance is insta-love, and while I personally like instant romances I prefer to see a reason as to why the characters fall for each other so quickly, and I feel like this was missing that component.
In the end there is a lovely HFN and the story itself is a setup for a potentially much larger series. I enjoyed it overall and will definitely be back for the next installment, which I believe will follow a different couple before eventually circling back to Jaime and Maxim in a later book.
It’s a fun, wonderfully narrated fantasy romance listen, that’s lovely and quietly romantic, with low angst, and a HFN ending. It’s a sweet beginning, but it’s obvious this is mostly to set up for a series.
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