My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The King’s Spinster Bride by Ruby Dixon is my first read from her, though I’ve heard such good things from most of BookTube. The Aspect & Anchor prequel novella is 138 pages. I listened to the audiobook, which clocks in just shy of four hours and is dually narrated by Jillian Macie and Mason Lloyd. The book alternates between Princess Halla and Mathior’s first-person points of view.
At sixteen years old, Princess Halla of Yshrem is the heir apparent, and eligible bachelors have started to visit to win her heart–or more accurately, her hand, because she knows that she will not be able to marry for love. On top of that, the kingdom is currently at war with Cyclopae warriors. And on top of even that, she’s watching over seven-year-old barbarian prince Mathior, stolen from his people in an act of war. She sees him as an honored guest, while her attendants just see him as a barbarian nuisance. When word comes that her father has been killed by an influx of Cyclopae warriors, his closest advisor proclaims they need to kill the young boy to avenge the king’s death. However, Princess Halla puts her foot down and decides that Mathior will sit at her side as an equal and will wait for Alastair the Conqueror to take back his son.
Now twenty-four, Mathior sees to his father Alastair’s funeral pyre as he is the next in line to rule the Cyclopae warriors as First Warrior. Said warriors poke out one of their eyes as part of their ritual into adulthood, and wear an eye patch over half of their face. His advisor suggests that to snuff out any uprisings of the people in this change of rule, he should kill Princess Halla, the last remaining member of the Yshrem royal line. Said princess is now a forgotten spinster in a quiet temple who bides her time reading love poetry. But Mathior has other plans, since he’s been in love with Halla since she saved him as a child. And barbarian wedding customs are very interesting.
This novella was very charming and entertaining! The worldbuilding is much deeper than I expected for such a short campy story. I really appreciated how much Dixon uses consent here as well. I’m excited to check out more of her backlist.
Tropes in this book include: royalty, older woman/younger man, virgin hero
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My rating: 4 of 5 stars