Prince Allen has trained his entire life to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious mother, who has made their kingdom one of the wealthiest and most influential in the empire. For the past few years he has trained to become the new consort of the High King. The only thing no one prepared him for was the stubborn, arrogant High King himself, who declares Allen useless and throws him out of court.
High King Sarrica is ruling an empire at war, and that war will grow exponentially worse if his carefully laid plans do not come to fruition. He's overwhelmed and needs help, as much as he hates to admit it, but it must be someone like his late consort: a soldier, someone who understands war, who is not unfamiliar with or afraid of the harsher elements of rule. What he doesn't need is the delicate, pretty little politician foisted on him right as everything goes wrong.
Publisher note: this is a highly expanded, completely re-written version of the free short that was previously available under the same title.
With a characteristic blend of sweet romance and high fantasy, Less Than Three CEO Derr (the Lost Gods series) introduces the empire of Harken: nine kingdoms aggregated under Sarrica, the eponymous high king and a widower of four years. Since his husband's death in the endless internecine wars, Sarrica's court has schemed to make his next match. Their choice is Allen, prince of Gaulden and heir to a legendary diplomat, Queen Marren. The key to diplomatic success is mastery of languages, and Allen is fluent in 14. But Sarrica knows only the language of battle, and he turns Allen away in contempt. Driven first by dread of going home a failure, and gradually by a growing affection for the brusque, vulnerable king, Allen wields every tactic he can grasp, subtle and extreme alike, to win Sarrica's trust. Endless descriptions of fashion and d cor weigh the simple narrative down, but the characters are charming, and the small observations of court and courtiers are unerringly chosen.