“A frothy confection of sea-foam, young love, and derring-do.” —NPR
From the New York Times bestselling author of So This Is Ever After, a young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.
Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel.
Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean.
That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…
The royal family of Harth has always kept Prince Taliesin's magic out of the public eye, since the kingdom's former monarch destroyed his enemies via "unspeakable" magical means. Now that Tal's 16, though, it's time for his coming-of-age tour he'll see the kingdom and have a little fun before taking on official duties. But things go wrong quickly when he and his crew encounter a derelict boat in flames: aboard it are a suspicious treasure hoard and a handsome, mysterious scapegrace, Athlen, who discovers Tal's secret before disappearing into the sea. When Tal, who's bisexual, meets Athlen again on shore, their attraction deepens. But can they build a relationship given Tal's constant struggle with how or whether to hide his magic, Athlen's tragic background, and the political tensions that put Tal's life at risk? The quasi-medieval, semi-magical setting is a bit pro forma, but Lukens (the Rules series) has created attractive heroes in Tal and Athlen, and their romance is rendered with a light touch and a straightforward resolution, making the book a good fit for fantasy fans a bit younger than the stated age range. Ages 14 up.