For the last five years, Veier has been chained to a king’s throne in his bear form. When a neighboring kingdom overthrows the crown, Veier’s imprisonment ends, but true freedom is not so easily earned. With blood on his hands, he needs someone with patience, strength, and trust to help him become the person he was before and prove to the invaders that he isn’t the monstrous king’s loyal pet.
Elrid, the invading king's brother and a powerful mage, is everything Veier despises. He’s also the only thing between Veier and execution, because he thinks he can help Veier change from an aggressive bear shifter into a reasonable man. While the pair have a rough start, with long talks and mutual leaps of faith, they begin to care for each other.
However, the closer Veier gets to his freedom, the closer he is to losing Elrid. He must find balance in his heart and his life if he wishes to truly claim the freedom he’s been given—and the man he loves.
In Whitehall's underwhelming fantasy romance debut, a mage named Elrid sets out to save a captive Ursinai (or bear shifter). Despite the backdrop of a conquered kingdom, much of the novel takes place in the room where the shifter, Veier, is being held. As Elrid attempts to tame him, the two develop a fondness for each other in the slowest of slow burns, with not so much as a kiss between them until the last 20 pages. Although the hesitation can be interpreted as romantic, it's also forced by the setup; holding back is Elrid's only ethical path due to the uncomfortable power dynamic. For all the lead-up, Veier's actual recovery from his trauma takes place largely in the epilogue, leaving the book feeling rushed and the ending abrupt and unsatisfying. Although the romance would feel sweet in other circumstances, this book falls short.