New Release Review & Excerpt:
The Prince and the Ice King
By Amanda Meuwissen
Gemstone Kingdoms, Book 1
Every Winter Solstice, the Emerald Kingdom sends the dreaded Ice King a sacrifice—a corrupt soul, a criminal, a deviant, or someone touched by magic. Prince Reardon has always loathed this tradition, partly because he dreams of love with another man instead of a future queen.
Then Reardon’s best friend is discovered as a witch and sent to the Frozen Kingdom as tribute.
Reardon sets out to rescue him, willing to battle and kill the Ice King if that’s what it takes. But nothing could prepare him for what he finds in the Frozen Kingdom—a cursed land filled with magic… and a camaraderie Reardon has never known. Over this strange, warm community presides the enigmatic Ice King himself, a man his subjects call Jack. A man with skin made of ice, whose very touch can stop a beating heart.
A man Reardon finds himself inexplicably drawn to.
Jack doesn’t trust Reardon. But when Reardon begins spending long days with him, vowing to prove himself and break the curse, Jack begins to hope. Can love and forgiveness melt the ice around Jack’s heart?
“Jack, is it? Far better than ‘Ice King,’ I suppose.”
The king frowned.
“I’ll call you Majesty until we trust each other. But on that day, I will call you Jack.”
“Is this a game to you?” The Ice King straightened. Reardon stood almost directly before the throne now, chilled and shivering but without any creeping frost on his hair or clothes. “What do you hope to accomplish?”
“My father is wrong for what he does, but seeing this curse on you makes me wonder if he is right about magic’s corruption, despite all the wonders it can do.”
“Magic alone did not curse us!” the king roared. “One person who wielded it did, and I brought her wrath upon me myself.”
That gave Reardon pause. There was so much he didn’t know. “You could tell me your story.”
“It is a long one, little prince, and I grow weary of your presence already.” He stood, crunching down the steps between Reardon and the throne and bringing a gust of icy wind with him.
Reardon sensed how close he was to death but stood his ground. “I only want to bring my people home.”
“And where are they supposed to go? Home, you say. The thief who almost lost her hands because she was starving, the man who lusted after the wrong noble’s son, your friend who has visions—do they have a home to go back to when their own people cast them out as villains?”
“Good for you. You only cared once it finally affected someone you knew.”
Reardon’s fists clenched to be called a heartless coward, but he’d called himself worse this past year.
He also couldn’t overlook the example of a man and a noble’s son.
“I suppose you’ve taken in all the corrupted, haven’t you?”
“You call them corrupt”—the Ice King stomped another clawed foot closer—“yet ask for leniency?”
“I only speak as I was taught. I don’t agree with it. I don’t believe they’re corrupt. Not any of them. I don’t want to. If my father understood—”
“He’d still keep up the status quo. Your kingdom shuns what they don’t understand because of my curse, yet they don’t even remember the time before.”
“So tell me! Let me know the truth so we can learn from our past instead of continuing to repeat it.” Reardon stepped forward—too close, he knew—but like before, instead of reaching out and ending him, the Ice King backed away. “You’d really let them all go, wouldn’t you? If they wanted it?”
“They don’t, but you are welcome to ask them, including your friend.”
“Then I am not a prisoner either?”
“That is up for debate.”
If Barclay had seen Reardon’s death in his vision, it couldn’t be now. Not yet. “Give me the chance to prove I will go back and change things for the better. I’ll stay for as long as it takes, but once you believe me, once you know me and I know you, let me go.”
“And what if I never believe you? You’re the prince. You could bring an army to my door after learning my secrets.”
“If you never believe me… then you either have another servant or another statue to crush. But that means you take an audience with me every day.”
The king scoffed, turning to stomp back up to his throne and throw himself onto it with an elegant ease that should have been impossible. “Sounds frightfully dull.”
“Yes, I can see your calendar is quite full.”
He rumbled with laughter like a brewing winter storm.
For a long stretch of minutes, he stared at Reardon with his uniquely human eyes—different from his companions. The Ice King was more tied to his humanity, even if he’d lost the feeling of it in his heart, and more cursed and tortured because of it, perhaps.
Yet still he said, “Fine. But make no mistake, little prince, if you prove unworthy or attempt to betray me, I will not hesitate to turn you into frozen rubble like that thief.”
All Reardon could do was return his stare and wonder—What was this curse? Why had it been cast? And what had the king been like before it changed him and his kingdom? He had to know, even if a mysterious and frightening future stretched out before him.
Love, death, and blue eyes in a sea of white.
Whatever that might mean.
“You have a deal, Your Majesty.”
~ * ~ Anna‘s Review ~ * ~
When I saw the title and cover, I thought I would venture out of my comfort zone to give it a try. I usually don’t read a lot of fantasy fiction because sometimes the characters and the world they’re in can get confusing. I did not find that to be the case at all in this book by Amanda Meuwissen.
Reardon is the prince of the Emerald Kingdom and has a big secret that few others know. Instead of longing for a princess, he longs for a prince. He has to be careful not to let his secret get out while trying to figure out a way to change the rules so his Kingdom can be a place where everyone feels welcome.
When Reardon’s best friend is sacrificed to the adjacent Kingdom’s Ice King, he makes a plan to switch himself out with the following year’s sacrifice so he can make sure his best friend is still alive and doing well. What he finds in the sapphire kingdom is a shock and a reality check. If anyone can live as they are here where the Ice King rules, can he convince his father to change the ways of the emerald kingdom, to allow their subjects to live without fear?
I didn’t want to put this book down! The author did an excellent job of bringing the characters and scenery together and creating a place I would even want to live in! Highly recommend this one, even if you’re not a fan of fantasy.
***Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement. ***
~ * ~ Annie‘s Review ~ * ~
Every time I pick up a book by this author, I know it will be unique. The Prince and the Ice King is just that. A historical fantasy involving elves, magic, curses, and the like, this was an incredibly original tale with a lovely and sweet romance.
While I’m all for characters having real and relatable flaws in my romances, I also enjoy a bit of the fairy tale approach. I loved Reardon’s sense of righteousness that guided him throughout the book. It seems rare to have a character who is so noble, especially when dealing with royalty, magic, and power—but Reardon was that, and it made it easy to root for his success. I also liked how his inherent trust in others’ goodness translated into him leading with grace and kindness as he learned about the Ice King and his court’s curse. The slow build of trust between Jack and Reardon paired with that instant connection had me eager to see these two reach a happily ever after.
If I found the romance between Jack and Reardon sweet and endearing, Reardon’s pursuit of the truth was equally intriguing. I loved how the alchemy, secondary characters’ knowledge and insight, and faith in one’s truths played a part in the resolution. I also enjoyed the action scenes at the heights of the conflicts. Altogether, these elements created a fantastic read that quickly captured my attention and won my heart. I’d recommend The Prince and the Ice King if you enjoy different settings and unique storylines.
*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure. A review wasn’t a requirement. ***
~ * ~ Jen‘s Review ~ * ~
This story definitely has a fairytale feeling to it, and I liked that the true evil was hidden well. I am definitely curious about the Dark Kingdom and hope (based on the ending of the book), there will be another story for that soon.
About the Author:
Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual, happily married, and self-proclaimed geek. Primarily an M/M romance author with a focus on urban fantasy, she has a Bachelor of Arts in a personally designed Creative Writing major from St. Olaf College and is an avid consumer of fiction through film, prose, and video games. Amanda lives in Minneapolis, MN, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga. She writes across genres, with a preference for contemporary gay romance and the paranormal, and is frequently accused of humour. For more information, visit amandameuwissen.com.
Connect with Amanda:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmandaMeuwissen
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AmandaMeuwissenBooks