I picked this volume up because I fell in love with the cover. It is just so pretty to me. I love the art style and the coloring. The colors just look so bright, as is glowing with an inner light or something. I actually wasn’t entirely sure if that was a girl or a guy on the cover, but regardless, it was too pretty to resist. Also, the back cover has more pretty artwork, this time of two really hot guys, and well, shallow me was hooked. It was a special bonus for me that one of the guys has animal ears. The interior art is really nice as well. It is simple, clean, and pretty. The back cover describes this book as a fantasy romance, and it is shaping up that way, though there is plenty of anger, hatred, and political intrigue going on here as well.
Our heroine is the girl on the cover. Her name is Nakaba, and she is the princess of a small island country. As the story begins, she has just been promised (against her will) in marriage to the 2nd son of the rival country who also inhabits the same island as Nakaba’s country. These two nations have been at war for ages, and this marriage will hopefully bring about some kind of temporary peace. Things start out rough for the reluctant couple. As you can see on the cover, Nakaba’s hair is bright red. This is actually a problem, because the royal family bloodlines have traditionally only had black hair. Brown, blond, and red hair is reserved for the lower classes and peasants. Thus, to see a royal with red hair is unusual, and causes Nakaba to be the subject of prejudice.
Nakaba’s new husband, Caesar, is handsome and strong, but he is also an ass. He is very haughty and condescending towards Nakaba, not hiding his contempt for her and her country. Nakaba isn’t exactly thrilled about her situation. She had no choice but to marry this stranger, and, even though she feels isolated in enemy territory and all alone, she still stands up for herself and makes some show of defiance. She refuses to be defeated.
Fortunately for Nakaba, she isn’t entirely alone. She has one single servant that she brought with her from her home. His name is Loki, and he is a beast man. These are people who look human, but also have animal characteristics, usually animal ears and tails. These people, even though they are actually stronger than regular humans, are considered to be a lower class, and are forced to work as servants or soldiers. Nakaba and Loki have been together almost as long as she can remember. He lived with Nakaba and her mother, and helped save Nakaba when her home was destroyed. He is extremely loyal to her, and does what he can to make her comfortable. Loki is tall and handsome, with what look like dog or cat ears on the sides of his head. He is generally quiet, but he will speak out when needed. Loki is skilled with weapons, and not afraid to use them to protect his mistress.
Our story follows Nakaba as she tries to live in enemy territory, shackled to a handsome husband she is both drawn to, yet also must hate. Caesar also has some of his own issues. His older brother’s lady repeatedly tries to seduce him, and his relationship with that brother is not good. He also harbors some feelings of inferiority when it comes to the beast people, who are naturally stronger than humans. Caesar does his best to train himself to become a strong fighter, prompted by a desire to not lose to a beast.
In general, this series is rather straightforward fantasy drama, but there are some strange moments of silly comedy that almost feel out of place against the drama. There is a scene where Caesar threatens to kill Loki, and they are surrounded by the palace guards who have their weapons drawn. In a surprise move, Nakaba punches Caesar in the face, hard. He retaliates by nearly strangling her. Later, as the scene closes, Caesar’s friend and adviser breaks out laughing at Caesar, making fun of the stubborn prince. I was surprised by the sudden change in tone there. There are a lot of little scenes like this that I think are used to lighten the serious mood. This is a fantasy romance, so I expect that Caesar, who is slowly starting to respect his new bride, will soon fall in love with her. Nakaba slowly starts to see new sides to her husband, as well. Loki’s feelings for his mistress are also strong, and Caesar recognizes that he may have a rival not only on the battlefield.
I look forward to the next volume of the series and seeing how the relationship between Caesar and Nakaba grows. I also hope that Caesar will learn to be less of a jerk to her 🙂