The Third Son
Author: Elise Marion
Series: Kings of Cardenas #1
Publisher: Marion Press
Format: Digital, Paperback
Historical Romance, Suspense, Angst
Available at: Amazon | B&N | ARe | Kobo
Currently free at all above retailers! (At the time of posting)
From the blurb
Rake. Rogue. Scoundrel. Each of these words has been used to describe Damien Largess, youngest prince of Cardenas, most frequently by his ridiculously somber eldest brother. Damien is perfectly content to spend his days drinking at the card tables, and his nights in the bed of his scheming mistress, especially since doing these things seems to vex his high-handed brother to no end. But when he steps into a glittering ballroom on the night of his twenty-fifth birthday, the roguish young prince’s life will be forever changed.
Beautiful. Graceful. Sensual. When Esmeralda steps into the center of the King’s ballroom to perform for his youngest son’s birthday, every eye in the room is glued to the tall, lithe Gypsy dancer. One pair of eyes seems to burn straight through her, and though she has worked endlessly to shield her heart, she finds her defenses slowly slipping away in the presence of the handsome prince. She cannot resist his devastating charm, nor is she immune to the earth shattering desire in his kiss. As she falls rapidly under his spell, Esmeralda dares to hope for a future she would never have thought possible.
With a deadly plot against the royal family surrounding him in danger and intrigue, Damien will face a decision he never thought he would have to make. Would he step up to claim a responsibility that should never have fallen to the third son? Or will he abandon it to risk all for love?
First, let me begin by saying that this author has balls! Big, brass balls. The Third Son was Elise Marion’s debut novel, and it took a lot of guts to write a tale with so many twists and turns and angst ad absurdum. It’s a wonder she isn’t tacked to the wall with pitchforks. That being said, this book was pretty amazing, in my opinion. I was expecting a fluffy, historical read set in a made up country with a made up Kingdom and made up gorgeous princes and the women whose skirts they chase. I got all of that except for the fluffy. A villain hell bent on getting his revenge on the royal family, a prince on the verge of becoming King, another prince who pines for the one woman forbidden to him and another who falls in love for the first time, but learns that his past actions have serious consequences that could jeopardize his future, a vindictive and cunning mistress and a love triangle. That may seem like a whole lot of drama, but the author managed to expertly pack it all into around 300 pages and weave around it a tale so gripping and heartbreaking that you won’t be able to put this book down.
Damien Largess, Prince of Cardenas and third in line to the throne is a rake, a gambler, and just a little bitter that his oldest brother has always received the attention and devotion of their mother. As the third son, he can pretty much do whatever he wants and get away with it. That includes carrying on with the vulgar Davina, his mistress. But all that changes the day he sees the beautiful gypsy dancer, Esmeralda. Yes, his intentions at first are far from noble, but something about her puts a halt to that. The beauty of their blossoming relationship is overshadowed by the attacks on the Largess family, and the underhanded attempts of a jealous ex mistress trying to tear them apart. And then the shockers begin to follow one after another. I won’t divulge what those were, but I was seriously tempted to just stop reading. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I was assured of a HEA, so I continued on.
I loved Damien and Esmeralda as a couple. They had fantastic chemistry together despite their different backgrounds. He was so tender and loving towards her; a complete contrast to the way he treated Davina. That right there also helped to differentiate the two sides of him and his feelings towards each woman. The sex scenes were scorching hot, and I won’t soon forget them either. It also became apparent rather quickly that Damien was not all as bad as he had been made out to be. His character goes through a complete arc from beginning to end. His bad behavior was simply a mask, or his coping mechanism for his [rather boring] life. Esmeralda was a breath of fresh air. She was genuinely good and kind. She put others before herself and never thought ill of anyone. I also liked the fact that she didn’t wait a long time to tell Damien her dark secret. That she could allow herself to open up to Damien body and soul proves that she didn’t let her past control her future. For a woman of that time, she was actually quite remarkable. The story never lost steam so I had a hard time putting the book down for even a second. It was a well thought out plot, and the trials of each character were well planned and told.
When it comes to angst, I will say this much, Damien learns the hard way that sometimes things aren’t always as they seem. He will also learn that his past actions and decisions will have some far reaching consequences. Actually, every character will learn some type of lesson as this story goes along. These were not necessarily easy to read about, but they have a strong foothold in reality, as in “this stuff really happens”. If you love angst and drama then this is for you. I’m warning you that certain things will happen for a reason, and chances are you will hate it, but just read through until the end, and you’ll get the bigger picture. I’m glad I stuck it out.
I also wanted to touch on something that I read in someone else’s review – historical accuracy. I don’t pretend to know my Regency history or anything that took place prior to WWII. I am not familiar with speech patterns or typical clothing of the mid 19th century, and I don’t it a point to do research to see if any author gets it right. As long as a cellphone or radio doesn’t pop up where it shouldn’t, then I rely on the author to have done their part to make sure they’re up to par. I’ll leave the digging to the subject matter experts. The Kingdom of Cardenas was made up, and therefore Damien could pursue a union with Esmeralda if he wanted to. I like the idea of the prince choosing a commoner, even if it would have been technically unthinkable for that time. Last time I checked, creative license was allowed.
Thank you, Elise for writing something out of my comfort zone, giving me no warning ahead of time, and for putting up with my tears and rants on Twitter, lol. And sorry about the peaches and other produce. You know what I mean.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the author. A review in exchange for the ARC was not promised. The views and opinions expressed in this review are my own, and in no way represent the views or opinions of the publisher/distributor.
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