Once Upon a King is a follow up to Jones’ free short story, Once Upon a Dragon, written for a Goodreads challenge. For this challenge, authors had to write stories based on prompts, such as the setting, specific characters, and a key phrase. I was told these two stories follow closely upon one another, so I decided to read Dragon first. In it we meet Blaze Du’Car, a dragon shifter who lives with seven roomates, each with cute dragon names, such as Char, Scorch, and Flame. Blaze is tromping through a field with his friend Ember, feeling strangely compelled to investigate a tower that had seemed abandoned, but now seems to have someone inside. From here we get a cute story of fated mates as Blaze discovers a cursed handsome prince with the help of a magical talking wand and a fairy godmother. It is pretty much a case of instalove as Blaze and his new love, Enrique Von Stein, are having sex literally within minutes of meeting. But this is definitely meant to be a humorous, tongue-in-cheek fairy tale, and for that it succeeds. The story is goofy and somewhat silly, but entertaining. We don’t get a lot of character development and not much world building or anything. But I did enjoy seeing how the author cleverly worked in each of the prompts (which are listed on Goodreads as well as in the front of the book). So overall cute and fun.
Once Upon a King then picks up shortly after. We meet King Flair Coruscate, recently crowned after the death of his crazy father. We learn immediately that Flair “needed to have his ass fucked.” This guy wants someone to do him BADLY, but as king, no one is willing to top him. Especially since his father instituted a law that all servants needed to be ready to be fucked at any time and therefore are constantly baring their asses to him. So yes, you can see right away this is not your traditional story. Flair is being petitioned by the family members of a wizard who are mad that a dragon shifter ate their son. Which should be punishable by death, except for the fact that the eater is actually Flair’s brother Ember (and the eating happens in that first story). Ember swears that it was necessary to protect Enrique from harm, so Flair tells him to go get Blaze and Enrique to act as witnesses on his behalf.
As it turns out, they are already on their way as Enrique’s brother Saber Von Stein insists they try to speak to the king before the wizards get there. He is worried that even though they didn’t do anything themselves to the eaten wizard, their family will be blamed because Enrique was the one who was cursed, thus starting the whole ball rolling. But along the way, Saber is suddenly magically called to the castle. It seems the king wants to overturn the law requiring servant sex, but the council will only do it if he marries. So Flair sets some size requirements of his future mate, and Saber fits the bill. And it is love (and lust) at first sight as the two men meet, have sex, and mate in pretty short order.
So this one didn’t work quite as well for me as the first. I found it entertaining and I liked the idea here of the magical land full of wizards and dragons. And I enjoyed the humor and light, fun side of the story. I was amused by Flair as the king who just wants to be fucked, but can’t find anyone to do it. And the contrast of the young, sweet Saber who ends up being just the guy. But there is just not a lot here to hang on to in terms of story development. The servant sex law is of course ridiculous (as it is meant to be), but we have to not only suspend our disbelief here, but also that as king he can’t repeal the law. I also was surprised that after Saber is introduced as so anxious and tentative early in the story, he jumps right into being the sexual aggressor with the king within minutes of meeting him. Just seemed to contradict what we know about him. And lastly, the other main conflict of the story is never really resolved. We don’t get closure on the wizard issue, and in fact, more problems are stirred up at the end. I am assuming there is more to come with Ember’s story, but I am not sure.
So this is a fun, slightly ridiculous story told with a lot of humor. I would definitely read Once Upon a Dragon first as the situation with Ember and the wizard will be much clearer and it is a free short. I think the first story was more successful for me, if only because of the cleverness of writing to the prompts. But if you are looking for something fun and silly that you don’t take too seriously, this may be a good choice.