Rating: 5 stars
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Always he was second or third choice. Just once he wanted to be someone’s first choice. He wanted to be offered, accepted, with pride. Not from obligation or with resignation. He wanted to be a preference, not simply the least disappointing of limited options.
Kristoff does not relish the idea of putting his dreams and goals on hold, but when his sister falls ill, the social rankings in his family shift, leaving him to become the Duke of Stehlmore. A tradition long held in his family is that the Duke of Stehlmore will marry a Prince of blood, but Kristoff knows all about the lack of humanity and arrogance that is a Prince, and he has no desire to tie himself to one for life. Not that he has a choice.
When Kristoff and his party are attacked by goblins on their way to Guldbrandsen, they are thankfully rescued by two Princes of Blood. One is charming and kind; the other is everything Kristoff knows the half-demons to be, arrogant and selfish. Arriving at the stronghold, Kristoff is shocked and appalled to discover that his affianced is none other than the forward, small, Piskie of a Prince who’d escorted him and his men to the castle, Håkon. Kristoff is upset, but determined to do as he is tasked and bring honor to his family.
Håkon has his reasons for acting like he does. He has no desire to hold on to his human half. That way he doesn’t have to feel, doesn’t have to remember. But something about Kristoff brings out the need to feel again in him, and he hates it. So he pushes in hopes that he can push the Paladin away.
As a Paladin, Kristoff has had many encounters with beasts, goblins, and demons. He has the scars to prove it. But it never gets easier. The fear and adrenaline that course through him with each encounter only serves to prove, to himself anyway, that he is a coward. While on patrol with a Prince, they are attacked by a demon and despite his fear, Kristoff fights, expecting to not see the light of day again. But when he is rescued by a team of Princes of Blood, he is immediately ashamed of the fear that is evident on his face. And he’s further angered and embarrassed by Håkon’s open disgust of his actions.
At the discovery of a rare allergy, it seems that Kristoff’s prayers have been answered and he may not be marrying Håkon after all. But when an unknown evil strikes close to home, Kristoff is tasked along with Håkon to find and the person responsible. Although that’s easier said than done. Spending time together in close quarters open both men’s eyes to one another and walls start to crumble. As they risk their lives to chase the elusive evil, the tentative bond they’ve formed is threatened when a shipwreck leaves one lost at sea and one struggling with his feelings and what he believes to be true.
With Pride is the second book in Megan Derr’s Princes of the Blood series and is actually set before Of Last Resort.
Holy cow! This series just gets better with each story. With Pride is intense and exciting and frustrating. I love not only the struggle between Kristoff and Håkon, but also the journey of this story. It’s hard to decide which my favorite part is. I’m always one for an enemies to lovers story and this story is pretty much that and then some. But I also love a good mystery/fantasy/action, and this book is all of those too. The romance is spot on and the rest of the story is completely enthralling. I had a hard time putting down the book. Yes, I definitely lost sleep to this book, and I don’t regret it. It’s just plain good!
I adore Kristoff. I love him so much because he’s doing what is expected of him, albeit grudgingly, but he doesn’t let it change him. He fancies himself a coward, yet he’s strong and brave, the first to rush into battle and the last to walk away from a fight. He’s bold and opinionated. He hates the hand fate has dealt him, but he still holds out hope that it will end well, even when his fiancé has given him on indication of such. And through it all he struggles with being mediocre or somewhat less than in his own eyes. He’s a great character.
Håkon is amazing for his vast complexity. His past haunts him every day, and he hopes daily to forget it, but it remains impossible. I love his attitude, so devil may care. He lives on the edge of half demon and full demon, in hopes of losing the bit of humanity that ties him to the sadness of his family and former fiancé. But in truth, Håkon is selfless and brave. He’s amazingly strong physically and emotionally. I adore his bravery and strong will. And paired with Kristoff they are pretty much unstoppable, although it doesn’t always seem that way. I love them both individually and together.
In my review of Of Last Resort, I told you of the imagination and creativity of the world this author created. Well, take that and multiply it by one hundred. It amazes me every time I open a Megan Derr book. Her creativity and talents for world building are endless. I was unsure how the Princes of the Blood world could get any bigger, but that’s what I get for thinking. The Queen of Fantasy and World-Building has struck again and this time she’s added necromancers, giant sea creatures, and destined bonds to the mix. Every corner turned in this book is another discovery of new and exciting. I love it so much.
Head over heels. That’s me, for this book. It’s fantastic. The action and fantasy and mystery is captivating. The romance is enthralling. The characters are complex and bold. And the world is a vast array of endless possibilities. I am in awe of the author and her skill. I highly, highly recommend With Pride by Megan Derr.
Note: With Pride will be released April 16th from Less Than Three Press.