Rating: 4.75 stars
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After their rescue from the mercenaries in the desert, Lysander, Tam, and Kai are recuperating in Lysander’s palace in the mountains. Lysander is relieved that they all survived, but feels incredible guilt that a secret he had a part in keeping is what ultimately led to their capture. He is not sure how Kai and Tam can ever forgive him and he is devastated by the pain the men experienced.
Lysander also knows that is only a matter of time before he will have to leave Kai and Tam, even though he can hardly bear it. He wants them to be happy together, and so he decides the best option is to repair their home so when he must leave, the two men can at least live there together. So the three men return to Otiz to help rebuild their home and get the town back on its feet after the devastation.
Things at Otiz are worse than any of them could imagine. So many people have been slaughtered, buildings are burned to the ground, and there are still so many sick and wounded. Tam, Kai, and Lysander immediately jump in to help however they can, aided by the military that soon arrives. Lysander is overwhelmed with his guilt over what happened to Otiz, as well as by the pressure from his political responsibilities. He life has always been about meeting others’ expectations and the stress is taking its toll.
Working together caring for the people of Otiz helps to bond the men even further, especially Kai and Lysander whose relationship has always been a bit more shaky. Lysander can actually begin to imagine a future where they can all three be together, where he can put aside his responsibilities and be with the men he has grown to love. But Lysander’s life has always been ruled by his obligations, and when demands are placed on him once again, he risks losing the future he has dreamed about and the men has has come to love.
The Master is the third book in Kate Aaron’s fabulous Free Men trilogy and a perfect ending to what turned out to be an incredible series. We once again pick up right from the end of the previous book, this time seeing the men recovering from their harrowing ordeal in the desert. As befitting the title, in The Master we are in Lysander’s POV, which I found really fascinating, especially after reading the first two books. We know so much about him already, but it is all through Kai and Tam’s eyes. So here we finally get answers to questions that have been brewing over the course of the series — Why did Lysander have Tam purchase Kai? Why has he been so anxious to get the two of them together? What is the real story behind the lost prince and what is Lysander’s part in it? And most importantly, how does he really feel about these two men who have been clear about their love for him? This story pulls all these threads together so beautifully, giving us real insight into Lysander and what is driving him.
Again, in keeping with the rest of the series, the theme of this story really matches the POV character (something Aaron does to brilliant effect throughout all three books). In this case, we are focused on politics and the court. We learn about Lysander’s past, what made him get married in the first place, and all the obligations and expectations that have rested on his shoulders since he was a child. He has never had a choice about the direction of his life, and even his attempts at controlling his future through his marriage ended up not working as expected. We can see the pressure and the weight of his responsibilities, both to the court, but also to Tam and Kai and the people of Otiz. Lysander feels responsible for them all and incredible guilt about the attack.
In addition to the bigger picture about politics, the town, and the court, this story also focuses on the relationship between these three men. Lysander has always held himself back from opening up his heart fully to Tam and Kai for reasons we learn in this story. But as the book goes on, we see him finally come to realize that he can have the happiness he has always longed for, that maybe he doesn’t have to sacrifice his own desires for others all the time. It is so rewarding, after seeing how much Tam and Kai love Lysander, to realize how much he really loves them in return. The story is tender and sexy and romantic, and really ties things up so beautifully for these three men.
So truly I have found this a fabulous series and would recommend it highly. Aaron has put together these three books with so much care and cleverness. The stories weave together beautifully, giving us a tale that spans the three books and comes to a wonderful conclusion here. She has cleverly let us in to the minds of all three of these men, and we have watched their relationship grow into something really lovely. I just fell in love with all three of them in this trilogy and have been just thrilled with each of the books. So this is an excellent series that is really wonderfully done with great characters, fantastic writing, and really creative world building.
Cover Review: Once again, this book has a gorgeous cover. Not only is each book in this series beautiful, but they coordinate so well and make a lovely set. Really nicely done.