Being awakened by beating is not exactly an uncommon occurrence for Rath, especially when it comes to his father’s muck ups. This time, his father owes Friar fifteen marks, and Rath has only six days to repay it. It’s an impossible feat, but Rath has to at least try. Then Mistress Trinira mentions the Tournament of Losers—a tournament that brings balance to royalty and nobility by pairing members of certain houses with commoners. A tournament Rath despises for the false hope it brings. Still, Trinira makes the best argument: after finishing the first couple of rounds, those who advance receive a stipend. That stipend would pay his father’s debt and then Rath could be done with the tournament.
Rath does better than even he expects in the tournament, and as the point to which he can receive his money nears, he’s just ready to give in because he’s done well and that’s not his goal. And then there’s Tress—the man whose bed Rath was pulled from that first morning. Tress, Rath has figured out, is nobility, although Rath doesn’t know at what level. And he doesn’t want to—at least that’s what he tells himself. It doesn’t help that the more Tress is around, the more Rath wants him around. And that can’t end well because Rath doesn’t intend on finishing the tournament.
Just a few rounds and Rath can return to his normal, mostly predictable life and forget about the tournament and competitions and the cutthroat competitors… and Tress. He should want to forget Tress.
Writing this review is bittersweet for me. Sweet because… well, I loved the story of Rath and Tress. Bitter because this is, at least for the time being, my final review for Joyfully Jay. But what a high note to end on.
Rath’s story is a journey—to finding himself, to discovering love, and to realizing what really matters. He’s not selfish or greedy to say the least, but Rath pretty much lives by his own rules. And his rules begin and end with no one harming his mother. His father is a different story. Rath’s moral scale fits him, so when he enters the tournament, it’s not because his head is in the clouds and he has aspirations of being the next consort, but because his father is in another mess that Rath has to answer for. I love who Rath is and his strength of character. To himself, Rath thinks he’s selfish and no good, but the truth is Rath proves time and time again what an amazing person he is. I absolutely adore him.
Tress remains a bit of a mystery throughout the story, but a good one. He’s a bit of a knight in shining armor for Rath—even when Rath doesn’t want it. I love who he is to Rath more than I love who he actually is. His mystery adds so much to the story and to Rath, a forbidden element and a strength and goal Rath didn’t know existed. The tension between the two is perfect from the very beginning. I adore their relationship from day one.
As always, Derr blew me away with this story. It’s more than a simple romance. The world building and the story… gah, this story. It’s a fairy tale of self-discovery and adventure. I loved the feel of this book. It’s sweet and cute with a twist of dirty and secrets. The way Rath works through each task not wanting (or not sure that he wants) to marry at the end. His conflict changes as the story progresses, but everything about this book is amazing.
I absolutely adored Tournament of Losers. There is nothing about Rath and Tress that I’m not head over heels for. I highly, highly recommend this book It is (and will be) a must read and re-read for years to come.