Elias Trueheart is the only Null in a family of magicals and despite his status as Prince, he still feels ostracized. When a neighboring kingdom attacks his home during the night, Elias is brutalized and ripped away from everything he’s ever known. Now, enslaved and broken, he will discover his magic and with it the power to destroy his enemies forever. If only he doesn’t fall in love with his captor first.
An ancient entity reveals the destiny of Thrain Blackwater is irrevocably tied to Elias Trueheart. When his father decides to attack the Truehearts, Thrain kidnaps Elias, hoping to use the man to seek revenge on his father and brother. But when Thrain is forced to do the unthinkable to Elias in order to protect him, it threatens to destroy their relationship before it even begins. As months pass and Elias finds his magic, he and Thrain grow closer. But an unspeakable pain lies between them and as magic and malice threaten to tear them apart, both men must learn to forgive and learn to love.
I chose Til Kingdom Come was chosen for our Friends & Enemies to Lovers Week and it ended up being a perfect fit for this particular theme. Unfortunately it was also a poorly constructed story whose plot was often too ridiculous to believe and contained far too much sex magic. Which is phrase I never thought to write.
But let’s start with the positive first. The pacing is strong and the story moved well and rarely dragged. The writing was technically fine, though the prose was a bit too purple at times. There is enough action to capture the reader’s attention and at times the characters are genuinely engaging.
Unfortunately, most of the story centers around two ridiculous plot devices. The first is that a magic dragon lives beneath Thrain’s home and has promised him a destiny with Elias. My issue with this is that it is similar to the plot of BBC’s Merlin and, while it works as a television show, it never manages the same level of believability in Til Kingdom Come. The second plot device that strives to hit and misses concerns sex magic. Every time I read the words sex magic, I laugh because it always comes off as a bit goofy. But much of the sex in Til Kingdom Come borders on non consensual and, as a result, the sexual encounters between Thrain and Elias are rarely romantic and nearly always uncomfortable. Factor magic into it and their whole relationship looses any sense of balance. While Thrain and Elias eventually acknowledge their love for one another, it was hard to believe the depth of it given how much of the book they spend hurting one another. I’m not a huge fan of non-con and while I acknowledge that authors can take the topic and make it work on some level, that didn’t happen with this book. Instead it came off as gratuitous and not in the least bit engaging.
Both Thrain and Elias are relatively well-drawn characters. While not exactly perfect, the author does a decent job of setting up reasoning for their actions. But because of what happens between them and how readily it’s resolved, it’s a hard relationship, as a reader, to enjoy. You want to like Thrain, as he seems a genuinely decent man driven to despicable acts. But that reasoning doesn’t always work and there were times I just wasn’t able to enjoy this relationship as much as I would have wished.
Til Kingdom Come had potential but an excessive use of non-consensual sex, mystical dragon prophesies, and magical fellatio left it with much to be desired. The characters have their strengths and neither is cartoonish, but their relationship lacks believability. And while I wanted to enjoy the love blossoming between Thrain and Elias, there was too much blood and suffering between them to allow for much happiness. Unless you’re a diehard fan of dragons or magic, I’d have to recommend giving this one a pass.