Family of Lies: SebastianStory Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 3 stars

Narrator: Cornell Collins
Length: 10 hours, 4 minutes

Audiobook Buy Links: Audible
Book Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Sebastian Orwell just needs to get away from his family. As the youngest, his parents and many siblings make life impossible most of the time. Only on the way out, he comes upon the Crown Prince, Turren, who has been abducted and wounded. Sebastian of course heals Turren with his magic and then proceeds to prop him up in the local tavern so Sebastian can continue on his way.

Sebastian’s cloak has been enchanted with magic and he wears it constantly to conceal his face. But when stronger magic allows him to be identified, the Prince tracks him down to thank him. Well, not only to thank him, as Turren has long held a crush on our reluctant hero, Sebastian. Now with assassins still on the loose, neither Turren nor Sebastian are truly safe and now it seems that the trouble is being linked to the past of Sebastian’s father, Lord Orwell.

Sebastian certainly knows his father is abrasive, a liar, and prefers to drink the family money instead of buying food, but Sebastian is in no way convinced that his father is connected to a murderer. Now Sebastian has to clear everyone’s name and keep everyone safe, but Turren’s advances keep getting in his way, and if Sebastian’s mother has anything to say about it, Sebastian will be paired off with Turren right quick. In addition to that, Sebastian must keep his magic as well as his appearance hidden and the reasons are long and complicated. All Sebastian wants to know is how he became this reluctant hero when all he wanted was a quiet life in the country surrounded by books.

A fantasy adventure with mystery, wizards, and assassins, surrounded by royalty and magic is what’s in store here. Sebastian is the hero here whether he wants to be or not. When certain magical forces came together, Sebastian was resigned to wear a magical cape to protect himself and the reason remains one of the mysteries to discover.

There is a love story here of Prince Turren valiantly trying to win Sebastian’s heart and the fact that he has never seen his face is of no concern for the smitten prince. But if Sebastian is a reluctant hero, he is also reluctant to be pursued by a persistent prince. The love story, however, becomes less of a focus as there is action and adventure to be found as Sebastian keeps finding himself in the position to save Turren from assassins, which then makes Sebastian as much of a target as the prince.

Sebastian’s family plays a large role here as they are all magical and all clearly up to something and, while they stick together with a sense of family, they are constantly trading verbal jabs and poisoning each other. Because really what’s a little poison amongst family? Sebastian’s father then becomes a major influence in the story as it may be his secretly guarded past that is the key. The king, the queen, as well as the royal advisors also have roles to play. They are magical beings, which keeps the story in the fantasy realm, and while the world building is moderate, it is detailed enough to provide sufficient atmosphere. The fact that Turren is courting a male as well as someone considered beneath his station is of no consequence to anyone and then allowed the story to focus on many other storylines and characters that may have their own books in the future.

There are times when an audio performance is so directly tied to the storyline itself that it directly affects the overall enjoyment of the book. This was one of those times and the audio may not have been the best way to go with this book for several reasons. Well, first, Cornell Collins does provide a British accent that fits the theme of the story. However, his voice is much much older sounding than both of the young heroes. Sebastian is 19 and he is defiant, willful, and snarky. Turren as well is young and brash and forthright in his quest for Sebastian’s heart. Collins’ voice was so much older that it was reminiscent of an older man recounting a tale from his lost youth. While this worked well for the elders in the book, from my perspective it was a missed opportunity for what could have been a fun, youthful, action-packed performance of an adventurous love story. Also, there were many characters in this book, from Sebastian’s large family, to Turren’s royal council, and Collins’ dry and droning delivery made it cumbersome to simply keep track of everyone, which greatly detracted from the story and also failed to keep my attention through many passages.

If you are looking for a fantasy story filled with secrets, dry humor, and magical young lovers on the run from assassins, this would be a good place to look, but I would suggest giving the ebook version a try.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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