Magic holders are forbidden from ascending to the throne in the Three Kingdoms…yet a mage and would-be-prince named Aifric has hatched a devious plan to do just that. All he needs is an incubi, the only being with the right kind of magic to enthrall a king. To that end, an incubus named Leyton gets gang pressed into treason-by-seduction when Aifric’s agents threaten to kill Leyton’s twin brother, Liam.
All Leyton wants is to ensure Liam is not murdered. All he has to do is apply his incubi magic to the newly-crowned king, Mijah, and subtly suggest to him the changes that would allow Aifric to take the throne. Those plans are dashed when Mijah’s elder half-brother and full mage, Tamel, returns exposes Aifric’s devious plot. Despite Aifric’s plans coming to light, King Mijah cannot be safe until they capture Aifric himself and to do that, they’ll need the cooperation of both Leyton and Liam.
It turns out that Aifric is closer to the crown than anyone realized…yet Aifric’s particular brand of magic makes it singularly difficult to identify the man even as Leyton, Liam, Temel, and Mijah are sure the fiend is right in their midst. The race is on to identify where Aifric is hiding…and for the twins to come to grips with their desires for the same man where principle and practice have dictated they cannot share a single love interest.
First off, I picked this book as part of the Opposites Attract Week. Now that I’ve read it, I believe the opposites in question would be Leyton (commoner) and Mijah (king). That said, there’s also a secondary romance between Temel and a “kinsman” named Shakil that also qualify, and probably better so given that their dynamic plays out fully and explicitly on-page (Temel being frigid and Shakil being more openly sexual) whereas the Leyton/Mijah dynamic is much more subtle and must less about their differences than it is about the fact that Leyton used magic to seduce Mijah.
This book really missed the mark for me. Based on the blurb and the title, I was expecting a story about Leyton and the king—one that focused on Leyton’s betrayal of Mijas’s trust and how they either would or wouldn’t over come it. So when I open the book and see it’s separated into five parts and, per the table of contents, each part is named for a different character, I had some questions. I was under the impression Leyton and Mijah would be featured throughout. Then I started reading and things got worse.
It took me a few “parts” to figure out this story wasn’t going to focus solely only the Leyton/Mijah dynamic. That left plenty of opportunity to delve into the world Miller created. All I can say is that I was underwhelmed and a big part of this I can put down to poorly written prose. Perhaps it was intentional on Miller’s part, but I found language such as “he really sucked at bending people to his will” too modern for a fantasy piece. The author also seems to be padding every sentence…at first, I took the careful attention to detail as possible foreshadowing—but no, it’s just padding for padding’s sake and sometimes, it’s positively purple:
“Mijah paused, his pen hovering over a sheet of paper as someone knocked on the door. Mijah set the pend down, calling for the knocker to enter. One of the guards on the other side of the door opened it, letting in a young page who was all but vibrating as he entered the office.”
Overwrought writing can be effectively combatted given a compelling plot. The ideas floated in the book are not bad ones, but as the prose lacks style, so too does the plot lack substance. Take, for example, when the characters find out that Aifric is actually hiding in plain sight in the same palace where Mijah resides. To refresh your memory, Aifric wants to force Mijah to change the laws of the land so that a magic-user like Aifric can be king. Mijah, Leyton, Liam, Temel and several other characters know Aifric is hiding in the palace (using magical glamour to mask is true appearance). Yet instead of any actual action being taken, we see this cast of characters going to dinner after dinner and meeting after meeting discussing how “nope! haven’t figured out which guard/servant/noble person/staff member is actually Aifric yet!” It made for tedious reading.
Another drawback of the book is the structure itself. Each of the five “parts” is told in third person in this order: Leyton (uses his magic to seduce King Mijah to change the laws for Aifric), Shakil (friend/colleague of Liam and helps Leyton and Temel find Liam because Liam has information that will lead them to Aifric), Temel (Mijah’s half brother and mage, serves as diplomat for Mijah), Liam (serves as “kingsman” to a kingdom that is friendly with Mijah’s), Mijah (reluctantly crowed king after his father/other older bother killed).
The first, fourth, and fifth parts try to develop the Leyton/Mijah dynamic, but they’re interrupted by the need to find Liam…except that whole arc is mostly devoted to throwing cold-fish Temel and Shakil together. That was a pairing I found irritating because, until we get a chance to see things from Temel’s perspective, Shakil just seems to be sexually harassing Temel. Even when we ARE in Temel’s perspective, he’s only sort of half convinced he really wants Shakil. I’m not even sure WHY we needed this love story thrown in…
When we get back to the Leyton/Mijah dynamic in part four, it’s from Liam’s perspective and we get a bombshell dropped here. And in the final part, we find out Mijah decides he wants BOTH Liam and Leyton. Is a menage a problem? Not necessarily, but I think there was precious little to substantiate any actual feelings between Mijah and Liam beyond those of lust. Not to mention the narration specifically saying Liam and Leyton do not share lovers they want to keep. Part of the reason this love triangle is so poorly developed stems, I believe, from the “tell, don’t show” mode of story telling as well.
And, just to throw this out there, Liam and Leyton are incubi…what that means and what that entails is never really clarified beyond Liam and Leyton having a mental/emotional bond and magic. For some reason, this also makes it a nonissue that they have a physical relationship as well. The most we see on-page is some kissing and emotional lust over their bond.
If you look at the blurb and title of this story as the basis for the plot, you will be sorely disappointed. The actual story itself contains some interesting elements: one lover forced to betray another, twincest, menage a trios. Unfortunately, the story is so bogged down with literal minutiae, pointless descriptions of every little action and droning action, these enticing elements are never given full justice. Personally, I found the Temel/Shakil arc the most appealing because it presented a challenge—get the cold fish to fall in love with the tall, dark stranger, but even that was strained for me given how persistently and strongly we see Temel rejecting Shakil’s advances. Overall, this book was a huge “nope” for me.
Note: We are giving away a copy of Saving Liam, as well as a ton of other great prizes, in our Opposites Attract Week Giveaway!