Rating: 4 stars
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Toka is a foxling servant most recently assigned to attend to Riley, the new Soldati Prince. Toka and Raynor, a Soldati warrior, have long shared an attraction and the men have finally begun acting on their feelings. Toka and Raynor have always been special to one another and now they have decided to take the next steps forward.
Unfortunately, Soldati law prohibits mating between a warrior and a servant. Riley is determined to see the law changed, but Khalon, the Soldati King, believes in tradition and doesn’t want to change things. However, while the men haven’t quite admitted their full commitment to one another publicly, privately they are incredibly close and determined to be together.
When an arrogant and cruel king from a neighboring realm comes to visit, his dislike of Raynor causes a political crisis. Suddenly Raynor faces losing the man he loves for good, before he has ever had a chance to claim him as his mate. But Raynor will not give up and he is determined to do whatever it takes to return Toka to his arms.
The Foxling Soldati is the second book in Charlie Cochet’s Soldati Hearts series. This is a really cute and creative shifter series set in a magical world where shifters protect the human realm from demons. While the first book has more interaction with the human side since Riley is human, this story focuses more on the internal politics of the Soldati world. So it was nice here to get another side of the world building and I think it is done well.
I was really excited for this story because we get to meet Toka and Raynor in The Soldati Prince and their flirtation is just adorable. We could see their attraction to one another brewing so it was rewarding to get their story here. While you can probably pick up the basics of the relationship without having read the first book, much of the world building is established there so I think being familiar with that story will help. Also, Raynor and Toka start this book pretty much already having a strong connection, so we don’t see their relationship develop much here, but instead focus more on the conflict once they get together.
I really enjoyed these guys together. Toka is sweet and charming and you can’t help but love him. He and the hunky Raynor make a nice couple and I love the way Raynor dotes on Toka. These guys are solid fairly early on and the conflicts are external, first with the law preventing them from being together, and later with the rival king and the trouble he stirs up. The latter situation sees Toka in some peril and he faces an attempted rape, so things definitely intensify with the story as it continues.
Khalon and Riley play a big role here as side characters and we see Khalon as sort of the pivotal character in dealing with both of these conflicts. Although I could understand some of his decisions, I didn’t always enjoy that he comes across as the bad guy for a lot of the book, after he was the hero of the previous story. This is a personal preference thing, not a failing in the book in any way, but I wish so much of the story didn’t hinge on Khalon’s refusal to help or intervene when needed. Along the same lines, I also felt like the resolution to the conflicts comes almost wholly at Khalon’s hands, and Raynor and Toka are unable to be agents in resolving their own storyline. Again, I get why, given Khalon’s role as king, but I kind of wish he hadn’t been the central figure in all of this. The bad guy is also pretty much of over-the-top evil in every way, so some more nuance to his character would have helped as well so he wasn’t quite so much of a caricature.
Overall I found this one enjoyable and this series is really fun. I think Cochet has created a really interesting and unique world here and there are a lot of facets to explore. This is a quick, easy read and one I found very entertaining. If you like an original take on shifters, I can definitely recommend giving this series a try.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.