For Lord Anders Hawthorne, the death of the King comes as a devastating blow. While trying to process his grief, he must also abandon his life of study and take up the unwanted mantle of kingship. Protected by his two faithful bodyguards, Anders plans to travel posing as a royal cousin aboard the Royal Navy ship Pallus. It should be an easy journey, but the situation is quickly complicated by Anders’ growing attraction to ship captain, Zachary O’Connell, and an assassination attempt.
Zachary never intends his tumbling with Anders to be anything serious. After all, Zachary is vehemently against soul matches, the process of binding two perfect souls together. But amidst the dangers of keeping Anders alive, he is forced to admit the man may mean more to him than he wants to acknowledge. Surrounded on all sides by corrupt politicians, stealthy assassins, and few trustworthy allies, Anders and Zachary must embrace their bond and risk everything to save the kingdom.
It would be fair to say that In His Majesty’s Service is filled with more than a few well-used tropes. Everything from fated mates to oily politicians are on tap and it’s all done with an unexpected deftness. Normally, tropes come off as overplayed and dull and while In His Majesty’s Service is far from perfect, it is fun and written in a way that gives life to some tired formulas. It helps that Anders and Zachary are both engaging and fairly well rounded characters. Anders’ grief for his father and the sudden, awesome responsibility thrust upon him are rendered with just enough sympathy to prevent schmaltz. Zachary’s reluctance to bond and his desire to remain in the Royal Navy are passionately defended if somewhat overwrought emotionally. These characters to tend to fight and make up within seconds, which is a bit ridiculous, but you enjoy them nonetheless because they do serve as strong foils for one another. The sex is so frequent towards the first part of the book as to become boring, but the authors do a good job of making readers realize that whatever problems these characters have, they can connect more deeply with one another than anyone else.
The bad guys are rather mechanical and the political intrigue tends to become bogged down in its own obnoxiousness, but it never drags on so long as to cripple the story. Anders’s devout bodyguards play a strong part in the story and frankly, while I like the characters, they’re horrible protectors. I mean Zachary and Anders are attacked pretty much all the time and these guys never stop anything. It gets to be almost laughable by the end. Clearly protecting the king is more of a suggestion than an actual expectation.
Overall In His Majesty’s Service was an enjoyable, action-driven romp with two decent protagonists and more positive than negative points to recommend it. The book is far from flawless, but anyone who enjoys a bit of sci-fi action or whirlwind romancing will find something to like here.