Romulus is a witch and the lover of a well-known arms dealer known as the Butcher. The supernaturals or “supes” have taken over and life for humans is a constant struggle as they live in deplorable conditions with not enough food and only occasional running water. Capturing Romulus was seen as a win to the humans, but even with Romulus’ magic rendered useless, he’s not giving up the information his captors want.
Kiernan’s life is with the resistance mostly because he has no where else to go. It doesn’t take Kiernan long to realize that their prisoner is his stepbrother that he hasn’t seen in 15 years. The feelings he had for Romulus are still there, but Kiernan cannot risk being seen as sympathetic. Kiernan is trying to remain true to everyone, but when his loyalty to Romulus reaches its peak, Kiernan has to make the toughest choice that could leave him all alone or worse.
Spoiled is billed as a standalone. In fact, the authors state in the blurb, “Though Spoiled is set in The Fate of the Fallen/Status Quo world, this is a standalone work. These characters do not appear in the FotF/SQ books, and there are no spoilers for the series.” Having not read the other books in the series, I cannot confirm if these are new characters, but I will disagree that this story stands alone.
I had a few struggles with this book. The world is not explained at all. Kiernan lives with a group of humans that are seen as the resistance after supes now rule the world. Supes consist of witches, vampires, and werewolves, and it’s all mentioned in a brief and casual manner as if the reader is supposed to understand the world in which the characters live. The story opens in a compelling manner as Kiernan sees that their newest prisoner is his stepbrother that he hasn’t seen in many years. But, there is no character development or backstory shown. We learn that Kiernan was largely ignored by his parents when he did not develop magical abilities, but it’s not discussed how he came to be where he is. Romulus’ past is just as secretive as while we learn he did have a better relationship with the parents for a time because of his magic, there was a fallout there as well that is not explained.
Not much happens in the book and the pace was slow overall. Romulus is taken prisoner and he is tortured (off page) for information. Kiernan is conflicted over trying to help Romulus and keeping himself out of trouble with the group and it’s a constant loop. Romulus only gives bits of information and the guys then act on their attraction to each other in the dirty prisoner cell. The story remains mostly stagnant until the 75% mark where there is some movement, but not much is explained there either. We are told that Kiernan cared for Romulus when he was a small boy the way a big brother would, but it was not shown and there was no connection built that transferred to present day. We are mostly just told they have feelings for each other. The word “brother” was also overused to seemingly remind us that they were once stepbrothers, but I got it after the first time it was mentioned, and it didn’t do anything to add to their connection and just became a word seen too often.
Butcher is another mystery. He is spoken of and we learn that Romulus has some type of D/s relationship with him, but how that all came to be is not discussed, nor is the backstory of this character given. Some of the writing style didn’t work for me as the characters’ thoughts would often trail off with “…” or “—” and it became irritating that so many sentences went unfinished.
The epilogue progresses the book two months, but where Kiernan is with his group is not clear. He is dabbling in dominant behavior with Romulus, but it’s mentioned they haven’t discussed anything about it. Romulus is also continuing his relationship with the Butcher, but there is no foundation built for us to follow or connect to. There is no magic seen in the book and we are just told that Romulus has magic so that wasn’t a draw either. The ending here is also not wrapped up and there is yet another book that will continue the story of Kiernan, Romulus, and the Butcher.
I felt that this book was a companion piece to a larger series. The world is not explained, the characters are not developed, and their future is unclear. It’s frustrating to be put in a position of being told a book works as a standalone when it really is a piece of a larger world. The world here may have something to it and if you were interested, I would look to start at the beginning.