Rating: 4.75 stars
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Length: Novel

The crew of The Wayward Prince is low on money, supplies, and morale. Captain Sebastian Garcia is bound and determined to get a paying job to take care of his ship and his crew. But he never expected to get kidnaped, least of all by the man who he stole The Wayward Prince from four years ago.

Ren needs a job done, and he’s willing to pay for it. He also knows that Sebastian and his crew are the best for the job. He’s not exactly thrilled to see his old lover again, but Sebastian is the only one who can get back the Heart of Arcadia. And without it, Ren’s people and his planet will flounder.

Sebastian had no idea Ren was actually a prince, and he’s surprised to see Ren again. But he takes the job willingly, not least of all because it’s a good payout. It also gives him a chance to make amends of a sort. Ren joins the crew as they concoct an elaborate plan to steal back the Heart. In fact, Ren is an integral part in making sure the job succeeds.

But things don’t turn out exactly like they expect, which is nothing new for Sebastian. The mystery gets deeper once they’ve recovered the Heart, and together the men and the crew have to find out exactly what’s going on. Lives are at stake, and not just theirs. Not to mention the new relationship they’ve been building, now that the lies and secrets are out of the way. But nothing is simple, and Ren and Sebastian have to figure out how to make their relationship work or they’ll lose each other forever.

When this second book in the Mind + Machine series came up for review, I was quick to snatch it up. I adored the first book and I couldn’t wait to see what Dare had in store for us next. The author delivers again, and in spectacular fashion. The world building follows from the first book and continues to grow. I’m in awe of all the little nuances and additions the author has included to really immerse the reader in this world.

This book really can’t be read as a standalone. Even though there’s enough detail to know what happened in the first book (and without boring exposition, which is a complete plus) it’s a continuation in a way. With different MCs at the center, and a whole new job/mystery to unravel, it almost works on it’s own. But there are a bits and pieces that are much more appreciated having read Machine Metal Magic, especially the last quarter of this book. So do yourself a favor and read them both.

I loved the dichotomy between the MCs. Sebastian has always had bad luck, and he’s done a lot of disreputable things. He’s charming and engaging, and he’s the king of fun, snarky banter. Part of that is a front to hide his insecurities and how he knows he’s unworthy. I truly appreciated his layers, and the way the author fleshed his character out in a natural way.

Ren, too, is incredibly well portrayed. He’s royalty, yes, but he doesn’t want to be. There are several incredibly good reasons for that, and he has his own insecurities. What I particularly loved about him is that he could have come off as spoiled and entitled, a “poor little rich boy.” But he doesn’t at all. His every action and thought is perfectly grounded in his reality and I loved that he, above all, wanted to do what was right for his people. I think that’s why Ren and Sebastian work so well together; at their core, all they want is to do what is right for the people they hold close. In the end, that includes each other, and their amazing chemistry and that need make them an exceptional couple.

So all in all, I really enjoyed this book. I sped through it, devouring the story, needing to see how it all turned out. I was thrilled to be back in this world and to see the crew and characters again. It appears there is more coming from the series as well, and I can’t wait to read more. With amazing world building, outstanding characters, and a well done plot, this book should definitely be on your TBR.

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