The kingdom of Tirglas is expecting its first ambassador from the neighboring and altogether more powerful Uydean Empire. They’re expecting a woman. What they get is a crown prince and a powerful mage. To the magic fearful people of Tirglas, the be-speckled and opulently dressed Darshan is something of a puzzle. But for a prince of Tirglas, Darshan will become the only light in a terrible darkness.
Hamish has been forced to spend his life living a lie. His mother, the Queen, is disgusted by his attraction for men and has placed him under close watch to ensure that he never again dares to dally with another man. It’s a miserable existence and one that Hamish ensures to protect his nieces and nephews. When Darshan arrives, all of Hamish’s caution and loneliness evaporate. Darshan is clever and kind and everything Hamish could ask for in a lover. But danger lays around ever corner and Hamish and Darshan will have to risk their lives to find a chance at happiness.
My blurb doesn’t really do To Target the Heart much justice. This well-paced fantasy is engaging and entertaining from page one. Hamish and Darshan are wonderfully rendered characters and really the strong point of the book. Both men are fully developed and vibrantly relatable. Hamish especially tugs at the heartstrings. His loneliness is painful to read and he’s been forced to live half a life, which I found heartbreaking. I found it impossible not to champion their love story and, despite the fact they only know one another a few weeks, their romance reads as believable. I will say the phrase “his lover” is used far too often, to the point of annoyance, but I suppose in the grand scheme that complaint is a minor one.
One of the best parts of To Target the Heart is the world building. It’s expansive and thorough without being overwhelming. The author does an excellent job of naturally blending information about the world around Hamish and Darshan. I never felt bogged down by info dumping or overly complex information that lacked purpose. Tirglas and Uydea are well described and I felt like there was just the right amount of world building to make these places feel real.
The plot is fairly straightforward, but there are a few twists and turns along the way and I appreciated the story was solid without being excessive. Hamish and Darshan are the heart and soul of the book and neither the story nor the secondary characters ever overpower them. Instead, there’s an excellent balance of action, emotion, and romance with none of it feeling cheesy or melodramatic.
To Target the Heart was one of the best books I’ve read in some time. The characters are amazing and I couldn’t help becoming invested in Hamish and Darshan’s journey. This is apparently the second in the Spellster series, the first of which I have not read. There doesn’t seem to be any connection between the two because I was able to read To Target the Heart without feeling lost. Luckily, there’s another book coming as well, hopefully soon, and there appear to be several short stories set in the same universe. I think any fantasy lover is going to enjoy this one, but even if you aren’t a fantasy fan, the book is exceptionally well done and worth your time.