It is supposed to be over by now. Aiden isn’t supposed to be drowning in paperwork, trying to figure out how to placate the nobility, stirred up by the successful coup; he isn’t supposed to be helping to run the empire. All he wants is to be back in command of his men and protecting the people of the city. He’s an officer of the city watch, not a general, or a commander, and certainly not a clerk, choking on pens and ink. Unfortunately, nothing happened the way it was supposed to. Aiden and his fellow rebels were supposed to storm the castle, wrest the crown away from the regents, put the prince in his father’s throne, and then, magically, things would go back to normal. But the prince is dead, and so are the regents, and Aiden’s new normal leaves him with sleepless nights and a heavy heart.
A chance encounter with a would-be prostitute and his protector gives Aiden the chance to, finally, do some real, practical good in this world. Camden, with his enormous green eyes; sweet, innocent heart; and an education skilled enough to make him a perfect secretary, is almost a dream come true. The boy has been living on the streets, and his protector, Day, is eager to see him safe and in a good home. Camden, he tells Aiden, is … well, he’s too clumsy to be a thief, too gullible to be a conman, to gentle to be a thug, and frankly, he’s just not suited for a life of crime.
This is a pleasant, straight-forward story with likable, sweet characters who only want to do good. Aiden comes from good blood, but has no interest in politics. What he wants is to be a city guard, to stop crime, clean up the streets, and keep law and order so that the average, every day citizens can go about their lives without fear. He’s kind, perceptive, but not overly complex. Like Camden, Aiden is too nice for politics, and loyal to a fault. And the more he gets to know Camden, the more he wants to help the boy.
Camden’s parents were abusive and cruel, and Camden — somehow — managed to be a nice person despite it. If it weren’t for Day, he’d starve, unable to earn or steal enough money to pay his share into the common pool that the undesirables in the slums use for the common good. He tried being a lookout, but got distracted trying to help a lost child. He can’t bring himself to do anyone any harm, and even though Day has made it clear he’ll protect him, Cam needs to do his part. Hence trying to be a prostitute, even though the idea makes him ill.
Is it any wonder Day saw Aiden — a soft touch almost as soft as Camden — and quickly put the two of them together? Day is, on one hand, kind and protective. On the other, ruthless and unforgiving. He has no romantic interest in Cam, who he sees as more of a sibling, and it’s Day that Camden turns to when he needs help.
There are a few fairytale-esque twists and turns here, including a missing prince, but the main story revolves around a string of children who are forced into prostitution. There is no graphic depiction of violence or assault, and the children are only used as a plot contrivance. There is, however, the requisite happy ending, and over all this is a light and easy read.