After a long war between three kingdoms, the countries have finally settled on a peace treaty. They have decided to cement the agreement by marrying off the royal heirs to one another, four from each country. However, there are an uneven number of men and women, which means two of the princes will have to marry each other. Prince Obren of Canna knows either he or his brother will have to be one of the same sex partners and Obren draws the literal short straw, matching him up with Prince Dukan of Butari. Like most men in his kingdom, Obren is attracted to both genders, so the idea of marrying Dukan wouldn’t necessarily be an issue, other than with regards to having children. But Dukan recently lost his long-time lover in the war, and Obren has a secret that could affect their relationship, so Obren is a little worried how things might play out between them.
Fortunately, the men find themselves unexpectedly compatible. However, this does nothing but anger Obren’s father, who has long blamed Obren for the death of his mother. Even if the men can find a way to move on from their complicated pasts, the king might still find a way to derail their happiness before they can even start a life together.
Luck of the Draw by Addison Albright is an appealing fantasy with an engaging set up. I enjoy the arranged marriage trope and this one takes an interesting twist with the 12 royal heirs needing to get matched up. We know that Obren’s father is delighted at the opportunity to potentially set Obren up with an unappealing match, as he hates his son. But Obren is actually quite fine with marrying a man. We learn that it is common for both men and women to engage in pre-marital same sex relations, and after marriage most couples have open relationships with other partners. Dukan has been in a long-term relationship with a man and actually prefers to be coupled with another man, so he is also pleased with the way things shake out with the match ups. So there is some creative world building here that sets things up nicely for the guys to get together.
The early conflict focuses on the men meeting and dealing with secrets they both hold. Things settle out pretty quickly with this as both men are open and honest with one another, which was nice to see. However, with the personal conflict settled early on, there wasn’t much else to really carry the story until a late and pretty clearly telegraphed conflict that crops up and is resolved quickly. There just seemed like a lot of middle where not much happens beyond sort of acknowledging how happy they are and how open and honest they are both being. I think there needed to be more external plot or external conflict to keep things moving after the situation settled between the men early on.
I think this one had a nice set up and Albright has created an interesting world with some fun potential for more stories. I found things one to be enjoyable, I just needed a little bit more to the plot and conflict to really make it shine.