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REVIEW: The Imposter Prince, by Wendy Rathbone

The Imposter Prince - Wendy Rathbone

Title: The Imposter Prince

Series: Imposter  Book One

Author: Wendy Rathbone 

Genre: Fantasy, Historical

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Cis

Publisher: Eye Scry

Pages: 209

Reviewer: Dan

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About The Book

His love for an enemy prince threatens his very life. 

Dare does not mind serving the spoiled and cruel Prince Darius. Growing up with him, Dare does everything for Darius including homework, bed play demands, and even doubling for him as the prince grows too paranoid to face even the smallest of crowds. 

But everything changes in a single moment when Dare, while posing as Darius, is abducted by the enemy. 

A captive in a new and hostile land, Dare meets another prince who seems just as indulged and rotten as Darius—until Dare gets to know him, until they fall in love. Against his will, Dare must continue to play the role of Prince Darius for real, or risk everything: his love, his land, and his very life. 

His only chance for survival is to keep a secret from the one he loves, a secret that is also killing him. 

A male/male, enemies to lovers novel of mad kings, troubled princes, abduction, fevers, cold dungeons, warm hearths, comfort, wine, and true love. 

The Review

I enjoyed the first installment of the ImposterSeries and I’m glad to see that it is a series because the ending felt abrupt. The story begins with a look at the relationship between the spoiled and unstable Prince Darius and his servant/companion, Dare, two young men who share a name and are conveniently close in appearance. The character of Prince Darius felt a little flat, an antagonist whose purpose was to make it so Dare’s childhood wasn’t tookind for a mere commoner. At times the author was able to draw out an interesting side to Prince Darius, and depth in his characterization. It was, to me, a shame that he died before the story really started. I would have liked to seem more from him, more growth or a more tragic spiral, instead of following along with Dare, the ever kind and patient and smart and handsome servant boy. Dare doesn’t seem to have a bad bone in his body, which is suspect considering the abuse he’s endured throughout his childhood. We have access to his thoughts and feeling, as he’s the point-of-view character, and I find his relative lack of trauma concerning. He seems to be more or less at peace with all the bad things that happened (and continue to happen) to him.

Post-kidnapping, the two leads, Dare and Malory, begin as tentative companions during Dare’s captivity and Malory’s convalescence, and eventually, fall in love. It’s a slow build and a sweet one, too. I honestly enjoyed most of the interactions between the two of them once they started to challenge each other and act as equals. I especially enjoyed that Malory cared enough for his friend to try to fix the misunderstandings between them and support Dare when his true identity is revealed. 

Dare’s captors, the king and queen of Shastan, don’t feature much into the story as characters, though they do drive the plot somewhat. The queen hates Dare, a lot, without much of an explanation other than he’s an enemy prince. Maybe that’s enough of a reason, but again I wanted depth. I hope we’ll get more from her in the sequel. There’s a drawn-out interlude with the dungeon master that would have interested me more if it had gone anywhere and lasted for more than a few days; I thought, briefly, that this would turn into a Count of Monte Cristostyle captivity, but not much personal growth can develop in such a short span. Instead, the book ends with Dare and Malory wed, Dare still impersonating Prince Darius, and the two of them happily in bed together.

The books greatest shortcoming is its length. It easily could have been twice as long and twice as interesting if the author had dug deeper into the plot and characters. I wanted her to give me more so badly. Knowing more about the political situation, the king and queen, about everyone’s motivations and personalities would have taken this book from a quick and pleasant read to one that gets its hooks into the reader.

I’m curious to know what will happen when Dare inevitably must face Prince Darius’s father; given what we know of the relationship between Prince Darius and his father, there are some interesting possibilities in the air.

The Reviewer

Dan Ackerman is a writer and educator who has lived in Connecticut for their entire life. They received their BSED from CCSU in 2013 and wrote their Master’s thesis on representations of women in same-sex relationships in contemporary Spanish literature and cinema.

Currently, Dan is studying for a second MA in ABA and works in a center school for students with a variety of intellectual, developmental, or multiple disabilities. In their spare time, Dan continues to read and write, supplemented with a healthy amount of movie marathons and gaming.

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