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Ranjit Blake, captain of the guard, protects his people by killing whoever threatens them. Even if the danger is Prince Sheruke, a half-human earth elemental. Sheruke can’t be harmed when he becomes a landslide or a lava flow, but Ranj tricks him into taking his human form. And at point-blank range, Ranj shoots him in the head.
Ranj immediately wishes he’d saved the bullet for himself, because Sheruke has a secret—he’s invulnerable in either form. That leaves Ranj no choice but to surrender and offer to serve Sheruke. In any capacity he desires.
Sheruke may have stone eyes and disfiguring scars, but his power and charisma make up for those—and there’s never been a human he couldn’t tame. Not even Ranj. But as the reckless gunslinger gives in to temptation, Sheruke wants even more of him. And the danger level is off the charts. Because if Ranj ever discovers Sheruke’s other secret, the one which could destroy even a Prince, Ranj will have to choose between the safety of his people and the life of the Prince who has fallen for him.
The God Prince is the second book in the Earthborn series. I haven’t read book one, and would say that there’s enough information contained in this book for the story to make sense. BUT. I see from reading reviews of the previous book, that not reading it means I’ve missed out on some details about the background to the world in which the book is set (one hundred years ago, a cruise ship from our world was lost in fog and went through a portal to another realm and the survivors settled there) so if that would bother you, then perhaps you would be better off going back to read The Beast Prince first.
Some thirty years before this story begins, the murderously insane Queen Beneath the Earth gave birth to a number of sons, who immediately clawed their way out of the earth in order to escape her and then scattered in various directions, to both get as far away from her as possible and to avoid each other. These Earthborn Princes now rule over the various townships of Avalon – some of them more ably and fairly than others – and are jealously possessive of what they regard as theirs. They spend most of their time in human form, but can also become mud, lava, sand, rock, anything that is ‘of the earth’ in the blink of an eye – and in their earth forms they’re invincible.
Ranjit Blake, Captain of the Guard in Solstice Harbor, has come to New Canton to visit his sister Sobha, and is surprised, on arrival, to see a number of townsfolk hard at work repairing damage to the town walls. Given that the town’s patron is an Earthborn Prince who is capable of making such repairs thanks to his ability to manipulate rock and stone, they shouldn’t have to do this themselves. His sister tells him that Prince Sheruke left town a few days earlier and that he was so angry when he did, that he smashed through the wall after someone had angered him, and that they’re still waiting for him to return. Then Sobha, somewhat reluctantly, tells him the identity of the human who had angered Sheruke so greatly – Peter, Ranj’s friend and former lover. Ranj immediately goes to see Peter, who doesn’t know what he did wrong to make Sheruke – never before known to raise a hand in anger – beat him and then storm off, but given that he angered their Prince, the denizens of New Canton want nothing to do with him and he’s become a pariah. Ranj is furious when he finds out what’s happened to his friend and is determined to do something about it. He decides to kill the Prince and he hatches a plan whereby he and Peter will find Sheruke and ensure he’s in his human form so that Ranj can shoot him. But his hastily conceived and ill thought-out plan goes awry when even a bullet to Sheruke’s head doesn’t do the trick. Fully expecting the Prince to kill him for the attempt on his life, Ranj braces himself for a killing blow – but it doesn’t come. Sheruke spares his life – on condition that Ranj serves him in whatever capacity he desires.
Prince Sheruke prides himself on being an enlightened and benevolent ruler. Unlike some of his brothers, who rule their people with fear and a rod of iron, he believes the people should be allowed to govern themselves and suggested the creation of a Council, which is now responsible for running New Canton. Sheruke continues to accept the town’s tribute to him as its protector, but doesn’t interfere in the day to day business of running it. But he’s keeping a secret, one that unnerves him greatly. Not only is he now invincible in his human form as well as in his earth one, his powers are increasing – and he’s started to notice other changes, too. He can’t remember lashing out at Peter and smashing through the wall or why he did it, food has lost all its taste, and he’s begun to dislike the fine clothes he’s often given as part of the town tribute. Then Ranj starts to notice certain inconsistencies as well, words and figures of speech which sound out of place and which Sheruke denies saying, actions he cannot remember… could the Prince be going mad? And if he is, who will be able stop him should he turn his anger on the people of New Canton?
I enjoyed The God Prince despite a few reservations. The author carefully ekes out the information about what is happening to Sheruke to create an intriguing mystery, but while the world building is pretty good, and the big showdown at the end is very well done, the romance between Sheruke and Ranjit is underdeveloped. Even though the author clearly knows how to build sexual tension – there are a couple of scenes where the sizzling heat between the pair could have melted my Kindle! – I never felt there was much of an emotional connection there. They spend plenty of on-page time together, they talk and banter and Ranj, although he’s effectively a servant, doesn’t take any crap while also knowing when not to push things too far. I liked that aspect of their relationship and could see an unlikely friendship developing between them, but I never really understood why Ranj fell for Sheruke and vice versa. There’s attraction there, for sure; Sheruke quickly recognises that he’s attracted to Ranj, but doesn’t, to Ranj’s surprise, push for sex despite their status as master and servant. In fact, he holds back, partly because Ranj is so clearly not interested and partly becuase he’s conscious of the scars running down one side of his body (inflicted by the Queen during his escape.) The author does a good job of showing Sheruke’s feelings for Ranj growing and changing, but Ranj spends a lot of time in denial and even once the relationship has turned sexual, continues to deny there are any feelings there on his part. There just isn’t enough real progression from ‘I’m attracted to you and want to jump your bones’ to ‘I love you’.
Still, The God Prince is an entertaining and well-written fantasy tale, even if the romance isn’t quite what I’d hoped for. I’m not sure if there will be more m/m entries in the series, but I’d certainly read them if there are.