The Fifth Son by Blaine D. Arden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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Llyskel is a prince who can’t use magic in a world where everyone has some semblance of magical power. Considered defenseless and weak, he is guarded wherever he goes and has little freedom, except when he paints. He also harbors a secret desire, something which the knight captain Ariv senses in him and seeks to satisfy.
The Fifth Son was sweet and spicy, a lovely little romance set in a fully-realized fantasy world where magic is so commonplace it is even used to open doors and windows. Llyskel often finds himself feeling like a prisoner, since he’s not allowed out on his own. He spends most of his time within the castle walls and training grounds painting pictures of friends and family, his only escape from it all.
One day Ariv triggers Llyskel’s most secret fantasy, and they both find themselves inexorably bound together by it. This begins a courtship that’s as hot as it is sweet, peppered with light bondage scenes and loving kisses. Under Ariv’s touch, Llyskel learns that he’s not as powerless as he thought.
I really liked how Llyskel grew as a character. By the time the conflict part of the story came around, he had grown confident enough to tackle his captivity without waiting around like a damsel to be rescued. His relationship with Ariv really seemed to bring him out of his shell, and the two worked well together as a partnership of equals despite Llyskel’s handicap.
The courtship rituals were very sweet and I found myself getting the warm fuzzies at Ariv’s proposal to court, as well as Llyskel’s response. I liked that in this world m/m relationships, poly and even open relationships were not only acceptable, but the norm. It was a refreshing change to the usual discrimination, prejudice and forbidden love and made for a lovely read. The Fifth Son felt like a warm ray of afternoon sunshine and left me feeling positive about Llyskel and Ariv’s future together. A most enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.