The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre
Date Read: March 24th 2017
Genre: PNR, Romance
Charming. Irreverent. Haunted.Alastor Vega is the sole challenger in a brutal battle for succession. Against all odds, he must stop his power-mad brother, Tycho, before he destroys the Numina. Though he never wanted to rule, he must claim the throne and liberate his people, or the consequences will be calamitous. Yet only the surprising support of a beautiful Animari doctor gives him the fortitude to fight.
Focused. Analytical. Solitary.Dr. Sheyla Halek has always been more interested in research than personal contact, but family ties—and the needs of her pride—keep her in Ash Valley, deferring her dreams. Brusque and abrasive at the best of times, she never expected to bond with anyone, let alone Golgoth royalty. Strangely, Alastor seems to need her as no one has before, and not only for her medical skills.
Their attraction is forbidden, likely doomed beyond the wildness of wartime, but these fires burn too hot and sweet to be contained…
Series: Ars Numina #2
Read for Fun (Personal Copy)
Overall Rating: 5.00
My goodness did this book work for me! I absolutely LOVED it!!!
Tragic princes are catnip for me and Alastor did not disappoint. While his emotional wounds and burdensome responsibilities fully inform his character, he doesn’t wallow in self-pity. He has accepted his lot in life with grim resignation that rarely devolves into full on cynicism.
Sheyla is a remarkable heroine. At heart she’s a scientist-physician. She has experienced socialization issues her entire life because she’s significantly more cerebral than emotional in her actions and thought processes than her family and packmates. I particularly enjoyed this characterization because shifters in PNR are almost always written as operating with higher levels of feeling/empathy than other supernatural races and average humans.
The romance hit a perfect level of angst for me due to an agreed upon expiration date for the love affair based on solid reasoning (when it begins). The connection that develops between Sheyla and Alastor progresses so beautifully. It is not insta-love. It isn’t even instant attraction. It is fundamentally built upon the understanding and mutual respect that they clearly demonstrate for each other.
The portrayal of Sheyla’s demisexuality is wonderfully done. Every one of the sex scenes are smoking hot and layered with emotional intensity. And each one artfully peels back additional layers of intimacy between the characters.
While I enjoyed reading book 1 in the series (The Leopard King), it felt a little slow and didn’t keep me nearly as emotionally engaged as this installment did. With the introduction to the series provided ahead of the first chapter, I believe that The Demon Prince can definitely be read as a standalone for the romance (though the worldbuilding might suffer a bit?). Your mileage may vary.
It breaks my heart to see that there are negative reviews solely because of the characters’ sexual identities (both the hero and heroine identify as bisexual) and the presence of menage sex scenes in the book. I personally don’t understand why this is such a problem for some individuals, but if those facts will cause an issue for you, this is not the book for you. And I’m sad that you’ll be missing out on a truly lovely story.