From the author who brought you the award-winning Silk & Steel series comes a new dark MM high fantasy.
“Your love is worthless, it’s your hate I need.” ~Prince Vasili Caville
When King Talos Caville surrendered the war to the elves, soldier Nikolas Yazdan vowed never to serve the royals again. He said the same to the prince who tried to buy his loyalty, and learned the Cavilles don’t take no for an answer.
Whipped for his insolence, Nikolas is forced into slavery in a palace full of vicious, brutal royals. And Prince Vasili Caville is the worst of all. Malicious and cruel, the prince is more viper than man, and someone inside the palace wants him dead. Nikolas would kill the prince himself if not for one thing: Julian, the prince’s personal guard and Niko’s light in the dark. If Nikolas doesn’t submit to Prince Vasili and discover who is plotting against him, Julian will suffer.
But there’s more wrong in the palace than just the prince. The king is on his deathbed, the ferocious elves are creeping closer to the great city of Loreen, and madness stalks the hallways. There’s poison in the Caville court, and if Nikolas doesn’t discover the real reason Prince Vasili tried to buy him with a bag of coin, the palace, the city, and everything he loves, will be lost forever.
King of the Dark is the first book in the slow burn, enemies-to-lovers Prince’s Assassin series. A gay Game of Thrones with a hint of Witcher thrown in, there are triggers, including but not limited to: reference to past abuse, attempted rape, dubious consent, reference to incest, torture, drug use and PTSD. High heat sexual content. The Prince’s Assassin is for 18+ only.
[I received a digital a digital copy for an honest review]
King of the Dark by Arianna Nash is the first book in the Prince’s Assassin series. NikolasYazdan is home from the front lines licking his wounds after battling brutal elves and having his own king surrender. He is plucked from a brothel by none other than one of the king’s sons, Vasili Caville, and brought directly to the palace and all the nightmares it holds. Vasili’s younger brother has been killed and now the assassin has turned their focus onto Vasili. But the assassin is the least of Vasili’s problems as his brother Amir is causing trouble and his father King Talos is stirring. Nikolas finds himself with few allies as he struggles to understand who Vasili is and who can be trusted in the palace. Time is running out to catch the assassin and prevent war with the elves from breaking out again. But is war really the biggest threat to Loreen?
Nikolas Yazdan was broken by war. He thought he was fighting for his nation when truly he was a pawn in a losing battle. He finds himself drawn to the innocence of Julien while being lured into a spiderweb of attraction and infatuation with Vasili. When betrayal strikes, it breaks down everything Niko had thought and he struggles to regain any kind of understanding of his world. Although he tries to run away, the draw of Vasili and his unexplainable need to protect him overpowers any good judgment he has.
“Your love is worthless. It’s your hate I need.”
Vasili Caville is the prince regent with a noose around his neck. He has the terrible family curse breathing down his neck and he is trying to weed out traitors in his own palace. Bringing Niko in to solve who is trying to kill him may kill him in it’s own way. They are brought together by hate but instead find themselves being most open and raw with each other. Vasili is one of those characters you are meant to hate but I truly adored him as his sense of loyalty to his city is unparalleled and is constantly sacrificing himself without a second thought. He is so broken that Niko’s support although reluctant keeps him going.
“… he is Vasili and he’ll always protect us even if the whole world hates him for it.”
This story is not a romance, I repeat, this story is not a romance. It has a romantic subplot buried deep down in there but it is an action filled fantasy story at its core. If you are expecting sweet romantic scenes between Niko and Vasili, this is not the book for you. But if you want action, intrigue, curses, magic, tragedy and betrayal then read this story. This is a world building first book so you get an idea of the political landscape of Loreen and a base history of the Caville bloodline. Nash continues the story in Reign of Darkness so perhaps Vasili and Niko will work towards a relationship but for now their hate is strong and I love it.
5 stars for a pair of enemies fighting to save their kingdom from darkness
“Know your place, Nikolas.”
“Under the heel of your boot, Your Highness?”
After a terrible inferno destroys the Caville palace, and with the people of Loreen turned against him, Prince Vasili is left with no choice but to flee his ancestral home, leaving Amir to proclaim himself king.
But the prince’s life isn’t the only one left in ashes. King Amir has not forgotten Nikolas Yazdan—the butcher, a lord’s bastard son, and Vasili’s favorite pet. Nikolas doesn’t fear Amir, but the new king has discovered the Caville curse can be wielded like a weapon, and he has Nikolas in his crosshairs.
The exotic south is Vasili’s and Niko’s only refuge. A land of pirates and thieves, of mystery and magic. A land of opportunity for a manipulative prince and his reluctant assassin.
But just as Nikolas begins to believe Vasili might be worth fighting for—that Loreen can be saved with Vasili on the throne—the dark flame trapped in the royal bloodline unravels its ancient bonds.
One prince must control the unrelenting power desperate for its escape. The other must die.
Niko thought he knew which prince he could trust, but he’s been fooled before and as Vasili’s true motives are revealed, Niko finds himself at the mercy of Prince Vasili once more. Only this time, there is more than love at stake. The fate of the world rests on Niko discovering the truth about the flame, about the cursed Cavilles, and his place in their doomed destiny.
Prince’s Assassin series is a slow-burn enemies-to-lovers saga. A gay Game of Thrones with a hint of Witcher thrown in, there are triggers, including but not limited to: reference to past abuse, attempted rape, dubious consent, reference to incest, torture, drug use and PTSD. High heat sexual content. The Prince’s Assassin is for 18+ only.
[ I received a digital copy for an honest review]
Reign of Darkness by Ariana Nash is the second book in the Prince’s Assassin series and picks up with the Loreen palace burning. Nikolas Yazdan, despite his efforts, has rescued Prince Vasili from the palace and now finds himself following him south to the city of Seran. With the assistance of trader and captain Yasir they find themselves dragged into the heart of Seran society and Nikolas’ mother’s family the Yazdans. But with the dark flame becoming harder to control and betrayal around every corner Niko and Vasili find themselves backed into an impossible situation where no matter how much they care for each other the world as they know it must come first.
Nikolas was trying to rebuild his broken life after his previous involvement with the Cavilles and the dark flame. Just when he thinks he can put Vasili and all his complicated feelings for him aside, the fire erupts and Niko can’t help himself. He is drawn to Vasili and although all he can think about most of the time is how much he hates him, the lure keeps him coming back for those soft sweet moments they share. Niko and Vasili were given brief moments together that just reinforced how much they need each other and how much stronger they truly are together.
“I’m here, protecting you from everything that would hurt you, even yourself. Do you hear me? A griffin must forever hold the flame. I’m holding you. I’m your protector.”
Vasili knows now that he contains the half of the dark flame that his time is limited. He knows he should leave Niko to continue his life as a blacksmith and try to find some semblance of happiness but he can’t. He can’t let him go, knowing that Niko is the calm to the ongoing storm that is his life. He opens himself up so much more to Niko in this story and entrusts him with not only his body but his heart. Although he continues his mind games, betrayal and so much more Vasili is just doing what’s best for the greater good.
“There is nothing else in this world that frees me like you, Nikolas Yazdan.”
This book was a betrayal rollercoaster. It was ups and downs where you never got a moment to feel contentment when the MCs seemed to be finally getting their acts together. Instead the second you got even the smallest warm or fuzzy it was ripped from you and you were left gagging. That being said it was a wonderful second book where the lore of the dark flame came to light and you met the wondrous Yasir who compliments the seriousness that follows Vasili and Niko. You are left yet again hanging from a cliff, holding on for Niko and Vasili and all that they could be together.
With the powerful cities of Seran and Loreen having fallen to elves, and the dark flame escaping its bonds, Prince Vasili Caville’s plight has never been more desperate. But for the first time in his lifetime, he’s not alone. With the formidable Nikolas Yazdan at his side, not all is lost.
But Nikolas has changed. The Yazdan legacy has caught up with him, and as strong and stubborn as he is, nobody can resist the flame’s call for long. For all his words of honor and sacrifice, Vasili fears he’s losing Nikolas, and with him any chance of defeating the elves for good.
Love, power, control. To save both himself and Nikolas, Vasili must surrender it all and embrace everything a Caville is destined to be. For beneath the broken palace, hidden inside its heart, lies the answer to everything. And all it will cost, is love.
The Prince’s Assassin series comes to its explosive conclusion in Curse of the Dark Prince, the third and final book.
[ I received a digital arc for an honest review]
Curse of the Dark Prince by Ariana Nash is the final book in the Prince’s Assassin series and epically concludes Nikolas and Vasili’s battle with darkness. Nikolas Yazdan is recovering from the torture he experienced under Amir’s control and is yet again rescuing Vasili from his self-sacrificing ways. Although they escape the clutches of Niko’s family the dark flame is growing stronger and Vasili is starting to crack. Vasili is not the only one struggling under the lure of the flame with Niko succumbing to the power he never wanted. Their futures were written far in the past and now it is time for Niko and Vasili’s fate to come true.
Nikolas refuses to give up Vasili, the only man he can imagine hating as much as he loves. He has been trying too hard to keep Vasili from giving up and allowing the dark flame to take control that when he needs to use the flame to protect him he doesn’t realize the toll it takes. Niko’s descent into darkness is subtle but you see his struggle as he forces himself to not use the flame as an easy way to solve a problem. He finds himself with an unexpected ally in Lasher who proves that anyone can change to serve the greater good and relies on Yasir even as he struggles with loss. Niko and Vasili get glimpses of the future and fight so hard to reach a safe place together.
“The legacy, the flame, the curse; he’d see to it that everything ended with him. All he needed was his assassin to follow one final order.”
Vasili’s finally losing his battle against the dark flame and he’s so afraid of ruining Niko in the process. His honesty breaks your heart as you read about the freedom he feels with Niko and how afraid he is to lose that feeling. Giving in to his physical connection with Niko is everything you want it to be in more as the battle for dominance is balanced with care and affection. Self sacrifice is his modus operandi and he continues putting everyone and everything else ahead of himself.
“In the quiet moments, and the moments when he’d stripped all his layers back, Vasili was spellbinding. Vulnerable and fierce. Niko’s Vasili.”
This book crushed me. I knew it was going to but at the same time I was unprepared. Tears and frustration and more tears. This story takes you on the painful journey of Vasili’s sacrifice and Niko’s fight to prevent Vasili from following through with what he thinks is his fate. It’s fast paced and yet achingly slow as you stress towards the dark flame overtaking everything. The romance warmed your heart and the betrayal and sad moments ruined you over and over again.
5 stars for this epic conclusion in the battle against the dark flame and everything stacked against Niko and Vasili.