Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
When his homeland is conquered by invading barbarians, Nessir winds up not dead, but instead serving the new kings much as he once served his own. Though at first he is terrified of what they will do, across the palace and through the kingdom Abaidas and Ophion swiftly begin to make improvements their predecessor neglected. And though a married man should be off limits, Nessir finds himself falling for Abaidas anyway—and astonished when the interest proves to be mutual, and to learn that Ophion has no objections to Abaidas taking a lover.
But just as Nessir is settling into his strange, new life, he stumbles across an assassination plot—a plot he can speak of for fear of his sister’s life, unless he can convey it in a way that will not get him caught. In an act of desperation, he throws himself at Ophion, and under guise of being lovers the two work to protect the man they both love. And all the while Nessir tries to ignore the growing wish that Ophion’s affections were not merely a ruse…
The opening scene brought us directly into the story’s setting and provided us with our first introduction to Nessir’s job, place in society, and relationship with King Amun. By the time the barbarians arrived, we have had the opportunity to learn more about Nessir and his sister.
Abaibas’s and Ophion’s arrival changes Nessir’s future, but he decided to serve the King and his Consort without much pressure. Perhaps because both men gave him the opportunity to make his own decisions. He takes his role as the Majesties’ body servant as easy as he had done with the previous King.
Leaving the war camp behind, the three men return to the conquered city. As the time pass, they get comfortable with each other, and Abaidas requests his husband approval to start a relationship, which he receives. Shortly after, Nessir learned about the conspiracy against the new King and staged an affair with Ophion to find a way to save the man they both love.
Ophion protects Nessir’s sister as they tried to get more information about the attempt against Abaidas and planned to stop it. Their pretend relationship starts turning into more, but both, Nessir and Ophion, kept it to themselves.
A combination of characters and events influenced the men’s lives, relationships, and positions. We get to witness the attempt against Abaidas, how it’s handled, at the repercussions, not only for their lives but to their separate relationships. By the end of the novella, we have the starts of a HEA with a promising future.
Where Loyalties Lie has a good sense of location, era, and characterization since the very beginning. An accomplishment that’s sometimes difficult to grasp in a novella. The world build seems to take precedent leaving the plot points a little bare without resting relevance to the overall outcome.
This is one of those stories that would benefit from another handful of pages. It’s a great start for a longer re-write, or perhaps, a series in the same world, even if it is with other main characters. There were some unanswered questions that can be addressed in further volumes.
One thing I’d like to read more about is Abaibas’s and Ophion’s relationship. We know they were childhood friends, but I’d love to see their relationship unveiling. Especially, how their love story turned into an open relationship.
The triad started as separated relationship, morphing later on into it. Even so, there’s a separation between the married couple and their third created by the inequality of the social status. In the end, it works well for them, and we get a glimpse of how hard they would work to stay together.
Overall, I enjoyed this story. I just wanted a little more plot to join the beginnings of a great story.
The cover is lovely and goes well with the time period and events in the story. The only drawback is the off-centered silhouettes that seemed too modern for it.
ebook, 89 pages
Published: March 9, 2016, by Less Than Three Press
Edition Language: English