Title: Poison Marked
Author: T.J. Nichols
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 56 Pages
Category: Holiday Fantasy
At a Glance: I gobbled this story up in no time at all, a great little read if you are looking for something quick to pass the time.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: Kill his lover or disobey his king and instigate civil war?
As the feared court poison master, Nikko is sworn to do as his king bids. As the lover of the king’s nephew, Lord Rodas, Nikko must hide his affection or risk being labeled a traitor and punished. A former thief who clawed his way into the palace from the filthy streets, Nikko longs to be deserving of Rodas’s love.
A respected war hero, Rodas is in a delicate political situation. He is not the kingdom’s natural heir, though many support his claim over the wastrel, Prince Fortin. The last thing Rodas wants is war. His highest ambition is for Nikko to openly wear the jewels he’s bestowed on him as a public declaration of their love.
Neither man is prepared for the king to order Nikko to poison Rodas during the solstice feast or for the deadly intrigue they’re plunged into, which exposes their affair and rocks the foundations of the kingdom.
A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar “Stocking Stuffers.”
Review: Wow, I am somewhat in awe of how quickly this story grabbed on to me, and how complete it was despite its shorter length.
Poison Marked wasted no time jumping into the action, sinking its claws into me, until I read the final page. So much happens in such a short amount of time; it is incredible how well Rodas, Nikko, the King, and Prince are developed while still managing to balance the overall plot.
Nikko is in a tough position. He has sworn an oath to the King; as his Poison Master, Nikko is ordered to end Rodas’ life. He loves Rodas, but to defy the King would not only result in Rodas’ death but his own as well. And should he fail to follow the order, the King would ensure his end was not quick and painless. Though not necessarily the King’s biggest fan, he takes his pledge very seriously, but how could he kill the man he loves? Told from Nikko’s perspective, the reader gets to see what an impossible situation he has found himself in, as he tries desperately to think of ways to save his love’s and his own life, without breaking the oath he holds dear.
Rodas is an honorable warrior who truly adores Nikko and understands Nikko’s plight. Their connection is already formed, but the reader gets insight to how wonderfully he treats Nikko, how he cherishes Nikko, and how Nikko, in return, adores him despite their circumstances and stations in life keeping them secret.
The whole story takes place in little more than a day, and a lot happens during that timeframe. It absolutely worked. Having the entire plot take place in little more than twenty-four hours rather than trying to fit in a more intricate plot over a longer period of time allowed for the balance of romance and suspense. The plot was sufficiently complex for the limited pages, and managed to pull off a few whoppers. No worries for those who adore this particular genre; there is still political machinations occurring, lovers in a seemingly unwinnable situation, an extremely unlikeable villain, and an HEA covering all the bases of what I had hoped for.
I really enjoyed the different poisons and remedies as Nikko went through his options. How delicate the balance from being a cure to being fatal, how some are fatal unless used as a cure. It was fascinating and added just that extra touch to make it stand out for me.
I truly enjoyed this story from beginning to end, and gobbled it up in no time at all. It’s a great little read if you are looking for something quick to pass the time, and I totally recommend it if this type of story is your jam.
You can buy Poison Marked here: