“Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive” – Sir Walter Scott
Dear readers, there’s romance afoot in John Tristan’s The Peacock Prince, one that begins with deception, then catches a swell on the high seas and crests in a true love story between a pirate and his hostage prince.
An arranged marriage between Dagon Blackstone and the princess of Aël, Celandine, is the catalyst for trickery when the pirate comes to collect his due, that being the young bride who was promised to him to seal a treaty of peace, only to discover that she has slipped the matrimonial noose and left her identical twin brother to swing in her place.
Prince Alessander gets an unexpected surprise when the Blackstone not only discovers the ruse but doesn’t seem entirely perturbed by the fact that the beautiful face behind the peacock mask or the body in the ball gown isn’t a woman’s. But a bargain is a bargain, and Dagon is not about to allow peace to slip through his fingers on the whims of his flighty intended. He means to pursue the princess and the man who is aiding and abetting her escape, and force her to honor her father’s agreement. To ensure the king’s cooperation, however, Dagon demands a little insurance for his trouble—Prince Alessander.
Seduction on the high seas has long been a staple in the historical romance genre, and Mr. Tristan has placed his own stamp upon it, giving it a slightly different angle by setting the story in an alternate world, though the where is unimportant to the plot, the why being the more significant detail to the way the story unfolds for the pirate gentleman and the man he loves but cannot keep.
One of the very unique things about the story, one I appreciated, is that none of these characters are written as boilerplate clichés, though there are familiar themes in the story. Alessandro is not the pampered and spoiled prince who learns a lesson in humility when he falls in love. Dagon is not the cold and ruthless pirate who takes all and gives nothing back. This is attraction and temptation and lust, pure and simple, that leads to what seems could be an impossible happy ending.
Written to near perfection, The Peacock Prince is spare on some details that may have served to bolster the building of the relationship between Dagon and Alessander a bit better, but kept the pace flowing along smoothly so that when all was said and done, this one ended up as a lovely romance for which I’d love to see a sequel that maybe fills in and builds upon an already good foundation.