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Book Review: Chronicles of Tournai 1-3, by Antonia Aquilante

Chronicles of Tournai 1-3

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Book 1: The Prince’s Consort

Legends tell of large cats defending the principality of Tournai, but such creatures have been lost to time.

Or have they?

Prince Philip inherited the throne at a young age, and since then, his life has centered around ruling his country and resisting those pressuring him to take a wife and conceive an heir—forcing him to hide his attraction to men. When kind-hearted Amory is offered to the prince in exchange for more time for Amory’s father to complete a commission, both Philip and Amory are horrified. But Philip agrees to keep Amory at the palace, where they gradually become friends, then lovers. For the first time in his life, Philip is free to share not only his heart, but the magical shape-shifting ability that runs in the royal bloodline.

Neither Amory nor Philip imagined falling in love, and they certainly don’t expect the lengths those who oppose their relationship will go to keep them apart—maybe even resorting to murder.

Book 2: The Artist’s Masquerade

As the first-born son of the Duke of Tournai and cousin to the prince, Cathal has always tried to fulfill his duty to family and country, including following through with an arranged marriage to Velia, cousin to the emperor of Ardunn. But it’s Velia’s companion, Flavia, who fascinates Cathal. Cathal doesn’t know that Flavia is really Flavian, a man masquerading as a woman to escape Ardunn, a restrictive place in which Flavian’s preference for men is forbidden.

Even when Cathal discovers Flavian’s true gender, he cannot fight his attraction to him. Flavian is intrigued by Cathal, but Cathal is still betrothed to Velia, and Flavian worries Cathal is more taken with his feminine illusion than the man beneath it. While both men battle their longings for each other, spies from Ardunn infiltrate the capital, attempting to uncover Tournai’s weaknesses. They are also searching for Flavian, who possesses a magical Talent that allows him to see the truth of a person just by painting their portrait—a skill invaluable to Ardunn’s emperor.

Book 3: The Scholar’s Heart

Youngest son of a royal duke, Etan is a scholar at heart who juggles his work for the prince with his studies of the history and legends of Tournai, something of particular interest to him because he shares the magical Talent that runs in the royal bloodline. Etan’s peaceful world turns upside down when his best friend—the man he secretly loves—unexpectedly marries a woman. Though Tristan values his friendship with Etan and has always been attracted to him, he is a dutiful son, raised to shoulder responsibility for the family business one day. That day comes far sooner than anticipated, and he makes a deathbed promise to his father to marry the woman his father chose and become head of the company and family.

A year later, Tristan is a widower with an infant daughter and a mother who demands he marry again quickly—something Tristan resists. Circumstances throw Etan and Tristan together, and even as they succumb to the desires they’ve always harbored, Etan battles his feelings, wary of being cast aside again. When Tristan’s daughter is kidnapped, Etan and Tristan must come together to find her, find the person responsible, and support each other through the ordeal… and maybe beyond.

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Book 1: The Prince’s Consort

Book – The Prince’s Consort (Chronicles of Tournai #1)

Author – Antonia Aquilante

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 290

Cover – Stunning!

POV – 3rd person, past tense, dual POV

Would I read it again – Are you kidding? YES! YES! YES!

Genre – LGBT, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, MPreg

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

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Wow! What can I say? This was one heck of a ride.

And – HELLO! – Mpreg! WooHoo!

So, confession time – I’ve wanted to read these books ever since I saw the absolutely stunning covers. I’m a total cover lover and these appealed to me so much! Romantic, slightly moody, but with a whole lot of colour.

Another confession – I am a total highlighter, note taker, when I’m reading a book to review. However, this time I was so engrossed in the story that I have very little notes and the ones I have are actually really vague and short, such as noting POV’s and big events that I’ll want to talk about later – now – in my review.

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To start with, the characters were addictive. I mean, I could easily have fallen in love with both Philip and Amory on their own. But together? Gosh, those boys are dynamite.

Amory is the sweetest thing. Sometimes shy, sometimes naïve, he’s actually quite feisty and that part of him shows up in the most expected – but most adorable – places. He’s a little firecracker when he wants to be, as well as very, very stubborn. I knew right from the start, when he was making out with Tristan, that I loved both of them. But it wasn’t until this line ↓ that I really understood why. He’s just so ridiculously adorable all the time.

“Now, what do you want?”

The question was devastating because Amory had heard it so rarely in his life.”

Philip, on the other hand, was the strong, confident one. He was so sure of going through with everything, when Amory came along. Then, he found a gentler side that brought out a protective instinct as well as a more Princely dominating nature in defense of Amory.

Even the minor character were brilliantly alive, diverse and believable. I loved Adeline, Etan and Tristan. Elodie was a whirlwind of a character, but I knew right from the start that I hated Vasco and Lilliale. Not to mention Amory’s father!

I really loved the small paranormal element, with the cats mentioned in the blurb. It had intrigued me right from the start, but when it finally came to fruition, I loved the way it was handled and the way Amory reacted.

The danger to Amory was also really well done. It always came out of the blue, but made sense in it’s own way. Although it was unexpected, I loved the way it was explained and how it was explored throughout the story, while being seemlessly woven into the romance between Amory and Philip. Even though I’m a total mystery buff, who can solve most of the crime, cop stories or murder mysteries, I actually spent most of the book not sure who did it until the big reveal. Although I was vindicated as to who I suspected did it, I hadn’t been 100% sure, because there were so many possibilities.

The Mpreg aspect, in a similar manner, was really well explained, researched and explored in just enough detail. It was exactly what I wanted for an mpreg.

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Overall, I felt like a giddy schoolgirl reading this. Fangirling constantly and shipping Philory – and yes, that is now a thing, because I say so. 😉 I loved the sweet, tender moments they shared, the bubbling chemistry below the surface, that existed all throughout their relationship.

I smiled so much, so hard, through the entire book that it actually hurt.

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Favourite Quote

“The prince’s eyes were wide as well as he watched Amory. Had it felt the same to him? It had barely been a kiss, but it felt like a start. Maybe even a promise. As the prince bent to kiss him again, it definitely felt like a promise.”

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Book 2: The Artist’s Masquerade

Book – The Artist’s Masquerade (Chronicles of Tournai #2)

Author – Antonia Aquilante

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 300

Cover – Stunning!

POV – 3rd person, past tense, multiple POV (Predominantly Cathal and Flavian, which small instances of Philip, Amory)

Would I read it again – Yes.

Genre – LGBT, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

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Honestly, I was surprised that this story came before Etan’s. At the end of book 1, we didn’t leave Cathal in a good place. We’d been asked to doubt, mistrust and dislike him for most of the book, while having no real explanation of his actions. He hadn’t vindicated himself, while I’d spent a lot of book 1 really looking forward to reading Etan’s story. However, despite it feeling out of place, at first – thus taking me longer to fall into the story – I do understand why it happened that way.

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Once again, the characters were phenomenal. I really liked Cathal back in the early pages of book 1, until he disappeared from the story and Etan took his place. I’d been looking forward to reading Etan’s story but believed, because Cathal had been a ladies man, that we wouldn’t be seeing his. I was surprised that we did and how it was done.

I was quite surprised that Amory and Philip’s POV’s were included. Other that two very short conversations they held in private, I’m not entirely sure they were needed, but I do love that they were included. I absolutely love them – both when I read book 1 and here, in book 2.

What I also really loved was that Etan was still quite a prominent fixture. I really grew to love him in book 1, but there was a much more tender, open side of him in this story that makes me excited to carry on into book 3, where we get his story. I also really missed Tristan, who I’m looking forward to seeing more of in the next book.

Sadly, because of the disconnect I mentioned at the beginning, it took me until 23% of the book to warm up to Cathal again. He had that same stiff upper lip attitude from the latter part of book 1 and it took me a while to forgive him for everything. But, it wasn’t until he talked to Etan that I began to understand his motivation, his real personality and warmed right up to him. Normally, I would find this too late to introduce us or make us connect with a main character, but I could understand why and the real purpose behind it. It actually really helped show Cathal in a much better light – to show that unquestioning loyalty to his father, from book 1, while slowly, gradually introducing the much more playful, fun person that he could be with the right encouragement.

Personally, I really loved Flavian. He was much feistier than Amory and in a situation that he didn’t particularly like, nor made him a pleasing companion. Despite how many times he snapped or grumbled, he remained a loveable, sweet character that I really enjoyed reading about. He was artistic, which made me hope that he and Amory could have a friendship together – though I understood why that never happened during this story – but he was also smart, with a Talent that was intriguing, and he was open to a whole new life to the one he knew. No matter how shocking or surprising the revelations might be.

The royalty and commoner theme wasn’t like others I’ve read, where their stations in life have kept them so obviously from each other. The introductions of the idea, in book 1, of a royal openly taking a lover, eliminated this, which was so refreshing. At the same time, it meant that the shift of the focus on the relationship could centre on feelings, danger and politics.

The relationship that unfolded between him and Cathal was more uncertain. The risks they faced, the challenges between them and the progression were much more intense than book 1, where we knew that Philip would never let anything stop him from being with Amory. This time, with Cathal even unsure of his own feelings, it was much more uncertain as to where the story would lead, what would happen to the couple and whether Flavian would be safe enough for them to take the risk to have a relationship with each other. The challenge of Flavian’s disguise was another uncertainty that had me sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what would happen.

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Overall, I really loved it. Though it took me a while to warm up to Cathal, that only gave me more time to fall in love with Flavian and his feisty attitude. And the glimpses of Amory and Philip, together with baby Julien, were perfect!

I can’t wait to delve into the next book, to read more.

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Favourite Quote

This quote is from Etan, because I was too engrossed in reading to mark out any more that might have come along later. I don’t find that a fault, since that just shows how good the story is.

“I thought we’d have time. I haven’t even kissed him. Now I never will. I wish I’d kissed him, just once. I wish I had.”

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Book 3: The Scholar’s Heart

Book – The Scholar’s Heart (Chronicles of Tournai #3)

Author – Antonia Aquilante

Star rating – ★★★★★

No. of Pages – 294

Cover – Stunning!

POV – 3rd person, past tense, multiple POV (Predominantly Etan and Tristan, which small instances of Philip and Amory)

Would I read it again – Yes.

Genre – LGBT, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

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** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **

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This has to be the best in the series so far. Though I absolutely loved the light, sweetness of Amory and Philip, and the tension between Cathal and Flavian, the story of Etan and Tristan had me nearly in tears the whole way through. Not only was it heartbreaking, with a few light moments, but I’ve waited so long to read it and how it ends up is just so unfair, after all they’ve been through.

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Well, as I expected, I absolutely LOVED this story. I’ve been waiting so long to read about Etan and Tristan and I wasn’t disappointed. But, due to not wanting to give away spoilers and being emotionally drained after finishing it, I don’t really want to say too much.

I was crying by 3%, because Tristan was still perfect, I still loved Etan and now Bria was included. It was just too much for my heart to take. Then there was that conversation between Amory and Tristan. Amory, as usual, rushing to Tristan’s side in his time of need, doing everything possible to make his best friend happy and take care of him.

I hated Tristan’s mother right from the start and, as the story progressed, that didn’t change. I didn’t much like Selene either.

Seeing both sides was so much more effective in this story, because the relationship is so much more uncertain and unsettled than the previous stories. For the first time, all I wanted to do was grab them, shake them and scream at both of them about how obvious they were, misinterpreting what they thought they knew.

The brotherly talks – Etan and Cathal, Amory and Tristan, now Maxen and Tristan too – seriously killed me. They were the absolutely heart-breaking moments for me.

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Overall, the story was so much sadder than the others. I must have spent about 80% of it near to tears, with the rest evenly split between smiling and crying. I’ve always loved Tristan and Etan, since they were first introduced in this series, and that hasn’t changes. But sometimes they can be such idiots!

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Favourite Quote

“Tristan blinked bright blue eyes once, then again, at his harshly spoken question. Etan had loved those eyes, loved how bright everything about Tristan seemed to be. Now, looking at them just hurt.”

““I don’t want you hurt, Etan.”

“I know. So this morning needs to be the end of it with Tristan.”

“The end of everything?””

““You can, you know,” he said quietly, trying to convey all his feelings, all that he would do for Tristan in just his voice as he spoke the words. “You can break if you need to, here, with me. I’ll be here, and I’ll hold on to you, and I’ll help you put the pieces back together.””

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Chronicles of Tournai 1-3, by Antonia Aquilante

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