Book Title: The Prince and the Ice King
Author: Amanda Meuwissen
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kris Norris
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Genre: Fantasy M/M Romance
Tropes: Fated love, enemies to lovers, cursed, slow burn
Themes: Destiny, fate, redemption, legend, overcoming prejudice
Heat Rating: 4 flames
Length: 300 pages
It can be read alone but is the first book in a series.
This is book 1 of Tales from the Gemstone Kingdoms.
Only true love can melt a frozen heart.
Every Winter Solstice, the Emerald Kingdom sends the dreaded Ice King a sacrifice—a corrupt soul, a criminal, a deviant, or someone touched by magic. Prince Reardon has always loathed this tradition, partly because he dreams of love with another man instead of a future queen.
Then Reardon’s best friend is discovered as a witch and sent to the Frozen Kingdom as tribute.
Reardon sets out to rescue him, willing to battle and kill the Ice King if that’s what it takes. But nothing could prepare him for what he finds in the Frozen Kingdom—a cursed land filled with magic… and a camaraderie Reardon has never known. Over this strange, warm community presides the enigmatic Ice King himself, a man his subjects call Jack. A man with skin made of ice, whose very touch can stop a beating heart.
A man Reardon finds himself inexplicably drawn to.
Jack doesn’t trust Reardon. But when Reardon begins spending long days with him, vowing to prove himself and break the curse, Jack begins to hope. Can love and forgiveness melt the ice around Jack’s heart?
“Jack, is it? Far better than ‘Ice King,’ I suppose.”
The king frowned.
“I’ll call you Majesty until we trust each other. But on that day, I will call you Jack.”
“Is this a game to you?” The Ice King straightened. Reardon stood almost directly before the throne now, chilled and shivering but without any creeping frost on his hair or clothes. “What do you hope to accomplish?”
“My father is wrong for what he does, but seeing this curse on you makes me wonder if he is right about magic’s corruption, despite all the wonders it can do.”
“Magic alone did not curse us!” the king roared. “One person who wielded it did, and I brought her wrath upon me myself.”
That gave Reardon pause. There was so much he didn’t know. “You could tell me your story.”
“It is a long one, little prince, and I grow weary of your presence already.” He stood, crunching down the steps between Reardon and the throne and bringing a gust of icy wind with him.
Reardon sensed how close he was to death but stood his ground. “I only want to bring my people home.”
“And where are they supposed to go? Home, you say. The thief who almost lost her hands because she was starving, the man who lusted after the wrong noble’s son, your friend who has visions—do they have a home to go back to when their own people cast them out as villains?”
“Good for you. You only cared once it finally affected someone you knew.”
Reardon’s fists clenched to be called a heartless coward, but he’d called himself worse this past year.
He also couldn’t overlook the example of a man and a noble’s son.
“I suppose you’ve taken in all the corrupted, haven’t you?”
“You call them corrupt”—the Ice King stomped another clawed foot closer—“yet ask for leniency?”
“I only speak as I was taught. I don’t agree with it. I don’t believe they’re corrupt. Not any of them. I don’t want to. If my father understood—”
“He’d still keep up the status quo. Your kingdom shuns what they don’t understand because of my curse, yet they don’t even remember the time before.”
“So tell me! Let me know the truth so we can learn from our past instead of continuing to repeat it.” Reardon stepped forward—too close, he knew—but like before, instead of reaching out and ending him, the Ice King backed away. “You’d really let them all go, wouldn’t you? If they wanted it?”
“They don’t, but you are welcome to ask them, including your friend.”
“Then I am not a prisoner either?”
“That is up for debate.”
If Barclay had seen Reardon’s death in his vision, it couldn’t be now. Not yet. “Give me the chance to prove I will go back and change things for the better. I’ll stay for as long as it takes, but once you believe me, once you know me and I know you, let me go.”
“And what if I never believe you? You’re the prince. You could bring an army to my door after learning my secrets.”
“If you never believe me… then you either have another servant or another statue to crush. But that means you take an audience with me every day.”
The king scoffed, turning to stomp back up to his throne and throw himself onto it with an elegant ease that should have been impossible. “Sounds frightfully dull.”
“Yes, I can see your calendar is quite full.”
He rumbled with laughter like a brewing winter storm.
For a long stretch of minutes, he stared at Reardon with his uniquely human eyes—different from his companions. The Ice King was more tied to his humanity, even if he’d lost the feeling of it in his heart, and more cursed and tortured because of it, perhaps.
Yet still he said, “Fine. But make no mistake, little prince, if you prove unworthy or attempt to betray me, I will not hesitate to turn you into frozen rubble like that thief.”
All Reardon could do was return his stare and wonder—What was this curse? Why had it been cast? And what had the king been like before it changed him and his kingdom? He had to know, even if a mysterious and frightening future stretched out before him.
Love, death, and blue eyes in a sea of white.
Whatever that might mean.
“You have a deal, Your Majesty.”
About the Author
Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual author, with a primary focus on M/M romance. As author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga and several other titles with various publishers, Amanda regularly attends local comic conventions for fun and to meet with fans, where she will often be seen in costume as one of her favorite fictional characters. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga.
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Rating: 5 stars
*I received this novel for free in exchange for an honest review*
The Prince and the Ice King is the first novel in the Gemstone Kingdoms series. In a bid to save his best friend who was offered as sacrifice the year before, Prince Reardon trades places with a condemned man and sets out for the Sapphire Kingdom. He prepares to battle and defeat its cursed King, but he discovers that everything that he has been told is a lie and that there is more warmth in this frozen land than in his own. As Reardon comes to know the King, his court, and his subjects he vows to find a way to bring an end to the curse. Jack, the Ice King, does not share in Reardon’s optimism, however as the two of them become closer, Jack dares to feel some hope after all.
I absolutely loved The Prince and the Ice King. It is a darker retelling/mash up of several fairy tales with the author’s own incredibly imaginative additions and twists to the plot. Both Kingdoms contrasted at first, as did their respective sovereigns, yet as the novel progressed, I realised that the Sapphire Kingdom was a warning to the Emerald Kingdom that was in danger of going down its own dark path.
Reardon is very much an idealist who can see the warning signs and wants to turn things around. His passion for both the Kingdom that he will one day rule and the changes that he wants to make is infectious, despite Jack’s best attempts to remain detached from it. At first, he does seem a little naïve, but he grows as the story develops whilst retaining this hope that will become crucial as the novel reaches its end. The curse has worn away any hopes that Jack has and he’s initially dismissive of Reardon and he does his best to remain detached. However, this is not part of his true nature when he finally starts to show Reardon his true self, he dares to hope that Reardon is going to be the one to break the curse.
The Prince and the Ice King has pretty much everything you would be looking for in a dark fairy tale. A cursed Kingdom, a love story, a villain, a battle, and an agonising leap of faith. I highly recommend it and cannot wait to read further books in the series.