“Because I love you, truly. I love you in a way that makes me want to sacrifice for you. That makes me want to move the mountains, or oceans, or stars, to merely see you smile. That is what love is Katria – what it should be. You are worthy of that love, from me, from others, and from yourself.”
Elise Kova is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. Her stories are smart, sexy, emotional, and impossible to put down. A Dancewith the Fae Prince (Married to Magic #2) is the perfect follow-up to ADeal with the Fae King (Married to Magic #1.)
Set in the same world but following a different set of characters, A Dance with the Fae Prince is Cinderella meets Beauty and the Beast, with enough romance and magic to put even the House of Mouse to shame.
(There will be spoilers after this point so turn back now if you want to avoid them.)
Katria has been physically, emotionally, and verbally abused nearly her entire life. Her stepmother, Joyce, and stepsister, Helen, delight in tormenting Katria (for reasons we’re left to assume have either to do with their own shortcomings or an extra bitch chromosome.) As an adult reader, I kind of want to know what drives their behaviour. What made Joyce the real monster of this story? As an adult survivor of childhood abuse, though, I understand that sometimes we never get those answers.
That’s what made A Dance with the Fae Prince stand out for me. I was already expecting the poetic language and the beautifully crafted world from reading read the first book in the series. What I wasn’t expecting was to be personally attacked by Katria’s feelings of neglect and abuse. By her coping mechanisms, which are so perfectly utilized that I have to wonder who hurt Elise Kova in the past – because I don’t know how she could have written these emotions so well without having been through them herself.
And, if she hasn’t, then damn. She’s an even better author than I’ve given her credit for.
This novel did more than just give me feels. It hurt. I cried, y’all, at Katria’s struggle. Before you think I’m just this overemotional nutbag, let me explain…Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, brought on by childhood trauma. It means I have trouble forming relationships, trusting people, and allowing myself to be loved. So… thanks, Elise Kova, for stripping me naked and squeezing me between the pages of your book. That’s gonna be super fun to discuss with my therapist.
Anyway…Davien (aka: the mysterious Lord Fenwood, who won’t allow his new bride to see his face) is Katia’s perfect match – though, in true romance novel style, neither will admit it for some time. No matter how tantalizingly tense things get between them (and… whoo, boy… do they,) Davien can’t fall in love. He has to think of the throne he’s set to reclaim with the help of the mystical book that makes up Katria’s dowry.
And be honest… we’d all marry someone for the right book, amiright? *cough,cough*The rumoured last Night World book…*cough,cough*
Katria won’t fall in love because she watched love drive her father into an early grave and slowly destroy their family home until it became necessary to sell her hand in marriage to a man she had never seen. Too bad love has other ideas for them both.
The moment Katria and Davien meet, it starts a push-and-pull between them that can only end with the two of them falling helplessly into each other’s arms. Katria has closed herself off so completely to the idea of love, terrified of being hurt by it, that Davien must force her to confront these fears before anything more than meaningful glances and stolen kisses can pass between them. He does this in the sweetest, most intense way ever: by completely baring himself to her, then waiting patiently for her to be ready to do the same.
Davien isn’t just the perfect match for Katria; he’s the perfect match for a queen. He spends the entire story fighting – nearly dying – to become king but, when he learns that he can’t wear the glass crown, he immediately starts making plans to find the true heir. No moping, no feeling sorry for himself, just getting on with it. (Hear that, politicians? It is possible!) Then, when he realises there’s a chance Katria might be the heir, he marches her butt right down to the throne and makes a huge performance of placing the crown on her head.
Great… because what I needed was another book crush.
Like its predecessor, A Dance with the Fae Prince could have gone a little heavier on the sexy time for me but what it did have was very well done. There was less world building in this one than A Deal with the Fae King but more character building – a welcome compromise, since readers familiar with the first book don’t need to be overburdened with those details and there’s enough for new readers to keep up.
Plus, there are some delightful side characters in Shaye, Giles, Raph, Laura, and Oren. Shaye and Giles come with their own baggage and give Katria advice on becoming her own person after living under her stepmother’s thumb for so long. Raph is a cheeky little boy who teaches Katria the dangers of making deals with Fae and Oren is Davien’s most trusted servant, who begrudgingly comes to like Katria despite himself when she insists on making herself useful around the house.
Laura breaks away from the Cinderella trope by being Katria’s half-sister, instead of her stepsister, and just sweet as can be. Rather than being another foe for our heroine to face down, Katria comes to her sister’s rescue, sweeping her away at the end so she can’t become the new focus of Joyce’s anger. Girls saving girls, yay!
I just loved this story. The journey of self-discovery is every bit as exciting as the mad dash for escape from the evil king’s forces and the romance is just the right blend of sexy & sweet. It has everything – except another book in the series I can read right now. The third book, A Duel with the Vampire Lord is entirely too far in the future but… holy crap. Did I just read the word 'vampire?!'
"Hey, Siri. Mark my calendar for August 18th, 2022…"