My Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Cosy Fantasy/ Fantasy Romance
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MM
Two potion shops, one heated rivalry…until hate bubbles over into something else.
Any adventurer worth their sword knows about Ambrose Beake. The proud, quiet half-elf sells the best, and only, potions in the city—until a handsome new shopkeeper named Eli opens another potion shop across the street, throwing Ambrose’s peace and ledgers far off balance.
Within weeks, they’re locked in a war of price tags and products—Ambrose’s expertise against Eli’s effortless charm. Toil leads to trouble, the safety gloves come off, and right as their rivalry reaches a boiling point…
The mayor commissions them to brew a potion together.
The task is as complex as it is lucrative, pushing both men to the limits of their abilities and patience. Yet as the fires burn and cauldrons bubble…they find a different sort of chemistry brewing.
I heard of this book when I checked out a cosy fantasy bookfunnel promotion. This one caught my eye and when I read the book description I knew I had to read this one and I bought my copy not much later. A Rival Most Vial is a light and fun cosy fantasy book with a strong romance plot line. It’s written in dual points of view and has an enemies to lovers romance. Usually that trope isn’t my favorite, but I thought it worked well here as the characters are actual rivals as they both run a potion shop. Although my favorite part is when they actually starts falling for the other and growing closer.
I just loved reading about these potion shop owners in a fantasy setting. It was fun to read about the lives of these vendors. There are adventurers that come to their shops to stock up on potions. I liked reading about the potion making and the complex commission they work on. It just felt very fresh and fun to read about shop owners and I am excited that this will be a series with more books to come. The book just felt so cozy and I really enjoyed it.
I liked both Eli and Ambrose, although I have to admit that Ambrose felt more alive and complex at first. Eli’s personality takes some time to shine through and even then I felt that Ambrose was the more interesting one of the two. Ambrose has had a difficult childhood and it was interesting seeing how that impacted how he acted now and the worries and troubles he has. There is some great character development for Ambrose throughout the book and I liked seeing that. Eli has an interesting plot line later in the book as well and I liked seeing where both of them end up at the end of the book.
The romance is a bit slow to start with them being rivals at first and the first part was a bit less enjoyable for me as I didn’t like seeing them as rivals, but I liked how it made sense why they disliked each other. When they start the commission together things start warming up between them and I liked seeing the romance develop. I thought they made for a great couple and I liked reading about them. I also appreciated how there were some struggles and them having to figure things out, but not a lot of drama.
The side characters are great too, there are some other merchants that have shops in the same street and they are all quite close. I liked seeing how they interacted with Eli and Ambrose. They all had their own personality and I liked reading about them and seeing the role they played in the story.
To summarize: This was such a fun, light and cosy read. I really enjoyed this book and have already bought the author’s other book. I liked the unique focus with this book being about the vendors who sell things to adventures instead of the adventures themselves. Both Ambrose and Eli were interesting characters, although I have to admit I found Ambrose more interesting than Eli, but Eli gets more depth and shines more as the book progresses. They both have some great character development throughout the book and I liked reading about them. I liked the romance between Eli and Ambrose, it takes a while to get going as they start out as rivals, but from the moment the commission starts it slowly grows into a romance. I liked these two together and seeing them figure things out, there isn’t a lot of drama which I appreciated. There are some great side characters too who are vendors in the same street and they all have their own personality. I look forward to the next book!