My Rating: 3 stars
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MM
An old soldier in search of redemption.
A condemned prisoner with the power to carve out his heart… or save it.
Caius Oppita has served the Alyrion Empire for more than half his life, watching with growing revulsion as the royal family descends ever deeper into corruption and depravity. Powerless to do more than stand by as the land he loves slides toward civil war and social upheaval, he longs for his days as a general on the battlefield rather than a tame palace lapdog.
When the execution of one of the emperor’s inconvenient bastard sons goes wrong, Caius has a choice to make—do his duty, or do what is right and spirit the innocent man away to safety.
It should have been simple—hide Decian in plain sight for a few days, then smuggle him out of the palace compound. Buy him passage on a ship sailing someplace far away from the capital city, and take quiet pleasure in fighting one single injustice among many.
Instead, the swirling undercurrents of politics and power struggles seem determined to drag them ever deeper into danger—even as Decian guilelessly slips past the armor surrounding Caius’ battered soul. Caius had never considered himself a fool… but only a fool would bed the emperor’s illegitimate son. Much less let the brash young idiot anywhere near his heart.
The problem with secrets is that they breed more secrets.
And betrayal only hurts when you cared in the first place.
* * *
Master of Hounds: Book 1 is the first installment in an M/M epic fantasy trilogy by USA Today bestseller R. A. Steffan. It is set in the world of The Eburosi Chronicles, but stands alone. The book contains adult content.
I really enjoy these series set in the Eburosi Chronicles series, so I excitedly started this one when I was in the mood for a good series. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped. I struggled a bit with. It was a bit slow at times with not as much progression, but the set up was promising, I didn’t like the characters as much and there was little connection to the previous series set in the same universe.
In Master of Hounds the main character is Caius who has served the Alyrion Empire for a long time. I thought it was interesting we get to see more of the Alyrion Empire and the political struggles it’s currently dealing with. Unfortunately the story didn’t fully grip me and I felt like this first book was a lot of setting the stage and setting up the plot lines that would run throughout the series, but not a lot of progression in those plot lines yet. The ending was interesting and makes me hopeful the next book digs a bit more into the meat of the matter.
I didn’t really find Caius as likable or interesting. The whole jaded soldier who doesn’t recognize the empire he pledged to serve anymore is not a character type that really appeals to me. I understand his position and dedication to the Empire. It makes sense why he believes things and the way he acts and he probably will have to question some of his beliefs throughout the series, but it’s still a bit of a struggle when I’ve read the previous series and Empire was always the bad guy basically. And then his one act of kindness is to save one person who mostly saved himself and besides that he doesn’t really follow it up yet with anything else or take a solid stance on the matter. I did warm up to him slowly, he’s not in an easy position with the Empire he served his whole life slowly becoming unrecognizable and I like seeing the seeds of doubt that get planted in his head. The way he cared about Dacian was well done too.
The romance was okay, but I didn’t really feel the connection between the two yet. After Caius saves his life he and Decian become closer and quite quickly things turn steamy when they realize they have similar tastes. The steamy scenes were sadly a bit unremarkable and without feeling the connection between the two as strongly as I would’ve liked it was hard to fully feel invested. Decian was interesting enough, he has had a hard life spending most of it in prison and he doesn’t even know why. He makes the most of things and seemed less jaded that Caius. His connection with the hounds was interesting as well and I hope we get to see more that in future books.
I just feel like I had too high expectations of this book and that this book is mostly setting the stage and things will probably get better in later books, but still that means the first book doesn’t feel as strong as it could. The set up is interesting enough and I am curious what’s going to happen to the Empire and the characters role in it. I had just hoped for more.
To summarize: I went in with high expectations due to enjoying previous series in this universe and struggled a bit with this one. The writing is well done and there are some interesting set ups plot wise, it just felt not enough happened in this book. It took me some time to warm up a bit to Caius as he wasn’t as likable and interesting. I don’t really care for the whole jaded old soldier characterization. The ending is quite interesting and I am curious to see what happens next. The romance develops quite quickly and I didn’t fully feel their connection, but I liked seeing how they grew closer. Decian is a bit more optimistic and cheerful compared to Caius which worked well. There’s a bit of a connection with previous series in the universe, not as much as I would like, but maybe that changes in future books.