I checked out The High King’s Golden Tongue by Megan Derr as an ebook from the library because I wanted a romance after some high stress at work. It was a quick read–I got through it in three or four days. I liked the characters, I liked their dynamics and interactions, I liked that it showed how much work goes into the job of actually ruling. The consort actually trained for his job! That was phenomenal to see. (Also, I love me a linguist protagonist.)
There were a the surprising amount of casual background trans rep. The high king’s (deceased) husband was a trans guy, the consort’s mother is a trans woman, a close friend to both of them in court is a trans guy. (I think one of the background drivers of the political drama was another trans woman, but I’d have to reread it to make sure.) I wasn’t expecting that in a cis m/m romance. I liked how the rep and inheritance was handled well enough that it’s making me consider adjusting it in my own books.
That said, I wasn’t all that impressed with the romance development. The protagonists didn’t say a civil word to each other until the midpoint. There’s some rushed development mostly spurred by respect, politics, and attraction, then they’re apart for another six months. Then it’s sex scene and love confession and we’re done. I’m skeptical about the actual emotions involved. I think if we’d gone into more detail about the time the two of them actually spent together, instead of the time apart, I’d believe it better. It’s not that two people couldn’t become that close in that time, but I have to see it to feel it.
For all the mention of politics in this review, this is more a court fantasy than a political fantasy. The in-world politics moved the characters around, but I never got a strong sense of them. The action and interplay was very much focused on the court (even when one or the other characters was away on a mission).
I liked this book enough that I will probably check out the sequel (which has pirates!). If you want a quick fantasy arranged marriage romance with normalized queerness, this is worth checking out.
Recommended for: fans of m/m romance, fans of normalized queerness in fantasy, fans of fantasy romance, fans of court fantasy, fans of arranged marriage romance