A Deal with the Elf King
by Elise Kova
Published by Silver Wing Press
Book 1 in the Married to Magic
The elves come for two things: war and wives. In both cases, they come for death.
Three-thousand years ago, humans were hunted by powerful races with wild magic until the treaty was formed. Now, for centuries, the elves have taken a young woman from Luella's village to be their Human Queen.
To be chosen is seen as a mark of death by the townsfolk. A mark nineteen-year-old Luella is grateful to have escaped as a girl. Instead, she's dedicated her life to studying herbology and becoming the town's only healer.
That is, until the Elf King unexpectedly arrives... for her.
Everything Luella had thought she'd known about her life, and herself, was a lie. Taken to a land filled with wild magic, Luella is forced to be the new queen to a cold yet blisteringly handsome Elf King. Once there, she learns about a dying world that only she can save.
The magical land of Midscape pulls on one corner of her heart, her home and people tug on another... but what will truly break her is a passion she never wanted.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy High Fantasy Romantic
A Deal with the Elf King is the first book in Elise Kova's Married to Magic series, and is a stand-alone centering on 19 year old Luella, the town herbalist, who takes her job as a healer very seriously. Located on an island, her village is right against the fade, the barrier between the human world, and the magical one. The barrier keeps dangerous magical beings separated from the humans, but at a price. In order to keep the world of Midscape from dying, every 100 years, one human woman from the village who was blessed with magic will be taken by the Elf King, made Queen, and brought to Midscape. Having grown up showing no magic, Luella puts all her energy into healing her people, who have started getting sick. Only, when the Elf King comes, demanding his queen, she learned that everything she has known is a lie. Forced to marry the cold, but handsome Elf King, Eldas, she is plunged in a new world, and tasked with an almost impossible goal: save Midscape's world from dying out. As Luella grows closer to the answers she seeks, she also grows closer to Eldas, and she end up having to make an impossible choice: her duty as a healer, her family and townfolk, or her new friends, her duty as Queen, and Eldas.
WOAH! Where did this little gem come from? This is yet another recommendation I found on good ol' #booktok, and wanting a fantasy/romance, I decided to take a chance. And once again, WOAH! I loved this book. LOVED. IT. It was unique, yet the world building was simplistic (hard to do in fantasy). Simplistic, yet believable and interesting. The story SUCKED me in. I had the book finished in less than a day, and I couldn't concentrate on work fully until I finished. It was written beautifully, and is a true, honest romance. Yes, there is steam, but it's put on page in this really sweet, realistic way. It's not smut. And hey, I love smut, but when I want a good plot, with great characters, and romance, this is the type a book I turn to.
Without spoiling, I'm kinda obsessed with BOTH Luetta and Eldas. Luetta does this unique thing I haven't seen too much in these types of fantasy romance. She looks at every option before making her decisions. She doesn't always make the right choice, but she finds her way there. I like that. I like that we get a female protagonist who doesn't prioritize romance, but helping and healing. I like that she is smart, is recognized as smart, and is kind and beloved enough that a poor village pitches in to make sure she receives an education. I also like that she is a bit of a spitfire, and no matter who it is, even an Elf King, she will tell you if you are being an asshole. Which leads to Eldas. I'm sorta obsessed with him. I have a thing for a romantic interest that starts out cold, but as we peel back the layers, we learn that he isn't what he seems. The two of them together? Amazing. Chef's kiss. Great banter, greatttttt, simmering sexual tension, and the romance .... swoon.
A Deal with the Elf King has me hooked on Elise's writing style, and I can't wait for the next book to come out (hopefully this summer, featuring a new couple, as this is a series of standalones). If you like a slow burn, enemies to lovers romance, with a great story and beautifully written steam, I promise you will love A Deal with the Elf King.
I fucking cackled when Eldas told her she walked like a horse, and she whinnied.
Luella using magic to defend herself against Harrow and his friends.
Luella slapping Eldas across the cheek when he insulted her
Luella eavesdropping on Eldas and Rinni, and feeling softer towards him because of it
Luella and Eldas's deal
Eldas's simple touches when he is teaching Luella magic was INSANELY HOT
Their dinner, and their kiss
I love Willow's love of Hook
Eldas staying the night on the couch, to watch over Luella when the throne makes her weak.
The cabin <3
Luella saving herself, Harrow and Eldas with her magic
Luella going back, and declaring her love for Eldas
Luella: "You bastard."
I rip myself from his person once more. Damn his Fade. Damn the wedding. Damn men who think they can manipulate me down an aisle.
Harrow: "You're not the only one who wears a crown in this castle."
He taps the circlet on his forehead for emphasis.
Luella: "No, I'm not. Eldas does as well. And his crown is far more impressive than yours."
I plant my feet and refuse to let him make me feel small. I will be the bud that sprouts from the gray rock of this place. I will be the flower that blooms even despite his shadow.
Luella: "If you're always walking above people you risk walking on them, Eldas. And that's how you make enemies."
Eldas: "I won't be lectured by a human who entered my world days ago. And certainly not by one who has never ruled a day in her life."
Luella; "Good. Because I have no interest in lecturing a man who won't listen."
I spin on my heel and start for the door again. Blessedly, he doesn't follow.
Eldas: "You will respect me!"
Luella: "Be someone worthy of respecting first!"
Eldas: "I respect your council, Rinni. You know I do ... But Alice was a rare thing. I am not meant for love -"
Rinni: "Those are your mother's words."
Eldas: "I was born for one thing: my duty to Midscape."
Rinni: "And those are your father's words."
Eldas: "Anything else is a distraction. I cannot give her what she had in Capton. I cannot give her family and community. I can't give her what I've never known. But perhaps I can teach her to manage her magic and navigate this brutal world; I'll do my best to give her that much."
Eldas: "Now, I will make an effort to get some sleep, if the Human Queen will stay put long enough to let me."
Luella: "I'll allow it, I suppose."
Eldas: "Reach within you. Feel the power that's there."
Luella: "I feel nothing,"
Eldas: "You're not going to master anything with sixty seconds of effort. Try harder."
His hands rest on my shoulders, feather light. I shiver again as he trails his fingers over the velvet that covers my arms.
Eldas: "Feel the magic being drawn in through the air, the power that gathers in your hands. Feel it as your feet root to the earth."
His hand slips around my hip. I let out a gasp as his finger spread across the flat plane of my stomach. It's as if with ever caress my magic activates, eager to respond to him, as if my power could arc from me to him.
Eldas: "Do you feel it? Gathering within you? A wellspring of life waiting to be unleashed?"
Luella: "I ..."
I feel something, all right.
Eldas: "I'm sorry for my actions in the temple at Capton. I should have apologized earlier."
Luella: "Thank you for your apology. Honestly, without your help, I probably would have puked on your shoes."
No he doesn't hide his grimace.
Eldas: "Maybe I am less sorry."
Luella: "You needed strength around me?"
Eldas: "You are perhaps the one thing in Midscape I find terrifying."
Eldas: "To this world. To the next. To the people we meet between and the bonds we share."
Luella: "Think of what we could change, Eldas. Dream of how your heir's life could be different - how your life might be."
Eldas: "I've long since grown past the age of dreaming."
Luella: "Maybe you should try starting again. It's easy: just dream, Eldas, and then follow those dream."
Eldas: "I am not made for dreams. I am made to rule."
Luella: "I think you're made for whatever you want to be."
Eldas: "My whole life has been training to be the king. To serve my people, to protect the Human Queen and the cycle. My father never warned me ..."
Luella: "She would be the one trying to destroy the cycle?"
Eldas: "She would be the one I needed to protect myself from."
We smell of honey and taste of forgotten dreams. We move like desperation.
Luella: "We both have the best luck, it seems."
Harrow: "Fair. You had to end up married to my bastard of a brother."
Luella: "He's not half as much of a bastard as you."
Harrow snorts and gives me a tired grin as I check on the status of the medicines I left behind.
Harrow: "Careful, Luella, if you keep talking to me like that I may end up liking you."
Luella: "The horror."
Eldas: "Goodness ... your hair."
Luella: "What's wrong with my hair?"
Eldas: "It's like fire in this light."
Luella: "Fire head. Yes, I've heard it before. All throughout grade school. Don't make the fire head angry, smoke might come out of her ears. The fire head -"
Eldas: "You look like a goddess. I would not change a single thing about you, Luella."
Eldas: "I'm used to the cold. Ice king, they've called me."
Luella: "Good thing you have a fire queen, then."
Eldas: "Oh, and why is that a good thing? Will you keep me warm?"
I can already hear the stress fractures forming in my heart. They crackle like ice too thin. They crackle lie the feelings he wove in me without me realizing.
Eldas: "I thought you were more interested in the scenery?"
Luella: "I'm most interested in you."
Luella: "I wish everything was different."
Eldas: "I don't."
Luella: "You don't?"
Eldas: "If things were different, you wouldn't have been you. And I've found I'm very fond of exactly the woman you are. I wouldn't change a single thing."
Luella: "What're we toasting to, this time?"
Eldas: "To tomorrow."
Luella: "What's tomorrow?"
Eldas: "Everything. May tomorrow hold every possibility. And may we be bold and hungry enough to take them for our own."
Luella: "Kiss me again. Kiss me like you did that night in the castle. Let's give in to this waking dream, Eldas."
Eldas: "No. I will not kiss you like I did then. I will kiss you better."
Eldas: "I can leave."
Luella: "Leave, and I will find you. Leave me here, unsatisfied and yearning, and I will hunt you down, Eldas."
Eldas: "Oh, Luella, I would never even dream of leaving you unsatisfied or yearning."
Eldas: "Thank you."
Luella: "For last night? I should be thanking you for that as well."
Eldas: "For allowing me to feel not so alone. For showing me every magnificent side of you. For giving me something I did not deserve but will cherish forever - not just last night, but our entire time together until this moment."
Eldas: "You seem to have enjoyed yourself."
Luella: "It was all right."
He releases me, aghast.
Eldas: "Just all right?"
Luella: "Perhaps you should work harder."
Eldas: "Don't challenge me. Or I may exceed your expectations."
Luella: "Maybe I want that."
Eldas: "Oh, I know you want it. But can you handle it?"
Mom: "Darling one ... Every child must eventually leave. Sometimes, it is to a house down the street. Other times, it is to somewhere very far away. But if that child ends up where they belong, and are happy and loved ... that's all a parent wants."
Eldas: "Say it again."
Luella: "I love you. I've loved you since the cottage. Since ... I don't know when. Somewhere along the way I fell in love with you. You and I ... these circumstances we met under have been a bit of a mess. But I love you despite them all."
Luella: "I had to come back. I found my answer while I was in Capton - I love you for all you are and all we are together. It is not my imagination; it isn't survival. Yes, Eldas, I had freedom and choice and I choose you. I know none of this came about in a conventional way, but it's genuine. And I thought that, maybe, we could give this another try."
Check out the rest of the Married to Magic series