The Prince's Poisoned Vow
by Hailey Turner
Book 1 in the Infernal War Saga
Every country is built on revolution.
THE WARDEN. Soren is a nameless, stateless man, tasked with keeping watch over Maricol’s borders. He isn’t meant for politics, only dealing with the dead. His past was buried in the poison fields, but after a fateful encounter with a prince, Soren comes to realize he can’t keep what magic burns inside him hidden forever.
THE PRINCE. Vanya Sa’Liandel was the spare who survived the Houses’ murderous games to become the Imperial crown prince of Solaria. He has a duty to his country, but he’ll owe his life to the wardens. Payment of any kind is costly, especially when he’s at risk of losing his heart to the man who saved his life.
THE COG. Caris Dhemlan hears the siren song of clarion crystals better than anyone in Ashion. That skill for inventing has enriched her bloodline, but it’s who she can become that will ultimately entangle her with the Clockwork Brigade.
THE PRINCESS. Eimarille Rourke should have been raised to be queen of one country; instead, she is prisoner of another. Guided by a star god, Eimarille bides her time in a gilded cage, spinning a political web to gain a throne and start a war the world isn’t ready for.
The Prince's Posioned Vow was one of my adult Bookish Box subscriptions books, and has been sitting on my shelf, just waiting for me to step away from my kindle, and reading it. The synopsis sounded intriguing, and so when I made it a goal to read the books on my bookshelf before buying anymore books (spoiler alert - I failed), it was one of the first ones I picked up.
I won't lie, the first half of this book was a rough read for me. Not because of the writing. Let me make that clear - Hailey Turner is a phenomenal writer. The world she has created in this series of books is incredibly rich and full of depth. The politics are a mess, and war is an ever present possibility. There are multiple cultures and each one is given a time for the reader to learn. It was a rough read that first half because we are following so many characters. Each character has their own personality, and internal monologue. Each was unique in their morals, goals, and personalities. Every chapter, I needed to pause and think back, and settle on that character and their storyline, before continuing. Once I finally got a handle on all the characters, and where they were in their stories, I was finally able to fully immerse myself into this book.
The romance is great. It is not the main attraction of this book. The turmoil this world makes that impossible. But each romance is deep and meaningful. It doesn't define the characters - it adds a layer to their character. It wasn't too steamy. There is sex. Plenty of it. But it's not so descriptive that it will turn away readers that aren't into that.
The Prince's Poisoned Vow was a surprise for me, I will admit. That first half, I almost stopped reading. But I just couldn't let go of this world and characters. Hailey Turner was able to get me, despite the overload of information and characters, and by the end, I was in tears, and desperate for the next book. If you love fantasy, steampunk, and romance, you will love this too.
Aaralyn: “How long has it been since we last met? Five decades? Six? You’re still as arrogant as ever.”
Innes shrugged and stretched out one leg beneath the table, knocking his boot against hers.
Innes: “I learned from the best.”
Aaralyn: “And I have regretted immensely that you were such a good student.”
Innes’ smile tempered itself into something that was almost human.
Innes: “I love you, too, my darling wife.”
Aaralyn: “Husband.” Vanya pulled out with a sigh, hands stroking Soren’s hips and stomach.
Vanya: “Let me wash you.”
Soren closed his eyes against the sunlit glow of the stained glass windows high above, the taste of honey long since gone from his lips, but something sweeter remained. Something he knew he couldn’t keep, shouldn’t have tasted in the first place, but it was too late for that.
Soren: “Whatever pleases you, princeling.”
Soren could feel the ghost of Vanya’s touch long after their time spent in the bathhouse. Soren didn’t move to put the medallion on, so Vanya did it for him, prying it out of his grip to hook it around his throat. The medallion was bright against his dark brown leather vest and shirt, glinting in the light. Soren lifted one hand to touch it, never taking his eyes off Vanya. Vanya stroked his knuckles down Soren’s cheek, thumb grazing the corner of his mouth.
Vanya: “Where will you go when you leave? Back into the poison fields? Home?”
Soren: “I have no home to go back to,”
Soren said quietly.
Vanya: “You’ll come back to me,”
Vanya said with a surety that made Soren flinch, but there was no denial that came to the warden’s lips.
Vanya: “I will see you again before winter when you bring me the border reports. Perhaps by then you’ll have thought of something I can give you.”
Soren: “And if I don’t?”
Vanya: “Then I will see you next spring.”
After a moment, Soren nodded.
Vanya kissed him, and it felt less like a goodbye than he thought it would. Meleri: “She’s sixteen. She knows nothing of what we intend for her. She wants to be an engineer.”
Aaralyn: “Of course she does.”
Aaralyn set down the message and spread her fingers over the paper, the words on its face shining bright like stars.
Aaralyn: “What better thing to build than the world?” Portia: “You were the one that let her behind the wheel,”
Emmitt: “I like how she’s my daughter when she’s acting like a madwoman and not yours,”
Emmitt said cheerfully. Soren: “The major Houses know you brought a warden to the crypts. You put a target on my back.”
Vanya: “That wasn’t my intention.”
Soren: “Then what was your intention?”
Vanya: “To get you to stay.” Soren: “Wardens exist to guard. We’re not supposed to want, not the way I want you, even when you do something so idiotically stupid as break the Poison Accords because of tradition.”
The aggravation in his voice made Vanya’s lips twitch.
Vanya: “So I’m an exception.”
Whatever bit of mirth that had been creeping into Soren’s gaze fled at that statement.
Soren: “Exceptions are a dangerous weakness for a warden.”
Vanya slid his hand up to cradle Soren’s jaw.
Vanya: “I won’t be a weakness.”
Soren: “You already are, princeling.” Melari: “She’s headstrong and stubborn. We could have lost her on that raid.”
Aaralyn: “You didn’t, but you will lose her anyway if you block her from the road she is meant to walk.”
Melari: “She is meant to rule, not to fight.”
Aaralyn: “What is ruling but a type of war?” Blaine: “Mainspring.”
Even in the shadows, he could see the grimace on her face through the open window.
Lore: “Don’t call me that here.”
Blaine: “Lady Lore, then.”
Lore: “Oh, that’s worse. Do be quiet.” Vanya: “You went to the Warden’s Island and were supposed to take a train here. What sort of mayhem could have occurred on a trip like that?”
Soren: “Did you forget how we met?” Soren: “I’m not of your House, but I can keep Raiah safe if you send her away.”
Vanya: “You’re a warden. You always say you’re not supposed to involve yourself in matters of state.”
Soren laughed, soft and bitter, before stepping close.
Soren: “And what do you call the years I’ve known you? The nights I’ve slept in your bed? What would you call the vow hanging around my throat? I’m involved, princeling.” Caris: “Do you know what this means?”
she asked softly, staring at the starfire. The starfire burned softly against her palm for a few seconds until she made a fist, snuffing it out, the heat of it disappearing. Nathaniel’s touch was warm, though, and she lifted her gaze to his. The wonder she saw in his eyes didn’t unnerve her quite like she thought it would.
Nathaniel: “You’re an impossible dream, aren’t you?”
Caris: “I won’t be anyone’s dream.”
Nathaniel stepped close, ducking his head until she could feel his breath ghost over her lips.
Nathaniel: “If I said I’d like you to be mine?”
Caris swallowed, the sound loud in her ears.
Caris: “I’d hate to disappoint you.”
Nathaniel: “You never could.” Blaine: “It’s probably a good thing I don’t own this motor carriage,”
Blaine said after he turned the engine off.
Caris: “You don’t?”
Blaine: “No. I borrowed it.”
Nathaniel got a pained look on his face.
Nathaniel: “And by borrowed, please say you don’t mean stolen.”
Blaine shrugged before getting out.
Blaine: “All right, I don’t mean that.”