Dana reviews Apple Boy (The Quiet Works Series, book 1) by Isobel Starling. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Book Title: Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1)
Author: Isobel Starling
Publisher: Decent Fellows Press
Cover Artist: Valentine Pascadian (Lennel)
Genre/s: Fantasy, M/M Romance
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length:103 600 words/ 556 pages
Release Date: February 15, 2019
Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited
After a traumatic event, Winter Aeling finds himself destitute and penniless in the backwater town of Mallowick. He needs to travel to the city of Serein and impart grave news that will bring war to the Empire, but without a horse, money, and with not a soul willing to help him, he has no choice but to line up with the common folk seeking paid work on the harvest.
As wagons roll into the market square and farmers choose day laborers, Winter is singled out for abuse by a brute of a farmer. The only man who stands up for him is the farmer’s beguiling son, Adam, and on locking eyes with the swarthy young man Winter feels the immediate spark of attraction.
Winter soon realizes there is a reason he has been drawn to Blackdown Farm. The farmer possesses a precious item that was stolen long ago from Winter’s family, and he determines to retrieve it. He also cannot take his eyes off the farmer’s son, and as the young man opens up Winter can’t help wondering if Adam is just kind or his kind!
I feel like I have to explain something about myself before I start this review. First and foremost, I am a romance reader. I have always gravitated to books where there is at least romance going on. In this book, that isn’t a problem, because it is a romance, too. I also do better at contemporary even though I used to read a lot of historical romances. I actually learned a lot from them. There is a historical element to this book, in that there isn’t any technology. There’s magic and mages, and people travel in carriages and carry swords. This book also doesn’t take place in our world, and that is something that usually worries me. Having to try to understand things that don’t exist as I know them is daunting. Sometimes it isn’t too difficult, but other times, I don’t feel like putting in the effort to figure it all out. So why did I write a whole paragraph that isn’t really about the book? Because I loved this book and found it so easy to get into and I think the author did a great job making the story relatable.
This is a pretty long book, at 556 pages and there is a lot going on. I was a little intimidated taking this book on, but by the time I finished the first chapter, I was hooked. The blurb really only describes about the first-third of the book. We meet Winter after whatever fate left him disheveled and needing to do manual labor to survive. He is royalty from another part of the country but in the outer parts of the nation they live in, they don’t even believe that his city/province exists. He meets Adam when he goes to work for his father, and he also sees that Adam’s father is wearing a ring set with a stone from Winter’s family. Adam is a good guy, and his father is power hungry. I think without consciously knowing it, his father used the power of the ring to exert his will and it corrupted him. Still when the opportunity arose, Adam escaped with Winter who managed to collect the stone.
From there, Winter and Adam set off on a journey to Serein, the city where Winter’s uncle lives and Adam’s brother intended to travel to. Along the way, they grow closer and feelings develop. They also discover that when they connect physically and also have contact with the stone that the world changes, and that they are able to access the magic that resides in the stone. But magic is illegal and so is homosexuality in the province they are going to. Not to mention Winter’s news about a possible war on the horizon. Their trip seems doomed, but somehow by staying and working together, it looks like they might be able to survive and find the ones they seek.
Once the two reach Serein, there is another aspect of the story. The kings of Osia had once stolen from Serein and for some reason the people in Serein are not aware of it because of a mage’s spell. The arrival of Winter and Adam brings bad news to the council and they don’t know what to do. When Winter and Adam perform magic in the city’s boundaries, it becomes even crazier, and the veil ends up lifted from the people’s eyes. Things are in quite an upset when Winter is approached by a mage and discovers there is a lot more he doesn’t know about the world he lives in, or about himself and Adam.
I don’t want to say that this story ends in a cliffhanger, because it’s not really some precipice that you feel like you are hanging off of, but there is a sense of unfinished business. There are quite a few questions that I have, and I expect they will be answered in the following book or books in the series. It is just the beginning and I believe there will be a larger plot line that arcs over the series, and I am definitely in need of the next book. It does appear that it will be about a different couple and part of me is sad, because I truly liked Winter and Adam a whole lot, but I also am curious about what the other main characters have to say and I want to see how they move along this plot of the kings and the court in Serein. I love the magic and the political intrigue. Definitely recommend it.
10/10 Points of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
About the Author
Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.
Isobel is currently working on her nineteenth book.
“As You Wish” (Shatterproof Bond#1) narrated by Gary Furlong won the Audiobook Reviewer Award for Romance 2018. It is the first M/M Romance audiobook to win a mainstream audiobook award.
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