Reviewed by Jen B.
SERIES: Guarded #1
AUTHOR: Kim Fielding
NARRATOR: Greg Tremblay
PUBLISHER: Kim Fielding
LENGTH: 3 Hours, 38 Minutes
RELEASE DATE: August 30, 2016
A brutal war left Volos Perun with physical and emotional scars and with a reputation as a hero. Now he’s a soldier stationed at the palace, desiring Prince Berhanu while receiving only loathing in return. But when Berhanu foolishly refuses the king’s request to let Volos accompany him on a peace mission to the neighboring country, Berhanu is kidnapped and brutalized. Now Volos must risk his life as he works to save Berhanu and help his country avoid another devastating war.
Prince Berhanu is off on a peace mission, but for some reason refuses to take the best interpreter, Volos, showing only scorn and hatred towards him. But, when the Prince is kidnapped, it is Volos who is the soldier/bodyguard/interpreter who is sent on a mission to retrieve him.
The rape/abuse of the Prince takes place mostly off page, so it was not that difficult to read. Other than mentioning it in a childish “I had to endure this, and you didn’t” way, Berhanu didn’t experience many lasting effects. It was kind of funny that Volos could conveniently respond that he experienced the same treatment in the past.
The biggest issue I had with this story was the relationship between Volos and Berhanu. I never really saw any interest by Volos until after the rescue, so it came as a bit of a surprise. I also never saw any redeeming qualities in the Prince or what Volos could possibly see in him. He was a pompous ass for most of the story, an entitled stuck up snob. They were an extreme contrast in character, but I wasn’t convinced they had an opposites attract thing going on either. When they were together, I just never really felt the connection.
We did meet some wonderful side characters, especially in the course of the rescue planning. I actually would have preferred Volos return there and have a go with the innkeeper who was instrumental in the rescue, Mato. He seemed a much better match for the brave and burly Volos.
I had not read the story before listening to the audio, and I think that played a big factor in my overall enjoyment. Some of these characters have heavy accents which were hard to follow at times, though I did get used to and even enjoyed them once I became more acclimated. Mr. Tremblay does a great job differentiating the characters, but not having any idea ahead of time of what was going on gave me some trouble. The world building in this is wonderful, and I had no trouble picturing the environment whatsoever. I am not an extremely seasoned audio book listener, so perhaps that is my own issue. If you have already read this story as part of the MM Romance Group Love’s Landscapes, Don’t Read In the Closet event – Guarded, I recommend you also listen to this version which is sure to enhance your experience.
As an aside, I also noticed Ms. Fielding has written a short story for Mato, which I definitely look forward to reading as well.
AUDIO BOOK RATING: