Review: The Prince of Secrets by A.J. Lancaster

The Prince of Secrets by A.J. Lancaster

Timy reviews The Prince of Secrets, book 2 in A.J. Lancaster‘s Romantic Fantasy series, Stariel.

Review(s) of the previous book(s) in the series: The Lord of Stariel

About the Book
Series: Stariel #2Genre: Fantasy, Romance
Date of Publishing: January 21, 2019Trigger Warnings: gun violence, death, imprisonment
Page count: 375Publisher: Camberion Press
Possible The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts:
  • Free Your Mind
  • Are You Gonna Be My Girl
  • Justice
  • Bulletproof Skin
  • I’m Still Here
  • Have a Little Faith
  • Blue
  • Family Portrait
  • Vészhelyzet (Emergency)
  • I’ll Be There
  • Centuries
Book Blurb
The Prince of Secrets by A.J. Lancaster

Well-bred women should not be seen kissing their butlers. Even when the butler in question is secretly a fae prince.

Wyn knows falling for Hetta Valstar is a bad idea. She’s not only human but the new magically bonded ruler of Stariel Estate. If their relationship gets out, it’ll cause a scandal that could ruin their attempts to sort out the estate’s crumbling finances.

And it doesn’t help that Stariel has decided it doesn’t like him.

But more than jealous sentient estates and Hetta’s good name are at stake. Wyn’s past is coming back to bite him. Ten years ago, he broke an oath and shattered the power of his home court, and the fae have been hunting him ever since. Now they’ve found his hiding place, they won’t rest until he’s dead or the debt is repaid–and they don’t play nicely. 

The Prince of Secrets is Book 2 in the Stariel Quartet.

Song of the Book

Thanks to my past self not leaving any notes which Jesse Glynne song I thought would be perfect for The Prince of Secrets, I’ll have to go with my present self’s pick, Never Let Me Go.

Review

I already read The Prince of Secrets in 2022, but due to several reasons I never got around to reviewing it. 2023 seemed like a good year to catch up with the Stariel series, so I decided to start listening from book 1 – The Lord of Stariel. I’m on a cozy romantic fantasy kick, apparently. Since The Prince of Secrets is a sequel, this review contains spoilers for the first book, so please proceed with caution.

The Prince of Secrets picks events up not long after where The Lord of Stariel ended. The mystery of the missing starstone is solved, and Hetta’s position is made official, it’s time for her and Wyn to figure out their relationship. And the financial state of Stariel. And how to save Wyn from both his murderous court and the rivaling one trying to either kill him or use him for their own ends. It doesn’t help that Hetta still has to get used to her own newfound powers and deal with Stariel’s jealousy of Wyn. You can say her lordship is anything but uneventful.

I’m not going to go into the plot more than that, let’s just say they have a lot on their plate. While in The Lord of Stariel the main POV was Hetta, in The Prince of Secrets Wyn joins her. Which, in my opinion, was a good choice as we get to see some of the events through his eyes too. We learn more about his past, his relationships, and generally about his feelings. The rest of the Valstar family, though, gets the backseat while Wyn and Hetta are running around solving one problem after the next. Or even more at a time. Wyn’s nature, on the other hand, gets in the forefront and we finally get our first glimpses into Faery. And more importantly, their politics. Including all of Wyn’s siblings and their father. Who is not going to stop now that they finally found Wyn and the Iron Law was revoked.

The Prince of Secrets delves deeper into Hetta and Wyn’s relationship as well. I like how Lancaster handles the romance aspect of the series. The way their relationship deepens/moves forward feels very natural, the way they are working through the arising issues. How they build trust and test the waters. It’s impossible not to root for them. Especially as their families do not make it easy for them.

I probably could complain about how the conflict between Wyn and his father was solved a bit too quickly within the series – although I understand that it does have consequences that will affect Wyn. Or how this book (and the others) should be twice as long because there are so many things and characters that need attention. But alas, I absolutely adore Wyn and Hetta and I feel compelled to listen to the audiobook as much as I possibly can in a day. Fine, I admit, I’m addicted. There, I said it.

A.J. Lancaster absolutely sucked me into this alternative regency world, and she won’t let me go any time soon, I suspect. While The Lord of Stariel filled a Downton Abbey-sized hole in my heart, The Prince of Secrets managed to build on that and lodge this series firmly on my list of favorites. Not least thanks to Finty Williams‘ excellent narration. I genuinely can’t wait to immerse myself further, so on to book 3 then.

Our Judgement
Praise Their Name - 5 crowns

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