Nowhere Bingo Card: A book that’s been on my shelf for more than a year
Prince Kiem, a minor royal in the Iskat Empire is called before the Emperor and told in no uncertain terms that he will be getting married to secure a valuable political alliance. The Empire is about to renegotiate its treaty agreements with all the planets in its dominion, and the representatives all have to be married to be accepted (that bit wasn’t entirely clear to me). So Kiem has to marry his cousin Taam’s widower, a Thean called Jainan. Oh, and he has to do it the day after he is told.
So the outgoing and exuberant Kiem, who has quite a reputation as a playboy and for getting into scrapes finds himself married to Jainan, a reserved and extremely polite man, his exact opposite. Jainan has multiple degrees and is knowledgeable about engineering and advanced mining techniques, Kiem barely made it through school without getting expelled. Kiem assumes Jainan is still grieving his partner of five years, so tries to keep his distance. Jainan is certainly still affected by memories of his former partner and also assumes that a handsome, charming man like Kiem could never be attracted to someone as quiet and boring as him.
Both men are actually very attracted to the other but keep misunderstanding each other’s signals and therefore growing further apart. To add to the complications, it turns out that their hastily arranged marriage might also have been for nothing, as the other-worldly arbitrators might not even accept them as representatives. It turns out that there is suspicion that Prince Taam was murdered, and Jainan is the main suspect. There’s also a whole bunch of unique alien artifacts that have been replaced with convincing fakes, making the arbitrators furious. If Kiem and Jainan can’t figure out whether Taam was actually murdered, and if so, by whom, as well as help the Empire locate the stolen artifacts, the whole Empirial alliance could be dissolved and war is likely to break out.
Full review here.