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The Scholar's Heart (2016)

de Antonia Aquilante

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A Tale of Tournai Youngest son of a royal duke, Etan is a scholar at heart who juggles his work for the prince with his studies of the history and legends of Tournai, something of particular interest to him because he shares the magical Talent that runs in the royal bloodline. Etan's peaceful world turns upside down when his best friendâthe man he secretly lovesâunexpectedly marries a woman. Though Tristan values his friendship with Etan and has always been attracted to him, he is a dutiful son, raised to shoulder responsibility for the family business one day. That day comes far sooner than anticipated, and he makes a deathbed promise to his father to marry the woman his father chose and become head of the company and family. A year later, Tristan is a widower with an infant daughter and a mother who demands he marry again quicklyâsomething Tristan resists. Circumstances throw Etan and Tristan together, and even as they succumb to the desires they've always harbored, Etan battles his feelings, wary of being cast aside again. When Tristan's daughter is kidnapped, Etan and Tristan must come together to find her, find the person responsible, and support each other through the ordeal⦠and maybe beyond.… (més)
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‘The Chronicles of Tournai’ series is set in a fantasy world that I find increasingly fascinating. There is magic, with almost everyone having some level of Talent and the royal family of Tournai having a whole lot but keeping it a secret that some of them can turn into cats. There is secrecy and intrigue, as the mighty empire of Ardunn is trying to overpower the much smaller but resilient country of Tournai. And there is a group of characters who are beginning to feel like family. Crown Prince Philip and his husband Amory starred in the first book, followed by Philip’s cousin Cathal and his husband Flavian, a fugitive from Ardunn, in the second volume. And yes, I think you should read both of them first so that you can get maximum enjoyment out of ‘The Scholar’s Heart’. This third novel is about Cathal’s younger brother, Etan, and his unrequited love for Tristan, Amory’s best friend. Their story is not an easy one, filled with sadness and tragedy, but it is also entertaining, full of revelations, and new questions around not just the big cats who are rumored to protect Tournai, but also around legendary dragons.

Etan is former Duke Umber’s youngest son, but since he was never supposed to inherit the dukedom – that is Cathal’s new job - Etan was able to pursue his own interests. He is a capable scholar, loves books, and finding out what’s behind the legends of the big cats of Tournai is his passion. Of course, he can turn into one himself, but Etan is looking for the bigger picture and the history behind it all. Etan has carried a torch for Tristan since the first book and had high hopes for their friendship to become more. But Tristan is not one to settle down, preferring dalliances without emotional entanglements. Etan wants more, but has lost all hope when Tristan suddenly got married.

Tristan is the oldest son of a wealthy shipping merchant, and when his father gets sick and dies, he has to marry, or so he is told, to continue the family line. The pressure is too much for him to resist, so he does as he is told, only to find himself widowed a year later when his wife dies in childbirth. Suddenly faced with fatherhood – alone – he decides to raise his daughter without the benefit of another wife. It is the first of many decisions that show he is beginning to grow up and take responsibility for his life. It’s not an easy journey – his mother keeps interfering by throwing eligible young ladies of her choice at him, she wants him to move back home so she can raise the little girl “properly”, and Tristan misses Etan’s friendship and can’t explain his withdrawal.

Etan and Tristan have a lot to work through before they can even think about having a relationship. Etan is hurt about Tristan’s betrayal and doesn’t know if he can ever trust him again. Tristan has to learn that playing around is less satisfying than admitting he has deeper feelings for Etan. And when they have just begun to come to grips with what they mean to each other, Tristan’s daughter is kidnapped and both their worlds are turned upside down. What an emotional roller coaster!

If you like fantasy that includes shifters, magic, and possibly dragons, if you want to find out more about two men who used to be friends, then become estranged, only to consider being friends again – maybe more, and if you’re looking for a read full of meddling relatives, disappointment, passion, danger, and royal parties, then you will probably like this novel as much as I did. I am already looking forward to the next one in this series!


NOTE: This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews. ( )
  SerenaYates | Oct 14, 2017 |
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A Tale of Tournai Youngest son of a royal duke, Etan is a scholar at heart who juggles his work for the prince with his studies of the history and legends of Tournai, something of particular interest to him because he shares the magical Talent that runs in the royal bloodline. Etan's peaceful world turns upside down when his best friendâthe man he secretly lovesâunexpectedly marries a woman. Though Tristan values his friendship with Etan and has always been attracted to him, he is a dutiful son, raised to shoulder responsibility for the family business one day. That day comes far sooner than anticipated, and he makes a deathbed promise to his father to marry the woman his father chose and become head of the company and family. A year later, Tristan is a widower with an infant daughter and a mother who demands he marry again quicklyâsomething Tristan resists. Circumstances throw Etan and Tristan together, and even as they succumb to the desires they've always harbored, Etan battles his feelings, wary of being cast aside again. When Tristan's daughter is kidnapped, Etan and Tristan must come together to find her, find the person responsible, and support each other through the ordeal⦠and maybe beyond.

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