Author: Alexandra Rowland
The Goblin Emperor meets “Magnificent Century” in Alexandra Rowland’s A Taste of Gold and Iron, where a queer central romance unfolds in a fantasy world reminiscent of the Ottoman Empire.
Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.
To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.
I initially saw the cover of A Taste of Gold and Iron floating around various blogs and knew I had to read it before even looking at the synopsis. In the kingdom of Arasht, Prince Kadou begins a journey to investigate a theft/counterfeiting event to prove his loyalty to his sister and salvage his reputation. Along for the ride is Kadou’s newer bodyguard, Evemer. The investigation leads to a lot more than they expected with a quest full of espionage, political intrigue, and a budding romance.
Kadou has privilege as the prince yet his life is not perfect. He deals with crippling anxiety, which affects some aspects of his life. He has a lot of self-loathing and this prevents him from getting close to others. Evemer is the more stoic bodyguard who is still likable but takes a while to open up. As this is a romance story, one builds between Kadou and Evemer. I love the bodyguard-type romance so I was excited to see how this one would be portrayed. While this is a slow burn, it was a tad too slow for my taste as I wanted a little more build-up slightly earlier compared to where most of it actually appears.
The story is a dual perspective where the readers get inside the minds of both Kadou and Evemer. As both appeared together in the chapters, I wish there was more distinction when there was a shift. Since this was an ARC version, I am not sure about the final formatting, so this may not be the same when the novel is officially published. This duel perspective worked incredibly well, however, when it came to Kadou’s anxiety as the reader sees it from the one going through it and one observing it. Not only do the two characters go through their emotional journeys, but there is the main scheme aspect to the story. For this, I wish this was expanded a little more as I figured out this portion more quickly than I expected. Overall, this was a fun romance story with interesting characters and a magic system.
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**