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A Tale of Two Princes by Eric Geron Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A royal Prince and a small-town high school student discover they are identical twins and tackle the challenges each faces in author Eric Geron’s “A Tale of Two Princes”.


The Synopsis

#1 New York Times bestselling author Eric Geron delivers whirlwind wish-fulfillment in this story of a closeted crown prince and an out-and-proud cowboy who discover they were separated at birth.

Edward Dinnissen leads a charmed life. He’s the Crown Prince of Canada, gets the royal treatment at his exclusive private school, and resides in a ritzy mansion. He thrives off being the perfect prince as he prepares for the Investiture Ceremony on his eighteenth birthday, the final step in his role as heir—and Canada’s future king. But this closeted Crown Prince has just one tiny problem: he’s unsure how to tell his parents, his beloved country, and his adoring fans that he’s gay.
Billy Boone should be happy with the simple life. His family’s ranch is his favorite place in the world, he loves his small town, and his boyfriend is the cutest guy at Little Timber High. So why does it feel like something’s still missing? Maybe it has to do with the fact that this out-and-proud cowboy feels destined for something more . . .
When Edward and Billy meet by chance in New York City, they discover that they are long-lost twins, and their lives are forever changed. Together, will these twin princes—“twinces”—be able to take on high school, coming out, and coronations? Or will this royal reunion quickly become a royal train wreck?

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The Review

This was a truly compelling and entertaining LGBTQ-driven read. The author did an amazing job o balancing the emotional character development with the drama and glamor of Royal and the Royal family. The unique story addition of a Canadian Royal Family and the twist on the classic Parent Trap/long-lost twin trope added depth to the narrative that was both wildly engaging and thoughtful. The magical setting of New York and Canada’s royal property was a great juxtaposition to the calm and serene beauty of the Montana countryside. 

To me, the heart of this narrative rested in the rich character development and the inclusivity that the author’s story provided. The way the author tackled the fears and hardships of both staying closeted and being out as a gay teen, let alone a gay teen in the public eye, was greatly represented by the brothers and their unique backgrounds. The drama that ensues as the pressures of royal life and the line of succession, as well as scheming behind the scenes and subtle yet passionate romances, made this a truly compelling story. 

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The Verdict

Memorable, emotionally-riven, and thoughtful written, author Eric Geron’s “A Tale of Two Princes” is a must-read LGBTQ YA novel of 2023. The heart of this story and the gripping story of two brothers, a shocking backstory, and the emotional depths of the themes, from lost loved ones and family secrets to battling homophobia and accepting oneself for who they are, make this a book I couldn’t put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Eric Geron (pronounced: jur-ON) is the New York Times bestselling author of The Hocus Pocus Spell BookPoultrygeist, and Bye Bye, Binary, along with numerous other titles, including the New York Times bestselling Descendants novelization under the name Rico Green. He earned his creative writing degree from the University of Miami and spent many years at Disney as an editor of New York Times bestselling books. He currently resides in New York City. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok @EricGeron and on his website at ericgeron.com.


Author Website: http://www.ericgeron.com/

Twitter: @ericgeron

Instagram: @ericgeron


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Enjoy this Excerpt from “A Tale of Two Princes”

Chapter One


“Handsome and charming? How is Canada’s perfect royal son possibly still single?”

Travis Romano, Dean of Admissions at The Juilliard School here in New York, gives me a meaty handshake. A gigantic grin plasters his face and his green eyes crinkle at the corners. He shifts his stance as if hoping the photographers will be able to capture a few good shots of this moment. It’s the same irk-some question I’ve been dodging since the day I went from “Royal Tot” to “Royally Hot.”

The clanging of crystal quiets as a hush falls around the dean. A Silicon Valley tech guru sets down her glass of Bor-deaux to lovingly place her hand on her husband’s arm. The president’s son gives me a cheeky grin. Everyone within a three-metre radius is now silent, impatiently waiting to hear how I’ll respond.

For a moment, I imagine telling everyone the truth: “Guess what? I’m gay! And I don’t want to marry a woman and one day have babies to continue the royal bloodline.” But I’ll never say that. It’s too important to my parents—and all of Canada—that I follow in their footsteps.

And as next in line to the Maple Crown, it’s too important that I be a good king for my people one day.


“Handsome and charming? How is Canada’s perfect royal son possibly still single?”

Travis Romano, Dean of Admissions at The Juilliard School here in New York, gives me a meaty handshake. A gigantic grin plasters his face and his green eyes crinkle at the corners. He shifts his stance as if hoping the photographers will be able to capture a few good shots of this moment. It’s the same irk-some question I’ve been dodging since the day I went from “Royal Tot” to “Royally Hot.”

The clanging of crystal quiets as a hush falls around the dean. A Silicon Valley tech guru sets down her glass of Bor-deaux to lovingly place her hand on her husband’s arm. The president’s son gives me a cheeky grin. Everyone within a three-metre radius is now silent, impatiently waiting to hear how I’ll respond.

For a moment, I imagine telling everyone the truth: “Guess what? I’m gay! And I don’t want to marry a woman and one day have babies to continue the royal bloodline.” But I’ll never say that. It’s too important to my parents—and all of Canada—that I follow in their footsteps.

And as next in line to the Maple Crown, it’s too important that I be a good king for my people one day.

So, I’ll never find true love. That’s the cost of my destiny, and I’ve accepted it. Besides, I’m already married—to tradition.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 57: Never discuss matters of the heart.

To cover my nervousness, I flash my signature sugar-sweet smile—one befitting the Crown Prince of Canada—at the attentive crowd on the dance floor, letting them drink in the seconds. Over the Juilliard violinists playing softly in the back-ground, I answer the dean’s question about how I’m possibly still single with one deadpan word:


Some people chuckle while others begin a chorus of aaaaaaw. The platinum maple leaf brooch on my jacket lapel sits heavy on top of my heart. It identifies me as the Crown Prince of Canada, but it’s also the lock of the box I’m trapped in-side. The truth is, I’m single because I’m a closeted gay guy…and I’m a closeted gay guy because I’m the Crown Prince of Canada.

I keep smiling at the crowd, even though the many faces staring back feel overwhelming. I’ve been gone from the public eye for almost a year, so of course everyone is excited to see the “reclusive” Crown Prince return to the limelight. They don’t have to know that “reclusive” actually means I’ve been grounded this whole time, and all because of how poorly I acted at my seventeenth birthday party.

In the fallout, Mum and Dad grounded me for the rest of my junior year, then ordered I be sent away to New York City for my senior year. I’ve been here for six months, cooped up between my family’s private Upper East Side residence and a stuffy private school. Sure, there was public scrutiny over my parents shipping me off to New York, but they passed it off as an opportunity to strengthen their tight bonds with Canada’s closest neighbour to the south. No need for anyone to know I had been grounded and sent here as punishment.

Luckily, all my efforts to be a model prisoner have paid off, and my parents have just decided I don’t have to be grounded for the rest of my senior year. Tonight they’re giving me the chance to prove I really can be a model Crown Prince. And of course, I promised Mum and Dad I would be on my abso-lute best behaviour. After all, the Investiture Ceremony is in a couple of weeks, which means I have to prove that I’m fully prepared to be heir to the Maple Crown, aka the Canadian Crown. I know I’m ready. I’ve been training for it since I was a child. But I still need to convince the 38,346,809 people of Canada—and the rest of the world too. No pressure, right?

Dean Romano claps me on the back, wagging his finger at me with a cloying smile. “Well, we look forward to the day you find the perfect girl.” The rest of the group applauds po-litely and clinks their glasses.

I sigh inwardly. Since forever, Mum and Dad have said the same exact thing to me whenever the topic of the future queen has come up. I want to tell my rapt audience that I’m only seventeen years old, and therefore in no rush to marry anyone, obviously. But I’m used to near-total strangers interrogating me about my love life, so I wink at the dean and then add, “I promise that you’ll be the first to know.”

MAPLE CROWN RULE 16: Maintain civility in social settings.

The semicircle of men and women—okay, mostly women—tightens around me, countless sequined arms and shimmer-ing bare shoulders swarming me like voracious sea creatures. My Adam’s apple presses against my stiff collar. “Who knows?” I add, my sultry smile fighting a twitch as I reach up to loosen my tie. “Maybe I’ll meet someone special here tonight.”

MAPLE CROWN RULE 46: Make everyone feel heard

Charity balls are a royal pain in the derrière, but also an unfortunate requirement, along with cutting ribbons and giv-ing speeches. With the Dinnissen monarchy still so new, my parents work tirelessly to endear themselves to the Canadian public, which is still forming opinions on our family as its new fledging figureheads—and as soon as I graduate in June and return home to Canada, the full weight of that responsibility will fall upon my shoulders as well.

Though I suppose I can’t be too upset with my parents, or as the British press has dubbed them, Canada’s “Maple Syrup Sweeties.” Tonight, they’re off at some admirable conference with our prime minister. Actual important stuff that doesn’t in-volve schmoozing with politicians and celebrities. Well, maybe still some schmoozing—Mum always books her reflexologist before traveling with the PM. Then again, I can’t complain about standing in for them tonight. I’m still just so glad my time of captivity is finally over.

“To Prince Edward finding true love!” Dean Romano’s wife, Rebecca, lifts her crystal champagne flute toward the chandelier, and everyone echoes her words, then drains their glasses.

I manage to keep smiling. Her toast is yet another painful reminder of something I’ll never have…true love. But that’s the trade-off that comes with getting to be king one day.

It’s more exhausting than I remembered to keep pretending I’m something I’m not. I really need to get a breath of fresh air.

Excusing myself, I turn away and scan for the back doors of the Grand Ballroom—combing through a choppy ocean of barons, dignitaries, dukes, and celebrities. All resplendent in sheer gowns and sleek black ties. All elated to speak to me. But I don’t care about any of them. I only care about one per-son. Where the hell is Neel, anyway? To think I call him my best friend. And where the hell is the exit?

Gord Lauzon, Canadian secretary to Dad and my personal adviser since I was a child, is laughing up a storm with a group of people against the ballroom’s gilded wall. Like always, Gord looks sharp in a luxury suit and tie, his head freshly shaved and gleaming white. He was Granny’s ex–private secretary who now controls the press office, acts as the vital channel of com-munication between my parents and the Canadian govern-ment, and manages my day-to-day. Gord also works as liaison to the Institution—or “Firm”—that keeps the Royal Family running like one big business. He was delighted my ground-ing presented him with a chance to ratchet up his royal lessons. That is, after he got over the sour taste it left in his mouth.

He meets my eyes through his bold-framed glasses. After six months of him being my New York City babysitter, aka my parents’ eyes on me, I can tell he’s checking in. He subtly extends his arm, pressing fingertip to thumb, our signal for asking if everything is copacetic. I doubt anything foul will happen in this historic hotel’s grand old ballroom, other than me breaking a heart or two, so I return the gesture and he nods in understanding. Though, if I’m being honest, I could use his help to point out the exit door.

I check my timepiece and realize I’ve only been here for an hour. I used to be so good at wowing the crowds at these fundraisers. I’ve got to get back on top of my game. That is, after I take that much-needed brief break.

“Well, if it isn’t Canada’s Golden Child,” says a sly voice in my ear.

Suddenly, I’m being suffocated by a thick cloud of vanilla perfume as I turn to take in the full lips and chiseled cheek-bones of Sephora’s latest global ambassador, aka Lady Sofia Marchand, aka Fi, aka my frenemy since childhood. In an exquisite seafoam-blue couture gown with enough tulle to make Cinderella jealous, she looks every bit an ethereal fairy tale goddess.


The event photographer trips the shutter of his camera be-fore I can even utter a greeting. Seamlessly, Fi throws her head back in laughter as if I’ve just showed her the most hilarious GIF in the world. Instinctively, I tighten my core, relax my shoulders, and flex my chest.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 13: Have a royal presence.

Gord once told me that the best way to have perfect posture was to pretend someone was pulling a string right up through the top of my head, like a puppet. I was five. That’s me, all these years later: Perfect Puppet Prince Eddie, aching mouth unhinged, grin and all.

And Lady Sofia knows just how to pull my strings. With British aristocracy on her mum’s side and descending from French nobles on her Canadian dad’s side, Fi’s been one of my Crown-approved acquaintances since we were kids at Ash-wood Elementary in Ottawa. For years, we’ve attended the same polo and equestrian summer camp, the same celebrity birthday parties, and the same VIP meet-and-greets backstage at sold-out concerts. It’s painstakingly evident that our par-ents are hoping for a romantic spark, but Fi and I are less like maple syrup in milk and more like oil and water. I thought we might be rid of each other when I moved south of the border for my senior year, but no such luck. Her parents put her into St. Aubyn’s Prep as soon as they heard I would be attending, which she didn’t seem to mind.


“Well if it isn’t New York’s hottest crown-chaser,” I mut-ter out the corner of my mouth.

“Given how elusive you are, it’s no wonder I haven’t caught it yet.” Fi laughs—cackling this time. “It’s only a matter of time.” She perches one hand on my shoulder while lightly clasping it with the other, her front leg shifting to elegantly eclipse her back leg. She’s all fair skin tinged pink, peachy cheeks, silver-highlighted collarbones, and smoky cat eye.


Behind the photographer a few yards away, I spy a huddle of girls my age clamouring for my attention, hopping and waving their arms about. I’ll have to deal with them soon, I’m sure.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 52: Every person is important.

That includes the fangirls. Ça va. Beside me, Fi drops her sculpted arms and shoulders back, puffing out her chest. “What’s it been, nearly a year since you’ve hit the social scene? Glad your ’rents finally let you off the short leash.”

I smile very sweetly, keeping my eyes trained ahead. “As am I.”


“I can’t wait to get even more photos with you at the gala on Thursday night,” Fi continues. “I assume you’ll be there.”

“Wouldn’t miss it.”

The photographer lowers his camera and nods, as if to say he’s captured enough. Bien.

Fi faces me and talks through her smile. “My work here is done. It’s been real, loser. See you in school!” Then she turns to the photographer. “Make sure you tag me—that’s Sofia with an f.” She scoffs to herself. “As if he doesn’t already know that.”

MAPLE CROWN RULE 101: No personal social media accounts.

So, that’s a thing, albeit fairly new. My Royal Family has general verified accounts instead, of course. At my last check, the @CanadianRoyals had 20.6 million followers. And pho-tos of me happen to get the most likes.

I look past Fi, lingering despite her goodbyes, and inad-vertently lock pupils with one of the girls in the huddle, who takes the fleeting eye contact for an invitation. Gathering her black gown, she rushes forward. Her gaggle of friends follows with hungry expressions, flocking my way in a V-formation.

A crushing weight settles on my chest. Although the pressure of being a royal is ever-present, at least when I was grounded I didn’t have to deal with this level of people-pleasing.

Nodding toward the girls, Fi scrunches up her delicate nose. “Good luck with that.” She flashes the crowd an enchant-ing smile, flips her long ombré hair, and strides down a non-existent red carpet while all heads turn her way and another photographer flails for her attention.

Well. That’s Lady Sofia for you, je ne sais quoi and all.

“Your Royal Highness!” says the girl in the black gown, who appears to be squatting in what I suppose is her attempt at a perfunctory curtsy. “Sir, may I get a photo with you, too?” I freeze, trying with all my might not to roll my eyes. Members of the Royal Family must always be gracious. “Of course, mademoiselle!” Growing up with a French-speaking nanny clearly rubbed off on me—along with remedial French lessons at school.

“Thank you!” she squeals, then turns to her posse and mouths, Mademoiselle! She angles her phone overhead, and I see my brow wrinkling on-screen.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 102: No selfies

Another recent rule. My grandmother and the family matri-arch, the queen of England, managed to officially deem self-ies as unfit for royalty. Too common. Too vain. I agree with some of the Maple Crown Rules inspired by Granny’s original ones (the Buckingham Crown Rules). But a lot of the tradi-tional values that any Royal Family thrives on are woefully backward.

C’est comme ça.

I gesture at the event photographer still hovering nearby. “Shall we have him take the photo? I trust my friend here will do a fine job capturing your beauty.”

“Oh, of course, sir!” The girl titters abashedly and tucks her phone into a sequin clutch. We assume the position while her friends look on, capturing every moment behind their screens. Others move in to watch too, unwittingly revealing the exit behind the photographer. He snaps a few shots and then walks over, showing us the photos.

I smile in approval, then I rely on an old standby and wave to an invisible friend across the packed ballroom. “I’m terri-bly sorry,” I tell the growing cluster of waiting girls. “I must step out for a brief moment. I’ll be back very soon! I promise.”

MAPLE CROWN RULE 18: Depart at the right moment

Technically I also broke the rule Royals don’t apologize, but I can typically let that one slide. I am Canadian, after all.

Flashing one last dashing smile, I make my escape. The good ol’ Flash-and-Dash. Works every time. I spin on my heel and bump into a table, sending plates and glasses chattering like teeth (how unlike me!), then course-correct, making my way toward the exit. In my periphery, Gord excuses himself from his coterie of raucous socialites and follows, a long shadow tethered to my every stride, while I search for that pesky in-visible friend who conveniently can’t seem to stay in one place, weaving in and out and greeting the crème de la crème as I go.

“How are you?” I call to a NASA astronaut. I wave at a Scot-tish minister. “Hello there! Smart-looking kilt!”

“Salut! Comment va votre famille?” I ask the French ambassa-dor. I crank my megawatt smile up to an eleven for the prime minister of Japan. “Sumimasen,” I say.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 36: Royals should speak multiple languages.

For everyone else, I use my nod/twinkle-in-eye combo that’s friendly, but also too intimidating for anyone to do more than reply with a wave, smile, or nod. Otherwise, they’d be on me like flies on maple syrup. I reach the exit, soar through a series of doors, and maneuver past the black-and-white-clad waitstaff wheeling out carts of teacups. Everybody is so busy, they don’t even notice me in all the hubbub. I push a swinging aluminum traffic door, stepping past the bustling kitchen, and take a flight of steps down to a door leading to a break room reeking of what I can only assume is the smell of old coffee where I know no one will find me.

It’s empty, except for a guy my age in a worker’s uniform sitting at a rickety little table, gazing at his phone. I drop into a folding chair at a table in front of him, loosen my tie some more, and let out a whoosh of air.

I’m safe. For now.

“Oh!” he says with a start, nervously pushing back his bangs.

“Can I help you? Are you lost?”

“I’m fine. It’s okay that I’m in here, right?” I ask.

His glimmering eyes dart around. “Umm, normally they’d make me kick guests out for…reasons.” He suddenly notices my maple leaf brooch, and blushes. “But it’s cool! I won’t tell. Your Royal Highness, sir,” he adds hastily.

I almost begin to disclose why I’m hiding out in the first place. But then I remember.

MAPLE CROWN RULE 77: Only share what is necessary.

It’s technically: Only share with your subjects what is necessary, but I’ve truncated it. I don’t have subjects. At least, not yet.

I nod. “Perfect. Thanks.”

“D-do you want some privacy?” he stammers. He stands up to leave, and his phone falls from his hand. It skitters across the warped linoleum, coming to a rest at the tip of my shiny black patent leather shoes.

I pick it up and hand it back to him. “No, no, it’s fine. Stay. I just needed a tiny break. I’ll be out in a jiffy.” I give the break room a cursory scan, eyes sweeping cabinets, a sink, a small white fridge. “Do you have any food? I’m famished.”

One of his eyebrows quirks in bewilderment. “Oh, you didn’t get a chance to eat?”

“At a charity event like this one? Too much schmoozing. Not enough eating. As it goes.”

He lets out a little laugh. “Let me see what we have.” He vanishes up into the stairwell, then comes trundling back down a minute later with a tray of miniature desserts: everything from frozen mochi and mint sorbet to macarons and bonbons with gold leafing on top.

“Super!” I pinch up a pink mochi and pop it in my mouth. “Have one.”

He hesitates, but after darting a glance at the door, he selects a pale green one. “Staff isn’t supposed to eat these,” he says, but he bites down on it anyway.

“Look at us,” I remark. “Me trespassing in employee break rooms and you eating forbidden mochi. We’re breaking all the rules.” We both laugh. “So, you work here? Aren’t you in high school like me?”

“Yeah. But I just work nights. I’m saving up for college. My uncle got me the job. He’s a cook here.”

I take another mochi. Double chocolate. A favourite. “Do you cook too?”

“I try.” He laughs, running his hand through his shiny black hair. “What about you?”

Best not to share how all of my meals are prepared for me at the risk of sounding elitist. Instead, I grin. “Can you keep a secret? I’ve been working on a chocolate chip cookie recipe that puts Pierre on Park’s to shame.” I pass it off as a joke, but I actually spent all winter experimenting on just that recipe—along with original recipes for fresh new takes on profiteroles, cream puffs, and croquembouches.

The guy laughs again, briefly covering his mouth. “I bet.” “I’m serious.” I select a bonbon from the tray. “It’s rather ag-onizing being a foodie when you’re the next leader of a coun-try whose biggest culinary claim to fame is gourmet poutine.” His expression turns contemplative. “Hey, didn’t Canada invent the Twinkie?” “I rest my case.”

The guy chuckles and combs his fingers through his hair once more, then locks eyes with me. “I never expected to meet a royal, let alone, well, you. Sorry, you just seem so…normal.” Reddening, he adds, “Oh. Sorry. I didn’t… It’s just, you seem so chill. It’s like hanging out with…a friend from school.” He tucks a strand behind his ear, his eyes downcast, his cheeks practically puce.

“Don’t worry about it. I get it.” I swallow. I don’t know why, but my throat has decided to go bone-dry. “It’s easy to talk to you too. Do you get that a lot?”

Silence falls.

My stomach drops as soon as the words escape my lips. Do I sound like I’m coming onto him? What am I babbling about to this stranger?

But much to my relief, a smile washes across his face like sunlight.

I’m wondering what to say next when—


The break room door bursts open, and I hear the voice of my best friend. “Edward! There you are!”

The worker and I jump with a start, stepping away from one another as if we were just caught hiding a dead body.

In struts Neel Singh, aforementioned best friend who also happens to be the son of Zubin Singh, Indian ambassador to Canada.

Let me tell you about Neel. People think I’m charming, but Neel can get them eating out of the palm of his manicured hand in seconds—including my parents, who bizarrely enough think him being in New York with me is a good thing. He grew up all over the world, but stayed in Ottawa long enough for us to become best friends, a relationship which fully crystallized after we built a snowman with a creatively placed carrot. Thank goodness it melted before my parents or Gord saw it. And now, he’s in New York for his senior year too. Only Neel could con-vince his parents that he should move to another country for his last year of high school. I guess he griped enough about being separated from his best friend that they eventually caved.

But in this moment, with the worker’s eyes still locked on mine, I’m kind of wishing Neel’s parents had kept him in Ottawa.

I fold my arms across my chest. “Oh, now you decide to show up. Where were you forever ago when I was looking for you, mon chum?”

Neel glances at the worker, whose name I wish I knew—que c’est gênant—then back at me, grinning. “Oh, you’ve made a new friend?”

“Shut up,” I growl so low that only Neel can hear me. He knows my secret and I trust him to keep it, but sometimes what he says in front of others makes me sweat.

He ignores me and walks across the break room. “Hi. I’m Neel. It’s so nice to meet you.” He pumps my new friend’s hand, lingering for far too long. He has a knack for being overly friendly. And there’s no denying Neel looks suave in his tailored black suit, crisp white button-up that contrasts nicely against the warm bronze undertones of his brown skin, and bow tie that perfectly matches his silk pocket square. Probably a look he “borrowed” from the runway he walked in Milan. The perks of being incredibly wealthy and good-looking.

“Nice to meet you too.” The guy looks from Neel to me, flashes a timid smile, and scurries from the room before I can utter salut.

Neel shoots me a knowing smirk then starts washing his hands at the sink. He ditched me all night, only showing up to barge in and scare off my new friend. This is low, even for him.

“Can you believe they had no vegetarian options?” he asks incredulously. “Meat pies for as far as the eye could see.”

“Seriously, where have you been? I needed you,” I say. “And how did you find me?”

He dries his hands on a dish rag then snatches up a bonbon. “I have my sources,” he says through a mouthful.

I glare. I could murder him. Use industrial-strength kitchen cleaner to hide the evidence.

“Fine.” Neel sticks his thumb into a vanilla mochi, then jerks it in the direction of the door.

Right on cue, Gord sets foot into the break room, looking less than pleased. “Your Royal Highness.”

Rolling my eyes at Neel, I give Gord the signal that all is well.

But as Neel rests a hand on my forearm, I’m no longer sure. He’s got that look in his eye. “I’m bored of the ball, so I’m thinking we leave before the raffle and silent auction.  Besides—” he beams his radiant smile “—there’s a private shindig taking place now at Beauty and Essex—no nonsense this time. Say you’ll come? Great! Let’s go.” Neel hooks his arm in mine and twists in the direction of the door.

He may have made the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list, but right now, he’s number 1 on my naughty list.

I plant my feet. “Sounds sweet, but I’d rather not end up grounded again.”

Neel grips my face, pleading. “Please? Pretty please with maple sugar on top?”

I pry his fingers off. “Tempting,” I say, “but I’m afraid I’m immune to your charms, my friend.”

He grins impishly. “I’ll do your AP Chem lab homework,” he says in singsong.

He knows that’s my Achilles’ heel. I sigh. “You better not make me regret this.”

Gord clears his throat. “Sir.” He slowly shakes his head.

Neel knots his fingers together pleadingly. “But I’ll have him home by midnight, G!”

I raise an eyebrow. “Who are you, my fairy godmother?” With Neel, “midnight” means 4:30 a.m. Neel’s dad still lives in Ottawa, his mum’s in India, and he has no chaperone here, so he’s pretty much a free agent. The notion of “curfew” is not something he’s well acquainted with. While Neel’s par-ents are barely even aware of his zip code, mine like to be in the know, even with being busy running and continuing to establish a somewhat new form of monarchy. Hence, Gord, who I’m practically closer with than my own father.

Gord picks a piece of invisible lint off my jacket. “I don’t advise it, sir. Your parents gave me direct orders—your name is not ending up in the tabloids.” He straightens my brooch. “Again,” he adds tartly.

It’s true. Dad did say leading up to this event that if I had one more bad run-in with the press, he was going to revoke my going-out privileges for good.

Neel gasps and clutches his chest. “What happened last time was not his fault.”

Gord turns on Neel. “You mean when His Royal Highness was photographed setting off fireworks for his birthday party on a yacht in the Ottawa River? A little stunt that burned down half the trees on the waterfront? You’re both lucky it didn’t launch a media blitz.”

I feel myself blushing. “I didn’t know it was illegal to set off fireworks from a yacht, pour l’amour du Christ!”

At this response, Gord clenches his jaw. I know what that means. This conversation is over.

Neel knows it too. He screws up his mouth in defeat, and sighs. “Bye, bharˉa.” His nickname for me, “brother” in Pun-jabi, never fails to pull at my heartstrings.

I clap a hand on his shoulder. “Have fun for both of us?”

Neel eases back into his radiant smile, eyes playful again. He winks. “Oh, I always do.”

“Prince Edward! Prince Edward! Over here!”

Paparazzi surround us, cameras flashing, as we step out into the Manhattan night. A frigid breeze buffets down the ave-nue, fluttering awnings. My chauffeur holds open the door to my black town car as I duck inside, exchanging the icy air for blissful artificial warmth.

Camera lenses take aim, yards from the tinted windows. Good luck getting a decent shot. The paparazzi here truly are as ubiquitous as rats on subway tracks. Not that I’ve ever taken the subway.

Gord buckles into the passenger seat, and the chauffeur pulls the car onto 59th while the paparazzi give chase, shouting my name. Before kicking me out of Rideau Hall, Mum and Dad never failed to remind me that the paparazzi in New York would be documenting my every folly, unlike in Canada where the industry isn’t quite so rabid and boundaries are better re-spected (other than the Daily Maple, the source for most Royals- related reports and rumours). Going out and about, acting like a delinquent in New York would not only mean my family would find out about it, but the rest of the world as well. Given Mum and Dad’s own distaste for paparazzi, they must have felt pretty desperate to have sent me here, but it’s been quite ef-fective. That, and being under Gord’s constant supervision.

We cross the intersection, leaving Central Park behind us, its naked treetops illuminated by city lights. From the front seat, Gord turns up the radio volume and soft classical music plays. He knows it’s one of the few things that relaxes me. I lean back, take a deep breath, and pull out my phone.

A million Google alerts pop up. What? Of course I have a Google alert for my own name. I need to know what people are saying about me after my reentry into the party scene. It’s mostly just gossipy tabloid stories, an occasional fashion mag-azine editorial, and the inevitable message board comments perpetuating age-old rumours and adding to tired conspiracy theories. When it comes to the relatively new Canadian mon-archy, people love trying to spill royal Earl Grey tea.

Just before I was born, Mum and Dad fled across the pond to Canada in hopes of escaping the scrutiny of the English press. Waking up to a new disparaging headline every day about Mum being a lowly commoner from Canada was un-tenable for them—not to mention being baited and badgered by slimy photographers wherever they set foot. My parents had even been prepared to leave the Royal Family and relinquish their official titles—anything to help put an ocean between them and the snaky British tabloids.

A while back, there was a movement to one day replace Granny with a homegrown Canadian Royal Family, but noth-ing came of it. Our current situation was the result of an agreement with the Canadian prime minister at the time. Apparently, he recognized that Canadian love for the Royal Family was good for business. (Our official merch alone con-tributes greatly to Canada’s bottom line.) The fact Dad was born on Canadian soil before growing up in England made him a natural fit for Canadian king.

On my phone, I’m idly poking around popular royal hashtags and notice that someone has reposted, for the zillionth time, that old and super famous long-range paparazzi photo of my parents arriving home at Rideau Hall with bundled-up newborn me. It was the first time the paparazzi had caught a glimpse of The Canadian Royal Baby. Given my mum’s ner-vousness about paparazzi, my parents had hidden out at the super private Hôpital Royal Jolee in Montreal for the birth, far from where anyone expected them to go.

It’s one of the only photos of me as a child to have gotten out. To no one’s surprise, it was from a wily and out-of-town photographer who wasn’t afraid of being blacklisted. Since that day, my parents have held an iron grip on our private lives, only slightly loosening up the photography ban when I en-tered high school a little over three years ago. (Hello, People magazine cover shoot!)

Despite her secretly difficult pregnancy, Mum appears healthy, rested, and as much a fashion icon as ever in the photo, step-ping out of a town car in a formfitting dress with the traditional maple leaf tartan pattern. Dad cradles me in a blanket woven with the same fabric. I’ve seen this photo so many times that I know it by heart.

I tap back to my notifications. Many of the alerts swirl around the topic of me at tonight’s ball, with a few official photos starting to surface, most showing me on the red carpet, hands in pockets. The one of me with Fi is already trending. Just as she’d hoped.

I let out a sigh. It does little to release the familiar feeling of pressure and expectation building in my heart and chest. The whole world is watching, commenting on my every move. I have to uphold the royal Dinnissen glory, or our Canada goose is cooked, because there’s a lot to live up to as Crown Prince, aka Prince Royal. Mum and Dad had the perfect modern-day fairy tale love story: prince meets born-and-bred Cana-dian commoner and falls in love. People have always eaten up and adored their story, even with its darker, nearly-stripped-of-their-titles side to it.

Suddenly, the heat in the car has become stifling. I crack the window for some fresh air. 

As much as I love the perks of being Crown Prince, sometimes I want to throw all the rules out the window. But when ever I get that urge, I remember the fiasco that was my seventeenth birthday party. I’ve learned my lesson. And what choice do I have? I’m trapped.

Gord is always telling me that it’s much easier for Canada to get rid of our monarchy than to further change it. I can hear Gord reciting Maple Crown Rule 1, drilling it into my brain like he has my entire life: Duty to the Crown above all else.

I open the faceless alias Instagram account, aka Finsta, that I secretly made for myself—mostly to drool over slow-mo videos of people frosting cakes or pulling gooey, piping-hot cookies apart, and to read baking “top tips” from my favourite maître pâtissiers, or master pastry chef—Chef Pierre—who regularly unveils his latest innovative desserts at his culinary school in Paris that end up on the menu of his world-renowned bakery-café here in New York.

Of course, there are also the gay couple accounts I peruse, with varying arrays of cutesy, saccharine selfies. I want what they have.

As I scroll, I can’t help daydreaming about going back to the break room, letting the cute guy pull me up onto one of those rickety little tables, his lips parting as we press against each other…

I can never tell a soul, let alone the world, about my petit secret.

I am absolutely certain that if I were to come out, the powers that be would find a way to strip me of my title. I can’t let that happen. Do I sometimes wish I could have a normal life that allows me to settle down with a nice guy? Yes, I do. But not more than I want that crown. Besides, it would break my par-ents’ hearts if their only son didn’t succeed them on the throne.

Sure, my family has had their own fair share of secrets. Hell, here are more secrets than rules (and if you couldn’t tell by now, we have a lot of rules). My Royal Family tree isn’t with-out its rotten apples—or rotten maple leaves, to keep things on brand. But I may just be the worst. A blight, the one to petrify the family tree so that not a single leaf remains cling-ing to its ancient branches.

It’s bad enough that the Firm and current conservative government share a little-known penchant for wanting to streamline the Royal Family, meaning the three of us could be stripped of our titles at any moment.

Selfishly, abdicating the throne would alleviate me of the immense weight to remain in the closet. But I couldn’t do that to my parents, even if I could find a good way out, and there isn’t one—out of the closet or out of the monarchy. After the stunt I pulled at my last birthday, Mum and Dad have felt like the three of us are in danger of losing our position in Canada and being sent to live out the rest of our days in a drafty, for-gotten castle in Cornwall.

But my parents won’t have to worry about the monarchy dissipating to the Chinook winds. I was raised to be Crown Prince of Canada, destined to fulfill my royal birthright. Even if it does mean no love life.

To bear a crown of power is to be alone, right?

I press my nose to the cold window glass, hearing ambu-lance sirens blaring in the distance. Normally, traditions im-posed on the heir to the throne wouldn’t be a huge problem. Except, well…




March 2, 06:23 a.m. ET


by Omar Scooby

Welcome back, Eddie! After ten months of skirting the spotlight following his seventeenth birthday debacle, the Crown Prince of Canada slides back into the social scene with a rare appearance at a star-studded gala.

Entering the ballroom last night at the Plaza Hotel, the Crown Prince of Canada was a sight to behold—wowing in a tailored suit and titillating partygoers with his wit, charm, and majestic magnetism. The world has truly missed seeing that hundred-watt smile. The Daily Maple spoke to an insider about what it’s like for him, being a teen heartthrob.

When asked about any details surrounding the highly anticipated Investiture Ceremony, our close-to-the-royal-family insider went mum. What has the prince got up his hemmed silken sleeves? We hope to find out and see a whole lot more of him—and his winning smile—in the coming days.


King Frederick Speaks to Prime Minister of Singapore

Queen Daphnée Promises to Lower Housing Costs

Canadian Prime Minister: Hottest Politician Alive?

Excerpted from A Tale of Two Princes. Copyright © 2023 by Eric Geron. Published by Inkyard Press.


Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year by Vincent Traughber Meis Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young man must navigate life as a Black teen while growing up with two dads and questions about his heritage in author Vincent Traughber Meis’s “Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year”.


The Synopsis

Colton is on a quest to meet his surrogate mom who might help him navigate being a Black teenager in today’s America. The woman who gave birth to him is Black. His dads are not. His diverse community of family and friends includes lots of LGBTQ+ people, though his first love is a girl of mixed race like him.

Colton’s dads reluctantly introduce him to his birth mother, but she doesn’t turn out to be person he hoped for. On his journey of falling in love, nearly losing one of his dads, and confronting a racist cousin, he learns about love, non-traditional families, community, and what is important in life. The biggest challenge of all is something he discovers about his birth, causing friction with his dads. But like every difficulty in his life, the love of his dads ultimately carries him along and lifts him up.

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The Review

This was a powerful and well-written LGBTQ+ YA Drama. The author did an incredible job of layering the narrative with heart and thoughtful plot points that touched upon many of the issues still facing our society today. The rich descriptive nature of the scenes not only brought the reader into the settings perfectly but made the story feel alive on the page as if reading a script for a play at times as the narrative played out. 

The heart of this narrative was definitely the thought-provoking themes and passionate character development that went into the story. The struggles that this cast of characters endured all showcased the unique hardships that certain groups of people still face in a prejudiced society, from the protagonist’s struggles to understand his heritage and how to live life as a black man, to the struggles of LGBTQ+ parents who try to navigate these difficult paths with their children and so much more. The dynamics of the characters as they struggled through these events felt realistic and captivating to behold, heightening the drama and emotions that the reader felt.

The Verdict 

Heartfelt, emotionally driven, and thought-provoking, author Vincent Traughber Meis’s “Colton’s Terrible Wonderful Year” is a must-read LGBTQ+ YA Drama that readers won’t be able to put down. The shocking struggles these characters must endure and the all too familiar relatability of the issues that these characters face will resonate with many readers, and the captivating scenes that showcase the protagonist’s evolution over time will make this one story readers won’t be able to forget. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

In the 1980s and 90s Vincent Meis published a number of pieces, mostly travel articles, but also a few poems and book reviews, in publications such as, The Advocate, LA Weekly, In Style, and Our World. His travels have inspired his five novels, all set at least partially in foreign countries: Eddie’s Desert Rose (2011), Tio Jorge (2012), and Down in Cuba (2013), Deluge (2016) and Four Calling Burds (2019). Tio Jorge received a Rainbow Award in the category of Bisexual Fiction in 2012. Down in Cuba received two Rainbow Awards in 2013. Recently stories have been published in two collections: WITH:New Gay Fiction and Best Gay Erotica 2015.


A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story 1.5 by William Brinkman Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A vampire targeted for her constantly developing feelings for others must protect the editor of a local town’s tabloid in a town known for supernatural and alien threats in author William Brinkman’s “A Fire in the Shadows”, the latest entry in A Bolingbrook Babbler Story series. 


The Synopsis

Vampire, intelligence scout, paranormal protector, and emotional liability…

Bolingbrook has long been rumored to be a hub of paranormal and alien activity and Lydia should know—she’s a vampire. But that doesn’t mean she fits in. Not when she’s a target for other vampires and reliant on her blood family’s protection because of her inconvenient inclination to experience feelings.

Except right now, Lydia has bigger things to worry about than her recent rejection by a human or her blood sister Aurora’s relentless teasing. An army of weredeer are gathering near town and they need to gather intelligence fast.

When enforcers from one of Chicago’s vampire kingdoms threaten the Bolingbrook Babbler’s stunning chief editor, Aurora accuses Lydia of having feelings again. But even if Lydia does have a crush on the unsuspecting Sara, she deserves their protection.

Only Lydia hadn’t counted on how powerful their enemies are. Or the sort of unexpected revelations that will come to light if Lydia dares to risk rejection again…

Get a Fire in the Shadows to find out what Lydia is willing to risk.

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The Review

This was a fast-paced and exhilarating supernatural and sci-fi YA fantasy! The world-building and mythos that the author built into this series were evident immediately. The shadowy world that exists hidden from everyone else and the established feeling that the book has allowed readers to really feel the tense atmosphere and rich dynamics between the characters in this book.

The heart of the narrative definitely rested in the character development, something that was quick to come to life. The protagonist, a strong heroine who stands in stark contrast to her vampiric nature by harboring emotions, was so engaging to get lost in and made the story feel alive on the page as she not only fought for the people she feels for but struggled against the less than empathetic vampires she came across in her life. Beautifully, another standout in this book was how despite how established the setting felt, readers could delve into this book without prior reading of the series. 

The Verdict

Action-packed, entertaining, and haunting in its delivery, author William Brinkman’s “A Fire in the Shadows” is a great entry into the Bolingbrook Babbler Story series and a phenomenal YA Paranormal Fantasy. The quick pace of the plot and the rich world-building that helped cement this town and the supernatural hierarchy of things into the narrative helped the reader really build a rapport with the main cast of characters, and the unique foes that the protagonist faces made this a must-read novel. If you haven’t yet, preorder your copy today or pick a copy up on March 7th, 2023!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

William Brinkman is the creator of the Bolingbrook Babbler and is a member of the Freethought Blogs network. He’s also a board member of a humanistic Jewish congregation in the Chicago area.

He also contributed short stories and background material to White Wolf’s Demon the Fallen role-playing game.

He currently lives with his wife and two cats in the Chicagoland area.

Despite the current unrest in the world, he still believes that this world is all there is, and all we need. 


My new book, A Fire in the Shadows: A Bolingbrook Babbler Story, launches on 3/7/23. Pre-order pending, but I still have ARC copies available. Leave a comment if you want to be an ARC reader. #newbookrelease #urbanfantasybooks #vampirebook #urbanfantasyauthor

♬ Paranormality (Dramatic Adventure Documentary Cinematic Thriller Detective) – Sasha_Grey

Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman working as a spy for a kingdom whose magic and waning must travel to her neighboring kingdom to regain enough magic to help her people survive, but discovers hidden truths that could upend everything she thought she knew in author Emily Victoria’s “Silver in the Mist”.


The Synopsis

Silver in the Mist by Emily Victoria is a YA fantasy featuring asexual representation that follows a palace spy sent to infiltrate a neighboring kingdom in hopes of returning magic to her dying land.

Eight years ago, everything changed for Devlin: Her country was attacked. Her father was killed. And her mother became the Whisperer of Aris, the head of the spies, retreating into her position away from everyone… even her daughter.

Joining the spy ranks herself, Dev sees her mother only when receiving assignments. She wants more, but she understands the peril their country, Aris, is in. The malevolent magic force of The Mists is swallowing Aris’s edges, their country is vulnerable to another attack from their wealthier neighbor, and the magic casters who protect them from both are burning out.

Dev has known strength and survival her whole life, but with a dangerous new assignment of infiltrating the royal court of their neighbor country Cerena to steal the magic they need, she learns that not all that glitters is weak. And not all stories are true.

The Review

This was a brilliant YA Fantasy read! The author did an incredible job of world-building and creating a suspenseful atmosphere within these two warring kingdoms. The mythos of the Mists and the origins of this feud between the two kingdoms was inspired, and the imagery the author infused into the writing really brought this fantasy-driven world to life, both the magical side of things and the visceral side of spy work and the impact secrets can have on a world.

The powerful theme work that this narrative played into and the character development really stole the show in this book. The themes of parental bonds with their children, the impact of loss and how grief can blind us, and the dark side of secrets and lies and how it can drive the course of history as we know it all fused beautifully together into a complex tale that heightened the magic of this world. Combined with rich character growth for the protagonist, including her friendship with a fellow spy and the connection she forms to someone from the kingdom she is at war with, this novel brings the heart and engagement that fantasy-driven narratives are known for.

The Verdict

Mysterious, thrilling, and entertaining, author Emily Victoria’s “Silver in the Mist” is a must-read YA fantasy read of 2022. The amazing inclusion that this cast of characters has, including asexual characters, and the depth of emotions the characters evoke through this mythology-heavy narrative made this one book that readers are not going to be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author


Emily Victoria is a Canadian prairie girl who writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. When not wordsmithing, she likes walking her overexcitable dog, drinking far too much tea, and crocheting things she no longer has the space to store. Her librarian degree has allowed her to work at a library and take home far too many books.


Author Website: https://www.avictoriantale.com/

Twitter: @avictoriantale

Instagram: @avictoriantale


Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/silver-in-the-mist/9781335406705

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335406705

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/silver-in-the-mist-emily-victoria/1140845012?ean=9781335406705

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Silver-Mist-Emily-Victoria-ebook/dp/B09PVHZ3T8/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=silver+in+the+mist&qid=1644596472&sprefix=silver+inthe+mist%2Caps%2C122&sr=8-1


Enjoy this Excerpt from “Silver in the Mist”

Chapter One

The camp around me is shadowy and asleep—vulnerable—just the way I like it. At my back, metal poles hold lanterns that let out an erratic flicker of a glow. But it doesn’t reach as far in as I am, and even the patrolling soldiers barely stray from their circles of firelight. It’s sloppy, this whole camp.

I feel, rather than see, someone slip into the shadow of the tent behind me.


Lochlan’s jesting voice is that low tone that barely carries as far as my ears. I shift closer to the canvas of the tent so they can crouch beside me. “Fancy seeing you here,” they say.

Even though this is serious, my own lips twitch in response. Like me, Lochlan is dressed in tight-fitting clothes with their hood up, dark and practical and perfect for getting up to no good. They tug the strip of cloth covering their face down as they let out a huff. “This thing gets so itchy.”

I raise a brow. “That’s not regulation.”

They give me a look, but it’s edged with that sharp excitement neither of us can hide in the field. It tingles in my own fingertips. I want to get on with it, but as always, the Whisperer’s voice echoes in my head, tempering the impulse.

Take the time to observe. Know the lay of the land.

No matter how many missions I do, how much experience I think I’ve gained, it’s always my mother’s voice that sounds in my head out here in the field.

I scan the tents in front of us. There are three of them in the inner circle, five in the outer. If this camp has the usual layout, then the barracks, the mess, and the supplies will be in the outer tents. The scribes and those in command—in other words, everyone important—will be in this inner ring.

The tent on the far left is larger than the two beside it. All are in that deep navy color that is dyed even darker by the night, which only serves to offset the fabric’s silver lining. The canvas is thick enough that even if there was light inside the tents, we wouldn’t be able to see any silhouettes. It doesn’t give us much to go on, but at least it means once we’re inside, no one will be able to see us either.

“What did you find out?” I ask.

“Captain’s quarters are in the middle. The large one on the left is for the scribes. The last one houses the captain’s two pages.”

“So are the captain’s office and his sleeping quarters the same?”


I stifle my sigh. That will be a pain to deal with, but it’s not like we haven’t done it before. Multiple times. “The scribes?” 

“They sleep with the soldiers as far as I can tell.”

That’s promising. I scan the area. The captain’s tent is the only one with a guard. The man is bored, idly fiddling with his sword’s sheath. He wears a tunic of soft blue lined with white, so neat it looks as if it’d get dirty if the guard glanced at the ground wrong.

“We can take him,” Lochlan says.

I elbow them. “No evidence outside of the theft, remember?” The scribes’ tent isn’t guarded, and there’s barely a foot of space between it and the captain’s tent beside it. That’s our best chance. “This way.”

We track down the row we’re sheltered by, moving from shadow to shadow, aware of the guards and the torchlight hovering just around the corners. At the end of the lane, I wait for the guard’s attention to shift and then we’re just two shadows slipping over the grassy gap. The canvas of the scribes’ tent is secured with thick ties, and I undo the row to let us in.

The space is shadowy in the dark and I take a moment to let my eyes adjust. Rows of portable desks fill the tent so tightly I have to step carefully as I ghost between them, Lochlan behind me.

The desks are littered with papers and worn writing implements, and among them lie pieces of filigree. The delicate swirls of the silvery patterns shine in the darkness, like fallen pieces of moonglow. My fingers hover over them. We aren’t supposed to leave any evidence, but I can’t resist swiping a couple of the shards into my pocket. This is a Cerenian camp. They won’t notice one or two missing pieces of filigree, while we need all the stolen magic we can get.

Behind me, Lochlan pauses as they look at the filigree.

Even though I can’t make out the expression on their face from this angle, I know what will be there. Loss.

I nudge them. “Bet you a week’s worth of chores I can find what we need first.”

Lochlan’s eyes glint in the dark as they grin. “You’re going to regret that.”

“You wish.”

A couple more ties get us out the far wall, and I give a quick glance to make sure the guard can’t see us before slipping into the captain’s tent.

He’s a snorer. That much is obvious as we step in and a grinding noise like rocks being smashed together echoes over to us. Lochlan’s face contorts in laughter and I grab their face cloth and yank it back over their mouth.

There’s not much in here. Besides the bed, the only things are a camp desk and a chest. Well, that and the clothes scattered all over the place. There’s even a discarded sword not a foot away from where I stand. He’s not a strict captain then. I’m betting he’s the type to leave his papers lying out rather than filing them away at the end of the day.

I take the desk and sure enough, it’s cluttered with writing instruments and parchment. The Whisperer ordered us to bring back the original orders from the Cerenian monarch that sent these soldiers here. I don’t know exactly what they will say, but I can guess. There are a number of patrolling camps that work their way up and down the Cerenian border, making sure it’s secure. Normally they follow the exact same route. This camp, though, is well into the neutral territory of the Peaks.

The last true attack from Cerena was decades ago, long before I was born, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t planning another. I can’t see why else they would have strayed so far into the Peaks, when it’s such difficult territory to cover. We can’t face the Mists and an army.

My fingers shift through the papers, careful to disturb them as little as possible. Then in the dark, I catch the image of a songbird sitting on a branch: Cerena’s royal seal. The orders themselves are written in code but that seal means this is what we’ve come for.

I lift the paper high, so Lochlan can see it.

I win.

The snoring cuts off. I drop to a crouch behind the desk. As I peer around its edge I see the captain blinking sleepy eyes open.

I look at where Lochlan is hiding behind the chest. They’re closer to where we entered than I am. They should be able to get out if they move right now, before the captain is fully awake.

I wave my hand at them. They hesitate, but I give them a glare. Moving as silent as a shadow, they’re gone.

There’s a creak from the bed as the captain gets up, muttering beneath his breath. His footsteps come closer, padding over the canvas floor. My hand finds the knife at my hip. As soon as he’s close enough, I’ll jab the knife in his leg. Then I’ll run.


His feet come into view and I’m tensing to move when there’s a panicked shout from outside. It’s taken up, the sound multiplying.

What did Lochlan do?

The captain grabs his boots and races outside. As soon as he’s gone, I slip out the side of the tent. I smell the smoke the moment I’m free, the ring of light at the eastern outskirts of the camp now shining decidedly angrier.

“A lantern has fallen!” someone shouts. “Bring water!”

The camp is a flurry of activity. All of the soldiers, most only half-dressed and with mussed hair, are heading one way. I catch a clear moment and dash in the opposite direction.

I dart between the tents, breaking out of the last line and plunging into the forest at the base of the mountain. It’s darker beneath the trees, the branches scratching at my clothes, and even though I’m risking a broken ankle, I don’t slow. Better a broken ankle than an arrow in my back.

The ground beneath my feet turns from moss to dirt to stone, and the forest fades as I track up the path.

I turn the corner, and there it is.

A wall of white clings to the mountain like a shroud. It’s so thick I can’t even make out the rocks in it. All I can see are the flashes of lightning deep in its depths, bright and fierce.

The Mists.

Lochlan sits on a rock just outside the border of white, idly swinging one of their legs. Their hood is already down, showing their auburn hair with the single streak of gray, currently tied back into a ponytail. The filigree lantern we’d hidden on our way down shines at their feet, sparking off their bright green eyes.

I tug the cloth away from my face. “What did you set on fire?”

They grin at me. “You’re welcome.”

There’s a shout behind us from the direction of the camp and we plunge into the Mists.

Excerpted from Silver in the Mist. Copyright © 2022 by Emily Victoria. Published by Inkyard Press.

Conjure Lake (Ambrosia Hill Book 1.5) by Rebecca Henry Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

After a woman takes it upon herself to raise her younger brother after the tragic loss of their parents, a move into their family cottage home in upstate New York turns into a deadly trial as they realize an ancient curse threatens their new home in author Rebecca Henry’s “Conjuring Lake”, the latest book in the Ambrosia Hill series.


The Synopsis

When feelings are more than a warning, they become haunting.

Eighteen-year-old Serena is attending university on the west coast when her life is flipped upside down. After the untimely death of her parents, Serena returns to New York City to care for her seven-year-old brother, Jack. As financial pressures mount, Serena makes the difficult decision to move them to their family’s heritage lake house in upstate New York.

Jack hasn’t spoken to anyone but her since their parents’ death and Serena’s only focus is learning how to become a full-time mother to her little brother with the hope that she can save him from his sorrow. But when the siblings arrive in the tiny and isolated town of Corvin Grove, they realize their family’s name raises eyebrows from the townsfolk as the two settle into the abandoned lake home.

It doesn’t take long for the siblings to discover that things inside the gothic house are not what they appear to be. An ancient witch has cursed Conjure Lake and if they stay in Korwin Cottage, they may never make it out alive.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of horror, gore and child endangerment. There are references to past animal death.

Publisher’s Note: This book is related to the Ambrosia Hill series.

The Review

I absolutely loved this read! The author did an incredible job of crafting a unique story that could be read all on its own without missing a beat, and yet fits into the mythos and world that the author crafted in the first book in the Ambrosia Hill series, Amethyst. The way the author was able to build upon the magical background and history of this small town from the first book and highlight the more haunted and chilling atmosphere that the first book hinted at was great to read. The book fits perfectly into the YA genre, as the younger protagonists allowed younger readers to get a sense of connection while also paying homage to the most ancient process of magic itself.

The character growth was truly the heart of this novel once more. The author’s specialty in all of her works has to be creating beautiful characters that people will come to love, identify with, and feel for in their journey. The special bond between Serena and Jack was so relatable to me as an older brother. I loved the inclusion of LGBTQ storytelling and character development in this book, something the author touched upon in the first book. The connection the author made to characters from the first book and the way the town itself seemed to become its own character, as the hardships that befell the town for so long seemed to impact the townspeople themselves, very much reminding me of the townspeople in Stephen King’s It. 

The Verdict

Haunting, captivating, and entertaining, author Rebecca Henry’s “Conjuring Lake” is a must-read YA LGBTQ Paranormal and Fantasy Romance novel of 2022! The amazing amount of depth and emotion that the author pours into the narrative and the care for which these characters develop and evolve in their own right, from Jack’s desire to gain knowledge to Serena’s journey to gather her own power and strength to face life’s challenges, really mad me care as a reader for this world the author has crafted and made it feel truly magical in nature. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today! 

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Rebecca Henry is an American author living abroad in England. She is a devoted vegan who gardens, practices yoga, crafts, travels the world, and bakes. Rebecca’s favorite holiday is Halloween, and she is obsessed with anything and everything witchy! Besides writing fiction, Rebecca is also the author of her vegan holiday cookbook collection and green living lifestyle book. Her love for animals, baking with her family, having a plant-based diet, and cruelty-free, green lifestyle inspired her nonfiction novels. You can find all Rebecca’s books on Amazon.


Better Together by Christine Riccio Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two sisters separated as children switch lives not only to escape the stresses of their own lives, but to reconnect with the parent they never had a chance to know in author Christine Riccio’s “Better Together”.


The Synopsis

Freaky Friday meets The Parent Trap in this sparkling and heartfelt story about sisters, second chances, finding romance, and finding yourself.

Jamie’s an aspiring standup comic in Los Angeles with a growing case of stage anxiety.

Siri’s a stunning ballerina from New Jersey nursing a career-changing injury.

They’ve both signed up for the same session at an off the grid Re-Discover Yourself Retreat in Colorado. When they run into each other, their worlds turn upside down.

Jamie and Siri are sisters, torn apart at a young age by their parent’s volatile divorce. They’ve grown up living completely separate lives: Jamie with their Dad and Siri with their Mom. Now, reunited after over a decade apart, they hatch a plot to switch places. It’s time they get to know and confront each of their estranged parents.

With an accidental assist from some fortuitous magic, Jamie arrives in New Jersey, looking to all the world like Siri, and Siri steps off her flight sporting a Jamie glamour.

The sisters unexpectedly find themselves stuck living in each other’s shoes. Soon Siri’s crushing on Jamie’s best friend Dawn. Jamie’s falling for the handsome New Yorker she keeps running into, Zarar. Alongside a parade of hijinks and budding romance, both girls work to navigate their broken family life and the stresses of impending adulthood. 

The Review

This was the modern retelling of The Parent Trap that YA fans never knew they needed. A wonderful blend of classic twin-switching storytelling with more modern and emotionally driven character arcs that speak to many of the issues facing young adults these days. The author perfectly captures the raw pain and emotions between siblings, especially when faced with such heartbreaking circumstances as being separated from one another through a painful divorce or discovering one’s place in the world when you’ve felt incomplete for such a long time.

What really stood out to me in this book was the depth to which the author explored these characters. The concept of relationships was truly the key to this narrative, from the relationship each sister had with one another after all those years spent apart to the conflicted relationship they had with each of their parents, to the romantic moment each share with a new friend in their crisscrossed lives as the story progresses. The author does an incredible job of setting up just the right pace that highlights the rising emotional struggle these characters are forced to endure, and the theme of finding strength within the bonds of the family makes this story shine as the perfect summer YA read.

The Verdict

A masterful, emotionally-driven and engaging YA read, author Christine Riccio’s “Better Together” is a brilliant story and one of 2021’s “Best YA” contenders. With the balance of YA contemporary romance and a hint of magic, the story also has a wonderfully beautiful and heartfelt LGBTQ romance story that is the perfect read to begin PRIDE month. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Christine Riccio is the New York Times best selling author of Again, But Better. She’s been on a quest to encourage more humans to read since the third grade. No one really listened until she started making videos about books on Youtube in 2010. Now her channel PolandbananasBOOKS has over 400,000 book-loving subscribers. She makes comedic book reviews, vlogs, sketches, and writing videos chronicling the creation of her own novels. She’s also one of the three YouTubers behind BOOKSPLOSION- youtube’s longest running book club. Originally from New Jersey, Christine graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in Film and TV and now lives in Los Angeles, CA.



High School Queens (The High School Queens Trilogy #1) by Zachary Ryan Review


A group of young teens facing the last few months of their high school lives at an elite prep school discover a threat hiding in the shadows, threatening to expose the secret lives they are all leading in author Zachary Ryan’s novel “High School Queens”. Here is the synopsis. 

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The Synopsis 

They all thought they did a masterful job of keeping their secrets close to their chest. These stupid fools thought they were the high court of this kingdom, but they had no clue who was really pulling the strings. You might wonder to yourself, who would be that heartless to make them backstab their friends, expose other’s secrets, and lose their morals? You don’t need to know who I am, but you better remember my name, The Marked Queen.

Danielle, Andrew, Delilah, Aman, and Jasmine all are now faced with a mysterious villain whose one goal is to ruin each of their lives. They must protect their secrets at all cost, or they’ll be the next victim on Marked Day. They know what’s at stake, and they’ll stop at nothing to continue being: the rich spoiled girl, the normal teenager, the girl who isn’t banging the principal, the straight vlogger, and the girl who isn’t her dad’s punching bag. What happens when The Marked Queen changes up the game just in time for prom? Will each of our favorite puppets survive? Or are they willing to backstab each other just to keep up their personas? The only thing lost at this prom wasn’t going to be their virginity.

Sex, Lies, and High School Queens explores the major theme of self-acceptance. Can they learn to accept all their flaws or pray victim to The Marked Queen? Each chapter continues to fill your sweet tooth until the climactic moment at the prom where you get to have that final bite of the bitch cake you’ve been dying to consume.

The Review

 What a fun, dramatic and engaging read. The writing style was incredibly unique, as readers jumped from character to character in each chapter, with a personal narration of the character’s growing problems from the mysterious figures hiding in the shadows, waiting to expose each person’s secrets. 

From hiding their sexuality from the world and their families, to keeping their self-destructive tendencies to themselves and the lifestyles they find themselves forced to live in, each character has an intense and profound secret that defines their journey, and readers will watch not only as each character finds their rock bottom, but the lengths to which they will go to keep their secrets to themselves. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel for any LGBTQ Drama/Romance fans out there in the YA world. A powerful character study of the problems teens are faced with nowadays, the mystery of the Marked Queen and their plans for the elite members of the prep school play out like the high octane drama of the hit series Pretty Little Liars, with a bit less murder. Who is the Marked Queen, and what is his/her ultimate goal? Find out in author Zachary Ryan’s novel “High School Queens”, the first in the High School Queens saga, today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Zachary Ryan grew up in a black-and-white box in Maryland, before moving to Chicago to start a new life. There, he found that he was accepted for his misfit status—and learned that it’s perfectly normal to spend your twenties feeling lost and confused.

After a disastrous sexual encounter, Ryan stumbled on a group of true friends, or “soul cluster,” that he connected with. Through his writing, he hopes to help other broken souls out there find comfort amid the chaos.



Book Announcement: Freshman Hunt: A Nightmare Academy Novella by Anthony Avina Preorder

Hi there everyone. This is Author Anthony Avina. You know I share a lot of reviews, author interviews, blog tour posts and so much more on this website. Yet something I haven’t done a lot of that I need to start doing is sharing more of my own personal work. I am an indie author, and for the past few months I’ve been hard at work finishing the second novella in my YA series, Nightmare Academy. Today I am happy to announce that the book I’ve been working on nonstop is now available for preorder!

FRESHMAN HUNT Book Cover Professional Art

Cover Art by Mike Wehner http://www.mikewehner.com

That’s right, my book is now available. I had the good fortune of working with an incredible artist on the cover named Mike Wehner. He designed this amazing polygon art cover that is truly unique to the YA genre. I hope you guys like it. His work is truly amazing and you can find his work at his website! I will be making several more announcements in the weeks to come, including some giveaways, freebies, book trailer news and so much more. If anyone would be interested in a free copy of this ebook in exchange for a fair and honest review, email me using the contact page on this website! Feel free to share this online and sign up for my newsletter to get the latest news about this release. Expect the book to come out August 24th, 2018 on all online retailers!

Preorder Your Copy!

Select Young Adult Paperbacks: 3 for $20