I’m always willing to give weird genre mash-ups a shot, so this book ending up on my TBR isn’t a surprise. It features a shockingly unexpected opening that sets up the main conflict while also doing a decent bit of worldbuilding, which hooked me pretty much instantly. I also thoroughly enjoyed main characters Caspian and Saphir, along with the diverse supporting cast, which kept me engaged even when some of the worldbuilding elements started to fall apart for me and created more questions than answers.
The Regency-style comedy of errors aspect of this premise leads to the initial connection between Caspian and Saphir, who are more interested in pursuing their objectives concerning the external plot than in any sort of actual relationship. Their first hookup is pretty much a reaction to chemistry and opportunity, and the subsequent forced proximity leads to the later development of affection. While I enjoyed the interplay of how they were forced to work almost to cross purposes at times, I did have some difficulty with the contrived nature of their circumstances. The king could have easily streamlined the process in pursuit of his goals, but then I suppose we’d miss out on all the drama that led to the requisite dark moment of the book.
Overall, this was a story of ups and downs for me. Caspian and Saphir felt more natural as a couple when the authors weren’t trying so hard, such as during the painfully excessive flirting during the action-packed finale. On the other hand, I’m still intrigued by this world and look forward to seeing what comes next. Though this book does not end on a cliffhanger, per se, the overall mystery is far from solved, and Cochet and Blake leave us with a fantastic hook regarding the next couple we’ll read about.