Tag Team Review: Victory Portrait (Pride of Uttor #4) by Tali Spencer

Imperial captive and former Sebboyan prince Peta Kordeun has one great wish: to meet Darius Arrento, conqueror of his country and a man he has idolized since childhood. That wish comes true the day the Uttoran emperor assigns Peta to assist the artist who will be painting the great general’s official portrait.

General Darius Arrento would rather take a crossbow bolt through his flesh than sit for a portrait, until his friend the emperor forces his hand. The notorious artist, Brazzi, uses semen and other sexual fluids to bind his colors—and Arrento is captivated by the artist’s pretty helper. Before long he is driven to possess the gorgeous young man who draws battle maps and whose na├»ve charm has won more hearts in Uttor than Arrento has won battles.

When Arrento learns that Peta, the slave he covets and wants for his own, is one of the despised Kordeun princes, he storms from Uttor toward a far corner of the empire—where he quickly finds himself embroiled in a plot to tear Uttor’s empire apart. His emotions and loyalties frayed, the great Arrento is in the battle of his life…and Peta may hold the key to his survival.


Combined and Averaged = 4.125 Hearts from the both of us


Ann/Peachy - 4.5 Hearts

There were so many things for me to love about this book. Tali Spencer does an amazing job of world building in a really organic way. I don’t feel like I need a schematic and a flashlight to figure out where I am and who is attached to, fighting or fucking whom. It just happens and I can enjoy all the nuances without taxing my brain or reversing and rereading to figure out WTF is going on. And there are a lot of great little nuances and golden sentences that I really love to read. Sentences like;
“That statement begged to be turned inside out and made to reveal its bones.”
So much impact for one little sentence. I really appreciated the flow of the language throughout and it fit the whole feel of Victory Portrait perfectly.

The first half of the book is incredibly erotic and full of deliciously exhibitionistic foreplay. There was plenty of information as to why Peta was in the social state he was in and why he was completely fine with sharing his fluids for Brazzi’s masterpiece of his hero Arrento. The whole thing was an interesting take on slave life in Uttor and how conquered royalty fit into the society. And, while I like slave fic just as much as the next Unicorn, I was glad Peta’s status played out like it did. He was, “the least enslaved slave that ever lived.” Given that these two didn’t know one another but admired greatly the bits they did, any kind of complete master/slave thing would have felt out of balance to me for the later relationship that starts to come together for them. The off balance social structure between captured royalty and the lower classes kept it all in balance in the end.

So, anyway, about the foreplay. Damn, that was fun. A sexually frustrated Arrento is a beautiful thing. A hard and horny Peta is even better. I really dug on the effect Peta had on Arrento and how flattered Arrento was by Peta’s reaction to him. I loved how Peta knew what he wanted and had no issues with going after Arrento in what could possibly be his only chance to get with his hero. He wasn’t about to let the chance get away from him and his incredibly leaky dick. Good on you Peta!
The second half of the book gave the characters the depth they needed to get me to believe there really could be something between them in the long run. Arrento didn’t easily let go of his feelings towards Peta’s family and understandably so. But, it’s a good thing he has a wise Emperor as a BFF in Gaspar. I love that guy. I was pretty enamored of all the secondary characters and they made me want to read the rest in the series. While this book is #4, it’s the first that I’ve read and I had no trouble keeping up considering all the backstory. And, like I said, this one really just made me want to devour the rest, especially Book 2, Dangerous Beauty, I need to know Endre’s story. And books 1 and 3 too. I basically need to know all the things now.

My only niggle was that I needed a little bit more balance between the erotic flavor of the first half and the more technical taste of the second half. The first half was all about the setup between Peta and Arrento, it was flirty, filthy and emotional. The second half was more focused on the whole of Uttor along with the politics and war that had been looming throughout. All of which I found very interesting and I absolutely loved the letters that Peta and Arrento exchanged. There isn’t much more romantic than evolving love letters. The HEA came along in a realistic and reasonable way considering Peta started the book as a slave. I really just wanted a detailed final consummation scene for them. And not just because I love gratuitous boning, because I do, but because I wanted to read about them coming together with their new statuses, without the labels attached to them like they were before. Peta was finally more than just a beautiful boy and Arrento was more than just a war hero.

Of all the great words, sentences and pearls of wisdom, I really loved this conversation between Gaspar and Arrento:

Hearts can overrule cocks, you know . . . except when the two join forces and then a man is lost forever. Be careful with your heart if ever it and your cock should meet and be both enraptured by a smile.

Arrento was completed enraptured by a smile from a beautiful boy in the end and I loved the journey they took to get there.

SheReadsALot - 3.75 Hearts

Art can be sexy.

Painting?


Sexy.

In Victory Portrait, the fourth standalone in the Pride of Uttor series, painting is very sexy.

How much? Fresh semen needed to add into the paint sexy.
Lusting for what seems like ages and finally getting to pound your the object of your desire into next week...with an audience kind of sexy.

"You dream about this, don't you? About taking cock inside you, of becoming one creature, one perfect holy creature, with the man who's fucking you--"
"God help me--"
"He already has."

In this new to me series, Tali Spencer has created a fantasy based world (no magic) filled with intrigue, captives, war, lust, family drama, backstabbing, maps and hero worship that turns into something more. Prince Peta's Sebboyan royal family was captured due to his tyrant king of a father and evil eldest brother by the empire of Uttor. He and his family are Uttoran imperial captives, slaves but due to their ranking they're the least slaved as a slave could get. It's a tricky situation and the author did a great job trying to show the balance. Peta has crushed on the great Uttoran general Sar Darius Arrento for years. The beautiful youth gets his wish to meet the older man who had a hand putting him into captivity as a notorious artist's assistant. Peta has to strip naked , have his semen collected to paint a specially commissioned painting of the general. Let's just say the sexual tension was sticky...



The story isn't only hot sex (though Arrento/Peta do give lava hot screen time), there is a political/double-crossing war antics. Potential triggers: off page rape of a secondary character. I'd say the second half focuses more on war and a suspense-ish secondary plot that introduces mythology and attempted crimes in an interesting mix.

"He was a lion, and he wanted another lion. He didn't have the patience to deal with snakes."

Thankfully, the story is told in alternating POV, I got a great sense of both men without it getting too deep. That was a great aspect of this story it would broach serious topics - captivity, being an orphan, coming from a religious/homophobic background and the story didn't get ugly. There was ample explanation for the author to get their point across.The main characters from the previous books were secondary characters in Victory Portrait and gave follow up/ a prequel to the couples. A lot happens in this 80K+ story.

The story's strongest point? The setting. This world the author created seemed very real, very lived in. There were a lot of side characters and mythology and different lands in this world, at some points it read like the never-ending story, since we kept reading about yet another land embattled with the mighty Uttor empire. Sometimes a new character and their purpose would go right over my head. But I was able to grasp the main plot points and follow along with the central theme without being lost.

The main couple added the needed spice to carry this story along. Reading Arrento's struggle with wanting to bed his emperor's slave was endearing. Arrento wasn't all unicorns and rainbows though. He stormed off but thankfully didn't have a major meltdown because he listened sooner than later. There was a separation period and lasted months, maybe a year? The way the men courted each other was sweet. The sexy first half isn't recaptured in the second half. It's more about the whodunit plot with a romantic background.

"Is that cock of yours still talking? Didn't you vow to Chasca to stop listening to it?"
"After that boy in Dalmeri and barely escaping with my skin intact? My cock has gotten wiser since then."
"Cocks don't get wise," Gaspar said. "Their masters get wise enough to overrule them."

I have to talk a little about the artist Brazzi and his wild and crazy way of needing semen to create his art. He helped bring some comedic relief. And a little CBT. ;D


I was happy with the ending, wouldn't have minded a little bit more on the reunion. I did have a few questions - what happened with Imre? what will become of Adora's child? I didn't have to read the previous books but I really want to now. I was fully immersed in this world and was sad to leave it by the end.

Arrento and Peta remained true to themselves and didn't change, even if they started with a little subterfuge enemies to lovers. I liked that they explained themselves once the hidden identity was revealed. And Peta wasn't a lovesick, puppy dog following his crush for scraps. He was his own man just in every sense as Arrento did. Great couple. Totally think they'll last.

Recommended for fantasy lovers who like erotic scenes, war/political intrigue and some fun times.

Check out on Goodreads!

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for the lovely review! :D I'm so happy you got to meet and love the men of Uttor. As for Imre, he will be getting his own book if the publisher is willing. I hope so!

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    1. Imre is getting his own book? >:) I can't wait to see what he'll do.

      SRAL

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