Review: The Castaway Prince by Isabelle Adler

Ostracized by his family for his sexual identity, Prince Stephan is forced to flee his homeland before his older brother ascends the throne.

Stephan has been drawn to feminine things for as long as he can remember, so when the dire need for secrecy arises, he seizes the chance to don the perfect disguise. With the help of his loyal servant, Stephan picks his way through hostile territory, hiding his identity by posing as a woman. His only hope for asylum lies with the man who had been his friend and lover three years ago. But when that man also happens to be the crown prince of a rival country, things are a bit more complicated.

With war looming on the horizon, the danger of discovery grows by the moment. With all odds stacked against him, will Stephan find a safe place where he can be his true self, or is he doomed to remain a castaway?

I can't even believe I'm about to say this with the current state of my TBR but I wish this were longer. This was a little amuse-bouche that left me wanting more.

"The Castaway Prince" is a fantasy story involving Stephan, prince of Seveihar and his manservant, Warren. Stephan has fled his homeland with Warren and they are seeking asylum in Esnia. He had a brief affair with Prince Arlen of Esnia a few years ago and is hoping that will work to his advantage and curry favor with him. However their tryst precipitated a rift between the kingdoms that is reaching a boiling point and Stephan's brother is a bit of a warmonger.

For such a short story there's a decent amount of worldbuilding and I thoroughly enjoyed Adler's writing style. Very quickly she established a very distinct atmosphere with her language usage that left me wanting more. Stephan's character was also relatively well developed with a smattering of backstory.

Stephan is androgynous, likes to dress as a female and can easily pass as such. 

It doesn't seem like his family abused him but rather ignored him which is a hell all its own. He does at one point contemplate suicide so if you're easily triggered, you may want to exercise caution when reading this.

My affinity for androgyny and crossdressing is what drew me to this story in the first place and I really liked Warren's acceptance of Stephan without censure. They have good banter even with the class difference, but I wish their camaraderie had more time to grow and stretch its wings, more together on page time would've gone a long way in convincing me of their HEA. As it stands, the ending felt rushed and unnatural, but it was sweet and I liked that quite a lot.

It goes without saying that I'd read a follow up to this story but I'd also read something else by this author, though I'd probably aim for something longer.

Recommend to fantasy fans who are looking for a quick and sweet diversion.

A review copy was provided.

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