Review: Prick of the Thistle (Heartwood #1) by Qeturah Edeli

Despite Lord Duncan Friseal's surly disposition, William finds the heir to the wealthy highland thanedom of Faoltaigh irresistible. After Lord Friseal saves William from a fate worse than death, William grows obsessed with his penetrating fuck-or-kill gaze and aches to discover what lies beneath his great kilt. Lord Friseal appears ignorant of William’s affections, but no matter; William has dealt with his fair share of capricious men and it will be only a matter of time before Lord Friseal succumbs and gives him what he craves.

Lord Friseal realizes too late how dangerously attracted to William he is. He cannot resist the temptation of a man who knows exactly what he wants and where he wants it. Constrained by his station, clan, and religion, Lord Friseal must decide if his passion for a sensuous but traumatized Englishman is worth risking his family’s future and the fate of his immortal soul. Circumstances continue to thwart his swelling sentimentality as William proves to be emotionally distant for all his sexual appetite, and Lord Friseal’s intrusive houseguest, Moira MacKenzie, draws ever closer to the truth.

Set in 1500's Scotland, debut novel Prick of the Thistle aims to deliver a QUILTBAG inclusive cast of characters. Lord Duncan Friesal is a redheaded widower who is lonely and still quietly grieves his wife, though five years has passed. He finds William, the part Gypcian epileptic traveling thespian half dead n his land. Is he a spy, this darker skinned androgynous man? Instead of leaving the slight man out in the harsh weather to die, he takes him into his castle.

Thus begins a long process, of William being kept as a house guest when his Duncan's family determines the "beautiful" William is English and shouldn't be trusted until verified. William sees the hulking ginger and all he thinks about is riding that "cock" if the Lord would just fall for his charms. Other men have, and he sees Duncan a fun way to pass time until he can return to his troupe of performers.

I don't think there is anyone more who wanted this to be a slam dunk more than me.

A Scottish ginger lord who wears kilts and slays beasts with his bow and arrow? Or an MC who is a minority with a disability and gets a starring role? Books like this don't come around too often. And there was a lot of detail with the setting that went into it. But this book had too many words to get a point across. It made it a chore to read. A kilt fail. (Two words I never thought to put together ever)

Where are the missteps? All over. I can't pinpoint the start.

The book could have kept the length if the story was written effectively. And sadly, I couldn't help but compare it to other QUILTBAG historical I've read in the past that were better written and tackled inclusiveness with ease.

If you're a stickler for accurate dialogue to match the setting in your historical, you will disappointed as the words read very modern. (I don't mind it much if the story is rocking)

The writing read like a textbook a lot of times. If you make it past the first chapter, you can get a sense of the writing style. It's not for everyone, as it takes a while to get to the point, explains a lot of nothing that adds an underwhelming impact to the story. It doesn't improve as the dual POV novel progresses. Instead of focusing on the main characters to get a better sense of where their heads are at (the head hopping and wishy-washy way they declare their actions didn't make me want more.) There are a cast of characters that ruin the flow of the book's potential. Examples like learning about poisonous berries (that are not used in the story or plot) or the setting (how a hall looks or a field) or subjects like physics, trigonometry and philosophy.

Guess what my 3 least favorite school subjects are? Physics, philosophy and trigonometry.

It was like a 3 for 1 special on my one way trip to Snoozeville. (This is a me thing and not counted in my rating)

So in between all of the writing, the main characters go from strangers to house guests to one being cock-hungry and the other trying to befriend the other "beautiful" and almost 'womanly' Brit. Once it gets past the slow going first half, it jumps awkwardly into a first time sex scene that read even more awkward that the dialogue. Duncan is exploring his bisexuality? I question because the story ends with a soft cliffhanger and I barely grasped what was going on. Duncan has never been attracted to a man but William's attractiveness helps him unleash his secret feelings. *side eyes*

The fact that William is cock hungry and doesn't deviate too far from that characteristic or seems to grow in overabundant written words, came off as lackluster. I don't mind cock crazed characters either, but he was written so passively that the confident thoughts and no action made the read uneven for me.

The writing style however, is too saturated on the smaller things. And if you take it away - you truly don't get a steady sense of either main character. Yes, this is a first book in a series that seems to plan to follow the "couple"in future books. It's not really romantic and ends HFN-ish. No romance, no established couple, no sense of positive growth. The foundation is lacking. The last third read rushed to drama with a shrew of a forced fiance and a handsy lesbian who knows keeping her sexuality a secret is dire for her well being but somehow she's blabbing to everyone. And there's an attempted rape but it starts oddly as this character did a 180 from how he was written for the other 90% from the book. It read like unnecessary drama.

I'm not buying it.

And though I can see the effort put into the text and there were a few good moments, I can't recommend this. Unless you like going through every thought, tree, berry, subject and not really knowing much of the characters at the end. I highly suggest reading a sample before attempting Prick of the Thistle.

Maybe as this author continues writing, the style will get stronger. Maybe I would need to read the next story to get a better grasp of the plot arc. But after reading this textbook-like story and finishing with a huge WTF feeling, count me out.

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