Review: The Young Man's Guide to Love and Loyalty (Magic Emporium) by Clara Merrick

Loyalty is Lieutenant Owain Morgan’s watchword—loyalty to England’s Queen Elizabeth XII, to her daughter the Princess of Wales, and to the Royal Navy in which he serves. When his loyalty leads him into danger, an unseen something—or someone—lends a helping hand. Is he imagining it? Could it be a guardian angel? Or is it someone—or something—else?

Enter the intriguing Benjamin Fletcher. Owain knows that sharing a drink and a steamy afternoon together doesn’t have to mean anything, but Benjamin’s quiet charm works its way into his heart…. Until Benjamin turns up in the Earl of Essex’s retinue, that same Earl who, rumor says, is angling to marry the Princess of Wales and make her power his own.

Every encounter with Benjamin binds Owain’s heart more tightly to this enigmatic man yet tests his loyalty to Queen and Country. Will Owain be forced to choose between love and loyalty?

The Young Man’s Guide to Love and Loyalty is part of the Magic Emporium Series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This alternate history contains princesses, palaces, steam trains, fumbling lovers, and a guaranteed HEA.

This was an interesting take on European history retold in an alternate universe, all entwined with magic and the land of fairy.

Owain is a straight laced English naval officer, and when his captain confiscates much needed Spanish silver for the crown, he’s tasked with reporting the valuable intel to his command in London. Once he starts on his journey, strange happenings abound, and Owain soon finds himself in over his head.

Soon, Owain is embroiled into also aiding the royal princess unravel a possible conspiracy to overthrow the throne, and his eyes are slowly opened to the world around him. Things aren’t black and white, and treachery lurks around every corner. What also lurks is Ben, the mysterious man whom Owain had a blissful one night stand with, and it remains to be seen if Ben is a friend or a foe. Regardless, Owain can’t stop thinking about him and only hopes he’s on the right side.

For someone who is not very knowledgeable about European history, I felt this was an engaging spin on it. The concepts were smart and the variations were refreshing especially where women were often in traditionally male leadership roles of the highest order. There’s a lot going on in this which kept the pace fast, but in and amongst missions and investigations, the romantic development was not fully realized enough for me (though what we got was nicely smexy), nor was the mystery in its conclusion (I’m still scratching my head a bit).

This looks to be the debut of Clara Merrick, and it contains a great premise. This ends with a solid HFN and as with many of the stories in this loosely connected series, there’s plenty of wiggle room for sequels galore and this is definitely one of them. Overall, I’m confident that fans of historical romance will surely have a good time! Enjoy!

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