Bramble. Oct. 2024. 384p. ISBN 9781250341624. $28.99. FANTASY
Mattinesh Jay is heir to his family’s wool-production business, but the last 10 years of declining profits and bad luck mean that he must marry someone whose dowry can keep them going. Knowing that his arranged marriage might be challenged by others, Matti must hire a fierce swordsman to protect him at the altar. Unfortunately, the best he can afford is the con artist Luca Piere. Luca is running from his home and his past, but his money schemes lead to his being blackmailed into teaching Matti sword fighting. Their mutual attraction for each other brings them both down a path of discovering the secrets to Matti’s family business woes and the secrets Luca keeps trying to hide. The revelations will either bring the men closer or destroy everything they have uncovered, both political and personal.
VERDICT Marske’s (A Power Unbound) latest may seem low-stakes, but the romantic tropes are delightful, the worldbuilding is vivid, and the cast of characters all lend a hand in creating a cozy fantasy with heat and heart.
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