When his family is massacred, Prince Raphael d’Alleven barely escapes with his life. Forced on the run, he’s exhausted, hungry and in pure terror while trying to get himself off world to get help from the Coalition of Worlds but with dozens of mercenaries looking for him, it’s almost impossible. Lucky for him, he runs into Hadrian Ice, the Augustus Regnant to the Hell’s Gate Clan Hellstorm, a world that creates genetically enhanced soldiers. With Hadrian’s help, Raphael can finally get off world and do something about the Pretenders taking over his rightful position. With so many roadblocks in their way and so many people looking to kill them, will Raphael be able to reclaim his throne or will everything he’s going through be for nothing?
First I want to say that I really loved this story. I was simply captivated by the world that the author created. It’s complex but at the same time simple and, for me, easy to follow. I liked that there were so many different worlds out there with different levels of advancement and especially that we got to see them. The scenarios that Hadrian and Raphael got themselves into, kept my attention throughout the whole book and I loved the fact that we got to see it all. I also liked the fact that we got to see most of the fights they were forced into.
As to the characters, Raphael is definitely a mystery. At first, I thought he was this weak, spoiled prince who didn’t know how to do anything besides run. Over the course of the book, you slowly start to see his true self, what he’s been trained to do, how strong he is both inside and out and ultimately how much he develops character-wise while still maintaining his good heart. It was definitely something I enjoyed to see unfold over the whole story. I liked seeing how much Raphael affected Ice but also seeing how Ice handled things. I found the fact that he was this super soldier simply fascinating; he’s complex but has a sense of honor that I really liked knowing about. More than that, I loved seeing the development between Raphael and Ice and how they got themselves out of some situations that I thought for sure was the end for them. It was sometimes funny, sometimes sad but always held my attention.
My only issue with the story was that there was a bit too much sex for my liking but I still have a few unanswered questions such as what exactly do the marks on Ice’s face mean? But more than that, I wish we had learned more about Ice’s culture and his people. There are some references to it and we do get to see more of his people but Raphael’s culture definitely outshined Ice’s so I was constantly left curious about Hell’s Gate. Did Ice still have parents? How does being the Augustus work? It would be awesome to get deeper into the Hells Gate world so I’m hoping there might be a sequel one day that would let us experience more of this world especially since I think it would be great to see Ice and Raphael after everything has settled down, where they decide to live and to explore more of Raphael’s abilities.
All in all, this was a great book. I adored the world but I also loved the characters. It had a good amount of suspense, action, romance and the world to make this an interesting one and combined with the well-written story it turned out to be a very well done book. I hope there’s more to come of characters in this world because I’d love to explore it more in the future!