Prince Paurick is a hedonistic degenerate—or at least that’s what his father and the rest of the royal family thinks of him, and he’s happy to live down to their expectations. But when the crops of their kingdom start failing, the king commands that Paurick be joined to Brother Laurel, a monk, in order to combine Paurick’s royal magic with that of the Goddess, and thus bring fertility back to the land. The union is only meant to be temporary, but Brother Laurel is so ugly and prudish that it might as well be an eternity. However, as they get to know one another, Paurick realizes he has misjudged Laurel and finds himself falling for the thoughtful and sensitive young man. The fate of the kingdom relies on their sexual union, but as time goes on, it becomes clear that the fate of their hearts is in jeopardy as well.
This Regency inspired fantasy is a steamy read featuring a delightfully debauched prince and a repressed holy man who needs a little encouragement to embrace his sensual side. It is standalone and ends with an HEA.
- 1 To Be Read list
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Age Difference, Arranged Pairing, Class Differences, Enemies to Lovers, First Time, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Marriage of Convenience, May/December, Most Mindblowing Sex Ever, Opposites Attract
Word Count: 75000
Setting: alternate universe
Languages Available: English
With the room settled, Paurick turned his attention to himself. He decided on a dressing gown, rather than greeting him fully clothed. Undressing could be fun, but with Laurel’s nerves being the way they were, best to make the transition to the bed as smooth as possible. He wore his favorite red brocade gown, making sure it was tied low enough that his broad chest was just barely revealed. He got out his pomade and fussed with his chestnut-colored hair until he achieved the perfect wave. Once satisfied, he ate a spoonful of honey to make his breath sweet. He put a vial of his favorite oil in the pocked of the dressing gown, for easy access.
He had just finished his preparations when there was a knock on the door. He found Laurel standing there, dressed once more in the green acolyte robes. His expression was grim, but Paurick did not let that deter him.
“Good evening,” he said with his most charming smile. “I’m so glad you’re here. Please, come in.”
Laurel gave his customary reply—nothing at all. He entered the room swiftly, brushing past Paurick with hardly a second glance. Paurick muttered a brief prayer before shutting the door. Since this was all in service of the Goddess, surely She would offer him a little help.
Laurel stood in the middle of the room, frowning at everything. Paurick cleared his throat and gestured toward the sofa. “Why don’t you have a seat and join me for a glass of wine?” Paurick paused as something occurred to him. “You haven’t taken a vow of silence, have you?”
“Excellent,” Paurick said, relieved. “Then sit, please.”
Laurel did not move toward the sofa. “Is there somewhere I can disrobe?”
Paurick blinked. This was moving along more rapidly than he had anticipated. “Certainly. There’s a dressing screen to your left there.”
As Laurel got undressed, Paurick settled on the sofa and poured them both a glass of wine. Laurel emerged soon afterward, dressed in a strange garment. It was like a nightgown, except that the sleeves were long and snug, and it had a button collar that was done up all the way up. It was not the most erotic of garments, but that did not dissuade Paurick. He patted the sofa beside him. “Come, sit. Have a drink.”
“No, thank you.” Laurel headed for the bed and got in under the covers. “Could you put out the candles?”
Paurick frowned. This was not going as planned, but if Laurel wanted to jump right into it, he supposed that he could accommodate him. Perhaps it was best to get their first time over with—it would take the edge off the situation. After all, they had several months together. He snapped his fingers, extinguishing half of candles, before approaching the bed. “Is that better?”
“I meant all of them.”
“But if I put them all out, how am I to see you?”
“I thought seeing me wasn’t something you would want,” he said stiffly.
Ah. So he was still hung up on that. Paurick sat at the edge of the bed. “I know we got off to a somewhat rocky start, and for that, I apologize. You have to understand that I was taken quite by surprise with the whole situation.” He leaned down, only a breath away now. “I am more than happy to have you in my bed.” He went in for a kiss.
And was shoved backward. “No kissing,” Laurel snapped.
Paurick blinked at him in surprise. “What?”
“No kissing, no touching, other than what is strictly necessary. You might be happy to have me in your bed, but the feeling is not mutual. I am not here for pleasure. I am here in service to the Goddess and to the people. So spare me your seduction. Put out the candles and do your duty.”
It was a truly shriveling outburst. Paurick gritted his teeth. He had promised himself he’d be patient, but this was really testing his resolve. With a snap of his fingers, the candles all went out. He removed his dressing gown, taking care first to remove the vial of oil from its pocket, and hung it on the bedpost. Then he got into bed.
But once he was there, he had no idea what on the Goddess’s green earth he was supposed to do. No kissing—he could understand that much. But what constituted “necessary” touching?
Paurick gave his own cock a few strokes, attempting to coax himself into arousal but was only half successful. He coated his fingers with some of the oil from his vial and slipped his hands under Laurel’s garment. His skin was clammy to the touch. Paurick caressed his thighs before moving upward, brushing a hand over his flaccid prick—
Laurel jerked away. “I said no touching!”
“Well, I’m going to have to do some touching,” Paurick snapped in exasperation. “I can’t just shove my prick in you with no preparation.”
Laurel was quiet for a moment. “All right,” he finally said. “Just don’t-don’t touch me…there. Just where you need to.”
When Paurick resumed, Laurel was shaking. Paurick pulled back and rubbed his face. This wasn’t going to work. His prick had completely wilted; he had never felt less aroused in his entire life. With a snap of his fingers, the candles lit again.
Laurel, whose eyes had been screwed shut, gradually blinked them open. “Why did you stop?”
“We need to talk.” Paurick grabbed his dressing gown and stood. “Come on, get out of bed. Let’s go sit on the sofa, and I’m afraid I must insist this time.”
Once they were both settled on the sofa, Paurick picked up the wine glasses. “Are you sure you don’t want some?”
He shook his head. Paurick downed his glass, and Laurel’s too. He rubbed his face again before speaking. “Are you here of your own free will, or have you been coerced?”
Laurel worried the hem of his garment. “No. I mean, yes, I agreed to this. No coercion.”
“Are you certain?”
“Yes. I volunteered.”
That surprised Paurick, considering how unhappy he clearly was. “You volunteered? Why?”
“Because my connection with the Goddess is among the strongest anyone’s seen in a century,” he said. “The high priestess herself said so. How could I say no when such a small sacrifice will save so many lives?”
“A noble sentiment,” Paurick conceded. “But it seems to me that it is not such a small sacrifice for you. You’re terrified.”
“I am not,” Laurel said, some of that earlier ferocity back in his voice. Paurick was glad. It was certainly more appealing than the frightened fawn demeanor. “I have pledged myself to the Goddess to do Her work on this earth. I will endure whatever I must to end the famine.”
Paurick felt a headache coming on. He poured himself another glass of wine. “That’s all very well for you, but I’m afraid I won’t be up for such an arrangement, if you catch my meaning.”
Laurel’s cheeks flushed. He bowed his head. “All right. You can kiss me if you need to.”
Paurick considered him. “No, I don’t think so.”
Laurel looked up, confusion in his eyes. “Then what must I do?”
“Nothing for tonight.” Paurick stood. “I’m going to bed.” He made his way to the bed without looking to see if Laurel was following.
Paurick took off his robe and got in under the covers. With a snap of his fingers, the candles extinguished, leaving the room only dimly lit by the fireplace. After a few minutes, Laurel joined him.
When several more minutes had passed with Paurick saying nothing, Laurel spoke up. “I’m ready,” he said, his voice shaky.
“No, you aren’t. And that’s the issue. I’m not touching you until you are comfortable with this.”
“But I am!” Laurel protested.
Quick as lighting, Paurick rolled onto Laurel, supporting himself with his arms on either side of Laurel as he loomed over him. Laurel cried out in surprise and flinched. Paurick looked down at him grimly. “That’s what I thought.” He moved off of him and lay down on his side, with his back to Laurel.
“I’m sorry! I’ll do whatever you want—”
“What I want is to get some sleep. I suggest you do the same.”
“So that’s it then?” Laurel’s voice raised in outrage. “You’re just going to abandon your duties and let all those people starve?”
“I doubt very much that we will end the famine in one night. It can wait.”
Silence fell between them. Paurick thought that would be the end of it, but then Laurel spoke again. “Everything I’ve heard about you is true. You care nothing for duty— the only thing that matters to you is your own pleasure!”
Paurick wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. Was it a genuine outburst of temper or an attempt to goad him? He rolled onto him again, taking a wrist in each hand. Laurel didn’t flinch this time; he glared up at him, his face flushed again and his jaw clenched tight, his chest heaving. Interesting. Paurick made a mental note of his reaction.
“I am your prince,” Paurick growled. “And you would do well to remember that before you speak in such a manner to me again. And if you think you can shame me into doing what you want, you’d best think again. It doesn’t work when my brother does it, and he’s the crown prince. It certainly won’t work coming from you.” Paurick released him. “Now go to sleep, or get out. I don’t care which.”
Paurick rolled over and shut his eyes. Laurel remained where he was for a few long moments, but then he got out of bed and made his way to the sofa. Which was fine with Paurick. Goodness, what a mess. But it was a mess that could wait until morning.COLLAPSE