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In Allegiance

by Kate Islay

Mathias commands the Cortesian army, but what he most longs for is home. When his king gifts him with a slave from a conquered princedom, Mathias is intrigued—even as he resists the king’s machinations. But Reve soon tests Mathias’s allegiance and his heart.

Once the son of a prince, now a slave in a foreign land, Reve has few allies in his goal to protect his younger brother from the king. He’s forced to navigate the treacherousness of Cortesa and his own conflicted feelings for his captor. Faced with what he most wants, Reve has to make a choice—and Mathias has to make his. An empire stands against them, but Mathias’s loyalty to the king may be too much for Reve to conquer.

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By the line of his shoulders, the man was bound. He looked up when Mathias entered the room. Blue eyes, Mathias saw, when he crouched in front of him, framed by a northerner’s pale skin and a mass of reddish brown hair matted with sweat and dried blood. Young, perhaps not yet twenty. Handsome, even with his eyes full of hate and well-formed mouth thinned by pain and anger.

Arturus’s gifts had never been simple.

“Are you injured?” The prisoner tried to pull back when Mathias put his hands on his shoulder and ribs; Mathias tightened his grip until he stilled. “What’s your name?” he asked, though he had a good idea. The insignia on his overtunic marked him as a member of the house of Allard. He had the same slight arch to his nose as his father. “If I untie you, will you behave?”

Voice hoarse from the battlefield, his northern accent thickening the words, the prisoner said, “If you untie me, I’m honor bound to kill you.”


Mathias outweighed him by two stone or more. With the guards outside the door, he had to know any attempt of his would be pointless.

“Honor won’t help your situation.” The gaze didn’t waver. Mathias sighed and shifted up, turning to the guards. “Are there any servants left? I need bathwater brought up.”

“Aye, sir. I’ll track some down.”

He felt the prisoner’s eyes on him as he went through the archway to the bedroom. Tauro had left clean clothing on top of the bed. Mathias had already shed his armor at the camp, but it was good to be free of the rest of it, the cloth and leather stiff with mud and sweat and blood.

A pair of servants arrived with the tub. Mathias leaned in the archway and watched as the near one hesitated, her eyes widening.

“Your Highness?”

“It’s all right, Mara. Are you hurt?”

“No, Your Highness. Your father—”

Mathias stepped forward. “Leave it in front of the fire.”

Mara fumbled her end. “Yes, my lord,” she said, eyes averted as she lowered her end of the tub. Neither servant looked at the prince again as they filled the tub with water heated at the fire.

So his guess had been correct. Reve of the house Allard, the second of Allard’s three sons. Reve had been named in the conditions of Allard’s surrender, though not for this. Mathias wondered how much the Prince of Salenne had known of Arturus’s designs when he’d stared at Mathias so intently at the feast.

Reviews:Sue on Joyfully Jay wrote:

In Allegiance was an amazing read, with two fantastic main characters and an equally strong cast of supporting players. The plot plays out with a sense of realism and emotive weight that I found thoroughly satisfying. There are no easy choices for Mathias and Reve and as readers it is hard to watch our heroes struggle to find even a measure of the happiness they deserve. But their journey is made more memorable by the realities of the world in which they live. If you enjoyed the Captive Prince series or just want to read a great book with an addictive plot, you will definitely want to grab In Allegiance.

Vivian on Hearts on Fire Reviews wrote:

Engaging military read with machinations and questioned loyalties. More fluid than the original work and more romantic, it comes full circle. The Roman Empire, Julius Caesar tone definitely works well as you get see the powers at play in Cortesa.

Overall, a civilized warlord/slave story that plays political chess.

Rachel on A Romantic Notion wrote:

Revolving around the central theme of choices – and the freedom to make them no matter how confined your circumstance in life may be, Islay provides fully fleshed out main as well as tertiary characters that are laid out on a political game board. Everyone hides their intentions while playing their roles. At the center is Mathias, Commander of the Cortesian Army and Reve, a prince conquered and gifted as a pleasure slave to Mathias by the Cortesian King. For me, Mathias is the star of the show. He does not embrace the snake pit atmosphere of the royal court, but he knows how to play the game. Unwilling to engage in court antics, but adept at deflecting them. However, as the empire expands the game begins to change and his loyalty to the king is challenged by his loyalty to the people and to make matters more complicated for him, he must solve the mystery of a rebellion brewing in the North and a growing attraction to his newly acquired northern slave prince. He navigates the field with a level head, a composed façade and a sharp mind.

Reve struggles with his new submissive role, the fact that his father bargained his life as a political pawn and his reluctant admiration of Mathias. Brash, prideful, but aware of his faults and frustrated by his change in circumstances, Reve vacillates between playing his subservient role (and begrudgingly acknowledging the leniency he is given by Mathias) and clinging to his pride. He emerges as an unwitting player on the board who, despite his status as a slave, is in essence seen as a powerful threat by the empire or an asset to oppose it. He comes to realize he must trust someone, if not himself to choose wisely.

There is a lot of plotting in this story. So much so that I hesitate to toss it in the category of “M/M Romance”, but if anything it features a love story between two men that is as understated as it is integral to the plot. I dare describe it as a well contrived historical AU centered around political machinations with a number of wild card players on the fringe, a mystery circling it’s center and at it’s core - every possible outcome for all involved hinges on whether Mathias and Reve’s affection is merely duty bound or more. A number of chapters even feature Mathias and Reve apart, but Islay keeps their dynamic and influence on the unfolding story remaining as they try to calculate each other’s motives and moves from a distance, clinging to the hope they haven’t misjudged or misplaced their trust.

Recommended to readers who enjoy a well crafted story to accompany their romance.

Chelsea on Boy Meets Boy Reviews wrote:

Seeing both Reve and Mathias’ POV was what made this book so much more enthralling and complicated. Mathias’ loyalty to his king and country made so much sense and I could see where he was coming from, but at the same time we saw Reve’s hurt and how much the war had affected him and his kin. I had no idea how this would end or what would happen to any of the characters in the meantime.

My nerves slowly but surely increased as the King of Cortesa’s motivations become more dubious and conspiracies started coming from all angles. I was so scared for Reve and his little brother. I ached for Mathias as he started to fall in love with Reve and felt weight of his loyalty starting to divide.

Goodness, this book was brilliantly written. Despite all the different names and places I never felt lost. In a story this intricate and with this many characters, this takes a lot of talent!

About the Author

Kate Islay has a PhD in American religious history and has taught it and western religious history. She reads and writes m/m romance after years of writing fanfiction. She currently works as a freelance writer in Baltimore.