Saturday, March 19, 2022

Review: So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens

So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Genre: Male/Male Young Adult Fantasy Romance 
So This Is Ever After cover
ISBN: 9781534496866
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Arek hadn’t thought much about what would happen after he completed the prophecy that said he was destined to save the Kingdom of Ere from its evil ruler. So now that he’s finally managed to (somewhat clumsily) behead the evil king (turns out magical swords yanked from bogs don’t come pre-sharpened), he and his rag-tag group of quest companions are at a bit of a loss for what to do next.

As a temporary safeguard, Arek’s best friend and mage, Matt, convinces him to assume the throne until the true heir can be rescued from her tower. Except that she’s dead. Now Arek is stuck as king, a role that comes with a magical catch: choose a spouse by your eighteenth birthday, or wither away into nothing.

With his eighteenth birthday only three months away, and only Matt in on the secret, Arek embarks on a desperate bid to find a spouse to save his life—starting with his quest companions. But his attempts at wooing his friends go painfully and hilariously wrong…until he discovers that love might have been in front of him all along.

So This Is Ever After is the most fun book I’ve read in a long time. It’s Dungeons & Dragons meets Merlin but with the most kind, beautiful (but sometimes clueless) teenagers as heroes. Author F.T. Lukens hooked me from page one and I devoured the book in one sitting. It’s a fast-paced, original, funny tale with a whole lot of heart.

What happens after you defeat the big bad? Well, that’s where our story begins. Arek and his band of adventurers defeat the Vile One in a fight scene that goes hilariously wrong (magical swords evidently don’t come pre-sharpened). After that, Arek is crowned interim king so that no one can claim the throne while they rescue the real heir to the throne. Except it turns out she’s dead…which means Arek is now king permanently. Going from peasant to prophesied hero to king in less than a year is more than enough to throw off the seventeen-year-old, but then he finds out that he has to soul bond with someone before he turns eighteen or he’ll die. Great. Arek has three months to find a soul mate, but the person he loves, his best friend and mage, Matt, doesn’t feel the same way…or does he?

Arek has a good heart, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. He has his blind spots but does his best nonetheless. After taking the throne, he does his very best to take care of everyone around him. His fellow adventurers, the bard Bethany, the rogue Lila, the knight Rion, and the warrior Sionna, are all well-crafted, endearing characters in their own right. Each has a distinct personality and they fit together as a made family like a dream. They never expected to become leaders, but they rise to the challenge, each using their own strengths to bring a scarred kingdom back to life. I loved their interactions with one another. Arek trying to secretly woo each of them was a comedy of errors, but I loved that it deepened the bonds between them and made them all more open with one another. And then there’s Matt. Matt is Arek’s best friend and the love of his life. Arek dreams of confessing his love to Matt but believes that his mage doesn’t feel the same. Of course, Lukens makes it clear from the start that these two are meant to be, but the course of true love never does run smooth. This is a best friends-to-lovers tale that earns the happily ever after.

So This Is Ever After is a gem. It’s sweet and funny and earnest; just thinking about the book makes me smile. The fantasy kingdom of Ere and its inhabitants were delightful, but it’s the core six characters that really make the book sing. And of course, the romance that made me smile and sigh. I adored this book from beginning to end and I cannot wait to read more of F.T. Lukens’s work!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.