Title: Tournament of Losers
Author: Megan Derr
Series: – –
Genre: M/M Fantasy
Length: Short novel
All Rath wants is a quiet, peaceful life. Unfortunately, his father brings him too much trouble—and too many debts to pay—for that to ever be possible. When the local crime lord drags Rath out of bed and tells him he has three days to pay his father’s latest debt, Rath doesn’t know what to do. There’s no way to come up with so much money in so little time.
Then a friend poses an idea just ridiculous enough to work: enter the Tournament of Losers, where every seventy-five years, peasants compete for the chance to marry into the noble and royal houses. All competitors are given a stipend to live on for the duration of the tournament—funds enough to cover his father’s debt.
All he has to do is win the first few rounds, collect his stipend, and then it’s back to trying to live a quiet life…
Source: ARC from Less Than Three Press via NetGalley
This book was pure enjoyment. Right from the start I loved it. The fantasy world is well-crafted and interesting and Rath is a great main character. Sure, I could see where the romance was going from a long way out, but it was cute and fluffy on that side, while everything concerning the Tournament and the city injected a deeper vein of social commentary that stopped it from becoming too light.
I loved Rath. He’s a dock-worker and mostly-retired prostitute who loves his mother and, even though he can’t stand the man, is willing to pay off his father’s debts rather than see the man killed. He’s loyal to his friends, has a great sense of humour and is curiously attracted to a pretty nobleman who keeps following him around like a puppy. He’s a good guy, brought up rough, but made smarter and stronger for it. I really liked that his prostitute background is never anything to be ashamed of. It’s neither demonised nor glamourised, it was just something he did because it paid well and they taught him how to read and write. Likewise he goes back when he needs the money, but it doesn’t define who he is.
Then there’s Tress, his pretty, well-born lover, who adores Rath and spoils him whenever he can. He’s sweet and a touch idealistic, but the pair of them together are adorable.
As for the Tournament, which is designed to find commoners worthy of marrying into the nobility, well, to say Rath is less than enthused about taking part would be an understatement. He does it for the money, but I loved how despite the dangers and his own contempt of the whole process, he also can’t help but compete. Even when he’s trying to get out of it. Yes, it’s obvious where it’s all going, but it’s also fun and it was great to see Rath shine.
It’s not all fluff and stuff, what with the death threats and debt repayments and all, but even in its darker moments it still manages to be thoroughly enjoyable. The sex is all behind closed-doors, for those who care one way or the other, while the romance unfurls throughout, with Tress pulling Rath in without Rath really understanding how.
So overall I loved it. If you’re looking for an easy-read fantasy adventure with a cute romance, a well-built world and an interesting challenge at its heart, then you should try this. As far as M/M fairy tales go, this one is a keeper.
Tournament of Losers is Out Now!
Visit Megan Derr for more details.