Monday, April 16, 2018

The Contingency Plan by Addison Albright Release Blitz

A sheltered prince. A sudden death. An unexpected choice. How will Prince Marcelo react to discovering he’s The Contingency Plan?

For eighteen years, there has been peace between Sheburat and the kingdom of Zioneven. The untimely death of a princess throws the marriage arrangement—the final phase to complete the terms of the treaty—into disarray, and the contingency plan is put into motion. Now the Crown Prince of Zioneven gets to make his own choice from among the princess’s younger siblings.

As a rare royal son in the matriarchal sovereignty of Sheburat, Prince Marcelo grew up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period. Except, Prince Efren isn’t from Sheburat, and he has other plans.

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Book 1
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With everyone now in attendance, Queen Giselle stepped forward. “Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Lords, and people of Zioneven, please accept our warm welcome to Sheburat, and I hope you’ll accept our sincere apology for the chaos in which you find us today.

Prince Efren inclined his head. “Of course, Your Majesty. On behalf of Zioneven, I offer our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beloved daughter.”

“Thank you,” Queen Giselle replied. “Sadly, our loss yesterday affects more than simply causing us private pain.”

“Indeed.” Prince Efren kept his reply short, perhaps diplomatically leaving it to Queen Giselle to either further the conversation toward whether or not he was ready to choose his alternate, or to wait for a time when her grief would be less immediate.

His mother would put diplomacy first, Marcelo didn’t doubt that. The conversation may or may not happen today, but it would occur during this visit. Diplomacy always came ahead of personal concerns.

“Although disappointment caused by the cancellation of the wedding we’d expected tomorrow is unavoidable,” Queen Giselle said. “I hope you’ll find a small comfort in knowing that you may now make your own choice of your future bride from among my younger daughters rather than the arrangement made on your behalf at the tender age of five.”

Again, Prince Efren inclined his head. “Sibling.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Sibling. The terms of the treaty specify I may choose an alternate from among Princess Marcela’s younger siblings. It didn’t restrict the choice to daughters.”

Marcelo stiffened. What in the world could Prince Efren mean by that? Men didn’t marry men. At least, he’d never heard of such a thing occurring in Sheburat. Marcelo wasn’t alone in his bewilderment. Everyone on his side of the room stilled. None of the faces opposite them exhibited confusion. Was that an acceptable option in Zioneven’s culture?

It was only by mere minutes, but Marcelo did qualify as a younger sibling to Marcela.

For the first time in Marcelo’s recollection, his mother faltered. “Do… surely… but…”

Marcelo turned his head toward her, his wide eyes silently imploring her to voice an objection. Kemble may have recently grown complacent thinking herself in the clear, but she’d at least spent her life knowing she was the likely backup plan.

As a royal son in this matriarchal society, Marcelo had grown up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period.

He’d been perfectly happy with that knowledge because he’d never experienced the attraction that men outside the royal family felt toward women. In fact, he’d enjoyed knowing he would not have to merge his life with a woman’s with the expectation of having to bed her.

His gaze flicked back and forth between Queen Giselle and Prince Efren before settling on the prince. Prince Efren had kept his eyes locked with the queen’s, but as if sensing Marcelo’s scrutiny, his head turned to reflect Marcelo’s regard.

Marcelo’s heart thudded so vigorously in his chest, surely everyone in the room must hear it. His respiration quickened. That single word uttered by Prince Efren had shattered Marcelo’s understanding of everything he knew about the world and had expected in his life.

Queen Giselle remained frozen for a few more moments, her brows drawn together as she processed the unexpected direction of this discussion. She cast a brief, apologetic glance toward Marcelo, then lifted her shoulders in a barely visible shrug. “The treaty does indeed use that word. Prince Efren, the choice is yours.”

Marcelo’s stomach dropped as her words echoed through the silent hall even though he’d known in his heart that she’d put Sheburat before her son’s individual concerns. So, he felt no personal betrayal. It was who is mother had to be.

Prince Efren continued to stare at Marcelo as he firmly stated, “I choose His Royal Highness, Prince Marcelo. The wedding will proceed tomorrow as planned.”

Marcelo swayed as the blood drained from his face. How could this be? How did such a marriage work? Would he be expected to—

“Marcelo?” Suky’s whispered tone voiced her concern. “Are you unwell?”

She repeated the words, but from farther away. Or did her voice only seem distant? He wobbled as the people around him faded, and then, thankfully, this nightmare all went away.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a very short read – but actually packs a lot of punch in those pages. It turns our conventions on their head, with a matriarchal society, where royal boys are not tutored past the basics and can expect a lonely celibate life. However, this all changes due to a fatal hunting accident, and Marcelo finds himself not just married, but married to a prince.

I would have loved a couple of hundred pages on this story – mainly in his new home – but actually what we have is enough to give us a very clear indication that there is lots of hope for their future.

One of the things I enjoy about being a blogger is the opportunity to read books that I would likely have never discovered otherwise. I’m sorry to say that I can be a little bit of a page-count snob when it comes to books and it’s rare for me to give short stories and novelettes under 50 pages a second look. Although I’ve gotten better about it over the last couple of years and have bought a few when brought to my attention, I hardly ever seek them out. The Contingency Plan is one such novelette that I would have missed out on because not only is it on the shorter side, but it’s also fantasy – a genre I’ve only recently rediscovered my enjoyment of – and to have missed it would have been a shame.

As for Prince Marcelo’s story, Albright does a marvelous job of giving the reader a look at a significant moment in the young man’s life. Marcelo is a royal rarity – a prince in a matriarchal society – and he’s lived a sheltered life with no expectations. He is, in essence, a pampered prince who has no demands placed on him and who is contentedly resigned to his life of celibacy as princes do not marry. But the unexpected death of his twin sister the day before she was to be wed in order to seal the peace treaty between his people and the Zionevens, throws a bit of a wrench into his plans for the future. You see, as death at an early age is common in medieval kingdoms, even those in fantasy worlds, the part of the peace treaty that outlined the marriage specified that in the event of Marcela’s death, the Crown Prince of Zioneven would choose another sibling to wed. SIBLING. Not sister, sibling. A single word and the acceptance of same-sex marriage by the Zioneven people change the entire course of Prince Marcelo’s life and The Contingency Plan gives the reader a front-row seat in Marcelo’s life the day that he learns this.

I found The Contingency Plan to be a very sweet story. I think part of the reason it works is that rather than trying to shove too much into it, the author focuses on two pivotal days in Marcelo’s life. Because we spend a good portion of the story in Marcelo’s head, it’s easy to see that he’s a sweet young man who understands and accepts his station in life, doing so without becoming entitled, cruel, or spoiled. Being as arranged marriages are common among royalty, it’s easy to understand why the story progresses as it does. As the reader learns more about Crown Prince Efren through his conversations with Marcelo, it becomes clear why he makes the choice he does and why he seems to show affection towards Marcelo on the day they meet. Albright weaves the story in such a way that I couldn’t help but adore Marcelo and have hope for him to find love with Efren, making me buy in to the happy ending that The Contingency Plan promises – the happily ever after that I get to craft in my own imagination for Marcelo and Efren. I thoroughly enjoyed The Contingency Plan and while I’d be happy to read more of Marcelo and Efren’s tale, I’m quite pleased with their story as written.

Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance in contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal genres. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of The Contingency Plan (Plans #1) by Addison Albright to read and review for this tour.

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