Warrior and Priest by Katie Howe

From Dreamspinner:

On an earthlike planet ruled by the Elite, a rite called “the Gleaning” is used to select suitable spouses for those of merit. Nico Stamford is a member of the Geisha class. Though he has been trained for marriage all his life, becoming a healer and a priest in the process, all he wants is to cook and open a restaurant. Instead he becomes a candidate for the ritual. He hopes the Goddess will look kindly on him and eliminate him before the final choices are made. Alex DeVrie is a member of the Warrior class who has recently returned triumphant from a clash with an alien enemy. Made a duke of the Sixth Land as a reward, all Alex needs now is a husband. As soon as Alex sets eyes on Nico, he refuses to settle for anyone else.

Tradition says they can part ways after a year and a day. But love begins to grow as they unravel the mystery behind tragic events in the Sixth Land, and they uncover a conspiracy that could change their society.

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Kimi’s thoughts:

The opening really had a great hook and drew me in, but as I got just over a third of the way through, it began to feel as if parts of the book had been chopped out. The complex society we are shown is never thoroughly explained and Nico goes from a self confident young man with a sweet disposition to a whiny one who runs rough shod over the one who loves and cares for him, from being so enamoured with cooking that his purpose in life is to open his own cafe to becoming a Prince of the Realm and some kind of Saviour. It’s all snap of the fingers quick, blink, and everything has changed. Then Nico suddenly understands true love and bang, he and his man are 4ever. This is a case of where less is definitely not more. Hoping there is a sequel with more world building and deeper characterisation, as this fascinates but never really quite gets there.

Rating: 3