I don’t remember where I heard about Apple Boy, but I immediately told my friend Andie about it, and a couple days later, she pointed out that the narrator of the audiobook was giving away codes for free audiobooks- including Apple Boy!
I don’t read very much fantasy at all, but the premise of this book sounded interesting: a secret prince and a farmer’s son? What’s not to like?
Win is a prince, but he’s so filthy that you wouldn’t believe him if he told you- which he wouldn’t, because the last time he told someone he was a prince, they robbed him. Desperate for money to afford the coach fare to the city, Win takes a job picking apples for a cruel farmer.
But the cruel farmer has a hot son named Adam, who takes pity on Win.
He also thinks that Win is cute. And Win thinks Adam is cute. Oh, and Adam draws a bath for Win.
Win and Adam band together because Win is trying to get to his uncle’s house and Adam is looking for his brother, who left the farm over a year ago and hasn’t so much as written since then.
This is the first book in a series, and it does end on a cliffhanger, but it wasn’t as frustrating of a cliffhanger as I thought it would be. It’s much more of an “this is an interesting development, so I wonder what’ll happen next” and not really the “literally hanging from a branch over a cliff” sort of cliffhanger.
This book works so well because of the intense chemistry between Win and Adam. Their attraction is almost instantaneous, but it’s a bit of a slow burn because Adam knows he’s attracted to men, but he’s never kissed another man before. Win has a lot more experience, but that’s mostly because in his country, same-sex pairings are accepted, whereas in Adam’s country, it’s illegal. But the chemistry transcends beyond the physical aspects of their burgeoning relationship; Win and Adam just click so well together; they come from different worlds and they don’t have anything in common, but they understand each other like two friends who have known each other for years.
There’s a great deal of political intrigue: sabotage, machinations, attempted assassinations, etc. Win is caught up in the middle of it; he’s the first-person narrator of the story, and while he’s a reliable narrator, his backstory comes out slowly, so readers are often learning crucial details at the same time as Adam.
Oh, there’s also magic: strange occurrences that can’t be explained, and are highly problematic because magic has been outlawed for years.
I would absolutely recommend Apple Boy. I should mention that I appreciated the wonderful job Gary Furlong did with the audiobook; I loved his different accents for the various characters. Going back to the book, I loved the pairing of Win, spoiled prince with Adam, an absolute sweetheart and a cinnamon roll. Win certainly tries to adapt to his new circumstances, but he probably wouldn’t have gotten very far without Adam’s intervention. I’m eagerly awaiting the second book in the series because I need to know what’s going to happen to Win and Adam next!