A Clever Conclusion to The Lochlann Deception Series
Fragile Oath Book Cover Fragile Oath
The Lochlann Deception
Robin D. Mahle and Elle Madison
Romantic Fantasy
Independently published
November 20, 2023
Ebook, Paperback

She sacrificed herself to save him. He’ll sacrifice everything to get her back. Davin wakes up after the best night of his life to find his fiancée missing, his cousin dead, and a murder accusation hanging over his head. He is determined to track Galina down, even if fleeing means he’ll take the blame for a crime he didn’t commit. But each step he takes after Galina brings him closer to unraveling the lies she left in her wake. Between the corpses left by the rebellion and the woman whose motives he trusts less every day, Davin will have to decide between saving her and saving his kingdom. Meanwhile, Galina is living her worst nightmare, ensnared by the monster she sacrificed her entire future to escape. Her only protection from the rebels who want to see her dead is a man who wants to own her – a man who may very well succeed. She is resigned to the choices she’s made to keep Davin safe until he catches up to her on the road, threatening to ruin everything she has worked so hard to preserve. With the secrets festering between them both and the Viper out to destroy everything they love, they’ll have to find a way to trust one another long enough to survive. Fragile Oath is the conclusion to Davin and Galina’s slow burn, second chance love story, full of angst, humor, and redemption with a hard won happily ever after. The Lochlann Deception Duology, perfect for fans of Danielle Jensen, Elise Kova, and Sarah J Maas.

“I had tried to play a game, and I had lost. Storms, but I had lost.”

Political intrigue takes the forefront of this final book in The Lochlann Deception series by Robin D. Mahle and Elle Madison. Fragile Oath continues the story of Davin, the marquis of Lithlinglau in the kingdom of Lochlann, and Lady Galina, the niece to the Duke of Ram in the kingdom of Socair. My recommendation is to finish the first book in the series, Hollow Court, in order to appreciate how well Fragile Oath picks up right where the first book left off. Mahle and Madison waste no time getting you engrossed in the drama. Within the first few chapters, there’s a kidnapping, a member of the aristocracy murdered not only by poison but also by his own sword plunged into his chest, and whispers of a villain called The Viper. And it just gets better from there.

Photo credit to Jan Kopriva on Unsplash

Davin and Galina find that they can play these dangerous games very well, even when it comes to each other. The fragile relationship that they built in Hollow Court is now on shaky ground in the second act of the story. Galina is kidnapped by her former betrothed, a cruel lord of Socair. To survive, Galina must lie, misdirect, and placate. “I was not strong in combat like Gwyn. I did not command armies like Rowan. I could play Alexei’s games, though. I could lie, for the sake of my parents. For Davin. Even if he would never forgive me.”

Davin, on the other hand, uses his charm and unassuming nature as his own weapon. He’s always been the life of the party. But when his family and loved ones are threatened, we see just how dangerous he can be. “Because Davin always had a plan, and half of that plan was in making people underestimate him. He didn’t carry power around on his shoulders, wielding it like a battering ram the way Alexei did. He carried it like a poisoned dagger, tucked out of sight and twice as deadly for it.”

This story is largely about trust — broken, sacrificed, and in need of rebuilding. Galina is a survivor of abuse. I appreciate how Mahle and Madison wrote her story. There was enough in the book for you to understand why Galina is afraid and wounded because her abuser. Yet it was written in such a way to honor the personhood of her character and her journey toward healing. It’s not an easy thing to write about and I thank Mahle and Madison for their care with the topic. It also made me fall even more in love with Davin and other members of the Lochlannian royal family who showed her patience and tenderness without seeing her as weak or delicate.

The royal family continues to be the best thing about the Lochlann series, in my opinion. The banter between cousins makes me laugh out loud and their love for each other is touching. I was engaged in this story not only for Davin and Galina’s sake but also to see what the future of the royal family will look like. They are also on trial as the Viper seeds rebellion in the kingdom and the courts. Will there be a civil war or a political coup? Be sure to pay attention to the details along the way as Lochlann royals hunt for the Viper. Plot twist alert!

For those who appreciate a good plot-driven romantasy with plenty of intrigue in the royal court and some memorable snark, Fragile Oath should be your next read.

“I spent the afternoon cutting cigars, filling glasses, and making shallow small talk, because no one can pretend the world isn’t on fire quite like the nobility can.”

For more on the beginning of The Lochlann Deception series, you can read my LitBuzz review of Hollow Court.

Trigger warning: This book contains depictions of domestic abuse and indicates the use of torture on prisoners.

Catch authors Robin D. Mahle and Elle Madison at Romantasy BookCon 2024 hosted by Fabled Fantasy Events.