• Duking It Out

  • Royal Powers, Book 1
  • By: E.J. Russell
  • Narrated by: Kirt Graves
  • Length: 5 hrs and 31 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Royal dukes from rival countries shipwrecked on a deserted island. The grudge match of the century—or a love story of super-heroic proportions?

Sander Fiala, Duke of Roses, is fourth in line to the South Abarran throne, even though his rogue power earned him the nickname “The Monster of Roses” and got him banished from the castle. But right before he’s about to set off on his annual birthday sailing trip, the queen asks him to meet with the notoriously volatile North Abarran Duke of Arles.

Tarik Jaso, Duke of Arles, expects the worst from people because—let’s face it—people are the worst. His superpower bombards him with any and all electronic transmissions, which…yeah, people suck. So when he’s attacked and wakes up in the cabin of a stranded boat, he knows he’s royally screwed. Because the man looming over him—the man he’d gone toe-to-toe with right before the attack—is the infamous Monster of Roses.

Tarik is positive the Monster is behind his kidnapping. Sander is sure the whole thing is Tarik’s fault. As they work toward rescue, Tarik realizes that the disturbingly hot Sander is no monster, and Sander discovers that Tarik’s temper masks a caring soul wrapped in a cantankerous (though undeniably sexy) body.

For their burgeoning connection to endure, they’ll have to duke it out with political factions, dark conspiracies, and centuries of traditions that keep them on opposite sides of the border.

But first? They have to get off this damn island.

Duking It Out is a 46,000-word M/M enemies-to-lovers, opposites-attract, superhero rom-com featuring only one bed, a grumpy duke who should know better than to jump to conclusions, a self-doubting duke who’s good with his hands (heh), gossipy seagulls, competent assistants, a guaranteed HEA, and (unfortunately) capes.

©2020 Ellen J. Russell (P)2022 Ellen J. Russell

What listeners say about Duking It Out

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not Your Ordinary Royal Romance

‘Duking It Out’ is trope-tastic! Readers experience enemies-to-lovers, opposites-attract,
forced-proximity, stranded-together, and bed/clothes-sharing, with a dash of forbidden- and insta-love. Paranormal, in the form of magical powers, also features heavily. I don’t read a lot of PNR and I enjoy EJ Russell's mix of the contemporary world with people’s powers.

Even though the use of royal intrigue and I-hate-your-country-because-you’re-RIGHT-NEXT-DOOR as the impetus for getting Tarik and Sander alone together feels a bit contrived, it’s employed to good effect for the character growth of Sander and Tarik. They find that preconceived notions about each other can be broken by spending the time needed to really know the other. Low-angst and a few sexy scenes round out this sweet love story.

Kirt Graves has long been a favorite narrator of mine. He does a good job in making Tarik and Sander’s voices unique.

I received this book as a free ARC. This review is voluntary.

Recommended.

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Enemies to lovers

Alright I had a blast listening to this story. I loved the dual PoVs and getting to see the story and relationship develop from both perspectives. I took a bit to warm up to Tarik since he was really good at being an ass and shoving his foot into his mouth. Sander was a really sweet guy who was seen as a monster. Though he wasn’t a push over and wanted to protect those he loved. I really enjoyed the enemies to lovers and forced proximity of them being trapped on an island together. The narrator did a fantastic job bringing these characters to life and making the story even more enjoyable.

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Fun super hero/royal romance!

This book is outside my usual genre and I was a little leery of a fantasy/royal romance but this book was so fun, with wonderful characters, exciting storylines, and excellent world building by the author! It was interesting to see how things worked in world and how royals used their powers to better their kingdoms. I loved seeing Tarik and Sander find their way to each other while trying to save their kingdoms. While on the shorter side, there was so much happening within the storylines that I was totally engaged in what was happening with the book and didn't realize I had gotten to the end! The narration was outstanding and it is always a pleasure to listen to a book narrated by Kirt Graves. He always brings so much to the works he narrates without detracting from the actual story in anyway. Wonderful story!

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Fun listen!

Really enjoyed this new audio from EJ Russell and narrated by Kirt Graves! It was super fun and made me smile the whole way through! Loved the charming characters that Kirt brought to life. Solid story and a great listen!

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What makes a monster?

I read this story when it first came out and enjoyed it, so I was pleasantly surprised to see this come out in audio format. On the surface, this book was some tongue in cheek fun with "superhero" royals of rival countries. Under the absurd nicknames, ridiculous costumes, and villainous plots, it was sweet, more than a little quirky, and made me smile and feel good when the pair got their happy ending. Kirt Graves did a great job narrating, really bringing these characters to life with appropriate personalities.

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I absolutely loved both the story and the Narration!!!

I absolutely loved both the story and the narration for Duking it Out!!! I might have already listened to it twice in the week since I got the novel. It short sweet and filled with everything you would want in a novel…action, romance, laughter, and just a tiny touch of angst all wrapped up in a nice HEA.

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Pleasantly Surprised

I wasn't sure what to expect as the story began. Sander and Tarik are royal superheroes from South and North Abarran; Tarik despises Sander not only on principle but because with a nickname, Monster of Roses, Sanders cannot be that great of a guy. Enemies Tarik is kidnapped and, unbeknownst to Sanders, is left aboard Sanders' boat. Setting sail for his annual birthday trip, Sanders discovers Tarik. While arguing the logistics of how Tarik ended up on the ship, they are pulled from the ocean by an unseen force and stranded on a deserted island.

Forced to work together to survive, Tarik and Sanders discover they're not that different. Tarik helps Sanders find his true abilities, and they quickly develop a passionate relationship.

Duking it Out is a sweet, low angst fantasy tale that had me laughing at times. I enjoyed it and wished the story were longer.
The narration, performed by Kirt Graves, was terrific. He did a great job of providing each character with a distinct voice.

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Great enemies to lovers

When this story began they were enemies but that quickly changed when they were stranded and had to rely on and help each other while working together to try and escape they fell in love after sharing their own stories with each other and helping each other with their powers it was a really great story and I enjoyed all of it though I would have liked to actually get a wedding scene at the end

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Interesting story

I struggled to get into this story but but overall it was pretty decent. I really love the narrator and honestly if had been a different narrator I might not have finished.

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Enemies to lovers in only one berth!

This was just a darn good time. The narrator gave this one his all, definitely went with the spirit of the thing. The world is like . . . a superhero aristocracy society? And while it probably warranted an English accent (what with all the arses and bloodies and tossers), it still worked and was a lot of fun. I mean, it’s Superhero Dukes done with aplomb, so I kinda just rolled with it.

The main characters were both over the top and endearing, and forced proximity is one of my favorite tropes, so of course I enjoyed this.

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  • Lesetiger
  • 06-03-22

Enemies to lovers

found the combination of royal protagonists who not only rule their countries but also have superpowers very interesting. It was something different and quite refreshing.
Sander and Tarik are rivals from enemy countries who were both kidnapped on a boat and then landed on a deserted island. They initially accused each other of being responsible for the predicament and there are arguments and fights. But once they stop that to survive together they are really cute together. If you like enemies to lovers, this is the book for you.
After their adventure together, there are a few twists and turns that are not predictable, but that is more often the case in politics.

I was entertained by the story, it was well written and even better narrated. The characters were interesting and I'm already looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Kirt Graves is an excellent narrator who has a very pleasant voice and pace. He was a pleasure to listen to as he brought the story to life with emotion
I requested a free copy of the audiobook and this is my honest opinion that I am volunteering

1 person found this helpful

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  • Susie Umphers
  • 06-04-22

Snary fun, action and romance

Royal intrigue, villains to defeat, superpowers, shipwrecked enemies to lovers, humor and snark, this book has all of these and more. It took no time at all before I was completely absorbed in this story and rooting for both these characters to get together and put things right in the palace and with each other. The world building was great and the characters fit right in. Look forward to more in this world. Kirt Graves is one of my all time favorite narrators and his performance here demonstrates why. He catches all the humor and snarky bits, but also the menace of the villains and the transformation of Sander's and Tarik's relationship from mutual suspicion to a couple who is unstoppable together.

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  • Trio
  • 06-03-22

Clever & Creative, Great Performance by K. Graves

Such a clever and creative universe! E.J. Russell has an amazing imagination, and it's even better listening to Kirt Graves bring Duking It Out to life.

These are such quirky characters, and they have great chemistry... I love enemies to lovers, and seeing these two grow to accept one another is so much fun.

an audiobook copy of Duking It Out was provided to me for the purpose of my honest review, all opinions are my own

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  • choccygrl
  • 06-03-22

Great enemies to lovers royals romance

This book was such fun. Enemies to lovers. Abandoned on a desert island. Two tropes that I love.
The chemistry between the MCs was sizzling hot and sweet. I adored Sander, a gentle man falsely labelled a monster.
I laughed, I cried, I loved.
The narration was excellent.

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  • Erryn Barratt
  • 06-03-22

When your greatest rival become your greatest love

I admit I didn’t see much hope for Sander and Tarik. Stranded on an island with only themselves to rely on – each believing the other kidnapped them and this is part of some nefarious plan. They also have prejudices toward each other – Tarik believes the tale of The Monster of the Roses and Sander believes the story of Tarik being ill-tempered. Except neither is accurate.

Slowly, hour by hour, the men start to learn more about each other. They eventually challenge their prejudices and get to know the man behind the myth (a lesson for all of us, I think). Finally, each man confronts his superpower and learns there might be more going on than they believed.

Rescue seems impossible as the boat has been destroyed and no one seems to know where they are. In the end, though, things work out. They have to, after all, because this is a romance. When they return to civilization, though, they are different men. So the question became – could they finally get their happily ever after?

I adore Kirt Graves and I thought he did a great job with this lovely audiobook. I look forward to more books!

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  • Magnus
  • 05-30-22

Super Royally Good

A fantastic start to the new series by EJ Russell. Great characters and interesting world, a story that needs to be listen to especially with Kirt Graves as the narrator. Hope the rest of the series make it to audible soon.
This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.

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  • Amelia
  • 05-29-22

Superpowered royals

I've never come across a series that combines royalty and superpowers, and I'm surprised by how well it worked! Sander and Tarik may have started out as rivals from feuding countries, but when a kidnapping landed them both on a deserted island, they had to quickly find a way to work together to survive. It was fun to watch them bicker and fight during the first few hours, but what I enjoyed even more was watching them soften towards each other as they spent more time isolated on the island. Tarik initially came across as a giant a-hole, but he ended up being Sander's biggest cheerleader before all was said and done. Sander, for his part, went through a healing journey of his own as he laid bare his deepest regrets and learned to trust in his mastery of his superpower. What started out as a worst case scenario turned into a happy retreat for Sander and Tarik, made all the sweeter by their steamy romantic connection. Had it not been for my worry that they'd eventually die from malnutrition, I would have been completely happy for them to live out the rest of their lives in peace on that island. Unfortunately, the reveal of the villain took this story on a very weird turn, and not even the swoony romantic proposal could bring me fully back on board. It wasn't that the villain themself was the problem, it was the way their narrative of events didn't match up with anyone else's, which made the whole dastardly plot fall flat and seem unbelievable. I assume the author is setting up for a larger, series-wide plotline, but I'm not buying what's been presented as truth so far.

**I voluntarily listened to a free copy of this book. This review expresses my honest thoughts and opinions.

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  • Gunhild
  • 05-29-22

Lovely, original and funny

I love it when authors make their own, unique version of fantastic reality. Here is super powers and social structures you haven't heard combined before, and it works brilliantly. Add exploration of human nature as well as lots of humour, and I'm sold. Thank you to E.J. Russell and Kirt Graves for a couple of happy days listening!

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  • L.D.
  • 05-29-22

Enjoyable

Duking it Out is the first book in the Royal Powers series, a multiple author series which has a new author for each book in the series.

Duking it Out is a shorter novel so it doesn’t really flesh out the world building to the degree I wanted, but that’s because the world building we did get was so fascinating I immediately wanted more. It’s set in a man alternate world that has the same level of technology as our world but with completely different countries. Oh, and super powers are real for individuals of royal blood. It’s a very interesting concept and there’s so much to explore in this world. E.J. Russell focuses on two Dukes from opposing nations and gives us a plot that feels like a mix of Castaway, Romeo and Juliet (but happy), and royal intrigue. I thought the plot was interesting and my favorite part was how Tarek and Sanders worked together for survival and fell in love during the process.

The audiobook was narrated by Kirt Graves who was fantastic. The narration was on point and engaging with a well done audio production.

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  • alias11
  • 05-28-22

Absolutely Love It!

I loved this story when I read the ebook, and the audiobook made me love it even more. Part of that is Kirt Graves fantastic ability to really infuse these characters with life and emotion in his narration. The story can seem a little confusing at first, because there is history and super powers we don't know about, but rest assured, the author slowly reveals this history in such a way that you can't help but empathize with both Sander and Tarik (but especially Sander). I love the way Tarik turns out to be so much deeper than his initial presentation, and I especially adored how he supported Sander once he realizes how much they have in common. I love the humorous snark and banter between the MCs, and I am really looking forward to listening to the rest of the Royal Powers books in audiobook form.

I received a free copy of this audiobook at my request and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.