There is another world existing alongside the one most see everyday, and although it is a place of magic and wonder, the dangers are very real.
Aran, an artist, grew up on his grandmother’s tales of the Side-by-Side world. He never expected his knowledge of folklore would aid his boyfriend, Brandon, in an arson investigation, but the snakes that burst into flames when agitated are something he recalls from those childhood stories.
When Aran vanishes, Brandon knows his time as a state trooper won’t help find him, so he enlists the aid of Aran’s grandmother, Ruth, and they venture into the Side-by-Side world.
But Aran has no memory of his life prior to crossing between worlds, and he’s enjoying the company of his handsome new companion, Ren. Even if Brandon and Ruth reach him, convincing him to return to his former home won’t be easy. In a contemporary fairy-tale adventure set among forests and trails, Aran must choose between a mystical fantasy world and the man he loves.
Lots of fantasy and decent world building, so not the most romantic thing I've ever read, *but* the feelings were definitely there.
Brandon and Aran have been together for a few years and are utterly devoted to one another. They love to hike and do outdoor things together, but Aran is deathly afraid of being outside after dark. And with good reason.
During one of their many wilderness hikes, they get separated and, as night falls, Aran goes missing without a trace, leaving Brandon absolutely distraught, so he goes to the one person who may be able to help. Aran's somewhat eccentric grandmother, Nonna Ruth.
Ruth tells Brandon a tall tale of a 'side-by-side' world, which exists over top of our own. Then she takes him there and they begin their search for Aran.
I really felt for Aran, who had lost his memories of our world, but felt utterly at home, at peace, on the 'other side.'
I was on the edge of my seat the entire time that Brandon and Ruth were attempting to catch up to their beloved Aran, while he was blissfully unaware that he was running, full-speed, away from them.
The parts with Aran's fellow traveler, Ren, made me extremely nervous, but I'm happy to report that, while there was strong attraction, there was no cheating. From the blurb, that definitely worried me. A lot.
There was definitely more anxiety than actual angst, which was also nice.
As for the naughty bits, they were all fade-to-black; however, that didn't really bother me in the slightest.
The story ends with what I'd consider a pretty strong HEA, as the fears of a future separation were nicely allayed to my satisfaction.
I'd have to rate this one at around 4.25 stars and recommend it to avid fantasy readers, looking for a novella length book.
My ARC copy of the story was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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