Harem boy might not be the most appropriate role for someone who’s never really seen the appeal of sex, but Elin’s status as dahabi: golden in a land of tan and brown, has marked him for The Dragon’s service since birth. He’s content enough with his life of uncomplicated, if restrictive, luxury, until an unremarkable chore becomes a case of love at first sight.
Mysterious newcomer Hathar, a roguish “merchant adventurer” from far-off lands, ignites an exploration of Elin’s first taste of physical desire, as well as a desire to experience life beyond the palace. Now, they must find a way to escape before Hathar’s ship departs, stranding them forever in The Dragon’s harem.
I enjoyed this fantasy novella of harem boy Elin and merchant adventurer Hathar meeting and falling for one another quite a bit.
One thing that surprised me about Elim was his absolute lack of experience regarding all things carnal. Instead of being a 'well-ridden' member of the dragon's harem, he was a bit more like a princess trapped in the dragon's tower. Just without the damsel'y parts. ;- )
Then along came Hathar, who may have bought and sold goods along his journey, but also gave me the impression of being a bit of a pirate, plundering and stealing, when opportunities arose. Or when he created them.
This story was 'mostly' what I had expected (and predicted) it to be; however, the one thing that truly awed me here was just how intimate and evocative the steamy scenes were written. I read a lot of M/M stories, so I'm no stranger to sensuous writing, but the author's connection in those scenes... just wow .
I loved witnessing how Elim came into his own, after opening up to Hathar, both supporting and protecting him as they plotted a way to gain their freedom, hoping to build a life together outside of the castle's prison-like walls. Because a cage, no matter how beautifully gilded, is still in fact a cage to the bird trapped within.
I would have loved for the story to have been a full novel length, but it does end with the beginnings of a strong, adventurous HEA, so I can't really complain too loudly.
I'd rate this one at around 3.75 stars and recommend it to anyone looking for a short, fun, fantasy read.
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