As the Light Festival draws near, the Něssyrians craft paper lanterns, awaiting the most important holiday of the year.
The Lyliňg Fighting House, too, prepares for celebration—by laying fresh sand onto the arena and setting up a match against their top pit fighter, the unrivalled Yüuzuki Ōren.
His last match. One he can’t win.
With the odds more than stacked against him, the gorgeous Barbarian is as good as dead. Unless his lover, healer Ĥaiatto Ẽkana, proves himself every bit as determined as he is clever and finds a way to protect the man he'd stop at nothing to save.
Yay, another new story from The Order universe!
I had no idea this story was even coming out until, lo and behold, it showed up in my Inbox, after which a small 'squee' (or three) may have been heard. "Allegedly."
Kasia's stories never fail to pull me in, with her well-crafted wordsmithery and intriguing characters.
In this new 85'ish page novella, the story was all about hidden love and lengths to which one might go to keep it from ending, when faced with your partner's impending mortal peril.
You see, healer and magic wielder Haiatto had been secretly partnered with pit fighter Yuu for the past three years, mending his broken warrior on a regular basis, as his fights became progressively more brutal.
Yuu was a crowd favorite, but since he'd gone undefeated for several years, gambling profits for the owners of the Lyling Fighting House had gone down, causing them to pit Yuu against several fighters at once to keep the crowd entertained.
But during the upcoming Light Festival, there was a scheduled closed fight with Yuu facing even more simultaneous opponents, some armed, which was basically a death sentence, a fact that both Yuu and Haiatto both realized.
So as Yuu healed from his last fight, Haiatto began to scheme as to how he might save his beloved from certain death.
As always, the world building in this story was superb, incorporating yet another layer of complexity to the already-vibrant Order universe, this time by adding some actual magic.
Previous Order shorts felt a bit more light than this one, since one of the MC's had his head on the proverbial chopping block, but the romance and some humor from a few of the side characters (including furia Eryssa from "The Poison Within") kept the mood from becoming overly-dark.
There was also some mild steam in the book, slightly more than I remember from her other shorts, but it was handled in a way that added to the romance and feelings vs. a cheap attempt at titillation.
The story ended with what felt like Yuu and Haiatto being on their way to an HEA, but the world of The Order is a dangerous place, so I was left crossing my fingers and sending them happy thoughts in relation to their fate.
Kasia's books *always* leave me wanting more, so it's no huge surprise that this 4.25 star read left me feeling precisely that way. Again. *sigh*
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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