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.
My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
3.5 HEARTS-- A treasure hunt turns up the most unexpected prize.
It's a fantasy based world in R.L. Mosswood's Golden. Elin lives in The Dragon's harem. He's a dahabi, or golden in looks, from is golden curls and golden skin, to his golden brown eyes. Any male who is born with this coloring is considered dahabi and to be in service of the Dragon Queen.
That's right, a lady dragon is running things!
Actually she's more like this:
[HERE BE A PRETTY BOSS GIF THAT AIN'T EXACTLY SAFE FOR WORK--see on the blog]
The queen stays in a mostly human form to praise hymns to an erotic god with her hoard of golden men, aka bone her way through hundreds of men. ;)
Elin however isn't attracted to anyone especially not the Dragon Queen, so much so when his initial night into hymning he was not attracted and let's say it's better to read what happened next. Let's leave it as sad and embarrassing.
After that night, Elin is the bottom of the harem pile, someone the other harem men look down on. Virtually ignored, he is nothing more than a shiny golden toy that lost its luster but he has to remain trapped in the toy box. None of the harem is permitted to leave...ever.
Enter new captive Hathar!
Elin is tasked for cleaning up the brutish man. And from the moment he looked in the solver eyes of Hathar, Elin felt a pull. Something he's never felt before. The attraction scares Elin at first. Then he warms up to it.
The connection helps smooth the fear. The fact that Hathar also seems to share this connection doesn't hurt.
Hathar doesn't belong in the harem and has a life outside of it, only coming tot he mythical island in search of a dragon's treasure.
I really like the way the author played with dragon mythology. I figured out the treasure fairly quickly but it was fun to read along as Hathar discovered the truth and also fall for Elin. Hathar only has about 2 weeks to say in the harem before catching up with his ship, so the pace in which Elin falls for Hathar is fairly quick.
The reader doesn't get a chance to delve as deeply as I would have like with Hathar and Elin. This is lighter and fairly erotic. And it check off a characteristic I enjoy finding in a romance: a gential piercing!
It's like a treasure discovery for this reader every time (though it was underutilized). There is a decent amount of sex scenes, smutsters. But I'd probably rate them 2.5-3 out of 5 on a hotness scale. If I don't look too deeply, it went off smoothly enough.
The pace however, it could have been smoother for me. Sometimes Elin or Hathar would chat just a smidge too much or explain something or return to explore a point made. I'd find my attention waning.
Overall, it was a good read.Golden has a HEA, it's light with a bit of adventure. If you're in the mood for dragons, harems and platinum haired sea adventurer (pirate for me) with a female dragon shifter in charge, give Golden a try.
I would try this author again see what other ideas they have. The execution in Golden was good enough for the main ideas.
Nothing super fantastical or action-packed occurs in Golden. There is not much dragon activity going on, despite the name of the being who rules the palace. Both MCs get a perspective throughout which helps you understand their feelings. Golden is essentially about two men who find themselves when it is totally unexpected, the awakening of desire in one of them, and understanding something of value when it’s presented.
I wasn’t sure going in how I’d feel about this one because fantasy in a novella can be a bit hit or miss. I liked the premise and I definitely enjoyed Elin and Hathar’s story. It’s a sweet romance with nice MCs. Some decent fantasy world building, which is mostly centred around the palace with a touch or two of Hathar’s life at sea, very much added to my overall enjoyment. 4 Stars!
Golden is a story that follows a split person narrative. The first character we meet is a very adorable harem boy, Elin, who is very reluctant to engage in sexual activities with 'The Dragon,' who the harem boys 'belong to.' However, Elin is something of an outcast, or at least, regarded as being a little odd for not enjoying the uhm... 'visits' with her. I suppose you could say this is the story of Elin trying to find himself. And our second protag is Hathar, a witty, sharp tongued, loveable rogue who is infatuated with Elin from the get go. He very quickly became my fave. This is a very fluffy read that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The dynamic between the two characters is very sweet and if that's your thing I'd definitely recommend this story for you. I really enjoyed the 'old-timey' style of writing Mosswood uses beautifully in this story, and not only are the love scenes hot, they're crafted very artfully and very tasteful. Another thing I that I loved about RL Mosswood's writing style is their ability to craft a setting. A lot of books I've been reading lately have made me feel very displaced from the characters surroundings, but the world is built with such elegant detail without being over the top. A very enjoyable read!
The premise of “Golden” was intriguing. A harem full of golden men, it’s owner – a woman that can transform into a dragon, a protagonist that lives in the harem, but has no sexual desires and a handsome traveler that has just entered the palace bringing stories of the outside world with him. This was a recipe for a very interesting story, but the execution didn’t give the expected result.
All of the characters were underdeveloped, the relationship between the protagonists was rushed and didn’t evolve naturally, and there was an obvious lack of world building.
Elin was repulsed with everything having to do with sex, but suddenly when Hathar appeared he had no problem sleeping with him. Maybe if they had spent more quality time together we would be able to say that Elin needed to form an emotional connection before feeling any sexual desire for someone.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for their relationship. From his very first meeting with him, Elin experienced sexual desire for Hathar, a stranger who didn’t hesitate to grab him when they were alone. I didn’t see any emotional connection between them, just plenty of sex scenes during the limited time that the couple had in this book.
Also, there wasn't a lot of information about the dragon lady. I had to put together whatever scraps of information the story gave the reader, just to understand that she was immortal or that at least she had a longer life span than the humans. It pains me to read stories that leave me wondering what they could have been, had the author spent more time on character development and world building.
I voluntarily reviewed the free copy that I received.
A free copy of the book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.
I requested a copy for review because I thought from the summary that Elin might possibly be ace-spec, but the narrative around his sexuality is kind of a mess. (Note: I am not asexual myself.) I looked up a couple interviews with the author, and they haven't said anything to indicate that they think of Elin as ace, but the way he is described in the beginning is pretty consistent with the way that a lot of ace people describe their experience. He seems to be at least somewhat sex-repulsed, and masturbates without feeling sexual arousal. However, as soon as Hathar shows up, he suddenly starts feel sexual attraction that very quickly leads to the two of them engaging in sex. For me, this narrative is uncomfortably close to the kind of "just wait until you find the right person" messages that many ace people receive. Elin says some things about learning to enjoy sex - and basically apologizes for previously not wanting sex, although it's not clear how genuinely this is meant - later in the book that really reinforced this reading of the narrative. I hate insta-love in most cases, but it was especially egregious here because of Elin's previous lack of sexual interest.
I was also bothered at the way Elin's overall disinterest in sex somewhat obscured the fact of sexual coercion in the harem. It's pretty clear that the men in the harem cannot refuse to have sex with the dragon, so they can't give meaningful consent. Yet her advances are really only portrayed as unwanted or forced when it comes to Elin, as though the fact that all of the other men do experience sexual desire means that they are obviously going to want to have sex with her. Sex is supposedly the dragon's religion, so it's pretty fucked up that she only has sex with people who aren't able to consent - rape, in other words.
Both main characters are pretty weakly developed and don't have much distinct personality. Beyond a pretty face, I don't know what Hathar sees in Elin. Elin could have a pretty interesting character arc, given that he grew up in this harem and doesn't know anything else, so encountering someone from outside and deciding to leave should involve some pretty major changes in outlook. Rather than exploring what that shift might look like internally, though, Elin's feelings are all about what Hathar wants, so he ends up seeming just as much subject to the desires of others at the end as he was at the beginning.
The world-building is kind of a mess, too. How did this town end up like this? Are they really that isolated? How has no one else ever noticed what's going on? If there's only one dragon, why have the townspeople put up with her kidnapping all these boys? The men in the harem are all "dahabi", which we are told means they are "golden" in coloring - but I have no idea what this actually means or whether there is any significance of this outside of just the way they look. Like, are they literally metallic? I sort of assume not, since Hathar doesn't know he's anything special before getting kidnapped. But if it's just a thing where they're all blond and "golden"-skinned, how are there so few of them? I don't know what people who aren't dahabi look like, because no one except the dahabi men and the dragon are ever described physically, so it's hard to say how they compare with the dahabi. But y'know, if your book portrays a group of people as being the most beautiful because of the color of their skin, and you use descriptors that are typically applied to blonde white people, you run the risk of seeming a bit racist, especially if you fail to provide further context.
(Also, "dahab" means gold in Arabic, and maybe if you are not trying to be racist you should not add random Arabic worlds to your harem story?)
Golden seems to want to be the story of a prince held captive by a dragon and rescued by a handsome knight, while at the same time evoking 1001 Arabian Nights and with a dash of Ocean’s Eleven. Unfortunately, this story lacks the whimsy of a fairy tale, the eroticism of an adventure in a harem, or the frenetic energy and clever planning of a heist. It’s a modest enough read, mostly inoffensive and mildly entertaining.
Elin’s character is a close cousin to Gary Stu. He’s good, and sweet, and clever, and brave, and beautiful, and virginal. Virginal until he meets Hakar, that is, after which point he wants nothing more than to wrap himself up in Hakar’s arms and make magical, passionate love to him. Elin is very much a victim of the “out for you” trope. Up until he meets the dashing, roguish hero, Elin is rather blatantly asexual. He isn’t interested in sex at all. In fact, he makes it clear to his fellow harem brethren that he doesn’t want to so much as hold hands with them. They accept this and leave him to his own devices easily enough. But, as soon as he meets Hakar, he has “feelings” and, of course, falls instantly in love and lust with the pirate. It feels like the only reason to have Elin be so blatantly uninterested in sex with anyone was not for character development, but so that he could be a virgin for Hakar. There were other ways to go about this. After all, this is a fantasy world with a shape shifting dragon. The author could have gone in a myriad of ways and instead chose this one. I found it mildly offensive and it soured me a little on Elin.
Golden is unlike Moby-Dick. For instance, it doesn't go on and on about whaling in the middle. I've heard that many people don't like novellas because they feel rushed, but I found Golden to be succinct - all the details need to set the scene and tell the story.
Moby-Dick is about a guy who hates Moby-Dick. Golden is about a couple of guys who love (each other's) dicks. I'm not really one for love at first sight stories, but I liked this one.
Moby-Dick has sexual metaphor. Golden has sex. I was suprised at how sexy the sex was.
There is one similarity - Moby-Dick has an unusual example of a whale, and Golden has a antagonist that doesn't fit the stereotype. The whole setting was more reminiscent of the magic of Robert E. Howard's "Conan" setting, that is, the rare and unusual mystery of a bygone era, and less the D&D clone that I mostly see.
So, that's my review. If you don't like whaling, give Golden a try.
*I received a free copy through the MMRG DBML program in exchange for an honest review* 4 stars
Synopsis: Elin is a part of a dragon's harem, and has never really known any other life. He isn't one of the favoured of the harem, having ruined his chances when he was a lot younger. One day, Elin is asked to clean up a new member of the harem, which is unusual, as harem boys are usually identified as small children and given up. But when Elin sees this man, he instantly feels a connection with him. Hathar has come from the outside, outside the village, even, looking for the dragon's horde. What he finds, instead, is a dragon who has given up all mercenary thoughts, and started collecting a harem. Hathar doesn't want to stay forever, and the feelings that he is developing for Elin make him want to take Elin with him when he goes. There might be trouble, though, as the men only have the illusion of freedom, and getting out from under the a dragon's wing might not be feasible.
What I liked: Elin and Hathar. I liked the world building, and I liked that, even though the story took place over a short period of time, it didn't really feel like it. Hathar was interesting, with his stories of the outside world, and how he got in, and in his belief and support of Elin. I liked that Elin recognized adventure and a like minded person in Hathar, when the rest of the harem was shunning him. And even though the dragon was essentially keeping the harem prisoner, she wasn't mistreating them, and honestly cared for each and every one, as evidenced by the fact that she didn't get rid of Elin after he shamed himself.
What I didn't like: I would have liked to have seen Elin's and Hathar's adventures continue for longer, as I was very engrossed in the story.
I received Golden from the Goodreads ‘Don’t Buy My Love’ program. In this book, we meet Elin, a harem boy, and Hathar, who I’d call a pirate/merchant. This story is told in third person from both MCs povs.
This was a wonderful little fluffy read. Two characters are brought together in rather unexpected circumstances (for one; I guess it was normal circumstances for the other). They find love, and have a few adventures, culminating in ...an ending that I really liked (even if the twists weren't all that surprising). I like the two characters, and while I did feel that their relationship moved a bit fast they had a good dynamic between them, and also a deadline of sorts.
Why did it feel too fast? Well, the one character seemed to be portrayed in a way I thought was demi-sexual, but then all of a sudden he...I guess he was still hesitant, but it was all "I'm super uninterested, and even a bit repulsed by sex" to "eh...maybe I'll give it a go" in one day? two? so even though he was still hesitant in doing the deed, it felt more contrived than genuine.
I liked the descriptions of the places, and that they were interesting and opulent, and yet also pretty mundane and reasonable in scale. Or it was a magically hidden city, but it was a simple spell, and mostly worked by people not knowing about it.
But I didn't quite settle with the cultural set-up; It was a story about slaves, but it wasn't a story that dealt with slavery. It mostly just sidestepped the issues, which I guess is okay in a short fluffy novella, but somewhere in my middle age I've apparently become sensitive to that kind of thing, so I had to keep telling myself not to worry about it so much. Your millage may vary.
Overall, it was a simple and fast read, and like I said (but can't detail; spoilers!), I really liked the ending, and the way things led up to it, and it tied a bunch of minor details together to make everything work; that's one of my favorite things to have in a book.
Book & Author: Golden by R.L. Mosswood Rating: 4 stars
This was a quick but beautifully written story that captured me right from the start.
I think what I loved most about this story was that it packed a lot in a short time. And it never left e feeling like I was missing something or that it was being rushed. Elin was beautiful with golden hair and golden skin but so were the other more favored dahabi of the Dragon’s harem. He was this mix of smart and naive that made you want to see him get more than what he had.
Hathar was the tough guy, the impulsive one that never has a pan but thinks things will be just fine. He’s not from the town that the Dragon reigns so he knows nothing of this life and he looks different from the others. The dance these two played around each other was interesting to see, the changes that came over them once Elin got over his fear and Hathar let himself to drawn to Elin was one thing that kept me hooked to the story. They were both sweet and sexy with a romantic but fierce hot chemistry between them.
The writing was beautiful and flowed perfectly. It left feeling in awe of putting so much world building in a novella which along with a full storyline is an amazing feet most cannot accomplish. I’ll be definitely looking more from this author.
This book was received free in return for an honest review via Goodreads Don't Buy My Love program.
The blurb unfortunately reveals much of the storyline. Hathar is captured and thrown into the harem because of his looks. Hathar is anything but compliant, stirring trouble immediately, but befriending Elin along the way. Hathar takes Elin under his wing, sexually, and they become inseparatable. The story takes place over a week's time.
Although the writing was excellent, which should have me giving it a flat 4 stars, I just couldn't sink into the story enough to warrant it. It's wasn't until I was clicking through my tags to mark it, when the lightbulb went off. The asexual character suddenly finding himself attracted (erotically) to the newcomer. Hey! not that this doesn't happen, but I find it slightly far-fetched. Elin wasn't into any sexual encounters, not even among the dozens in their harem cohort. Hathar arrives, gives him a few touches and wham-o, he's totally rocking the gay-for-you trope.
But this is fantasy, a magical world, well-sculpted. Not overly long, and a complete story. My favorite part was Hathar's description of how he came to find the palace hidden by magic.
This was an interesting novella involving a dragon, her hoard of boys and a sailing opportunist (pirate). Elin has been part of the Dragon Queen’s harem since childhood. He lives his life idly since he’s lost favor with the queen when he was unable to perform with her. Unable to leave he lives contently within the harem keeping to himself. When the guards find someone sulking near the palace they mistake the individual an escaping harem boy. Elin is appointed to clean Hathar up to be part of the harem. While Elin is drawn to Hathar, he doesn’t understand his own feelings towards Hathar. When Hathar makes a move on Elin, Elin runs off. The two eventually hit it, but being part of a harem has its own issues.
Elin and Hathar were likable characters which can’t be said about the Harem. The dynamics of the characters and their social standing were intriguing. I enjoyed reading Elin and Hathar’s budding relationship and Elin discovering his awakening sexuality. I wish it had been a tad longer so readers could see how Elin assimilated to anew environment.
A free copy was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.