They met on a battlefield and saved each other’s lives. It’s not the way enemies-to-lovers usually works.
Adares comes from a civilization of democracy and indoor plumbing. Rus belongs to a tribe of tattooed, semi-nomadic horse-breeders. They meet in the aftermath of battle, when Rus saves Adares’s life, and Adares returns the favour. As they shelter in an abandoned temple, a friendship neither of them could have imagined grows into a mutual attraction.
But Rus, whose people abhor love between men, is bound by an oath of celibacy, and Adares has a secret of his own that he cannot share. With their people poised for a long and bitter conflict, it seems too much to hope that these two men could turn their fleeting happiness into something lasting. Unless, of course, the relationship between them changes the course of their people’s history altogether.
Something Human is a standalone m/m romance set in an imaginary ancient world, about two people bridging a cultural divide with the help of great sex, pedantic discussions about the gods, and bad jokes about standing stones.
This was absolutely delightful. Set in an alt-Mediterranean sort of world, with a Germanicish tribe at war with Greekish colonisers. Rus, a fighting priest, digs out a trapped fallen soldier from the aftermath of a battle, without realising the warrior he's saving is the enemy. Adares, who is more an administrator, then saves Rus from his poisoned arrow wound, and the two hole up in a temple to recuperate, falling in love on the way.
It's beautifully written (and very well edited, which makes a glorious change), with fascinating worldbuilding that supports the characters, a lovely romance that manages to be both moving and unsentimental, and lots of chewy and intriguing thoughts. Plus, it pulls off the rare trick of making you feel better about people. There's no villain per se: the problem is human stupidity and obduracy, but this is one of those books that believes people can learn and do better, and makes the reader believe it too.
I read it in a sitting and enjoyed every minute. And how nice to have a historical set in the long past, too. Highly recommended, off to get more by this author.
From the opening scene, set on an impromptu battlefield in the immediate aftermath of the battle, I knew I was reading something special.
At The End I experienced that Holy Grail of a feeling, that sense of "THIS is why I read."
I read to have exactly this experience: to be swept up into a new and immersive world, to spend time with flawed and fascinating characters, to watch a love story unfold that's heartfelt and heartwrenching and utterly unique to these two people.
Five full stars for this one, and I expect there will be multiple rereads in its future. And who knows, maybe some day I'll even be able to write a proper review of it.
It might not sound like a compliment, but this author made me feel like a complete idiot. Multiple times.
And it’s a very good thing.
Almost all books that I love feel hard to review, but this one has some extra-large difficulties because of some masterful elements that would be spoilers to even try to explain. Let’s just say, I was surprised — outwitted — a couple of significant times and lots of other small ones. And delighted every time. Like, the kind of tickled that put a goofy grin on my face, making me want to look around and say “did anyone SEE that??”
This isn’t the sleepy story you might originally peg it for, but it also isn’t showy. It’s… quiet. Quietly sexy, quietly funny, quietly well-constructed, quietly brilliant. The characters nestled into my heart, and I could have easily read their banter for another couple hundred pages. But at the same time, it was perfectly enough. Just the right pacing and length for Rus and Adares’s tale.
1. Be careful what you wish for. After endless complaints about characters not talking enough to each other, karma will turn around to bite you and you’ll get stuck with half a book of interesting, but (seemingly) pointless, talking about everything from drainage systems to mythology.
2. You can’t always judge a book by its sample. And sometimes not even by its first half. Many thanks to Teal and WhatAStrangeDuck, if it wasn’t for your reassurances I’d have DNFed long before 30% and missed on one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
I’d like to leave it at that, but one of my few 5-star books of the year deserves better, so...let’s try for a review.
Objectively, this book has pacing issues. After a great opening, it drags a little (or a lot, depending on your patience) in the first part. I loved that Adares and Rus got to know each other and of course, for their connection to be more than sexual, there had to be a lot of talking. At the same time, most of their talking involved what I’d put under “world building” and I think integrating that in the plot, instead of making the MCs deliver history lessons to each other on page, would have been a better way to keep a reader’s attention while giving relevant info. After that the story picked up considerably, though, and it more than made up for the previous part.
Regarding the writing, I’ll have to make a little digression to explain why I can’t start throwing “great” and “wonderful” around.
The writing is good, really good if I think about some of the writing I’ve encountered in this genre. The characters are well drawn and their choices and reactions realistic. So realistic that my inner, immature romance reader is still chewing on her fingernails in frustration because of one thing that she knows had to be handled that way, because the alternative wouldn’t have made sense given the circumstances. She’s even glad the author handled it that way, she just would’ve preferred not to know.
Despite that, I’m not completely satisfied with the writing and after thinking about it I’ve only found one possible explanation. My biggest problem is the contrast between the sub-genre vs the way the characters talk and behave and how the plot got handled.
I think that’s more a “me” problem than a “book” problem, though, so I’ve put it under spoiler, even if there aren’t any real spoilers, because the average, not-ruined-by-Italian-schools, reader most likely won’t have a problem with that. And in the end I did enjoy the book and grew to love these guys, so who really cares?
This book was a walking DNF for most of the first half and I should give the two halves two different ratings and come up with something in between. It’s been a long time since I really cared about a character’s happiness, though, and even longer since I’ve had a book hangover.
So, there, take all the stars while I go back to my corner to think some more about Adares and Rus. Oh, Rus, I hope you’re not pushing me into another book slump right after pulling me out of my latest one.
I read a lot, and by that I mean a LOT m/m historicals and one of the qualities that I really, really appreciate is the ability of an author to straddle that fine line between not making the characters feel too contemporary but still at the same time making them feel completely approachable and likeable. This is what this book does for me. I feel that I get those guys. Both of the MCs are highly intelligent and in their own way kind of nerdy but in an environment that suggests some sort of Europe in the BC. So there are hints of ancient Greece and the ancient Celts but I think it's a wise choice not to really go there and use made up place names instead because as a reader, I don't have to fact-check in my hind-brain.
The world building is well done and the main factor for me is that I totally get that people connect through a shared sense of humour and ethics that just make sense to them, and probably always have.
Well done, author.
I enjoyed the book very much and I highly recommend it. I'll definitely check out further books by this author.
[EDIT: And I probably should have hit those five stars first because - duh - sorry, for spamming your feed, my dears.]
Talent!!! So well written and edited that in 245 pages there was one, a single tiny wrong word. That is unheard of in today's mass ebook market.
But kudos not only for a product well designed, the story itself is breathtaking. It's a fantasy world so well crafted that I felt it was real. I was there!
The plot models a historical setting yet the action takes a backseat to the character development. Without even trying I felt like I got to know both main characters intimately. Their dialogue is smart and witty. I found myself grinning with surprise more than once.
PS. I was going to give it 4.5 stars, but the epilogue bumped it up for me. I'm not a huge fan of epilogues, especially the OTT ones that wrap up every single thing in a huge colorful bow. This epilogue is the way they should all be done. Brilliant!
Something Human is a delightful historical novel set in an indefinite Mediterranean past and focusing on two characters coming from very different cultural backgrounds.
Adares comes from a refined and sophisticated civilisation reminiscent of Greek and Roman antiquity, while Rus is a young priest born in a semi-nomadic tribe of horse-breeders.
After meeting on the battlefield and saving each other's lives, Adares and Rus discover that, despite their many cultural differences, there's something deeper, something human, that can connect them.
I really loved this novel - Adares and Rus are truly wonderful characters, rounded, profound, witty.
Adares is portrayed as a delightful combination of confidence and self-doubt, the way he plays down his role and importance in Tios making him vulnerable but still full of initiative. Rus is inquisitive, effortlessly noble and with a pedantic trait that makes him lovingly awkward.
Their dialogues and exchanges are infused with sweet banter but they can plunge straight into deep philosophical musings and it was a real pleasure to read them.
Written in two parts - the first from Adares' POV, the second from Rus' - the story unfolds by putting together facts and details with an increasing sense of tension and urgency.
The worldbuilding is perfect - full of precise historical references to political structures and cultural artefacts but still mixed enough to create a setting that is at the same time familiar and alien.
The writing style is very compelling and incredibly smooth. As a translator, I couldn't stop thinking about ways to turn this into Italian. What turns of phrase to use, how to render the exotic rituals and practices described in such vivid detail, how to maintain the freshness of the dialogues, so fully modern and yet timeless.
What a wonderful way to end my reading year. Truly highly recommended!
Once again, I'm the odd one out. I didn't love this. I didn't hate it. It was just kind of there.
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this book. I liked One Night in Boukos quite a bit, and it was apparent very early on that this book was written with the same easy flow as ONIB was. However, when set up against a war background, the laid back tone was too easygoing for the setting. I kept expecting tension - these were two guys on opposite sides of the war, after all - but the tension never showed up.
This is written with Adares's POV in the first half, and Rus's in the second half (actually, Rus gets slightly more than half) and while I like both characters and the worldbuilding was overall done well (except when it's done in the endless dialogue in the first 25%), I think structuring the POV splits this way prevented me from really getting into the relationship aspect of it. I wanted to see some of Adares's reactions from his POV in the second half in particular.
It was just too easy. Too laid back for me to really get invested in their emotional story since they barely seemed invested in it themselves. There was just something missing, and the romance part didn't grab me, but I did like everything else and the MCs individually.
Thanks to my BR buddies: Teal, Elena, Xia, Moony, Rosa and Cristina.
I absolutely adored this gem of a historical romance. It goes straight onto my shelf of top 5 romances of 2018.
I found the writing to be simply superb. Both main characters and their world came alive in the eerily quiet dramatic first scene. I loved the attention to detail when it came to mannerisms and speech pattern of each of them, since they came from two different cultures. And I loved the strategic planning that clearly went into the story arc even more, as more crucial details about them are gradually revealed, expertly woven into the plot timed just right, delivering unsuspected twists and turns.
I was also a fan of the unusual dual POV—the first half of the book we get Adares as the narrator, and then it shifts over to Rus during the second half.
The love story itself was both sweet and tender, hot and steamy. Adares is such a dreamboat of a man, and Rus an appealing mix of sharp mind, bravery and vulnerability. The book ends with a HEA, but I have to say I'm happy to have the extended epilogue on hand to read next, courtesy of the author's twitter post. I'm simply not ready to let go of these two darlings.
Beautifully written, nicely edited. Superb world building. Deftly drawn, endearing characters. An exciting yet sweet fantasy by an author new to MM romance. Alice Degan writes under the nom de plume A.J. Demas. A fabulous start in our genre.
This was something different. A simple slow moving story that somehow manages to feel profound.
Set in fictional ancient times it borrows from Greek and Celtic histories. Not a setting that would generally appeal to me, but it works. The characters from opposing sides of the battlefield are both relatable. They're intelligent and interesting in their differences as they compare religious and social beliefs and get to know each other. Neither afraid of battle yet both well reasoned and willing to see more than an enemy before them. Both characters were interesting.
Around the 30% mark the story did feel overlong, too slow for all I liked reading of their bonding. For awhile there I floundered, but was glad I pushed on because then things started happening, though no sudden-drama. By the halfway point and the point of view change I was hooked and captivated to know how this could possibly work out, because it needed to work out for them but didn't seem feasible.
Far better than alternating chapters (never a favourite of mine), this format gives better flow but still allows us that insight into both worlds. They're both very different characters, yet in some principles the same. The gift of the author here is making these two different cultures seem so real, and to weave the story around them so seamlessly.
It's not a steamy read, though feelings run strong and there is passion between them.
I enjoyed it a great deal, it felt one hell of a journey.
Out of the gate I had high expectations for this book because it had some pretty impressive recommendations. I was all, "Yes! Let's see what all the fuss is about!"
And then I got started, and I said, "Oh. Oh no. I'm not feeling this book at all. This is going to be one of those, 'Hahah, sorry everyone, I know you loved it deeply, but I totally didn't, please don't murder me in my sleep, yeah?' books isn't it?"
But then it got better. I think it was about 41% when I was like, "OMG I FINALLY SEE WHAT THE FUSS IS ABOUT!" (you might see it sooner, I'm slow on the uptake). The story really took a turn from where I thought it was headed then, and I loved it. If you'd explained to me what was going to happen, I wouldn't have thought I would love it, either, but I totally did (no spoilers for you!).
I also loved the differences in cultures. Those felt very real and not just cosmetic. It wasn't just, "Oh, we wear slightly different clothes," but that there were actual differences in how they operated on a basic level. I very much appreciated that. I also very much enjoyed the way that the cultures adapted over time due to the changes in circumstance.
This is historical alternate-universe, set in a world like ours with echoes of the Ancient Romans/Greeks and Celts. Two men on opposite sides in battle save each other's lives, and then find themselves isolated together, away from the ebb and flow of the fighting, long enough to get to know each other. Long enough for attraction and a meeting of like minds to become something more.
Adares has a very appealing mix of self-confidence, curiosity, and intelligence. Rus is also intelligent, more instinctive, from a society less formal and organized, but with its own kinds of power. For a brief moment they find happiness together that neither of them could have imagined. But they can't hide from the war forever, and what they have together doesn't translate to who they are when the world intrudes on their sanctuary.
I loved the world-building here, the contrast of cultures, the way each of these men brought something different to the table. I loved Adares' stubbornness and optimism, and Rus's kindness and way of seeing the world. A beautiful story about love overcoming obstacles.
I absolutely enjoyed this story, from beginning to end. It usually doesn`t take a lot of convincing to have me read a historical romance. I especially love Roman or Greek settings and although this was not really the case here, the places and people resembled Greece very much, from the names to the places to the ideas of small independent cities. Adares, one of our main characters, is buried alive under a cart and unable to free himself, after a battle. When Rus, one of the enemies finds him, he helps him and spares his life. But Rus is injured as well and the poisoned arrow will slowly kill him. So the chance to repay the kindness for Adares comes immediately and while Rus` injury is slowly healing, those two get to know each other very well. The story was not full of action, but it had enough twists and turns (some I really hadn`t anticipated), to keep me hooked. What I always like in a story, is, when the main obstacles for a relationship are not caused by the stupidity of the main characters to talk to each other, or figure out what the other one wants, but come from outside. This was definitely the case here, especially with Rus`society not accepting same sex couples. Changing the POV from Adares to Rus in the middle of the story and even (partly) retelling it, was very interesting and unusual (for me). The end was very positive, not over the top romantic, but absolutely fitting the time and story. While I am usually generous with my ratings, as I really appreciate any author bringing this genre to life and I generally love to read about it, I never give away 5 stars easily. They are reserved for my absolutely favorite reads, however this comes so close to perfection, that I will round up from 4.5 and give it the full 5 stars!
So, my only criticism of this book is: nothing. Absolutely nothing. I loved every word. It was a delight to read; with a really convincing fictional historical word - fully realized, and lovely characters. All shot through with a sense of humour and compassion that I really enjoyed. Absolutely one of my favourite reads recently. I am looking forward to exploring more of this author's work.
I'm not a huge fan of historical novels but I have greatly enjoyed every page of this beautifully written love story! Thank you Manfred for this great recommendation, without which I would never have read this wonderful book!
Read, at my second attempt (something I thought would happen and I was dreading did not happen!). The friend who recommended it was right, I did like it a lot!
MM romance, set in a fantasy greek-roman like world, where the Phemians (and other islands) are the equivalent of greek civilization (maybe with a touch of Roman military and engineering tech), and the Rus people are a kind of celtic-germanic barbarians in a colder mainland. Our two main characters meet on opposing sides of a battlefield, in the aftermath. Both dying, both save the other and they literally become enemies to lovers. The world is fantastically detailed, the writing is very good, the details are well plotted with some surprises. And something which has bothered me in some of her books (the slavery of importants characters affects how cozy a cozy read feels) is actually not the focus, and also is addressed, solved, here (though not in later books).
But I did have some problems with suspension of disbelief regarding the romance part. It's a great story, but the romance part did not totally work for me. The first half of the book, when Adares and Rus get to know each other, feels oddly idyllic and remote, when they are actually so close to real conflict and siege between their factions. They both also are really completely open minded about each other's civilizations and even kind of dismissive about what would happen in other clashes (Adares thinking if the Luth overtake Tios he would go have a career again "Even if it means I lose my city and go back to Pheme and start over.", come on, you were dying in a battlefield, some of your friends would die). They talk , and relate to each other's cultures like they are well educated university students meeting some place neutral, sharing complex puns in a language Rus learnt second, third hand. The loyalties are also brushed aside quite easily, maybe too easily.
I also had problems with the ending, I did not quite believe in the romance resolution or that it will be HEA or that this is all the story. Its solution it's quite "fast" and almost mechanistic and it ends, with an epilogue some weeks after the previous chapter, but too soon. I wonder how they would live together, how Rus would change, evolve, do with his life. Or even if maybe in a few years they would not split and go live different lives happily enough with other people. That would be fine by me, this is a really interesting story, and it did not need to be a romance for me to enjoy it (though I do like romance stories, I did pick this up), and it is actually the romance "rules"(HEA ending, bonding scenes, even the sex scenes) which seem artificial.
EDIT: I'm coming back for a better review. The first thing you need to know about this is that the summary provided is inadequate, and the characterisation of this story as an enemies-to-lovers romance is misleading. Adares and Rus, our protagonists, are barely enemies in name only. There is never any enmity between them. They meet as people on the field of battle, and when they save each other's life, it is without expectation of reward and utterly without resentment. This sets the tone for the whole book.
The most remarkable thing for me about this book is the sheer generosity of spirit between the protagonists. They both have any number of reasons they might distrust one another, and they're neither of them naïve, but it is their choice, over and over again, to strive for understanding. They fall into an easy companionship: what might be received as a barb, is instead harmless teasing; what could be a grievous cultural misunderstanding is instead a learning opportunity; what might cause offence somehow doesn't. And this is how, in the span of a few days, they fall into a joyful emotional intimacy.
There is something very nice, very soothing, and utterly refreshing about their interactions as they get to know one another in the temple. I got the impression as I was reading it the first time that it was sort of a liminal space, beyond death and not yet returned to real life, in which it was possible for two very different people to become friends. But although there is certainly a sense of unreality about it, it's not merely their circumstances but rather their personalities that allow their rapport to grow and endure beyond the walls of the temple.
This is serendipity that takes root, through the repeated choices and hard work of our protagonists. Rus and Adares are both curious people, in their own ways. Rus has an intellectual background and a personal interest in religion. Adares has a genuine care for people. They are both inclined to sincerity. Rus is the kind of person who is not used to lying and would rather not have to, and Adares the sort who feels honesty is a good policy, if it can be had. They could be lying. They understand that under their circumstances, perhaps they ought to. They choose, for the most part, not to. It's not that there's not conflict, or disagreements, or strife (there's all of that): it's just that there's always a lightness that remains between Rus and Adares. It's wonderful.
I loved this story. I enjoyed the setting, which felt grounded without overwhelming with detail. The care the author took in forming her characters as people who could conceivably exist in this world, and making it feel expansive even in the chapters where the only setting was the temple. Both protagonists have friends, family, a community, and a culture, quite apart from their relationship with one another. I felt it only made the romance stronger.
It feels like they're getting away with love, and pulling this great emotional heist. The situation in which they find themselves seems impossible: Rus's people are besieging Adares's, themselves interlopers in this land. Moreover, Rus is a priest, of a faith that demands celibacy, and Adares holds a public position that invites scrutiny of his personal life. They've only just met each other. But this book and these characters seem to say: and after all, why not? The leap of faith they each take in trusting one another—first to preserve each other's life, and then in every subsequent encounter and exchange of intimacies,—is amplified, and in the end, richly rewarded.
P.S. Please read the epilogue on the author's Fragments website.
This book left me with conflicting emotions and I don’t know quite how to summarize them all. I was so bored at one point I almost DNF’d, but I was also so invested at times I cried and I was furious. I felt all the things with this book. I don’t know that I’d recommend it, but I know some people will love it. It ended so strongly that that’s what I remember the most and what put me over the edge to rate this a 4.
I think the biggest issues about this book were the lack of action and the stilted dialogue. I kept expecting more to happen, but it never did. This is an exploration of two people meeting and falling in love. That’s about it and it’s instalove so there’s not really that much tension between the two characters. Other things happen, but none of it is important. Surprisingly, I did believe in the feelings between these two and I loved the characters at individuals. There was something slightly off about the dialogue and it bothered me for the entirety of this book. The word choices felt too modern and the sentences were often awkward. I think that it could have been written off as language differences between the MCs, but it interrupted the flow of the book for me quite often.
I did feel a whole hell of a lot and that always impresses me so I’m going to go ahead and ignore these faults. I recommend this book.
4.5 stars from me. This was perfectly charming, and a joy to read. Wonderfully written, and expertly edited as K.J. Charles mentions in her review...such a refreshing change from most published stories nowadays. I also loved the cover. Maybe the author could give us a glimpse into Adares and Rus' future in Tios at some stage..pretty please 🤗 ??
I liked this one a lot but at times the writing style got me lost. It's like I was really immersed in these characters and in their world but then, something got "lost in translation", like I needed a bit more in some of the conversations and interactions between them. But still, the story was good, I liked Rus and Adares world and how it's changing and I loved the epilogue. The Little Temple is an awesome addition to the story.
Thank you friends for the awesome BR as always! I think I enjoyed this much more thanks to your company :D
Having seen some really positive reviews for this I was intrigued. A war has been fought between Rus' tribe, germamesque, tattooed horse breeders, and Adares Mediterranean colonisers, and Rus ,a priest, saves the life of Adares and they retreat to a temple to recover. As they find out about each others cultures, Rus' symbolic blue tattoos, his chastity and what it means and Adares initially more open culture they start to fall in love. They then part for a while, as two men form opposing cultures can't be together right ? Written from Adares POV then Rus' POV overall this was a great read, the dreamy slow experience in temple is not totally matched by the quicker pace of the rest of the book, and it had a CP vibe at times ( but that may just have been the setting and the enemies to lovers feel) but Rus and Adares were lovely together. I really liked that while they were apart they were true to their natures, and that they were both accepting of each others cultures also that the ending did not feel suddenly forced, and I would love to see what happened in a few years to these two. I read this in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Something Human takes us on a whirlwind trip into a created world that feels like a mixture of an old Arthurian legend and a modern day romance. Every piece of this world meshes beautifully with the idea of siege warfare between two diametrically opposed tribes vying for dominance in an ancient world. Adares, the archon (King, for better want of the word) of the Phemian people, was never supposed to be in power, but his tribe loved him—so much so that they opted to vote him in as their archon and thumb their nose at the appointed one the fatherland across the sea wanted to put in power.
Adares is a mixture of humility, confidence, and self-deprecating humor. He is so very appealing it’s no wonder the very prim and stalwart Rus falls in love with him right off the bat. It was so very easy to like this guy. He was honest to a fault and the running dialogue in his head made his character both amusing and appealing.
A lovely, lovely book set in a world that is reminiscent of late Ancient Rome. There were a few times when the language seemed to jar with the world, but apart from that it was wonderfully immersive as well as a soft and gentle love story. I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it.
Good writing, which makes this even more of a letdown than a book where everything is uniformly terrible. This is a pseudohistorical world that is more or less Roman Britain with different names, and while in a fantasy the author is free to pick and choose whatever aspects of their real-world historical counterpart they wish, it sure was jarring to read mentions of engagement parties, novels, still lifes, characters being called "knaves", and so on in something that was otherwise mapped exactly onto a classical period where all of those things would have been anachronistic. Likewise the dialogue. Like another reviewer said, when I read historical fiction I expect a higher tone to the dialogue.... Rightly or wrongly, because it's not like they didn't have slang and casual ways of speaking in any era, I know. But it took me out of the story every time the characters were "yeah"-ing each other and telling each other they didn't "flip out". When one character is an aristocrat who I am told on-page is a brilliant tactician etc., I need him to sound like those things, and Adares didn't.
Which is all nitpicking territory dependent on how much ahistorical detail bugs you, but my larger problem was with the pacing. The first third of this novel is not a story per se, it's two characters regurgitating worldbuilding in the guise of getting to know each other. The other two-thirds are . Low stakes, low drama stories are fine! They are! Sometimes I'm not in the mood to put up with ridiculous shit even in fiction! But given the setup for this is that two characters from very different cultures, from two armies that were previously trying to, uh, kill each other?? become unlikely allies and then lovers ... the payoff is just too weak for the premise, the resolution too pat. All the political and military difficulties work out perfectly with no resentment by anyone anywhere, ever. And then everyone applauded! And Einstein was in the audience!
What did work for me were the characters, who were sympathetic and clever, and generally avoided sinking to cardboard seme/uke cutout status as is so typical in the genre. And even if it was total fantasy material meant to absolve the characters of period-typical atrocities , I did enjoy that this deliberately interrogated the misogyny inherent in the "xyz makes you unmanly" stance one of the characters struggles with. It's too bad that the plotting doesn't match up to the skill level in other areas.
‘Fall off your horse’ beautiful. This is an enjoyable, well-written m/m romance with great world-building/period detail. It’s a story about love across cultures, and the two leads have convincingly different world-views, and negotiate those differences in believable – and sometimes charming – ways. Both leads were engaging. Both were decent people trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation. I really wanted them to be together and I believed their relationship would last. Special mention of Rus’ adorable description of Adares as “fall off your horse” beautiful, which might not carry much emotional weight out of context like this in a review, but which really gives you the feels within the book. I liked how thoughtful both leads were – not just of each other, but about their situations and status in life.
World-building and period-language-wise, the author doesn’t put a foot wrong. Historicals (even fantasy historicals) have to walk a fine line between seeming historically accurate (i.e. people think differently) and being acceptable to modern readers, and I felt this book did that admirably. At no point was I thrown out of Rus and Adares’ world. Also, the writing is confident and flowing. It’s a very easy read.
The pacing sometimes felt a little slow, especially near the beginning where the two characters have long conversations about the differences between their cultures. I can see that in reality they might, but found myself getting impatient for some action. The action, when it came, was sometimes oddly without tension. In one case, the reader is told before it happens that a plan will be a success. In another instance, the character’s confidence in his own competence defuses what could be a really nail-biting scene into something far more matter-of-fact. Of course, that’s character, but I felt this story could have been told in a more exciting way in some places.
That said, for the charming and thoughtful characters, the masterful world-building and the great writing, this book easily earns four stars from me. I’ll definitely be looking out for other books by this new-to-me author.