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....meh. Listen, I'm all about political arranged marriages, but what makes that trope so delightful is the inherent conflict between political necess....meh. Listen, I'm all about political arranged marriages, but what makes that trope so delightful is the inherent conflict between political necessity and what the individuals want... and the struggle to accept that those two things may be falling into line with each other. This book pretty much avoided that entirely. There was no conflict, just instant attraction, and it was so boring. The external plot meandered; at first it seemed that there would be an elven coup, but in the end there was a random encounter in the magical forest and then a duel tacked onto the end. There wasn't even a real sense of resolution, much less character growth. What's the point of wasting such an enticing premise by running away from everything that makes it interesting?...more
There aren't very many w/w books on Hoopla - a free ebook service to which my library subscribes - so when I want some fluffy queer content to read onThere aren't very many w/w books on Hoopla - a free ebook service to which my library subscribes - so when I want some fluffy queer content to read on my breaks at work, I generally end up in m/m instead. After a few books, I'm starting to see some ongoing trends in indie-published gay romance.
- Relatively underdeveloped relationships: Part of this goes to the fact that these books tend to be very short, but there's just... not a lot of deep connection or complicated interactions. Characters tend to hold the same moral beliefs (in this case, both our leads are anti-slavery, opposed to the Governor, and our pirate doesn't actually... do any of the horrible things pirates do). They're pretty much instantly attracted to each other, and nobody has any real hesitations about sexuality or the relationship in particular. - Basically irrelevant plots: The circumstances which bring our two heroes together are just sketched outlines. The romance is the alpha plot, and the question isn't really 'will they get together?' as it is 'when will they have sex?' (The answer is 'at some pretty rote percentage points in the book'.) - Really awkward syntax: All characters forego contractions at random instances and it sounds bizarre. None of the conversations sound natural. Information is often delivered so bluntly it ruins immersion. - A lack of... reality: Characters find their way into and out of a cave with no mention of light sources, even though if the villain really wanted to kill them all he'd have to do is leave them in the dark. Antagonists are ridiculously easy to defeat even when better-prepared. The external plot is brushed aside for the sake of a HEA.
In this one in particular, I struggled a lot with the way slavery was handled. Specifically: if you're gonna set a book in the Caribbean in this time period, and our heroes are so firmly opposed to slavery, and they've just come into a lot of treasure, you can't then... have them sit through most of a slave auction just watching until the one person they care about is on the block. That scene is representative of the way the issue was approached in general - slavery was Bad because a friendly character was involved, but nobody even tried to engage with the idea of, y'know, the rest of the system. (See also: one of the heroes is sentenced to be a galley slave, but is saved because the captain of the ship he's put on thinks he's special. Said captain is one of our good guys... and unspoken goes the fact that, by rights, he also has a bunch of slaves in the belly of his ship.)
Overall... meh. Not really worth rating, honestly. It's not one of indie publishing's hidden gems, but there are worse ways to pass the time, I guess....more