Born in the northern wastes of Kaleva in the middle of a devastating war between light and darkness, Rikko’ has found his way south to the warm shores of the Circled Sea, the first elver to ever turn pirate.
Forbidden by the rules of the Andalouan court to pursue such an ungentlemanly career, Gael can only dream of ever becoming a doctor, and his medical studies remain unfinished until his aunt the Queen sends him on a covert mission to the pirate city of Beyas’kahl.
And here, after one night with Rikko’, all his loyalties are put to the test.
Queen Amata has reigned for three decades, and she always used her men cunningly. But even the best player can miscalculate, and her blunder places Gael first in slavery, then in a naval battle, and finally, worst of all, face to face with Rikko’s darkest and deadliest side.
From such darkness, is there any coming back? Is there any hope of love for Gael, or redemption for Rikko’?
- 2 To Be Read lists
“Come, Puna, sweetie,” he said, plucking the lemur off Gael’s shoulder with one hand. He placed her on his chest of drawers, on a pile of freshly laundered clothes, her favorite bedding in the world, after himself. She grumbled a little but soon settled down. “And as for you, my boy, you come here to me,” he whispered, drawing Gael to the edge of his bed, where they both tumbled down together, kissing.
Gael was still frantically pecking at him, with those tight-lipped clueless kisses that drove Rikko’ to distraction. He let himself be kissed like that for some minutes—it was so ridiculously lovable.
Ah, it is a pity to teach him anything, he thought. I wish I could keep him like this forever. He knows nothing, except that he has this need…
But you can’t have your cake and eat it, I suppose.READ MORE
“Wait, sweet, wait,” he whispered finally, and laid Gael on his back, pinning his body down with his folded leg as he lay beside him, and took his cheek in his palm. He put his mouth to Gael’s mouth, and gently, slowly, savoring every minute instant of it, he ran the tip of his tongue along the seam of those tightly closed lips, lightly at first, then harder, until the lips finally parted, like two halves of a plum, and Gael gasped in surprise and then lust. His body arched in desire when Rikko’s tongue met his, and he groaned with hunger, welcoming the new intimacy of that tongue-to-tongue kiss with an adoring fierceness that had Rikko’ near to tears with emotion. He groaned again, hugging Rikko’ closer, sinking his fingers in his hair, touching his face and neck and ears, pursuing his mouth when Rikko’ pulled back to breathe, licking Rikko’s lips.
Rikko’ had never met any grown man (Gael was young, sure, but not a child—Rikko’ despised child lovers, and never, ever went close to the little creatures himself) both so inexperienced, so shy, and yet so wholeheartedly passionate. It was enchanting, and utterly enflaming. He laughed softly and pulled back from the kisses. This was just too much. He could not wait any longer. He needed to touch this boy properly all over; he had to have his cock in his mouth, and maybe, if Gael was so inclined, inside that beautiful, taut little butt.
“Too many clothes,” he said, in Gael’s ear. He kicked off his flip-flops, and realized, with a bit of a shock, that he was still wearing his dagger, stuck in his sash, and his sword belt. He had forgotten all about them. He crossed the room to lay both weapons on his chest of drawers and untied his sash, and felt Gael’s hands on his hips.
“C—can I? Sir? Please?” whispered the boy, and Rikko’ smiled as Gael, with almost religious awe, unwound the length of silk from around his waist and hips and let it fall to the floor around his feet.
Rikko’ stepped out of the puddled folds and murmured, “You too.”
He finished undressing in a few seconds. He never wore a lot. It just got in the way.
Gael took off his clothes, and Rikko’ watched him from the bed, waiting. Under those strangely unattractive breeches and shirt, he was every bit as delicious as Rikko’ had always known he would be, not particularly muscular, but sleek and quick, and just a little awkward, like a young animal, full-grown but still uncertain of his body.
Rikko’ pulled him close, pressing that lithe soft form against his own, and their cocks met halfway, both hard and quite ready, so that they had to be pulled up against their bellies for them to embrace. Rikko’ smiled and palmed Gael’s butt, and kissed him, deep and long, and then put a hand between them and took the boy’s member in his fingers just for a bit of a feel, a bit of foreplay.
He tugged at the lovely taut cock once.
Gael gave a sort of astonished yelp, tensed all over, and then moaned wildly against Rikko’s shoulder, oh, oh, ooh, and suddenly Rikko’ found himself awash in hot, splashing, dripping jets of sperm, all down his belly, lap, and leg, a veritable, goddamn, bleeding flood of it.
He let go, dumbfounded, and then burst into laughter.
“Wh—well, I’ll be … what the…” he began, but, really, he could only laugh. I just barely touched him!
“Damn it, doctor, our ship sprung a leak,” he said finally, still laughing. “I’m drowned!”
“Oh gods, oh gods, oh gods,” said Gael, absolutely frantic, “oh gods, sir, I am so sorry!” He jumped out of bed, fumbling around. “I’ll find my handkerchief, sir, I’ll mop it up this minute…”
Rikko’ laughed even harder and stretched out to pull him back in bed.
“Stop that. Leave it. Leave it, damn it! It’s all right. I’m joking. It’s all right! It’s all good! Stuff’s good for the skin, it is known. Leave it.” He couldn’t stop laughing.COLLAPSE
Let me say right away: I genuinely enjoyed this novel. Less a fantasy romance than a nicely paced and gripping adventure-and-romance tale, it is set in an imaginary world that strikes as fairly familiar. I always seemed to almost recognize places from our own, very real world. Gael, for instance, is the nephew of the Andalouan queen—everything about Andaloua and its neighbours reminded me of Spain, some place names sounding outright Castillan or Catalan. Now, Gael is a young nobleman living a sheltered if dull life at court. He dreams of becoming a doctor, a wish his father frowns upon. Luckily, his aunt allows him some cursory medical training with her own doctor. Then, to his delight, she entrusts him with a secret mission: pirates making sea travel and transport very hazardous, she wants to enrol a skilled corsair captain herself to fight the criminal endeavours threatening her country and its allies. Gael’s goal is to find that man. He therefore has to go to Beyas’kahl, a city on the Southern shores of the Circled Sea famous for its medical school, where he’s officially meant to study medicine. I immediately pictured the Mediterranean sea and a coastal city in Morocco, Algeria, or Tunisia (or even today’s Turkey if the place names are any hint).
That’s how Gael’s epic adventure begins, anyway. The ship he’s aboard is captured by the pirate ship “Rüven”, which is operating out of Beyas’kahl. Amongst the pirate crew there’s the first mate, astonishingly handsome and strange elver Rikko’, who for unmentionable reasons makes Gael’s heart beat faster on first sight. Stranger still, the fierce elver discovers that the young and innocent prisoner doesn’t leave him completely indifferent either. That’s why, when the not-yet-doctor from Andaloua is supposed to be sold on the Beyas’kahl slave market, the highest bidder turns out to be… Rikko’. Gael becomes the pirate ship’s and Rikko’s shared property when they set out to sea again. He quickly proves to be a worthy ship surgeon and doctor, but the lust and hunger he starts feeling for Rikko’ is gnawing away at him.
When the ship returns to port, Gael, although technically a slave, is given leave to freely roam the foreign city. He manages to find a liaison man of his aunt’s and to send her an urgent message telling her that Rikko’ is the man she’s looking for and disclosing where and when he might be captured. That evening, however, he stumbles upon Rikko’ in a tavern, and the elver decides to show him the hidden beauties of Beyas’kahl. They drink, they dance, they kiss… and the evening ends in a frenzy of steam and passion (by the way, this was the point in the book when I knew the die was cast. From there on the plot would unravel with the clockwork precision of a Greek tragedy, whether I liked the direction it took or not).
On their second trip Gael and Rikko’ notice little by little that with each passing day, each second spent close to each other, they’re falling ever more deeply in love. Yet, one of them knows he has betrayed the other’s trust. And he doesn’t dare tell his lover the truth because he’s afraid that that’ll end their cosy-rosy relationship with a loud BANG. All he can do is pray and hope his letter never reaches his aunt’s court. Of course, I the trembling reader knew how vain those hopes were. Greek tragedy indeed—fate doesn’t have any choice in that matter, there’s only one way out for the plot, and that’s the way leading to catastrophe, despair, separation—maybe even hatred?
As in the ancient Greek tragedies, from the moment I read about Gael sending the message to his aunt, I knew what was in store. And from exactly that moment on, I didn’t want it to happen. Stupid me, I tried to will it away while turning the pages, and I was almost “hating” Ms Wyvern because I knew she’d do everything in her might to separate Gael and Rikko’. I also knew she had no choice in that matter either—the story had to lead to that culminating point; but still… how could she? If I had been capable of such a thing, I would’ve closed the book then and there, to never reopen it again. But. I was hooked (Ms Wayvern is some helluva skillful and talented story-teller!). Yes, it was that sort of book for me: I admit I instantly liked the story, it’s wild adventure magic, its world of freedom. I fell in love with the two guys, Gael and Rikko’, too, almost at once. Two strong and endearing characters whom the story makes grow and become more mature. I loved the relationship they were building. I wanted their romance to happen and, when it had happened, to bloom. I loved the strange-and-yet-so-familiar world Ms Wyvern invented. Even the secondary characters were well imagined, from fearless northern queens to surprisingly soft-hearted cooks.
In one word, if you like well-written adventure tales with a touch of fantasy, with heaps of romantic moments, moments of suspense, sizzling “hot scenes”, and a nicely slow but surefire build-up, this is definitely a book for you.
I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.