*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
From the very start, I liked these characters and their relationship (or rather, their lack of relationship and Ashe’s pining and attempts to get a rise out of Katsu). It was cute and fun from that first interaction, and that vibe carried through the whole book and their whole relationship. Poor Ashe had to work so hard to get Katsu to trust him and open up to him at all and to admit he cared, and even then he barely got anything. As the reader, it was obvious Katsu cared about him a whole lot, but Ashe did not find it quite so obvious and was left having to interpret Katsu’s obscure displays of affection, cloaked in grumpiness and annoyance and stoicism. They were sort of a grumpy/sunshine pair, and it was adorable.
And speaking of poor Ashe, seriously this poor man! In almost every story, he had some horrible injury or illness! It always turned out ok, but my gosh.
There was also sex, and *whew* *SPOILER* That first sex scene when Katsu started to lose himself and was just, like, grabbing at Ashe, and then Ashe told him to take a breath and asked if he was ok… MMMMM. *END SPOILER* It never lost the fun though. You could tell these two were just having a good time together, sometimes laughing or messing with each other, and that just made it sexier. Anyway, Ashe was always horny, and luckily Katsu didn’t seem to mind. It was also kind of the only time Katsu seemed to relax and really be vulnerable with Ashe.
The fantasy world was fun. There were elves and magic and dragons. I loved how each character had their own beliefs about magic and how it worked, and as the reader, I don’t actually know which is correct. I just know what they believed and what I witnessed of it in action.
And the dragon! At first I thought, “Aww, cute baby dragon!” But then she turned out not so cute. But still kinda cute, even though she was a problem? At one point, the dragon’s emotional state was described as disgruntled, and I think that’s just a good word to describe this dragon overall. She was constantly disgruntled. The emotional and magical connection between Ashe and the dragon was a cool part of the story too.
This is a collection of short stories, but they’re all connected and strung together like a book. There are also some extra scenes at the end, things that didn’t make it into the stories for this or that reason, with some author commentary.
Overall, I really liked this. I felt for the characters when they were suffering and had a great time with them when they were happy. Their romance was cute, their adventures were interesting, and I’m looking forward to the next book!
Anyone who likes fantasy adventures, angsty but also cute and beautiful m/m romance, grumpy + sunshine, steamy sex, bad-tempered but lovable dragons, elves, and magic.