When I first saw the call for gay dragon stories at Storm Moon Press for their Dracones anthology, I totally discounted it, off hand.
I love writing about mythical creatures, but dragons are such a staple of the fantasy genre, I wasn’t sure what I had new to offer. Yet the idea of writing a dragon story niggled away at the back of my mind as I went about writing other things. I thought a lot about what I liked in stories about dragons, what I didn’t like, and what I’d never seen before. I considered setting the story in medieval Mongolia, I thought about setting it in Japan, or even a traditional European-focused fantasy land. Nothing really inspired me, though, or made me feel compelled to write it down.
Then, one day, while I was planning for another story, it hit me: a steampunk-like Victorian setting. That idea just clicked for me. What I really wanted to read, I realized, was a story about a dragon set in 1870s New York City. Since I felt excited about reading it, I knew I had to write it.
The first thing I did was a lot of Google searches looking for pictures of dragons. I researched a lot of different kinds of dragons. I looked at and read articles about dragons from all different mythologies. Almost every mythology in the planet has some sort of dragon or dragon-like creatures, so there was a lot to choose from. The kind of dragon which really jumped out at me, though, was the Irish wyrm. Wyrms are found in British and Irish mythology. They are different from the more traditional dragons found in fantasy, in that they don’t have arms, legs or wings. Wyrms don’t fly, but they do hoard, and more importantly, they are associated with guarding specific geographic locations. Wyrms can be found guarding particular hills, rock formations, springs, or deep caves. Usually these locations have magical properties or are soft spaces between our world and other worlds such as the realm of the faeries.
My wyrm, Daire, can look human if he wishes but is not used to living amongst humans. Having something precious stolen from him drives him from the hill in Ireland and forces him to come to New York City. Daire isn’t used to trying to live as a human, though, and quite often, he does not act completely human. That was something else I wanted, I knew my dragon was going to have to be in human form at least part of the time (to fascinate sexy times if nothing else, which would be a lot harder and less sexy if he were in wyrm form). Even when he looks like a human—which is most of the story, actually—I wanted it to be quite clear that Daire is a wyrm, not a human. He doesn’t have the same moral compass as humans do. As far as Daire is concerned, if someone attacks you and steals from your hoard, you are allowed to eat them. Plain and simple. He also doesn’t understand certain elements of societal interaction very well, which makes it hard for him to blend in. Plus, Daire in wyrm form picks up a lot of his sensory input through his tongue (as snakes and lizards do). It’s hard for him to remember he can’t actually taste magic by licking things in his human form, though. This is particularly a problem for Daire in relations to books, which are what he hoards.
Overall, my short story, “Weird Magics”, is much more steampunky than anything I’ve written in a while. It’s a fun adventure story about how magic and mythical creatures mix with technology and secret organizations in the back streets of New York. It also goes particularly well with my other magical high-jinx in New York story, “Business Makes Strange Bedfellows” in Storm Moon Press’ Blood and Lipstick anthology. Just saying. 😉
Below is an excerpt from “Weird Magics”. I hope you enjoy it and check out the Dracones anthology! Thanks to Cole and The Armchair Reader for having me today!
“Do you come here often?” There was a light touch to his shoulder, and Daire turned to find Cyras standing next to him.
“If you two would excuse me.” William headed for the door as Cyras’ hand curled around Daire’s elbow.
“I need to see if they have any of Count Jan Potocki’s monographs, but then would you accompany me to get a cup of coffee?”
Daire hesitated for a moment and then nodded. “All right.”
He trailed after Cyras, who moved farther into the shop before stopping at one of the shelves, eyes searching across the spines of the books. Daire turned to the opposite shelf; his hands were immediately drawn to a small volume with a pretty, light brown leather cover. He pulled it free and opened it to find it was a small volume of love poems in French. He flipped through the pages, noting that the words had been hand scripted onto the pages. Reading through a few poems, Daire stopped every so often to stroke one finger across a word or phrase before moving on. He began to make that deep humming noise as his chest warmed.
“Are you going to buy that, too?”
Daire jumped, having forgotten he wasn’t alone. He tucked the small volume under his arm. “Yes.”
“You were right.” Cyras led the way to the front of the shop, although he himself was empty handed. “You really like books.”
Dracones – Now Available from Storm Moon Press. Seven short stories for just $7.99!
Title: Dragon Touched (Dragon #7)
Author: JB McDonald
Length: 17,500 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Dragons, Elves, Demons, Magic, Royalty, Series
Rating: Really Liked It!
Spoiler alert! This is the seventh book in a series and may contain spoilers for previous installments.
Reviewed by Sadonna
Being called a demon and given suspicious looks has become old hat for Ashe, depressing as it is. But a mob attack leaves him shaken, aware of the danger he’s in every time he walks out of the palace. With no purpose, no friends, and a culture that hates him, Ashe is barely putting one foot in front of the other. He wants to go home.
Katsu wants to go home, too, but first he has to fulfill his duties. The problem is that every time he finishes one thing, something else needs his attention. If Ashe will just be patient, Katsu will figure it out. But Ashe is running out of patience, and the boys are learning that sometimes, love isn’t enough. Katsu knows the solution is there, if he can just find it… before everything falls apart.
This seventh installment of the Dragon series is definitely fraught with tension. I was glad to learn that the final installment will be published shortly and hopefully we will have some resolution for Ashe and Katsu!
Ashe and Katsu remain in Katsu’s homeland even though their initial reason for being there has been resolved and Katsu’s sister is healed and out of danger. For weeks the Queen and Chieko, Katsu’s recovering sister, have kept Katsu busy with other tasks. Ashe is lonely and bored and he decides that he needs to get out of the palace where he feels like a prisoner and go into the city. He convinces Daisuke that with the dragon accompanying him he’ll be fine. Well, he couldn’t be more wrong and thankfully Katsu arrives to rescue him before things get really out of hand. This does not stop Ashe from being angry that he is stuck in a country where he is feared as a demon and has no freedom.
Of course the Queen continues to find things that ONLY Katsu can do – like train their healers who were never trained properly in the advanced techniques that he knows. Of course he feels guilty about that and agrees to stay on. But Ashe has had enough and tells Katsu that regardless of what task the Queen has set before him, he must leave and Katsu can find him when he’s finished with whatever duties he has to fulfill. Daisuke tries to find Ashe and escort to get him through the country and to a boat so he can return to his own country, but no one wants to leave. Daisuke is an indentured servant, so he cannot, but Ashe figures out a way to pay off his debt and then he can accompany Ashe.
Ashe feels like he must leave before he sees Katsu again because he doesn’t want his resolve to waiver and he is just too miserable. They buy some horse and start off on their journey, hunting and camping along the way, which Daisuke definitely does not enjoy. Meanwhile the Queen expresses her wish that Katsu fulfill his obligations with Chieko and the healers and then Katsu is approached by one of the men who tries to guilt him into joining their cause as well. Luckily his sister makes him see reason and that he will be miserable if he sacrifices his happiness when there is really no need for him to do so. Unfortunately, the Queen has other plans.
I am so looking forward to the resolution of this story. Katsu and especially Ashe realize the extent of their love for each other in this episode, but there is interference from outsiders and it’s going to be very difficult for them to triumph and be together in the end.
Posted by Sadonna in 16-40k, 5 Really Like It, Authors M-O, Fantasy, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Demons, Dragon series, Dragons, Elves, JB McDonald, Magic, Royalty, Series, Short Story, Torquere
Title: The Prince of Galerir (The Galerir Saga #1)
Author: Anna Lee
Publisher: MLR Press
Length: 65k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Friends to Lovers, Dragon Shifters, Magic, Royalty, Warriors/Knights, Secrets & Lies, Sweet and Light
Rating: Pretty Good
Dragons, a usurper, a sickly king, and a hidden prince with his beloved knight all have plans for the fate of the kingdom of Galerir…
Long ago, magik was banished from the kingdom of Galerir. Yet when two young men who share a forbidden passion discover a dragon hatchling, they unwittingly set a course of events in motion that will change the kingdom and their lives forever. All Lord Tomas Roland wants is a life where he is free to love his knight, Griffin Dalison. Yet the chains of responsibility wind tighter around Tomas when it is revealed that he is the heir to the kingdom of Galerir. Tomas and Griffin must reach Galerir’s ailing king before a usurper has the chance to seize the throne. With Griffin as his touchstone, Tomas delves into the unfamiliar worlds of politics and magik. But will Tomas be able to keep his love by his side once he becomes the prince of Galerir?
I’ve been sitting on this one for a while, needing to get some other reviews done before I could read it, but when I finally got to it and started it, I fell into it right away. I was a little unsure of the direction at first, but once it really started moving, I could feel the momentum and I started to really enjoy reading it. It swept me right through the book and I never felt a lull. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, I had several things that bothered me some, but I still enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel whenever it comes out.
Griffin and Tomas grew up together as boys, then teenagers and now men, being prepared to soon accept their adult roles and responsibilities. Throughout, they’ve remained each other’s best friend, even though one is a lord and the other an orphan. Griffin, sent away as a boy to live and work for the nobility, has grown up with an aptitude for swordplay, and is poised to become Tomas’ personal knight. Tomas must do his duty as well. As heir to the estate that constantly keeps the border and magical threat from the other side at bay, he must marry and continue the lineage, something he’s been trying to put off in any way he knows how.
Both Tomas and Griffin harbor feelings for one another, but they’re not known to the other until Griffin finds a baby dragon in the forest where they played as boys. Dragons are supposed to be extinct and they’re afraid for her if they turn her over to Tomas’ father. Dragons are beings of magic, from across the border and were eradicated along with magic by decree of the King of Galerir one hundred years ago. So, they make a plan — they’ll convince Tomas’ father that he’ll marry the girl he was destined for if he can have one last adventure. Secretly, they mean to take the little dragon to the border in order to save her, and then run away together.
Their plans change when Tomas’ father reveals a very big secret, his mother was the sister of the current King, which leaves Tomas as the only remaining heir, kept away from the court after a blood rebellion almost ended the line of succession.
This was a very easy to read novel. At times I felt it was a little too easy, but its a stylistic choice and certainly there are readers who will like that the story takes a somewhat easier path in general than others. The characters don’t really have any angst, though the situation may seem like it calls for it. I would normally be happy about that, but I did get a little bit tired of how often these two reaffirm their love to each other. They’re constantly saying “Love You”, “Only You”, things like that and it felt a bit like any difficult parts for the characters were just diverted, rather than the characters having to experience them — or, I should say the reader having to experience them. Still, this was something that just wasn’t to my taste, and may be to others. Whenever the characters were alone, at the end of the day just talking, for instance, it got to be a little too sweet for me.
The plot itself really gets underway when the secrets come to light from Tomas’ father and it doesn’t let up throughout the whole book. There’s a nice pace and progression that kept me interested. I was waiting for … not violence or battle or anything like that, even a skirmish. But what I was waiting for from the first book was some sort of capping point, of climax in the story. Instead I felt like the story neither declined or inclined, but moved steadily towards the end, then stopped to be (I assume) picked up immediately in book two. That made this feel like one book that was maybe only cut into pieces so it wouldn’t be too long, and I wished, while reading it, that there had been a more natural ending. It felt like the story ended in the middle, rather than at an intermission, but as a fully functioning novel itself. I think I’m fudging up trying to get my point across, but I was waiting for some sort of tension that never came, and I’m hoping that it doesn’t carry on in the same way throughout the next book.
Most of all, that made me excited for the next book because I was left with a bit of a wanting, waiting to see what would happen. Besides that, I am excited to see what is next with the plot. Readers who like a sweeter and lighter fantasy would be interested in this, and I think that it is so far the best work I’ve read by Anna Lee 🙂
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors J-L, Fantasy, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Anna Lee, Dragon Shifters, Dragons, Friends to Lovers, Knights, Light & Sweet, Magic, MLR Press, Royalty, Secrets & Lies, Series, The Galerir Saga, Warriors
Title: Time to be King
Author: Carolina Valdez
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 28k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Knights/Warriors, Dragons, Shifters, Royalty, HEA
Rating: Pretty Good
Reviewed by Sadonna
As a secret dragon shapeshifter, Arod walks a thin line between different worlds. Not even Brom, his lover, knows what he truly is. Like his human father before him, Arod’s a trained warrior—first knight to the Earl of Du Magne, who rules the land of Ahnerion. It’s in this human world Arod wants to reside. It is here he is who and what he wants to be. But here he also lives and loves dangerously, for exposure of his secret relationship with Brom would mean their deaths for what the Church has declared an abomination. Yet to the two men, their love doesn’t feel like an abomination. It feels natural, something to be cherished and guarded, and so they’re forced into secrecy. Now, at the height of Arod’s happiness, a crisis in the animal kingdom of his true nature thrusts a painful, agonizing choice in his face. Will he risk revealing his shapeshifting abilities to his lover? Or will he refuse his dragon destiny and remain in the human world? Whichever decision he makes, Arod knows that if he doesn’t choose wisely, he could lose everything and everyone he loves…and even his own life…
We are introduced to Arod and Brom – two knights who have been having a secret love affair for some time. Even though their relationship is forbidden upon pain of death, they are unable and unwilling to stay away from each other. What Brom doesn’t know is that Arod has another secret that he has been keeping that could be even more dangerous. After they spend an intimate evening together, Arod feels that war and danger are approaching but he doesn’t know exactly when or from what quarter. He does tell Brom of his unsettled feeling, but not that it is result of his dragon sense as he’s never shared that he is not just a knight the son of a knight, but also he is a golden dragon shapeshifter.
The next day, Arod spots possible trouble during his survey of the forests, but he is called by his mother through their mental connection as Dragons. His grandfather is elderly and ill and will not live much longer and he is being called home to his mother’s world to take his place as the Dragon prince. He is torn because of course he loves his grandfather, but he loves Brom as well and does not want to leave him.
He spends time with his grandfather and that time is bittersweet as he dearly loves his grandfather and spending time with him but realizes that the circumstances necessitating this time will result in loss and a new and heavy burden. His grandfather does his best to prepare Arod for being king warning him to be careful and not to trust everyone – that there are dangers within his own people.
Arod needs to return to the human country to say goodbye to Brom. He is loathe to tell him his secret and also inform him that he must leave him behind, but he will not risk Brom’s safety. At first Brom is afraid – he has been taught that shifters and dragons are evil. But it is Arod, so he quickly relinquishes this idea and they enjoy their reunion. In the following days, Arod and Brom spend as much time as they can together knowing that Arod could be called home at any time.
This was a different shifter story than I usually read as it is more of a fantasy story in every sense. Even though it’s a novella, we are treated to a very full story. This is the third book I’ve read by this author and they have all been different genres. I enjoyed all of the aspects of this story and the unexpected turns it took. I also liked the writer’s descriptive style. If you’re in the mood for something a little bit different, this might be the book for you.
Posted by Sadonna in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors V-Z, Fantasy, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Amber Allure, Carolina Valdez, Dragons, HEA, Royalty, Shifters, Warriors
Title: Dragon’s Lair (Dragon #6)
Author: JB McDonald
Length: 22k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Fantasy
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Dragons, Fae, Healer, Royalty, Family Issues, Politics, Magic
Rating: Really Liked It
Reviewed by Sadonna
**Spoiler alert: This is book 6 in a series and as such, any information contained in this review may be considered spoilers for the previous books. It is not recommended that these books be read out of sequence as each builds on the previous events.
Being a demon is no fun at all. This doesn’t particularly come as a surprise, but his constant escort and rarely seeing his lover does. When Ashe agreed to come to Katsu’s land, he did so hoping to spend time with Katsu. Instead, he spends time locked within the palace grounds, ostracized as a monster. This will continue, he knows, until the princess Chieko is healed… or dies.
Dying looks like the greater possibility, and Katsu is already mourning his sister. Then something happens — something terrible and wonderful. The ground trembles and opens up, and Katsu nearly falls through. At Ashe’s greatest need, the dragon responds, saving Ashe’s lover. If they can make it happen again, it might just save the princess’s life — and mean Ashe and Katsu can go home.
I discovered this series back in April and quickly read the first four books in one day. They are not long books, so since I liked the first story so much, I just devoured them one after the other. Each story builds on the previous events and I really fell in love with Katsu and Ashe. While this is a romantic series, the sex is not the focus of the story and the relationship between Ashe, an elf and Katsu, a human mage/healer
In this latest installment Katsu has been sought by messengers from his family and must travel back to his homeland in order to attempt to save his sister from a plague that has struck their lands. The trip is difficult and the climate and terrain are tough on Ashe. He is also seen as a demon by Katsu’s countrymen as there are no elves native to their domain. They are however respectful and keep their distance because of Ashe’s dragon who of course must accompany them on the trip.
It has come as a surprise to Ashe that Katsu is indeed a prince of this land and his mother, the Queen has summoned him to save his sister, the princess Chieko, who is also pregnant. We discover that there are several reasons why Katsu has left his homeland and why he is not exactly welcomed back with open arms.
Katsu tries to heal Chieko but his efforts do not seem to be working and he is getting depressed and cranky. On top of that, his mother has assigned an escort, Daisuke, for Ashe who is not fluent in the local language. The twist is that Daisuke is in fact a type of courtesan that has a past with Katsu. Katsu is furious with his mother over this interference. Ashe has no interest in the escort but he is kind of pleased to know that he means so much to Katsu as evidenced by his jealousy and worry.
As the visit goes on Chieko continues to deteriorate and Katsu becomes more despondent that he cannot heal her. Ashe offers ideas about using magic to heal her as Katsu has done for Ashe in the past. Katsu is convinced that will not work because humans do not absorb magic like elves. However, a near disaster convinces him that maybe he should try another approach. His last ditch attempt using Ashe and the dragon and magic to save Chieko has some rather dire consequences, but he has nothing to lose as she is near death anyway.
This series gets better and better with each book. The evolution of the relationship between Ashe and Katsu is just a pleasure to read. The fantasy and magic elements really add to the story and I cannot wait to see what the next chapter brings.
Posted by Sadonna in 16-40k, 5 Really Like It, Authors M-O, Fantasy, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Doctors, Dragon series, Dragons, Fae/Elves, Family Issues, JB McDonald, Magic, Politics, Royalty, Series, Torquere