Pre-Release Review: Love Rising (Isla Sagrario) by Piper Vaughn

An Isla Sagrario Story In the 1700s on the island of Sagrario, men who love other men find safe haven. For Francis Holland, an escaped indentured servant, Sagrario offers nothing but loneliness. His life begins to change when he finds Wick, a merman, washed ashore. When Wick awakens under Francis’s care, Francis returns him to the sea at his request. Soon after, they begin to meet in secret, and gradually, Francis blossoms under this new companionship. However, a merman is a difficult creature to entrust one’s heart to. With one trapped on land and the other at sea, the differences in their species threaten to keep them apart forever. It may not be long before Wick is gone, taking Francis’s reason to smile with him.

Fairy Talenoun: Narrative centered on magical tests, quests and transformations A type of short story that typically features European folkloric fantasy characters and usually magic or enchantments.

Love Rising was not at all what I expected and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised to read a true fairytale about loneliness, love and a little magic.

Love Rising is the story of Francis, an escaped indentured slave who toils away on Isla Sagrario. He doesn’t really live, he just gets by, surviving, but terribly alone. The island is a safe place, at least a reasonably safe place, for men who prefer the company of other men. It is isolated and relatively self-sustaining so the inhabitants live quiet lives and some are lucky to have found love. Francis is not one of those lucky ones. He has spent his life feeling invisible, except of course to the worst possible men before he arrived on Isla Sagrario. So he expects very little for himself and has learned to accept random connections with passing sailors when he can, but those moments are few and far between.

One evening he is sent to the shore to salvage a mass of debris that has washed ashore to look for anything of value. After sorting through the flotsam some bright colors catch his eye and after clearing away more of the mess he finds a merman has been caught and he is stunned and intrigued by the beautiful creature he has discovered. I loved how he immediately felt protective of the merman and his first instinct is to hide him away to recover and then return him to the ocean. Francis is a good man who has lived a hard life with no breaks and this bit of unexpected beauty and excitement is well written and I could feel his excitement and trepidation in turn.

We learn the merman’s name is Wick (or at least that’s as close as the language barrier allows Francis to figure out) and Francis spends the night and following day nursing Wick back to health to be able to return him back to the sea under the cover of night. They can’t communicate in any real way, but their time together is still sweet and meaningful and when Francis releases Wick I couldn’t help but be heartbroken for the loss of the brief moment of light in Francis’ otherwise bleak life. Francis is devastated in the fairytale way that is all consuming, dramatic, but totally believable given the setting of the story. Reading about his torment is awful but he never comes across as pathetic or over the top in his misery.

One night he feels an inexplicable calling to the sea where he had released Wick and HAS to return there immediately. It is very dark, the waves are crashing and Francis walks straight out into the ocean, he doesn’t really know why, he just does because there is something there he must follow. The moody feel of the moment is well written and adds to the trepidation I felt for Francis and what was to come. Francis is whisked away to an underwater cave and discovers it is Wick who has come for him.

Wick and Francis end up spending every night together in their underwater sanctuary and while they can’t carry on a conversation, they fall in love, again in that fairytale way that makes the implausible possible. Francis is the ultimate gentlemen with Wick and while they get physical, the depth of the respect and love they feel for each other is obvious.

One night their meeting feels different to Francis and the sense of foreboding is overwhelming and after their night together Wick tells Francis, in the halting English he is slowly learning, something that Francis doesn’t completely understand, but he gets the gist enough to know that the happiness he has known the last couple of weeks are coming to an end and the sorrow and heartbreak I could see coming were just too sad and my heart broke for Francis.

I can’t tell you what Wick said, or say any additional specifics about the story because this is a fairytale you have to read. It had all the elements I want to read in a grownup fairytale, there was a true gentleman hero, an enchanted love and a setting that I could feel as if I were there. The emotions were big, big love, big heartbreak and there was a magical happily ever after in the truest sense of the words. I highly recommend this short story to bring a little fantasy interlude into your reading.

A copy of this story was provided by the author for an honest review.

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