(Other, M/F, M/M - See publisher's website for content labels.)
This story was really fascinating. Set in an alternate world, with a complete history, cultural, and mythological background, this story starts at an Archeological dig site with unaffiliated student Chet meeting Journey. Journey is Flame, a race of people who can shapeshift gender, and cannot be touched by water, cleaning and healing themselves with fire.
Chet is human, inexperienced, and completely besotted with history. He lives and breathes it. He wants to become a Professor at a university, but doesn’t want to be affiliated to a God. I had difficulty with this part, but broken down, it means that Chet doesn’t want to claim a religious affiliation, which is apparently a big deal. Or something. It is explained in the beginning of the book, but it took me a bit longer to catch onto what it all meant. I’m dense like that.
Moving along. An artifact is discovered at the site, which holds a great deal of power, and it is up to Chet, Journey, Knife, another Flame, who is called in by Journey, and Fenimore, also found at the dig site, to guard it, all the while being hunted down across the country, by the owner of the dig site.
There are two key plot points to this story. The mystery behind the Artifact and Chet’s budding sexuality.
The mystery was good. It was a little complex and took a while to unravel in a way that connected everything. I liked that. It kept me guessing, but the breadcrumbs were there for me to pick up. It actually could have gone in a few directions, and I’m curious how many alternate endings the author has.
The sex was great. Chet was a virgin when the story began, and throughout the story he explores not only his sexuality with both men and women, but also some kink too. A lot of it was hot, even with the dubious consent. I enjoyed most of the scenarios Chet found himself in, sexually. I liked that it took him less time to accept himself and his desires as the story progresses. He embraced his bisexuality and enjoyed the pleasures he got from his experiences.
I enjoyed that this story was rich with cultural history. It was completely fleshed out world, full of different beings, completely different animal types, and a thorough mythology and history to go along with it. The author put a lot of work into ensuring the background was solid, and I appreciated that I had no questions about the world other than the ones I was made to question based on the journey Chet was on. The landscape was easy to imagine, and the political and cultural background of Flame was explained well.
It did start to feel a bit fetishized in some of the sex scenes, but it was about exploring, so I’ll give it a pass. It wasn’t completely over the top, and for the most part it was hot, so I ignored my irritation in some areas, because I mostly enjoyed the erotic content.
The storyline dragged a little bit for me in areas where there wasn’t a lot going on. Some of the story felt like a play by play, and I wanted to move on. It slowed the action-adventure part of the story down, and I could have done without those parts. For something different, and imaginative it was satisfying and thorough.
This is recommended for people who enjoy fantasy, paranormal, & alternate universe, with a complete cultural experience. Also lovers of bisexual erotica, and gender-fluctuating characters who can shapeshift into their preferred gender at will. This is not a love story, this an exploration of sexuality.
Warnings: dub-con, rape, mind-control, violence, and death.
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