Title: An Exception (Jewel Bonds #3)
Author: Megan Derr
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 10k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance, Alt. World
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Magic, Mage, Swords & Sorcery, May/December
Rating: Me Like
Riot faithfully served his lord for two decades, putting his mage skills to use helping to fight the beasts in the Territories and to make the lives of the castle inhabitants easier. When his lord dies, he is replaced by a younger man with no interest in retaining a man of Riot’s age and old-fashioned notions. His position lost, his belongings confiscated, with barely any coin to his name, Riot flounders in a world that seems to have no place for him, desperate for whatever work he can find—but adamant he will not break the rules he has lived by his entire life.
All of my friends and reader buddies know I have a huge, almost fanatic obsession with Megan Derr’s stories. I gobble them up as soon as I can. While I enjoy her longer works, I love her short stories. They’re quick, they’re always extremely well based in a world, seemingly given just as much attention as her longer works, and they always make me feel good. I’m so happy that she’s continuing the Jewel Bonds series. Over the last year and a half I’ve read An Admirer several times, then recently Kiss the Rain, which went back before the first story and introduced us to how Selsor and Jehnonn came together. And while I loved that story too, I have to admit that with An Exception, Ms. Derr took me back to that love and wonder of the world she gave me with An Admirer.
Riot is such a wonderful character. A mage, he’s passed forty and finds himself out of home and job after his former lord dies and his successor, a pompous young lord, require’s Riot to perform certain “duties” to keep his position. But while Riot is loyal, he also has strong principles and a strong sense of self, and when he won’t allow himself to become the young lord’s plaything, is thrown out into the city with barely anything to his name. But Riot is incredibly skilled and lucky when he is approached by a passing warrior who needs to retain a mage for passage to get his charge across the mountains for her wedding. Riot is tempted by Coroe, young but skilled and incredibly beautiful. But the principles he kept that got him thrown out of the city castle mean that he doesn’t mix business with pleasure, no matter how much he wants to. He’s never met a warrior he wanted to bond with before, and his jewels remain the off-white grey his hair is turning, but the journey will undoubtedly bring the men closer together.
I think what makes this story successful in relation to the others in the series is that is really concentrates on the relationship instead of the world. As such, the world comes through the men and their relationship. Kiss the Rain was the only book where I felt like the story focused on a magical mystery as well as the relationship, and while I enjoyed it as I did the rest, I felt like it was maybe a little less successful as written in the short form. In this story, I really felt the return to the original story in style, and I enjoyed that because it works. There is no plot other than the couple in question’s romance, so there isn’t really much to diverge attention away from that. It gives the relationship the room it needs to flourish, and even though there are gaps in time and such because it is a short story, the tone of these stories are light, so they work.
I don’t know if Megan Derr will continue this series, but I’ll be a reader for life and I’d love to read more!