Title: A Most Unusual Courtship
Author: Nancy M Griffis
Length: 7,900 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, 2012 TQ Charity Sip, Magic/Mage, Regency
Rating: So So
When a wizard knocks on Gerald Smithson’s shop door, Gerald refuses service to him just as he would any other mage, considering them all untrustworthy by nature. As a master craftsman, he can take commissions from whomever he does, or doesn’t, choose. Leo Harris, born to noble blood and magic ability, was rarely refused by anyone and intrigued by Gerald’s instant dismissal. As Leo and Gerald work together to protect the Royal Family, Gerald admits that Leo might just be the exception to the rule and admit his attraction to the wizard… something Leo is all too happy with.
I am beginning to hate this 8k word limit. This story is a great example of why. There just isn’t enough time, in the limits of a “romance”, to develop two characters and their relationship in such little time with out a lot of creative talent. When you add plot and setting, it’s almost impossible to write something satisfying in that short amount of time. Of course, it could be looked at in the sense that the story should be tailored to the short length, with uncomplicated plots. And that is somewhat the case here as well.
There is somewhat of an elaborate plot offered that later is show to really just be the catalyst to bring the two characters together. It seemed a little too much for me, however, when it didn’t impart much information and left a rather large gap in the plot. Surely there could have been simpler ways to bring them together and give them time to get to know one another. The actual “courtship” is summarized in half a page, and that made me sad. We don’t get to see them together a whole lot, so the story ended up being more of a prelude to a courtship.
The setting and world is rather interesting. I would have loved to read a whole novel devoted to it. It is in effect a parallel world with two difference from our modern world. The first is the time period and magic. It has a regency flair, but even though the time period isn’t specifically stated, I gathered that this alternate reality world was actually modern but with perhaps less social and technological evolution because of the use of magic. The second is the social acceptance of same sex relationships, explained by the choice of the Greeks to allow men to marry way back when.
Besides the lack of time together on page for the two characters, the real problem I had with this story was the gap in plot I mentioned earlier. There is some sort of enmity between Leo and another mage who has gone over to The Dark after their failed relationship. A standoff of sorts happens early in this story, but we never really learn anything about it. In fact, we don’t even really know anything about Leo himself. While I enjoyed what I read, which was really the bare bones of the story, I was disappointed that the length limit meant that the story couldn’t be fleshed out how it really needed to be. I would have enjoyed reading this story published separate from this event and fully finished much more than how it is here. So while the “bare bones” were good, and hinted at a really interesting story, there just wasn’t much else.
I’d recommend this to those who want a sweet and cute regency type fantasy, but I would also warn readers not to expect too much. This is a really short story after all. Perhaps the author will continue and write a sequel. I’d love that!