Title: Dear Rival
Author: Robin White
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 10,500 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None (Fade to Black)
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Magic, Elves/Fae, Warriors
Rating: Not Feelin’ It
Valtiel cannot stand humans. Humans are crude, blunt, unnecessarily violent, and they smell bad. As a frost elf, he has better things to do with his time than suffer one of them. But if it will get his friends to leave him alone about making nice with their allies, he’ll at least talk to one.
That doesn’t mean he has to like the human—even if Kero is beautiful, and smells good, and doesn’t really act the way Valtiel expects. One conversation, and then Valtiel can go back to ignoring him.
Valtiel is a frost elf who absolutely hates humans, even the dragon knights who were once human and are now their allies. Though something about Kero, one of the dragon knights, seems to draw his eye, he refuses to get close to him in any way. Only when he does start getting to know Kero, he finds that he isn’t at all as he expected.
While this story is rather short, it seemed much longer than it was. I felt like nothing much ever happened, and that we don’t learn very much at all either. That’s not to say that we don’t learn anything about the history of the world and why the frost elves and the dragon knights have become allies. We do get that information, but for some reason I just didn’t connect with the story or the characters in any way. The writing style is very subdued, with very subtle transitions from one scene to another, which made me unsure at times of setting and place. There was some forward motion, but just a little with Valtiel’s changing perceptions of Kero and the dragon knights. I didn’t really feel as if this was much of a romance, per se, maybe a prelude to one. And in the end, I just felt like this was the prologue to the real story, just the setup, before the characters really got to know each other, before anything really happened or there was any forward motion in the plot.
So it didn’t really work for me. I think that’s why this story felt longer than it was to me. 12k goes by really quick, but for me this story dragged, with Valtiel thinking the same things over and over (in relation to humans, the dragon knights, and Kero), as the bulk of the story. I can’t recommend this one.