The Dragon’s Muse by ID Locke
Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

A young half dragon, half human has trained all his life to be a Guardian to a Muse, a spirit or god that provides the inspiration for an artist. When he is called by The Ring, a group of elders who choose the Guardians, and given a Muse to guard, he is surprised to be chosen, not only because of his young age but also because he is half dragon. Then The Ring informs him that the Muse rejected his last choice and has been without a Guardian since. And with that The Ring sends him off to meet his Muse.

Misu is a half Muse as he is half human, half god.  He is also unique in that all the other Muses are women and he is a hermaphrodite. And while all the other muses can inspire many, Misu is a Muse to only one artist at a time.  The last dragon The Ring sent him was totally unacceptable for a muse who uses his sexuality to conjure up the inspiration necessary for a muse of erotic poetry.  That dragon only saw sex as something for breeding, not as a joyful, fun act, so Misu sent him packing.  Then a new Guardian appears, a half dragon/half man that Misu has seen in his dreams for hundreds of years and Misu names him Gunari, as is the custom.  Gunari is startled to find out about Misu’s physiology, but Gunari is so attracted to the Muse that it makes no difference whether Misu is male or female as Gunari has always been attracted to both, something he chalks up to the human part of his heritage.  Both are so pleased with the partnership that it’s not long before they find sexual attraction deepening into something more.  As they explore their sexual natures, from BDSM to gentle loving sex, Misu realizes he loves Gunari. Now if only Gunari can recognize that he feels the same.

I am going to say right away that if you are looking for a story that is strictly m/m, this is not the story for you.  But if you want a good short story with a terrific premise and can accept a gender fluid being, then don’t pass this one up.  ID Locke takes the idea of muses and puts a neat little take on it.  Misu is a muse for erotic poetry for one artist as a time.  When you consider that erotic poetry is not exclusive to one gender, it makes complete sense to have a Muse who experiences the total range of human sexuality to better inspire erotic verse for any gender or sexual preference.  In the blurb, Misu is described as a male identifying hermaphrodite but I never got the picture that Misu identified with any gender, so I did wonder if that was to placate those readers wanting just a m/m story.  At any rate, Misu is so joyful about sex, that any boundaries, including gender identification, are not just unnecessary but also unwanted.

Misu is just Misu and completely content to be a hermaphrodite.  Misu loves sex in every way, in every combination and so feels that being a hermaphrodite is sort of double the fun. Happily for both, Gunari feels much the same.  Gunari loves Misu’s duality and take full advantage of every orifice possible as often as possible, and if studded paddles or restraints come into play, even better. Early on, Misu recognizes that it is Gunari’s face that has haunted his dreams for centeries and Fate is playing a part in bringing them together.  As Misu has had time to fall in love, it is new for Gunari to consider the idea. Locke does a wonderful job with the characterizations here.  Misu is such a gloriously happy sexual being and Gunari is a wonderful young half dragon who takes responsibility seriously as a Guardian but also comes to love the Muse as well. There are such lovely touches here from the descriptions of Misu’s cottage and the field of flowers nearby full of butterflies to chase and sunlight to bask in.

And yes, there is lots of sex — hot sex, happy sex, bondage sex, and penetration of every opening possible and every combination, male and female in detail.  Throw in some glowing auras and you have two very happy beings in a short story of love, sexuality, and acceptance, no matter the gender. If that sounds like something you would like to read about, then this book is for you.

Cover:  Alessia Brio was the cover artist and I find it just as unusual as the story.  The black background is textured to look like dragon hide, I think with Miso and Gunari (green hair) foremost in the design.

Fair Puckled by Bella Leone
Rating: 5 stars
Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance

Jackson Stuart is on a trip of a lifetime.  As a doctoral student in Celtic studies at Boston University, he jumps at a chance to accompany his professor to the Scottish Highland Games for research and field work. From the moment, Jackson and Dr. McKenzie land on Dunoon Pier, Jackson feels like he has come home.  And then he crashes head on into a gorgeous ginger-haired man in a kilt who leaves him fair puckled. The way Jackson feels he may never go home again.

Bella Leone does an outstanding job of giving the reader a generous dose of Scotland in 19 pages.  From the scenery to the language, she transports the reader into the center of the Highland games and the heart of Jackson Stuart.  Where others would give us a sketch in the same short length, Leone manages to give us fully fleshed out characters who hook us in and make us care about their future once the story ends. The raucous nature of the games, along with the sweat and concentration come through beautifully as do the Scottish people themselves. In fact, I find it very much to be a love note to Scotland with the start of what promises to be a great relationship tossed into the proceedings.

I would like to see a sequel but I can imagine what takes place after the story ends as well as Leone generously left us many hints as to the path Jackson will take.  I loved this short story and think you will too. It left me as fair puckled as Jackson Stuart.  That would be the Scottish term for short of breath!