Note: We are adding a spoiler warning here as the identity/background of one of the main characters could be considered a spoiler.
Adares knows that if he is unable to get out from beneath the wagon that has him pinned and that is sinking slowly into the mud, he is a goner. Resigned to the idea that his last ditch run at the cart carrying siege weapons intended against his own people had been a foolhardy risk, he waits for death, only to be surprised when the enemy saves him from his fate.
Rus has been wounded by a poisoned bolt and knows that his death is imminent. Rather than waste his few remaining hours, he decides to save any injured he can find—even if they are the enemy. After all, he had been against his Luth tribe attacking the Phemians from the start. When he pulls the handsome young soldier to safety, Rus is shocked when they speak a common tongue and the man offers to help find the antidote to the poison flowing through Rus’ system.
As the two take shelter in a temple, each discover they have more in common than they previously thought and a friendship begins to grow. Along with it is a physical attraction that turns into something more. But each man must return to their homes, which are in war against the other, but also to lives that may well keep them apart forever. When Adares devises a plan to end the battle and perhaps bring a truce between their people, Rus decides to do his part—even if it means he may well lose his life in the process.
A.J. Demas is a New-to-Me Author and my first choice for our Reading Challenge Month. Something Human takes us on a whirlwind trip into a created world that feels like a mixture of an old Arthurian legend and a modern day romance. Every piece of this world meshes beautifully with the idea of siege warfare between two diametrically opposed tribes vying for dominance in an ancient world. Adares, the archon (King, for better want of the word) of the Phemian people, was never supposed to be in power, but his tribe loved him—so much so that they opted to vote him in as their archon and thumb their nose at the appointed one the fatherland across the sea wanted to put in power.
Adares is a mixture of humility, confidence, and self-deprecating humor. He is so very appealing it’s no wonder the very prim and stalwart Rus falls in love with him right off the bat. It was so very easy to like this guy. He was honest to a fault and the running dialogue in his head made his character both amusing and appealing. It was that and the way he treated Rus that really cemented all the reasons why his men followed him and loved him as their leader. Where Adares is quick to laugh and lighthearted, Rus is standoffish and heavily burdened. It may have something to do with how seriously he takes his role as priest to his people and his vow of celibacy. But it really stems from Rus knowing he has always been different from his tribe due to being attracted to only men and knowing that is an offense his people would likely exile him for, if not worse. Rus is weighed down by guilt—guilt for liking Adares, for being physically intimate with him, and for falling in love with him. It makes the actions he will eventually take against his own people in order to help Adares inevitable.
I really enjoyed this novel. If I had to remark on one thing that threw me a bit it would have to be the language between the characters. It had more of a modern day feel to it than it should have, I think. Even though Adares and Rus were young, it still jarred a little against the setting of the ancient tribes and siege warfare for the two men and others to be so hip in their conversations. However, I think that may be nitpicking a bit as I truly loved everything else about this novel. I will definitely be checking out more work by A.J. Demas based on the strength and my delight with Something Human.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New-to-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win a bundle of fabulous books donated by Carina Press! Commenters will also be entered to win one of our three amazing Grand Prize book bundles. You can get more information on our Challenge Month here (including all the contest rules) and more details on New-to-Me Author Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.