Jag has been studying to be a priest since the age of twelve. With just a few months until he takes his final vows, his family is struggling under a large debt. Their solution is to arrange a marriage for Jag to a wealthy man and this will completely halt Jag’s studies and thus his future.
Brace has always wanted to be married, but despite his family’s wealth, there aren’t any families that want to marry their sons off to another man. Brace doesn’t want to force someone to wed him and when he finds out that there is intent for Jag to marry him, Brace gifts Jag with a pearl ring that can easily buy Jag his freedom and save his family’s finances. The only thing Brace asks in return is to spend the evening with Jag and hope that is enough time for the beginning of a relationship to grow.
This story started off promising, but then quickly lost momentum for me. As the story opens, it felt like it was already in progress. We learn quickly that Jag’s family had been prominent, is now in debt, and has arranged for Jag to be married. We do not learn any of the circumstances. Jag doesn’t seem to have any negative feelings toward his parents. They had asked him if he preferred to marry a man or woman, and he is willing to go along with the marriage to help the family even though it means altering the entire path his life had been on. We are not told what time period the story is in, where they are, or even if this is an alternate universe, and the lack of place and world-building kept the entire story off balance.
There are traditions that lead up to the marriage, none of which Jag is involved in. He is locked in his room under guarded supervision while his parents do the walk through for the ceremony and we are never given any insight into the reasons for these traditions. Jag then has a decision to make, as he could buy his freedom and save his family with the gift from Brace, but he also knows that would leave Brace with nothing.
The men then meet and the story takes a supposed erotic turn. A feast is set for the men and the room is stocked with all manner of supplies and intimate toys that were arranged by the parents. Jag is a virgin and his mother had already spoken with Brace about Jag’s inexperience, as she doesn’t want Jag to be physically hurt and the parents’ involvement came off as creepy rather than of concern.
I did not feel any chemistry between the men. Brace is lonely and Jag thought his only options were to become a priest or a scholar and since neither one finds the other unappealing, they decide to become intimate. There is then a lot of sex for a little story and any connection or buildup to their happy ever after was lacking for me as it played out. There wasn’t anything memorable about this one for me and the early potential didn’t have a strong middle or end.
Note: This story was originally published in an anthology in 2008 and has recently been released as a stand alone story.