Galen’s aunt and uncle allowed him to live with them when his mother died and his father left, but they had many of their own children and food was difficult to come by. When Galen thinks trouble is on the way, he travels to Lunar’s Reach, where he trades his body to try and survive. Galen has synesthesia and can see people’s auras, but when he doesn’t follow his instincts and follows a man with gray swirling around him, Galen is left battered in an alleyway. When he is found, he is taken to the Moon Flower apothecary where he is allowed to recover and where he meets Azriel.
Azriel intrigues Galen with his quiet nature and beautifully colored aura. Azriel is a natural healer, but Galen longs to soothe the sadness he sees in Azriel. The men barely have any time to spend together as a relationship between the two of them is against the rules. However, a patron sees their connection and provides them with a space to explore their desire for each other. Life at Moon Flower is somewhat sheltered from the outside world, but that doesn’t stop trouble from showing up at the door and Galen has no intention of letting anyone hurt the group that has become his family, and especially not Azriel, who owns his heart.
This book is set in a fictional world that the author states is supposed to be similar to the nineteenth century. There are gambling halls and men in power starkly contrasted by those that have no power. The apothecary is a store by day and caters to men’s desires by night. While most patrons treat the young men well, there are those, like the constable, that want their desires eradicated by any means. Galen knows what it’s like to be hungry and he knows what it’s like to be alone and afraid and the Moon Flower gives him food and shelter.
Galen has never known passion or desire or love as he uses his body to survive. Azriel is everything Galen didn’t even know he could wish for, but they are allowed stolen moments and discreet touches until they can be together in the presence of a client. Galen and Azriel do most of their physical bonding in an atmosphere of voyeurism where a man that exudes the color of sadness directs all of their desires. The scenes between Galen and Azriel are sweet and sensual, which needs a tender touch to get right and that comes through here.
The story is told through Galen’s eyes and, by the end of the book, I knew him much better than Azriel and I would have liked to see more of him as well. There is limited world building here as the men are mostly sheltered at the Moon Flower, but the general atmosphere of the time period is present. The passion between the men remains subdued due to their circumstances and while their relationship is gentle, there is tension in the story from outside forces.
The men create a family and look after each other and the secondary characters added to the story. Wren and Sparrow are twins that have a relationship thought to be taboo and there is a bonus story for them that is available to download at the end of the book that is worth reading. Moon Flower invokes a mood and an atmosphere, offers a sweet and sensual love story to shelter the men from their harsh surroundings, and is a book that is easy to get lost in from the first page. There will be another book for one of the secondary characters as well and I will look forward to visiting with the men of Moon Flower once again.
Note: This story contains scenes and discussion of incest among two side characters, the twins Wren and Sparrow. It does not involve the main characters.