Rating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novella

 

Morgan is an Agnarra, a shapeshifting sea dragon. He’s just coming to adulthood, having lived the last ten years on an unforgiving island in the bitter north waters, following the massacre. Humans wiped out half the tribe, including Morgan’s parents. He’s been raised by his elder brother, Garen, a fierce warrior and rather aloof person. It was hard for Garen to assume the parental role, but he did what was necessary. Morgan, as an artist, feels superfluous to their clan, being neither a strong warrior nor a good farmer. He does his best, with art and camaraderie, to keep up the spirits of all Agnarra, especially those of his best friend, Bravaer. As son of the chieftain who has been a half-lunatic since the massacre, Bravaer’s home life is as dismal as their forsaken island.

One night, a human ship explodes not far from the island. The Agnarra are distraught, not sure if the humans were hunting for their new locale, or if it was a fluke that they were so near. They can’t abandon their outpost due to the coming winter, so Garen takes to training more warriors to help defend the clan from attack. Meanwhile, Morgan finds a human in the water and is unable to simply kill him. Instead, Morgan swims the man to shore and hides him in a cove, stunned by the fact that such a badly burned person could have survived. Morgan does all he can to help heal the survivor, who has no memory of his history. Morgan names him Auban, and is determined to keep him safe. Of course, Bravaer discovers Morgan’s secret human, but only after Morgan and Auban have developed a bond with one another.

Keeping Auban safe is a huge priority, and Bravaer grudgingly assists in this endeavor, knowing that a bond is a sacred experience. They can’t even fathom how a bond between a human and Agnarra was possible. War is on the horizon, though, and with all the Agnarra poised to kill any human they encounter, Morgan needs to get Auban safely away from their clan before someone less sympathetic than Bravaer finds him. Auban doesn’t want to cause more trouble–and really doesn’t want to leave Morgan–but it will take a miracle to pause the imminent slaughter.

This was a wonderful fantasy romance. I was thoroughly captivated and couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The stakes are dire from the outset, yet Morgan’s love and gentleness gave him such a unique position in his clan, and this story. I adored him, even as I feared he was making a terrible mistake. And then, as the love grew between Morgan and Auban–a first love for each of them–the conflict grew that much stronger. I loved how Bravaer’s own unrequited love for Garen became a bulwark against turning Morgan and Auban in to the clan. These characters had so much texture, and such raw emotion. It was really a delight to watch the plot unfold.

Expect a happy ending, with a healing twist that seemed obvious in retrospect. Auban’s secret being revealed as it happened really just made me love the story that much more. I would read on in this world, with great anticipation, if more stories are written.