Title: A Most Unusual Courtship
Author: Nancy M. Griffis
Length: 7,900 words (30 pdf pages)
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m steampunk paranormal
When a wizard knocks on Gerald Smithson’s shop door, Gerald refuses service to him just as he would any other mage, considering them all untrustworthy by nature. As a master craftsman, he can take commissions from whomever he does, or doesn’t, choose. Leo Harris, born to noble blood and magic ability, was rarely refused by anyone and intrigued by Gerald’s instant dismissal. As Leo and Gerald work together to protect the Royal Family, Gerald admits that Leo might just be the exception to the rule and admit his attraction to the wizard… something Leo is all too happy with.
This is set in an alternative Victorian steampunk universe. I say alternative, because besides some of the steampunkish technology, gay marriage is considered normal and mages are commonplace. Gerald is a leather-smith who lives with his aged grandfather in London. When a mage enters his shop he quickly sends him packing. Some bad experiences with mages who don’t pay their bills means he no longer serves them. A short while later another mage enters and demands to know what the first requested. They don’t believe that Gerald refused him, so Gerald finds himself kidnapped. Leo, who is nearby senses something wrong and goes after him to rescue him. Gerald then agrees to take on the commission, even though, or perhaps because, it means working closely with Leo for two weeks.
I liked everyone in this story a great deal. Gerald is sensible and cares for his grandfather with good nature, and he rather likes his solitary life. Leo is flamboyant and flirty, but a good guy, but I have to say that Gerald’s grandfather rather stole the show. He’s a feisty old bird who’s determined to get Gerald married off and taken care of. Every time he was on page he had me smiling.
There were some questions left though that make me wonder if there is more to come. The mage who kidnapped Gerald was Leo’s former lover and was angry when Leo broke it off, but after Gerald is rescued and Leo and the other mage have a bit of a fight, there is no mention made of him again. Would Gerald still be at risk? Is the guy going to continue to dog Leo. Also, during the fight Leo gets very angry and talks about the Darkness taking him, so I wondered if this is an ongoing concern. So from the mage part of the story it seemed rather to just be set aside, unless there is more to come
It ends with Gerald agreeing that maybe they could be a good match, after they finish their two week task. If you’re looking for hot sex, this is not the story. It ends with a heated kiss, but that’s as far as it gets. It was however a fun story and as I said, worth reading for Gerald’s grandfather alone.