Title: Hold Still
Author: Megan Derr
Length: 13,500 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m fantasy romance
Esen has spent his entire life an outcast, and he threw out his last chance at fitting in when he broke the engagement his family worked so hard to arrange. Sent to the royal palace to fulfill one last duty, he counts the hours until he is literally left homeless and destitute. But hiding away in the royal garden, he accidentally overhears a private conversation and meets the mysterious Queen’s Man …
Essen is a Sylph which means he can change into the wind. After a childhood of being shunned by his rich, influential family, Essen is betrothed by them to a man he has never met. The story begins after Essen has broken the engagement. The gossip is rife in the court and so he hides in the garden to escaped the stares where he accidentally overhears Gaston breaking up with his lover. He tries to retreat but Gaston sees him and before he knows what’s happening Essen is travelling with Gaston to help with a diplomatic mission.
The best part of this story was the character of Essen. I really liked the sylph aspect and the way the author made it so vivid and real. I felt all of Essen’s longing for the wind and the problems he has of not staying in his wind form for too long. He’s a bit of a typical Megan Derr downtrodden character but that made him all the more sympathetic.
What worked less well was Essen’s relationship with Gaston. There’s wasn’t enough time in the story with all the other things going on – politics, intrigue, action scenes and Essen’s background – to really give the romance a chance to develop so it seemed to swiftly done with much of the ‘getting to know you’ build up to the romance happening off page.
So overall, whilst I liked Essen and I did like the way we find out about who and what Gaston is, I wish things hadn’t been quite so rushed. It’s not a bad story though, and one which should be enjoyed by fantasy fans.