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Book CoverShannon C.’s review of The Ballad of Jimothy Redwing by Maia Strong
Fantasy gay erotic romance ebook released by Samhain Publishing 10 Jun 08

There are two things that are guaranteed to make me swoon with delight. One is fantasy. The other is a musician hero. This story features both, which made me exceedingly happy. While I did have my fair share of nits to pick, I thought that the world Maia Strong created was interesting and I would visit it again.

Jimothy Redwing, the title character, is a wandering minstrel. On his way to the city of Couvin, where he needs to deliver some important mail, he meets up with Ricky, and the two of them spend a wonderful night full of great sex together. Upon his arrival into the city, Jimothy realizes that his new lover is not what he seems, and he finds himself drawn into various political conspiracies.

I really liked both Jimothy and Ricky. They were likeable young men, and neither of them fit into any specific role. They were both really nice beta guys, and they were cute together. The actual sexoring didn’t entirely work for me, but the romance itself was very sweet.

Aside from our leads, Ms. Strong introduces us to a variety of interesting characters, all of whom were drawn very well, despite the fact that they were sort of peripheral to the main romance. I got the sense that Maeve and Japheth, the owners of an inn where Jimothy stays, had lives outside of what was happening with Jimothy and Ricky. I was also relieved to see that there wasn’t any sequel-baiting going on.

The non-romance plot takes up far more of the story than does the actual romance, but I was fascinated with it. There was a bit of a mystery which I liked, and in the process of solving that mystery, we learn a great deal about Ms. Strong’s world.

Not everything worked quite so well for me, but most of my nits are pretty subjective. I didn’t find much of Jimothy’s poetry especially compelling, for example, and sometimes the way the characters talked didn’t quite seem real. I don’t expect high-falutin’ language in my fantasy, but I felt a bit like I was reading Americans talking in bad British accents while at a ren fair. And some of the offhand comments during and after sex scenes bothered me. I really didn’t need to know, for example, that one character left a three foot rope of ejaculate on the sheets. I mean, ewww. Did we have to be *that* specific? Also, I wasn’t satisfied with the ending. I imagine that Ms. Strong has left herself some room for writing a sequel with more adventures of Jimothy and Ricky, but I’d have liked a less tenuous HEA at the end of this book.

Those things might not bother other people, and though they did detract from my own enjoyment of the story, I still think fans of m/m romance or fantasy romance might enjoy this. I know I’ll definitely be interested in seeing what else Ms. Strong can do.

ShannonCGrade: B-

New lover. New city. New dangers.

Wand’ring Minstrel Jimothy Redwing is used to life on the road, living by the words and music that are his stock in trade. While he’s comfortable finding his way alone, he’s always amenable to a friendly stranger who knows the lay of the land. Ricky Lennox is smart, funny, handsome, and very amenable.

With a place to stay, a sexy new lover, and some local contacts, Jimothy looks forward to delivering the letters in his care—including a message for the local ruler—and earning a little money with his music before moving on.

Ricky’s declaration he’s interested in more than just a one-night tryst starts Jimothy thinking about settling into a life of perfect harmony. But things hit a sour note when he learns his lover’s true identity—and exactly what’s in the epistle to Kanbec’s ruler.

Jimothy’s journey turns out to be far more complicated than he could have dreamed, and as dangerous as any epic ballad. For himself—and for Ricky.

Warning: This book contains a sexy musician, hot nekkid manlove, violence, and nuns dressed in blue.

You can read an excerpt here.