Title: The Satyr’s Song
Author: A.J. Marcus
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Links: Amazon.com Cover Art: Brooke Albrecht
Genre: Contemporary m/m romance
Length: Novel (210 pdf pages)
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 Rating Stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: A sweet, positive romance that I still had some issues with.
The Blurb: A Ren Faire Romance
With nothing to lose after getting booted from the Dallas Symphony, concert flutist Adrian Mylonas follows a friend’s recommendation to take work as a satyr at Scarborough Renaissance Festival. While playing his pipes, Adrian spots a man unloading elephants. Ed Costa has lived his whole life running elephant rides at various festivals around Texas. He inherited the job from his father, and is teaching the family trade to his five-year-old son Eddy, who is the center of Ed’s life. He likes the life he leads, but he begins wondering if he’s missing out because he doesn’t have someone special to share it with.
The songs of the elephants and the colorful life of the faire capture Adrian’s imagination, and as he gets to know Ed, the rugged man sets his heart free. He begins to think he could leave his careful and sophisticated life behind for new music, new habits, and new love.
The Satyr’s Song is the second book in this autor’s Ren Faire series; the first book, The Jouster’s Lance, was reviewed by Larissa here.
The unusual setting and the fact that one of the main characters is a flutist were what made me want to read this book, and I wasn’t disappointed on either count. Adrian was a well-wrought character; his being a flutist wasn’t only a facade, he lived and breathed music, which worked well with the plot and the progress of the story. Who’d have thought elephants could sing, let alone songs that ould be inspiring for a flutist? As a flute-lover myself, I found this aspect of the story compelling.
Ed, the other main character, was very much the family man, doting father to his five-year-old son and as devoted to his animals as Adrian was to his music. An unlikely pairing, those two nevertheless worked beautifully together as a couple. Their romance built slowly, mostly due to the fact that Ed put his family first and despite his attraction to Adrian waited for his family’s approval before considering anything serious with him.
As for the supportive characters, the elephants were as important as the humans, almost more so. Even with all the elephant talk Ed did, I didn’t feel like watching discovery channel; as the elephants were such an integral part of Ed’s character, it was necessary to forward his and Adrian’s relationship. Which brings me to my first little niggle, since one of the elephants–Cara–behaved so disney-like at times that I found it hard to suspend disbelief. Then again, she was a character in her own right, and her baby Ciro was sweet and cute. They enriched the story, as did Ed’s precocious son, Eddy, and the rest of the renaissance faire folk, like the belly dancer girls, Dale the jouster (who made a reappearance here together with his lover, Austin. The latter remained sketchy, though), Brian, Trish, Eddy’s mother and Trina, Eddy’s sister, and all the others. I liked them all, and I found the setting vivid and colorful. And I liked the concept of Ed’s unusual family situation.
This story focused very much on the slowly building romance between Adrian and Ed and was low on angst as well as conflict, internal and external; in fact, several incidents with potential for conflict were inserted only to be resolved almost spontaneously not much later. For the main couple, pretty much everything fell nicely into place, even though there was still enough going on around them and inside of them to keep the story from being bland. It flowed smoothly, admittedly without breathtaking tension, but it wasn’t boring at all.
Which brings me to the issue I had with this otherwise pleasant read.
I had a problem with the writing in and of itself, mainly with the use of job designations instead of names–a pet peeve of mine. Well, I get that if both protagonists are male, it can be hard to avoid the he/him confusion, and it’s bothersome enough (at least as far as I’m concerned) to hear characters constantly referred to as “the man”, but reading “the flutist” and “the elephant trainer” in every other paragraph grated on me soon and threw me right out of the story every time. Particularly during sex scenes. Those were an issue for me in other ways as well, partly purple prose, partly technical description of whose what went where and how in detail. In fact, even the scenes with the elephants felt more touching and emotional to me than the sex scenes,and in a m/m romance book, this just struck me as odd. This might be only me, though, others might feel differently.
All in all, this was a positive and overall enjoyable read, with an unhurried sweet romance, likable characters throughout and a positive ending. I closed it with a smile.