Title: Alike as Two Bees
Cover artist: Valerie Tibbs
Publisher: Etopia Press
Amazon: Alike as Two Bees
Genre: Historical romance
Length: 54 pages/19664 words
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: This story reminded me of why I used to love Classical Greece so very much.
In Classical Greece, apprentice sculptor Philon has chosen the ideal horse to model for his masterpiece. Sadly, the rider falls well short of the ideal of beauty, but scarred and tattered Hilarion, with his brilliant, imperfect smile, draws Philon in a way that mere perfection cannot.
After years of living among the free and easy tribes of the north, Hillarion has no patience with Athenian formality. He knows what he wants—and what he wants is Philon. Society, friends and family threaten their growing relationship, but perhaps a scarred soldier and a lover of beauty are more alike than they appear.
I am of course aware that Greece at its best never was the perfect society (I am not sure if the perfect societies ever existed in the history of humankind), but I remember how I used to sigh in wonder about so many amazing things their best artists, sculptors, writers, poets created which are and hopefully would be remembered for the ages. This story left me with the same kind of wonder which I felt in college while studying their history and art. The main characters in this story as the blurb tells you create amazing art and while I appreciated the beginning of the relationship building up in the story, I appreciated some insight in the creative process just as much if not more. The settings in the story felt very authentic to me, but I recently realized that I need to brush up on my Greeks as well (which is kind of disappointing since this period used to be one of my best known ones), so I am hesitating to state with certainty that details are all correct simply because I do not want to make a mistake.
I loved the beginning of the romance, I cannot tell you how much I loved it. It feels so true to the time period and at the same time as the blurb tells you Hillarion just goes for what he wants because of who he is. I thought it was very well done, actually. Philon remembering how the courting should be done in the city and still liking Hillarion’s seduction so very much, loved Hillarion’s imperfect looks being reflected into his not demanding perfection from the art and still worshipping the art in such a lovely manner.
I enjoyed the villain of the story, well maybe enjoyed is too strong of the word, but I certainly liked that his motivations made sense to me, that the writer even invoked a little pity from me for him and hope that maybe he would eventually grow up, even in another story, since he felt very human too and not a cartoonish one. I thought that for a short novella supporting characters were beautifully drawn, especially Anatolios – his kindness to people and animals alike, his strength and fragility and his talent. I really hope the author will consider writing another story with Anatolios as the main character.
I thought the ending for the short novella was done perfectly and stopped in just the right moment and did not make a bigger deal out of the developing love than it was, while not diminishing it in any way. When I was done with this story I was dissatisfied but in a good way. I felt that I got a good glimpse at the characters;- I did not feel that their relationship jumped too fast, and I definitely want to know more about all of the characters actually, but what I got would be enough, if no sequels will appear.
I thought this story has one of the best and beautifully explained and relevant titles that I have ever came upon.