Title: Riverdance Anthology
Author Name & Publisher: L.J. Hamlin, Asta Idonea, Dale Cameron Lowry, Morwen Navarre, Lynn Townsend (Torquere Press)
Publication Date & Length: March 15, 2016 – 32,900 Words
Riverdance is a compilation of all things Irish. From fae flitting hither and thither trying to trick their quarry, to a modern-day Highland games, complete with caber tossing and traditional dance, our romantic compilation of Celtic tales and lore are sure to remind readers that love is the pot-o-gold at the end of the rainbow.
Morwen Navarre brings us The Sidhe’s Apprentice—a tale of a young man desperately wanting to be a wizard, like his grandfather, who never banked on falling in love with his mentor. In Finding Balance, Lynn Townsend sets readers in the middle of the Highland games—as well as between two former lovers who need to forgive and forget. L. J. Hamline’s tale, Luck of the Irish, tells of some lucky days that turn into lucky nights. Born of Fire, Dale Cameron Lowry’s offering, brings readers the abduction of a human by fairies—and the greatest lesson of all: love is more than superficial. Finally, Asta Idonea’s The First Swallow of Spring chronicles an annual pilgrimage to the land of the fae, and how the wiley lord tries to keep a human for his own.
I’m not normally one for anthologies, preferring one consistent story throughout, but I was drawn to the subject matter. I have a soft spot for all things Irish, and combined with my love of m/m romance, decided to give this one a try. There were five stories in the anthology, so I’ll break this review down by story.
The Sidhe’s Apprentice: I wanted so badly to love this story. The grandson of a sidhe-trained magician gets trained by the same sidhe. It had all the makings of a perfect story. Three things really took away from it. One, the buildup was far too long. By the time I heard all about Alistair’s history and his desire to become a magician, I’d lost quite a bit of interest. The second was the tie-in with the grandfather. It left me wanting to know more about that relationship. Finally, the switch from stern teacher to soft lover was almost like flipping on a light switch. There was no slow build, no build at all, really, and I would have liked to have seen that. Once Alistair and Cianán finally do realize their feelings for one another, the story picked up my interest again, but it was toward the end.
Finding Balance: I really enjoyed this one. The backstory with Wil and Danny was detailed and heartbreaking and great. I loved that both of them were still in love with each other and still wanted one another, but didn’t know how to say so. The setting of the Highland Games was the perfect backdrop for the reunion. The one thing I wasn’t really fond of was the use of the word ‘nae.’ It wouldn’t have been so noticeable if it had been used sparingly, but every instance of ‘not’ was replaced with ‘nae’ when Danny was speaking. It’s a small detail, but one that kind of pulled me out of the story, especially since he was the only one who used it. Apart from that, it was a sweet reunion story with a lovely ending.
Luck of the Irish: This was another story that just wasn’t for me. After Jamie picks up a four leaf clover, everything in his life starts to go right, from his job to his romantic prospects. I know it’s supposed to be a fun, comedic read. But between then long explanations and backstory and the fact that literally everything goes right for them, it just didn’t hold my interest. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment. Maybe I just like drama. I don’t know. It could be a great story for someone, but that someone wasn’t me.
Born of Fire: This one was really cute. There was something to be gained or lost depending on the decisions made by Aodhán. I loved that Cainnech fell in love with Aodhán as he saw him in the moon, rather than the perfect fairy version. The fairies added an interesting element, with the changlings at the beginning and then how they brought the two men together, only to punish them. Overall, a lovely story.
The First Swallow of Spring: Undoubtedly, this was my favorite story of the anthology. I love the concept of fae circles and how fairies can tempt you to stay forever. It was great how Seannán had fallen in love with Iorweth, and how Iorweth returned the feeling over their years of seeing each other one day a year. I could completely understand Iorweth’s desire to keep Seannán forever, even if his trickery seemed a bit underhanded.
Overall, it was a good collection of Irish-related love stories. I would definitely recommend giving it a read!
From Morwen Navarre’s The Sidhe’s Apprentice:
There was nothing for it but to follow the path which Master Lorcán had indicated. Master Lorcán’s parting words had not been comforting, and Alistair had a feeling this Master Cianán would be no warmer.
Alistair took the opportunity to look around as he walked, wondering how much magic was required to maintain this place. The transition was completely seamless, as though the door to the embassy had been a gate to another realm. None of the whispers had even hinted at the existence of such a portal, though, and Alistair was not too sure he would want to ask. The illusion was flawless, the sky a pearly glow above the tall treetops. The light was softer than sunlight, but far brighter than moonlight, and he wondered if it was designed to duplicate the sun of the Sidhe realm. He could hear faint birdsong, and there was a gentle breeze that brought the scent of honeysuckle with it. If this was Sidhe magic, he wanted to learn all he could.
The stream was not very wide, where Alistair approached it. A single stride would take him over it, but he had been told to wait, and not to cross it. Obedience was mandatory for a student of the Sidhe. That much was common knowledge. There was no place to sit, so Alistair stood and waited. He let his thoughts drift, trying to imagine what it would be like to live in this tranquil place for a year and a day.
“Are you contemplating running away? I wouldn’t recommend it.” The speaker was Sidhe, and there was a definite lilt to his English. Alistair felt his cheeks grow warm, and he bowed hastily as he straightened up. He swallowed as he got a good look at the speaker on the other side of the stream.