Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Harem boy might not be the most appropriate role for someone who’s never really seen the appeal of sex, but Elin’s status as dahabi: golden in a land of tan and brown, has marked him for The Dragon’s service since birth. He’s content enough with his life of uncomplicated, if restrictive, luxury, until an unremarkable chore becomes a case of love at first sight.
Mysterious newcomer Hathar, a roguish “merchant adventurer” from far-off lands, ignites an exploration of Elin’s first taste of physical desire, as well as a desire to experience life beyond the palace. Now, they must find a way to escape before Hathar’s ship departs, stranding them forever in The Dragon’s harem.
I love long books and I absolutely don’t mind if a book has 500 or more pages. So it’s very rare for me to pick up a book with less than 100 pages, because I often feel like there aren’t enough pages for the story to completely unfold. The blurb of “Golden” sounded too good to simply pass up because of its length, though. I’m glad I picked it up but at the same time I had my usual issues with short stories.
The premise of the book is intriguing. The Dragon, the empress of a secluded island, has a harem full of golden men. Every male person with a certain hair and skin colour is sent to her harems. She has several dozen men at her beck and call. Elin is one of them. But unlike the others, he’s only ever visited The Dragon once. He’s never really understood why everybody makes such a big deal out of sex. I thought that was a really interesting feature for a harem boy. Definitely unusual.
I was a bit disappointed at how he immediately felt sexually attracted to Hathar, I must admit. The whole lust at first sight just didn’t really fit my idea of Elin. First he’s repulsed by anything sexual and then he meets Hathar and just like that, he’s no longer disgusted. Instead, he’s all too happy to have sex with him in no time at all. There was no real time for the of them to form an emotional bond that might have justified Elin’s change of mind. They barely knew each other.
The whole plot felt a bit rushed. It all plays out in the span of a few days. Aside from the insta-lust, the romance was a bit rushed too. Within those few days, Hathar and Elin develop deep feelings and fall hard for each other. There was no real development of feelings. A little too close to insta-love for my tastes. It didn’t help that none of the characters had all that much depth. They were a bit underdeveloped.
The world building was seriously lacking. It was practically non-existent, really, and that’s a huge no-go for me.
Having said all that, I did enjoy reading this book. It’s short and sweet and it’s a fun read. It could have been great, I think, if the author’s ideas had had more room to fully evolve.
The cover by Natasha Snow is pretty cool. Love the dragon scales and the fire, though there’s not much of that in the actual book.
ebook, 92 pages
Published September 25th 2017 by NineStar Press