by Eressë, fantasy (2010)
Liquid Silver Books, $6.10, ISBN 978-1-59578-735-4
Hollowed Bond returns to Ylandre, a fantasy world where hermaphrodites live, love, and be merry. These hermaphrodites display behavior typically associated with males, so this one is basically a gay romance with the extra bonus of male pregnancy tossed into the mix.
One harsh winter, Dylen Teris is on his way back from work at the local tavern, when he stumbles upon Riodan Leyhar who is half dead from the cold. You can imagine what will happen between these two as Dylen nurses Riodan back to health, I'm sure. Unfortunately, Dylen makes a living by being a social escort while Riodan is the son of a high-ranking Ambassador in the court of Rohyr Essendri. Hollowed Bond is a pretty long story chronicling the ups and downs of this relationship over the next eighteen years.
There is a Bollywood movie style to this story. There are misunderstanding galore, tantrums, hurt feelings, self-sabotage, taking out one's anger by deliberately hurting the other person. Reading this story can be exhausting because of the relentless melodrama that just keep coming. Both Dylen and Riodan can be very silly. Riodan can be selfish and Dylen too naïve for someone in his profession, so they don't always get things right.
And therein lies my problem with Hollowed Bond. There is a lot of drama and plenty of anguish, but I don't detect any convincing growth in the characters. Too much of the characters' epiphany is driven by secondary characters like Hirlen and Rohyr, to the point that I can only imagine that these characters will have to mediate our lovebirds for the foreseeable future every time they hit a bump in their relationship.
Nonetheless, Hollowed Bond is a compelling read despite that problem. If this is a straight romance, I'd say that the writing has an old school quality to it. The story spans over a long period of time, spiced by melodramatic issues and near-rapes and silly antics of our main characters. The over the top quality of the story is quite endearing in the hands of this author. The end result is like a gaudy but entertaining Bollywood drama. Usually I will cringe at some of the elements in this story, but I find myself amused by the shenanigans of the characters here and I keep turning the pages to discover what they will get into next.
In other words, Hollowed Bond isn't something I normally expect to enjoy, but I do enjoy it at the end of the day, as the author knows how to tell a story very well and draw me into it despite my reservations.
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