Book Title: Twenty-One Arrow Salute (Order Series #Book 2.5)
Author: Kasia Bacon
Cover Artist: Ying Draws
Genre/s: NA Fantasy
Length: 23 000 words/ 100 pages
Release Date: June 11, 2018
Other stories in the series: The Mutt #1, The Highlander #2
An archer’s heart is a hard target to hit…
Verhan Tŭrryés of Black Mountain is a handful.
Freshly enlisted in the Highland Regiment, he does all he can to steer clear of responsibility and commitment. Just not his cup of mead, that. Loose of tongue and even looser of morals, he rarely misses an opportunity to get into trouble—and into the other archers’ knickers, too.
In a unit composed almost entirely of Dark Elves, Hernan Seinnés, with his green eyes and auburn hair, is an outsider. When Verhan, up the creek again, is blackmailed into helping Hernan, he never expects to fall for him. But during the long hours spent training Hernan for the Honour Guard, feelings strike the Highlander right in the heart—and with the force of an arrow.
Unversed in relationships, Verhan finally plucks up enough courage to tell Hernan how he feels, only to drive the Asirhwӱnian away instead. If Verhan can swallow his pride, he might get one last chance to show Hernan what he means to him—and maybe this time he can hit the mark.
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Taking a step too wide, Hernan faltered at the very end, finishing the last form atthe wrong angle. The error turned his stance rigid, his poise evaporating before my eyes.
“Not bad. For an Asirhwӱnian,” I grinned and winked. “Let’s repeat it a few more times without stopping. I want to try something. Close your eyes and picture the forms in your mind. I’ll be behind you, guiding your steps, alright?”
Slowly, I approached him from the rear and placed my hands on his hips.
That first time I touched him, my heart downright assailed my rib cage, beating out a rhythm violent enough to cause me internal damage. To my dismay, I felt more riled up by that innocent contact than the last time I had my trousers around my ankles and a bulky sergeant pressed against the wall. Silently swearing, I tried shutting down those thoughts and refocusing.
And so we moved in a half circle, gliding through the air, in tune with one another.
The sweet spiciness of his scent reminded me of darhê. Hyperawareof the warmth emanating from his body, I lost all sense of time. It might’ve been a few minutes or an hour before we came to a stop.
As if bewitched, both of us remained still. It was Hernan who eventually turned his head to the side. He looked up at me over his shoulder.
The air seemed to shimmer around him, the edges of my vision distorted. I took in his smooth, flushed skin embellished with a few freckles. His slightly parted lips, plump and rosy. His wide, pale eyes, as green as a forest fern. All the colours that defined him filled me with a sense of wonder.
This story just about gave me a toothache it’s so sweet. This is yet another wonderful installment in Kasia Bacon’s The Order universe. We’re back in the rich and vivid world the author has created for her elves, and I’m still amazed (three books later) by how much imagery she fits into these shorter format stories without sacrificing character building or storytelling.
Our sole narrator is Verhan, a Highlander (dark elf) with a penchant for mischief and a libido that seems to get him into more trouble than anything. After getting caught spying on a bathhouse, his superior orders him to help one of his fellow archers, Hernan, prepare for a major role in an upcoming ceremony. Hernan is an Asirhwӱnian, a different race of elf from Verhan. He’s one of few in the Highlander regiment, where he has not only a different appearance and build, but a different archery background as well. He’s seen as an outsider and doesn’t have many friends in the regiment. The last thing Verhan expects is to develop feelings for Hernan, but that’s exactly what he does.
Both of these characters are fairly young lending, as the author mentions in her note at the beginning, a new adult feel to the story. Over the course of the pages, Verhan learns a lot about himself in terms of biases, friendship, love, jealousy and heartbreak. Hernan has his own share of growth. He goes from being timid and shy, using haughtiness to mask his insecurities, to blossoming into his own and fully becoming a part of his regiment.
All of this happens with a healthy dose of humor and snark and cuteness and sweetness. The storytelling is so smooth and seamless, building a complete world and unique, full-bodied characters – major and minor – before our eyes without us even noticing it. As always, I’m blown away by Kasia’s storytelling abilities and cannot wait for the next installment from this universe. Maybe we’ll get a little glimpse of Verhan and Hernan a little bit later down the road?
While Twenty-One Arrow Salute is part of a series, it features new characters and could be read as a standalone (with the advance perusal of the glossary in the back) – though I’m not sure why a reader wouldn’t want to check out the other books in the series, too. They’re all fantastic, and I highly recommend them all, Twenty-One Arrow Salute included!
An advance copy of this book was received from the author for review. Reviewed for OMGReads.
About the Author
A linguist and an avid reader with a particular fondness for fantasy and paranormal genres, KASIA BACON lives in London with her husband. When not tearing her hair out over a translating project, she writes stories about the shenanigans of emotionally constipated assassins and sexy Elves. Otherwise, she can be found shaking her loins at a Zumba class, binging on anime or admiring throwing knives on Pinterest. She has a mild coffee and lemon tart addiction. A lover of MMA and Muay Thai, she also enjoys nature and the great outdoors. She dreams of becoming independently wealthy, leaving the city and moving into her wooden mini-manor—located in the heart of stunning forests resembling those of the Elven Country depicted in her tales.
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