Today I’m reviewing Darragha Foster’s Harvest of Change. This one is for all you people who ask for recommendations for shorter reads, which I don’t always get into. First, I’d like to say that I received this as an advanced reading copy for a fair review. It’s a nice length fantasy novella sitting at 58 pages. Wow. I was twisted around by this read, completely surprised by it. In these slim pages the author packs in quite a bit. First thing first, there are a couple of warnings for the story—there’s some violence (complete with blood) and religious extremists (it’s a fantasy setting). All in all I really liked it because it was something different, not a trope at all as far as I can see, in a landscape of reads that sometimes falls into predictability. Even when I love that predictability (I have my favorite tropetastic reads), it’s nice to have a breath of fresh air.
Let’s take a look at the blurb.
Judah El-Bara wants to do what’s right for family and faith. But, this means being the sacrificial bridegroom to the Harvest Goddess, and Judah can never love a woman. The passion in Judah’s heart burns only for one man. What will happen if Judah follows his heart? Will the Harvest Goddess take her revenge, or will love be the path that changes tradition? Author Darragha Foster spins a magical tale in Harvest of Change, a welcome addition to your romance library.
Judah Hayaam “Hay” El-Bara is a marked man born with the nevus of the Harvest Goddess. It makes him special but also portends his doom. He is destined be her husband, the seed to her soil, and it will more than likely kill him. He wants to do what’s right—for his family and for the faith to which he no longer subscribes. But he has no sexual interest in women—goddess or not. Beck Nazari shows him doing the wrong thing is way more fun and important. Will his relationship with Beck cause the sky to fall and burn because the bridegroom loves another man? Or will the gender-fluid goddess kiss away tradition-born fears and help usher in a new era? Either way, change is coming as surely as winter never fails to turn into spring. And most folks are uncomfortable with change.
Here is the sample.
One thing I always love, especially from short stories, is when the author starts us off with a bang, as it were. With a novella you don’t always have time to mess around getting to “the good stuff” because you’re trying to tell an entire story in fewer pages than a novel. This book tends more toward erotic romance than straight up romance, even though the gooshy good feeling is definitely there. The story is done in such a way that I really enjoy the flash of heat.
Hay is a virgin. Yes, I said it. It’s one of those stories, but it’s really not in some ways. We get some sexual exploration, but we also get fast and fierce sex with this book. I enjoy the way the sex is written too, enough detail and grit that it makes for a serious face flushing read in between deep thoughts.
The prose in this story was a little on the flowery side, but I enjoyed it because it fit the tone of the fantasy setting extremely well and did a good job of taking me to a place I don’t usually go when I’m reading male romance. It reminded me a lot of the tone of Amy Lane’s Truth in the Dark.
The Interesting and Unusual:
As I said, I already loved that there was something unusual and unique going on in this story. The main characters are attempting to change an entire society, an entire religion, with their actions. There are some really interesting fantasy elements going on here—one of the characters is supposed to marry the embodiment of the goddess his people worship, but he doesn’t really want to. I haven’t seen this story theme explored before so I was hooked. There are layers to the sociopolitical and theological elements in the story that an astute reader could easily extrapolate to our society today. I found it both enjoyable and frightening to think about the dogma our main characters live with—part Amish, part extreme Christian, part old world paganism, but it was a well built idea that kept me intrigued.
My complaint about this novella is the same one that I have about most novellas. I could have used a longer read. I would have loved to have had a deeper exploration of the world building, seen what happened after Buck and Hay were discovered and they set about changing their lives. I would read a second installment for sure, should the author choose to make this a serial.
One of the few complaints I have about this book is that Hay goes from complete virgin territory to anal sex with a stranger (sort of) during a chance meeting in the woods. I realize this is fantasy, and generally I don’t have a problem suspending disbelief…and the main character was really hot for it, but…well, yeah. It was sudden and I don’t really think a virgin would be all, “Yeah, let’s do this ass fucking thing with barely any prep.”
Final thoughts here? I loved the twist on the ending. I won’t ruin it for you because it makes the whole book, but I really enjoyed the idea that the divine will do what it will, in spite of what humans want and expect. This was a great fantasy read, and I would recommend it for anyone who has an hour or two to kill and wants a little bit more from an erotic read than just two hot characters fucking. (Not that it doesn’t have that too. ‘Cause it does.)
Check out my book Threefold Love! It received honorable mention for The Rainbow Awards and is currently a finalist.
Captain Xavier Hobbs, a decommissioned combat engineer, was chronically lonely in the Army. But once he is back to being a civilian, with no family and nothing to ground him, he drifts. All he wants is a real home, a real life, and love—but that is easy to wish for and hard to make happen.
When he meets Andrew Landry, a high school English teacher, Xavier thinks he has found everything he has ever wanted, maybe even someone he can trust with his scars—the ones on his mind and body. Andrew’s quick wit and outgoing personality reel Xavier in slowly but surely. But he isn’t certain which way Andrew swings, and doesn’t dare to do more than hope the friendly man is actually flirting.
Then, on what Xavier idly wishes were their first date, disaster strikes in the form of Duncan McNeil, a fellow Wiccan and Andrew’s fiancé. Xavier’s hope is smashed to pieces, but Duncan and Andrew may have a different point of view. All they need is a little magic, some hope, and a lot of love to put everything back together.