Title: A Delicate Game
Author: Sasha L Miller
Length: 7,000 words
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: m/m fantasy Romance
Elio and Sestro are beautiful, seductive, and talented—in more ways than anyone knows. They are known for taking lovers back to their room to share for the night—but each lover only enjoys one night with the notorious brothers. Practically no one realizes the true nature of the lovers they choose. It is a game they created, and which they play masterfully.
Until they choose a lover who proves that the best way to win a game is to ignore all the rules…
Don’t get too excited about the whole twincest-m/m/m storyline. The focus here is more on espionage and relationship than sex. In fact, aside from some kissing (and not between the twins), this is rather a chaste read.
The story tells of twins Elio and Sestro who on the surface seem like indolent noblemen, who seek their pleasure with each other and various men who they take to their beds. In fact, the twins run the espionage unit for the king, using their seductive powers to discover secrets and as a cover up for gaining information from their agents. They pick up Tore at a party, determined to discover who the stranger at court is, only to find that he is the brother of one of their spies who has been poisoned. Tole wants to turn against his country and it’s up to the twins to keep him safe from reprisals.
The part that I enjoyed the most about the story was in the characterisation of the twins who obviously know each other inside and out. I got a really great insight into how they work together, as well as the obvious respect and affection they have for the other. Although there’s an element of twincest about the story in that we are told the twins take their lovers to bed, I didn’t really get the impression that they had strong lustful feelings for each other. It read more like they shared a guy between them, rather than being in love/lust with each other. Maybe I’m wrong there and other readers will see it differently, but there’s certainly more of a focus on the twins’ reactions to Tole and the lustful feelings he incites in them, than sexual feelings between the twins.
The espionage story was done pretty well, but was rushed through. I suppose with such a short word length, it’s difficult to fit much in, but this aspect was used more for a reason to get the characters in the same room, and to reveal the real reason the twins take lovers, than to provide an exciting spy sub-plot. It does add greatly to the world-building in the story with a little politics thrown in to ground the story.
Overall, this proved to be a pleasant diversion, but I would have liked to have seen more desire between the men as a three to really appreciate the romantic ending. This author is proving to be a little gem in this publisher’s lists, writing consistently engaging short stories, and I shall look forward to reading more from her in the future.