Tagline: American medical student visits India and stumbles into the home of the Nandi, shifter descendants of Shiva’s personal mount
Dreamspinner’s 2016 Daily Dose anthology includes 30 romantic male/male shifter stories released one a day during the month of June.
Synopsis: American Duncan Stirling takes a break from his medical studies to travel India with his honeymooning friends. He appreciates the wonders of the culture, especially in the magical city of Jaisalmer, where he meets a revered bull as well as Akash, an extremely attractive man from a well-connected family.
Review: This story succeeded on multiple levels, including multicultural explorations, family conflicts, a touch of personal sacrifice among friends, and an interesting shifter dynamic. The short but interesting introduction to an aspect or two from an “exotic” (from a isolated American perspective) but vastly influential world culture was appreciated and made for a nice change of locale and mythology within this genre. I particularly appreciated the brief but enticing descriptions of India in general and Jaisalmer in particular. While there was only a tiny bit of cultural and religious aspects explored, the political intrigue related to shifters was also effectively and quickly woven into the short plot of this novella. I also liked that neither “side” in various conflicts were monolithic and most of the characters (including an antagonist or two) had defensible if conflicting motives.
Finally, for a relatively short work, I think the author did a decent job of entwining the two protagonists in a relatively quick manner. The story includes very brief descriptions of the physical intimacy, yet the connection and passion between the characters seemed rather real. All in all, the novella took a quick trip to an “exotic” locale, with an interesting and alternative shifter setting, presented an array of interesting characters outside of the couple, wove a decent tale of shifter intrigue, and provided passion without relying on detailed, explicit explorations of their physical intimacy.
It was an enjoyable and entertaining jaunt into an enticing shifter setting.
Recommended for fans of: Indian/Hindu mythology; Brahman bulls; developing a passionately intimate couple without dwelling on extensive explicit scenes.
– While there were multiple intimate scenes, they were mostly one sentence fade to black descriptions, with only slightly longer explorations of a couple of key intimate moments.
Other Comments (spoilers):
I also appreciated that despite the very brief descriptions of physical heat, the author included that the partner who happens to also be a huge, hulking, supernatural bull (and therefore fit very nicely on top) was also physically receptive of his human lover.
When Akash tracked Duncan across the desert, riding on a stallion to find his erstwhile lover, the scene evoked a nicely romantic and even a bit passionate response in this reader.