by Summer Devon, fantasy (2006)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-59998-240-4
In Summer Devon's Revealing Skills, our hero Gilrohan is a morphlange. Which is to say, he can transform into any creature for about two weeks provided he can ingest, say, a few strands of hair from that creature whose form he wants to take after. It is by transforming into a fesslerat that Gilrohan manages to escape from the dungeon of Lord Lerae. The men who caught him have no idea that he's a morphlange, you see. Gilrohan is on a mission to check out a young woman that has captured King Rohan's fancy (the King wants someone for his son) and clearly Lord Lerae is not taken with the idea, especially considering that the woman in question is his sister.
Unfortunately, he ends up being captured by two women and eventually finds himself in the company of Tabica, our heroine who has an unusual gift - her touch can disrupt a morphlange's shapeshifting ability and she can understand a morphlange even if the morphlange is in the form of a fesslerat squeaking to her in, er, rat language, as Gil quickly realizes. Tabica is a servant, which means that even her choice of mate is determined for her by her superiors. Still, she is attracted to Gil enough to consider breaking the laws for once. Not that it matters. Gil is sticking by her side until he figures out the nature of her unusual ability of disrupting his shapeshifting skill with her touch. He'll be in rat form as long as she is not touching him.
Revealing Skills starts out pretty good as Summer Devon manages to create a fantasy setting that, despite its emphasis on slaves being bred and all, come off pretty classy instead of campy and juvenile. At first, that is. The story soon takes a turn straight into the cheese vat when Tabica learns that she is special and therefore she and Gil start finding all kinds of excuses to stay apart even as her super powerful womanly part suddenly becomes a man magnet and this story turns into how shagging Tabica can apparently make you a better person. I can't help disappointed that this story turns out to be pretty cheesy that way. More importantly, it does feel as if the story runs out of steam after the first quarter or so because the subsequent pages aren't as interesting as the main characters' initial encounter with each other.
Perhaps if Revealing Skills has been shorter and ends after the main characters' first few shags, the story would have ended on a high note. As it is, the story soon begins to drag and I find the story becomes increasingly dull compared to its much superior first few chapters. File this one under Missed Opportunities.
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