Fated Love
by Jaelyn Storm and Sasha Skye, historical/fantasy (2009)
Dreamspinner Press, $3.99, ISBN 978-1-935192-57-2

Travarius lay hidden in the brush, trying to hear over the thundering beat of his heart. He needed to figure out how close his pursuers were if he had any hope of escape.

Oh, how cute! Is this like how it was in Gulliver's Travels when the hero found himself in the land of the giants? Imagine my disappointment when I realize that there is a typographical error in the above opening sentence of this short story. Travarius is hiding in a bush, not a brush.

Any, Travarius is wearing only a loincloth when he's running away in the woods from his enemies, just like how women in horror movies always wear flimsy see-through gowns when they are fleeing the mad serial killer in the woods. Poor Travarius, you see, was the prince of Thespeia until the bad General Xanthor and his army launched a bloody revolt during some erotic festival to Eros. Travarius is spared when everyone else in his family get cut down because he's so hot and therefore Xanthor wants a piece of him.

When Travarius finally locates the wizard Anteros whom he hopes can help him get his princely rear end back on the throne, Anteros turns out to be a hot guy as well. Anteros naturally wants a piece of Travarius too, and he also has a bombshell to drop on Travarius: due to an ancient contract, Anteros has all right to take Travarius as his consort in exchange for his aid.

This story makes me laugh because it is full of long and boring exposition included at the oddest moments, such as Xanthor's long and rambling lust-filled reminiscences of the most recent time he ogled Travarius being dropped clumsily in the middle of the chase scene and therefore ruining the momentum of the building suspense in that scene. I'm not an author, but here I am, reading this short story and shaking my head at how two authors can happily cut the momentum of their story in such a manner. Also, these characters don't speak, they instead lecture each other when they are not regaling each other with long stilted-sounding narratives.

The thing is, Fated Love does a pretty good job in its late third in weaving some Greek mythology drama into the plot in a way that I find very interesting. However, since this is a short story and those events take place late in the story, the party is over when it has only just begun. For way too long, this story is bogged down by dry exposition and the whiny protests of a Greek hero who often acts unrealistically dismayed at the idea of surrendering his rear end to his Dumbledore, as if his people have never done such things before. Mark this one as a story with possibilities, way too many of them unfulfilled by the last page.

Rating: 65

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