Princes of Air by Elizabeth Schechter
Published by Circlet Press on November 21, 2011 | 63,000 words
The nine sons of the goddess Morrigan can take the shape of ravens; and like ravens, they mate for life. This book contains the stories of three of them finding the women to whom they will give their hearts. But it’s not an easy path when the raven-brothers’ powers make them both an envy and a target.
I swear, by Mother’s tail feathers, until that moment I had put aside all thoughts of a tryst. I was fully intending to bring this woman back to her home and then take wing back to Dunn-Morrigan. That was before I found myself with a lovely naked woman in my arms, her lips on mine, her hands sliding down my chest to work at my belt. Her skin was cool from the waters of the pool, warming under my touch as I ran my hands down her back, pulling her closer, feeling her wet hair tangling through my fingers. With quick motions she stripped me of my cloak of feathers and my leather jerkin, loosened the waist of my trews, and drew me to lie down with her, hidden in the sun-warmed grass.
I’m only passingly familiar with Irish mythology, but this book evoked it beautifully. It’s written in first person (for each of the three brothers it focuses on) and its tone feels like that of a tale being told in the olden days of kings and blacksmiths and witches. And it was lovely to see a family rather than a lonely hero: the nine brothers all live together and love each other, although occasionally one may wander off for a time. The vulnerability of having your second shape bound in a cloak of feathers was also depicted with a deft hand, and made these men compelling characters, even as the children of a goddess.
However, the beginning (after the prologue) crammed in quite a bit of back-story—a love realized and lost, which I thought deserved more attention than a summary—and once events in the present started moving, they turned out to be a bit repetitive as each of Morrigan’s sons finds himself in trouble and must seek aid from his brothers. It was odd paced throughout; momentous events like deaths seemed only glancingly described. And some paragraphs also tend toward the long side, perhaps because of the fable-narrative feel of the writing.
The romances were a bit bland, thanks to the fated mate setup; you knew that the mate would be a good person who loved the brother in turn, so there wasn’t any conflict to be found in the relationships. I found the sex scenes explicit without necessarily being particularly erotically charged, perhaps because there are a couple of encounters and fantasies with non-romantic partners. Also, the women tended to be dominant during couplings; it was only in the m/m pairing that a man (obviously) claimed the upper hand. Whether this will work for you or not is just a matter of taste.
I’d recommend this one if the world and the writing appeal to you; the fantasy aspect struck me as the strongest part.
Author’s website (Elizabeth Schechter)