The Play's The Thing by Shinybug (R)

  • Jun. 18th, 2014 at 4:18 PM
Title: The Play's The Thing
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Canon AU, first time, humor, romance, happy ending
Length: Medium (4,989 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] shinybug
Author Website: favicon Shinybug

Author's Summary:
Arthur had to spare a thought to be impressed at how many slanderous and untrue things Merlin had managed to insert into such a brief statement: that Arthur liked to drink, and that when he did drink too much he had a tendency to inflict bodily harm upon his manservant, either in the form of beatings and/or possibly sodomy, and that chambermaids were more or less involved in these indiscretions.

Review:
Very rarely do I actually laugh out loud when reading, even when I find something truly funny. Not so, here -- I smile and laugh just thinking about this story, much less reading it. What begins as a ruse to throw off a determined marriage-minded noblewoman leads to hilarity, embarrassment, and ultimately, true love.

I love the author's voice in this story, the way that the situation plays out so humorously and yet never veers outside the realm of plausibility. It seems that everyone but Arthur knows what he and Merlin could be to one another, and Arthur is just a little bit oblivious to what everyone thinks about his relationship with his manservant. Uther's resigned acceptance of The Relationship That Isn't (yet!), Gaius' protectiveness and Morgana's mirth are the icing on the cake.

While the original character Lady Helewys is meant to be an antagonist, of sorts, with her persistence and overly frilly dresses, there's a depth to her as well, in her moment of honesty with Arthur, and I liked Arthur all the better for his recognition of the fact that below her coquetry and affectations was a woman who was simply trying to secure her future.

The Play's The Thing

I Wanna Grow Old With You by Lilybells (G)

  • Jun. 10th, 2014 at 12:59 PM
Title: I Wanna Grow Old With You
Fandom: Merlin
Music Used: Grow Old With You by Adam Sandler
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: AU, fluff, romance, established relationship, mild angst
Length: Short (1:26)
Warnings: Reference to canonical major character death and return

Artist on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] lil_lollypop36
Artist Website: Lilybells @ Tumblr

Artist's Summary:
I wanna grow old with you.

Review:
I've always been a fan of Lilybells' adorable Merthur chibis, but seeing them animated and set to music takes it to the next level. This video is unbearably sweet, cute, and just a little bit angsty. I wouldn't call myself an Adam Sandler fan, but this particular song is tender, loving, and drives a wonderful narrative when paired with Lilybells' art. Sometimes it's not about the passion and intensity, and this video captures all those tiny little moments of domestic bliss, all those little ways two people can show their love for one another day in, day out, through small and thoughtful gestures. Admittedly I'm a bit of a sap, but I tear up a little bit every time I watch it, and always feel very warm and happy at the end.

I Wanna Grow Old With You

Art: Reborn At Camlann

  • Jun. 3rd, 2014 at 5:48 PM
Title: Reborn At Camlann
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Modern AU, fanart, romance, kissing, fluff
Length: N/A
Warnings: none

Artist on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] alby_mangroves
Artist Website: Alby_Mangroves @ DeviantArt & Alby_Mangroves" @ AO3

Artist's Summary:
"You know what they say, man. We all die at Camlann, then we're reborn." Or how Arthur got his groove back.

Review:
Admittedly, part of the reason I love this is that it was inspired by my favorite WIP at [livejournal.com profile] kinkme_merlin, but this gorgeous art can (and does) stand on its own. There are so many things to love - the beautiful details, the intimate pose, the epic kissing...and of course, Merlin's wellies.

Reborn At Camlann

Mango by rotrude (R)

  • May. 27th, 2014 at 3:05 PM
Title: Mango
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Modern AU, outsider POV, fluff, pining, romance, established relationship
Length: Medium (13,667 words)
Warnings: A brief, non-explicit description of a medical emergency is given

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] rotrude
Author Website: favicon rotrude

Author's Summary:
Written for this prompt: Secret relationship: they've been together for years without telling anyone, and something gives them away. Mordred, the new quantitative modelling researcher at Albion Ratings, developes a crush on Merlin. So he starts nosing around to find out whether Merlin's free to date.

Review:
You can't help but feel just a little bit sorry for poor, hapless Mordred here. He's rather adorably clueless with his not-so-secret crush on Merlin, and who can blame him? Merlin is warm, friendly, and entirely crush-worthy. To the reader, it is clear that there is something going on between Arthur and Merlin, but the details are just opaque enough to save Mordred from coming across as completely oblivious. This ambiguity creates a delightful tension, building up to the moment of reveal when at last Mordred realizes just how unavailable Merlin is. That the event which precipitates this revelation was unwittingly orchestrated by Mordred, and results in Arthur showing the depth of his feelings for Merlin in a rather heroic, entirely Arthur-ish fashion is just the icing on the cake.

Lovingly detailed writing is a hallmark of this author's excellent work, and in the case of this story it lends realism to the plot. I'm always left with the impression that rotrude fully grasps every element down to the most minute detail. This makes it easy to lose oneself in the story, without having those jarring moments of being thrown out of the narrative as you question this or that.

Mango exemplifies the secret relationship trope in all the best ways, and is a perfectly delightful read.

Mango
Title: Something Worth Fighting For
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Historical AU, epistolary, friends to lovers, first time, romance, pining, angst, war
Length: Long (20,921 words)
Warnings: Non-explicit references to off-screen violence

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: favicon TheAvalonian

Author's Summary:
Set during World War II. Arthur is sent to the front lines to fight for Britain, while Merlin is left behind, struggling to cope with the absence of his best friend. Seeking to give Arthur some comfort, Merlin begins to send him pieces of a story, which tells of a legendary King and his devoted manservant.

Through their letters, Arthur and Merlin grow closer, and perhaps begin to discover feelings that they could not put into words before. But will Arthur make it through the war? And what will happen if he does?

Review:
It begins with goodbye -- with Merlin's painful farewell to Arthur, as Arthur departs to serve in His Majesty's Armed Forces. The emotions are readily apparent, and while Arthur and Merlin are "only" friends at this point, the potential for something so much deeper and more intense is quickly revealed.

While not told exclusively through letters, the correspondence between Arthur and Merlin plays a key role in this story. We see the depth of Merlin's emotion expressed through the letters he lovingly crafts for Arthur to give him comfort and succor as he endures the horrors of war. The stories of the King and his Wizard that Merlin creates are my favorite element, and I loved the parallels that were drawn between both the events that Arthur was experiencing as well as Merlin canon.

The highlight, of course, is the emotional reunion between Arthur and Merlin when the war finally ends. After experiencing Merlin's realization of the true nature of his feelings for Arthur and his deep longing to be with him once more, I found myself on the edge of my metaphorical seat as Merlin rushed to see a newly-returned Arthur. The integration of Merlin's story into the revelation of their true feelings for one another was a lovely touch and an excellent way of tying everything together.

At long last, seeing the reunited men consummate their love was the perfect ending. If you love historical AUs, letter writing, and/or pining with a happy resolution, please give this one a try.

Something Worth Fighting For

Entering Orbit by Museaway (R)

  • May. 13th, 2014 at 2:39 PM
Title: Entering Orbit
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Categories: AU, romance, first-time, fluff, domestic bliss
Length: Long (30,959 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] museaway
Author Website: favicon Museaway

Author's Summary:
Jim escapes to Iowa to avoid the media frenzy following the Narada incident, but a late-night miscommunication results in Spock turning up on his front porch.

Review:
This is a story about falling in love. Coming in after the events of 2009's Star Trek, Kirk and Spock have already gotten off to a poor start with one another. While the reboot version of Kirk is a little more rough around the edges than Kirk Prime, Museaway imbues him with depth and caring while staying true to the character. The result is a Kirk who makes the first step toward a relationship that will define both Kirk and Spock, just as Spock Prime described.

I'm just a little bit in love with this Kirk. He shows his concern for Spock in so many perfect, meaningful ways. Whether it is going to the trouble of locating Vulcan tea for Spock or preparing plomeek soup for him, he takes care of Spock in a way that I doubt anyone ever has, save his mother...and in the aftermath of what has just happened, he obviously needs it.

Spock, of course, is Spock...stoic and logical as ever, but with a subtle, touching vulnerability. I loved the impulsivity he showed in accepting Kirk's invitation to Iowa, and how in his way, he took care of Kirk, too. Both men are perfectly characterized, and the love between them builds so naturally and in such a lovely, heartwarming way.

This is one of my go-to stories when I want to read something that will just make me feel good. Give it a try, and it might do the same for you. :)

Entering Orbit

We Are Stardust by fuzzytomato (NC-17)

  • May. 6th, 2014 at 9:13 PM
Title: We Are Stardust
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Sci-fi/Space AU, romance, first time, action/adventure
Length: Epic (43,097 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] fuzzytomato02
Author Website: favicon fuzzytomato

Author's Summary:
The crew of the merchant ship Avalon are a good lot if a little odd. The captain, Morgana, has weird dreams. The first mate, Arthur, is an unpleasant ex-lieutenant of the Phoenix Guard. The ship itself is falling apart. When they take on a new engineer named Merlin at Tintagel drift to help with repairs, they not only get a genius, they get much more than they bargained for.

Review:
I don't know if this is intentional, but this story definitely has a little bit of a Firefly vibe, which I really liked. That doesn't mean you have to be a Firefly fan to enjoy it, not at all. There is so much to love in this story, from the phenomenal world-building to the well-developed characterizations and excellent writing.

I really, really loved seeing Merlin as a technopath, and for his gift in this world to be as rare and powerful as his canon abilities. I loved the element of risk involved, that he might merge with the machines in an irrevocable fashion, perpetually trapped in cyber-state. The use of paradoxes as a test for this state was an interesting detail that I really enjoyed.

Arthur is just a little bit broken, and as we see his initial mistrust of Merlin fade away and their friendship develop, it all feels very natural and organic. When the truth about Merlin's abilities comes out in a time of crisis, Arthur can't stop being concerned about Merlin despite his anger. Seeing them come together again, and seeing Arthur's protectiveness and caring for Merlin, as well as the depth of his feelings finally made physical was immensely satisfying.

Last but certainly not least, I adored Morgana's role as Captain and Seer. Fuzzytomato portrayed a Morgana as I love to see her: an awesome, steadfast, confident woman. She doesn't back down, is fierce in her defense of her family and crew (which in this case, are essentially one and the same), and is everything one could ask for in a strong female lead.

We Are Stardust

In Any Language by Enterprisingly (R)

  • Apr. 29th, 2014 at 9:08 PM
Title: In Any Language
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Categories: AU, romance, pining, light angst, Pon Farr, bonding
Length: Medium (5,995 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: favicon Enterprisingly

Author's Summary:
A love story in 10 parts. Based on a tumblr post about relationship words that do not translate to English.

Review:
I was really impressed by how effectively the author really captured the essence of each concept and created such a moving, deeply romantic story out of a list. Each vignette ties perfectly to the corresponding word/phrase...so much so that it almost feels as though the list was made with them in mind. From this we are able to see a wonderfully complete picture of the love that Kirk and Spock share.

Their story follows a logical progression from word to word, building to a profoundly satisfying climax in the heat of Pon Farr, and it was this scene that was the highlight for me. The author beautifully conveys the intensity and depth of Spock's need and Jim's utter refusal to lose his closest friend and love.

I was also very affected by the final glimpse into their lives together, as Spock reflects on the inescapable fact that his lifespan will be much longer than his human bondmate's and the loneliness he will someday endure. That he loves Kirk so fiercely, without holding back despite (or perhaps because of) the knowledge of this future loss is clear and poignant.

While this rec is centered on this particular fic, I do want to mention that the author has a handful of other stories in this 'verse, all of them beautifully written and well worth reading.

In Any Language

For Want of Wreckage by bloodsongs (NC-17)

  • Apr. 15th, 2014 at 1:54 PM
Title: For Want of Wreckage
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Canon AU,romance, first time, UST, angst, pining
Length: Long (26,521 words)
Warnings: Mildly dubious consent (magic-induced)

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] blood_songs90
Author Website: favicon bloodsongs

Author's Summary:
When a druid clan visits Camelot to forge an alliance, they offer Arthur a protective rune tattoo as a diplomatic gift. He accepts, unaware of the mischievous tattooist's matchmaking designs after noticing the way Arthur looks longingly at Merlin, ending up with a rune on his back that shields him from harm in battle or, apparently, in bed.

With the tattoo still new and heavy with magic, Arthur finds himself a slave to his own awakened desires from the rune's side effects as they threaten to overwhelm him – at least, until Merlin offers to help.

Review:
One of the things I wanted most from BBC's Merlin was to see the Golden Age of Camelot, and Merlin in a place of honor at Arthur's side as his sorcerer (and more, if we're being honest). Alas, that did not come to pass...which is where fanfiction comes in. For that reason, I really love canon AU's with Merlin as Court Sorcerer, and this one does not disappoint.

This story is chock-full of porn: gorgeous, steamy, beautifully written porn with feelings. (The best kind!) Bloodsongs does a brilliant job of ratcheting up the tension, as our poor oblivious men pine for one another, unaware that their desire is mutual. The dynamic between them is perfectly in-character; they snark and banter and relate to each other exactly as one might expect them to with Merlin as Court Sorcerer -- which is to say very much as they did in the show but with less polishing of armor, mucking out of stables and the like. While Arthur is incapable of showing his appreciation for Merlin with a true compliment, he does admire and respect his power and he shows it in his own semi-insulting Arthurish way.

For Want of Wreckage is a perfect get-together story with a happy ending, and very hot to boot! Highly recommended!

For Want of Wreckage

Azoth by zeitgeistic (NC-17)

  • Apr. 8th, 2014 at 10:44 PM
Title: Azoth
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Draco, background Hermione/Millicent & Ron/Lavender
Categories: Romance, drama, angst, first time
Length: Epic (88,720)
Warnings: References to canonical major character death

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] zeitgeistic
Author Website: favicon zeitgeistic

Author's Summary:
Now that Harry is back at Hogwarts with Hermione for eighth year, he realises that something’s missing from his life, and it either has to do with Ron, his boggart, Snape, or Malfoy. Furthermore, what, exactly, does it mean when one’s life is defined by the desire to simultaneously impress and annoy a portrait? Harry has no idea; he’s too busy trying not to be in love with Malfoy to care.

Review:
There are so many things to love about this story. Eighth Year is a new beginning for Harry, an opportunity for him to begin to live a life outside the shadow of the Dark Lord. He starts to find out who he really is, and it is this self-discovery that leads to him making an unconventional choice of career. He first makes this decision out of stubbornness and a desire to tweak Snape's nose, but with time he finds that he is perfectly suited to being a Potions Master.

His journey from being second only to Neville in potions failure to Snape's apprentice occurs alongside an evolution of Harry's character that feels very natural; he finds an understanding of himself and a love of the mutable, artistic nature of potions-making. Harry also finds himself growing up and growing apart from Ron, and he wonders at the fact that Draco so easily fills the spot left by his childhood best friend -- only to realize that Draco is more to him than he could ever have imagined.

The author did a brilliant job depicting Harry's growing understanding of and skill in making potions, and the alchemical work he does with Draco was extremely well-developed. The characterizations were simply excellent all around, with Hermione as a particular favorite. And of course, the relationship between Harry and Draco evolves slowly and realistically, with just enough angst and pining to make the happy ending all the sweeter.

Really, I can't do justice to how absolutely amazing and perfect this story is. I can't recommend it enough.

Azoth

Art: Bonds by Synnesai (G)

  • Apr. 1st, 2014 at 1:32 PM
Title: Bonds
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Categories: Fanart, romance, soulmates
Length: N/A
Warnings: none

Artist on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] synnesai
Artist Website: SeaTeas

Artist's Summary:
I always liked how author’s described (t’hy’la) bonds in fics and each fic is a bit different, but a lot of it is the same idea. That they are, you know, bonded already they just don’t know it yet (till they touch). It reminded me a lot of the Red String of Fate deal.

Review:
I love the idea of using the red thread of fate to symbolize the destined connection between Kirk and Spock. It seems so appropriate, so them. This gorgeous art depicts Kirk and Spock close, but not touching, as the red thread loops around and over their bodies. It feels as though at any moment, they will touch and wake to their fated bond.

Bonds

Dragonholm by Camelittle (NC-17)

  • Mar. 25th, 2014 at 9:38 AM
Title: Dragonholm
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Modern AU, romance, drama, hurt/comfort, light angst, fluff, first time
Length: Long (23,262 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] camelittle
Author Website: favicon Camelittle

Author's Summary:
Merlin's nervous enough about the ski instructor job; he really doesn't need the added stress of concealing the real purpose for his placement. He's a diligent sort of bloke, so he'll do his best. But he can't help thinking it'd all be a whole lot easier if he didn't have a rapidly escalating crush on his room mate.

Review:
There are so many things to love about this story. The interactions between Arthur and Merlin are so authentic - the snark, the banter, the playful (and sometimes not so playful) insults...and the heat and intensity between them is excellently done. There is some seriously gorgeous writing here, too. In one scene in particular, Arthur and Merlin are walking back to the chalet at night, and I was immediately taken in by the imagery. The author's words were so evocative, and painted such a clear and lovely picture of the setting that served as the perfect backdrop for the moment Arthur and Merlin shared under the stars. The relationship between Arthur and Merlin is well-paced and absolutely wonderful. There is immediate chemistry between them and just a little bit of angst because of Merlin's secret, but it doesn't stop them from growing closer and ultimately falling for one another.

I loved seeing a different take on Hunith than I've seen before, and the rest of the supporting cast was delightfully entertaining and in a couple of cases, menacing. I really enjoyed Morgana's role, as well -- her protectiveness of Arthur and the clever way she gatecrashed Merlin's dinner with his mother, for one, and the sweet sadness of her friendship with Gwen too.

The absolute best part of this for me was that it kept me guessing right until the very end. Throughout the story we see Merlin make reference to his secret purpose for being at Dragonholm, and when it was revealed it wasn't at all what I expected. It was the perfect ending to a really enjoyable read.

I highly recommend reading this delightful story, and don't forget to check out the gorgeous art by [livejournal.com profile] fuckyeah!

Dragonholm

How High the Moon by Kyliselle (NC-17)

  • Mar. 18th, 2014 at 4:00 PM
Title: How High the Moon
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Categories: Angst, first time, hurt/comfort, romance
Length: Long (38,757 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] kyliselle
Author Website: kyliselle @ K/S Archive

Author's Summary:
After the destruction of Vulcan, Spock shielded his mind to protect it from his broken bond with T'Pring. Little did he know another bond had already formed in its place. For a [livejournal.com profile] st_xi_kink prompt for soulbonding.

Review:
For me, angst is a means to an end. Or, more accurately, a means to a happy ending. Of course, the happiness of the ending must certainly be at least commensurate with or better yet, greater than the misery suffered by the characters. How High the Moon meets that standard and then some. The pre-destined bond Kirk and Spock share and its prominent role in the story ticks all the boxes for fans of the soulbond trope.

It goes without saying that to have hurt/comfort there must be a need for comfort, and the author crafts this scenario to perfection. Spock's callous demeanor toward Kirk is almost painful to read at times, so vividly is Kirk's despair portrayed. The physical effects he suffers as a result of Spock unwittingly blocking their bond are chilling, and Spock is entirely, painfully oblivious.

I like to see a Kirk with some vulnerability beneath the brash exterior. He's positively wrecked and his condition elicits strong reactions from his crew, particularly McCoy, who is perfectly characterized as the gruff but deeply supportive best friend.

Leading up to Spock's discovery of the bond and his reprehensible treatment of his bondmate, we see the cracks forming in the wall of his indifference and the gradual progression to the ultimate realization that he has done a terrible, terrible thing. Even after this revelation, it's no easy fix but Spock perseveres and at length we come to a satisfying conclusion that provides a delightful payoff for all the angst that preceded it.

How High the Moon

Camelot by dreamdustmama (NC-17)

  • Mar. 11th, 2014 at 5:46 PM
Title: Camelot
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Modern Magic AU, Romance, Fluff
Length: Medium (11,282 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] mysecretashes
Author Website: favicon dreamdustmama

Author's Summary:
When Merlin and Will are assigned to do the Birds of Prey show at Camelot Renaissance Faire, neither of them are very happy about it. And then Will gets to dress as a pirate and discovers steak-on-a-stick. Merlin just meets Arthur (and maybe does some magic, too).

Review:
Of course part of the appeal of fanfiction is the opportunity to see beloved characters transplanted to a variety of settings, but there's something really special and fun about seeing Arthur, Merlin et al. against the backdrop of a Renaissance Faire. While the author borrowed from a real Ren Fest for several of the shop names and acts, in other areas bits of Merlin lore are worked in seamlessly, whether it's from Edwin Muirden's "weird remedy shop specializing in beetle cures" or Cedric, who wears black feathers and cons fest-goers into buying fake jewels.

Arthur and Merlin's meet cute is reminiscent of their canon meeting, albeit without references to walking on one's knees or trips to the dungeon. But while the argument leaves Merlin with a poor impression of Arthur, sparks still fly and this Arthur wisely apologizes and makes a move on Merlin, starting a romance that runs the length of the Faire. The author does a great job of portraying the immediate chemistry and attraction between Arthur and Merlin, bringing them together in a way that is natural and very appealing. I loved the way the magic reveal was handled, and Morgana's role in it was a perfect fit and very in-character.

The friendship between Merlin, Will, and Freya is warm and funny, providing extra little moments of humor and fun in an already lighthearted and enjoyable story. From start to finish it's an engaging read that just might give you the urge to visit your local Ren Fest.

Camelot

Occupy Camelot by stagarden (NC-17)

  • Mar. 4th, 2014 at 8:52 PM
Title: Occupy Camelot
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Canon AU, humor, drama, romance
Length: Epic (41,762 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] stagarden
Author Website: favicon stagarden

Author's Summary:
After Arthur promises the spirit of the Druid boy who possessed Sir Elyan to treat the Druids with the respect they deserve, he is soon put to the test. A large group of Druid protesters shows up in his courtyard to demand that he honor that promise, and they stage increasingly outrageous demonstrations to advance their agenda. Arthur is quickly drawn to their leader, Merlin. A story based loosely on the “Occupy Wall Street” protests in Manhattan.

Review:
This is an absolutely delightful story. On the surface, it might seem odd to combine canon-era Merlin with the Occupy movement, but it works. It really, really works.

I really loved the equanimity with which Arthur approached the protest, no matter how obnoxious or obscene it became. Even when the protestors' skits portrayed him negatively - a false king kicking a sorcerer in the arse or striking a woman, for example, Arthur kept his cool and demonstrated the kind of Kingship I like to see.

He is clearly smitten with Merlin from the first glance, and the way the relationship between them evolved was absolutely lovely and sweet. Despite Merlin's position as a part of a protest against him, Arthur showed Merlin kindness and care, and even offered advice on how to deal with some of the problems that inevitably come up with communal outdoor living. There are so many little details here that the author handled with aplomb -- the way that the group functioned as a collective, the challenges that come with trying to get everyone to do their part, the committees, the mission statement...it was all so well executed.

While there are anachronisms aplenty, they never felt jarring. The author took the concepts associated with the modern Occupy movement and translated them to the Merlin setting perfectly, crafting a story that is both thoughtful and entertaining.

Occupy Camelot

Miscommunication by sinestrated (PG-13)

  • Feb. 25th, 2014 at 9:42 PM
Title: Miscommunication
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Categories: Romance, fluff, humor
Length: Medium (3,405 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] sinestrated
Author Website: sinestrated

Author's Summary:
Jim's brain gets scrambled during an away mission gone wrong, with interesting results.

Review:
This whimsical, smile-inducing story was one of my favorites from the recent [livejournal.com profile] heysweetheart Valentine's Day challenge. While not specific to that holiday, it delivers a charming, sweet and humorous "get together" story.

The characterizations are spot-on, with each character reacting as you might expect to the oft-hilarious nicknames Kirk gives them, and Kirk himself is obviously amused by the situation. I liked the way the nicknames tied into Kirk's's perceptions of the crew members, and what that revealed about him.

Miscommunication is a fun, fast read and a must for anyone who enjoys Spock, Kirk, and fluff. The opportunity to imagine Kirk calling Spock "sweetheart" in Chris Pine's sexy voice doesn't hurt, either.

Miscommunication
Title: Blue Would Still Be Blue
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Age difference, angst, romance, drama, harlequin, modern AU
Length: Long (32,376 words)
Warnings: Unsafe sex

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] winterstorrm
Author Website: Winterstorrm

Author's Summary:
When widower Arthur Pendragon finds out that his three children have conspired to help him find 'someone to kiss' by placing an ad on an internet dating site, he allows his guilt to push him into agreeing to go on a succession of dates even though he's determined that he's not lonely and doesn't believe in 'love'. However, someone does set his heart racing, but it's not one of the endless parade of beautiful women he has to choose from, it's the children's new babysitter, Merlin.

Review:
I have a deep, abiding love for romance novels, and Harlequin-themed fanfiction is like the perfect intersection between my favorite book genre and the fandom(s) I love. There is no better example of this than Blue Would Still Be Blue.

This is a story about second chances. Arthur has never felt that spark, that feeling of being deeply in love. He loved the mother of his children, but not in that passionate, all-consuming way. "Love is just nature's illusion," Arthur says. He doesn't believe in romantic love because he's never experienced it.

While the attraction between Arthur and Merlin is immediate, the obstacles to their future happiness (which are mostly Arthur’s doing) result in a slow build with longing looks and lovely pining and UST. The feelings between them are so intense, and so beautifully drawn. I was really moved by how desperately they wanted each other, how they ached for one another and how miserable they were not to have the kind of relationship they both so obviously wanted.

While Arthur, Merlin and their Happily Ever After (the required ending to any Harlequin style story, of course) is the main focus here, the supporting characters were charming and funny. From the parade of women to Arthur's children to Morgana, there were lighthearted moments aplenty to serve as the perfect foil to the slow burn between Arthur and Merlin.

Blue Would Still Be Blue

Being with You by ella_bane (NC-17)

  • Feb. 11th, 2014 at 7:08 AM
Title: Being with You
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin, brief non-explicit Arthur/Sophia
Categories: Modern AU, angst, drama, first time, romance
Length: Medium (12,572)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] ella_bane
Author Website: ella_bane

Author’s Summary:
Modern AU. Merlin is gay. Arthur isn't. When they meet, their mutual attraction can't be denied. But then it is. Sexy times and angsty times ensue. And it all happens in less than a day. (This was written for a prompt on the Merlin kink meme.)

Review:
This story grabbed me right at the start. The connection between Arthur and Merlin is so intense, so immediate and clear from the very first word, and the tension between them builds perfectly as they contend with the unexpected deep attraction they feel to one another.

A small part of me wanted Merlin to be a little more patient with Arthur, who is understandably somewhat perplexed by the experience of being attracted to another man for the first time in his life. But I think it's understandable that this Merlin has no interest in getting involved in the oft-romanticized secret relationship that he has every reason to believe might ensue based on Arthur's behavior. While I do enjoy secret relationship fics, it was interesting to see Merlin standing firm that he won't go back into the closet for anyone, not even Arthur.

Featuring a sexy, strong-willed Merlin who knows what he wants (and doesn't want), an Arthur who wants Merlin so badly he can't stand it, and tons of scorching hot chemistry, a little angst and a happy ending all in one day, Being with You is not to be missed.

Being with You
Title: In a world called catastrophe
Fandom: Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin
Categories: Established Relationship, Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort
Length: Epic (43,632)
Warnings: Violence, non-graphic description of a serious injury, medical situations, PTSD and Gwaine being Gwaine (as per the author, some of his comments may feel inappropriate.)

Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] leviathans_moon
Author Website: Leviathans_moon

Author’s Summary:
While on duty in Afghanistan with the Royal Irish Regiment, Merlin is injured by a chlorine gas bomb. He returns home blind in his left eye and suffering from asthma attacks and neither he nor his boyfriend Arthur really know how to cope with this severe change in their relationship.

Review:
For me, it’s the mark of a good story when I am really affected by it, and find myself thinking about it even when I’m not actively reading it. I had this experience when reading In a world called catastrophe…it stayed with me even when I stepped away to work on other things, and long after I finished reading it.

The author tackles some serious subject matter in this story, and does so deftly, treating Merlin’s PTSD and the lingering effects of his injuries with the gravity they deserve. His pain is so palpable that you ache for him, just as you ache for Arthur as he struggles to come to terms with the changes in his partner and to find a way to support him. No punches are pulled as we see the extent to which Merlin has been deeply, profoundly affected by his experiences.

While both Arthur and Merlin are excellently characterized, and I felt for both of them, I found myself really sympathizing with Arthur. To be shut out by the man he loves, as that man suffers something Arthur cannot truly understand, to be avoided, ignored and rendered powerless in the face of Merlin’s anguish is agonizing for a man of action such as Arthur. For all that Merlin pushes Arthur away, he still wants him near. The incident which occurs when Arthur tries to sleep alone illustrates this well — Merlin’s anger and Arthur’s frustration are so clear, honest, and raw.

There’s no quick fix here, and the author doesn’t rush it, allowing Arthur and Merlin to work through things in a way that is both realistic and perfectly paced. This is not a happy story, and that's not bad thing. I loved it because it is so real, and does such justice to a real problem that some returning soldiers face, even if they've not suffered physical injuries. For all that this is a serious story, it is not without hope and fortunately we are rewarded with a sweet, promising ending after going on this journey with Arthur and Merlin. In a world called catastrophe is well worth reading and highly recommended.

In a world called catastrophe
Title: Take Refuge in What You Know
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Categories: Angst, Romance, Drama, Academy Era AU
Length: Super Epic (120,334 words)
Warnings: None

Author on LJ: N/A
Author Website: CorpusInvictus

Author’s Summary:
Written for the Star Trek XI Kink Meme prompt: "AU - Kirk has moved into a apartment/house and wants to get to know his neighbors. He meets his neighbor Spock, a loner who suffers from extreme agoraphobia. Kirk thinks he's beautiful enigma."

Review:   

This story deals with some heavy issues, and the author does an excellent job handling the mental health concerns in a sensitive and realistic way. In the wake of a traumatic event, Spock has hidden himself away from the world. As the new tenant in the building, Kirk is curious about his reclusive neighbor. When at last they meet, Kirk is immediately drawn to Spock, reaching out to him and pursuing him determinedly. His brash impulsivity is well-balanced with deep caring and patience as he helps Spock emerge from the prison of his own making.

The romance is a slow build, developing believably and naturally from first meeting to happy ending. While Kirk plays a huge role in helping Spock to overcome his agoraphobia, it's not portrayed as Kirk "fixing" Spock, but rather, supporting him as Spock gains the confidence and learns a way to make a difference for himself.

All of the characterizations were perfect, from Kirk and Spock to Bones as the gruff best friend and Gaila as the fun-loving, free-spirited gossip maven and unofficial love doctor.

This story was beautifully written and absolutely excellent in every way. Highly recommended!

Take Refuge in What You Know

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Short: under 2,000 words
Medium: 2,000-15,000 words
Long: 15,000-40,000 words
Epic: 40,000-100,000 words
Super Epic: 100,000+ words

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