Title: Amaranth & Ash
Author: Jessica Freely
Rating: Four Siren Stones
Keywords: Futuristic, Intersexed Characters, Violence
Page Count: 151
ISBN E-Book: 978-1-60737-594-4
ISBN For Print:
Publisher: Loose Id, LLCBuy-Link: http://www.loose-id.com/Amaranth-and-Ash.aspx
Reviewer: Elizabeth Hyder
Tagline: In a world where everyone has their place, Amaranth & Ash belong together.
Amaranth is a vasai, born with both male and female characteristics, and a soul that can reach out and touch the souls of others in order to heal them. But a vasai’s services are only for the Elai, and they demand sexual satisfaction as well as healing from their beautiful servants. Frustrated with these constraints, Amaranth wants to use his talent to help those who really need it.
Ash is a chel. Considered devoid of souls, chel are the lowest of the low. Not content with his lot, Ash steals from the middle class pel. One night he’s caught and brutally punished.
A soul in agony calls out to Amaranth from across the city. When he discovers that it belongs to a chel, it only confirms his worst suspicions about the lies of the Elai. Amaranth takes Ash home and heals him, an act of rebellion that could cost both their lives.
Amaranth's compassion for Ash soon turns to passion. Ash treats him like a person, not an instrument of sexual gratification. Neither of them have much experience with mutual pleasure but together they embark on an exploration of intimacy and desire that carries them to the heights of passion and love -- and shakes the very foundation of their world.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations some readers may find objectionable: Intersex relationships, violence.
Amaranth & Ash exemplifies what the publisher is all about: Id-fantasy made into stories. As such, it follows a predictable sort of pattern if you're familiar with that particular Id-fantasy, but the way that Freely weaves the story is what makes it unique and worth reading.
The universe she creates is very different from our own, and almost steampunk-ish in that it's an industrialized society. The caste system is fascinating, and throughout the book Freely shows, and doesn't tell, you all parts of the caste system.
Freely also gets points in my book for having a main character, characters even, who is intersexed-- has both male and female parts. I found the sex scenes captivating and evocative; the emotion between the characters was very present, but not forced, and served to make the scenes even hotter.
Overall, a very enjoyable book! Well-written, well-paced, and no editing mistakes that I noticed. I'm not sure how people who aren't into this particular Id-fantasy would take to it, but I adored it. I look forward to reading more from this author.