I’m a fan of this author’s alternate world stories and was excited to see another one. The Bacchi is peripherally associated with An Uncommon Whore and When I Fall but can easily be read as a stand-alone book. The world building and occasional character from the previous books shows up but I think the author offers enough details to understand this one on it’s own. The writing is clean and engaging and the characters draw you in from the start. The world building is creative and interesting even as it draws on so me considered taboos. There is some m/f but really it’s minor and I honestly wouldn’t think it would bother a lot of readers. This is definitely an m/m romance with some hermaphrodite and other species kinkiness added in.
Afton is a Valoran hermaphrodite that has always identified as male. Lefi is a Somian and a Bacchi, or legalized prostitute/sex worker. Afton is in charge of overseeing the legal matters for Lefi and in the year they’ve known each other Lefi has relentlessly pursued the quiet, proud man. Only once Afton starts to succumb to Lefi’s tender ministrations does Afton learn that he’s really gender-neutral, someone balanced between male and female without choosing either side. Together the two explore their chemistry that may help heal the wounds of both men.
The main theme of the story is romance and sexual exploration. Afton and Lefi are exploring new things sexually, not necessarily kink wise but involving emotional and mental needs. Lefi is devastated by the death of his twin and thinks he can’t ever love again while Afton is slowly discovering what his true sexual identity really is and what it means. The book explores these themes in a very languid way. No rush to get to the end or solve all the drama at once. At the same time there is an illegal slavery and prostitution side plot going on that keeps the action moving and events happening. The actual emotional and sexual bond between the two men happens early but it’s slow to really develop and fully change the men. The side plot helps keep the narration moving and from being too slow.
I didn’t mind the languid pace as I like both men and their nuances. Both Afton and Lefi are well crafted with deep intricacies. There is very little angst between them, some minor drama at the end with Lefi trying to do the right thing and then the kidnapping plot but for the most part these two men love each other and heal each other. The real interest comes from their emotional journey together as they learn how to love and make love with each other. It’s more sensual than previous books (if possible since they were smoking hot and erotic) but this is definitely a slower, more careful pace. The subplot is nicely constructed, if predictable, and helps give life to the various secondary characters that no doubt will appear in upcoming books.
The world building is creative and one of my favorite parts of this loosely related series. There are clear rules and definitions to the various races and creatures and even if not all of that is available to the reader, I trust the author plays within those bounds. It’s clear in the continuity and subtle repetition that highlights the important aspects without too much dry exposition. Likewise the stories show very different aspects of love between different males and watching Lefi and Afton find their way together is a lovely journey. I easily enjoyed this one and can recommend it to fans and new readers alike.