Review of Knight Errant & His Faithful Squire, by K. D. Sarge

I purchased ecopies of Knight Errant and His Faithful Squire, by K. D. Sarge. At the time of posting they were both on sale for 0.99 each.

Knight ErrantDescription of Knight Errant:
From pickpocket and con artist to little brother and trusted comrade is a tough transition, but Taro is making it. His new sister, former Marine Eve Marcori, promised his dead mother she’d look after him. To her that means family, home–her interstellar freighter–and a solid future. In four years she has trained Taro extensively; the next step is college. Taro would rather be shot, but he never forgets his debt to Eve, so he means to honor her plans or die in the attempt.

When Eve rescues former joy-boy and current layabout Rafe Ballard, death seems the likely outcome. Rafe is so apparently useless that Eve calls him ‘the baggage’ and appoints Taro his custodian. Irritated into disobedience by his carefree charge, Taro tries to get rid of Rafe. Instead he gets them both kidnapped by the jealous husband Rafe was fleeing. Though they are off-planet before Taro can act, his training may be enough to bring them safely through–but now he has bigger problems. Forced into partnership–and freedom–with Rafe, Taro begins to see him differently. Kind, funny, and caring, Rafe is everything Taro never knew he wanted. And all he can’t have. Eve’s plans leave no room for a playboy boyfriend who can never measure up, and Taro can’t let her down.

Caught between the sister he’d die for and the man he’s beginning to live for, Taro decides it’s time to start making his own plans. And if the new skills aren’t enough, he’ll give the old ones a try.

This was very cute in a shounen ai/Boy’s Love kind of way. (An impression that is, no doubt, helped along by the cover.) It’s a well loved plot, really—eminently capable and serious man is burdened with the care of an inept but goodhearted partner who eventually brings joy and levity to his otherwise dark life. But it’s one of my favourite and Taro and Rafe fill the roles well.

I have to say the lack of sex was disappointing. Not just because I like a little summin’-summin’ in my reading, but also because Rafe is a trained companion (prostitute, for lack of a better description) and the characters are having lots and lots of sex. Knowing it’s happening so often, but seeing none of it felt unnatural and forced.

Now I understand that to include it would take the book from a m/m YA genre to a m/m erotic novel, which is quite the jump, and I imagine there are people who would take issue with the graphic depiction of sex involving a 15-year-old, especially since Rafe is in his early twenties somewhere. But the truth is that I think the book needed some sex and I really don’t think Taro’s age worked on the whole anyhow, so he could have been old enough to make it work.

He acts older for sure, but also he’s supposed to be an accomplished brawler. He wins fight after fight. The thing about a 15-year-old boy is that they’re often not fully grown and his character is on the small side anyway, so I can’t actually imagine him being so dangerous. What’s more, he’s treated as older, often invited to poker games and hanging out with ship captains and other marines. Being 15 just doesn’t fit. He desperately needed a few more years on him.

Having said all that, I adored both Taro and Rafe. I also loved that Eve, Taro’s sister, is so completely bad-ass. I love me a strong bitch-queen. All the side characters, though not well fleshed, were fun too. The writing was witty and the editing was good. An all around satisfying read.

His Faithful SquireDescription of His Faithful Squire:
Former joy-boy Rafe Ballard likes living on the freighter Pendragon’s Dream. Under the watchful eye of Captain Eve Marcori, Marine veteran, no one beats him. He eats well, his life is rarely in danger, and – most important by far – he spends much of his days and all the glorious nights with his beloved Taro.

Energetic Taro, on the other hand, is eager to take on the galaxy without his sister the captain standing by. Rafe doesn’t mind – he’ll follow Taro anywhere. He’s learned enough to get a real job so he won’t be holding Taro back. Taro is beyond capable of keeping him safe. What could go wrong?

With a Marcori in the picture, lots.

Like Knight Errant, this was really quite cute, but it wasn’t as good (in a purely subjective way). I wasn’t a fan of Rafe’s first person narrative style. I’m never really a fan of first person narratives to start with, but I’m especially annoyed at them when the narrator makes a habit of addressing the reader. And that’s what it is, annoying. Plus, while I adore both Taro and Rafe, Rafe was always the less interesting of the two.

To be fair, one of this book’s primary themes was Rafe’s attempt to find himself, outside of his dedication to another, and become more interesting. Or rather, Taro’s attempt to force Rafe to do so, or even just notice that he needs to be making an effort in that direction. And that makes Taro about the most loveable man in the galaxy. He’s wonderful. So is Rafe for that matter, as is their indomitable love for one another. It’s all very very sweet. It’s just not very exciting.

The book also isn’t as focused as the first one. Since Taro and Rafe’s love is the primary plot point, the book is essentially them running around encountering a variety of unrelated challenges and overcoming them. There is no overarching plot beyond how much they love each other. By the end it, eventually just degenerated into sketching out events for the reader.

I do have to stress again, as I did for the first book, that for two characters said to be having soooo much sex it’s annoying to see none of it. Yes, I understand that would drastically change the genre classification of the series, but both characters are over 18 now and the book is full of references to sex, sexual innuendo, and plain old ‘we had lots and lots of sex’ type comments, so it feels like a glaring omission to see none of it.

Having said all that, the fact that I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it at all. I really did. Again, Taro and Rafe’s love is full of amazing ‘awww’ moments and though I’m not a big fan of the hearts and flowers sort of romances, and they’re pretty thick here, even I melted a little. There is something about stiff reticent men speaking about love that does that to me. I also like Keen, the new addition to the crew, and still adore the cast of the Dream, though they play a reduced role here.

All in all, mildly disappointing simply because it didn’t stand up to its predecessor, but still a fun cute read full of humour, emotion and good writing. I’ll definitely be up for more of Sarge’s books.

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