It’s been a month since Varazda has seen his lover, Damiskos. Their relationship is fragile and new and Varazda can’t help being nervous. After all, he and Dami barely know one another. Murder and espionage threw them together before, but now Dami is coming to Boukos and to the home Varazda shares with his daughter and adopted family. Almost as soon as Dami arrives, problems arise, but the one thing that Varazda needn’t question is the love they share. No matter what happens, Dami is his and his alone.
But love may not be enough. Between family misunderstandings, a murder plot, and a violent goose, Dami and Varazda could be torn apart before they have a chance to truly reconnect. It will take all of their cleverness and determination to survive the traps and machinations around them. If they do, they might have a chance at real happiness.
Saffron Alley is the direct sequel to Sword Dance in the Sword Dance series and these books must be read in order. The foundation for Varazda and Dami’s love affair is established in the first story, as are their individual histories. I throughly enjoyed Sword Dance, but I loved Saffron Alley and it’s all because of Dami and Varazda.
Dami and Varazda are one of my favorite couples in fiction for the simple reason that they read as incredibly honest. Given the nature of Varazda’s work as a spy, Dami’s work with the military, and Varazda’s specific sexual needs, they have no choice but to be honest. In order to balance the realities of their world, they must communicate and their acceptance of one another is absolute. Dami doesn’t push or demand more from Varazda than he can give and in return, Varazda makes his devotion to the wounded soldier evident. They just work well together and I have loved watching the evolution of their romance, brief though it’s been.
Varazda’s family are charming and frustrating in their own way. Misunderstandings abound and there were times I wanted Varazda to stop being quite so nice and take charge of the situation in his own home. But his reluctance to do so is explained and while it was a personal gripe, it wasn’t a failure of the overall storyline. The mystery is so-so and takes a far distant second place to the romance here, but it provides a nice balance to the plot and keeps the story moving in the right direction.
I adore Dami and Varazda and their romance comes with an honesty that reads as both genuine and as a natural extension of the unusual circumstances surrounding their lives together. As with Sword Dance, the world in which they live is fictional, but it feels Greco/Roman/Persian and I think it’s safe to call it historically inspired. If you enjoyed Sword Dance, then you will love Saffron Alley and I hope we get further books about Dami and Varazda in the future. Consider this one recommended.