Cole at Jessewave's Blog is going through all my Hidden Magic universe stories, and this week he reviewed Reach Out and Touch, another Cal and Aubrey short story. He gave it 3.5 stars and said:
Though Cal has been Aubrey’s apprentice for over ten years (and also his lover), he is still a “baby mage” compared to Aubrey, who is 220 something years old and has been a practicing mage for two centuries. Aubrey never lets Cal forget this — and to remind him, he is always setting little traps for Cal or finding some way to show his dominance. Yet, Aubrey really is the best master and no matter how much of a rascal he seems at times, he does know what is best for Cal. But whether Cal has a natural propensity for arrogance, or being Aubrey’s lover makes him feel the need to meet his lover as an equal in their craft, he sometimes does very foolish things against Aubrey’s advice.
I was a bit disappointed by this story. That sounds harsh, but it really is because I love the other stories and the novel these characters are from so much, so I have very high expectations. Cal and Aubrey have a really amazing, nuanced relationship that always shines through their witty banter. Here, though, most of the story is told by Cal when Aubrey is gone. It is only towards the end of the story, when a contrite Cal is seriously in danger does Aubrey come home to find the disastrous situation Cal has created. Also, this story had a couple of passages that I thought weren’t necessary to the story. They were pretty technical about the magic that Cal was doing that I thought went a little too far in trying to explain what was happening. Ultimately, they took away from the story.
I can see where he's coming from, actually. This is more Cal's story than a relationship story. Aubrey doesn't come home until more than halfway through, and they don't start directly interacting until more than three-quarters in. If you're reading for the relationship and dialogue, there's not as much of that here as there usually is.
More Cole: "And I did like the story. I loved the ending in particular, which showed one of the rare moments between Aubrey and Cal that I love, when they’re finally on the same level and Aubrey shows his tender side to Cal. They are two of my favorite characters in this genre and I was very happy to revisit them."
I'll take that. :D