Review: Beneath the Scales

cover-beneath the scalesTitle: Beneath the Scales
Author: Aurora Peppermint
Series: – –
Genre: YA M/M Fantasy
Length: Short novel
Available: July 9th


Loyalty and truth will be redefined as a young orphan undertakes a quest that will change his life.

Martus is doing all he can to help his magically gifted sister, Elsaben, living with the frustration that it’s never enough. They’re living hand to mouth on what he can steal, and under the table jobs aren’t enough for Martus to fund the training Elsaben needs. He’s desperate to find a way to help her, but he’s getting a reputation as a troublemaker, which will only endanger what meager living he’s already scratching for.

His life changes drastically in the course of a single day when a dragon attacks their village, leaves it in flames, and then carries Elsaben away. Knowing there is nothing else for him to do, Martus swears to rescue her and avenge their home, knowing he’ll either return triumphant… or die.

What he finds in the mountains challenges his perceptions and prejudices, leading him discover that he may have a chance at a better life, including a friend of the likes he never expected. This adventure could change his worldview—including the beliefs he’s always accepted as the norm.

Source: ARC from Harmony Ink via NetGalley

I hate to say this but I found this book kind of boring. Not something I expected to say when I read the blurb – gay dragon romance = awesome! Explaining some of why it wasn’t is tricky to do without spoilers, but I’ll try. Suffice it to say, that blurb up there? That’s not really what this book is about.

Martus is an orphan looking after his much younger sister, which he does by stealing and… well, I’m not sure what else he does, but it’s sort of implied that he seduces young men away from their wives. This may or may not be for money, it’s hard to tell, because there’s something about travelling and pirates too. Details are pretty sparse. Whatever, his work is far from honest, but he does what he can to take care of his sister. Until the dragon comes.

After this point I can’t really talk about anything without spoilers, so I shall simply say that after the dragon attack things turn a bit disappointing. For one thing there is a sad lack of actual dragon time. There’s the attack and then there’s nothing, Hal is human for the rest of the book, which makes me sad. Hal’s okay I suppose as a character, but he’s pretty quiet and passive and not very dragonish. As for Martus, well, he does things but mostly runs around not achieving much and I got bored of him.

This isn’t really a romance either (although to be fair it doesn’t claim it is). Hal and Martus do grow close, but it could just as easily have been completely platonic if not for a kiss. In fact this book is as much about the relationship between Martus and his little sister, Elsaben, as it is about him and Hal. Everything he does is for El, which is kind of sweet, and she has her cute moments too, but the dialogue is quite clunky and it’s hard to know what age Elsaben is because sometimes she seems older than others.

Overall this book didn’t live up to its billing and the characters weren’t interesting enough to make up for it. It’s a quick enough read, light and easy going with plenty of room for more, it just didn’t grab me enough to care.

Beneath the Scales is out July 9th!
Visit Aurora Peppermint for more details.


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