This is a perfectly constructed, original tale, that conjures a whole fairy-tale world within its scant 103 pages. It is so gorgeously written I find myself celadon (or some other poetic term for green) with envy. Tristan has a gift for exquisite and delicate images of luxury, but the details about the sea and life on a pirate's ship are vivid enough that you can practically taste the bracing salt air and hear the creak of the timbers as the ship sways in the waves. The characters are not especially complex, but the romance between them, on their hammock for two, is both sweet and hot. They, like their evocatively named ship, Come the Dawn
, carry a surprising amount of what I'll call symbolic heft, which Tristan buttresses with hints of a rich history and mythology for his world, culminating in the climactic encounter on the mysterious Isle of Temples.
It's a dazzling, seductive world, but not a dark one. Despite the fairy tale aspects, it is not as dark even as the better Disney fairy tales. Except for a brief reference to Blackstone's stint as a slave, there are no villains, no sense of threat or evil to provide a counterpoint to all that gorgeous beauty. I found I missed it. There was plenty of room for a sharper collision between the Lord of the Salt and the Peacock Prince. I shelved it as a "captive" story, but it barely qualifies--the book never touches the darker possibilities of that set up. I would have liked a deeper conflict between them and within Alessander. It's not just that I missed erotic edge those conflicts give. Without them, I find it harder to invest deeply in the characters.
That being said, it's a delightful story by an unusually talented writer. I will definitely seek out his other works. Highly recommend.