I Wanna Live With You (Even When We’re Ghosts) by runedgirl (Sam/Dean, NC-17, 20,400 words) - The Winchesters learned a long time ago that it takes more than death to part them. But Dean didn’t count on two things when he decided to stick around – Sam harbors feelings that aren’t just brotherly for him, and Bobby was right about what eventually happens to ghosts.
I love everything by this author, and this fic is no exception. Rich and well-written, good plotting and angsty romance that feels totally in-character every single moment. What’s not to love?
Fair Winds and Following Seas by riyku (Jared/Jensen, NC-17, 21,116 words) - Keep your head down. Work hard. Never wear a hat in the wheelhouse or your luck will take a nosedive. This is the rookie advice that Jared gets in his first few days as a deckhand on board an Alaskan crabbing boat, in between catnaps and ice storms, twenty-foot seas and more near misses than he really wants to count.
Oh, this! I made myself wait until I was on vacation far from home before treating myself to this one lazy morning in the foothills of my favorite mountains with a cup of coffee. Sheer bliss! Being instantly transported to this cold, distant place with its freezing water and brave, broken characters just made the whole day better! I love all the mystery and ritual of the sea, the constant threat of physical injury or death, the ways Jensen carefully guards his little band of brothers and works so hard to keep them safe. Jared is such a magical boy, appearing out of nowhere (I can only imagine Jensen's first impression of him, but I'm sure Jared seemed too beautiful to be real) and all the struggles they endured before the miraculous rescue that finally breaks down Jensen's careful walls. So satisfying! Highly recommended (like everything from this author.)
Shipwreck Between Your Ribs by cherie_morte (Jensen/Jared, NC-17, 40,908 words) - All Jensen wanted was a nice month at the beach. What he got was an over-affectionate seal that happens to turn into a hot guy when no one else is around. Jared makes Jensen’s summer better than he ever could have expected, but when his vacation is up and he has to return to the real world, Jensen finds that he's fallen in love with someone who can only truly love the ocean.
This is wonderful storytelling! The premise is awesome, as interspecies romances can be, and the author handles it beautifully. Things aren’t perfect between these two, and in fact there’s a moment when I really thought it wouldn’t end happily – that nail-biting feeling is something I’ve come to expect from this author, but she delivers on the happy ending as promised in a delightful and unexpected way! Highly recommended.
Gladiator: A Love Story by zara_zee (Jared/Jensen, NC-17, 30,438) - As a second son, Jensen Akelsen of Cimbria will never inherit the family farm, so he travels to Rome with a trader to join the Auxilia—the non-citizen corps of the Roman Imperial Army. Unfortunately, Jensen’s travel companion proves less than trustworthy and he finds himself sold into slavery. Jensen’s fighting skills see him bought by Ludus Armentarius, the training school which owns the most popular—and most terrifying—gladiator in all of Rome; the infamous Colossus, Jared of Illyria. Bitterly angry and struggling to adjust, the very last thing Jensen expects to find in his new life is friendship, romance and love.
What a great story! I felt completely transported to the strange, barbarous-yet-civilized place that was Ancient Rome. The author gives us a visceral experience of the slavery system, gladiator training schools, and the world of the games which is every bit as detailed and absorbing as you could hope. Jensen’s journey into slavery and becoming a gladiator are juxtaposed over his growing affection for his cell-mate, who eventually becomes his lover and, finally, his beloved. The side characters come alive and help build the tension and drama of this world almost as much as the main characters do, and I particularly love the way a couple of the female characters are painted as true heroes in this story. This whole thing is just a breathtaking achievement. The art is fabulous and atmospheric and sexy as hell, too. Highly recommended.