Don't mind me - I just want to write down here a couple of lovely reviews I found today, so I can come back and re-read them whenever I want to feel all fuzzy inside... :)
Straysod's 5 star review of The Tea Demon:
I hate short stories. I really do. They simply never feel quite finished, always rushed, never enough time spent developing characters. Or, at least, I hated short stories till I read some by Cornelia Grey. Obviously, I've just been reading the wrong things.
This was the most brilliant bit of steam-punk, pirate and thief filled insanity that I've ever read. It's the third short story by Grey I've read, and I still haven't figured out how she does it. It's not long, but the characters are brilliantly developed, the setting is rich and vibrant, the action ridiculously awesome, the one sex scene hot as hell, and the story utterly engrossing! Aargh, I can't even write a coherent review. I just want to run around shouting random adjectives: Brilliant! Amazing! Hilarious! Gorgeous! Spectacular! Fantastic! Super Fantastic!!
Ok, seriously though. This reminds me of the fantasy books I grew up on, with a lovely dash of very hot male on male action to spice it up. Just so much more substance than your standard m/m romance, and even when comparing it to full novels.
I adore thieves, and Eric is ideal. Jonathan is the best kind of pirate: dashing, dangerous, cheerful and daring. (I hate to break up my lovely string of accidental alliteration, but he is not the dark brooding type of pirate, more cheerful rogue than dark soul. Still deliciously dangerous though!) And the crew of the Tea Demon, for all that we don't get to spend nearly enough time with them, are just awesome.
And the humor! Omg, definitely laugh out loud. I'm not sure I could say whether it's more action, more romance, more steam-punk or more humor. It's just a bloody brilliant blend of all four. But the humor definitely is a defining characteristic, part of both the world and the characters. It toes the line of being slapstick goofy, but never crosses it, instead staying firmly in the realm of charming absurdity that none-the-less makes absolute sense within the world Grey's built.
Everything moves quickly, not in the sense that it's rushed, but in the sense that there is nothing wasted, no scenes, sentences or even words that are not deliberately crafted, used to further the story. Gods, I've read 1000 pages novels with less skillful world building and less developed characters!
It's very hard to remember than this is a short story! You don't even notice the passing of pages or time until you're at the end, out of breath and totally in love, when the story stops and all you want to do is shout, "No! I need more!" This is not to say that the story is incomplete in any way. I've never read an author that can make such short stories feel so whole. But when you fall this hard and fast for characters, you can't help but want more! I wish this was a series--the chance to follow Eric and Jonathan and crew through several novels would be a dream come true.
Gods, I'm babbling. Sorry. Ok, long story short (too late) I adored this story and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes steam-punk, m/m romance, thieves, pirates, or charmingly funny short stories. This, combined with the totally different but equally amazing Apples and Regret and Wasted Time, has put Cornelia Grey firmly on my list of favorite authors.
And Straysod's 4 star review of The Ronin and the Fox:
Gods, I love Cornelia Grey's writing. She has such an amazing talent. Her characters are always so real, complex and rounded, her worlds always have such beautiful detail. If you've liked other short stories by her, you will absolutely love this one too, and if you haven't read anything by her yet, this is an excellent place to start.
A little longer than some of her stories, this one is immensely satisfying. Typical of her stories, Grey paints a vivid and beautiful world without wasting words. The characters are so awesome, and you connect almost instantly with them. The depth and realism of the emotion is something I really enjoy about her writing, particularly in this story. And the action in this one is definitely the best yet. The story doesn't rush along at breakneck speed, but neither does it meander aimlessly. Grey strikes the absolute perfect balance of action and rising tension, steamy sex scenes, and moments of quiet where you get to really know the characters. I love that her stories are never overly-complicated--no surprise endings, or red herrings, or twists--but the characters are complex and believable, and the story is none-the-less sweeping, with moments of breathlessness.
Aargh. I suck at reviewing books I love. Suffice it to say, I have found Cornelia Grey to be a spectacular author, and this book is a shining example of her skill. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes m/m romance, fantasy, tricksters, honorable warriors, or MCs that seems like opposites, but fit together and compliment each other perfectly.