Title: Come at Me by Closer
Fandom: Avengers
Pairing: Tony/Pepper/Steve
Categories: friendship, drama, virgin
Length: ~27,000 words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
After the movie, Tony and Pepper adopt Steve. It starts as friendship, but...

I adore the characterizations in this story. Everyone is spot-on and real, but Closer does an especially good job with Tony, Pepper, and Bruce, all of whom are layered and wonderful -- it's easy to see why Steve would want these people to be his friends. All of the relationships, be they romantic or platonic, are unique and distinct and lovely to read. A relaxing, peaceful exploration of the development of an OT3.

Come at Me
Title: No Refunds or Exchanges by astolat
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Pairing: Rodney/John
Categories: AU, angst, humor, virgin (to gay sex), fluff, favorite
Length: ~10,000 words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
Rodney McKay's apartment on Atlantis is an absolute mess and Jeannie *refuses* to come play maid. What other option is there than a mail-order bride? What he gets is John Sheppard. (AU, obviously.)

This is one of my most reliable go-to fics if I need a pick me up. Astolat's dialogue sparkles, as always, and the story is the perfect length to sustain the ridiculous (and utterly awesome) plot. I especially love the way that she manages to convey John's thoughts even though the story is from Rodney's POV (and Rodney, himself, is clueless).

Fluffy and fun with just enough angst to keep things interesting, this is one of my favorite SGA fics of all time.

No Refunds or Exchanges
Title: Coffee May Be Hot by BlueMorpho
Fandom: Dead Zone
Pairing: Johnny/Bruce
Categories: humor, angst, virgin (to gay sex)
Length: ~22,000 words
Warnings: really, really bad sex

Review:
Starbucks is making Johnny gay. Or maybe it's just all of the sex-with-guys he's had in visions over the years. Either way, Bruce is looking pretty damn fine right now.

It's been a long time since I've seen the Dead Zone, so I can't promise that these characters are at all in character. That said, they're certainly entertaining characters, from Bruce's hysterical laid-backedness to Johnny's would-put-Woody-Allen-to-shame neuroses. I especially love Sarah, who is completely awesome, even when having to have The Talk with Johnny. Fair warning, though: when the sex comes, it's very, very bad. Which I sort of liked (too much sex in fanfic is blandly perfect), but must admit is sort of icky. Still, the end result is a fun ride, and there's even hope by the end that Johnny will one day have actual good sex. Eventually. Bruce willing.

Coffee May Be Hot
Title: Daybreak in the Midnight City by triedunture
Fandom: Supernatural/Avengers
Pairing: Dean/Castiel
Categories: AU, crossover, action, wing!fic, virgin, hurt/comfort
Length: ~45,000 words
Warnings: Distractingly improbable flexibility and mobility in Castiel's wings

Review:
In a fused universe where the Winchesters are hunting monsters while the Registration debate rages on in Washington, Sam and Dean stumble on a very big, very green, and very angry Hulk. Also, Castiel. (And then Tony Stark comes to play and things get *really* out of hand.)

The first half of this fic is one of my favorite of all time. I adore team-building stories and trust-building stories and hurt/comfort stories, and this is all three of them at the same time, which makes me one ridiculously happy reccer. The Marvel universe characters are especially well done, with Stark, Coulson, Bruce and the Hulk all fantastically well-drawn and beautifully in character. The second half is more about action and saving the world, which is less my cup of tea, but it's still well-written, fast-paced, and engaging, with a spectacular finale.

If you're in the mood for a highly entertaining team-building story with a chaser of action and world-saving, give this fic a try.

Daybreak in the Midnight City
Title: A Slight Misunderstanding and Dangerous Assumptions by Coragyps
Fandom: Sherlock BBC
Pairing: John/Sherlock
Categories: angst, humor, hurt/comfort, drama, action, casefile, virgin (to gay sex), favorite
Length: ~64,000 words (combined)
Warnings: In A Slight Misunderstanding, there are three instances where John thinks of Sherlock as *Sher*. (*shudder* -- that was almost bad enough to turn this rec into a rant.) Fortunately it's all in one scene in Chapter 9. Unfortunately it kind of ruins the climactic relationship scene.

Review:
In which John accidentally convinces Sherlock that he's in love with him. Or, from Sherlock's POV in the sequel, how his plan to turn John from his Assistant into his Lover goes horribly awry.

These are both highly entertaining stories that cover essentially the same time frame, but from John and Sherlock's POV respectively (though the author says that they both stand alone, I strongly suggest reading Misunderstanding first). My personal favorite of the two is A Slight Misunderstanding, because it has one of the most interesting and engrossing plots I've ever read in Sherlock fic, namely how Sherlock Holmes would commit and cover up the perfect murder (the victim in this case is Moriarty). I found the entire process fascinating to read, even more so than John's baffled and winding journey from friendly mates to physical love with Sherlock. While John's journey is hugely enjoyable as well and is laced with plenty of humor to cut the angst, the plot is what earned this fic its 'favorites' tag.

Dangerous Assumptions is more of a character study of Sherlock than a true retelling of Misunderstanding. Coragyps has given an intriguing backstory to Sherlock that's a lot of fun to read, and Mycroft is hysterical as he tries to give Sherlock advice in the most vague and unhelpful way ever.

In the end, these two stories have the best of both worlds. If you're in the mood for a plotty fic with a silly (but entertaining) romantic subplot, A Slight Misunderstanding is perfect for you. If, on the other hand, you want an in-depth character study, check out Dangerous Assumptions. Either way, you're in for a great read.

A Slight Misunderstanding
Dangerous Assumptions
Title: Turn a New Page, Tear the Old One Out by shrift
Fandom: Breakfast Club
Pairing: Brian/Bender
Categories: post-canon, drama, virgin
Length: ~8,000 words
Warnings: underage (technically)

Review:
John Bender's life, post-movie.

I'll be honest, all of the Breakfast Club fics I've read and liked to this point have had basically the same plot: John drops out of high school, life occurs, and then he meets up with Brian again. Thing is, John Bender is such an interesting character and his relationship with Brian has so much potential, that there seem to be an endless number of ways this story can be told. This one is a great version, with John joining the Army (despite the expectations of everyone in his family, who are hysterical and awful at the same time) and living his life and running into Brian a few times along the way. Sweet, hot, and satisfying, this is a must-read for Breakfast Club slash fans.

Turn a New Page, Tear the Old One Out
Title: Jeeves and the Lessons on Love by triedunture
Fandom: Jeeves and Wooster
Pairing: Jeeves/Wooster
Categories: angst, angst, angst, and more angst.  Virgin with a capital V.  Favorite.
Length: 24,600 words
Warnings: Jeeves is very much In Character (i.e., at times he can be a jerk)

Review:
After getting mocked by the Drones for his complete and utter lack of any sort of sexual knowledge, Bertie informs Jeeves that he's thinking of getting educated in a brothel. Jeeves has an alternate solution.

I have no less than six Jeeves and Wooster fics in my favorites folder and of them all this one is the one I reread the most often. It's shamelessly angsty and just a touch melodramatic, with both Jeeves and Bertie getting their own share of suffering. At the same time, all of that emotional hurt makes the payoff at the end enormously potent. Not for anyone looking for the usual J&W fluff, but perfect if you're in the mood for a hard-fought, emotionally charged, deeply satisfying story.

Jeeves and the Lessons on Love
Title: Horseshoe Nails series by Dyce
Fandom: Firefly
Pairing: River/Jayne
Categories: AU, angst, romance, action, hurt/comfort, humor, virgin, favorite
Length: 200,000 words
Warnings: amputation

Review:
Thanks to a couple of mishaps, everyone is gone from Serenity for two days except for River and Jayne. Shocking everyone (including themselves), they bond. The resulting friendship subtly but significantly alters everything that follows, most especially everything to do with Miranda.

At one point in this series, Inara explains why she likes the idea of River and Jayne being friends: "There's something about a man who really believes that what an attractive, vulnerable young girl really needs is to learn to shoot everyone who tries to hurt her in the head." This statement neatly sums up why this series is far and away my favorite Firefly story and why I come back to read it over and over again. I love the fact that, while Jayne will protect River if she needs it, both of them agree that the best thing for River is for her to be strong enough and prepared enough to protect herself. It's beautifully in character for both of them, and while the path to self-sufficiency for River is a long and at times bloody one, it's also immensely satisfying.

Making things even better is Dyce's characterization, which is nothing short of brilliant. Every canon character, from Firefly crew down to the Operative are pitch-perfect, both in their actions, their thoughts, and (most impressively) their dialogue. Her River is especially good; she juggles River's coherence and craziness with a deft hand and never falls into the trap of making her speak actual nonsense. Mix in phenomenal writing, slow-building romance, fast-paced action scenes, and a perfect balance of humor and drama and you have one of the most engrossing, satisfying series I've ever read.

Two Gorram Days
Kinship
Bank Job
Miranda

NOTE: there appears to be a fifth story in the series, but as it's not finished and (as it hasn't been updated in three years) likely never will be, I haven't read it and won't be listing it here. You can find it easily enough on Dyce's FF.net profile page (accessible from the top of the page on all of the stories linked above)
Introducing the '*favorites' tag. Stories with this tag not be the best written or most lauded fics that I recommend (though many of them are both), but they the fics that I come back to again and again, either as comfort reads or if I've hit too many crappy fics in a row and just need something that I know I'll enjoy. Most of these fics have already been recced at Epic Recs, but I'll be posting them here as well, because no recs collection of mine can be complete without my favorite stories. Each one will be getting a whole new review; if you'd like to see what I originally said about them check out the memories section of Epic Recs on LJ.

Title: Cambiare Podentes by Jordan Grant
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Snape
Categories: angst, bonding, romance, action, au, hurt/comfort, virgin, marriage of convenience (sort of), slavery (technically), BDSM (technically), favorite
Length: 600,000 words
Warnings: graphic rape, dubcon (the author adds about a zillion others, but these are the only ones that are actually present enough in the story for me to warn about)

Review:
Another prophecy comes out, this time stating that Voldemort's going to kill Harry on his first post-Hogwarts birthday. The only way to prevent his death is an arcane ritual known as Cambiare Podentes, which will exponentially increase Harry's power. The downside? It would mean becoming Severus Snape's (sex) slave.

I'll be honest, this particular post is about 25% of the reason why I started this community. Cambiare Podentes was originally recommended by meishali over in Epic Recs a few years ago and while I'd resisted the Harry Potter fandom up to that point, her recommendation was good enough for me to give these fics a try.  I was simply blown away. The intricacy of the plot, the depth of the character development and interactions, the sheer *size* of the story (at the time, this fic was about six times longer than my previous long-story record) -- all of them were so much more than I'd ever thought I'd find in the Harry Potter fandom. The novel was an instant favorite for me and I have since reread it more than any other fic. Unfortunately, because it had already been recced at Epic Recs I never had the opportunity to post my own review of the story, which is something I've always regretted. Now's my chance.

First, the premise, which I was hesitant about when I first started reading, but which completely won me over very quickly thanks to the author's deft handling of the matter. The idea of Harry becoming a slave to save the world isn't a unique one, but Jordan does a brilliant job of delving deep into how that slavery would actually play out, without ever skipping past potential emotional minefields or glossing over the unpleasant bits. In the end, I consider this fic to be less of a story of slavery and more of a story about how two people do everything they can to *subvert* that slavery; to me the most fascinating aspect of this fic is how much time and effort Severus (and, to a lesser extent Harry) puts into meeting the technical definition of slavery while at the same time working so very hard to ensure that Harry never actually feels like a slave.

Which brings me to the characterization of Snape, one the most vital parts of the fic. Turning Snape into a decent human being while still keeping him in character is a challenge for any Snape-centric HP story and I think Jordan's Snape is one of the best. On the one hand, he's still acerbic, poor with people, and often cruel. At the same time, he's not a monster and, in the name of enlightened self-interest, can sometimes even be kind. It's a thin line to walk, but is handled so subtly and deftly in this fic that it looks easy.

It helps that Harry's characterization is equally well done. He's still brash and impulsive and at times immature, but at the same time he's someone who has lived a life under siege and who has many times had to behave older than his years. The end result is a consistently inconsistent character who reads very much like a teenager stuck in a crappy position and while there are times that I want to smack him (especially during a section of the novel that cleverly draws a comparison between Harry and Snape's behavior in a specific circumstance), in the end he's deeply sympathetic and his personal growth is fascinating to watch.

It's the relationship between Harry and Severus that is what makes this book so compelling. The plot has enough unexpected twists and turns to keep you reading, but the awkward dance of Harry and Severus learning to cope with each other and with their unwanted bonding is what kept me glued to the page. If you like marriage of convenience type fics with slow building romance, plenty of moments of intense emotion, action and angst, and the occasional flash of melodrama, you should check this one out. If you're like me, you'll find Cambiare Podentes one of the most epic, involved, entertaining stories you've ever read.

Cambiare Podentes: Invocare
Cambiare Podentes: Madurare
.

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