Title: Anywhere on this Road by Sineala
Fandom: The Eagle
Pairing: Esca/Marcus
Categories: angst, drama, hurt/comfort, action, favorite
Length: ~31,000 words
Warnings: non-graphic mentions of pre-story rape

Review:
A retelling of the movie from Esca's POV, with some extra scenes (and, if possible, even more gayness).

So many Eagle stories brush over Esca's previous experience as a slave. This fic goes the other route, showing how all of Esca's behavior would be colored by his past as a body slave. As a result, the trust building that occurs between Esca and Marcus even more powerful, and their growing relationship even more laden with angst. The end result is a story that hits my trust and angst kinks *hard* and delivers a powerful emotional punch at the same time. A very potent read.

Anywhere on This Road
Title: If You're Gone by sahiya
Fandom: White Collar
Pairing: Elizabeth/Neal/Peter
Categories: angst, hurt/comfort
Length: ~31,000 words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
When Elizabeth gets a great career opportunity in San Francisco, she and Peter leave. Meanwhile, Neal is reassigned to Diana.

This fic is chock full of the most lovely pining as Neal tries to cope with the departure of Elizabeth and Peter, while adapting to his new life with Diana as a handler. And while that pining is delightful to read, I have to admit what I love most about it is the friendship that develops between Neal and Diana. It's different than the one between him and Peter, but it's a great relationship and one that is a delight to read.

If you're a fan of Diana and/or of pining, this is the fic for you.

If You're Gone
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 Meeting of Equals
Fandom: The Sentinel
Pairing: Jim/Blair
Categories: canon divergence, angst, epistolary, favorite
Length: ~30,000 words
Warnings: Some of the formatting isn't quite right, which can make some of the e-mails hard to read.

Review:
After a nasty fight with Jim, Blair decides that it's time to learn how to stand on his own two feet.

I'm a total sucker for Blair Runs Away From Home fics, and this one is quite possibly my favorite of the entire genre. I love the fact that Blair isn't just running away to punish Jim, I love the fact that Blair and Jim correspond throughout the story, and I love the fact that the entire story is more about Blair growing as a person than it is about potential romance between Jim and Blair (though that's there, too). If you're a fan of epistolary fics or just are in the mood to follow along as two characters work out their issues over a long distance, you should find this a very satisfying read.

A Meeting of Equals
Title: Darkness, Flooded in Light by galaxysoup
Fandom: Thor
Pairing: gen
Categories: friendship, family, fix-it, angst, humor, hurt/comfort
Length: 42,000+ words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
Loki falls from the Bifrost down to a small town on Earth. Redemption, self-discovery, and friendship ensues.

I find that there are two types of stories that rely heavily on OCs - those that completely suck and those that are incredibly awesome. Fortunately this fic is one of the latter, with Loki landing in a town full of richly drawn, realistic, and wonderfully entertaining OCs. They are the framework that makes this story possible, giving Loki the space he needs to realistically grow from the erratic, sorta evil villain of Thor into an interesting, fully three-denominational person. I do wish more time had been spent on Loki's inevitable meeting with Thor (actually, the ending as a whole feels abrupt) but that is a minor quibble next to my overwhelming love of his new town, his new friends, and the brilliant backstory that not only makes this story shine, but which puts a fascinating new spin on canon.

For anyone who enjoys small town stories and/or found family fics, this is definitely the story for you.

Darkness, Flooded in Light
Title: The New Deal by Closer
Fandom: Suits
Pairing: Gen (with a side of canon-level Harvey/Scotty non-dating)
Categories: AU, family, angst, drama, homeless
Length: 33,500 words
Warnings: pre-story child abuse

Review:
In his second year of law school, Harvey finds a homeless teenager on his doorstep.

Anyone who followed my recs over at epic_recs knows that I love homeless!fics, due to their inherent trust issues and angst. The New Deal has both of those in spades, but what really sucked me in was the way Harvey and Mike started out as strangers and ended up family. I adore found family fics and this is an exceptionally good one, with great characterization and some very entertaining Harvey (and Mike!) at law school moments. A great fic for Suits fans.

The New Deal
Title: Fellow Travelers by J. Brooks
Fandom: Magnificent 7
Pairing: gen
Categories: kid!fic, AU, drama, adventure, h/c, humor, friendship, favorite
Length: ~30,000 words
Warnings: mentions of slavery and child abuse

Review:
A historical AU in which Ezra is a child living with his abusive uncle and Nathan is a slave on the uncle's plantation. Together Ezra and Nathan go on the run, heading west for freedom and encountering all the rest of the seven on the way.

I've been going through the longest fanfic dry spell ever. Intellectually I know this streak of mediocre-to-bad fic can't last forever, but emotionally I needed a pick me up. Thus I turned to one of my absolute favorite feel-good stories of all time.

J. Brooks is far and away my favorite M7 author. Not only does she have a brilliant grasp of the characters and a phenomenal sense of humor, but she accomplishes does what very few other M7 authors even attempt, much less succeed at -- to make Nathan and Ezra *both* likable and, more often than not, great friends. That talent is never more apparent than in Fellow Travelers. While the rest of the seven's interactions are engaging and enjoyable, it's Nathan and Ezra's relationship that is the heart of the story, from Ezra's (adorably) conniving ways to Nathan's sweet and often amusing over-protectiveness. Mix in a lot of humor, an engaging plot, and plenty of opportunities for every one of the seven to shine and you have my absolute favorite Magnificent 7 fic of all time. A must-read for fans of the show or for anyone who likes great writing, sparkling wit, and engaging characters.

Fellow Travelers (links to all four parts)
Title: Everingham by Katharine T
Fandom: Mansfield Park
Pairing: Henry Crawford/Fanny Price (side pairing of Edmund Bertram/Mary Crawford)
Categories: AU, romance, drama, angst, favorite
Length: 46,500 words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
When Henry decides to skip the dinner party that, in canon, was the first step in the path that led to his elopement with Maria, it changes the entire course of his relationship with Fanny. An extremely clever what-if that takes a tiny decision on Henry's part and shows how it could have a far-reaching impact on the entire cast of Mansfield Park.

I have to be honest: for a long time, I really, really didn't like Henry Crawford, which meant this fic was a very tough sell. However, I'm one of those rare folks who doesn't care for canon pairings in Austen fanfic and this fic came highly recommended, so I decided to give it a shot.

Man am I glad I did. Everingham completely sold me on the pairing of Henry/Fanny (to the point that I don't really ship Edmund and Fanny anymore) and has become one of my absolute favorite and most reread fanfics of all time. Both Fanny and Henry grow enormously as people in this fic (far more so than they did in canon, in fact), resulting in a very slow-burn romance that somehow manages to take the antagonistic relationship Henry and Fanny shared in canon and realistically turn it into affection and romance. There are no shortcuts, either, and definitely no "hate turns into lust" moments. Every step of the romance is hard-earned and plausible, resulting in a very powerful story.

Of course, none of the above would be possible without superlative writing. Katharine does a brilliant job in that regard with the same light but formal language that Austen herself used and the same fluid POV (though, despite the summary, the story is most often told in Fanny's POV). Her dialogue is especially impressive; she has the same knack Austen did for taking formal language and occasional monologues and somehow making it sound like something people would naturally say. Mix in spot-on characterizations for absolutely everyone and a surprising (and, it must be said, brilliant) bit of character byplay in the final chapters of the fic and you have one of the best Jane Austen fanfics of all time. Very highly recommended.

Everingham (pt. 1) (pt. 2) (pt. 3)
Title: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by JoeLawson
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0
Pairing: Steve/Danny
Categories: AU, angst, hurt/comfort, bonding (!), creature!fic
Length: 39,000 words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
In a world where humans and mermaids live side-by-side in a mostly-easy truce, Danny's a mermaid.

First, a reassurance: it's not as cheesy as it sounds. The mer-world is surprisingly layered and complex, considering the length of the story, and JoeLawson takes it seriously. The end result is a fascinating exploration of how Danny-the-mermaid (and why is it always Danny who is the mermaid/sea creature/cursed one/mafia guy/otherwise-AU-altered? Is it because he's just that much more interesting than Steve?) may be physically different than his canon counterpart, but there's nothing on earth that can change the essentials of his personality. Well-written, with intriguing customs and rituals, a fantastic Chin and Kono, and Rachel being utterly awesome, and you have a great fic for fans of Steve/Danny, AUs, or just Hawaii Five-0 in general.

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Title: The Last Will and Testament of Lily Evans Potter by chrmisha
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: gen
Categories: drama, angst, hurt/comfort
Length: 40,000 words
Warnings: references to pre-story child abuse

Review:
When the Dursleys find Lily's will and learn that she named Snape as a guardian for Harry, they waste no time in dumping Harry at Snape's door.

Fair warning: this fic only covers about a week of time and thus, while it is complete and does have an ending, it doesn't really feel like a full story. A sequel is theoretically coming, but I have to admit that I'm not holding my breath.

That said: this is one of the most enjoyable, non-stressful Snape mentors/adopts Harry fic that I've ever read. Most of these stories start off with weeks or even months of Snape being a right bastard and Harry being a total brat, which is pretty IC canonically speaking, but which has very little to do with how people would behave in the real world. Chrmisha goes a different route, with Snape not being at all oblivious to Harry's condition and with Harry not being utterly blind to how much better Snape is as a guardian than the Dursleys. The end result is two people learning to trust one another in a reasonable, organic fashion, with hints of possible familial feelings at some point in time in the future but without any hint at insta!family. Mix in a healthy dose of hurt/comfort (focus on the comfort) and some extremely good writing and you have a fic that is perfect for anyone wanting a Snape-adopts-Harry story without having to tunnel through the mountain of heart-wrenching angst that usually accompanies the genre.

The Last Will and Testament of Lily Evans Potter
Title: Kauoha ("to order or command") by ember_firedrake
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0
Pairing: Steve/Danny
Categories: AUish, angst, drama
Length: 30,200 words
Warnings: a bit of (completely consensual) powerplay during sex

Review:
All his life, Danny's been cursed with obedience: he literally has no choice but to follow orders. And if there is anyone on the planet who gives more orders than Steve McGarrett, Danny has yet to meet him. (The author calls this a fusion with Ella Enchanted, but other than the bare premise of an obedience curse they don't really have anything in common.)

I'm still having a tough time getting into H50 fics; unless there's some sort of AU aspect to them, they all seem to sound the same to me. This one, however, takes a unique premise that changes very little in the way of canon events, but puts a whole new spin on Danny's character. It's an interesting exploration of power dynamics and of why Danny might be the way that he is and it's quite fascinating. I also really like the way that other characters handle finding out about Danny's curse; not everyone is a saint, but you also don't have too many complete assholes. My favorite might be Rachel: she isn't perfect, but she's a good person and she tries her best. It's very easy to see why Danny married her (and there's clear reason for them to get divorced, which is more than we got in canon.)

My only quibble is that ember_firedrake uses quite a bit of canon dialogue in the fic. I understand that she's doing so to demonstrate the plausibility of her premise, but the downside is that it highlights just how awful canon H50 dialogue can be (at times it's positively painful to read). The author's original dialogue is vastly better written.

If you're a fan of fics that play with power dynamics or just a big fan of Danny, this is a fic for you.

Kauoha ("to order or command")
Title: Switch: A Comedy of Terrors by RivkaT
Fandom: Smallville
Pairing: Clark/Lex
Categories: humor, friendship, bodyswap, fluff
Length: 35,400 words
Warnings: underage (Clark is 16), super!creepy!handsy!Lionel

Review:
After getting electrocuted while surrounded by meteor-rock infested Christmas trees, Clark and Lex find they've switched bodies.

Ah, the halcyon days of early Smallville fic, where everything was either light and fun or black as pitch. Fortunately, this is an example of the former, where Secrets Are Revealed, Lust Is Assuaged, and Friendships Are Destiny. Funny, light-hearted, well-written, and very much in character for early seasons of the show, this is a great fic for anyone who wants a piece of Smallville fluff.

Switch: A Comedy of Terrors
Title: Making a Living Out of Hope by casspeach
Fandom: Star Trek Reboot
Pairing: McCoy/Chekov
Categories: angst, (pre-story) slavery, hurt/comfort, AU, favorite
Length: 37,000 words
Warnings: dubcon, (pre-story) underage rape, (mostly implied) torture

Review:
While on shore leave, Leonard wins big in a poker tournament. His prize? Chekov.

I've had a tough time with Star Trek Reboot fics of late, so I figured it was time to break out a story that I know I like. Making a Living Out of Hope is an emotionally powerful hurt/comfort story about Chekov recovering from several years in slavery and Leonard struggling to overcome his own past (read: divorce) and open up enough to love another person. It's a story that's heavy on the comfort, but with enough implied hurt for all of the payoffs to be deeply potent; the end result is one of the most consistently stirring fics I've read in a long time. As a bonus, you also have a crew that is at least as professional as in canon (which is to say: not very, but compared to fanon they are the epitome of professionalism) and the characterizations are universally excellent (especially Jim, who is charming and breezy, but still very good at his job).

I'd never considered a Chekov/McCoy pairing before this fic, but casspeach has thoroughly converted me with this wonderful story of overcoming obstacles and finding love. One of my most frequently reread of all of my favorites.

Making a Living Out of Hope
Title: The Ties that Bind Job by Hickumu
Fandom: Leverage/Angel
Pairing: gen
Categories: action, casefile (sort of), crossover, drama, family, friendship
Length: 40,000 words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
When Eliot stumbles into a nest of vampires, it's sheer luck that Faith is there to save him. The only problem is, he's now in a coma and Faith (and Angel) thinks that he's Lindsay McDonald. The Leverage crew, on the other hand, have never heard of this 'Lindsay' character (and don't get them started on the subject of 'vampires'). Thus begins one epic tale of friendship and family drama.

I've had a streak of bad luck with fics of late, so I my expectations were low when I opened this story, especially since I'm not a huge fan of Eliot or Angel centric fics. Fortunately for me, this story is a perfect ensemble piece with everyone getting a chance to shine and with plenty of attention paid to team dynamics. Even better is the fact that everyone is beautifully in character, with the two worlds tied together so seamlessly that I had a tough time remembering which bits were canon and which were crossover. Finally, I really appreciated that the crossover is weighted on the Leverage side of things; fans of both shows should be satisfied, but for a Leverage fan a well-written epic is a special treat.

If you like team stories, or tales of found family, or friendship fics, or just plain like a good, well-written crossover you should give this fic a try.

The Ties that Bind Job
Title: The Spirit and the Letter series by lightgetsin
Fandom: Dresden Files
Pairing: Harry/Marcone
Categories: genderswap, angst, hurt/comfort
Length: 47,000 words as a series
Warnings: n/a

Review:
When Harry pisses off Mab one too many times, his fairy godmother turns him into a woman in retaliation. Johnny Marcone finds this development *very* interesting.

I'm not a huge fan of genderswap fics in general, mainly because one of the reasons why I read slash in the first place is to avoid gender tropes. As such, the fact that I'm reccing this series despite the fact that it's a genderswap fic should tell you just how good it is.

I appreciate that lightgetsin doesn't spend much time in this fic going into the differences between men and women and at no point in the story does Harry turn into a different person just because he got a new set of equipment. He's just as snarky, difficult, and as inexplicably endearing as always; in fact, the only real difference is that the change allows him to do some things that he wouldn't normally allow himself to do, treating his temporary sex change as a time out from life. It's a clever conceit, one that wouldn't work in just any fandom, but which is so perfectly Harry Dresden that I wouldn't be surprised to see it in the books someday.

If you're in the mood for a genderswap full of hormonally induced personality changes and/or a treatise on how men and women are inherently different, this probably isn't the fic for you. However, if you like reading about Harry Dresden, his friends and allies, clever magic, and difficult but ultimately workable semi-romantic relationships, this will be a very satisfying read.

The Spirit and the Letter
A New Covenant
Symbology
Title: This Thing of Ours (It Needs a Better Name) by leupagus
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0
Pairing: Danny/Steve
Categories: AU, friendship, family, drama, action
Length: 35,800 words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
AU in which Danny is a mafia man who moved to Hawaii with his daughter and his (equally mobbed up) ex-wife and her husband, and who finds a great deal of entertainment in poking a stick at Steve and the rest of the 5-0 task force.

This fic is very reminiscent of Catch Me If You Can and was apparently inspired by a White Collar fanfic, which means that it's really a whole lot of fun. Criminal life suits Danny; in this fic he's less bitter than in canon and his cross-legal-lines banter has just enough edge to give it some emotional impact. Rachel is even better: ruthless and witty and utterly awesome. Between the two of them and Gracie and Stan (both great -- yes, even Stan), Steve quickly finds himself outclassed and charmed despite himself. The end result is cute and deeply satisfying, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

This Thing of Ours (It Needs a Better Name)
Title: Home Improvement by imkalena and JiM
Fandom: Hawaii Five-0
Pairing: Danny/Steve, Danny/OMC
Categories: angst, hurt/comfort, fluff
Length: 32,000 words
Warnings: homophobia

Review:
After Danny is held hostage for a couple of days, he and Steve make out. Which leads to all sorts of awkwardness, primarily in the form of Steve being a dick. Tired of pining after Steve, Danny picks up a sugar daddy (just go with it) and Steve? Is not happy.

I gotta be honest here -- the vast majority of Hawaii Five-0 fic I've read has been the exact same story, with the exact same canon references, with the exact same banter, and the exact same Steve and Danny Kiss moment. It's gotten so bad that I've actually started seeking out AUs, which is pretty much the exact opposite of my behavior in other fandoms.

Which is what makes this fic such a gem -- it's canon universe, it's unique and interesting enough to separate itself from other H50 fics, and it's completely awesome. The character interactions are great (Chin and Kono are especially good), the angsty relationship bits are wonderfully potent, and the puppy that Steve adopts is quite possibly the most adorable fic pet ever (she's the reason for the fluff tag). If you're in the mood for an angst-fest driven by one deeply screwed up character (hi, Steve!) and/or are just in the mood for some well developed relationship drama that is handled in an interesting and unusual way, this is the fic for you.

Home Improvement
Title: Marriage a Trois by Sorrel
Fandom: Sherlock Holmes
Pairing: Holmes/Watson/Mary
Categories: angst, post-canon, hurt/comfort
Length: ~33,000 words
Warnings: n/a

Review:
Mary always knew that to be married to John she'd have to learn to accept Sherlock. She just didn't realize what accepting Sherlock truly meant.

While I deeply appreciate the fact that the Sherlock Holmes fandom has mostly refrained from female-character bashing, most gen and slash (and even threesome!) authors tend to push Mary aside or even ignore her outright. Which makes this fic such a unique and precious gem: not only does Sorrel embrace Mary and show her as a fully articulated, intelligent, and interesting woman, she does so using Mary's POV.

The story itself is less a Mary/John or Holmes/Watson story and more a Mary/Sherlock story, because for the threesome to truly work, Mary and Sherlock have to do more than just get along. The end result is a magnificent slow-building romance featuring a wonderful female protagonist. A very satisfying and enjoyable read.

Marriage a Trois
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