In Which a Demon King Does Not Have a Romantic Interest in his Human Gardener by Aurora Lee Thornton (Demon King's Gardener #1)

Demon King Jurao returns from his successful thirty-year Union Campaign and discovers something amiss - the castle gardens have a secret caretaker. 

Using his authority over the sentient plants, he discovers the gardener is... a human! But after hearing the man out, Jurao decides to appoint Braelin as the official Royal Gardener for all his hard work. 

Now he just needs to figure out why everyone seems to believe he is romantically interested in the human... 

PUBLISHER: Self-Published
YEAR: 2023
LENGTH: 133 pages
AGE: Adult
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Minor Character(s), Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Secondary Character(s), Ace/Aro Main Character(s).

*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book. 

This is a delightful, sex-positive story with a (probably autistic) aro/ace demon king protagonist who is convinced that since he's never had a crush before he can't possibly have one now. It's the first of several volumes, telling a mostly-complete story of the demon king finding the gardener and getting him set up officially to continue what he'd been doing in secret. It revolves around the demon king's daily activities and conversations as he handles the logistics necessary to integrate a human into a brand-new position. 

The worldbuilding unfolds gradually, establishing relevant details of human and demon history as they're needed. It specifically describes the appearance of each character (human or demon) when they first are introduced, but for details of language or history it applies them in context for a while before pausing to explain them. There's a mix of the gardener explaining his life and the demons explaining certain things relevant to the palace, with many descriptions of the plants in the various regions of the garden. I love the dynamic between the demon king and the gardener, they quickly establish a casual intimacy which neither of them is specifically cultivating but which arises naturally from their interactions. The demon king offers safety and calm in the midst of a lot of changes, and the gardener is concerned with very little besides what the plants want and need.

I had a great time and am excited for the next volume!

Moderate CW for grief, sexual content, blood.

Minor CW for pregnancy, injury detail, self harm, parental death, death.

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A large, blue, winged demon with four arms sits next to a white human in brown and tan clothing.


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