Wow, I mean, just wow. I loved everything about this book. EVERYTHING. This is such a unique and creative world that author Daniel Jose Older has crea Wow, I mean, just wow. I loved everything about this book. EVERYTHING. This is such a unique and creative world that author Daniel Jose Older has created. It’s full of action and moves along at a fast pace. It practically jumps out at you. I could not wait to see how it all would pan out.
It’s always so interesting to me how often the best books I read come to me in random ways. I have not been into paranormals for a long time. I’m not that into fantasy; they can be hit or miss for me. But someone on twitter said they loved this book and that it was on sale. I scooped it up and for some reason put it to the top of my TBR pile. I’m so glad I did.
The biggest turn-on for me is this story is an ordinary/extraordinary heroine. She’s strong, vibrant, full of heart, down to earth, and is willing to take up her unexpected role as a leader. Sierra Santiago is that type of heroine I would love to read more of.
Also inspiring for me is the theme of women passing down knowledge to other women in the family. The idea that women are the keepers of ancient knowledge and power and do so behind the scenes is very appealing to me. This book is all about that even though the men have this knowledge and power as well. The power struggle is that they try to keep it for themselves away from the women and have abused it.
Sidebar, maybe not that interesting to others, but I liked that there was a lesbian couple in this. They aren’t a big part of it, just a minor thing, but it’s so nice to have a lesbian couple show up in a general story that includes a wide circle of friends.
Lastly, I would absolutely recommend you listen to this book. Actress and singer Anika Noni Rose was brilliant! The way she read this book I felt it was so real, that I was part of it. It was more of an experience vs. something I was looking at from outside. She totally brought this story to life.
Loved the concept, the characters and the whole feel of this book. It’s very different and I thought it quirky and fun.
The beginning caught my int3.5
Loved the concept, the characters and the whole feel of this book. It’s very different and I thought it quirky and fun.
The beginning caught my interest and imagination right away. It starts out as a mystery. Why is everyone dead on the ship Terror? It seems its captain was alive but disappeared in front of his wife standing on the dock waiting for him. The initial investigation leaves the reader really curious and it kept me reading.
The characters, a ghost who can take form, a skull who smokes, and the other offbeat characters- like the twins --added quite a bit to the dark ambience.
The problem is that halfway through, the story got boring. Once the mystery is cleared up and the characters are mainly trying to deal with the ice demon, there’s not much left to the story. Also the end was left kind of hanging. For me anyway.
One reason I got this book was because of the hint of a lesbian relationship. There is one, but it’s barely a blip in the story. That’s fine, I still enjoyed.
And mea culpa but I didn’t totally read the blurb when I bought the book. I just read the title’s second part (The Dark Victorian Penny Dreads Book 1) and assumed it’s a 1st book in a series. I only found out after the fact that it’s more like supplement or mini story that includes characters from the main series, which introduces the characters. While I didn’t get too disturbed by lack of introduction or back story and didn’t feel like I had just jumped into the middle of something, I wish I had read at least the first of the series. I think it would have added a lot more to my enjoyment.
**spoiler alert** I was so attracted to this book that I bought it twice unknowingly. I found the blurb intriguing. I thought maybe it’s a dark or int**spoiler alert** I was so attracted to this book that I bought it twice unknowingly. I found the blurb intriguing. I thought maybe it’s a dark or intense urban fantasy type story. My overall feeling about this book though is that it was missing something in the way of the intensity I was hoping for. I found myself wishing the characters were darker, edgier and not so… nice.
Truth Behind the Mask started out great. I loved the setup. Pagan is sent to a car dealership to set up a high-tech security system. The owner is totally freaked by events going on and the fact that some of his high-end cars have been stolen. By day she works for her sister and her partner’s security company. But by night, she, her much older sister and sister’s partner watch over the city as Sentinels.
In this car dealership she meets Erith. Erith is different. She’s not shy, she dresses a bit Gothish and has flaming red hair. Something about Erith attracts Pagan. Erith is also attracted. Pagan is tall, very tall, and there’s something about her that intrigues Erith. She quickly finds out that Pagan is deaf and not reacting to that in a negative way turns Pagan on a bit more.
These two women dance around each other, flirting, but never doing anything overt while Pagan sets up the system. It’s clear though that Erith has some problems. Pagan sees bruises on her and flips out. Watching over her one night on her perch atop a building, she sees Erith getting beaten by her father and this enrages her.
Unfortunately Pagan has to keep her secret. And her sister and partner are warning her that it’s not OK to get involved with someone whom she is protecting. But she can’t help herself and breaks the rules bringing Erith to their secret home and world.
Erith also has a big secret. It’s a secret that’s found out fairly quickly. This is one of the things that I wish was played out a bit more for some tension, any kind of tension between the women. Once Erith finds out about Pagan and what she does and Pagan and her sister know Erith’s secret, about the ½ way point, the story lost a lot of steam for me.
I liked the characters themselves. Pagan is a rather innocent person considering the trauma she suffered as a child and her job as a crime fighter. You’d think she’d be toughened up and jaded, but she’s not. She was brought up by her older sister Melina and her partner Rogue in a loving and almost insolated way. She comes across as rather pure in how she thinks and acts.
Erith is a tech genius of sorts who has been recruited by her father to work on tech things he needs and is more familiar with the criminal element of Chastilian even if innocent. Her father is a major abuser and usually takes his anger out on her mother. He constantly threatens that he will hurt her mother if she doesn’t obey or, he beats her himself so she feels trapped. And yet, she still feels like she has to deal with her father, have some kind of relationship or closure after escaping. She’s strong but vulnerable in that area. She's also somewhat unpredictable.
I think my favorite character is Rogue because she’s the toughest and has the most grit. Where Pagan will try not to do harm in fighting crime, Rogue will do what she has too. Melina, Pagan’s sister, didn’t really stand out for me in a striking way except that Rogue and Melina and how they relate is a huge part of this story. Family and loyalty to family are huge themes from both good and bad guy sides.
The plot of the Sentinels fighting the uber nepharious, sinister, evil Phoenix who’s out to destroy the city of Chastilian is fairly interesting but not too unique. There’s really not much world building, meaning, the Sentinels, including the Sighted, what they do and who they are is explained in briefest of terms and straightforwardly. And there are major plot holes. There’s no reference to time although clearly it’s not current time or it’s in an alternate contemporary higher tech universe. And there’s no reference to any society outside of the city of Chastilian. So it does have a comic book feel to it with its super hero vs. villain in an insular city situation.
The main issue I had with this book was that there was way too much mushy talking about feelings and love. I know to most that would sound great, but it’s like one big love fest after everyone’s secret is out. It suffers just a little too much sweetness for me. From the midpoint on, when the action sort of stops and the emoting begins I lost interest. I managed to keep reading and it does pick up again.
The romance between Pagan and Erith suffered for me because of that as well. I liked how they slowly come together. Neither knowing if the other one is gay but throwing out little hints they are. Both girls are rather innocent in the romance dept. and that part was great. And it does develop slowly on the physical level. They share a room but don’t sleep together even though they profess their love for each other over and over. I mean once that happened, there was no reason to hope they’d get together anymore and it lost its steam.
I kept thinking (hoping) there’d be a glitch with Erith after telling Pagan the truth. But it’s all flowers and roses. The main foil for these two is the possibility of Pagan succumbing to the dangerous nature of her job, which wasn't enough for me.
I think if you like really, really sweet love stories with a bit of action in them and characters who are strong and independent, and set in an unique, alternate world, then this book will work for you. For the most part I enjoyed it even with the issues and I’d read another of this author’s books. ...more
**spoiler alert** I won this book in a contest and I’m so glad I tried! It’s again that rare SF/F book with a female protagonist who has a romantic in**spoiler alert** I won this book in a contest and I’m so glad I tried! It’s again that rare SF/F book with a female protagonist who has a romantic interest in women, so it was a treat for me. The plot is fast paced, tension is kept high and the characters, all of them including the secondary characters, are all compelling and fully developed.
I really have nothing negative to say about this book. The romance and plot were interwoven in just the right way and with an equal amount of book space and development.
One thing I liked that might be reader preference is that a lot of the story is intertwined with moral conflicts. Cheloi Sie/Laisen Carros is the most morally ambiguous character in this story and it’s mostly from her POV that this story is expressed through. I can’t really say that she’s a morally upright person, which I think will push some readers’ buttons, but I loved it. I’m actually rather fond of characters who have to do things that are ugly or wrong for what they feel is a greater good. That character who will make decisions and not dwell on how it negatively affects their internal code.
Cheloi Sei is a general for the Perlim who are trying to get control of the planet Menon in order to gain some foothold to fight their real enemy, the Fusion. Cheloi is a spy for the Fusion and has been sent to infiltrate the Perlim by becoming one of them. To play her role to a T, she needs to make hard decisions in which she has to order the mass murder of innocent people so that her cover and loyalty to the Perlim is never questioned.
What’s interesting to me is that ultimately, maybe the Fusion are not the altruistic people that they are presented as. On the surface it’s implied that they are the more “enlightened” group trying to curb the “evil” Perlim Empire from destroying and subjugating an innocent people on a foreign planet. However, like in most situations of war, it depends on what side you’re on as to whether your side is the “right” side and that becomes an interesting conflict inside of Cheloi. Is she just a pawn for an equally controlling Empire?
It’s interesting to me to think about these kinds of things because all of the characters in this story are acting and doing atrocious things, except for maybe Lith, in the name of the rightness of their empire and ideology. It’s for the greater good. K.S. Augustin did a great job of really getting into the internal conflicts or lack thereof when the characters are confronted with things that go against their beliefs, like falling in love with the enemy, etc.
Cheloi is a strong, steely, unflappable woman. She can’t afford to make one mistake or her cover and her mission to take down the Perlim as a Perlim general will all be for naught. Her second in command, Koul Grakal-Ski, is an ambitious man and resents her for being appointed to a position he felt was his. He’s looking at every turn to find something on her to take her down so he watches her every move carefully. He’s also extremely loyal to the Perlim Empire and would never do anything to hurt it. His need to follow orders and be loyal becomes Cheloi’s luck in her mission. But he still tries to undermine her constantly.
To keep up with the stress of always being on top of things, she talks often to a virtual psychiatrist with whom she can interact with inside her head through a chip. In this way we get a good chance to see what’s going on inside of Cheloi Sie’s head, what she really feels, how things really affect her and we get to see that there are cracks. She’s very “human” and her relationships with the people she works with do affect her deep down. She's also got a painful past and that is constantly hinted at but comes out in bits and pieces, slowly allowing us see where she comes from ultimately.
Outside of her intense attraction to Lith, she’s particularly fond of Rumis, her adjunct who is extremely loyal to her and the Perlim empire. However, unlike the conniving Koul Grakal-Ski, Rumis is honorable in his loyalty to her and it eats at Cheloi that she is being deceitful to a man she admires. There are painful consequences in Cheloi’s later decisions about Rumis, which I thought added a lot to the choices she makes for her future and her loyalty to the Fusion. She pays severe consequences emotionally for liking him and I liked that spurred character reflection and growth.
So all in all I loved the dynamics of what drives all the characters. There are lots of interesting moral questions presented that made this story really interesting to me.
Then there’s the romance. Lith is a young idealist who gets swept up in the romantic ideology of freeing her people from the Perlim Empire even though her parents were born Perlim. She belongs to a small, rouge Fusion group who have sent her to kill Cheloi, whom they know to be a mass murderer of innocents. What she doesn’t know is that Cheloi and she are fighting for the same side, which sets up the very interesting conflict for her in her attraction to Cheloi.
Right from the get-go there’s a strong attraction between Lith and Cheloi, which both intrigues Lith and freaks her out. They get it on fairly quickly but if it’s found out that they are having an affair, Koul will have an excuse to get rid of Cheloi, so they have only stolen moments together.
One thing I’ll say here is that while I did feel they are attracted, I couldn’t understand why Lith would put up with being coolly dismissed after sex, which is what Cheloi does to 1. keep her distance knowing that Lith’s the enemy and she shouldn’t lose her heart to her, and 2. to keep the relationship secret. However, it was clear that Lith, while bothered by it, realizes that it’s necessary and can’t help herself, she wants Cheloi.
Lith's personal codes are called into question as well as she's forced to make an important decision, which could jeopardize her mission to kill Cheloi and her break her heart at the same time.
While not the most passionate couple due to these issues, the romance is nicely and slowly developed. I felt that these two ache to be together even if they’re rather reticent in their expression of it. And there is a happy ending.
Outside of all of that, there’s a nice tension and suspense throughout the whole book that kept the story exciting. There are so many twists and intrigues and alliances and deceits that I kept reading just to see what would happen. I definitely recommend War Games if you’re into sci-fi and f/f and even if you’re not. It’s just a good compelling story all around. ...more
First I’ll start off with a disclaimer that I know nothing of Greek mythology other than the most basic of stories. I do know some of the gods and whaFirst I’ll start off with a disclaimer that I know nothing of Greek mythology other than the most basic of stories. I do know some of the gods and what they represent, but that’s the extent of my knowledge. So I read this book basically at face value as a sort of epic fantasy set in the world of Greek mythology. However, I think this story might be really fun and interesting to someone who does know a lot about Greek mythology. I understand it’s a different twist on the Persephone/Hades original story.
This is a debut, indie published novel by author Sarah Diemer and it’s quite impressive. The writing is absolutely gorgeous, lyrical and clean, like writing is her second skin.
I’ve never read any YA books. I’m an older woman and essentially they don’t appeal to me. But this book brought up that inner awe and wonder I felt when I read Marion Zimmer Bradley back when I was a young woman. Those stories that sparked my imagination. There’s a similar feeling about this book and those books. Like those books, the world building is lush, layered and colorful and exquisitely executed in The Dark Wife.
Persephone is young goddess who’s been brought up by her mother Demeter. She fell in love with Charis, a wood nymph from her mother’s forest, and they were having beautiful love affair when Zeus raped Charis and turned her into a rose bush. This shattered Persephone’s heart into a thousand pieces. Even more devastating, Persephone finds out that Zeus is her father and that her mother is helpless to save her when Zeus decides it’s time for her to live on Mount Olympus with him and the other Immortals.
Hating him with a passion, Persephone feels this is a fate worse than death and escapes to the only place she knows Zeus has no influence, the underworld, which is ruled by Hades. She has met Hades before and something about Hades intrigued her and grabbed her heart, so she felt that she would be accepted by Hades and given safe harbor.
While in the underworld, Persephone learns many things and finds out that she has a special destiny, one that has been prophesied. But can she muster the courage to go through the hell she might have to endure to fulfill that?
Persephone is a great character. She’s so innocent and loving and pure, but has tremendous courage to fight for what she believes in. She's willing to risk things to have her life. The Dark Wife is written in first person POV and usually I find that POV to be limiting or the story is told in linear fashion by the character. In this story, Persephone is that rare self-aware character who has deep insight to her being, the subtle layers of her emotion getting recognized and expressed, which turned her more into a multi-dimensional and rich character than is usual.
If there is any gripe I have with this story it’s that it would have been nice to get more into Hades’ head. She’s the least developed character in my opinion. I got a better feel for Pallas even, a dead person living in the underworld and friend to Hades. Hades is the main love interest for Persephone and while I felt it to be a sweet love story, due to the lack of depth in her character, some build up and tension was lacking in that area.
That said, where the story lacked in a romantic build up for me, it shined in the intensity of the drama and growth of Persephone as a character. So it’s just a minor complaint for me.
The Dark Wife moves at a fast pace and there’s really never a dull moment in Persephone’s life. There’s a perfect balance of action with reflection so it doesn’t slip into a too much of either area at the expense of the other. The plot is rather typical to fairy tales or fantasy with many of the same elements of good vs. evil with a sort of moral/spiritual aspect to it, however, it felt fresh to me, like I’ve read something new and unique.
I will absolutely be buying Sarah Diemer’s other books. I love her writing style. Much heart and passion comes through and her ability to spin a fantastic and original tale is above par.
I actually would have given this less than a 4 but 3 1/2 was too less. This is more like a 3.80 for me.
I'll admit, the fact that the heroine can talkI actually would have given this less than a 4 but 3 1/2 was too less. This is more like a 3.80 for me.
I'll admit, the fact that the heroine can talk to stone statues, while unique, didn't really pique my interest originally. However, I'm glad I read this book.
I think the fantasy/paranormal aspect was rather refreshing in a world full of were/vampire paranormals that have become so boring to me.
There were several things I enjoyed about this story, one being the almost quiet way in which Delia and Grant relate and fall in love. While for some it might be somewhat muted, for me I liked it. It had a ring of truth to it in how two mature people come together.
What I didn't get so much was why Delia kept insisting that Grant wouldn't want her, when he clearly did. But I guess there needs to be some tension in the romantic build-up. Her fear that Grant would think her crazy for her ability seemed reasonable, but maybe carried too far?
I also totally loved Cecily, kind of witch and distant cousin of Delia who was pure evil. She was written 3 dimensionally and clearly had some issues, which I found a bit more intriguing than the Delia/Grant story.
I knew that Delia and Grant would end up together, it's a romance, however, what kept me turning the pages was that I was very curious about what made Cecily tick and what her story was.
I think this is a good debut book for Keri Stevens. I'll definitely be looking forward to some more books from her. ...more
I thought this is a cute story. One thing I always get off on with K.Z. Snow's books is that she usually manages some kind of off-beat, unique and creI thought this is a cute story. One thing I always get off on with K.Z. Snow's books is that she usually manages some kind of off-beat, unique and creative paranormal aspect to her stories, which I love. And this book was more of the same.
I like that there is a moral to this story, it's not just about four guys trying to hook up and have sex.
And I was pleasantly surprised about Jackson showing up in this story. He's one of my favorite K.Z. Snow characters. Although he doesn't have much page time, it was a nice tie in to this story. ...more
I love it when I read a book that normally I’d never choose and totally enjoy it. I got this book when there was a sale because I’ve seen the author a I love it when I read a book that normally I’d never choose and totally enjoy it. I got this book when there was a sale because I’ve seen the author around blog land and decided to try one of her books even though I’m not so hot on the master/slave or bondage thing. I’m glad I did though. This story is such a bizarre mix of all kinds of interesting elements but it totally worked for me.
Angel is running on empty. She’s broke, just been evicted, using a car on its last legs and has no where to turn. Her parents have disowned her due to an unsavory (to her parents) incident with a teacher while she was in high school and has no other family ties. She still shows up for work and to the only person who does support her, her boss Mel. She’s a mechanic and loves cars, especially classic cars. While taking a break, she focuses on an old pin-up calendar, daydreaming about how beautiful the women were in the 50’s—it’s now 2056, and she’s suddenly transported back to the 1955.
Back in the 50’s she ends up with a life she could only dream about. By a series of events, a wealthy family takes her in and really accepts her, comes to love her, and she meets her soul mate, the house maid Mary. Unfortunately, she knows that this can’t last so she makes the best of it.
What I enjoyed most about this story was the heart in it. Angel is a person that is totally into the master/ slave dynamics as a lesbian but she does so in a deeply loving way. She oozes a warm vulnerability and sensitivity with a cocky independent strength that people are attracted to. In her own time, she’s a broken person who’s just scraping by. But being in the 50’s, in an atmosphere of simpler times where life was more like a Rockwell painting, she’s shown love and respect and blossoms in that.
Particularly what was interesting for me in this book was the juxtaposition of Angel’s dominance and crudity in seducing women and her big, warm heart. One minute she’s thinking about how she’d love to melt hot wax on Mary’s private bits and the next she’s trying to make sure an elderly women in a nursing home is loved and cared for by just going to hang out with her. For me it made Angel an interesting complex character that I could relate too and totally worked for me on accepting the master/slave hard core BDSM in this story.
And there is some really hard core BDSM in this story. Angel does some heavy duty things to Mary, some things that shocked even me in the area of pain and she talks to Mary in a very sexually blunt way. But at her core, Angel is soft, loving woman and she treats Mary with deep respect and love.
Mary was also written in such a way that I never once felt that she is a slave in any other way except that she’s really loves it. She enjoys being a sub and serving Angel and I felt how Mary feels she’s found her love in Angel. Mary is also a witch and I liked this aspect of it because it intertwined a hint of a timeless love along with a time travel story.
About the time travel and soul mate for eternity aspect of this story, I thought everything was integrated in a natural and fun way. The way it reads, I could actually almost believe that this is possible. I will admit though, that I love the concept of eternal soul mates and that we can meet up with people we love again in alternate or future lifetimes, so yeah, I enjoyed this part of it.
I don’t think there is really anything negative that came up for me about the story. The writing was kind of funky in bits, although nothing that threw me out of the story. And there was an odd bit when Angel first meets Mary and Mary calls her “mum” all the time, while Angel orders Mary around calling her “wench”. I think there were few other British words in there and that kind of confused me because I thought they were in Missouri. This kind of thing though is part of what turned me on. Contrasting elements thrown together.
I’m sure if you like BDSM on any level this story will definitely hit the spot. But I think if you’re not into BDSM at all, this story could work for you because it’s not just about the sex or lifestyle it’s more universal in its appeal as a love story. It did for me anyway....more
I bought this book because I’m kind of tired of lesbian contemporary and this book seemed like it would be a good fantasy story. It is…kind of… a fantI bought this book because I’m kind of tired of lesbian contemporary and this book seemed like it would be a good fantasy story. It is…kind of… a fantasy. What this book really is, is the chronological biography of a woman’s life from when she is 7 years old in 1945 until the year 2033. Yes, that is part of where the fantasy comes in, that she can live so long.
I can’t classify this is as a romance, although it has romantic elements to it. And there are some sexual bits that are written erotically, but again, this is more or less a biographical type story.
If you read the blurb, that pretty much tells the whole story. Most of this story revolves around Erica being able to see light when clicking stones. Only some people can see the light when they click stones although others pretend to. For some reason this ability becomes a major spiritual or new age organized movement in which centers spring up all over in which people gather to click stones. Not only that, but they also become centers for all kinds of groups to meet based on ethnicity, sexual identity, feminism, etc.
Frankly, I didn’t get it. Or the final reason why some can click and others was not a big deal to me. The only ability of clickers was maybe to see light if they clicked their stones, but this didn’t translate into any kind of special spiritual experience. Like no one became enlightened or turned into Yoda, Miyagi or Gandalf. They are all still their regular old selves with no special understanding of the cosmos. So I couldn’t get why a whole new age movement would spring up around this.
Moreover, Erica, after a while, would only click with her lovers, as if denying clicking with anyone else gave some specialness to her lovers. It’s not like clicking gave them some deep spiritual connection over and above just being in love. So really that whole aspect of the book was rather lame to me.
To be honest, because of it, I kept trying to read it as some metaphor for things like that; movements or organizations that spring up around spirituality and or special abilities like that, just to make some sense of why it was a big deal. I'm an old new age hippy chick myself and I guess I was trying to read into it some Jonathan Livingston Seagull type thing, which I didn't find.
Other than the clicking, there are a hodgepodge of other new age ideas involved like: communicating telepathically, passing through worlds, meeting another who has passed on, reincarnation, seeing dead beings, Indian swami's, meditation, etc. It was kind of all over the place on that level.
The main story though was basically Erica being in love with Morgan. They met as children and Erica had special feelings for Morgan. Morgan though, kind of blew off Erica for another, more aggressive girl, whom Erica stayed jealous of most of her life.
Erica moves on with her life and has a few affairs, but is mainly involved with running her Clicking Stones movement. And Morgan goes off to Europe to become a sculptress. They really don’t have much contact at all for like 20 years, at which point, Morgan comes back and decides to be with Erica.
Ok, this I didn’t get either. Morgan seemed to not be too interested in Erica the few times they met after growing up, so why she suddenly decided it’s time to be with Erica, I don’t know. At least there is a HEA in this.
Then there’s the whole fantasy element outside of the clicking stones and other sundry new age concepts, which kind of didn’t work for me because it was too close to reality and contemporary times. And also, it wasn’t a pure fantasy, but was reality with added fantasy elements.
For example, this book was written in the late 80’s. There were computers then, but not really personal computers. Erica gets a computer to help run her business, which talks to her and can interact with her and she can interact with her center leaders from all over through this computer. In the book, she got it during the 80’s.
Back in the 80’s our ideas of computers were that you could interact and talk with them based on movies. But the internet was already happening in the early 90’s. So not that futuristic of an idea. But how it was written in this book, the technology was still 70’s sci-fi. Also, Erica is still using the same computer well into 2009 and up until 2023 recognizing that most likely the interface would not be supported anymore. Umm… yeah.
It’s just too close to home to accept such a thing as fantasy. If the book had been written in the 50’s or 60’s I wouldn’t have bothered about it. But it would have gone over a lot better if the concept was vastly different from reality or if this was a pure fantasy and the world Erica is in is something completely different from current reality.
Thy main reason I did like the book and kept reading was that since it was a chronological story of a Erica’s life, we get to see the social and political changes and issues from the 40’s and on. I rather liked this part because Erica being a lesbian through that time period gave insight into that world through the 50’s, 60’s, 70's +.
Erica writes to her friend through the whole book with the date on it, so we get to see what she was doing at different time periods. A kind of open minded hippy way of thinking does permeate the story, which I thought was interesting since I think as a lesbian, she would have had to be part of that world to fit in on any level or be accepted. And frankly, it was kind of like reminiscing about my teen years as she got into the 60’s- 70’s, which was fun.
This is definitely a different kind of book. I read it more as a biography of a lesbian during times when it wasn’t OK to be out and found it interesting on that level alone. ...more
This book had a great premise. Unfortunately, the writing was off and I got a bit miffed at the female character needed sexual fixing by the magic peeThis book had a great premise. Unfortunately, the writing was off and I got a bit miffed at the female character needed sexual fixing by the magic peenie.
Wow, this story grabbed me right from the get-go and was good to the last page. I’ve mentioned before that I often use the bookmark feature on my eBooWow, this story grabbed me right from the get-go and was good to the last page. I’ve mentioned before that I often use the bookmark feature on my eBookwise to highlight passages that are off to me or that I want to review later. The bigger the mess, the more the bookmarks. I read this book with nary a book mark. It means that for me, the writing and story-telling were very clean, engaging and lacking in any issues that bog down a book for me.
I will also admit that I didn’t know that this book contained some f/f in it. That was a huge bonus! I bought this book because I happened to enjoy Katrina Strauss’ writing and wanted to try one of her m/f stories as I’ve only read her m/m stories. The same crisp, evocative writing, complex character development, and imaginative story-telling that I’ve experienced in the past was very present in this book as well. This book was just a pleasure to read all around.
Right, to the story. Basically, the blurb is very accurate, so I’ll go from there. The characters: all of them are so rich and compelling, especially, of course, the two main ones, Lord Eldritch and Inga. Lord Eldritch is one of those tortured heroes, but not in that over the top “oh puleeze, get over yourself” way. In the beginning of the book, he’s cruel and powerful; he takes what he wants without consequence and he wants Inga. He puts her in a dungeon straight away and keeps her there chained to the bed around her ankle. For more than a year it’s like that even though he loves her and they have sex all the time. There’s a vibe about him that is so intense and dark, and yet, there’s a spark of something else in there that comes through once in a while, hinting at something deeper, but less sinister in him.
He wears a mask at all times because he’s been cursed; his face severely disfigured from it. This is part of his vulnerability and we learn that while he’s a dominant with Inga and the most feared knight in the kingdom, he’s kept in his place by the current evil King who uses it against him.
Inga is one of the most real characters I’ve read in a while. She’s riddled with contradictions. I really got off on her willingness to go into her dark side and be real in every moment. She calls that part of her “the snake,” that part of her that allows her baser instincts and desires to rule her. I loved it. Absolutely loved it as she goes with it without personal judgment. No Mary Sue’s in this book.
Inga starts out by becoming rebellious and using her magik abilities to heal. She stopped caring that it’s against the king and that she can be killed for it because she sees her people suffering needlessly. So right from the beginning we see her strength and inner goodness. Inga also cannot get enough of Lord Eldritch. She readily becomes his submissive sexually even as she wonders why she is so attracted and doing such things.
As the story progresses, she is asked to do things, to make moral decisions that could end up getting people killed and yet, she does so without flinching, like a samurai sword coming down swift and hard. And she easily takes the position of being a domme with Thelise, the captured daughter of a rebel leader, who plays a role in Inga and Lord Eldritch’s lives. Inga’s only vulnerability is her love for Lord Eldritch and the passion of that relationship consumes her.
The story itself is also so provocative. There are several things going on that all mesh together that create a lot of tension and mystery as fiery emotions and power shifts erupt constantly . At its core, this is a story of passion and what it makes people do.
The title of this book, Secrets Revealed, is very apropos. There are secrets within secrets and as the story unfolds, shocking truths reveal themselves. This kept the story moving along at a nice pace with just the perfect amount of revelation to keep the reader guessing and intrigued at the same time.
The fantasy part of this story is complex and intricately woven throughout the story. Many people of this time have magic abilities but not all have the same kind. One that plays a huge role in this is the ability to read another’s thoughts. This leads to quite a bit of power play and intrigue between the characters as they often have to deal with trying to keep secrets. Inga also has dreaming abilities and as things progress, she sees past events in dreams, which causes her to disobey Lord Eldritch at a certain point, creating even more edginess to this story.
OK, now for the BDSM part. I’ve said before, I’m not too much a fan of BDSM. Much of what I read in this particular genre is more or less power tripping faux BDSM written by people who are clueless just for the titillation factor, which is a huge turn off for me. However, Katrina Strauss is one of the very few authors who can take me into this world and I get it. There’s nothing offensive at all about her way of writing BDSM. Not only that, I enjoyed reading it.
I also got off on the fact that while these characters all have qualities about them that are offensive and despicable to some degree and it’s tied in to some degree with the BDSM sexual aspect to it, Katrina Strauss never crosses the line that implies that BDSM and negative character traits go hand in hand. Really, it’s amazing writing when your characters can have evil characteristics and yet, the reader can easily fall in love with them, admire them as strong, powerful beings.
The only negative thing I can say about this book is that I would have liked more character development on Thelise. She’s a fascinating character, who, like Inga, acts on pure passion, but is incredibly selfless, selfish and vulnerable. I guess the story is pretty much perfect as it is and to develop her more would have maybe even cost the story some. But she was someone whom I wanted to know more about why she ticked.
All in all, Secrets Revealed is a well written intense and passionate story set in a violent but colorful world. For any person who is into fantasy, dark m/f love, BDSM, and medieval stories, this a definite recommend. But I also recommend this book to people who like f/f and or those who are normally not into BDSM.
Sex rating: hot- while there are graphic sexual situations, the language used is more sensual and soft around the edges. There are many sexual scenes though and of all combinations. BDSM, flogging, anal, lots of m/f, some f/f, f/f/m, very minor m/m, and minor m/f/m.
I've read all of Kirsten Saell's books and her trademark hawt and bawdy way of writing a story and romance is very much present in this story. And onI've read all of Kirsten Saell's books and her trademark hawt and bawdy way of writing a story and romance is very much present in this story. And on that level it's a fun, juicy book.
While it's not my favorite of her books, that is mainly due to the fact that I'm not so hot on m/m/f menages. Although, in this book I really believed that the three main characters all have deep feelings for each other and their process in getting there is very believable.
The fantasy world of the Bethalas that was created in Crossing Swords is still as interesting and colorful as just enough of it is presented to give a great backdrop for the love story, but not so much that it overwhelms with too many details.
I really enjoy that a lot of this is left to the imagination of the reader.
And as per usual, the sex is smokin hot as these three characters find their love by way of exploring their intense sexual attractions and maybe even emotional needs stemming from old scars. ...more
This was an interesting fantasy story, but the characters' interactions were stilted and lacking in emotion, so the romance part of this fell short foThis was an interesting fantasy story, but the characters' interactions were stilted and lacking in emotion, so the romance part of this fell short for me.