Leyland’s neon green VW breaks down on his way to a photo shoot and he’s rescued by a smoking hot cowboy. When the cowboy, Jake, decides to initiate L...moreLeyland’s neon green VW breaks down on his way to a photo shoot and he’s rescued by a smoking hot cowboy. When the cowboy, Jake, decides to initiate Leyland to the joys of sex on horseback, Leyland is all about learning new things. He has no qualms about Jake’s ascertain that he’s keeping Leyland, instead happily snuggles in until he realizes that Jake is already in love with someone else, Lucas. Considering happy wolves don’t like to share, this causes some angst among the trio until they can work things out.
Jake is the alpha male of a pack of gay wolves and in love with his best friend and lover of more than a decade, Lucas. Both Jake and Lucas are strong willed, stubborn men who never expected to have a mate, let alone have to share one. Leyland for his part has no problems with being mated to two men, yet he wants to make sure he has a place amongst them. Complicating matters are Leyland’s supernatural powers such as telepathy and telekinesis.
While certainly entertaining at parts, this book unfortunately fell flat despite hints of interest. The opening scene involving Leyland with amusing and witty, but too quickly fell into the erotica trap with detailed sex between Jake and Leyland, virtual strangers. Although Jake has pursued Leyland for months without the latter’s knowledge, it’s still a bit much to pounce on them and mate at the first second. Leyland is amusing and quirky with enough of a feisty personality that he’s not overwhelmed by two alpha men. His struggle to find a place in an already established relationship elicited real emotion and was a brief highlight amongst more sex and arguments.
Although there is a lot of sex between the men, who are horny at the drop of the hat, the ménage relationship is tricky at best and given neither enough attention nor depth to fully develop. The resolution to any doubts and problems is simply to have sex until one or all of the men walk funny and ensure they love each other. While the sentiment is certainly lovely, the actual characters and their emotions were sadly lacking.
Additionally, Jake and Lucas make the mistake of treating their omega and mate like a child. They discipline Leyland by grounding him to their room, a punishment they learned from Leyland’s fathers. While this no doubt was effective for a child, it’s unbelievable for an adult and their mate. Further compounding the issue, they leave him locked alone in the room for almost a week while they go about their lives, even leaving to get a night away from the ranch. The utter neglect and lack of care for Leyland unfortunately colored the remainder of the book.
While the pace was quick and the book was an easy, fast read, the characters were one-dimensional and given easy outs to real conflicts instead of adding depth to their situation. The resulting relationship still centered on the two men obviously in love with Leyland almost a sexual plaything. The sex was certainly hot and plentiful and while I didn’t hate the book, I was disappointed in the characters and their actions. However, I also didn’t connect with them to really care so this simply ended up as an easy, forgettable read about some hot cowboys/wolves.
There are however, multiple reviews loving this book and that was the reason I initially bought it. I do love cowboys, yet I simply had a different response than other reviewers.(less)
It’s been a few months since Brody’s unfaithful lover has left and he’s finally ready to move on and dip a cautious toe back into the dating pool once...moreIt’s been a few months since Brody’s unfaithful lover has left and he’s finally ready to move on and dip a cautious toe back into the dating pool once more, much to the happiness of his friends. In the hours proceeding the annual pub crawl for St. Patrick’s Day, Brody happens to run into the same attractive man not once, but twice and then repeatedly as Brody and his friend Sandy make their way from bar to bar. Intrigued and amused, Brody and his mystery man play a game of catch me if you can along the pub route until neither wants to play games any longer. What starts as a night of mutual satisfaction soon grows in intensity but it cut short by a car accident, leaving the path to a happy ending is never easy or painless.
Brody is hoping for some fun and hot sex when he goes out that night, but the chemistry and connection between he and his mystery man, Evan, are almost too much too soon. Although he’s over his ex, he is still cautious and worried about heading into another relationship so soon and never expected to find someone he genuinely liked and felt something with on his first night out again. Brody moves rather quickly from his caution to embracing the feelings he has for Evan, it’s an easy transition that doesn’t take much more than Brody waking up and thinking he’s an idiot to deny this, which is refreshing if a bit too easy. His stubborn refusal to give up even over misunderstandings and fights helps give more insight into his character beyond the tentative lover he’s initially described as.
Evan is fun loving and confident in his life and who he is, with an ability to smile and laugh easily, a perfect compliment to the more serious Brody. Evan has shades from his past with hints of issues with jealousy, abandonment, and commitment. Yet he embraces his newfound relationship with Brody easily and happily, which is tested when Evan is involved in a tragic car accident leaving him hospital bound and then home bound just two days after he and Brody met. For the naturally active man, this is particularly frustrating on top of finding your footing with a new relationship.
Both Evan and Brody’s families are nearby and add to the dynamic as loving yet not entirely accepting. The complex family dynamic from both men adds to their connection while showing another layer of complications that most relationships face. Even for all the communication these two men have, their characters are still left something of a mystery. There are references to possible past hurts Evan has experienced yet isn’t explained, as well as how these two men can fit their lives together. This is very much an introduction to their relationship and a tentative branch each offers the other than a confirmed love story just yet.
Although there some obvious editing errors, for the most part this is an easy book to read with a flowing story that can be slightly too flowery at times. The story has a definite feminine overtone to the book from the prose to the sex scenes and the characterizations. The men have very little angst and the writing is occasionally clumsy in it’s handling with situations, such as the chase game. However, this was a lovely romance and the beginning of a relationship with charming characters so beyond its problems, this does deliver as a likable and engaging romance. (less)
In this departure from previous work, James Lear delves into the psyche of a morally bankrupt young man as he discovers and rampages the backroom gay...moreIn this departure from previous work, James Lear delves into the psyche of a morally bankrupt young man as he discovers and rampages the backroom gay scene of London in 1935. This wonderfully written and beautifully executed story is almost lost in the wealth of sex and degradation that fills the pages. The lack of redemption for the main character of Paul will inevitably turn some readers away while the author’s masterful handling of the prose will compensate for others. Overall, this is a powerful and graphic depiction of seedy gay life through the eyes of a sex addict with a small dose of morality, although some will argue Paul is without any redeeming qualities.
Paul arrives in London with barely any money to his name and is introduced to the world of rent boys almost immediately when engaging two wealthy men in a gentleman’s bathroom. This opens Paul’s eyes to possibilities as he supplements his meager income from a theatre with some behind the building activities. From slums to palaces, Paul experiences the best and worst within the rarified airs and the lowest ghettos. His incredible appetite for sex and lack of inhibitions combined with his surprising naïveté cast Paul into a unique world as he plays out his porn filled fantasies.
Paul Lemoyne is a young man with no education or prospects, but is clever, intelligent and willing to do anything to survive. His voracious appetite for sex is enhanced by his lack of boundaries. He will degrade himself and others to no end for the brief release and high of sex. Paul is an engaging and fascinating character taken through the pits and valleys of life as a rent boy. He makes quite a bit of money with his clients, able to quickly and easily discern what makes them happy and delivering with a rare flair and delight for his work. Unfortunately, Paul spends and looses his money as easily as he makes it, thus starting a long line of foolish decisions that he inevitably never learns from.
The story is incredibly well written as the author has a unique gift for language and prose. The vivid descriptions of London at the time shine through in both its glory and squalor. The graphic nature of the sex may be disturbing for some but other than the sheer volume of the scenes, the explicit erotica didn’t offend. The book is littered with sex, filled to the brim with scene after scene, each one more inventive and designed to show the depths Paul will sink to in his voracious appetite for sexual gratification. There is nothing too taboo and the kinkier the better for Paul. He flirts with crime but never develops a real taste as his thoughts are consumed with sex and the procurement of such. He has no preference over his lovers, giving sex for free or for payment, depending on his level of satisfaction and intelligence at the time.
Often Paul becomes besotted with various characters in the book, men who revolve around his orbit in the world. All of these men use Paul to some degree, rending him blind to their motives and lack of true feeling. He is kept on a string by his own attachment and need for love, yet carelessly breaks and ruins the few opportunities offered for somewhat more healthy relationships. His need for sexual gratification rules his life just as his lack of connection to people cause him to follow others’ control, most notably Albert Abbott. Paul never learns from his mistakes and displays a lack of moral integrity and compassion. Paul indulges gluttony and avarice to their very core and allows the hedonistic lifestyle to overwhelm his every thought.
Paul’s tale is fabulously written and explores a darker, seedier side to gay sex that is often degrading, humiliating, painful, shocking, and ultimately fascinating. This nonstop thrill from one trick to the next from Paul’s eyes has hints of deeper pain and need, but is hidden underneath a thoroughly dirty sexual romp. Paul is easy to judge and dislike, as are the wealth of unsympathetic characters that drift in and out of the story. Liked or not, Paul is a riveting character with an engaging voice and relentless pursuit for sex, to his own demise. I’m not sure if I enjoyed the book, but it was well worth reading.(less)
A truly lovely short novella about the fear of coming out overweighed with an incredible love found, regardless of gender. Sometimes in romance the si...moreA truly lovely short novella about the fear of coming out overweighed with an incredible love found, regardless of gender. Sometimes in romance the simplicity of finding and holding onto love is overlooked for the drama, tension, and flash of problems, issues, and miscommunications. Conversely when the romance itself is the center point, the story is often too sweet and easy. Here the author has delivered a beautiful story showing the complexity of emotion and the ease of romance. However the path to acceptance is not always accomplished with a mild mannered announcement and here two great men struggle but focus on what is ultimately the most important element – their love.
Told in first person from Hunter’s point of view, the story follows a brief time period at the end of summer as Hunter struggles with coming out of the closet to friends. A confirmed heterosexual, Hunter has never really questioned his lackluster sexual response to women until he meets Max through mutual friends. The seeds of a crush are laid but both men seem to dance around the idea, ignoring it in favor of a slow building friendship. Finally one summer after they’ve been friends for years Max slowly opens Hunter’s eyes to the emotion between them. Although Hunter dives into the relationship with both feet, he can’t help a one step forward, two steps back attitude. He wants Max desperately yet is afraid of the stigma and label attached to admitting he may be gay.
The characters are really rich in detail and complexity. Hunter’s struggle with accepting his sexuality is layered and he stumbles several times along the way. Without Max’s patient understanding, the relationship would never have worked and Hunter recognizes this important fact. However that doesn’t stop Hunter from lashing out, running away, and inadvertently hurting Max in his fear. Hunter slowly accepts that Max wants an open relationship and won’t accept hiding for too much longer, that Max’s endless patience does indeed have a limit. What’s really touching about the emotional journey is that Hunter’s feelings for Max are never in doubt. Hunter is incredibly proud to be with Max and loves the man completely and totally. Even that deep well of emotion struggles to overcome Hunter’s resistance to accepting he is gay and facing possible repercussions from friends and family.
This short story is surprisingly well written and deeply emotional, given the smaller length. Thus the characterization and journey of the men are never wasted on small details or banal conversation. The tentative exploration into sex includes missteps and unfolding desire which combine to create an intimate look at a relationship as it turns from casual into serious and potentially life long. The romance and sensuality of the relationship comes through, showing the care and love Max has shown Hunter over the course of the summer. Hunter’s slow emergence from fearful “friend” into proud lover is a lovely transformation and epitomizes the classic genre of romance.
If I had any qualms it would only be I didn’t appreciate the scene in the kitchen with Max and Hunter’s ex-girlfriends. While I understand the dynamic and the importance of the women in the men’s lives and close, supportive relationships – I felt the entire conversation is awkward and uncomfortable. I connected with Hunter on such a level, I felt his embarrassment and unease about the situation just as acutely. I didn’t feel the women’s reactions were explained or justified and thus they were somewhat odd and ill fitting to the story. However, this is a small scene in the story and the ending is beautiful and moving.
If you’re looking for a lovely summer romance story – this certainly satisfies. (less)
This is the kind of fast paced, well-written action story that is instantly engaging and completely entertaining. The tight plot and well-paced story...moreThis is the kind of fast paced, well-written action story that is instantly engaging and completely entertaining. The tight plot and well-paced story may stumble occasionally but that only adds to its appeal. The first installment of what promises to be a new series only scratches the surface of interesting characters and introduces a wealth of possibilities for future adventures. Not surprising this was a Lambda Award finalist and well deserving the recognition. Although this isn’t a mystery, all the bad guys are introduced early, the action from the beginning to the end is well thought out and enjoyable, almost more so than the romance aspect. Be sure to start this series now before the second installment comes out, you won’t want to miss it.
The premise of the book hinges on Soren, the son of a local crime boss, as he goes into hiding after a particularly brutal beating from his father. Although the FBI is reluctant to help Soren, they do set him up with a bodyguard of sorts in ex-ranger Mason. Mason and Soren are supposed to head out to sea away from the chaos in their wake but plans go awry soon after they’ve left. In the ensuing action, Soren must re-evaluate his life and choices while terrorists and angry fathers threaten his life.
The story begins with Soren being handed over to Mason for safekeeping and the two butt heads immediately. Soren’s spoiled life of privilege, alcohol, and drugs is at odds with Mason’s almost puritanical sensibilities. Although the two clash often, there is a surprising amount of mutual respect. Mason is able to see beyond the image and pampered life Soren has led to hidden strength even Soren doubts exist. This faith and belief in Soren is essential to helping him mature and grow over the course of the book. Soren never loses his wit and sense of humor through his trials, even accepting the abuse as the price for his easy lifestyle. It takes a considerable amount of force and Mason’s unwavering support for Soren to move beyond his empty life. Soren’s motivation and desire to prove Mason’s belief in him is not misplaced is the real driving force for change and maturity, more so than even the numerous and painful beatings he receives.
Soren is a great character, even as he frustrates for well over half the story. His inability to change his pattern of behavior and poor decision making almost predict bad things will happen. I was hard pressed to feel too sorry for him when his inevitable stupid choices led to dire consequences. However, his charm is also evident in his continued self-evaluation and hard work for positive change, even as he slips backward a few times. These aspects of his personality kept Soren from being too annoying and leave a character on the verge of so much possibility in future stories. Soren is a wonderfully flawed and genuine character that struggles against taking the easy life he’s been provided and developing his own identity and independence. He’s far from a weak character but has honest flaws and can admit to taking the easy road in his life up until now.
The relationship portion of the book certainly suffers for the action element. Mason and Soren dance around each other for the majority as Soren comes to terms with his first gay experience rather easily but Mason has some trepidation about the younger man. Soren’s flaws are balanced by Mason’s inherent goodness, creating an interesting dynamic between the two. That is not to say the romance is unsatisfying, as the slow bloom of emotions and connection is fierce, fiery, and explosive. The delicious tension mounts and provides some great scenes of sensuality. Although this is less important than the action/adventure theme, the relationship is no less developed or thought out.
Mason is perhaps a less well-developed character than Soren, though no less interesting, as he and others exist as a support system for Soren. This is really Soren’s story and his maturity while facing the consequences of his lifestyle and choices. Mason is a good balance for Soren’s poor decisions and helping the story is Mason’s twin brother, Stoney. Stoney is sure to have a book of his own as the dynamic character almost steals scenes. The other secondary characters such as Soren’s father, James, and his ex-girlfriend, Jolina, are both somewhat stereotypical without much depth beyond the obvious evil façade. Even so, they are solid characters without dipping too far into the classic bad guy tropes and keep from being annoying with snappy dialogue and fast paced action.
The story itself is mostly action and slips into almost non-stop sequences once the setup and characters are introduced. The quick story is entertaining and well written with only a few holes in logic and circumstance. Most notable is the final action sequence that comes out of nowhere with no explanation or logical reason for its setup. However, the story is engaging so this small quibble is unlikely to affect any enjoyment. The only other compliant would be that the ending felt forced and rushed, almost an attempt to wrap up big changes in a happy for now ending. However, knowing there are more books to come staring these characters mollifies any disappointment the ending may have caused.
Another well-researched aspect to the story is the setting of Guam. Many settings for action/adventure tend to be either exotic or a typical city setting without much character and flavor to the actual place. Here, the island of Guam is integral to the story and adds detail and texture to the story. The interesting and unique destination is not mentioned for something as stereotypical as drugs but for more mundane reasons and the actual crimes are those attributed to crime bosses everywhere. This helps create a believable setting, rich in detail that definitely adds to the book’s appeal.
Overall this is a great story with fascinating characters and well-written action. There is no fear of dirty, bloody, dire consequences and the story is not afraid to put everyone in danger, which keeps the reader guessing at what might happen while taking away the safety net of immediate rescue. The dramatic tension is well crafted and keeps you fully engaged in the adventure unfolding. This fresh new voice will captivate you from the very beginning and take you on a breathtaking ride from one scene to the next. You won’t want to miss this ride. (less)
In this highly erotic short story, reality and dreams are mixed leaving one to wonder who the master is and who the slave is. The book opens with a vi...moreIn this highly erotic short story, reality and dreams are mixed leaving one to wonder who the master is and who the slave is. The book opens with a vividly descriptive scene of a basement and a boy waiting, shaved and chained to the pipes in the ceiling; able to feel every breath of wind and hear every minute sound as his master prepares behind him. The waiting is divine torture in itself, but the boy can’t help but crave what’s to come. As a familiar leather hood is placed over his head, the boy’s mind wanders to a dream.
In the boy’s dream there are two men on the el train, sitting opposite each other as the unexpected attraction sparks between them. One is a young man, barely eighteen and clean cut from an upper class family. He is beautiful and slender, the complete opposite of the leather man across from him in chaps, jeans and a close fitting t-shirt, accessorized with a tattoo on his arm of the word “fugue”. As opposites are wont to do, the attraction is undeniable. Darting glances, swallowed desire, and the heady smell of lust all combine to overwhelm the two until responsibilities and concerns are set aside to experience the passion unfurled between them in a darkened corner of the train.
Their passion is not so easily had either, as the train moves on and the fear of discovery becomes a reality with passengers getting on and off the train. Frustration, desire, anger, need, dominance and submission all play their parts in this intricate dance where the typical stereotypes are turned upside down in the dreamer’s mind. Meanwhile the erotic whipping the boy is gratefully enduring in his master’s basement continues with lush detail and highly charged intensity. The physical and emotional journey occurring in the basement parallels the charged encounter in the train but in different roles.
Both scenes are intricately and expertly woven in this short story that packs an incredible punch. Like a song, scenes are detailed layer by layer with sounds, smells, emotions, sights that combine to create a complex melding between characters and their surroundings. Through vivid imagery and spectacular writing, Reed offers a world that is erotic, intense, honest, and edgy. From the boy’s reality of his whipping by his loving master’s hand to his dreamy role reversal where he dominates his master, the intense adventure begins grippingly and only increases as the story unfolds. Although not a romance or a love story, there are elements of both amongst the emotionally charged encounters with BDSM is as much a character in the story as the others.
Reed has a unique ability to alter perception and leave the reader wondering what is reality. The wonderful prose is offered in a unique way with highly descriptive atmospheres and characters while leaving little to no dialogue, highlighting the originality of Reed’s imagination. Like most of the author’s work, “Fugue” offers an unforgettable cast of well defined characters, adding depth to the complex world and figures inhabiting it. (less)
This is a case where the author or publisher needs to know when to stop with the blurb. On the one hand, you do know exactly the product you’re gettin...moreThis is a case where the author or publisher needs to know when to stop with the blurb. On the one hand, you do know exactly the product you’re getting. On the other hand, you kind of don’t need to read the book when everything’s laid out in the summary. As always I just bought the book based on the author and cover, neglecting to read the blurb and discovered the giant thing on the first page of the story. But if you’re interested in the journey of these two men then perhaps it doesn’t matter that the entire story is laid out already.
The book is decent for sure with a lot of hot sex. Over 40 pages of hot sex out of a total of 130 pages, so if you’re in the mood for a lot of raunchy sex between two alpha men this easily could satisfy you. Now that is not to say this book is only about erotica because each scene does advance their relationship for the most part. There is a depth and emotion added to the characters and book that keep this from being entirely for the purposes of titillation. It is a pure fantasy book though as its not believable on any level and that’s ok. It’s a solid escapism story with a happy ending.
Grey and Sirus are interesting characters with some depth and complexity. Not all of their characters are appropriate and fitting, but if you can overlook that and just get into the flow of the story it won’t matter so much. Sirus is a truck driver who happens to dabble in art on the side and has a strong, sensitive core to his personality. He is often described as confident, talented, and intuitive, allowing him to give in to Grey and progress their relationship without any loss of the much needed masculine ego. Sirus is a solid character that is sure to resonate with his deft handling of Grey and all his issues. The blend of humor, attention, and affection Sirus uses would never be possible given they just met so it adds to the fantasy element of the story.
Just as Grey is a man with too many problems to be attractive to most men, but works here once you accept that basic premise. Grey had a difficult childhood and is the classic suit character with a job in finance that has trust issues. He had a bad sexual experiencing bottoming for the first time and since then, he refuses to reconsider this. There is a question of his intelligence as all it takes for Grey to reverse his thinking is for Sirus to point out that sex for the bottom partner can’t be that painful since a lot of people do it. He should have realized this before but it is a touching moment when Grey lets down his walls and trust issues enough to connect with Sirus on another level. It’s contrived, but moving nonetheless. This theme is repeated with various situations throughout the book but the writing keeps this story moving quickly.
The story is rather absorbing and has a lot of elements that taken alone don’t make much sense. From the violent sex outside during a torrential downpour—really, think about being on your knees with the rain pelting down painfully—but it was still a pretty hot scene where the logistics simply don’t matter. Additionally, Grey’s complete personality reversal at the end is stretching the boundaries of even this fantasy story but his declaration and actions are romantic and sweet. The sex scenes do carry on a bit long but there is a lot of emotion and conversation added so the relationship really is advanced before, after, and during the scenes themselves.
A few problems that stood out were the lack of condoms and Siru’s job. The fact that these two men accept sex without condoms was not even remotely believable and stretched the fantasy element. Additionally, Sirus’ job as a truck driver plays an essential role to his personality in that he insists people accept him as a blue collar worker and ignore the high quality of his art. This side line read empty and didn’t need to be added because there is no purpose to Sirus’ working as a truck driver. He’s never seen driving; he rarely talks about it but demands acceptance. Why? He comes from a wealthy, accomplished family and is clearly extremely talented as an artist and is portrayed as a confident, intelligent man. I just felt the book didn’t need the added random element of his job as a trucker since it was never given much depth.
Overall this book did have some problems which I’ve pointed out, but I’m sure the majority will be like me and not care. The writing was tight and kept the story interesting and enthralling. The plethora of erotica will appeal to those wanting something hotter and the advancement of the relationship will satisfy romance fans. This is meant as a pure escapism, fun, enticing read and as such delivers rather well. If this sounds like your kind of book, check it out.(less)
Messiah is a thought provoking and evocative dark urban fantasy tackling controversial ideas with clever ingenuity and skill. From the outset Messiah...moreMessiah is a thought provoking and evocative dark urban fantasy tackling controversial ideas with clever ingenuity and skill. From the outset Messiah is not a romance, even though it has elements of romance within the story. The authors unfortunately are doing their story a bit of a disservice being published at such a heavily romance geared publisher given the content of their work. As with other books and authors, Valentine and MacLeod are not so much m/m romance authors as dark urban fantasy authors that write books with elements of horror, romance, fantasy, and controversy. There may be a happy ending or may not, there may be a grand love affair or there may not. These are mostly works of fiction rather than the more classic romance. For this particular offering, controversial elements are certainly woven into the plot in an incredibly clever and skillful way.
Unfortunately due to the inherent twists in the story, and oh there are quite a few, it’s almost impossible to write a review talking about the different aspects the book tackles. So instead I’ll try to talk about what was successful and not in broader terms; although every reader will most likely have a different interpretation, which is one of the best aspects of the story. The plot is intricate without being too complicated and convoluted. The basic premise is actually pretty simple but inventively woven into the characters and setting so small complexities and details shine elevating the premise from more simple origins. There are a lot of details though so be sure to pay attention because the authors have very few, if any, frivolous words and scenes within a tightly packed 80 pages.
The various characters are many and diverse, but not all completely fleshed out. This is in part due to the length of the story and the fact that there is at least one more sequels – personally I think this should be a lengthy series. There are so many ideas and provocative statements elicited that this setting and characters could easily extend to a seven part (or more) series, affording the characters more definition and thorough examination. That’s not to say any of the characters were flat or one dimensional but several had more cursory introductions while focusing on only a few in this introduction, which was smart rather than overwhelming the reader with people and information. Those few that were highlighted and defined stood out with charisma and interest while generally being three dimensional with vivid descriptions.
The one caveat I had with the characters was the main character of Malcolm. He was given the most depth of the cast but still felt contradictory and ill-defined to me even at the end. He is the sole character with an included background, yet his reactions and thought process made little sense at times and seemed too easily accepting of certain statements. Due to his background, I expected Malcolm to fight some premade conclusions and expectations of others but he easily agreed with nary a concern. This contradiction and others had Malcolm feeling ill conceived at the end but I’m willing to see where his character is taken in the sequel for a more fully elucidated explanation.
Several of the characters fairly leapt off the page from Odessa to Lucifer and truly you won’t want to miss this creative take on religious themes in urban fantasy. The writing is solid and concise with vivid descriptions and vitality to the prose that keeps the story absorbing and interesting. The actual setting of Mortal Sins was surprising and well done with the richness of the luxury and decadence easily being translated to the page. The additional detail of the Three of Cups tarot card was nicely incorporated, especially in a line where many authors neglect to add any mention of the tarot card at all. This level of attention to detail is shown clearly throughout and will entice readers into the complex and fascinating world.
Even with the character problems I had with Malcolm, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story especially for the theme, plot, writing and other characters. Romance is certainly a part of the story and there is a happy ending with the plot threads dangling and the story still calling out for more. Hopefully Malcolm and his decisions, actions, and thought process will be more fully explored in future editions to perhaps explain his contradictory character. Or perhaps I was the only one with that issue and either way, I highly suggest fiction readers who enjoy urban fantasy featuring gay characters with thought provoking issues to pick up a copy of Messiah. You won’t be disappointed.
I admit I approached this story with a bit of trepidation. I had several problems with the first book, more than I could actually discuss in a review...moreI admit I approached this story with a bit of trepidation. I had several problems with the first book, more than I could actually discuss in a review without giving away spoilers, so I was concerned I’d simply hate the sequel. I’m glad I liked the second offering, more than the first by a large margin. While previous problems weren’t necessarily resolved and other issues were created, on the whole this was a somewhat fun, irreverent, and compelling story. As it is a sequel, there is no question you must read the first to understand the second; don’t even try it otherwise.
Back in the world of 2039 though, happiness and prosperity reign as Malcolm has eliminated just about any potential hardship or problems. Warring countries now get along, disease is eradicated, and everyone loves their neighbor. Malcolm is having his own qualms as he struggles with opposing demons and his newly appointed position in the hierarchy of heaven and hell. If this is slightly over the top to you, it rather is and it’s not the only element that is exaggerated. Part of this is definitely on purpose and the authors know they’re being facetious and part is meant to work with the power and prestige of the main character. This theme walks a very tight rope where if the setting wasn’t futuristic, the exaggeration would overwhelm and annoy. As it is, there is a suspension of disbelief to accept the new world building but even then the problem free world, mind blowing sex that blows out windows, and unending powers of Malcolm get a little old.
Unfortunately this series is a difficult one to review given the inherent spoilers. It’s very difficult to talk about specific elements without giving too much away from either book. Instead, I can only give broad generalizations and impressions rather than talking about specifics that worked or didn’t work. One example is the character of Malcolm. I had some major problems with his characterization in the first book and his motivations felt weak, unsupported, and too easy. Some of that is continued within this offering but to a much lesser degree. Malcolm shows more strength, resolve, and intelligence that go a long way to supporting him in the prominent role within the story. His love for Suki still feels unfounded given the non-existent basis of their relationship but is tempered by Malcolm’s interactions with a large cast of fascinating characters. Additionally Malcolm shows a strong core of integrity that is crucial to his character and actions, ultimately creating a likeable and interesting man with just enough flaws to offset the power and perfection.
There are several scenes between Malcolm, Suki, and Leviathan which foreshadow and establish an interesting relationship but here the confines of the shorter story work against the characters. This relationship is barely established and there needs to be more depth and reasoning as Malcolm’s attitude towards Levi changes entirely from the first book to the second without enough explanation. The change in direction is easy to understand and follow but the emotion and connection would benefit from more development and attention. But this is also hampered by the incredible amount of action and themes the authors threw into a total of 60 pages. There is almost too much going on so your focus bounces from scene to scene and person to person. One minute there is sex, then more powers and assassins, and plots to take over the world, more sex and so on. However, skillful handling of the material keeps the story from overwhelming but it is a packed novella.
The same cast from book one returns with scene-stealing vibrancy from Leviathan and Lucifer to Odessa with even a few new holy characters rounding out the imaginative group. Malcolm’s struggles between each one of these are interesting but take a back seat to the characters themselves. The scene with Odessa shows there simply are no taboo’s that will not be crossed and yes, dear reader, they certainly went there. Lucifer’s portrayal is against the inherent beliefs of even agnostics but is fascinating and well crafted in such a way as to draw the reader in to the new personality given to the age old demon. Even the scene at the Vatican was intense yet the inherent humor woven throughout the book kept this as an enjoyable farce of the subject matter on many levels. Especially evident with the epilogue, which was delightful and allows the reader to laugh at both the themes presented and the material.
The writing, plot, and various themes were not meant to be a corny look at religion however, but instead an intense and compelling take on the hell side of the debate. The result is a fascinating and well crafted story looking at the world and its inhabitants from the Devil and his minions’ point of view, and one you wouldn’t immediately anticipate. While not a parody, there is humor in the situation from the outrageous descriptions to the actions themselves (did they just do that?! Yes they did) and the set up for even more sequels.
Getting it on record – God and Luci, total lovers spat. Just sayin’.
If you haven’t read this series, start with the first one but hang in there for the second. It gets better. The third promises to be even more interesting and humorous, so I’ll wait eagerly for that. My problems with Malcolm are likely never to be resolved entirely but the truly fascinating cast more than keep my attention. Inventive, creative, and even a bit shocking to a non-believer such as me, you won’t want this story to end. (less)
Sam is an outgoing, smart, vivacious, cute eighteen year-old college student living on his own and counting down the weeks until his nineteenth birthd...moreSam is an outgoing, smart, vivacious, cute eighteen year-old college student living on his own and counting down the weeks until his nineteenth birthday, when he’s legal to drink in Canada. He happens to be strolling around the Canada Day offerings when he comes across Robert, a fireman stud and he can’t help but drool.
Robert is a handsome, stable, intelligent thirty-two year-old fireman who is openly gay and looks amazing in a uniform. He’s in a place in his life where he’s thinking more for long-term relationships than simple hookups, but when he sees Sam, he happily goes with the adorable twink.
The night ends up blowing both of their minds, leaving Robert with some confusion over what to do next. He’s not very interested in a strictly sexual relationship but what could he possibly have in common with Sam? Robert makes an admirable attempt to move beyond the incredible, intense sex to start to build a relationship. This takes some work with the bouncy, adorable Sam who is quite happy coasting along on the sexual aspects and indulging in his fireman uniform fantasies.
This could be a simple tale of an older man and cute twink who have some great sex and eventually move on to people more suited for each other, but Sam is given a maturity, intelligence and sensitivity at odds with the superficial image of the flighty, bouncy, sex kitten side of him. He has an honest warmth about him that lends itself beautifully to the need in Robert, creating a solid relationship almost seamlessly.
Despite their age and life differences, Robert and Sam have a partnership of equal footing and their story is told with passion, intensity, laughter, love and an ease that buffets eventual problems. It’s not all steamy sex and effortless laughter as they move through the problems of life, but the characters are skillfully drawn so as to leave you wanting to see more, know more and watch how they’ll evolve and grow.
Sam is a character that slipped into my heart and I completely adored by the end of the book, as his many facets are shown and explored here and there throughout. My one issue with the book was the epilogue, which skipped pretty far ahead, perhaps to show the true stability of a relationship many doubt, but with the lack of overly substantial issues relating to Sam’s age, it almost glosses over what is potentially very problematic.
However, the book has a sequel so I’m looking forward to seeing what these authors create as well as another look at these great characters.(less)