The plot of this book revolves around our hero, Logan, who owns the sort of shop I used to frequent when I was a student indi chick and wore lots of b...moreThe plot of this book revolves around our hero, Logan, who owns the sort of shop I used to frequent when I was a student indi chick and wore lots of black and purple clothing, long swishy skirts, Doc Martens and dangly ethnic ear-rings (stop sniggering at the back). The shop is called 'Shoemaker's Magick Shoppe' and sells all sorts of stuff from aromatherapy oils to books on witchcraft, from statues of dragons (OK, I admit, I had one of them) to tarot cards. Logan's shop is not doing well. His sales have dwindled to almost nothing so he's about to have his electricity shut off and is living on Raman Noodles (whatever they are. I think they might be the US equivalent of 'supa-noodles' in which case it's a wonder that he hasn't died of a serious vitamin deficiency by now). Logan is in the depths of despair and attempts to drown his sorrows in a bottle of red wine (I like this guy, he thinks like I do). Whilst in a drunken state he calls out for help to whatever unknown god may be listening to him, and promptly passes out.
The gods aren't listening, but our other hero, Hallan, is. He's a elf who has been watching Logan through a special 'elf glass' sent secretly to him by his Mother. Hallan is the master potion maker for the king of the elves, a paranoid and increasingly mad elf who thinks everyone is trying to plot to kill him. Hallan is suspected as being one of those plotting against the king, so he is held under guard at the king's palace, unable to leave his room without an armed escort. Hallan watches Logan as a way of escaping his increasingly stressful life and has fallen in love with him. When Logan calls out for help, it activates the elf glass and Hallan can enter into Logan's world.
The book then follows Logan and Hallan's relationship as they meet three times. Hallan can't stay in Logan's world for a long time in case someone notices that he is missing in his own world. The other complication is that Logan is not allowed to see Hallan, or Hallan will be sucked back through the elf glass (or mirror in Logan's world) and they will never be able to meet again. This led to lots of lovely touchy-feely sex for Logan. The forced short time periods made each of their meetings emotionally powerful and provided a wonderful, concentrated intensity to the relationship between the two heroes.
One of the main themes of the book, that of 'love at first sight', isn't particularly one of my favourites. I've blogged before about how I often find it unrealistic. However, in this book, it worked well. Hallan is already in love with Logan, having watched him for so long and the care and tenderness that he shows to Logan in their first encounter overwhelms Logan's emotions. The author had already set the scene for this in describing how lonely Logan is, how much he longs to find that special person. So Logan's response to Hallan seems to fit well with his character - he realises how much Hallan loves him and responds in kind. The story itself takes place over about a month, during which time Logan has plenty of opportunities to dwell on his feelings for Hallan. By the time we reached the end, I was convinced by the HEA, which doesn't always happen for me with a 'love at first sight' theme.
If I have one criticism of the book it is that the fantasy fan in me would have liked to see a bit more of Hallan's world. A lot of what happens with Hallan happens off page. I can understand why the author wrote it that way: the book may have lost some of the emotional intensity between the heroes if we had spent more time in Hallan's world. However, especially towards the end, I would have liked to have seen the exciting finale in the elf world, rather than have Hallan describe it to Logan afterwards.
This was a very enjoyable, romantic book. The development of the relationship between the two heroes was gentle and passionate; the fantasy setting was unusual and interesting. The pacing was quick, perhaps too quick in a way: I wanted to spend longer in this story. All in all, I'm giving the book a grade of 'excellent' and I strongly recommend this for anyone who likes a lot of romance with their hot men.(less)
At first glance this fantasy story reads like a adult fairy tale. The book begins with one of our heroes, Emmanuel, struggling across a vast icy lands...moreAt first glance this fantasy story reads like a adult fairy tale. The book begins with one of our heroes, Emmanuel, struggling across a vast icy landscape, desperately trying to reach an ice palace where his love, Jerek, rules as king. He is rescued and brought, blinded by the snow, before Jerek who rejects him for a past betrayal. The story then takes us back to the start of their relationship where, as teenagers, Jerek and Emmanuel are tricked into serving on a ship owned by a cruel privateer, Captain Harper. A short time before this Jerek had met a woman from the North who had told him of a palace made of ice and that whoever found the citadel would rule over the north and have all its riches. Jerek is a dreamer who focuses on the idea of the ice palace and makes it his goal to reach it and claim it for his own. However, Captain Harper is also searching for the ice citadel and will stop at nothing, including driving Jerek and Emmanuel apart, to find it.
So within the story we have familiar fairy tale plots and characters: The ice palace; the stranger who tells of riches; the dreamer who is determined to find his way to fortune and the cruel man who wishes to reach the gold before the hero. There are also a number of other devices used such as the bear and seal shifters which are reminiscent of talking creatures in fairy tales and also that, once king, Jerek is as cold hearted as his surroundings. Even the ending was like a fairy tale with good conquering evil and love overcoming hatred.
The characters of the three main men, Jerek, Emmanuel and Piaktok are very child-like in their emotions. They fall in love and form bonds quickly, are easily distracted from their troubles and when Jerek becomes angry and bitter over Emmanuel’s betrayal, he seems unable to control himself, lashing out like a child. In some ways this aspect of the story placed a distance between me and the heroes. They seemed more like types than real life men and the story suffered slightly as a result. This was also the case during the sex scenes where sex was often used to either comfort or punish another character rather than to be stimulating or exciting.
One aspect of the story which worked well was the world building. The author had created a world which contains some aspects familiar to us, such as electricity and some modern medicine, and mixed it with the old fashioned, such as airships. The descriptions of the icy landscape compared the the humid South and the close, almost claustrophobic atmosphere of the ship provided a wonderful backdrop to the unfolding story.
There were a few things which might not be to everyone’s taste such as scenes of forced seduction and one definite non- con scene. There’s also a scene of almost shifted sex which nearly squicked me out before it was averted. There’s a lot of violence in the book too in the form of threats and beatings. These, combined with the distancing from the characters means that I can only really recommend this book to those who are interested in m/m/m menage and aren’t bothered by scenes of cruelty. Having said that, I enjoyed the author’s lyrical written style and will look out for any of her future releases.(less)
This was an impulse buy for me. I was attracted to the title - not the cover for a change - and then discovered it was a comedy. I haven't read a roma...moreThis was an impulse buy for me. I was attracted to the title - not the cover for a change - and then discovered it was a comedy. I haven't read a romantic comedy in ages, so I thought I'd give it a go, even though I knew nothing about the author.
I felt this was a book in thirds. The first and last third were great, really enjoyable, but the middle third was a bit dull for reasons I shall come onto later.
The book begins with our hero, Harper, waking up on his computer keyboard. He's a scriptwriter for TV and is going through a terrible writer's block. He's got several deadlines looming and a new idea to pitch to a major network which is going nowhere. Harper wanders into his kitchen to find a naked man sitting on his counter. Rory is Harper's muse - his inspiration come to life in physical form to help him through the writer's block. This was such a great opening. The whole situation was played for laughs with many visual gags based around Rory's nakedness and lots of zippy one-liners as Harper slowly comes round to the idea that Rory is actually there and not a figment of his lunatic mind. The whole first part of the book, from the opening, to the scenes at the studios, to the start of them working to create the new TV series reminded me of some of the great US sitcoms like "Frasier" or "Will and Grace". The dialogue was snappy and funny, the pace was fast and the characters, whilst not wholly rounded, were recognisable and right for this type of book.
So what happened in the middle of the book? I've been trying to put my finger on why the book started to drag. The mid-third begins with the introduction of the 'Clerk' who adds some seriousness into the story, which wasn't a bad thing. Then we start with the sex. Basically the whole middle of the book was several sex scenes strung together with minimal plotting. Now I like sex scenes, and I do appreciate that the sex in the book was supposed to be showing a change in Harper from having zero interest in sex to a dirty beast in bed, but, frankly I was getting rather bored after a while. I kept thinking 'What more sex? Can we just get back to the plot?'.
Eventually, we do get back to the plot and that's when the book starts to pick up again as Harper has to find a way to keep Rory. We return to the zippy dialogue and fast pacing and I really identified with the frantic feelings of Harper as he tried to 'work the system'. I was rooting for both of them 100%.
This is a comedy, and a lighthearted one at that, so don't expect any deep character anaylsis or weighty plotting. It's a bit of fun and should be read as such. I'm giving A-Muse-Ing a grade of 'Very Good' because I will read it again for the quick-fire dialogue and the laughter inducing visual gags.(less)