Okay…. I've just got to say this: What the hell is wrong with everyone? I had tempe...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader as part of Kate McMurray Week!
Okay…. I've just got to say this: What the hell is wrong with everyone? I had tempered my excitement for this book after it came out because so many people have written very luke warm reviews. I didn't expect it to be bad, but what I found was a really fun, un-put-downable read. I mean, it's not perfect and I'll talk about that in a bit, but for the most part this book was highly enjoyable for me. So yeah, ya'lls on crack is all I can say.
Just like me ;), one of Dan's favorite shows on tv is a reality show about an antiques shop where a guy buys/sells/pawns things and goes through the provenance of the items in detail for the viewers. Of course, a lot of Dan's enjoyment is his attraction to sexy star of the show, Malcolm Tell (great tv name!). So when he comes across an old music box, his sister encourages him to use it to try to get on the show. When he gets to the store, he finds that they're taping, which means Dan has to go through a whole song and dance just to get to the good part. Dan's nervous, and meeting the man he's found himself fantasizing about is much more important than the music box. When Malcolm comes out and it's his cue to start talking about the music box, he is finally able to look in the man's eyes and finds that they seem strangely peculiar. The strange thing is that Malcolm obviously feels the same way. It isn't until Dan hands it to him and both touch the box at the same time that the visit gets really interesting. Both share a peculiar vision that includes a tremendous amount of pain and anguish, which abruptly ends when they remove their hands.
The visit goes to hell after that. The box isn't really that interesting at all, except for an inscription. But Malcolm is reluctant to let Dan leave. And when he does, Dan finds that he's got a date for the next evening for dinner and to examine the box again in private. Will whatever happened happen again? And what does it mean if it only happens when they both touch it?
The music box sets off a strange series of occurrences where different objects tend to show up giving them different visions. When they start to put the pieces together and find out what is really happening, they're thunderstruck by what it all means and what it means for their now-growing relationship. But the inherent problem with repeating history is that they repeat their mistakes, as well as a tragedy that follows them. They have to follow each object and vision until they can find a way to change history and secure a real future for themselves.
I think what I loved so much about this story is the different visions they have. I won't get into what they are of, but it's pure gold for a story because it's a mine of different settings and scenarios to explore. That's exciting for a reader because it makes the book exciting. It also gives the book a really great pace, with so much forward movement in the story, so I never got tired of reading it and I was always interested to discover what would happen next. Of course, I did have one big problem with the story -- I just found the ending anticlimactic. You can see it coming from a mile away. But, the way the story is set up makes for good, natural tension. Except, maybe too much tension. By the time the end rolled around the stakes were so high that I ended up just finding the ending a bit… lame and comical. However, though that might sour a bit of the story, I still found that I loved the rest of the story and it didn't bother me too much. So, it wasn't enough to mark the story down very far for me.
I've heard from friends who read this that they found Dan a bit too weepy and whiny. I'm not sure if it's just a case of some people not really liking for their guy characters to cry too much (I know some people don't -- that's fine), or that I just felt like the circumstances were justifiable (if I was facing possible death and loss of my newfound and totally awesome love of my life and counting down the days for find a remedy I think I'd be a ball of angst and tears!), but it just didn't bother me at all.
So, while I might caution some readers who these things will automatically send up red flags, I would encourage you to give this one a try. Because while it may not be perfect, it's still a really fun and exciting read with quite a few twists and turns that I wasn't really expecting. Expect for the book to take a turn towards real fantasy and be a bit surreal toward the end, but I found that part of the fun ;)(less)
This is definitely a light, comfort read, even more than the first book which introduced more of the wo...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is definitely a light, comfort read, even more than the first book which introduced more of the world as the first book. Also, this short novella was split between two romantic couples as each pair of a twin falls in love with one of the shifters, wolf and dragon of the new alliance. So overall, I found the story rather superficial, without time to form any sort of plot or get into the characters, since the story relied heavily on the mating bond trope.
After the end of the first book the human castle is left in shambles from the fight with the Magi. When the last Magi was killed the dragons and wolves found a young human man whose scent immediately caught the attention of the Alpha wolf, Reese. Breaking the Shackles is his story, and his twin brother's, Baine. Born as Maji, not to be confused with Magi, the race of creatures that tried to subjugate the humans in the first book, the Maji are the receptacles of magic that shared a symbiotic relationship with the Magi. Once up on a time the Maji offered their magic to the Magi (who had no magic of their own) in order for their protection. In recent years, however, the Magi enslaved the race of the Maji to forcibly steal their magic.
Laine and Baine were taken from each other in their teen years. They've spent a few years apart, Laine waking up in a new type of slavery (or so he thinks) among the wolves, and Baine freed a couple years before and searching all this time for his brother. Their parents are waiting for him to return with his brother; now that the Magi have been killed, there is a vacuum of power where the Maji's society is, and their family and others are clamoring to become the leaders of the people. When Baine finds his brother, he isn't too happy to see that Laine might be falling for the wolf who has claimed him, and equally upset by the green-haired dragon that keeps following around calling him pretty and shiny.
I laid out my main difficulties with this story above and for the most part they are the same ones I had with the first book, only compounded by the extra relationship and less time for the story. All the problems I had with it ultimately relate to that. The way that it manifested was mostly in two ways. First, there just wasn't time for the relationships to get off the ground. Basically, they meet, they bond, and the story is over. For Baine and Dean (the dragon) there is a little more between the steps, concerning Baine's jealousy of Laine's relationship with another man when he just got him back and his feelings of duty to return to his family. Mostly, however, what bothered me was there wasn't time to set up the proper background of Laine and Baine's family, which directly relates to the end of the story and the perceived threat the werewolves feel. The ending and the issues with their family seemed to come completely out of the blue. Previously in the story we only hear that they both feel some varying level of responsibility to return to their family, but very little about the family themselves, or even more than just a couple paragraphs about the structure of magical slavery the Maji were subjected to. It gave the ending very little impact.
If you're looking for a short and sweet dragon- and wolf-shifter series then this book and it's prequel will suffice, but it isn't the best. I was a little disappointed by this book even though I knew, roughly, what to expect, so I'm not entirely sure I'll read the next book and I probably wouldn't recommend them unless you want something cute and mindless.(less)
A beautifully written and poignant story that hit all of my buttons. I loved the characters, the premise, the idea of who someone is measured against...moreA beautifully written and poignant story that hit all of my buttons. I loved the characters, the premise, the idea of who someone is measured against what we assume they are. Jo did a wonderful job cutting right to those elements in a way that was more than a thrill and more than a scene. Extremely difficult to do in a short story. Without the sex scene, I wouldn't have been surprised to find it in a literary journal. I loved the socks -- oh yeah, and the underwear :)(less)
A bit of a disappointing read. The first 29% of the 15k word short story was a pretty in-depth prologue (view spoiler)[that never went anywhere or got...moreA bit of a disappointing read. The first 29% of the 15k word short story was a pretty in-depth prologue (view spoiler)[that never went anywhere or got resolved (hide spoiler)]. Also, Cameron reacted pretty ridiculously for a man who had been severely abused physically and sexually by his past boyfriend when he awoke during the night to find a strange man in his bed. Then it ended without confronting one very major part of the story.
Ultimately, I was disappointed with this one.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Take a cue authors! I have been super excited about this book for months now. Why? All because of that teaser story a year ago. The originally titled story "Dirty Laundry" was a free story about a rather nerdy and frightened young man who is rescued by a giant musclebound cowboy of a man when he's being bullied by a group of frat guys in a laundromat. The kid's gratefulness and awe of the cowboy drive him to thank the man, and that encounter leads to a very steamy public sex scene over the table and pile of unfolded laundry right in the middle of the laundromat. That's all the story was about. It was free and posted on the author's co-blog, Cup of Porn, for their first birthday bash.
I didn't know at that point, that this was part of the Tucker Springs universe. Actually, at that point I think that the first book, Where Nerves End was just being promoted by LA Witt. I'd really like the know the timeline and how that cowboy, Denver, came to be included in the story. That's why I'll be eagerly reading all the tour stops for Heidi Cullinan this week, to see if she details how that came to fruition. A bit of the story is on my blog today, so be sure to check out Heidi's guest post "For the Love of Series".
It must be because of those readers like me, who raved about the short "Dirty Laundry" that this became an expanded novel, and I can't tell you how excited I was when I first learned what the author was doing to this story. I so wanted to know what happened after that laundromat rendezvous. What I can tell you is this: The novel starts with the short story and carries forward with what happens afterward. Denver, who we got to know in the first two novels as a secondary character, is a bouncer at the local gay club run by Jase, from the first book. Adam is an entomology graduate student at the local college and currently getting over a breakup from his one and only boyfriend Brad. The scene at the laundromat affects both men and how they view their own lives and their own neuroses, and while it seems like Adam takes the award for the one with the most problems, Denver carries a secret weight filled with his own shortcomings, and it takes both of them working together to forge a better version of themselves.
I consider this to be the best book in the series so far. In her guest post today, Heidi Cullinan describes the Tucker Springs series as "a set of stories between several authors where each “episode” is unique, but the setting is familiar." That rather simple theme connecting the stories is really reflective of the books individually and as a series. It's true that each subsequent book, so far, seems to get a little better in my opinion, but they are all quite relaxed in theme. What I mean to say is that I found this book like the prior ones, focused solely on the relationship and less on outside connections. All that connects them is geography and limited personal connections. That means, however, that the relationship much carry each novel on it's own, and while I wasn't quite sure the first two books accomplished that, Dirty Laundry definitely did.
What really makes this story work is the consideration given to mental illness. I know very little about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or severe anxiety issues, so I can't weigh in on the accuracy of the details. But what I did love is how the issues that Adam has (and to a small extent Denver's issues as well) are firmly entrenched in the relationship. Adam tries to hide them at first, but they're so much a part of who he is, it is almost impossible to keep the information from Denver. And I really felt for Adam. It's a tribute to the author's skill that his self-doubt didn't come across to me as annoying, but instead I felt like I had a good grasp on just how difficult his life is on a day to day basis. He has trouble with many things, but most of all is one of his major tics -- that people have their own space. He can't allow anyone inside his house without severe anxiety and he has a really hard time visiting other people's houses, or spaces of any kind. And besides the fact that this allowed Denver and Adam to show their creativity in getting to know one another in public places, I can't deny that the fact that most of the extremely hot sex in this book is in public places completely ramps up the heat factor. That laundromat scene was just the tip of the iceberg.
The BDSM element is more present here that I was expecting. It slowly becomes more central to the story and the relationship as the book moves forward, but it has little to do with sex and everything to do with creating a power structure helpful to Adam's OCD. Denver's commanding will was what drew the two together in that first encounter and is ultimately what Adam needs to cling to to categorize and then compartmentalize his brain to function at it's highest levels.
There is so much to recommend about this book and I could go on and on with more things that I loved -- both characters, the dichotomy between the two that makes them perfect for one another (their looks, their issues, their education, but not intelligence). Heidi Cullinan is a popular and well known author because of her talent and Dirty Laundry is just another example of her success.(less)
I'm not sure if this is DNF for me or not, but I just can't into this book because I don't understand the characters a...more**spoiler alert** Stalled at 39%
I'm not sure if this is DNF for me or not, but I just can't into this book because I don't understand the characters at all. Especially Lee. He keeps spouting off all these platitudes about how real men are ones who are brave enough to come out, yet he really doesn't know anything about Dirk. On their first visit he layed into him for nothing, calling him an asshole. Yeah, if I were Dirk I'd be plenty pissed off that none of the firemen he worked with came to visit him. So what if he's kept them at a distance because he can't come out to them? If he were a royal asshole they should still visit him, right? Isn't that what a brotherhood and all that shit is all about?
It just feels like this whole story is based on that one thing at the beginning, that Dirk's an asshole without explaining much why (and yes, I'm sure that might come later), and everyone else just going along with that assessment without really trying to understand why he might act the way he does. Plus, they keep talking about what an asshole he is and how horrible he is and all but all I've seen is that he's just not close to anyone and he's scared of his dad and that he rescued a baby. He doesn't sound that bad to me. Maybe if they'd referenced some horrible things that he's done, but not told them yet, I could stick with it to see if maybe they're right, but to me, so far, this whole situation just seems turned on it's head. I feel like I don't want to read any more about them if there are only scenes of them not getting to really know each other, Lee yelling at Dirk about what an asshole he is and that basically he'd be much nicer to everyone if he came out already like a man, and then fights turning into passionate lust... huh?
I don't think I'm getting this at all... so I'm just going to put it away before I get even more mad at the characters, lol.(less)