I was immediately drawn to this book for two reasons. First, I've wanted to read an Anne Barwell book forever. I'Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was immediately drawn to this book for two reasons. First, I've wanted to read an Anne Barwell book forever. I've bought all of her's as they've come out. They've all seemed rather interesting to me but for some reason I've never had time to actually read them. So I was really excited that she had written another book, which secondly, seemed rather Merlin-esque. You've got a crown prince, a king that has banished magic and is a pretty crappy father, and the fable of dragons which are supposed to be extinct, but really aren't. How could I refuse, right? It's like Merlin, but with gay guys!
And my reading went much like I thought it would, at least for the first half of the book, roughly. We meet Aric, the crown prince living under his father's thumb and doing just about everything he can to make his own way and hold true to his own beliefs under such a stifling reign. His father has banished magic and Aric and his twin sister have grown up with quite a biased education about their history and the history of magic and magical beings in Astria. His beliefs are challenged when he once again sneaks out to visit his aunt, his dead mother's sister -- a forbidden act by his father -- and is instead greeted in a forest glade by an ancient dragon. He's baffled to see it at all (believing them to be extinct) and even more confused when the dragon doesn't show the signs of aggression he was taught. Instead, the dragon speaks to him, the most surprising thing of all, and tells him that to save his kingdom and his sister, he must set out on a quest to seek the sword hidden in Sherwin Forest.
The Sherwin Forest is legend, a dark place said to once be the home of magic and dragons themselves, a place where no living person returns. But Aric must believe that what the dragon said was true. Their kingdom is in danger from their allies and a marriage treaty that would see his twin sister Georgia married off to the son of the neighboring King. Aric doesn't trust them, however. It isn't, as his father thinks, because he won't let go of his sister, but because of a treacherous conversation he overheard, in which Georgia will become a pawn for their so-called allies to take over Astria. Georgia would just become a pawn and her happiness means more to Aric than anything else, even the kingdom he'll one day rule.
My experience reading this book was good and disappointing at the same time. The first half of the book had me enthralled. I love a good sword and sorcery story and the first half of this book started well and continued strongly. Soon after Aric sets off to find his way to retrieve the sword from the fabled forest, he meets a handsome man in the woods that seems to have a special magical affinity, no matter how much he denies it. The man, Denys, is keeping his own secrets, but seems to believe what he says, which only makes him more mysterious. He reluctantly decides to help Aric, of whom he also knows very little. But Denys knows what happens to those who venture into the forest and how strange it is -- how it can mess with your mind and how changed you are if you can make it back out. His strong and confusing connection to Aric make him want to help.
For me, this story really changed while they were in the forest. While I don't begrudge an author a choice in their own book simply because it's a plot device that I'm really not fond of (amnesia), that was the turning point for me in this book because after that the story seemed to collapse in on itself. Before that point, about midway through the book, there seemed to be a clear drive in the plot with their trek through the forest and getting to know each other. Afterwards, the story seemed to explode in different directions and it all became a little confusing for me. I felt like maybe the story wasn't sure where it wanted to go. And yes, while it did eventually come back around, it felt like it was leaving out quite a bit of the story. I mean, it didn't feel finished, which brings me to another issue. I wondered if this was the beginning of a sequel. If it is, then I really wish that Dreamspinner would promote it as such. That has happened before with some their books, where they're the first part of a series but it isn't written about anywhere. And maybe that decision comes later -- it's possible -- but that changes my perspective on how I read the book and it definitely means that I consider the book in a different light. If it isn't a first book in a series, then this story felt greatly unfinished. I didn't particularly feel like the romance was finished but the main plot seems like an early part of a much longer story.
I pretty much knew the direction that the story was going to go -- the main "surprise" if you will -- from reading the blurb and at the very least from the minute that Aric meets Denys just after he speaks to the dragon. It's not a very big leap to assume that is the case. And I was right. I suppose what disappointed me was the confusion in the way it got there. It seemed a bit messy. I have avoided, so far, reading other reviews for this book, but I would be interested now in taking a look or talking to anyone else who read this to see what they think. It's possible, of course, that I just didn't "get" this one and that it wasn't for me. Maybe it's the author's style, as this is the first book of her's that I've read. But part of me thinks not, since I felt such a change between the first half and the second half.
No matter my ultimately feelings, however, I still liked the book okay. I just wanted to like it a lot more....more
Amazing job girls! Kyle Adams was awesome enough to post my prompt because I had already posted another one, lol. And I'm really charmed with how it tAmazing job girls! Kyle Adams was awesome enough to post my prompt because I had already posted another one, lol. And I'm really charmed with how it turned out. The most important thing was that they play with it and have fun with the outrageous animal shifters, and the story was really funny and cute :)
And... weirdly enough! The authors gave a character my real last name!...more
I decided to pick this up to read and review on a whim. It's actually been quite a while since I've reaReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I decided to pick this up to read and review on a whim. It's actually been quite a while since I've read any BDSM, I just haven't been in the mood a much this year. And it's been a while since I've read a standalone LA Witt book, so I was excited to dig in and see what I thought of it. I really like the BDSM stories that are set at Leather conventions. I think it all comes down to my curiosity as to what going to one would really be like. Plus, now that I've been to a convention I sortof get the atmosphere there, and though it fluctuates wildly from one event to another, there is an excitement inherent in coming together with other people who share a common interest. Because of that, it means that a character can be whoever they want to be during their vacation, especially at a place where role-play and scene play offer a possible diversion from one's typical personality.
Chase and Derek have been friends for a long time. They're traveling to the convention together and sharing a room, and their unspoken attraction to one another has gone… well, unspoken up to this point. That is, until they sleep together their first night. But right when the clothes start flying and Chase is gearing up to put on his Dom voice, Derek asks if they just play vanilla. It's a good idea (most likely) and a slap in the face at the same time to Chase, who has always admired Derek and his mind-blowing ability to sub so beautifully for different Doms. Why won't he sub for Chase? And does it have anything to do with the fact that Derek is set to meet his longtime crush and internet friend, the popular Master Raul?
Meanwhile, Chase is going through his own problems. His three year relationship with Ian recently bit the dust. And even though their last year together was terrible, complete with Ian cheating and lying and finally walking out on him, facing the end of what was originally a perfect relationship and Dom/sub connection and trying to move on are much harder in practice. The problem is compounded by the fact that Ian is at the convention and seems to be eager to speak to Chase and sort things through.
Neither of them expected how difficult it would be to deal with their crush and admiration of the other while having to spend so much time together in close quarters. And it isn't just their room situation. Watching the other participate in scenes with other Doms and subs leads them both to the conclusion that the one they really want is right next to them, and that they've already decided to put their valued friendship above all else.
One thing that I know about LA Witt is that as far as the Spectrum of Angst goes, any one of her books could be anywhere. She's good at writing really angsty books and sometimes she writes books where the level of angst could be through the roof but because of the characters, who don't wallow or have a lot of internal dialogue, there isn't anyway. This fell somewhere in the middle for me, and it was a bit frustrating. No matter how much I liked the setup and most of the characters, a lot of that internal waffling back and forth was just a little much for me. It's one of those books where you just want to lock the characters in a room together, slowly filling with… water, or a biological agent, or something to get them to freaking talk to each other! It isn't as if I misunderstood or judged the characters. It's hard to think about having feelings for a friend, I've been there. But, I also have a hard time dealing with that in the fiction I read. It's personal taste. And that is my main disclaimer about this book. I think LA Witt is a good enough writer to draw the connections needed to help the reader understand why the characters make the decisions they make. That doesn't mean, however, that readers will be all that pleased with it. It is just my opinion and my own understanding of fellow readers, but I think that there will be some readers who find the back and forth annoying. And they'll probably be a lot less nice about it than me, lol. At least, that's how it usual goes.
On the other hand, I enjoyed reading the story. Including my feelings about the characters' lack of communication, I still liked this book even though I had one other problem with it. I liked both Chase and Derek for the most part through the whole books, but I did find Derek to be somewhat hypocritical at times, which bothered me. Plusses to the author for including scenes with other men. Even though it causes a fair amount of angst and Derek and Chase aren't technically together (like how you usually get in those situations, with an open and healthy relationship), I still enjoyed those parts of the book. I would have looked forward to them anyway, because it's something that I like in my m/m romance (where it fits), but I actually enjoyed those scenes for themselves as well. They all included secondary characters I really liked, especially the two bears and even Master Raul, who I was unsure of at first and firmly expecting to hate purely for Chase's sake ;)
This is a solid offering from LA Witt, but still has many elements that I think will turn off some readers. Perhaps, though, we'll see that the parameters for m/m BDSM readers are a little more open......more
Don't hate on me haters! This isn't out yet, but please visit the link near the end of the review, which will take you to Madison's blog where she talDon't hate on me haters! This isn't out yet, but please visit the link near the end of the review, which will take you to Madison's blog where she talks about the story, the characters, and cryptology!
This story is not yet available, just so you know. But, seeing it already on Goodreads meant that I just couldn't wait! So, Madison sent me a copy and let me know I could post it whenever I wanted, since we don't yet know when it will be posted. And this is me really, really, really hoping that it's posted soon because it's such a cute, sweet, happy story that I want to share my reading experience with all of you!
This Jock/Nerd college story doesn't rely on the typical trope. The prompt that started this story specifically asked for a different take on that trope, so what we get in this story is a jock that doesn't really like his own popularity and a nerd that doesn't want or need any of his own. Corey relies on his own genius to move him further in life. To him, college isn't a chance to party, but to make connections and actually learn. He's a student of mathematics, but really loves cryptology. Brandon is the star pitcher of the college's baseball team, but has always been uncomfortable of the popularity that and his looks give him. He's out and no one cares, but getting a date is a different thing altogether. Most people expect him to want to date another gay athlete at the school, someone like him, but Brandon has always been attracted to men smaller and smarter than him.
When Brandon finds out that his best friend's roommate is gay, he's curious to know more from his friend. Just seeing Corey's side of the dorm room gives him some ideas -- a worn Rubik's Cube, posters of Battlestar Galactica, and little armies of figures in their precise places. Corey is obviously a nerd, something that his roommate and Brandon's friend continues to tell him. So when Brandon finally faces the fact that he'll fail his statistics class without tutoring, he's surprised that the cute guy who helps him is Corey. He's cute, really smart, and just happens to say no to Brandon every time he asks him out.
The continued rebuttals force Brandon to get creative, but at the same time Corey is succumbing to pressure from his best friend to get out of his room, take some time off from his work and flirt with a guy. Brandon just happens to be cute and already interested in him...
Sorry for going on so long there. The prompt for this story is really why the story is so wonderful. That and the fact that Madison Parker is really talented at putting together cute/feel-good stories. But the prompt that wanted, specifically, a story with a Jock/Nerd trope turned on it's head is what makes this story unique and special. Throughout the story, when we'd normally expect the jock to have all the power while wooing the pants of the nerd (literally), we have Corey holding the reins. Brandon has shown his interest in him countless times and seems like he'll try to do anything to get Corey to recognize him in a romantic way and to make time for him among his math and cryptology work. But Corey already has firm goals placed in mind and is halfway to completing them. College for him is about forging the path to his future career, and he's got both feet placed firmly on that path. A romantic distraction is not something that he needs, or wants; there will always be time for a boyfriend later, when he's more established. So instead of what we expected form this trope, we have a nerd with all the power! Woo!
Madison has a lot of fun with codes and making codes in this story. Not only is it a GREAT way for Brandon to woo Corey, it's also fun for us because we're told a lot about different codes and how they're encrypted. And in the end (this isn't a spoiler!), the story ends with a code that we're left to solve ourselves. I had a lot of fun with that. Madison talks all about the story and ciphers on her blog, which you should definitely check out. She even explains a basic keyword shift and gives us a message to decipher.
It's good practice before reading the story!...more