OMG! The best ending ever! Okay, I really don't mean to make people upset, I put up like 1% of books I read early on Goodreads, but even though I'm noOMG! The best ending ever! Okay, I really don't mean to make people upset, I put up like 1% of books I read early on Goodreads, but even though I'm not posting my review until tomorrow, I just want to make sure that all of you preorder this book (and buy the ones before it if you haven't), they're really wonderful.
Okay, straight up… let's get this first thing out of the way. Don't expect this review to be necessarily eloquent or far-thinking or in any way an analysis of the book or series. I just don't have that in me at this point. What this review IS… is an immediate reaction to reading this third and final book of the series; a book which I've been eagerly awaiting for quite a while now. In fact, I've been thinking about this last book ever since reading the first, Mind Magic, back in 2012. Normally that doesn't happen for me, I'm not sure where the story is going. But, and maybe some of you who have read the books can understand me in this, but I felt like (in reading that first book) that the series had a clearly outlined direction, firmly delineated by the names of the books and the separate romances, which mirror the way that magic is first described to us in this world, in a triangle and points of three -- three kinds of magic, three different romances, and three different books. The harmony of all of those things are what the series is working towards and Poppy did a wonderful job in satisfying my need for those things to come full circle.
We start this third book with most of the essentials already firmly in hand, with the base of the story firmly established so that the threads immediately start to come together for the final picture the moment the story starts. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to me to become absorbed in a fantasy (or paranormal, but these series tend to be fantasy) series where I'm pulling the threads together on my own as I'm reading, putting the pieces together, only to have them be swept out of the way in the final confrontation or ending by a deus ex machina or even a plausible ending that is somewhat foretold but doesn't take those threads I pulled together into account. In this series, I felt the planning throughout and that it was important to this book, which I appreciated.
Here's a summation of the first two books: (view spoiler)[Now, back to what I was saying after that tangent. We start this book with two soild romances under our belt and a pretty firm idea that this book will concentrate on another -- Cormac and Liam -- the very much alive ancestor and vampire to Simon and Gray's beta of the High Moon Pack. We know that Simon started this story by rescuing a group of wolf cubs from a demon that was working with his own mage teacher who was stealing his magic, and that by rescuing the cubs he made himself friend to the wolf pack and mate to their alpha, Gray. In the second book, Body Magic, we go further and learn that there is a man with unimaginable power who was directing both those people (for lack of a better word) and that they're in even more dire straits than before. In this book, you'll learn exactly who that person is and what threat they possess. The clues are all there are the start of the book and I bet some of you have already guessed the direction this book is going, in fact may have already guessed who that person is who attacked the pack during the mating ceremony in the second book (hint: you'll get there eventually, knowing that Cormac is the focus of this last book). (hide spoiler)]
But really, even though we get to know Cade and Rocky better in Body Magic and Cormac and Liam better in this book, the main star of this series is Simon, and beside him Gray and their family and pack. But Simon's magic and his exploration of his powers remains the main thread of this story that draws all the others together. I want to mention, at this point, that the setup of this series really pleased me and is something that I'm not sure I've seen very much in the past. I was originally a bit upset at the start of the second book, thinking that we were leaving Simon and Gray behind and moving to a new couple when their story wasn't really finished. But, what Poppy has done with the series is make Simon and Gray the main couple, and even though she introduces new characters and their romances in each book (including their own chapters) she never abandoned that first couple. I really loved that, not only because Simon and Gray and even Gray's son and the alpha-heir Garon were why I originally fell in love with the story, but because Simon's importance to the series means that he can't be abandoned. He's the star.
Now I'm going to go back on my word :)
I think some analysis of the series as a whole is due here. I want to describe why I think I fell in love with this series at the first book and just why it has remained with me. In past, I've equated my intense connection and love of a story with it's length. The more time I spend with the characters, the more I get to know them and the bigger the world is, the more detailed, the more I'm drawn into it and the less I want to leave. That didn't happen here. I was immediately drawn into this world -- three books, which in the fantasy world are rather short novels. And I think, now that I've finished all of them, I know why. There is a clarity of purpose in the writing and a lack of verbosity to get the author's point across. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it's in planning. But the world is brought through the characters and their love of it. There's very little detail, compared to those others I'm so used to becoming engrossed in, of the world. And there is also, I must point out, what I felt to be perfect pacing. That is what really brought the story through for me. You can't say that it is necessarily action-packed, but you can say that there aren't any needless words. The story is succinct, to the point, and there is a somewhat heavy emphasis on the non-romance plot as opposed to the romance-centered plot, which nevertheless felt quite balanced to me because those characters and their relationships came across to me so clearly.
I hope that come across in the way I intended, and I'd absolutely LOVE to hear from those of you who are fans of this series and how you feel about it, now and after you've read the third book.
Now, I've rambled enough. But I do want to take one last minute to urge those of you who are new to this author or series to take a chance on these books. I can't tell you that you'll love them the way I do, but I do think you'll enjoy them.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Re-Read on 4.30.13 - My current rating stands, but man I love this book! And Simon and Gray, and Garon of course :) I can't believe I accidentally re-Re-Read on 4.30.13 - My current rating stands, but man I love this book! And Simon and Gray, and Garon of course :) I can't believe I accidentally re-read this book for the first time directly one year after I first read it :)
Wow, I soared through this book in just a couple hours, all because I couldn't put it down! I don't usually have that problem (problem? that's not really a problem!), because I tend to put books away for a while for a break to read something else for a while before coming back to them. Mind Magic caught me and didn't let go -- most likely because though I've read stories that have just as good of a plot, or even better, the pacing here is really great. There was always something driving the story and all facets of the story (the mystery, the magic and worldbuilding, and the relationship) kept me really interested.
This definitely seems as if it is the first of a series, and my rating is going on that because it seems so obvious by the end of the story. I mean, the story is wide open and it feels like the biggest challenges have yet to come. I'm excited about that, because if this is the first of a series it seems like it is off to the right start. We aren't given too much information. In fact, we learn bits and pieces as the story goes along (always nice to have to work with the story instead of being given all the information for free), and not too much is revealed in total in this book, meaning that any future stories will have lots of room to grow. I'm particularly interested in Cormac. Not only do I want to hear all about his history and life (from him), but I'd love to see how his relationship with Simon grows. Grey is the perfect Alpha in these types of stories. Strong and somewhat silent (don't want him completely removed), a good and kind leader, a natural leader in the bedroom as well but not domineering, and hot as hell with all that grey hair on a young man. Plus, seeing a man like that bond with his son is just heart-meltingly cute. Garon was cute as hell!
So yeah, I really loved this one and had a blast reading it, though I feel like the author kept the story close to the vest. If that's for future stories, then awesome, if not... then well that would suck, plus totally refute a lot of what I've written here. Still, the story was written in such a way that it seems like there has to be more, so I'm just going to go with that :)...more
I got this book for review on a whim, and I am so happy that I did because it completely took over my life yesterReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I got this book for review on a whim, and I am so happy that I did because it completely took over my life yesterday. I started reading it in the early morning and I couldn't put it down -- I read all day. And to be honest I was a little worried after I requested it because I had previously read a book by John Tristan that I DNF'ed and I think it might have been his first book. I just couldn't get into the writing and I kinda liked it but also didn't. So I couldn't believe that I had none of the same issues with this book that I did with that earlier book. And if this author keeps writing books like this then I'll definitely stick around and keep reading!
When his father dies with a multitude of debts, Etan is forced to sell his home and all his belongings and travel to the capital city of Kered to look for work. His only skills are his ability to read and write, and while those are rare abilities for a country boy, with no money to garner an apprenticeship, his only choice is manual labor, something he's unable to do because of a sickness as a child that stunted his growth. He's pale and petite, and saved by a man in a rickshaw when beaten in the street. The man offers to send him to a place to stay, where he learns after a few days is a home for indentured servants. His only option thereafter is to sign away his rights and work for this man in trade for a place to stay and food to eat.
When the man sees Etan without bruises and washes he almost doesn't recognize him, but he has an even better idea of work for him. Etan is introduced to Roberd Tallisk, a tattoo artist whose patron is the head of the Council, run by the Blooded, the ruling class of Kered society who possess magic believed descended from the gods themselves. There, Etan's slave bond is bartered between the two men when Tallisk agrees to take Etan on as his new work of art, an Adorned. The Adorned have always mystified those of the lower classes. They're those of beauty who are tattooed by master tattoo artists with enchanted ink to become living works of art for the pleasure of the Blooded. Their art is not allowed to be seen by those who aren't Blooded or the artist. And no one else but the tattoo artists are allowed to wear ink.
Etan's new life seems wonderful and exciting. He's protected now for life with gifts of riches from patrons and by the ink he wears on his skin. But there is also an aspect of being Adorned that he never expected. He soon learns the hard price to pay when he starts to mingle with the elite of Keren society and exactly what they expect from him. And he finds himself a pawn, a sort of Mata Hari in the political play between two warring factions for the future of the Keren society.
There are two things that I love most about this story and they go behind the tattoo art (which is super cool) and a lot of the other little details that made this story come alive for me. First is the epic quality of the story. We really get to see Etan's life played out over a lot of major changes in his life that also herald major changes for the whole world. We meet Etan when he's young, still living at home with his father and before he's had to completely depend on himself and we get to see how he changes over time. I typically prefer characters who are alive, present and very decisive about their lives in fiction, especially in fantasy worlds. Etan is alive and present, certainly, but he's also like a piece of detritus in a massive current once he makes it to the city. He's buffered on all sides by those making choices for him. I can't see him acting any other way certainly, as someone who has very little choices, but he's also very internal and cautious. I didn't see those parts of his personality changing until much later because it was such a slow change, but Etan grows as the world changes around him and as he needs to take more of his own care for himself.
The second thing I really loved was the cast of characters. We meet a multitude of secondary characters, most of whom are a good sort, and a faction of those who are good people who make some bad choices. As the world in the story changes, it reveals the best and worst of the characters and each of them are made to understand their regrets, in particular Isadel and Lord Haqan Loren. All of them, however, are well rounded characters that we get to know rather well. And this was done sometimes in a rather subtle fashion. The writing requires the reader to be present and active in piecing the world together and in drawing connections, and I can't tell you how often I find myself wishing for writing like that.
You might not find this story to be perfect, or it might not impact you as much as it did me. Part of how you feel about it, in the end, will depend on what you like most in your romance books. The relationship between Etan and Tallisk is very slow to build and it takes almost the full length of the novel for the two to really come together. The bulk of the story is rather Etan's journey and finding himself, someone who still feels like a country boy, realizing that he's a good person with heart amid vultures who would pick at him until there's nothing left. He has to realize what he really wants out of life, if it is security or love and if those things are separate.
I finished the book wanting more, sad that the story ended and hoping there was a way a sequel could be written, lol. I don't think that's really possible. But I know now that I'll definitely keep my eye on book by John Tristan and I hope that it isn't too long from now that I find another book that I get so lost in....more
I have to admit, I somehow had this idea that I wasn't very impressed with this author. I'm not sure why, but wheReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have to admit, I somehow had this idea that I wasn't very impressed with this author. I'm not sure why, but when I decided to read and review this book, I decided to disregard that and read it anyway, purely by the outstanding blurb, only to realize now that I've only ever read one short story by this author in the past. And, while that story didn't stick with me, I have no idea why I had the idea that this was a so so author for me. This book blew me away in so many ways, that no matter what, I'll always give this author the benefit of the doubt from now on. I loved it so much, I could barely put it down and had to stop myself from starting it again as soon as I'd finished -- and I rarely re-read a book. I have to have really loved it.
The story is set around the life of Brute, a hulking man whose life is an amalgamation of all the hurt and shame a society can accumulate and put upon one person. Set in a fairy tale world, Brute faces the misery of society every day, just by doing his job as a laborer and bearing the brunt of his town's misery. Yet faced with a past full of abuse and abandonment, and living in a world where he's continually degraded, Brute remains mostly unaffected. Though he understands how the town feels about him, he's faced with it every day, he has a pure moral compass that far surpasses any sort of negativity or revenge. When a visiting prince of the realm has an accident, Brute is the one who rushes to save him.
The prince's accident has many ramifications, not only to Brute himself, but to his life and future in the town. As a reward, the prince offers Brute a job and pay at the palace, if ever he decides to visit. And now, with his situation in the town changed and his prospects few, Brute has no choice but to venture to the capital. The choice is fortuitous, because when Brute takes up the job the prince finds for him as a jailor, he finds that the man he guards has a past of his own. And while they may seem to have many differences, they're both on the outside of society.
This book, and Brute himself, is so absolutely charming that I almost can't get through this review. Rarely do I end up writing a review, even for a book I love, where I keep thinking about moments in the book and wanting to talk to you about them, to share them. It has only happened a few times this year, in fact. It's such a great thing to find a book like that, that affects you and you love so much. It reaffirms why we read and what we get from it. Why it's important. Brute is a character that is bigger than life, and will always remain close to my heart. Like Gray says, "Y-you’re a giant because an ordinary man’s body is t- too small for what you are.”
Underneath all of that, Brute, his charm and the charm of this book, there is actually a lot about this book that is superbly well done. The world created casts a perfect balance to show the good and bad in their society and uses Brute as a catalyst, for good or bad, however each person reacts to him. In a similar way, the tone of this book is perfect because it doesn't lose the magical quality a fairy tale gives but it also shows a harsh reality for a story set in such a world. The setting is very evocative of this in the disparity between rich and poor and the people and the choices they make and which of those factions they belong to -- all seen through Brute's eyes, which are startlingly unbiased. And finally, the ending casts a very fine balance between feeling perfectly wrapped up, but not trite. The characters seem to choose their own direction, without being forced to take part in any sort of catharsis -- some in ignorance and others evolving.
So, I haven't really raved about many books lately, but I can't help it with this one. I think everyone should read this book. And when you do, please let me know!. I want to be able to talk about it with all of you!...more
**Beware! Some spoilers for those who haven't read the first book**
Earlier this year I picked up a book on a whim by an author I'd never read before. I ended up absolutely charmed by the book that just seemed to have something special that made it rise above its few flaws. In looking at it, it was hard to pinpoint exactly what made it special. Though there are elements unique to the story, in general, it is a plot that we're familiar with. Still, I absolutely adored Mind Magic by Poppy Dennison. At the time, I didn't know that there might be a series planned, so I was frustrated with the things left open ended. This is now the second book of what will be three and I'm very pleased that my wait was rewarded with another book that I could really enjoy.
Based on the three types of magic in this world, Body Magic continues where Mind Magic left off. Simon the mage is newly mated to Gray, the alpha of the High Moon Pack. Under Gray's leadership they are a progressive pack, flouting tradition and breaking the rules when they see the need for it. They've done this in a big way by the mating of Gray and Simon. Not only is mating between different magics taboo, but simple contact between them is severely frowned upon. But Simon has shown himself to be a rather unique mage, as well as an ever increasingly powerful one after he was almost killed by his old tutor at the end of the first book and his grandfather Cormac (who really deserves a book of his own!) killed the tutor, sending all of that power back into Simon. Now the two are working on getting Simon in shape for his 25th birthday, the secret ritual that will bring Simon out of his apprenticeship and into his full power. In addition, Simon and Gray are feeling out what being a family is like, and Gray's son Garon, the alpha heir, has a lot to do with that with his big personality and his secret of having more than one kind of magic, a rarity among shifters.
Besides the continuation of the romance between Gray and Simon, in this book we get to know Cade and Rocky much better. Cade is the alpha best friend and handyman around the pack. He's fiercely loyal after finding a family in the pack as the only man of color and never being treated differently as he would in other packs. Even though he doesn't trust Rocky, the wolf from another pack that has been brought in to shore up their security systems, he finds that he's starting to have feelings for him. Likewise, Rocky is a secret omega, caught up in the self-repetitive cycle of hate and shame that makes him a lapdog for his alpha, who is the only one that knows the real objective Rocky has while visiting the High Moon Pack -- reconnaissance. His own alpha is looking for information he can use to bring down Alpha Gray and bring the disgraceful and shameful pack that is flouting were rule to its knees under his own new leadership.
When the mysterious attacks on were start again, the new pack is on high alert. They'll have to make sure their cubs on extra safe this time around, after they were kidnapped the first time and almost completely drained of their magic. And even though they are a little more prepared this time around, they still to little about what they're up against.
This sequel had that same something special I was hoping for that I loved about the first book. It is a little more subdued than the first book, which in setting up the whole story had more action. In that sense, this book definitely seems like a typical middle book of a trilogy, though I didn't find it to be less than in any way as I have found some other middle books. Much of the story is dedicated to the growing relationship between Cade and Rocky, who definitely have a rocky time of it that's for sure, as well as Simon's fear of committing his life to a mate and family after so little time knowing Gray. This was, perhaps, my favorite part of this book. Not only do I adore Simon, but seeing him with Garon is always a treat because the little boy has so much personality. There's a development in the book that I won't reveal in regards to their family that I also absolutely loved. I really love Cade as a character -- he's naturally lovable because he's fiercely loyal and kind. Rocky is different. I still feel pretty neutral regarding him, though his journey throughout the story is perhaps one of the biggest parts of this book. He's a conflicted character. His need to belong has made him accept the horrible treatment he's received at the hands of his alpha and pack. He's confused by this new pack that doesn't seem to follow the rules and I think that uncertainly and fear of the slim hopes he might have that this pack really could be his salvation, is what makes him outwardly hate some of the decisions they've made, most especially the union between Gray and Simon. Seeing him change and seek redemption, buoyed by his relationship with Cade, was nice, but I will enjoy seeing him grow and hopefully be less duplicitous in the next book.
I love that the author made the choice to both introduce a new romance in each book and continue the ones from before. The characters are all so close, that simply revisiting the past couples wouldn't work, and having them be fully integrated into the book really makes sense, as well as the fact that their stories really aren't over. Technically, all three books could simply be about Gray and Simon, they have enough going on for it, but I tend to really like books with multiple romances, so this really worked for me.
I admit that I'm a bit sad there is only one book left. I'm also curious as to who the couple will be, unless Poppy surprises us all and doesn't have a new romance, just the previous couples. I could live with that, but I confess that of all the characters I still want to get to know better, Cormac really deserves some loving of his own. If she gives me more of Cormac and more of the family time I love so much, I will love the last book which by the title alone intrigues me with thoughts of what it could be about (it will have to be called Soul Magic right?). Oh, well I suppose she'll have to wrap up the mystery they're trying to solve as well ;) Nevertheless, I'm not worried because I really have enjoyed both of these books so much, I'm simply hoping that there isn't too much time in between that I'll have to wait, twiddling my thumbs....more
Alrighty, I'm finally getting around to reviewing this one. I'm not sure why I waited... I know that part of it, for sure, is the fact that I read upAlrighty, I'm finally getting around to reviewing this one. I'm not sure why I waited... I know that part of it, for sure, is the fact that I read up into the wee hours finishing this one because I couldn't put it down. Also, I think I needed to sit with this story a while before I let it go by writing the review. So I decided that, no matter, I'm definitely buying the paperback when it is released so that I can continue to enjoy it.
There are so many wonderful aspects of this story that I just can't do them justice with a review. As always Jordan's writing just... it just, I don't know it feels like it slams right into me and I just get it, you know? I feel like her writing always takes hold of me right away and it carries me through everything, but enlightening everything along the way. Her prose is so crafty that she really manipulates it to bring across whatever she needs to. This is something that is definitely hard to describe, but I challenge anyone who hasn't read anything she's written to give anything of hers a try and you'll see what I mean. This is an inelegant way to say what I mean, but then again it is something that you really have to read and understand for yourself.
There's also something really magical (hah) about the fact that this was written as a serial, and as such not only is completely perfect for the story and the way it is set up (as a reality show) but also allows the reader to really savor and stretch out this wonderful story for however long they want. I miss being able to vote since I did not read this on her newsletter like some, but I'm also happy that I was able to devour it in one sitting.
Some of these characters are SO FUNNY, I just can't describe it. I love Jordan's characters (from Vic to Charity and Oscar), because they're always quirky and grounded in some way, be it reality, satire, archetype and this story really profiles the characters she comes up with because of the huge cast. She's written before that this story was a labor of love in some ways and I can definitely see that this was a story that just needed out of her. She's really wowed me with this one and made me fall in love with her all over again.
I usually try not to sound like a fanboy (well, girl, lol) but this story deserves it :) I'm excited to read it again as soon as I get my paperback copy!...more
I was super excited to read this spinoff of Spirit Sanguine, which I really loved, because I really felt like I lReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was super excited to read this spinoff of Spirit Sanguine, which I really loved, because I really felt like I liked Denton a lot in that book. He's really funny and he's a natural to have his own book, with the fact that he can see ghosts and all, or at least, the remnants of death. And I really did enjoy it. I think that I ended up feeling quite different about it than Spirit Sanguine, no matter how much I enjoyed it and not relating to the fact that it is essentially different than that book. I'll get to why in a bit, but most if it has to deal with the way that the story is told.
We first met Denton Mills in Spirit Sanguine, a book that was all about a different type of vampires. In a way, I feel like the viewpoint of vampires from that book (as Lou Harper has called "the Byronic portrayal of vampires—you know, dark and brooding, woe is me…") is somewhat related to how Denton feels about them. He's another type of paranormal entity in a city filled with them (Chicago), but where he sees them as other, he's just like a regular guy with a gift, or a curse. They try to stay away from one another for the most part, probably as it is thought of in Spirit Sanguine because of the death that surrounds vampires. Our picture of him in that book is separate from and quite lonely, though with a quick wit and acerbically funny facade.
Dead Man… shows Denton's world, and while they're mostly the same the focus is different. The vampires are quite separate from his daily life (except when he thinks about Gabe and the crush he had). But he's still quite lonely. He has a hard time relating to people, especially those who don't know his secret. But when staying in his best friend Joy's apartment, he finally starts to learn about his gift and the wider world of witches and necromancy -- all because of the hot guy next door (who might also be a serial killer) and the man's cat, Murry.
This book is enjoyable for itself, even if you haven't read Spirit Sanguine. But if you have read that book, then I think you'll enjoy this one as well because in writing style they're similar in many ways. Denton is really funny and just in the first chapter or so and especially with his interactions with the cat, I was totally hooked. I think that is what made the book enjoyable for me, mostly Denton's interaction with his surroundings and with Bran. They make a really great pair, but the real joy of reading the book comes from Denton's voice. That said, I think that you really have to enjoy that for the book to be a total winner for you. Because while I enjoyed their paranormal investigative efforts together I also felt like they were quiet small mysteries that didn't go nearly as in depth as I would have wished. And that's fine, because I know that their story isn't finished and Lou has plans for more for this couple. But it does mean that I ended this book feeling less of a connection between the two than in many of Lou's other books. On the other hand, that makes me even more excited for the sequel, because I'm interested in where this couple will go. And, of course, I love Denton :)
So I wholeheartedly recommend this one, just for the joy of reading it. It's a fun book, and not long, so you can enjoy it in a day or one sitting when you need a little pick-me-up, a little humor and some really good writing. Now that I've read almost all of her backlist, I can see that Lou has written some of the best characters in the m/m romance genre. Perhaps its that I find my reading preferences and her writing style mesh really well, but I think that Denton highlights what I really love about Lou's characters, which is that they're smart, funny and perceptive. And that they always have a different and unique way of looking at the world. I can't say more than that....more
I really have grown to love Isabella Carter's books. So I was really excited for this one, which not only promiseReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I really have grown to love Isabella Carter's books. So I was really excited for this one, which not only promises to be an in-depth story because it's the first of a series, but also that I know she likes to really dig into her fantasy worlds. In many ways you can see that this book is a setup, but if you didn't know it was the first book of a series, I think you'd find that it felt like a whole book. It isn't just setup, but it does a really good job of giving us the story and leaving the ending open. So yes, it's important to know that this is the first of a series so that even though you get some resolution, you won't be surprised that there is a bit of a cliffhanger ending.
Ingram has become the weakling that his father has always accused him of being. Though he's learned that nothing he does can make his father -- the king of Abelen -- proud, he's found his own strengths. They aren't in what a prince is expected to be, strong at swordplay, but he has a fine mind and has shown himself to be an expert strategist with the King's miliary.
Abelen is still growing and recovering from a rebellion little more than twenty years previously. The country and King has become more insular, with the Lords abandoning their keeps to spend most of their time in the capital of Solberg. The royals have grown further apart from their people. But, an old feud lingers from Winterveil, the northernmost region of Abelen. Lord Mallory is a young man, but has inherited the feud. He makes a wager with King Roderick, that if he kills the red dragon who has gone into madness and is killing indiscriminately, that he will wed one of the King's children. When he brings the head of the dragon to court and Roderick casually gives him Ingram, Ingram is hurt and scared to be thrown away to such a dangerous man.
But more is work in such an alliance, on both sides. The King gives Ingram a mission, one that finds him at an impasse when he learns just how wonderful Mallory is, and how much living in a place like Winterveil is more like home than his own family.
There is so much that I could say about this book, but it really should be experienced while reading it and… honestly there is so much going on in the book, so many characters with each one having their own machinations in place that it was a little hard for me to keep up. This is a book that does well as the first of a series -- it holds up. Still, for those of you who like to get a lot of the action and information at once and don't want to wait for the sequel, you might want to do that this time. Because while I really loved this book and I was totally sucked into it, I also feel like there is a lot of subtlety that will benefit from a second or even third read and will also make more sense after I can read the next book in the series. Hopefully, that will be soon!
I know a lot of you who are fans of Less Than Three Press like I am, and this is really their kind of book, the quintessential LT3 fantasy, though maybe a little less sweet than many of them. Ingram goes through quite a bit of angst about his relationship with his father. It's tough to watch, not only because I grew to care about him, but also because it makes for difficult reading at times. I want him to realize what is happening to him. But we're privy to information that he isn't, and he also has to deal with a lifetime of manipulation by the people around him, the people he cares most about. So, while his choices and thoughts are frustrating, they're also true to his character.
There's one more point I'd like to touch on. The relationship between Ingram and Mallory in this book is very light. I imagine that the relationship arc is going to take place over the whole series, so don't expect much romance in this first book. Mallory does court Ingram, in his own way, but it's a very slow getting-to-know-you kind of thing. It's actually very sweet, and it's a very slow-burn romance.
So, I definitely recommend this one. Unless you want to wait, I say go ahead and get this now and read it. I'm so glad I didn't wait and decided to read it right away, because it was a really fun read for me....more
New York City Detective Gregory (or the artfully named Artemis) is woken in the nReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
A Good and Interesting 3.5 stars
New York City Detective Gregory (or the artfully named Artemis) is woken in the night to the news that another young gay man has been found dead, with no easily seen cause of death and mysterious scratches on his legs. Like some of the others they've found, intriguingly on the full moon every month, this victim has a tattoo of a phoenix, which the detective and his partner Rachel soon learn is artwork tied to a band that is newly popular in the United States and planning to play that week in the city. The first interview with Talis, the charismatic lead singer brings extreme lust and confusion for Artemis, and the feeling that while he can't keep his mind off of the sexy, enigmatic rock star, he's also most likely the killer.
I admit that the early part of this novella gave me pause because most of the "secret" information (who Talis really is and who the killer is) is revealed within about the first ten percent of the story. I wondered where the author would take this story that suddenly seemed to be about something very different than I thought it was. Ultimately, I was mostly pleased with that direction. I think that some readers should be cautioned though, that you aren't getting a mystery or police procedural, or anything to that affect. While there might be a bit of detective work in the very beginning, the story then suddenly takes a different turn. Later, this all makes complete sense, but I would probably be disappointed had that been what I was looking for, a paranormal police story, which was something that I had gleaned might be the focus from the blurb.
The real character that comes across is Artemis. Sure, Talis immediately grabs you when he's on the page, but he's flashy like that. Everyone loves him, he has a inward power that attracts people and subtly manipulates him -- something that Artemis seems to understand from the moment he meets him. I liked this about Artemis the most. He's very obviously one of the most affected by Talis, because all of the singer's attention is focused onto the detective, but at the same him, he's allowed himself to compartmentalize his life and emotions over the years. Artemis isn't broken, but he's become numb. His passion is in finding justice, which he's pursued through becoming a cop and detective, but that profession has also hollowed him out from the inside. The cycle continues, like self-flagellation and as an escape at the same time. When you add a previous broken heart to the mix, Artemis is a shadow of himself, all seen in how he reacts, over time, to the presence and vitality of Talin. I won't tell you much about Talin himself. Even though a few things were obvious from the beginning, I still liked seeing this for myself. Still, Talin's character is best described and understood through the reactions and feelings of those around him, especially Artemis.
The name Artemis immediately had me fitting connections together in my mind with the mythical Greek goddess, but I never really found much specific connection, so that may not have been the author's intent -- though I did wonder who named him in this novella, since he's adopted.
I think that suspension of disbelief is important here. I don't normally have a problem with that in a story that is either fantasy or paranormal, but there are then another set of parameters that must be worked in, and I fluctuated a few times about this, especially near the end where some of the behavior of the cops didn't seem very authentic to me. It seemed as if the story ended a bit too nicely for my taste. Still, it ultimately works within the rules the story has created and the tone is similar throughout, so that if I had been granted the behavior from those cops that I had wanted, it wouldn't have fit into the story. So while the ending may have been a bit nice and easy for me, I was okay with it and I can't fault the author -- it is simply a different style, one that I'm sure many readers will like.
I'm actually really interested in what is in the future for this couple, but I doubt there is a sequel in order here. While I can't ever speak for the author, a sequel would be a completely different story. That doesn't stop me from wondering though, and a darker, or more involved and longer novel after this would be fascinating to me. This is an author that I like and am always eager to read when he releases new books and I definitely enjoyed this one. I'll give it a Pretty Good rating....more
I'm sad to say that this book was a bit of a let down for me, after loving the series so much previously. I had a problem with the couple, Jamie and KI'm sad to say that this book was a bit of a let down for me, after loving the series so much previously. I had a problem with the couple, Jamie and Kelly. Stubborn characters that don't communicate might frustrate me, but when I feel like the lack of communication and the head-to-head stubbornness of the two MCs are one of the devices most prevalent to push the plot forward, that does bother me. For me, it is a bit like reaching the end of a story and finding out the whole thing was a dream, it just feels like I've been cheated a bit, forced to go through the emotions and angst as an omniscient observer, completely frustrated by what would be such a simple thing to fix. Not only did this happen within the progressing relationship, but also in the mystery sub-plot. All of the characters seemed to have information that the others needed to know, yet they'd put it off. While I'm not sure that any of those delays would have actually changed the progress of the story, they still frustrated me at the time.
Otherwise, I still did like this story, just not the same as the two previous books. I loved Kelly in the second book and I was so happy to get his story this time around. I also loved Jamie, and even though is Hero-complex and mother hen-ing make me roll my eyes. It is nice that we get so much of Sei and Gabe in this book, as I'll always be huge fans of their relationship. I liked trying to puzzle out Con, who turned out to be quite intriguing and a character that I'll look forward to in future books.
The mystery and the outcome of the plot to trap the foursome at the lodge underwhelmed me a bit, but then again, I might change my mind if I read this book back to back with the previous two. I probably missed a few details here and there as well. When I started this book I could barely remember anything about books one and two, even though I remembered loving them so much, but most all of it came back pretty quickly.
I'm still a big fan of this series, and I'm especially excited about the upcoming book #4, which will return us to Sei and Gabe! I can't wait for that one, and the subsequent books in the series :)...more
There is a real benefit to reading the books later in a series, besides having morReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
4.75 stars (allllmost perfect!)
There is a real benefit to reading the books later in a series, besides having more information at the reader's disposal. For the most part, each of these books are tied together by world only, the lands of each book separated by country, culture, and geography. Each book has a whole new set of characters. With these later books that means that the newly restored gods from previous books can make a timely reappearance. The best part about this novel, however, and the reason that I've been looking forward to this book about Verde the most, is because of the one character, who more than any other, has made appearances in most of the books. Poison, like several of the previous books, revolves around more than one central romance, and of these is the character I've come to love most of all of them, Ailill.
In the 900 years since the fall of the gods, Verde has had 9 times to get it right. Every 100 years the White Beasts, the Voice, and the Triad come together to recreate the Ceremony to hopefully restore the power of the gods in their avatars. Each time they convene under the Oak, something goes wrong, ending in the deaths of the Triad, the Pegasus, the Unicorn, and the Faerie Queen. Suspiciously, there are no records kept about the days leading up to the Ceremony from years past, so when things start to go very wrong time time around, no one has any clue what to do about it. Three of their neighboring countries have successfully restored their gods, but with Verde falling apart and the people of the country reverting to their animal nature in a savage state of anarchy, there seems to be no hope that Verde could finally see the same hopeful restoration of their own.
I have been enjoying this series, but because of the nature of the stories -- that they're all so inherently different from the others -- I have enjoyed them in different ways and some more than others. Poison already had one thing going for it, the return of Ailill. We first met Ailill in Treasure, but only for a very brief time. We get to know him most in Burning Bright where he falls in love with Vasha, the leader of a band of mercs trying to protect the street thief and Vessel Raz. They parted ways at the end of that book, and we finally get to see the resolution of their romance in Poison. I love this couple, they are part of what made Burning Bright my favorite novel of this series. So to see them reunited here automatically made this book of my favorites.
We also meet Gael and his secret lover, the Voice. Gael is the only male of the Triad, the avatars of the three lost gods of Verde. He represents the Unicorn and is increasingly dissatisfied with the rigid tradition of their lineage. Reborn after every tragedy, the three migrate to one another in a love affair that Gael no longer wants part of. He no longer loves his sisters that way, though still he loves them as family, but the alliance between the three is the core strength of Verde. Much of that dissatisfaction is also due to his lover Noire, the Voice of the Triad. Gael is afraid that their secret affair will undermine their rule with his betrayal of his sisters and lovers, though his love for Noire.
Ailill is put to the test (along with Vasha, in a surprise visit) when each of the White Beasts (almost a council of sorts, each representing an animal of the shifters of Verde, whose minds literally keep the peace among their citizens) falls prey to a poison one by one in the months leading up to the Ceremony. As each White Beast falls, and Ailill waiting for his demise as the Jaguar, the country and those ruling in the palace start to fall into anarchy, each unable to trust the others. Megan Derr is so wonderful at writing in depth fantasy worlds, especially the subtle political machinations at court, that this is what really made the novel shine -- the suspicion and alternately, the trust among some and the betrayal among others. I don't think that I could find fault at all with the writing here and fans of this author will once again delight in this story. The only thing fans of the series will have to decide is if they like this book as much as the previous ones, and I have to say that next to Burning Bright, it was my favorite. As the series draws to a close (one book left -- Chaos), more information is available to the reader to put the events as a whole together, and that's where the real art of the writing lies. Each of these stories can be taken as a standalone novel (though this one in particular would be better served by reading Burning Bright first). However, very little information has been given to us outright about the actual fall of the gods 9 centuries in the past, and because of that we have very little information about the end of the overall plot arc of the series. And I cannot wait too see those fireworks!
This is really a series I would rather urge you to read rather than dissect myself (unless you have and want to talk about it!), and I think, overall, this is probably my favorite series by this author. Everyone knows that Megan Derr is one of my very favorite authors, and because of that, I love most of her work, so that is really saying something about the beauty of this series in particular. Each book offers a progression of the world, but a completely new and captivating reading experience. It is such a great way to engage readers, because with a series we love something that is different, but not too different. The format of these does that well....more
The writing is good overall, I just wish that more had happened. There really wasn't much of an original plot despite what potential there was. I likeThe writing is good overall, I just wish that more had happened. There really wasn't much of an original plot despite what potential there was. I liked the characters. I suppose my real complaint is just that it seemed like very little was happening, and that made the pace rather slow, especially for a short novella such as this....more
An'nanyle the dragon, the youngest of his kind, is sent on a mission by the Eldest dragon at the requestReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
An'nanyle the dragon, the youngest of his kind, is sent on a mission by the Eldest dragon at the request of the human King to find his third son Leon, who has gone missing after a trip to investigate strange happenings among the wolves. When he finds him, he hears a differing tale, after taking to Leon immediately. Leon is very pretty, you see, and Nyle wants him for his hoard -- a request Leon's wolf takes only too well. It is a strange match, a dragon and a wolf. For the most part, the two shifter species stay away from one another, but the romance is equally advantageous to both and certainly makes Nyle happy; Leon, who has been masquerading in the city as a whore has a lot he wants to teach Nyle about sex, especially when he learns that the dragons don't normally have sex at all and Nyle doesn't even understand what it is!
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. I had differing feelings at different parts of the story. At first, I wasn't much sure of it -- they jump into bed right away and Leon's wolf seems to mate pretty quickly, but then as more of the world unfolded and the two actually had a mission and a mystery to investigate I started to enjoy it much more and the mating part of the story was pretty understated. That leads to much more of a world-based story than a romance, because the coming together as a couple is out of the way pretty quickly and they then work as a solid team with no internal obstacles to their relationship. I would have preferred a little bit of more romance spread throughout the story, but I also got caught up in the story and the dragon's efforts to set right the kingdom.
I think that there were some issues here that might have bothered me more (esp. the quick romance) that I was able to overlook because of the tone of the story. It is lighthearted but not totally without serious content. I like that -- it reminded me a bit of the movie Ella Enchanted, which is a movie that deals with a serious subject in a totally oddball and sometimes ridiculously funny way. While not totally overstated like that movie, this story did have it's funny and quirky moments and the goofiness of Nyle (who can't stop staring at his pretty and talking about his hoard) gave me a few laughs. Leon, who doesn't share part in Nyles POV of the story, was less complete to me. Those few funny parts kept much of my interest during the story. I always like shifter stories where the characters, while in human form, show so much of their animal nature. Leon does that as well, but mores Nyle, who often acts like a typically mythical dragon would, obsessing over his hoard, sometimes acting a bit dense, and constantly envisioning his favorite pretty (Leon) dressed up in all his other pretties (his jewels). It makes for a often interesting point of view on the world around him, especially as there are rather serious things happening in the world, but Nyle has a different perspective. I can see that that was done very purposefully and it makes sense from the POV of Nyle.
The dragons, while definitely having similarities insofar as protecting their hoard and such go, are surprisingly different in personality, so I will be interested to see who the second story is about and if it will differ much from this story. I would like to see the story told in a different way. Maybe if the POV character has less of a one track mind (and not always to sex, lol) then there might be more time in the story for lulls between action and therefore more time for the central characters to get to know each other better over time, instead of right at the beginning. I think that was my biggest problem with the story, and might be a turnoff for many readers. The other was the ending, which I did feel left out quite a bit of what the story was building up to (hardly any of the action and no face-off with the enemy at all). It seemed over rather quickly with a few things unanswered, though hopefully that is because this is the first of a series.
Still, an enjoyable story that gave me a few laughs. I still really enjoy Mell Eight's writing. I first read her Cinderella-themed Fairy Tale story as part of Less Than Three Press' serials and enjoyed it quite a bit. I'll be looking forward to whatever she publishes in the future....more
Such a wonderful story for my prompt earlier this year, I've been looking forward to it! I just read it, so I'll have my review up on 8/17 at The ArmcSuch a wonderful story for my prompt earlier this year, I've been looking forward to it! I just read it, so I'll have my review up on 8/17 at The Armchair Reader....more
I really loved this -- it completely swept me away. This morning I was looking for a fantasy story, light on sex that wasn't too dark but wasn't fluffI really loved this -- it completely swept me away. This morning I was looking for a fantasy story, light on sex that wasn't too dark but wasn't fluffy. I needed something that would take me away and that I could really, really get into. And this book was perfect. Not only did I adore the characters, happy with the balance between lighthearted and serious moments and was excited by the world building, but I was really delighted by the writing. This is the first book I've read by James Erich, but I'll definitely be reading the others. And I intend to start the second book immediately! What is so beautiful about this book is how well it is constructed, not only as a complete novel, but especially as the start to a series. I finished the book with more questions than when I started, not upset but totally eager to find out the answers in the next book.
Wow, it was really nice reading a story from Ms. Rhodes again! It was such a happy surprise for me to sReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Wow, it was really nice reading a story from Ms. Rhodes again! It was such a happy surprise for me to see this book come out, and not only was I happy to see a new book, no matter which one it was (really!), I was even more excited that it was a witchy one. I don't know what it is, but I can't help but devour every male witch story in m/m that I can find. Maybe it's because I'm such a Potter lover? Not sure, but when I went into a slump last week and couldn't figure out what to read, I opened this book.
Emrys is a witch and lives in Salem, Massachusetts. His family dates back to beginnings of the town and though most of the town is now non-magickal and makes light of their history, Emry's family and a select few others know the truth and hide their secrets well. Emrys loves magick, he just can't do it very well. He's the runt of the family in that way -- all his siblings are rather adept, as well as his parents.
Emrys has to watch himself well, especially when he's drunk, or emotional in any way. He tends to just start tingling all over and then who knows what will happen? He's learned his the hard way over his childhood, but the lessons never seem to stop coming. Drunk at a football game with his friend, Emrys makes a mistake that will set his romantic life in forward motion. When he sees the new kid at the school, who swept in and took the quarterback's spot to lead their team to the first victory in a long time, making him the hero of their school -- he literally swoons. He's never felt such a powerful attraction. So when the gorgeous quarterback passes by him on the shoulders of his teammates, Emrys just wants to touch him (remember, he's drunk). And when the power of his attraction seems to draw the other boy's gaze and brings a smile to his face, his power lets loose, tripping the group and ultimately injuring the boy, David, and taking him out for the rest of the season.
Emry's feelings don't change after that. It doesn't matter how sorry he is, how mortified he is… He ruined everyone's hopes and hurt David in the process. It's his secret how it happened though, known only to his sister Morgan who saw it and thankfully, didn't tell on him to his family. Years later, at their graduation, Emrys notices that David doesn't seem himself. Of course, he doesn't know David at all, not really, but he's watched him from afar their whole high school years and come to know him in a way. David is down, really down and something seems terribly wrong. He's the last person that Emry's expects to run into at a party that night (or down the street from one), while trying to fulfill a dare to enter the town's haunted house. The misuse, or misfiring, of his magic once again makes a scene, but David doesn't react the way Emrys expects, and their night of getting to know each other once and for all surprises him in more ways than he could ever expect.
He doesn't expect that David could ever have feelings for a geek like him, nor that David's life might not be the one of popularity and glory that he sees it as. But the revelations shared between them that night change their lives in unexpected ways.
First off, I'm going to get this out of the way before I even try to have a serious critique of this story -- GODDAMN that was hot! ML Rhodes is one of my top authors for writing the sexiest scenes and this didn't disappoint. Remember that scene in True of Heart in the cave? OMG! Yeah, she can really write the hot stuff. Emrys and David have an immediate connection, on purpose (more on that later), that really comes through sexually.
In many ways, this is just such a feel good read, and that's something that definitely draws readers. It's not fluffy, but it is light without sacrificing darker issues or scenes. Part of that comes from the connection between Emrys and David. Of course, we never expect a story to end in anything less than an HEA and we usually know beforehand if that's the case. So there's always a sense of security there for a happy ending. More than this, the "mating books" and the reason why I think readers find shifter books so popular is that there is an added layer of security there. We know when we're reading a classic shifter book that the characters won't consider hurting the other in any way because they're feelings are almost magical in power. Of course some readers don't like that, but that's what makes that style and type of book more in line with a certain type of fluff, and we often find fluffy books about shifters. This story takes that "mating" type connection and plays with it a little. I won't describe why because much of the realization of their connection comes to Emrys later in the book. Suffice it to say, the relationship is based on a type of security that the characters are meant for one another on a cosmic scale, and that comes across throughout the story and through their emotional and sexual connection.
I was really happy to see that Ms. Rhodes didn't rely on any typical format in structuring the story. It is a second chances type story, but their time apart bisects this book almost cleanly in half with a space of three years. That might throw some readers off as they're rounding the halfway-point, but I didn't mind. And really, besides the fact that this was ultimately just a cute, sweet, easy story to read, it was really nice to see another work published by this author. I know that readers have been waiting patiently (or some impatiently by now!) for more of the Draegon Lords, but I enjoy pretty much everything this author writes, and it was nice to see an addition of her's to the writing released in 2012....more
I was happy to see that Megan Derr had written a short story in the world of Wick, which I really enjoyeReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I was happy to see that Megan Derr had written a short story in the world of Wick, which I really enjoyed when I read it. This story is familiar, with all the same characters making their presence and a similar storyline: a slowly working killing curse which needs to be reversed by finding the thief of a powerful ring belonging to the royal family.
Starwick is a frostwick. A wick is a magic user, and Starwick (so titled because of his abilities) has the power to manipulate water, with the specific emphasis on it's frozen states. He's also a Shadow, a mysterious hand of the King of Lyus who carries out his duties -- however sinister they may be. The job, as well as his past at the academy with the brothers Creawick and Tokiwick (which we met in the original book), have left him a shell of what he used to be, barely liking who he has become to survive in life. On a job with the crown prince of Lyus, a powerful charmwick sets a curse upon the crown prince in order to steal the his ring, and Starwick takes the curse instead, saving the prince's life. Now, he's in an even more special kind of hell, as he once again has to suffer the close proximity of the one he loves, who in turn hates him. Tyrwick, a swordwick (magic and warrior combination) is the oldest prince to the King, but a bastard, and known well for his cold, honest, and harsh demeanor. The two will have to venture through the winter to the kingdom of Draius to find him, hopefully before the curse kills Starwick.
This is very much in line with the first group of stories, where we met the first four couples. In fact, this could have easily been in that compilation, only my feeling of meeting old friends in the way they're introduced made it feel like a sequel. I would recommend that readers read Wick first however, because much of the way the world and magic works is explained in that book, not to mention most of the secondary cast in this story. If you read this without that knowledge, you'd miss most of the interpersonal relationships between all of them, many of which mean a great deal to this story, especially the past animosity between Creawick and Tokiwick, and their relationships with Starwick.
The relationship here between Starwick and Tyrwick is okay, though the story is too short for more than a little bit of story and intrigue in the plot with the theif and more than a cursory bit into their relationship. They're both rather bull-headed, and they fight constantly, which added a little fire and interesting interplay between the two. But, like I said before, this is just skimming the surface of their relationship, and it would have been really nice to see more than that. Of course, I knew that this was the story that I was going to read, and I still enjoyed it immensely, and not only because I like this world and was excited to step back into it.
Recommended for Derr fans or anyone looking for a light fantasy. Readers who liked Wick will enjoy stepping back into the world and seeing favorite characters again, though they should know that this is a short story, where the original book was a total of four, giving a much broader view of the world and characters. I definitely enjoyed it :)...more
All in all a great anthology. This is a good book to read if you're in the mood for all different genres -- from magic and fantasy to paranormal to coAll in all a great anthology. This is a good book to read if you're in the mood for all different genres -- from magic and fantasy to paranormal to contemporary, from sweet, light and funny to fantasies with fairy tale elements and one that is even a bit darker in tone.
Quality Assurance by Sasha L. Miller (3.5 stars) - A cute story about an office romance between a vampire and a human. The best part of this story was the vampire, Quinn; so different from most self-assured and often exceedingly arrogant vampires in fiction, Quinn is shy and self-depreciating, trying to make his way on his own away from his obnoxious and prying family. Perfect Angel by Rachelle Cochran (4 stars) - Another cute story, this time about a Royal Scribe angel in love with and recently banished from the kingdom for his relationship with the Crown Prince, after said prince denies their relationship. Brokenhearted and betrayed, he is sent by the king to work for a demon -- a blatant insult in it's own right from an angel and also personal, since Kalyana has bitter memories of demons from his past. Yet Viscount Avanindra Dasmaya is different than any demon Kalyana has ever met. The Prince, the Thief, and the Shadow Emperor by M.J. Willow (5 stars) - My favorite story in the collection, about a newly mastered battle mage on his way home to see his family, being accosted and bested by what seems at first to be an ordinary highwayman in the middle of a dark and unnatural forest. But, the highwayman has powers that don't make any sense and he also looks suspiciously like the Crown Prince. Pas Comme Ca by Sophie Hung (4.75 stars) - Very good story about two neighbors in London who slowly fall in love over a year. One is an artist taking a year abroad before going home to France, and the other is studying Macroeconomics and trying to deal with the loss of his entire family and the dreams he had of being a concert pianist. More Than A Hero by May Ridge (3 stars) - Two rival superheroes, one on top of his game and the other trying to edge his way into a territory and make a name for himself. Pretty good story, but I didn't really like Comet very much and the ending didn't feel very resolved. The Simple Method by Remington Ward (3.75 stars) - A genius undergraduate scientist has a crush on an english major jock who he also went to high school with. After a freak explosion from one of his experiments, they're forced to room with one another. A really sweet story and I loved Coney and his naive nature. The Games by Ashley Shaw (4 stars) - A darker tale of magic and politics. Two friends and lovers are traveling the world and decide to visit a famous magical city to hopefully learn more about the magic they possess. Only when they get there they are arrested for their use of magic and ordered by the Queen to participate in "The Games" a barbaric and gladiator-like battle between two mages for the enjoyment of the nobles. Looking for More by Megan Derr (4.25 stars) - Milo has been in love with his next-door neighbor for a long time. Lewis is confident, sexy, successful, and charismatic, all things that Milo thinks he isn't. Yet, in a way they are friends -- although it only seems to be when Lewis needs something from his "geek" neighbor, and this time the favor almost breaks Milo's heart: Lewis needs help trying to seduce his crush, a geek who works in the IT department at his firm. ...more
Phillip Sedgwick has been a junior associate at one of San Fransisco’s supernatural law firms for six months. As a cover, he also teaches law at a locPhillip Sedgwick has been a junior associate at one of San Fransisco’s supernatural law firms for six months. As a cover, he also teaches law at a local college. The work is strenuous and Phillip often feels like he’s signed his life away over to the senior partners. He must come at their beck and call, and when he is given a week to pursue an investigation into the illegal activities of Daine Paradis, who owns the bakery Fabulous Cakes just around the corner from his job at the university, he knows that it would be unwise to refuse. So, with a week to pursue finding evidence to move forward in prosecution of Daine, who is alleged to be using his supernatural power for fire to make his cupcakes the best in the city, Phillip finally gets his chance to taste the cakes he’s heard so many wonderful things about. What he finds when he gets to Fabulous Cakes, however, is not only a man who seems to take pride in being the hardest worker at his business, and completely unaware of his powers, but a sexy, caring, honest, and humble man that calls out to him in every way. Now, unsure of exactly who is putting pressure on him to find that Daine is breaking Superpower Law, he is forced to carry out an increasingly dangerous investigation, while at the same time unable to stay away from pursuing a relationship with Daine.
Daine has loved to bake since he was a little boy. Not only is the creation of new flavors and the act of making them his passion, but he loves the affect they have on his customers and the community. Supporting the local Girl Scout troop, as well as gearing up for the annual baking competition, whose previous two winners now have national chains of their stores, is a full time job. Since he has taken the bakery over from his father in the last three years, he hasn’t had time for dating. Keeping the business completely aboveboard, specifically in the interest of making sure his workers all have proper documentation is difficult, especially since his deliveries have recently stopped coming and his bakery has been broken into on numerous occasions. Despite all that, his hard work has paid off — there are daily lines around the corner from his bakery for his daily confections, and a new man he likes to think of as Mr. Gorgeous has been stopping by to taste his cakes and flirt with him. Daine really likes Phillip, but he hates lawyers after his parents up and left him for Venezuela years ago after some kind of legal trouble with his uncle. Everything seems to be going right, until he realizes in one day how everything can go completely wrong, and how little you can know about those who love you.
This is a short novel which only slowly allows room for world-building (more on that later), so the pace of the story moves quite fast. I really liked the characters — Phillip is passionate and driven, though possibly in over his head, and Daine is impossible not to love. I worry sometimes when a character seems to be perfect in every way, but I didn’t feel like this was the case here for two reasons. The first is much of the story is told from Phillip’s POV, which is admittedly admiring, as he is falling in love with the man, and secondly, Daine is so unfailingly honest and humble that it made sense for him to be a sort of shining light, a genuinely good person. I was also happily surprised that the book is more about two men who really try to work together and help each other, instead of (in Daine’s case) angsting about what was going wrong in his life.
I had a difficult time reading this story at first. I immediately liked the characters, and I loved Daine, but I really didn’t quite understand what was going on. Was this magic they were talking about? The world-building is sparse, which I usually prefer to being beaten over the head with backstory. Still, because I liked the growing romance between Phillip and Daine, I kept reading and I found that the answers slowly came. By the end of the story, I could see that this is really only the beginning of understanding the world of the Elemental Superpowers. Hopefully, the next few books will center on the other elements — water, earth, and air, and the development of the world will proceed to grow. The advancement of the world-building arc really makes a lot of sense, in the aspect of the overall series. Of course, I would have loved to know more about the world. At times, I also wondered actually what the dileniations in the law were (Was it the success of his bakery? Is using his powers at all a violation?), or to hear more about Phillip’s backstory, but they weren’t necessarily important to the story, and I admit, I’m probably alone in wanting to hear more about specific laws!
Still, this was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series. I’ve read quite a few books by both of these authors before, and I was curious to see the result of a working partnership between them. I have enjoyed their books separately and I found that I could see a bit of both their styles in The Cake. Most important though, to this baker and owner of a major sweet tooth, were the frequent and imaginative references to different flavors of cake. Yum! Even though it might sound strange, I’m starting to wonder about that Buttery Popcorn Cupcake…
I think that fans of both authors would enjoy The Cake.
Wow, I still don't know what to say and I read this over a week ago. While I found the story pretty fascinating overall and definitely look forward toWow, I still don't know what to say and I read this over a week ago. While I found the story pretty fascinating overall and definitely look forward to further installments, I had some pretty significant dislikes. There's no romance here, though apparently there will be in the next book. The problem with that is that for most of the book I was thinking, who the hell is he supposed to even end up with? I didn't like the guy either. In fact, I pretty much didn't like anybody except Jamie and Asa. Also, I thought the first half of the story could have been cut down a bit. Either that, or throw me a bone every now and then to keep me from ripping my hair out in frustration! I was pretty confused with all the details... still am actually.
Still, I made it through all that and more and still found the story hella exciting. It's a pretty interesting premise and the story definitely doesn't let up. It's pretty much GO GO GO, which may be why I constantly felt like I was missing something. Anyway, I think that with a little romance to balance it all out in future books, I'll be much happier :) That is if I end up being able to tolerate Ethan and Aidan!...more
What a pleasant surprise it was when this second installment of Cari Z's new serial Cambion showed up in my email. The first "episode", published one month ago, was reviewed here and was something that I really enjoyed. We met Devon and Rio in "Heaven's On Fire". Devon is a cambion, half human and half demon/incubus. He has the power of lust and uses it with deadly precision. On the other hand, Rio is an enigma. Secret even among the clandestine group in which they work, Rio is smart, capable and ruthless, yet with a solid and gentle core, something that only Devon really sees. The two have forged a working relationship over time that skirts the edge of friendship. Rio has no reason to lie about the fact that Devon is charming (though his powers don't work on him), that he likes him and finds their easy sexual relationship comforting. Devon feels the same. He has rather progressive and loose boundaries towards sex anyway, but if there were one man who he'd want something more from, it is Rio.
In "Heaven's On Fire", Rio came to Devon's rescue, extracting him from a deadly situation involving a pleasure house catered to the grotesque and sadistic taste. He was there to make contact and try to apprehend Porter Grey, a dangerous man known for summoning demons. Porter Grey, however, has proved rather difficult to apprehend, making it out of the club alive and setting off on his own. Now, in "Black Magic Woman", Rio and Devon must make the rounds among the paranormally powerful of Las Vegas to find a way to track the man.
Cari Z is continuing to draw me in with this serial. The first episode hooked me but this one did what it needed to keep my interest up. And more than doing that by leading us to more clues as to the overall and main plot, and about Porter Grey, it takes the time to lay down the bones of the characters (especially Rio in this one) and further develop the relationship between the two. There's a lull in the action with this story, to really lay the groundwork for what is to come later. I found that this story was just as much to my taste as the first one, even though it was without big explosions and the action that I enjoyed so much. That is because Devon and Rio can hold the story on their own. Devon is just as funny here as I first saw him, with an outrageous personality and Rio's secrets and air of mystery kept me intrigued, especially as we got to know him better with more of his point of view in this episode.
I'm really looking forward to getting more of the story! I definitely recommend this one, but only you know if you'd rather hold out for the whole story to be completed before you read it. I'm usually that way myself, but so far I'm really getting into reading this serial, which must mean that they're doing something right ;)...more
I get so excited when a novel by Megan Derr is released, and even though I love when it is part of a series thatReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I get so excited when a novel by Megan Derr is released, and even though I love when it is part of a series that I already enjoy, every now and then there is one like this, that is part of a new series or a standalone. I love those the most because the part of Megan Derr's novels that are so exciting to me are the world building, and this novel doesn't disappoint on that count. I can only hope that she'll continue in this world too, but then if she doesn't, I know there will be other books to enjoy :)
The key to the first part of this story is in the last paragraph in the blurb -- and pay attention -- "solving a murder is the easiest challenge they face." Readers who aren't as familiar with Megan Derr's work as some might not expect the format and romance in this novel and it might come as a surprise. So in order that you won't be surprised and maybe turned off, not only is this a novel in three parts, but it is also a novel with three romances (though only two of the romances are narrated, the third are other characters, which while important to the story, are less present than the others). The first third of the story is what the blurb talks about and the murder mystery. So I think, in this case, it's pretty important that you pay attention to that line in the blurb that says they find it pretty easy to figure out the culprit (because it is) and that the rest of the book is what is difficult for them.
That mystery is really the setup to the big story, and in a way this works like a series all in one novel. I liked that we were able to read it all together though, and it really brings out the world to be able to see different aspects of it all at once. The different parts introduce new types of magical users to us, all of which bring the world to the place it should be.
The basis of the story is a court of equal parts royalty, warriors and priests. The warriors are called paladins (led by High Paladin Sorin) and use a type of Goddess magic that allows them to fight demons -- once people who used dark magic and turned into thoughtless, remorseless killers intent on draining the souls from people. Then there are the priests, who commune with the Goddess and use healing magic. In the first part of the novel, Sorin finds the brutally dismembered body of his best friend and cousin Alfrey (a priest) in his locked room in the royal palace. The answers are few and in consultation with the high priest, Sorin receives a message from the Goddess that he will need the help of another practitioner of magic, something that the High Priest felt might be some kind of dark magic. Sorin has to continually change his worldview when he meets Koray, a necromancer, because even though he knows that they're evil and one step away from becoming demons, the Goddess tells him that Koray is the one he's meant to deal with. Only the things that he knows about necromancers don't seem to be true. Not only will they have a difficult time finding the culprit and dealing with them, but they'll have an even bigger trouble convincing the rest of the people to open their minds, not just about necromancers, but maybe the way they've been dealing with demons as well.
This is right in line with all of the other books by Derr that I've loved so much. They're such easy reads, easy to get into and I always enjoy the characters. Derr fans will really like this one, and of course like always, I always want other readers who aren't familiar with her work to read it. Definitely Recommended!...more
I have been waiting for this book for quite a long time now! I loved the first book and I was looking foReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I have been waiting for this book for quite a long time now! I loved the first book and I was looking forward to more of the team's adventures, specifically with Rory having more power and magical ability. This is a good sequel and definitely accomplished everything I was hoping for.
This quite long novel (at 114k words) starts dealing with some of the issues left over from the first book. The biggest of those is the symbiotic relationship between Rory and Paul. I actually had to refresh myself just a little bit because it has been at least a year and a half since I read A Hidden Magic. In the end of the first book, Paul had to offer his magical power in exchange for the life and future wellbeing of Rory, his team and himself. The joke was on the fae king, however, because Paul's secret was that he didn't actually have any magical power of his own. However, the exchange did leave him permanently weak. In a celebratory fashion, Rory and Paul cemented their relationship at the end of the book, and in a serendipitous moment the condom broke -- the exchange of bodily fluids forging an unexpected connection that allows Paul to live on Rory's magical energy whenever they're in the same room (and he has a LOT of magical energy to spare after all).
They're having to deal with that issue in this sequel as well as a secret from Rory's mother, which completely changes everything that Rory thought he knew about himself, his mother, his whole childhood, and most unexpected, the absence of his father. When a few creatures show up and try to grab him that are associated with the Earth element and come from somewhere up north, they decide to get out of town. Rory wants to visit his father who lives in Seattle, now that they've gotten back in touch, and Paul agrees both for Rory's sake and hoping that they're visit north will help get them answers about who is trying to use Rory for his powers this time.
I get nervous when I have to review a long book, even though I've read many longer than this. If I hate it, it's just that much more for me to have to force myself to read because I have to review it. Thankfully that wasn't the case here, and though I had a few issues with the characters at times (more on that below), I never wanted to put this down. The magical world is given more scope as the series progresses -- with more creatures and the worlds they inhabit opening up to us (including the elemental worlds, which I really liked seeing). Also, now that Paul and the team have seen exactly the lengths that others will go to to use a Blaze as strong as Rory (a mage with an unnaturally immense reserve of power). Though Manny is mostly left out of this book (aww, I like Manny!) we do get more with the other characters on the team, specifically Aubrey, who I love in all his grumbly, snarky glory.
The few things that bothered me were minor, but I also hope they aren't indicative of future books (and there are going to be more books… I think? At least, I hope so!). The issues arise from the balance between external and internal conflict in the story. Most of the plot here is based on the external magical world, with only a few romantic entanglements between Paul and Rory. I wanted there to be a little more balance because though the first worked well for me (I love this world), the relationship in this book was pretty rocky. There's so much going on, world-wise, that there isn't any time for Paul and Rory to talk or even get to know each other better (and they still haven't known each other that long). Rory can be a difficult character at times, and not entirely likable. Though his issues all make sense in the context of his childhood, I sometimes found him a bit self-righteous and very quick to emotion and temper. As a whole, I found many of the characters here quick to temper and a little melodramatic (a flouncing off in a huff type of thing), but Rory in the context of his relationship with Paul is the only on that really matters enough that it bothered me. I wanted him to stop sometimes and think (which goes for most of his actions, actually, not just his relationship). I realize that I don't have to like a character for him to be a good character. I'd never blame an author for that. But I also hoped that some real-life relationship issues might be brought into play as a result, because I often found Rory acting in such a way but not much coming from it. Again, not a fault entirely. Some readers might not like the book as much if they feel the same way, but that's the nature of our subjective reading experiences. Still, when I finished this book, I wished that there had been more time (even extra time on top of the length) for Rory and Paul to work on their relationship.
I'm willing to let most of those feelings go though, both for the reasons I've said and the fact that their relationship is still so early in development. The one thing that really bothered me was that I wasn't quite sure that Rory realized in the end of the book that he'd done some pretty bad things (I'm talking about a fundamental decision in naiveté towards Doug). Not bad, per se. I just want Rory to grow up a little, not have to have other's tell him to use his head once in a while. I'm getting ahead of myself, talking about the future, so I'll leave all of that up to my hopes for the series. I'm definitely looking forward to more from this world and I hope that Angie continues to deliver. I think fans of this series will definitely like this book. It is very much not a standalone, so anyone who is reading this book is probably already a fan from the first book. That includes me, and I'm very glad to see something being published again from this author. I always look forward to reading what she has written! Recommended for fans of the series!...more
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect with this novel. It's the first book of a series, and a rathReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect with this novel. It's the first book of a series, and a rather long one, so I hoped that we'd get quite a bit of the story. It also seemed to be high fantasy of a sort, and definitely epic fantasy. And most of all, it was those things. There were certain things I was somewhat dissatisfied with, but I found that they were mostly while I was reading, and the last 25% plus the week I've taken between finishing and writing this review turned my feelings in a bit more positive direction. And most of that came from me wanting to know what happens in the future for these characters.
The history of the world and lands is well described in the blurb. Farrell is the last Grand Master Wizard in all of the Seven Kingdoms and the Prince of Haven, a title given to him because of his unparalleled ability among magic users. His magical talents far supersede his tutors (those left alive) and among those in Haven, he's their best kept secret in the war against Meglar, who is swiftly conquering their neighboring kingdoms.
Haven is a city in central position of the continent, a city-state of refugees from the surrounding kingdoms already overtaken by Meglar. Farrell continues to perfect his magic and try to work with the still intact kingdoms to convince them their only chance of survival is to flee to Haven, but such a thing is a difficult task when those kingdoms feel they must stand and fight for honor, survival and their lands.
As The Last Grand Master starts, Farrell is visited by the avatar of his own God Honorus, who requests his help at the need of his sister-God Lenore who sends Nerti, the queen of the unicorns, to spirit him away to Northhelm, which is already under attack from Meglar's forces. In acceptance of Honorus' wishes, the God tells Farrell that he will meet his fated love on his journey. This first fourth of the novel is action packed and quick to introduce a large cast of characters and quick worldbuilding, also a crash course in magic as well as Farrell's powers. I had some difficulty getting into the story, not because of the plot, but because of the writing. The only way I can describe it is as a somewhat stilted prose and lack of fluidity, and the seeming insta-love between Farrell and Miceral (the "fated love"). Later, I found that there was much more building on their relationship, so I wouldn't actually call this insta-love. It is almost as if the characters realized that they were moving too fast, and their behavior along with the fact that they are indeed fated made it not too instant of a connection. Similarly, after the end of this first section of the novel, the pace started to slow and Farrell and Miceral started to get to know one another better and their banter made a little more sense to me as people who are better acquainted and I eased into the cadence of the writing. It just took me a little while to sink into it.
I enjoyed the rest of the novel, though not without a few other hiccups. Much of the middle of the book seemed stretched too thin. The action and pace of the first part, bracketed by the action of the last quarter made the middle section seem slow with some superfluous detail and little forward momentum. Much of this time was used to progress the romance between Farrell and Miceral, and I assume set up detail and characters that will be pertinent to the future books in the series, but I still am not quite sure that it couldn't, or shouldn't have been reined in somewhat. Soon, however, the story once again regained momentum toward the finale, which I quite enjoyed. However, I still felt a bit of that wild tendency, where the prose seemed at times tangential and over-detailed, especially in this part and the descriptions of magic. There's so much detail about how Farrell sets up a magical shield over the city of Belsport, and even though I enjoyed that level of detail when it is about the magic (it's always one of my favorite parts of these fantasy novels and I hate feeling like I don't get any detail about the magic), it still seemed a bit too much, and in other readers' experience it might be even more bothersome.
My reading experience with this book went all over the map -- at first I was frustrated and a bit weary of reading more, afraid that I wouldn't be able to deal with the writing, or that it might just not click with me at all. Later, I found that while I started to get into the book, my enthusiasm was flagging. And at last, I found that the story ended in the best way possible, and though I never quite found the reading effortless and without some problems, I ended the book wanting to read more and curious about where the characters were headed. I will be interested to read what other readers have to say in review of this novel, especially in relation to the romance. I think my difficulty with the prose in the early stages of the book translated into difficulty with the relationship. I never felt the immediate connection between the characters, but more of an awkward connection between two men who feel as if they should love one another and have to find a way to actually fall in love, which might or might not have been the authors intention, I'm not totally sure. But because of that, and because I found the overall plot more interesting to the romance, the romance remained less interesting to me. I think that of all things I'm looking forward to in the next books, it is how Farrell and Miceral's relationship progresses and changes, reminding myself that this is, of course, the first book in the overall relationship arc.
Lucius' Bite is the start of a new fantasy/paranormal series with a unique twist on the maReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
3.75 stars (rounded up)
Lucius' Bite is the start of a new fantasy/paranormal series with a unique twist on the mating theme. Lucius is an Arctic Wolf shifter whose den family consists of misfits they've gathered along their way alone in the world, away for different reasons from their real families. There is Lucius, Manny (an emotionally damaged Mountain Lion shifter), and Kristof (a bright and sunny Bear? shifter). Rounding out the bunch is the den mother and Mama to all, Ali, a male white witch who completely rules the roost. They're a happy and unlikely mix of friends who have become family over time.
Lucius is knocked off his feet, literally, when Nicu comes to visit, seemingly out the blue. He starts to feel for the long-dreaded Romanian gypsy who seems to know everything about him. It seriously freaks him out too -- previously, he's never had a real relationship and he's liked it that way. But, as the two get closer some of the secrets start to come to light, about Lucius' past, and about the reason that Nicu has traveled halfway around the world to meet him and already in love with him.
This story really intrigued me in a lot of ways. First off, it pulled me in immediately, with a really funny first scene and a well crafted one. Within a couple pages it is easy to see just how much this little makeshift family loves one another. I liked Lucius and Nicu right off the bat. They're very different. Lucius is often surly and very easily fits into the bad-boy camp, while Nicu's looks and voice (written very well to come off as immediately foreign -- that was nicely done) make him immediately exotically sexy. Even with obvious duplicity in the reason for his visit (in a strange way) he's completely open and earnest and genuinely sweet.
I was impressed in the first half of the book with the delivery of information. It is doled out sparingly and at opportune moments, but just underhanded enough to keep you guessing along with Lucius, even though we, as readers, are privy to just a bit more of it than him, always keeping us one step ahead. I did have a few problems with it later in the book though, and I can't decide if it is personal bias or the fact that this author is saving up some of that information for the next book instead of giving it to us.
The main problem that I had was this: Nicu shows up about a week before the time in which this situation and relationship must be complete, but cannot say anything about it directly to Lucius. But, Lucius is a tough nut to crack, and he hides a lot from the information right in front of him. To me, that wasn't his fault, though I'm sure a case could be made otherwise. So I wondered, why couldn't Nicu have come earlier? It would have given Lucius more time to warm to a relationship at a more realistic pace. Was that explained and I don't remember it? Possible. Was it a decision made to motivate the plot forward? I don't know… Does anyone else care after finishing this besides me? Probably not. So take that with a grain of salt. It just made me a bit uncomfortable with all the pressure put on Lucius in the end. Still, that's not illegal or anything, I mean I cared enough about the characters to feel that way. So it's definitely in one of those grey areas for me, where I really can't decide how I feel about it.
I'm very much looking forward to the next book in this series. It is about one of the family that I really loved in this book and I'm looking forward to getting some of those answers… I hope! I'll just have to wait and see. I still really liked this and I liked that the author used some unconventional themes to diverge a bit from the shifter status quo. There were a few times during my reading that the pace lulled a bit. At times it would move quite fast and then settle for some introversion on the MC's part.
In the end, if this author can continue to bring new plots to this series and they don't end up following in line too similarly to this book, I know I will really enjoy this series. I'm looking forward to finding out!...more
It has been a while since I've read anything by this author and I seem to remember that I enjoyed her work. ThougReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
It has been a while since I've read anything by this author and I seem to remember that I enjoyed her work. Though, ultimately, this story was only So So for me, there were still some parts that I liked and many other readers will probably disagree with me and really like the story, which was light, sweet, and a nice Valentine's Day read.
Jeremiah works for a sorcerer and is himself a psychic. When he makes a detour on his way to work at Dunkin Donuts, he meets Trey and his little boy Mikey, who has a similar ability. Mikey immediately recognizes him and his powers as well, and Jeremiah finds himself taken with both the boy and his father. Not wanting to creep Trey out by showing an interest in his little boy, Jeremiah frets over how to find Trey again, to ask him out. But besides seeing glimpses of the future, Jeremiah has one highly developed skill -- sometimes when he wants to find a person, he does. Like following a trail, thinking of Trey leads them to bump into each other on their commute home from work nearly a week later. After talking, both find that they really like each other and would like to see each other again. But Trey has secrets that he's bound not to share, even with Jeremiah. Trey and Mikey are new to the city, running from a mysterious threat. One month ago, Trey was attacked by wolves and bitten, now new to the local pack and the life of a werewolf.
Part of my feelings about this short novella come from thinking that this was a different type of story than it turned out to be. While there is a background of magic and shifters, that paranormal world doesn't really have a whole lot to do with the story, other than as a backdrop and as history for the characters. I expected, especially with the threat looming over Trey, that it would be more fundamental to the story. That wouldn't have been a problem in and of itself, if I had really felt a connection between Trey and Jeremiah and could get behind their relationship, reading it like a shorter contemporary piece, but I just couldn't. The paranormal pieces of the story are so ingrained into the characters and the setting, but because they come into play so little in the plot, I could never really see their relationship and the story as whole or finished.
What bothered me most was that the story is set up for a confrontation that never happened. It depends on how you read the story and what you expect from it. You can either read it like I did, that the enemies Trey has will eventually crop up, or that it's just a backdrop to create tension in the relationship between Trey and Jeremiah. One way, the story feels like it ends in the middle and feels unfinished, and in the other, there was never meant to be another sub-plot and the end of the story was intended to be the start of a new relationship between the two men. I feel like I couldn't quite help, however, feeling as if the story was leading to that absent climax, but then that's my perspective which could be quite different from your own.
In any way, I still felt like this story had some problems, but ultimately my enjoyment of the story came down to the relationship between the two characters. Maybe, if there had been more time, I could have settled into it, but I finished the story without feeling the connection. There were parts that I liked -- in particular, the little boy Mikey. He speaks at times quite a lot older than he is, but that makes sense with his psychic perception of the world around him, and his presence lightened the story and the scenes he was in and added an interesting element that I enjoyed. Fans of this author might want to read this, but since I don't know her work that well, I can't say if this one is in line with the others or similar in any way....more
This was just too cute. I loved Tom and his cat behavior. I laughed so much while reading this. A very light and cheeky read, but satisfying3.5 stars
This was just too cute. I loved Tom and his cat behavior. I laughed so much while reading this. A very light and cheeky read, but satisfying nonetheless. I thought the stalking plotline felt a little out of place, but it did what it was intended to do, which was drive the plot forward. Still, with the short format, it meant that it stuck out a little when the main story (and the tone of the story) was about Tom's transformation, Brian's burgeoning magic, and their growing relationship.
This reads like a guilty pleasure -- except I totally don't feel guilty....more
To be honest, I wasn't going to read and review this book, but I decided to try it out anyway. i think this is thReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
To be honest, I wasn't going to read and review this book, but I decided to try it out anyway. i think this is the longest thing I've read by this author and definitely the first thing in a long time, at least over a year. So I was curious. I was at first … nervous, shall we say. I knew this was going to be tale of the fae from the beginning of the story and as it unfolded and I started to see a rather cruel side of the fae I wasn't sure whether this would be to my taste or not. I've learned over the years that while I love stories of the faerie, I'm not a big fan of them when they only show a cruel and terrible side of them with no redeeming qualities. I prefer, instead, a lighter side. But, in the end, I was very happy with this story and I enjoyed reading it very much. I even stayed up through the night to finish instead of waiting until the next day.
Ciarnán McKay is in route to visit his sick uncle when his party is attacked. All his guards are killed and he barely makes it away by the swiftness of his horse. His flight leads him to a manor very like his own. They quickly shelter him and nurse him back to his proper state. While there, he becomes friendly with the family -- the two brothers, Lord Tiernan Roxbrough and his younger brother Leannán Roxbrough. The situation at Oakwood Manor seems a bit strange, but Ciarnán quickly learns that the brothers' parents died the year before, leaving Tiernan the Lord of the estate as the oldest and their sister, the middle child, already married and moved away. The strange vibes come from Mr. Boyle, the steward and friend to the late Lord Roxbrough. He seems displeased by many things, but the brothers assure Ciarnán that he was once a disciplinarian to them like their father and old habits die hard. Tiernan leaves quickly after Ciarnán arrives to visit his intended wife, and in the week that Ciarnán has delayed his visit to his uncle, he and Leannán become close, both of them recognizing the attraction to the other. But their days of walks into the woods and picnics under the trees on the estate (as well as a few shy kisses) must be put aside so Ciarnán can finish his intended trip. Leannán asks him to stop by for another visit on his return.
A month later Ciarnán returns to Oakwood Manor, but finds a very different scene than the one he left. Tiernan is still gone, leaving Leannán with Mr. Boyle. Leannán has changed, however, and urges Ciarnán to leave and never return… that no matter their feelings it is the best choice for all, no matter how obviously difficult it is for Leannán to turn Ciarnán away. But when he leaves, Ciarnán can't seem to stay away. When he hears rumors about the strange fae happenings at Oakwood Manor at a small inn not far away, he returns not knowing what he'll say to get Leannán to reconsider. Instead, he finds Mr. Boyle talking to a beautiful and strange man with wings, and learns the truth of the whole situation: that Leannán is one in a long tradition of lords from Oakwood Manor who are required to pay the tithe. His sacrifice will ensure protection for his family and replenish the fae in a seven year cycle of renewal. By not leaving as he should, Ciarnán is taken prisoner under the hill to work as a servant for the cruel fae queen, where he'll be released after the sacrifice of Leannán. No matter how much he tries and how many friends he makes among the fae, there's no escape. And now that Leannán and Ciarnán have more time together, even if it is borrowed time, they'll make the most if it, falling further in love.
I mentioned earlier that I have a difficult time reading books with really cruel fae characters in a situation like this, where the characters are being held captive by them. So I was really pleased to see a well balanced representation of the faerie characters. The queen is quite Machiavellian, but she's really the only one that is shown as cruel. The others range from remote and aloof to Ciarnán to friendly and sympathetic and we get to see Ciarnán spend much more time with these characters. Most of the story takes place under the hill, while the two are held captive. I also thought that the relationship between Ciarnán and Leannán was sweet but not too sweet. The tone that comes across when they spend time together is really loving and they reassure themselves a lot of their feelings for one another. Sometimes this bothers me in other books, it can be a bit much. But it never went too far to me into sickly sweet territory, partly because of their circumstance (which requires reassurance), but also because of the time period. The story isn't placed firmly in any time or place, but resembles a historical period with Irish influence. And the "love that dare not speak it's name" type romance set apart from their world and in a place where anyone is free to love anyone else (the faerie realm) went really well with the sweet romantic periods the two had when they're together. And even more than these two things, I liked that their relationship was very much based on how they felt, individually, about their circumstances. Ciarnán never refuses to give up looking for a way to escape, because he's facing the prospect of losing Leannán and then having to carry on without him. Leannán, however, vacillates between his need to accept his fate to assure the well-being of his family (and assure that one of them isn't taken in his place) and his desire to forget the circumstances and envision a life with Ciarnán. His feelings fluctuate with the actions of the faerie queen.
I won't get into it much, but I really really loved the fae characters that get close to Ciarnán, Sorcha and especially Cáel. If there is one thing that I didn't like about the book, it's that the turn in the climax of the story rests on what seemed to be a rather easy bit of information. The answer to all of Ciarnán's problems just seemed to come a little out of the blue for me, and while it didn't bother me a lot, it made me sigh a little. I would have preferred the outcome to come a little more organically.
I definitely recommend this one and I really enjoyed reading it!...more