Yay for another novel by JL Merrow!!! She's one of my favorite authors, and as I told a friend recently...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Yay for another novel by JL Merrow!!! She's one of my favorite authors, and as I told a friend recently, I'm almost nervous when I start reading each successively published novel because I've loved them all so much there's bound to be one that disappoints me. Thankfully, that wasn't the case here and I ended really really thoroughly enjoying this latest offering by a really wonderful author.
Tom Paretski is a plumber with a secret -- he's got a knack for finding things. It's a bit like dowsing, he can hone in on hidden things, things that have deep emotion attached to them like guilt or shame. Sadly, lost and hidden things include people, and we meet him as his friend on the force Dave, calls him in to look for a local missing woman. Tom's in for more shock than seeing another dead body, however, when a ghost from his past shows up at the scene as a private investigator hired by the family of the murdered victim.
The last time Tom saw Phil Morrison was when he and his cronies stepped up their high school bullying a bit too far. Tom still lives with the scars of that physical and emotional trauma and seeing the man ten years later dredges all those feelings back up. It doesn't help that he's just as attracted to the man as he was back then and it certainly pisses him off that the man is apparently as big of a homo as he is, and completely out of the closet. Phil has an attitude as well, one that might rival Tom's perpetual snark and their verbal blows start almost immediately. Phil doesn't believe in his gift, but he needs Tom's help anyway. They both have vested interest in making sure the current suspect gets treated fairly and together, they might be able to get the answers they need to find the real killer.
Merrow has a knack for slyly mixing genres that really works for me. This story is for all intents and purposes a contemporary mystery romance, with the exception of Tom's gift. That is perhaps the reason Tom's gift isn't given center stage. Though we first get to know him through his gift, it's often presented as rather unglamorous and second rate to pounding pavement detective work. We get to know Tom as if the gift is just a quirky peccadillo that comes in handy during his plumbing work. Though it does get used, and is central to the plot, the different focus and misdirection worked well to show Tom as an ordinary guy who is rather in over his head in this whole mess.
I really liked Tom. He's a strong character that has a real moral compass amid the corrupt characters that stock the story. In a way, he's retained his innocence beneath his jaded veneer, which contrasts nicely with Phil, who harbors rather a lot of guilt and shame over his past. I appreciated that they both came across as assholes every once and a while, trying to work through their shared history (or at times ignore it).
The mystery worked well for me, though hardcore mystery fans might find the story lighter than they're used to. Much of the story is focused on detective work, but a lot of the focus is on the relationship between Tom and Phil in the midst of it. I was a little disappointed that we didn't hear what happens to a character that showed up early in the story that I felt rather sorry for, and of course, I could have really done with more of the smexxin from these two because they are sizzling together!
So, once again, I loved this offering from one of my favorite authors and as always look forward to whatever she publishes. This one is definitely recommended.(less)
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-...moreRe-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 :)(less)
From what I understand, this is the first novel reviewed on this blog that deals specifically with transge...moreReview #2 for Reviews by Jessewave
From what I understand, this is the first novel reviewed on this blog that deals specifically with transgendered people in a starring role. Sure, there have been books (not many, though) that deal with varying gender discussions in all sorts of ways, occasionally in the forefront, but not often, and very rarely about trans, intersex, or gender fluid people (thought that is a completely different discussion). Like all marginalized populations there is often several turnings of the tide, and with last week’s post by Jaye Valentine and Wave on men who cross dress (you can see it here, if you missed it), the growing group of m/m readers who are calling for books that look into the lives of a more diverse group of people, and this new shiny book by LA Witt just recently released by Amber Allure, it is high time, I think for a book about this subject that reaches this audience. Sure, not every book is to everyone’s taste for a variety of different reasons, but I’m happy to read an m/m book that delved more deeply into this subject, and I hope most readers agree with me. And though I would never have though to explore that in a paranormal subtext, I can see how the idea of shifting between genders, a familiar trope, can be used to illustrate the warring factions some people have between their brain and their body. Now that I’ve had my say — off to the review.
The book opens from the POV of Damon Bryce, worried about his girlfriend Alex who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in over two days. They’ve been dating for two years, and Damon is worried about the silence. Alex left him last to meet her parents, a pair of extremely radical fundamentalists, and the visits always send Alex into a spiraling depression that can last days or weeks. Yet, Damon loves Alex, and no matter how often she pushes him away for what seems no reason at all, or refuses to marry him, he knows he has to check up on her. When he arrives at her house, a nearly naked man answers the door and Damon’s first thought is in anger, assuming Alex is cheating on him. Yet the man is in pain, something about a terrible headache and he can barely walk. After getting the strange man settled on Alex’s couch, he finally listens to the man’s story — or rather, Alex’s story.
Alex is a shifter, a small group of people that are able to shift between both genders. He has been afraid to tell Damon because of the suffering and rejection experienced growing up in such a hostile home. Furthermore, Alex is regretful that she didn’t tell Damon before this point because now he’s stuck, unable to shift, after his parents drugged him and had a shady surgeon implant a black market device in his spine, which in their eyes will make him right with God. The loss of his female form is staggering. As a shifter that generally spends an equal amount of time in each body, he feels the extreme loss of half of his identity. Not only that, but the after-affects of the surgery seems the be the most terrible headache in existence.
Damon takes Alex to the hospital where Alex finds that the surgery had caused a spinal fluid leak, resulting in the terrible pain in his head. The situation isn’t serious, but they both soon learn exactly what his parents have done with their illegal actions. The implant may not be stable and could cause paralysis and death. The removal of the implant is incredibly expensive and infinitely more dangerous than the original procedure. And even if Alex is able to get the implant removed, he still might never be able to shift again. Alex also has to decide if it is worth pressing charges against his parents. He wants to save his little sister Candace from his parents clutches, but she already seems to be brainwashed against him. And on top of all that, how will Damon deal with him now being a man? Damon doesn’t know what to think. He loves Alex, but he keeps trying to find the woman he loves in the man standing before him. Can they have a relationship that isn’t sexual? Or is it possible that he can see past the biological trappings and focus on the person he loves with all his heart?
This is a slow story, that really isn’t a romance until quite far into the book. I have been very interested in other people’s reception of this book since it came out earlier this week and I have seen some people say that they don’t believe this is actually a romance. I disagree — sure, it isn’t typical, especially in m/m where the majority of our hero’s are strapping bucks with devilish smiles and killer sex drives. Maybe a better classification for this is a love story (and don’t get upset guys, I don’t mean that this doesn’t end with an HEA, which is all I’ll say about the ending). What I loved most, I suppose, is Damon’s slow realization of what love really means. Damon is a steady and empathic man. He isn’t afraid of what his friends and co-workers will think of Alex being a shifter. The issues he needs to work through are purely internal, and the issues he worked through and the support he offered were heartening to me.
Alex is an example of what a harsh world can make of a person. He is a puzzle to be solved as we slowly learn more about his childhood and how those experiences correlate to his fear of being touched at times, his deep pits of despair, and his self-medication with alcohol. The change of his body to match the gender of his mind at any given time has really been his only therapy in life, and when it is gone, he has no way to cope. What I found most interesting in the discussion within this novel about gender shifters and transgendered people were the differences between them. I loved Tabitha, Alex’s best friend and boss — a biological man who identifies as female, but until such time as a safer and better surgery is invented is permanently pre-op. When Alex loses his ability to shift he unexpectedly leans on Tabitha and can finally understand what it must be like to be faced with the possibility of permanently feeling like you reside in the wrong body. Still, Alex is lucky in that half the time he feels male. He still has a reprieve from that crushing feeling. The exploration of the issues was done very sensitively and thoroughly and presents a real challenge for the romance between Alex and Damon.
There are quite a few surprises within, and let me tell you, it has been quite difficult to talk around them all (so I hope I’ve done a good job). Some readers may find fault with the ending, but I didn’t. I was surprised that I wasn’t surprised, if that makes any sense. The ending is definitely open to interpretation, which I thought really worked for the couple and I could see their way forward in a very clear light. LA Witt has impressed me in a quite a few of her books with the deep psychological dynamics that arise between her characters. She has her characters really work through their problems. I’ll leave that up to you to decide if you felt the same with this book. I was certainly satisfied and I came away from the book still thinking about what she wrote days later. No matter your reception to the story, that’s worth a lot. Last, but definitely not least, during my reading I kept thinking of this story as a GFY plotline. Now, I’ve changed my mind. I think this is a story about finding someone who is the right person for you. I think that is the real message Witt was trying to show.
NOTE: As for the use of pronouns, I stuck with a similar usage as the novel. NOTE 2: I think this is one of the most beautiful Amber Allure covers I’ve seen yet, and I think it does justice to the story.
Original GR Review - June 30
I've been a fan of LA Witt for a while and I'm always a fan of her stories dealing with very deep and convoluted relationship dynamics. This is another story in that vein, but this time she tackles the subject of gender and people who are intersex all with a very clever paranormal twist.
Alex is a shifter (gender shifter) that was born male. While every shifter is different in this society that reflects a contemporary US, Alex is pretty even divided in which gender he prefers, simply changing his body to match the gender he feels in his mind. There are two problems, however. One, Alex has been dating Damon for two years now -- as a female, and hasn't yet worked up the courage to tell Damon that she is male also; and two, Alex's radially fundamentalist mother and step-father have been pressuring Alex to surgically implant a device that will cause Alex to become static, remain in one gender. The story starts from the POV of Damon, not having seen or heard from Alex in over two days after he knew Alex was meeting her parents. He goes to look for her and finds a man in her house. After a very surprising conversation for him, Alex tells Damon that she went to her parents house, where they proceeded to drug him and have a shady back-alley surgeon implant a black-market device into his spine against his will. For the time being, until he can make sure that the forced surgery wasn't botched, whether to decide to press charges against his parents, and whether it will be possible for him to have the implant removed, he is stuck in the male form. Along with his manic depression over sometimes being in the wrong body and his fear that he'll be stuck that way forever, Alex will have to work out his relationship with Damon, a completely straight man who can't seem to find the woman he loves in the man that now stands in her place.
I thought this was a beautiful story about what it means to love a person -- their soul and not the trappings that surround it. Who are we really at our core, and what difference does societal pressure put on us to conform? LA Witt deals with some heavy issues here and this is not a light read, though the emotions are well balanced throughout the novel. The pace is very slow, as much of the story from Damon's POV revolves around his growing awareness of what it means to be a shifter, and how he can stand by Alex. Can he find a way to love the man? Or will he be able to see that the man and the woman are the same person? It is a very interesting take on the GFY trope, and one that I felt was handled very well.
Kudos goes to Witt for her creation of Alex's friend Tabitha and the gang at The Welcome Mat, the bar which Alex bartends and also Alex's safe haven away from the world. I also loved the sub-plot of Alex's little sister Candace, though I wish that we'd gotten to know her a just a little better. Most of all, I found this story fascinating. Usually with a slowly paced book such as this, I find myself reading at a slow pace, but I devoured this book, unable to put it down.
A favorite for sure, and possibly my favorite of LA Witt's works so far.(less)
This has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, whi...moreThis has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!
I hadn't planned on giving this book a proper review, but when Sunday rolled around and I was still thinking about this book, so I decided that it really needed one. For some reason, and I sincerely hope that this is just my 2D, rather limited view of the m/m romance reading community, this book hasn't seemed to have had a real splash yet. And that's a damn shame. Here's what I said on Goodreads immediately after I finished the book Satuday:
This has the most eclectic mix of tags I've ever given a book. Surprisingly, they all went together! And even more, it kinda represents this book, which is a bit of a hodge-podge of different quirks and ideas, even plotting and pacing which I found rather refreshing. Definitely not typical vampire fare!
Now, the tags here are pretty much similar to the ones on Goodreads, but since I can more easily edit and add tags here at the blog, they of course have a bit more flair ;) I have to admit that I've fallen into a bit of a pattern in my mismanagement of my m/m reading, where many of the most exciting releases seem to slip through the net (there are many factors, though it still makes me a dolt) mostly because of reviewing duties, but Lou Harper is perhaps one on the top of the list of those stellar authors that I haven't given their due. Perhaps I should do a backlist read. Anyway, this book wasn't just well written, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable read, for many reasons I'll talk about later. But that brings me to another point. Another byproduct of my reviewing duties is that I tend to analyze first rather than enjoy the book first, and having not originally slated Spirit Sanguine as a review book and (imagine this!) actually making myself sit down and read a book for pleasure instead of work on reviews I should be getting up to date, meant that this one just slipped right through and knocked me flat. I didn't really have to think about an analysis of the book, of styles and pacing and plot and characterizations, but… I just enjoyed it. It was a refreshing read, and not something I was expecting from the vampire angle.
Bloodsuckers are everywhere; you can't walk down a dark alley without a couple of them jumping out and accosting you with their dark and broody eyes. They do that a lot--mope and sulk. That's what got to me, all the melodrama. I mean, they are practically immortal, don't get sick, grow old, don't need to watch their weight or work out. What the hell do they have to bellyache about?
(That's the truth.)
And that's the point. In a sub-genre where melodrama rules and/or kinky vampire sex clubs are the forte, humor takes precedent here, brought forth by the vivacious and quirky Harvey (I love the name, and not just the Feng/Fang part, the fact that her vampire is named Harvey), who isn't really like any other of his kind. In actuality, I'd rather not go into characterization here, because I'd rather not cut him into pieces to analyze him. He's best enjoyed as it's written… plus, you'll find plenty in other reviews, I'm sure. The same goes for Gabe, who is perhaps the undervalued of the pair, though it's important that he's the lens we see the world through, and even more in which we see Harvey through. His understanding of and feelings for Harvey are how we understand him best, in reflection.
What was really refreshing about this book for me was also in a second part -- the style, which is reflected in pacing but also the plot. Both were atypical in that they don't follow the usual structure. Broken into three parts, each concentrates on a different aspect of the story while they, in succession, follow a continual arc. Some readers might find this off-putting. I'm not really sure. I quite enjoyed it. Because while the first is a typical setup to the story and introduces the relationship between Gabe and Harvey, the second and third both have a somewhat separate plot, though they're tied together. But you do get the feeling, between the transition between Parts 2 and 3, that there's a bit of a jog. And consequently, you'll find two climaxes (one at the end of each part) around the 55% mark and the end of the book.
Nikyta noticed this as well and made a remark to me about it (in our many back and forth book gabbing emails) and probably described it better than I did, asking if I had noticed authors using this style more lately, the (in her words) "multiple mini stories in one book of the same couple" style. We both automatically thought of Megan Derr, who sometimes writes in a similar though pretty different style from what I'm describing in Spirit Sanguine. Perhaps it's that Gabe and Harvey really only have two distinct adventures and Megan Derr often writes books that are split between the many adventures one couple has, a sort of extended vignette style. Nik thought that maybe it was a style that was becoming more popular. I'm not sure, but suffice to say that it is something that we've both enjoyed. And definitely something that I found made Lou Harper's book infinitely more original -- though, of course, anything with a vampire named Harvey Feng could hardly be called conventional.
**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.(less)
Change of Heart and it's sequel, Trusted Bond were my first...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader and is for the whole series up to this point.
Change of Heart and it's sequel, Trusted Bond were my first introduction to Mary Calmes' work. As two (CoH & TB) of my very first reviews -- ever -- and in the first week at my gig reviewing at Jessewave, I hadn't quite settled into my own rating system. So I wasn't sure if my feelings and ratings would stay the same (then, 4.25 stars and 5 stars, respectively), because I didn't have much to compare them with. I hadn't even joined Goodreads at that point! It was later December of 2010.
I knew though, that if I were going to get caught up on this series and read the third book and the fourth, released just this week, that I'd need to read them all again. As much as I love a book, you have to understand, I very, very rarely re-read romance books. There are just so many that I have waiting to read for the first time that I rarely allow myself the luxury of going back to a favorite book. It has to be good, really good. So I was so happy to find out that I loved these books the second time around just as much as the first. And with a whole different arsenal in my possession -- better analytical thinking and also a much wider breadth of experience reviewing m/m in particular -- I found that I appreciated this series in ways I couldn't the first time I read it. But really, I just loved Jin and Logan again and I doubt they'll ever stop being one of my favorite couples.
I love Mary's work, and in the past I've said that her paranormal/fantasy work has been so so while I tend to adore every contemporary she writes (which is the opposite of how I usually feel about romances). But re-reading this series has made me change my mind about that. This is my favorite series of Mary's over all of them, and it is very paranormal.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, it works as a trilogy. The latest book, number four, deals with all of the same characters but with a change in focus from Jin and Logan to Domin and Yuri, two favorites from the first three books. It is a shifter world, focused on big cats and here's your class on werepanther 101. We meet Jin in the beginning of the first book and he admits himself to be a "reah". On the run with his best friend Crane (called a "beset", meaning a companion of a "reah"), we don't learn much about what Jin's identity as a "reah" means other than that he's extremely rare and everyone wants a piece of him, especially "semels". A "semel" is the leader of a pack or tribe and are always male. They all wish to find their true mate (a "reah"), which is always a woman, but they're so rare that most of them end up having to take a "yareah", or a chosen mate. Now you see why Jin is so unique -- he's the only male "reah" known in existence.
In typical Mary Calmes' fashion, they have enemies, lots of enemies. Everyone covets Jin so much, for his unique qualities and simply for the heart that pulls people to him which makes up a "reah", that they'll do just about anything to separate the two. The first three books follow the two as they travel the world making enemies and allies. Two of those are Yuri and Domin, from their tribe in Lake Tahoe. Yuri is Logan and Jin's "sheseru", the physical arm of the "semen" (Logan). He is in charge of security, specifically he is Jin's protector. Domin was once a "semel" just like Logan, but due to his bad choices lost his tribe and was assimilated into Logan and Jin's, becoming the "maahes" of the tribe, or the prince, whom acts as an emissary to the tribe. They have their own sub-plots during the series, only to be brought together at the end of the third book. Crucible of Fate takes over their story in Sobek, Egypt, their new home. But that is getting ahead of things!
There is something about these books that grabbed me and still hasn't let go. I could analyze and critique, but the basis of it is that I love these books. And even though there are books I love more than others (in particular, the first and third), I know now that I'll always love this series. She's taking it to places that I never, ever expected, but I love it. It isn't something that is just good, it is addicting, and I was sad when I finished Crucible of Fate.
With this last book in particular, I have to admit that I found it just a little disappointing. Right off there is an acclimatization necessary because it is the first story not about Jin and Logan. No matter how much I love Yuri and Domin, I was sad to say goodbye (even though they're still there, sometimes) to Jin and Logan. Of course, I warmed up to getting their own story, but Domin's voice is quite different and much more pessimistic, which took some time to get used to. All of that I could work with -- it simply takes time after you've been with another character's POV for so long. I did wish, however, that there was more romance in this book. So much of the love story between Yuri and Domin happens off page in the third book, when they're first getting together, and then in Crucible of Fate their lives are focused on more pressing issues. But I missed that connection. They were together in a minority of the book and if I didn't think that there would be another sequel coming (I see no reason it will stop here), then I'd be more upset. I'm hoping that with the way this one ended, that the next one will have them together for more time. And I'm certainly excited about the direction the series is starting to take for Domin, as well as getting to know quite a big part of the world that we weren't privy to before.
So, while I loved this book because I loved the series, I'm more excited about the next book than I am about this one. It was satisfying enough, but since my expectations from the series are so high, it didn't quite meet up. Also, reading directly after the third book made it difficult to live up to. Honored Vow, which I read for the first time in this read, I absolutely loved :)
So, please read this series! It is such a guilty pleasure read and there should be no negative connotations with that phrase here. It is simply that they are a pure pleasure to read and now that I know I'll love them again and again, I'll just have to make sure to read them all again the next time another book comes out.(less)
This is the first book by Elizabeth Noble that I've read. Sadly, I wasn't a fan and had quite a...more**spoiler alert** Review posted at The Armchair Reader.
This is the first book by Elizabeth Noble that I've read. Sadly, I wasn't a fan and had quite a few problems with this book, the most that I just couldn't get into the relationship.
Jay is the son of a homophobic Montana senator and the manager of their family's hunting resort. He and his father barely get along, because his father is such a bastard. He's making Jay marry a woman he barely knows even though everyone knows that Jay is gay. What most don't know is that he's a sub looking for a Dom. He's surprised to find one the in new head of security his father hired for the resort. People have started going missing recently, young men's bodies deposited in the forest on the grounds and torn to shreds. The two, while developing their relationship, will have to find out who, or what is causing the deaths, and why -- all while dealing with Jay's father and their own family secrets.
I really started getting into the book in the beginning. The writing itself is fine, but I started finding some of the choices the author made a little strange. The first thing that bothered me was how deeply they started to fall in love, only after a day or two of being around each other. At first I didn't think it was insta-love, but then I realized that it really was, just without the pretty words. All the actions are there and I missed that early development of the relationship, where they get to know each other.
The second thing ties into this, and it is how they relate to each other in the context of a BDSM relationship and BDSM play. I kept waiting for them to have some sort of discussion about their limits, or at least talking about that int he narrative through Jay's voice. I never got to hear why he needs what he needs. Though I might be able to gather why after finishing the book, the lack of knowledge about him in particular but also their relationship made it seem like Eric was just taking things over and Jay was a pushover. It didn't endear me to Eric, because without rules that are laid out for me, Eric's decisions about Jay's behavior and what he sometimes forbids and allows him to do seemed arbitrary.
So I had a really hard time seeing these two together. I wish I could say that it was because so much time and effort was spent on the mystery. And it was, to an extent. But in the end, I still found that I was confused about what was going on. I wondered if maybe there was a conscious decision made to limit the knowledge of the "killer" to make it more nightmarish. The problem with that is that even though we might not know exactly in the end what the thing is, I still felt like I needed to know the motivations, and I didn't. There's an allusion to a vague notion of why this might have happened, but nothing more than that, and I felt cheated out of an ending. There is a resolution of the smaller family secret subplot, but it was again unsatisfying to me because we're told in the beginning of the book how much Eric loves subs like Jay, who are strong and maybe a little stubborn, but not pushovers, and I wanted Jay to really take a stand, and not under any influence but his own.
So, I'm sad to say that I just couldn't get into this book and I can't recommend it. I can't say if the book is similar in any way to the author's previous work, so fans of the author might or might not enjoy this. I'm still looking forward to reading the D/s post-apoc series by this author to see what I think, but I'll probably be more careful in the future in regards to checking reviews first before reading her books.(less)
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 up...moreAlrighty, 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!(less)
I was super excited to read this spinoff of Spirit Sanguine, which I really loved, because I really felt like I l...moreReview 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.(less)
This novella was so thoroughly entertaining, I read it front to back and then front to back again, all in one day. I never do that, but when I finishe...moreThis novella was so thoroughly entertaining, I read it front to back and then front to back again, all in one day. I never do that, but when I finished it the first time, I had to go back and read the beginning again, where we see Fingers at his most hilarious, and I found I couldn’t stop reading. This story is so many different types of stories all wrapped up in one neat, little package. Its a fairy tale, a parable, a hilarious take on a Canadian’s experiences with the Japanese, and a story of two men whose worldview’s are changing. For Hank, this means his acceptance of the supernatural. For Tachibana, this means his acceptance of his sexuality and his latent spiritual powers. I won’t mention the creation of Fingers, even though it is told very early on, simply because I loved finding out in the prose and not the book’s blurb. Suffice to say, this is really a very important part of the story, so there is not a whole lot about the plot that I can tell you. That doesn’t matter, though, simply to say that Fingers was one of the funniest characters I’ve ever read. Essentially, he is a spirit created and imbibed with the virginal, horny, love-struck aspect of a boy/man. He is that horny teenage boy that has no filter on what he says while remaining completely endearing and loveable simply because of his ignorance. He is obsessed with every man that comes in Tachibana’s path (much to Tachibana’s consternation), but he knows that Hank is the one — evidenced by the red thread connecting his pinky to Hank’s pinky. Obviously, this must mean they share a true soul connection and are fated to be ‘Forever Loves.’
I liked this one, except for Tristan's babyish freakout moment at around 3/4 of the way through, which was just ridiculous IMO, this was probably my f...moreI liked this one, except for Tristan's babyish freakout moment at around 3/4 of the way through, which was just ridiculous IMO, this was probably my favorite book of Joyee Flynn's so far. I liked all the characters and I though the four guys worked well together.(less)
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 Armc...moreSuch 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.(less)
The world built by Mary Calmes in this novel is amazing and refreshing. She has put together a social system that we usually only see with werewolves in shapeshifter stories, but which is totally fitted to the behaviors of big cats. There is a feral quality to the politics of their society, so that at any moment I felt like the instability of the structure could be influenced one way or another by any of the characters. Big cats are such proud creatures, that were-panther social norms were extremely rigid. Everyone has a role. Everyone has a place. To go outside of your role was unthinkable and could prove disastrous. Such strict structure gave the story an antiquated feel while at the same time the setting was extremely modern, almost gritty at times. It almost seemed like some strange juxtaposition between the Eighteenth Century British Monarchy and West Side Story...
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 co...moreAll 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. (less)
I finally got around to reading this book, one that I bought quite a while ago and regretfully let fall to the bottom of my teetering TBR pile. Just w...moreI finally got around to reading this book, one that I bought quite a while ago and regretfully let fall to the bottom of my teetering TBR pile. Just wanted to write a quick note here and say how delightful this story was, how funny, heartwarming, and well written it was. There's just something that Eden Winters does well that always gives her stories that little extra push. I'm not sure if it comes down to her characters, which are always a delight to read, or if she just has a direct line to the dark recesses of my cluttered mind, because she always seems to tell a story that I've just been waiting to read.(less)
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 no...moreOMG! 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"]>(less)
Sweet and slow story about an established couple (one human, one shifter) with little in the way of plot, other than celebrating the holidays and some...moreSweet and slow story about an established couple (one human, one shifter) with little in the way of plot, other than celebrating the holidays and some bits about rescue work. I would have enjoyed the story more with maybe a bit more about Anthony's Ute past, but we actually get very, very little about him as a shifter. Mostly, in the story he's human and it just seems to be another side of him.(less)
Shadows in the Night is the first book I've read by MA Church. I was really in the mood for a shifter st...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Shadows in the Night is the first book I've read by MA Church. I was really in the mood for a shifter story when this book came up in the review rotation just prior to release, so I decided to take a chance. After all, I've been interested in several other books by this author, but I've never tried any of them. I got what I wanted, this is a shifter story. And while it would maybe be insulting to call it a simple shifter story, by which I mean maybe a classic shifter romance with mating bonds and all, that's really what this is. And because of that, it was a satisfying read.
Chip grew up in a loveless home. His spoiled and cold mother and a workaholic absentee father made his relationship with his Granny grow and grow with age. Granny lived in a small town in Mississippi and every summer Chip escaped there to run in the grass, swim in the ponds and fish and play with his "horsie", a very large black animal that he used to ride like a horse. He remembers those days with fondness when he loses his job and his Granny dies. It's a low period for him, but it's important to return to her home and the small town to pay respect to her and to remember such a wonderful, independent and loving woman, the only real mother Chip ever had.
His grandmother's last words to him -- "Trust him. He's the one." -- baffle him, but Chip puts them out of his mind as he goes through her arrangements and her will. She left everything to him, which was surprisingly a large amount of money and her home and land. He no longer has to worry about finding a new job, which is freeing. Chip can spend the time he needs to go through her things and then live as he's always wanted to, there in her house in the country. He soon meets the colorful characters of the town, her wizened lawyer, the creepy realtor, and his neighbor Jason, with beautiful Native features and long black hair. Jason seemed to know his Granny rather well and rather quickly Chip grows to know him well also. The two form a quick bond that seems perfectly right. It's only when he's nearly attacked by a tawny brown cougar and rescued by a black cougar -- one that by all means shouldn't exist -- that things change drastically.
As I said before, in many ways this is a typical shifter story. We have a shifter and his secrets from the man he's recognized as his mate, and the man himself who knows nothing of the paranormal world. There's a mating bond and a threat coming from one of the men's past that acts as a catalyst to move the plot and relationship forward. It makes an enjoyable read, but not a wholly original one. But, that's okay. It's all about what you like to read that will make this book good for you or not. I know that shifter stories such as this one do really well, because there are so many fans of shifters out there. There are also some of you that don't like to read these stories that much. I fall somewhere in between. Every now and then I will always want a shifter story to fall back on and read. It's comforting and why I'm a big proponent of not hating on the "fluff". Sometimes that's what you want to read, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, most people (or those that don't read romance) would call all romance fluff as a blanket term (so let's not nitpick people).
Anyway, sorry for going tangential on you. While I maybe wouldn't define this completely as reading candy (in the fluff sense), it is mostly a lighthearted read. I found the shifter culture in this book to be rather interesting, in that there didn't seem to be highly defined pack structure. The community of shifters are all related by Native American culture and Jason, when he finally must tell Chip everything, talks a bit about the creation of the shapeshifter. I liked this part of the book the best, and I found the author's genesis of the shifter and their human's relation to the animal totem to be pretty interesting. There is mention of a little detail about a representation of their totem that I really wanted to know more about that isn't much explained, but hopefully that will come up in the next book. This story focuses mainly on Chip and Jason and their world in this book is incredibly insular. There are a few moments where other characters are present, but this book is highly focused on their relationship and their internal conflict, with the external conflict I mentioned before acting as a catalyst to their relationship's progression. I'll be really interested in reading the next book because I'd like to see if there is more of their native cultural history.
This is a fairly quick read and definitely a book that you should know if you'd like from reading the blurb and from reading this review. If you're a fan of shifter stories then this is definitely something you'll want to pick up. It's not trying to push any boundaries or re-define the shifter romance novel, but that probably opens it up to a wider audience as well. Sometimes what you want to read is something that you know will give you pleasure and which you won't have to stress over while reading. It makes for a pleasant experience and this was a book that I enjoyed. Plus, you'll love Jason in bed. HOT!(less)
What seemed like a horror romance from the blurb turned out to be a semi-lighthearted romance in this novella. Th...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
What seemed like a horror romance from the blurb turned out to be a semi-lighthearted romance in this novella. The romance is pretty toned down and much of the book is about fighting the mysterious force the characters call The Shift in a never-ending battle for dominance over the human race.
Cash is the baby brother in a family of fighters. Perhaps it is because, as the baby, he can get away with more than his siblings that he’s grown into a bit of a reckless man, but when they’re fighting the The Shift, he’s always the one to dive in head first. So it isn’t a surprise that he’s caught in a bind when Toby saves him, having sunk into the mess of green goo the creature turned into when he was killed by Cash repeatedly hacking into his neck while riding his shoulders, hobbit-style. Cash is immediately smitten, but is told to leave Toby alone by Jack, the patriarch of the family, because they’re thinking of interviewing Toby as a witness. But Cash doesn’t want to wait. After all, it’s hard finding a hookup, not to mention a guy he might actually end up caring about, when you’re constantly waiting for another fight. So when Jack’s “interview” with Toby is done in radio silence and seems to look more like a fight, Cash defies orders and stays behind to get the truth from Toby, only to be forced to save the man in turn. The answers Cash wants open the floodgates to secrets much larger than he could have imagined, and Cash is divided by his newfound feelings for Toby and his loyalty to the good fight.
I enjoy reading horror from time to time, which is why I picked up this novella. But I was still pleasantly surprised to find a more lighthearted story, not horror at all, more a mad scientist and superhero story. The real story here is not in the romance. The actual time that Cash and Toby spend together is pretty small, and even at the end of the actual story (there’s an epilogue, of a sort) they still don’t know one another very well, other than having the knowledge that when they’re together they can burn the sheets off the bed (NOT one of the superpowers :D). I would have liked to have more time to see the two of them together. Since this story is pretty short, it might be that the author is planning to make this a series, but judging from the ending, it could go either way.
No, the real story here is about Cash. He’s a great character and the story is told completely from his POV (we don’t get to know Toby nearly as well as even Cash’s family and team). There are several fight scenes, where we get to see The Shift in all their grody glory. I use grody deliberately, as they’re gross, for sure, but also a little funny, in a b-side The Blob kind of way. Much of the story is Cash’s reaction to meeting Toby and learning that he doesn’t really know if what he’s fighting for is the right thing. The pseudo-philosophical conversations he has with his father Jack are some of the best parts of the story and a coming of age for Cash.
I’d definitely read more if Kate Sherwood spun this into a series. I think there’s a lot more to be told, especially about The Shift, which are largely still a mystery to me. Also, I think the possibility of regrouping and expanding the team would make for a really interesting story, as well as the implications of that to the world at large. This is a Pretty Good story — it wasn’t spectacular, but I think it has the possibility to become a good series if Ms. Sherwood were so inclined.(less)
Lucius' Bite is the start of a new fantasy/paranormal series with a unique twist on the ma...moreReview 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!(less)
It has been a while since I've read anything by this author and I seem to remember that I enjoyed her work. Thoug...moreReview 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.(less)
I am pretty sure that though I'm familiar with Tracy Rowan, this is the first book of her's that I've read. I was intrigued by the blurb -- this seemed like it would be a light, kind of funny book, tongue-in-cheek and pretty snarky. For the most part, that is what this is. But I was surprised by two things, the m/f scenes (with a pretty big dose of girly parts, for me anyway!), and the really serious romance ambits the humorous narration. The first half of the book, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. Frank is pretty emo, and while it isn't shown in an angst way or anything, I wanted the plot to move forward. That started to happen as I kept reading, and I found that I was really getting into the story and really liking the style of the writing.
Frank is… well he's a mess, really. He lives alone in the apartment above his landlady, an elderly and spunky woman. His life hasn't really moved forward since his high school days, and his emotions have stalled. He's still harboring the old hurts of high school, including his love of Rebecca Hansen, his very own Buffy. But Rebecca was a cheerleader, popular and had a boyfriend, a man that Frank loves to hate, even to this day for taking his girlfriend, as he sees it.
His life takes a drastic turn when he learns the truth of vampires. While coming home one night, he's accosted outside by his elderly landlady, Mrs. Carlson. She begs him for just a sip of his blood. The butcher gave away her pint of blood that day and she's unbearably hungry. The knowledge of the existence of vampires gives Frank hope that he can turn his life around. After all, everyone knows how dark and glamorous vampires are. It's the chance that Frank has been waiting for.
Mrs. Carlson obliges, but the change doesn't seem to … change him very much. He's still the same old awkward Frank. But he hasn't given up hope yet that something crazy and interesting will happen to him, and he knows immediately that he made the right choice when he runs into Will Chase, Rebecca's old boyfriend in high school and perfect in every way. He can finally get his revenge, targeting Will. He doesn't know how to handle the situation though, when Will turns out to be very different from what he expected. A strange kind of friendship forms between them when they find out how much they have in common. But vampirism did bring him something on value, a friend. A friend who can introduce him to Rebecca.
If you're thinking that this sounds totally wacky -- well, it really is. That's why I did have a bit of trouble getting into the first part of the story. Frank seemed very immature, even though I could see the charm in the story and in the writing. It's not outright funny, but I definitely had some chuckles here and there. But the characters, and their eccentricities are what are really funny here. And of course the real story is the developing relationship between Frank and Will as Will tries to set Frank up with Rebecca. To do so means that Frank has to make a lot of changes in his life, and the journey they take together to make that happen brings them even closer together.
I really quite liked the relationship between Frank and Will. While the rest of the story gave me a chuckle, the parts with these two characters together were the best part for me, and made this more than a so so book for me. There really isn't a "romance" between them until much later in the story, but I could see the development of their feelings long before that. Seeing them dance around that issues, as "straight men", made this an interesting dynamic.
I won't claim that this was a wonderful book. But I enjoyed reading it, and I really liked the main characters. Mrs. Carlson is also pretty awesome. So, if you're in the mood for light hearted and kinda funny, or are a fan of this author, this is definitely worth a read. It's cute, and at times beautiful when the two men finally get their act together.(less)
This book is one of the main reasons I decided that I wanted to do an Author Backlist Project. Mary Calmes was my...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
This book is one of the main reasons I decided that I wanted to do an Author Backlist Project. Mary Calmes was my first choice from when I first thought of the idea directly to it's debut last Fall, and this was one of the handful of books that I've had forever and intended to read for years now. Somehow, it never seemed to happen, and even in the case of a book like this, which I always had such high hopes for but ultimately didn't live up to my (possibly) too-high expectations, it is still really nice to read more of Mary's backlist and assuage my curiosity about this book.
Jude Shea is job-less and boyfriend-less, which all stems from one terrible betrayal. Now, all alone in his new (and sad) studio apartment, Jude is woken in the middle of the night with an inexplicable desire to take a walk in the park. While there, he comes across a pack of dogs killing another dog. The dog is absolutely huge and almost dead, but Jude has a sudden bout of confidence and runs off the pack of dogs. He soon starts to call the dog "Joe" after their trip to fix him up at the animal clinic, where the vet, vet techs and workers of the clinic are at once awed and afraid of Joe. To everyone else, he's a wicked beast, but when he's around Jude he turns into a big teddy bear. In a small amount of time they become best friends -- Jude has never had a dog before and finds the companionship strangely comfortable, and Joe The Dog seems very attached and protective of Jude for such a short relationship. Jude is inconsolable when faced with the thought that Joe's real owner might come looking for him.
When a man shows up at Jude's apartment claiming the dog has his own and calling him Eoin, Jude is wary. The man seems strange, not only in his speech and mannerisms, but in his completely lack of emotion when talking about Joe/Eoin. Soon, both man and dog find themselves being chased through Chicago at night, only to disappear into a very strange fog bank.
Eoin isn't just a dog, he's a guardian for a baroness in the land across the veil. Guardian's are the fiercest of protectors, with no love for anything but the safety of their charge. Across the veil, in his homeland, Eoin is a man like any other, but in Jude's homeland he reverts to his shifted form, a dog. In rare instances, a guardian might find his cairn, his heart, in a mating bond that immediately severs ties to their old allegiances, purely because their mate will now forever be foremost in their mind. Now, with the gryphons once again on his tail, he knows that he must get Jude across the veil and back to his home in order to protect him from their pursuers and give their bond a chance to solidify, something that Eoin will not allow to go undone. He has found his mate, and he won't give him up.
But life across the veil is very difficult for Jude, not only because he doesn't understand anything about the lives they lead, but because of the political turmoil that followed them across the veil in the first place. Navigating their allies and enemies will test their relationship and Jude's own self-worth, as he puts his life back together and looks forward to a possibly incredible future with Eoin back in his own world.
I didn't really know what this book was about, honestly. I really liked the story -- it's almost a time travel story, but without explicit description about the veil and the technical aspects of the fantasy world and how it is connected to our world. I liked the characters also. Jude is a pretty typical Calmes' character, almost perfect in every way, while it is impossible to hate a character like Eoin with a heart of gold, completely noble and loyal and moral and self-sacrificing, who speaks in a thick brogue and is the epitome of rough highlander warrior. The book is heavy on the sex (which I didn't mind because it was so hot), but in the end, I had a lot of problems with it.
Perhaps my feelings are indicative of the upward trajectory of Mary Calmes' writing. Reading this, one of her earlier novels, I could definitely see where her recent work has been of higher quality. The change in POV over the story bothered me somewhat. At times it is very frequent between especially Jude and Eoin. I actually liked getting the POV of secondary characters in this instance, though the transitions between all of them are what bothered me, usually because it got confusing. I also felt rather jarred when Jude and Eoin when through the veil into Eoin's homeland. The first part of the story, in our world, was really enjoyable and easy to read, but once in the other land things sometimes became dreamlike and at other times simply confusing. With only small pieces of information about the political issues, I felt a bit like I had one foot in the world and one foot out. I wanted to know what was going on, but nothing was ever really described past a superficial level, which made my investment in the story less than usual.
So even while I enjoyed parts and liked the characters, it wasn't even near my favorite Calmes' books. I am certainly glad I have read it though, and if you haven't either it is something to consider. It might be more your cup of tea than mine, or you might at least not feel the same way as I did about these specific issues. Now, I'm forward into the backlist and looking forward to next week's book by Mary Calmes!(less)
A story that surprised me with it’s minimal style. With pretty much no exposition, this story gives lots of clues but little fact, which I enjoyed. I read this story without remembering the blurb, which I actually enjoyed. The blurb gives away much more information than the story does. Though the story isn’t a puzzler, I liked that I had to keep my brain a bit active to understand the characters.
Daniel is a priest and demon hunter. He’s mourning the loss of David, who the order he belongs to thought of as his best friend. The secret that they were much more close, fighting partners and lovers, still haunts him in his grief. That grief has grown into a empty gulf that Daniel tries to fill with reckless fighting and dangerous encounters in seedy neighborhoods. He’s a very strong hunter, one of the best, and his overconfidence combined with grief is a bad combination. It’s strange, then, that a demon is the one who might bring him back to a life he wants to live.
Like I said before, what I most enjoyed about this story is the fact that I’m not given the answers. It’s not great, vast plotline. It’s a pretty simple short story actually. But that style of storytelling lets the reader’s imagination become more active in the story. I like a story that is different to me than anyone else, and I have a feeling that that might be true with this story. That is also the reason I bumped my rating from a B+ to an A-. I like that the story is open to a bit of interpretation.
Daniel is also quite an interesting character. Though no secret from the blurb, it isn’t actually clear that his recklessness comes from grief until a bit of the story has passed. He was once a man of passion and righteous belief in his ability and order. Yet, through his grief he is open to seeing a different side of the world in which he had pledged to fight, though it comes with quite a fight itself. Korim, though we do get his point of view occasionally, is much less known to the reader. A higher demon, he’s almost a hunter of his own kind, or a kind of wrangler. Seeing the two come together, flirt with fighting, and slowly get to know one another forms an interesting and dichotomous bond that is almost a reversal of their proper roles — Korim becomes the savior.
The two have a very strong connection to one another, and that came through very much in my reading of the story. Their sex scenes together were quite steamy :) I liked them as a couple very much, although I will acknowledge that the story ends in, well, I’d say an HFN. That’s open to interpretation too. After all, Daniel is pretty screwed up and Korim is a demon. Still, it fit with the story, so I liked it.
I’d recommend this one and I hope everyone who reads it enjoys it as I did!(less)
Amazing job girls! Kyle Adams was awesome enough to post my prompt because I had already posted another one, lol. And I'm really charmed with how it t...moreAmazing job girls! Kyle Adams was awesome enough to post my prompt because I had already posted another one, lol. And I'm really charmed with how it turned out. The most important thing was that they play with it and have fun with the outrageous animal shifters, and the story was really funny and cute :)
And... weirdly enough! The authors gave a character my real last name!(less)
First released in 1991 and re-released last year by Lethe Press, Getting Life in Perspective tells the life story of three gay men. Rick Carton, an editor for a Boston gay-oriented publishing company, has watched many friends and past lovers die at the hands of the latest monstrosity sent to plague gay men, AIDS, and now has been told that he has a similar disease in symptom, though somewhat different and lesser known, yet which is slowly killing him just as surely. His dire prognosis is leading him down a path of self-actualization in which he realizes that he's living a life that never dreamt of. Most of all that upsets him, though, is the fact that he hasn't found love in his life, though he's had plenty of sex, and he seems to have lost the wonder of seeing the world in the way he once had during his youthful days marching for human rights throughout the 60s and 70s. Urged by his best friend to take a holiday for his health, he retreats to the Texan countryside to help prepare a old rundown Spanish estate for sale, and hopefully, find inspiration to create the novel he's always wanted to write.
The country is good for him. Breathing fresh air and working in the garden is not only healing him physically, but spiritually as well. So comes the day when he takes the advice he'd given in the past to young writers as he sits to write his novel. He imagines sitting down and having a conversation with his characters and letting them tell him their story. Like the creation of a tulpa, two men emerge. Ben comes first. He is the embodiment of all that Rick has ever been attracted to and he is remarkably insecure at first, like a lost little boy begging to be understood. He tells Rick his story -- his enrollment in a Jesuit seminary in the 1890s and the subsequent feelings of otherness. As he continues his tale through seminary, the downfall of his family, his life as a tramp and the shanty towns along the rivers on the way to Chi-town, Rick also comes to meet Tom, another man/character sprung from his consciousness (or the land he now resides?), who has braved his mother's care and death, then the loss of his job with the failing economy. Now untethered and dreaming of the adventure he could not pursue while his mother was dying, he buys a train ticket to Chicago where he hopes to meet his childhood friend Johnny, the only person who he felt ever really understood him. Like Ben, Tom tells Rick of his adventure -- of meeting Literature professor Eli Hauptmann on the train and his subsequent discovery of the alternately sexual community of scholars, poets, artists, and philosophers of the late 19th century.
Told in alternating viewpoints between the three men, and spanning two different times of transition in American and gay culture, the story follows the fated meeting of Ben and Tom and their search across the West for a place to live peacefully and Rick's own parallel discoveries of life, love, and the pursuit of the Clear Light, a place of new perspective in the ever present mortality of life.
There is so much I felt while reading this truly beautiful story that I feel as if I'm bursting at the seams. I've only read one previous book written by Toby Johnson (with Dr. Walter Williams), Two Spirits (reviewed here). Like that book, the storytelling here is superb. Essentially a coming of age novel, no matter at which point each of these characters are in their lives, this is a story of adventure, of learning from life, and understanding. It is a story about the history of all marginalized groups everywhere and their slow, perpetual work toward the benefit of their community and humanity. This is a story in the vein of the Bill Moyers interviews with Joseph Campbell -- a dialogue of sorts challenging the nature of the ever-changing mythos of homosexuality. And lastly, this is a story about finding love and having the courage to accept that sometimes it breaks all the rules.
Though I must say that I find gay spirituality a fascinating topic, I'm still a lover of stories at heart, and the real heart of this story is the journey undertaken by Ben and Tom. Though their era is often referred to as a simpler time, their personal experiences show that misfortune knows no restraint by the era in history. Ben and Tom face trial after trial in their youth, until they learn to embrace the margins and take up residence there with what they previously believed were the dregs of society -- tramps, hobos, queers. Their love story is triumphant because they truly love each other, which is consistently shown in this story to be a spiritual birth. Their journey is meant to be instructive, not only to Rick, but to everyone, that love should be treated with the same reverence a priest would give to God. As a product of that joining between the two of them, they nurture each other until they ultimately overcome the fears that were previously strangling them. This is possibly one of the most obvious themes -- the hero's journey -- which among others, are stamped across the pages saying "Joseph Campbell was here."
The only real difficulty that I had with the story is that the narration often strays into what a character from the later part of the novel calls "sermonizing." I sometimes felt like the fourth wall had broken down and I was in a seminar. Now, that depends on the reader whether the subject interests them enough to enjoy it or over look it if they don't. While I found the discourse interesting at times, it often repeated the same theories from different angles all at the same problems, which made the reading sometimes tedious. Thankfully, I loved the rest of the story so much and these parts, though while often, tended not to last very long. To some extent, this is to be expected, as Toby Johnson set out to write a Gay Spiritual Romance, which by nature means that he's starting a discussion with the reader. I simply wished that sometimes I had been left to discover the message on my own, through the characters' journey.
I must admit that I feel a bit ashamed after reading this novel, that while I thought I was very up on a piece of my own history, I had largely based my knowledge on the queer movements of the 60s-80s (from Stonewall to Homosexual Theory to AIDS marches on the Reagan administration). There is quite a bit of information here, all set up as a story within a story within a story -- a nesting doll of comparative experiences among gay peoples that spans time. It might be helpful for some to have some knowledge on the subject, though definitely not needed. While I find the teachings of Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, and the like interesting, I must say that I know quite little about these teachings, and some of these texts (the Upanishads for example, are referenced quite often), yet it didn't diminish my understanding and enjoyment of the novel, no matter how I might have sometimes wished for a lighter delivery.
This is certainly not a light read, and you should know that this book is meant for more than enjoyment. It isn't quite heavy, though, especially in the way that Two Spirits was sometimes difficult to read. There is a brief attempted rape (I refuse to read non-con, yet this did not bother me), and those who are sensitive to religious issues might take heed. I do, however, encourage those who might balk at the idea of this story to try the book anyway. Even if you absolutely hate the spiritual discussions, the story within is a gem and Ben and Tom are characters that grew to mean very much to me. The secondary characters alone are reason enough to read the story. The numerous shades of people Ben and Tom meet on their journey remind me so much of Cormac McCarthy's characters. They're simply a delight to read. Though I marked off some points in my review, this is definitely a keeper, and I plan on reading it many times in the future.(less)
I've come to expect cute, short and easy to read stories from Mell Eight, and this was no exception. In many ways...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
I've come to expect cute, short and easy to read stories from Mell Eight, and this was no exception. In many ways it is a prelude to a story, because at only 8k words we really only get some background, the "meeting" between the romantic pair, and the mating between the two.
Neero's older brother Lex is the alpha of their little pack of misfits, and the power has gone a bit to his head. They've become somewhat disreputable after the death of their former Alpha, who was loved and revered, but with Lex's ascension to the role as their currently strongest wolf, the pack has fallen on hard times. They're broke and live in squalor and have very little protection. In the past, Neero has had to take numerous jobs to earn money to feed the pack, but lately he's been having to do it to earn money to feed Lex's obsession with showering the woman he's courting with the jewels and finery that she requests.
Lex approaches Neero and compels him to sell himself for $10,000 -- enough money to keep Lex's girlfriend happy and buy her the diamonds she wants for her Halloween costume. Yet, the man that Lex ends up staying with is a complete surprise.
Okay, obviously Lex is an asshole, right? Yeah, that's what I thought too. I felt like we got to know him enough that we could understand his motivations for what he did, but I also didn't quite feel like we got to know him any further, or enough for me to forgive him for being an utter asshole, a TERRIBLE brother, and an extremely poor leader of the pack. It isn't a huge deal, because he isn't the main character in this story, but he does relate directly to the actions of Leero and the man he goes to meet that night and then comes to mate with, simply because of the way they treat him. This was basically the whole story and while I liked it… it just wasn't enough for me.
I'm still having some trouble with this author's work because while I always like what is presented to me, with this story I again feel like I was waiting for more of the story. We don't really see any romance between the main couple and we get to know only the bare bones of their lives. Sure, this works well as a Halloween snippet (though it isn't scary in any way, that's okay though), but as a standalone story and even more as a romance, I didn't get what I needed for the story to feel complete.
So I'd say to go into this story without expecting a full story and you might enjoy it if that is what you want. Sometimes that is nice to read and I certainly liked the story, but again I felt like this was a Mell Eight story that ended before much really happened or was explained.(less)
Though there's no need to read these stories in any certain order (the other being Megan Derr's Herbal R...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader.
Though there's no need to read these stories in any certain order (the other being Megan Derr's Herbal Remedy), they are connected. The common denominator are two of the main characters. In this story, it is Jayden, who is the brother of the narrator of Megan Derr's story. I happened to read Megan's story first, so I found that I knew quite a bit about Jayden before I got to read his story. In Megan's story we see quite a bit of Jayden and his importance in Jordan's life, so I had a pretty good handle on his character. Though… it's interesting, and this one aspect played out well in the order I read the stories. From Jordan, I got one characterization of Jayden and though it was admittedly multifaceted because he's an important character to him, actually getting to know Jayden firsthand from this story completed his character in the same way you'd get to know someone through their sibling only to see later that you only understood them through the lens of sibling affection and at the same time, frustration :)
Lee probably felt similarly towards Jordan, when he meets him in this story just because he's heard about him through Jayden. The two meet at a sunny beach hotel. Lee had planned his vacation to the beach for some well-earned rest. It might seem strange for a vampire to vacation at the beach, but all Lee wants is some relaxation and a new guy to share his hotel room with each night. So his fixation on one man alone surprises him.
Jayden works at the hotel desk and checks in Lee when he arrives. The two share a flirtation that baffles Lee a bit. Jayden seems to be reacting strangely to his vampire-seduction mojo, but if Jayden is immune then maybe he's really interested in him. He still has a job to do though. He wouldn't have met Jayden at all if his cousin wasn't laid up with a broken ankle. Astor is researching the local lighthouse (which is rumored to be haunted) for his next book on hauntings. If he hadn't agreed to do the research for him since he was laid up, then Lee wouldn't be staying in such a swanky beach-front hotel, and therefore wouldn't have had the chance to meet the lovely Jayden.
The best part about this story is that Sasha Miller has thrown away all the unofficial vampire rules and created an interesting, rather mundane vampire. For someone like myself who prefers the Wild Bill sort of vamp (though Wild Bill could never be called mundane!), I really enjoyed getting to know Lee. He's got a bit of a shaky moral compass, though he's a genuinely good guy. And I liked the couple that Jayden and Lee make.
Second, this is really a nice beach read. Not that it's about a beach (duh), but because it's really about a vacation fling, and those are always fun to read about. The warm weather and long evenings, the lack of stress, and… the beach. It's about appreciating the day and not worrying about tomorrow. That made this story fun to read. Jayden and Lee enjoy each other, have lots of sex and because they aren't worried about the future, they allow themselves to be playful. One of my favorite scenes is when they go to do Astor's research at the lighthouse and make fun of all the ghost stuff. It's light and sweet.
The story does evolve, towards the end, as they start having real feelings and thinking about what happens next. I appreciated having a solid Happy for Now ending with a real plan going forward for their relationship rather than an unreal HEA.
This is definitely best read as part of a pair, but mostly because the stories are both good and go well together than needing to be read together. You could enjoy either of them separately if you wished.(less)