Rounded up to 4 stars, only because of Nicholas. This book managed to hit multiple pet peeves of mine, but I still found myself caught up in the situaRounded up to 4 stars, only because of Nicholas. This book managed to hit multiple pet peeves of mine, but I still found myself caught up in the situation of the MC, Nicholas, wanting to know what would happen to him, even if it was going to be mostly sex, or pain, or pain and sex. I don't know if I'll read the sequel, but I might, because he was a vivid character.
The story begins with an info-dump world-building prologue that might have made me put it down, but gets much better after that. Nicky is a young man with magical abilities, both of his own and in his ability to support another mage's power. On a world with an indigenous magic-using population, under subjugation by an invading more-technological group who want to take control of that magic, everyone fights for survival and a place.
Nicky is smart, cunning, a good fighter and able to use his magical talents fairly discreetly. He makes a good place for himself amid local street gangs, until his abilities bring him the wrong sort of attention. He is clever, loyal, mouthy, snarly, short-tempered, and fun to be with as a narrator. And his past is as rough as his present. I really liked Nicky. The secondary characters were also interesting and fleshed out the story.
Now as for the pet peeves. First, the prologue. Second, it really needed an editor. Lots of typos, and several malapropisms of simple phrases ("it is mute" rather than "moot", "in lue" rather than "in lieu", "wailed on" for "whaled on") and other errors. And then the content one. (view spoiler)[ Falling in love with your rapist. This is my big NO NEVER peeve, but it almost worked here for several reasons. First, because Nicky killed his first rapist almost in the act. Made a bargain with his second. And had a magical-power bonding experience during sex, with the third whom he might possibly be falling in love with, so by then perhaps being used sexually was less of a shock to him. And also because mixing the magic in makes it... possible, in this case. It still irks me to see this, but in the violence-plus-magic context of the story it didn't make me walk away. (hide spoiler)] The story is also as much sex as plot, which isn't my usual. But the author succeeded in pulling me through to the end and wanting more of Nicky, so I can't go less than rounding up to 4 stars in the end.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This was a short realism-infused fairy-tale story with a simple but satisfying romance arc. In this small medieval Bosnian town there is a pillar, a wThis was a short realism-infused fairy-tale story with a simple but satisfying romance arc. In this small medieval Bosnian town there is a pillar, a whipping post. Men whose crimes are severe enough, slaves whose worth has dropped too low, may be sentenced to be tied there, whipped past or near to death and left. To die or live, to be rescued or not, but separated from their former life by the extreme punishment.
Faris was one of those men, a young thief, who was taken down and nursed back to health by the local healer. Over time he took over the post of town healer, learning what he could, trying always to atone for his wrongdoing and the worthlessness the whip had branded deep in him. On the death of his mentor, it became Faris's self-imposed job to tend to those whom the whipping at the pillar left still living. He's saved some, failed others, and it's taking its toll. He doesn't want to face another broken man. Then one night he gets the call again, to come cut down a former slave, tossed out by his owner to be flogged to death. But Boro didn't die, and Faris can't refuse to tend him.
Faris reaps what he sows, in the reactions of Boro and his neighbors and those he angers. There were few surprises, but the story worked for me, until the end. Major spoiler: (view spoiler)[I really didn't like the way the episode of the chain was handled right at the end. Already, Boro's ability to emotionally get over what had happened to him, particularly some of the abuse, seemed to verge on the miraculous. But for him to accept that role, for Faris to impose it, as "Oh, this is a good answer," without angst, without refusal, without offering reversal, really bothered me. What if Faris goes into debt and his assets must be sold? What if he dies? No matter how he treats it as a fiction, it's not going to be seen that way from the outside. Given what Boro went through, how can he acquiesce so simply? This sudden "rule" that appeared, and the force it put on the ending, bothered me a lot. If it was necessary, I'd have liked to see a couple of chapters to working through what it would mean to both of them, and getting to where it could happen emotionally. (hide spoiler)]
So I did enjoy this story - I love this author's ability to make me care about characters and to make a fantasy or historical setting feel real and immediate. A major ending quibble made me love this one less than "Brute" but I will pick up her next book in this vein eagerly.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Short, cute conversation for fans of the wonderful free novel. It's was fun to get another quick look at the guys, a little bit down the road. The StuShort, cute conversation for fans of the wonderful free novel. It's was fun to get another quick look at the guys, a little bit down the road. The Student Prince is one of my go-to comfort reads - wonderful, sweet, funny, a little emotional, long and free. (And there is no need to know anything about the TV series although a tiny bit of familiarity with the Arthurian legends helps recognize the names.) If you loved the book, this will provide a little warm fuzzy for you....more
This series definitely should be read from the beginning. (And definitely should be read by anyone who enjoys paranormal romance.) This is perhaps theThis series definitely should be read from the beginning. (And definitely should be read by anyone who enjoys paranormal romance.) This is perhaps the most startling installment, as over and over the author caught me by surprise with where she took the plot and the backstory.
The romance between Whyborne and Griffin continues to be the warm, solid and sweet underpinning of the saga, and yet, just when I'd have thought there was nothing that could shake up this couple, there was that revelation... Jordan Hawk sets up situations that in a more cautious author's hands would have been teasers, conventionally resolved. But instead, more than once, she takes the unexpected route and leaves the reader blinking, and trying madly to rearrange expectations. It's well done, and gives fresh edge to the series even this far into the books.
I enjoyed this ride, and look forward eagerly to any further glimpses of these men that the author chooses to give us, including the next novel. Not a perfect book, but so surprising, imaginative, engaging and entertaining that it fully deserves five stars. And I do adore Griffin. (Even if I still struggle with how he pronounces "Ival"...) These men are a great couple of MCs....more
Another outing for a great pair of characters from this author. Simon the ghost hunter, and Robert who had a brief encounter with him in the first stoAnother outing for a great pair of characters from this author. Simon the ghost hunter, and Robert who had a brief encounter with him in the first story, are now brought together again in the pursuit of paranormal evil. I would love to see a longer story about these two someday. Simon has a bitter edge, and Robert is his ideal foil; they work well off each other. There is sexual tension, creepy death, and we learn a little more about both men. Well done....more
3.5 stars, rounded up for the pleasure of the series as a whole.
This was my least favorite of the series, but it was still good to see Seregil and Al3.5 stars, rounded up for the pleasure of the series as a whole.
This was my least favorite of the series, but it was still good to see Seregil and Alec, and to watch them work together again. I loved having Micum with them once more, although his strengths were underused. This whole series is well worth the read for fantasy fans.
Seregil, Alec, Klia, Theo and company are sent forth to deal with the mysterious and probably supernatural murder of the governor of a recently-annexed island territory. The story begins with a little more exposition than might be ideal, as the history of the situation is laid out. But there is the promise of real adventure. Over the series, we've been introduced to a host of secondary characters, and the writing follows the adventures of at least six main characters, with an omniscient fourth voice. The result is an intriguing, complicated and magical plot with many twists and turns. The flip side is less emotional investment in the point of view of any one character or pair of characters. I found myself racing through this, following the course of events to see how the guys could manage to get out of this mess. But the various moments of injury and peril sat more lightly on the story than in some past books.
The biggest addition to the familiar crew here is the character of Mika, Theo's young wizardly apprentice. I enjoyed some of his contributions. I liked that he sometimes messed up, got lost, and couldn't keep a secret to save his life. But his presence sometimes irked me, suggesting a trope of powerful-young-magic-user who may potentially save the day for his elders. He felt very young in many ways for how the adults treated him, especially in his constant lack of supervision, and the resulting tangling of the plot.
This was very much a tale of discovering, comprehending and dealing with a perplexing and arbitrary-seeming magical threat. The author brought the threads together quite skillfully at the end, but I missed a bit more of the human conflict from earlier tales. (view spoiler)[There was a thread of the islanders worrying that Seregil, in giving refuge to any 'faie who chose to live there, was amassing a mob or a threat to local order. (hide spoiler)] I'd have liked to see more of the human side of the story like that play out, with more non-magical opponents to be dealt with. But that's just me, and my love of watching Seregil play politics. Or leapfrog over politics.
This series is wonderful high-adventure fantasy, with two excellent main characters and good secondaries. I enjoy the battles against concentrated evil, and even more the times they are dealing with corrupted humans, mysteries and magic in a more corporeal realm. Seregil's style in mixed company is always a pleasure. This is the last novel, and I will miss Alec and Seregil. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book has three short stories, tied together by the ongoing question of why Denton keeps seeing images of frogs out of the corner of his eye. EachThis book has three short stories, tied together by the ongoing question of why Denton keeps seeing images of frogs out of the corner of his eye. Each section has a little paranormal situation for the guys to solve. Although there are hints of both jealousy and affection that keep things interesting between the guys, these stories are fairly light and superficial. I enjoyed meeting Bran's father, and learning more about Bran. The quirks and humor were fun, and this makes a nice addition to the series. ...more
A collection for fans of the series. I enjoyed the story about Warren and Kyle, from Warren's POV. I hope someday she gives the guys a book. Some storA collection for fans of the series. I enjoyed the story about Warren and Kyle, from Warren's POV. I hope someday she gives the guys a book. Some stories were familiar, some were more engaging than others. My favorite was Ben's. Read this collection after the series books, because some stories will otherwise be spoilers, or not mean much. ...more
The three books and the short stories that make up the "A Charm of Magpies" series are a completely satisfying, exciting, beautifully-written magicalThe three books and the short stories that make up the "A Charm of Magpies" series are a completely satisfying, exciting, beautifully-written magical romp. Read them in order, and fall for the characters and the author.
This third book is full of action and conflict. Almost too full - if I had any complaint it's that it moves too fast for the length. There are delicious events here, not just in the arcane and mystery realms but between the characters. Stephen and Crane have serious fights about who they are to each other and how that will play out. Crane and Merrick have a significant conflict. (I won't call that one a fight, because no one is unconscious at the end of it, but it's probably deeper discord than some of the times Merrick beat sense into Crane.) Stephen is overworked as his justiciary partner has to take time off, further wearing down the time Stephen can give to any of the vital elements of his life. There are new threats and old ones, a different magic, a new look at an old magic. I did wish I had more time to savor the developments, especially the personal ones.
Still, there are some of the best moments I've read in fiction lately. Lord Crane has a way with words. There is real emotion, even if it goes by fast, and some developments I wasn't expecting. The story tumbles you along breathlessly, half laughing, half cursing, as it plays out. If you enjoyed the first books, you must read this one.
There is room for more for our delightful MCs at the end, but I saw somewhere that this is intended to complete the cycle of Lucien Lord Crane and Stephen Day. If so, I am totally satisfied, and look forward to them as side characters in Jackdaw. If the author ever sees fit to share with us what happens a few months down the road it will no doubt make fascinating reading. Merrick in particular may be torn in new ways, and Stephen challenged in unfamiliar ones. But if that story doesn't make it to paper from this remarkably talented author, I'll simply grab whatever book she gives us next and be grateful....more
The story opens with the two MCs encountering each other as they both are drawn toward trouble in a warehouse. Both men are casters, manipulating enerThe story opens with the two MCs encountering each other as they both are drawn toward trouble in a warehouse. Both men are casters, manipulating energies around them to affect the material world in a way we would call magic. Both want to use their abilities for positive ends. Their different styles strike sparks when they meet for the first time. They are not natural allies, and yet they feel an affinity as well, and find they can work together.
Jump five years ahead to the main story (and I did wish just a little to have seen those early years, and the move from distrust to trust. But the story here opens with a solid friendship in place.) Kaelan is gay, Max is bi, but they are determined not to wreck a promising working relationship and friendship by letting the possibility of something more get in the way. That resolution lasts longer than I expected, and falls apart in a uniquely messy (if slightly perplexing way. (view spoiler)[the warehouse/memory scene just didn't feel well-motivated or plausibly explained to me. (hide spoiler)])
I liked both these characters, and enjoyed their banter. The world-building was good with some unique touches, like the looming threat of actual consequences if casting is used wrong enough for long enough. Readers who enjoy urban fantasy with carefully laid out world-building touches will be more likely to appreciate this book than those in it mainly for the romance, although the relationship was sweet at the start and hot later on.
I applaud the authors for not saving every positive character in the nick of time, for allowing the heroes to sometimes fail in material ways, and for the cat. Definitely for the cat :) The little snippets of various books on casting which begin each chapter were a nice atmospheric touch. I had a few minor plot quibbles, and despite the potential from two guys in love and in danger, I didn't get sucked into the emotional relationship deeply, but I definitely enjoyed the ride. I would read more about these two guys.
This was fun - a chance to see four of our favorite historical paranormal sleuths from outside of their usual first-person narratives. It probably doeThis was fun - a chance to see four of our favorite historical paranormal sleuths from outside of their usual first-person narratives. It probably doesn't stand alone all that well, because the pleasure of it is hearing Robert call Griffin an "American popinjay" or depict Whyborne as having a "withered and corroded necromantic heart". The adventure plot is worth a read but the real entertainment is in the characters.
I did feel like I had missed a "Caldwell & Feximal" casebook, between Butterflies and this one. I don't see it listed, but clearly things had changed between the two men in the interim, and occasionally I wished I knew that story.
A lot of fun for fans of both series, and over all too soon....more
A cute look at Griffin's side of the relationship, shortly after Widdershins. The two men have only been together two months at this point, and GriffiA cute look at Griffin's side of the relationship, shortly after Widdershins. The two men have only been together two months at this point, and Griffin is sweetly unsure of his own appeal. The little paranormal thread doesn't really go anywhere, so this is notable mainly as a chance to see Ival Whyborne through his lover's eyes....more
I had to get past my initial disappointment of finding myself in a different POV than Spencer's and two years further down the road from Coyote's CreeI had to get past my initial disappointment of finding myself in a different POV than Spencer's and two years further down the road from Coyote's Creed. At the end of the first book, I'd thought we might see the gradual evolution of the relationship of Spencer and Rourke through the series, but this is pretty much a new story with only a tangential relationship to the first. Spencer appears briefly, but not in his relationship at all, and the stories are not headed where I expected. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
Once I realized I needed to set Spencer and Rourke aside, I was drawn into the story of James, the abused guy whom Spencer sent off on the bus in book 1. That wasn't just a chance meeting, and James isn't just any guy. He turns out to be a sorcerer, and a powerful one. And in the process of making that discovery, he meets up with dragons, and the Recluse himself, Cale, the sorcerer whom the rest of the supernatural world is gunning for. But Cale is nothing like the overlord James would have expected. And there is a lot more to James than he realized.
This is a darker, tougher book than the first. There is abuse and loss, both emotional and real. There is growing love, but again this is not headed for a romantic HEA. The characters are intensely drawn and interesting. The plot is a bit convoluted, and the motivations sometimes seemed murky. This is a series that might improve on a second or more close reading, with better attention to detail than I'm giving it. I've tended to skim over details and read for the gestalt. But even at that level, it was an absorbing read, with an ending that again completed an arc but frustrated the romantic in me, and I immediately plunged into the third one....more
I enjoy this series and will continue to read it, but this one felt like an extended episode without much movement or development in either overarchinI enjoy this series and will continue to read it, but this one felt like an extended episode without much movement or development in either overarching plot or characters. It could have been trimmed a lot, and made part of a book with other things happening. I still like Kitty, though, and will look forward to her next, hopefully less isolated and static, adventure....more
Kendras is now the Officer of the Scorpions. And although their numbers are small, and half of them are new, he feels that heart-deep loyalty to his mKendras is now the Officer of the Scorpions. And although their numbers are small, and half of them are new, he feels that heart-deep loyalty to his men that has always been the Scorpion way.
Adrastes has claimed the throne of Dalman. And he is once again moving in the halls of power to which he was born and bred. As his lover and bodyguard, Kendras is at his side watching, seeing the machinations and schemes, the plans and power, that are so different from when this man was Kendras' own Officer. Little things begin to rankle, like the way Adrastes still tries to command the Scorpions over Kendras' head. Or his growing revelation of how far his ambitions lie. And while enemies must be dealt with, there is a ruthless streak appearing that Kendras isn't comfortable with.
For Kendras, these are murky days. Scorpions have always had open relationships, lying with whomever they pleased, but loyal to the death in their fighting. Now that he is lover to a king, Kendras isn't sure where he stands. If he looks at another man, will that man be in danger from this new Adrastes? What about when he takes a new Scorpion in with the usual ceremony. The arrival of people with ties to his past, and information about his parents further unsettles him. And he finds himself watching everyone's back, and faces with choices. By the end of the book, his future is only more unclear, when his friends may be enemies, and everything he has loved and counted on is becoming quicksand under his feet.
And excellent gay fantasy read. And the wait for the next book will be too long. Just a few hours now, and it's already too long. Recommended to fantasy-lovers who don't need happy romance endings....more
The stakes continue to escalate in the arenas which Harry faces. I liked the return of Michael in this book, and the progress of Butters. There were gThe stakes continue to escalate in the arenas which Harry faces. I liked the return of Michael in this book, and the progress of Butters. There were good lines, but it felt less funny than most of the series, and the quest was slightly impersonal which took away some of the intensity. I do adore Mouse, and this sets up the next book to be more related to family and friends, which always brings out the intense in Harry. I missed Thomas in this one, but the cast is big enough now that you can't fit everyone in every book. I'll read the next when it comes out, but this doesn't leave me quite as impatient....more
An interesting pair of MCs come together here. Miguel is a New York City cop, trying to come back from having shot a man who was armed only with a reaAn interesting pair of MCs come together here. Miguel is a New York City cop, trying to come back from having shot a man who was armed only with a realistic toy gun. He is being hounded by the media, and is dealing with his own guilt for both that incident, and past experiences in the military. Nikolai Adelman is a local shaman, de facto guardian of the poor community in which he lives, whose Jewish and anthropology backgrounds flavor his speech and outlook.
The men meet over the case of several missing children in the community. They antagonize each other at first, but gradually come to see that each has strengths that the other lacks. The urban fantasy aspect of the story gradually builds, as Miguel moves further toward a forced belief in things unseen. Solving the case of the missing children will turn out to require both of them working together.
I really liked Miguel, and the flavor of his relationship with Nikolai. I had a bit of a harder time getting a handle on Nikolai, as my perception of his age, abilities and personality seemed unstable. It felt almost like he'd taken on a persona that was a camouflage, larger than life, but it remained with him through to the end. The mystery solution was interesting, and not pat, although perhaps a bit abrupt and unsatisfying in the end. I really like Miguel's interactions with his police partner, Rob, learning to see beneath his bulldozer approach to truth and justice. No BDSM in this book, and little sex - it's a slow-building paranormal romance wrapped in a police procedural plot more than a mystery. ...more
A short, fast, well-written story that is mostly one scene, half of it sex, but which sets up two intriguing characters, leading into the two longer sA short, fast, well-written story that is mostly one scene, half of it sex, but which sets up two intriguing characters, leading into the two longer stories which follow it. This author truly knows how to write historical romance and sex that feels real, and vivid, not too modern and yet full of heat. ...more
4.5 stars. This was a different book from the first, and I loved it for and in spite of those differences.
It's a more emotional book, with more heart4.5 stars. This was a different book from the first, and I loved it for and in spite of those differences.
It's a more emotional book, with more heart. Crane and Stephen matter to each other now, not as two men in the first brilliant flash of mutual attraction, but with a bond that is deeper than they sometimes care to admit. The funny little foretaste in the free short, Interlude with Tattoos, has become a melding of talents and desires. They are still living apart, having separate but sometimes intensely intersecting lives. But that's taking self-control from both of them, as they resist a deeper relationship for different reasons. I love emotion in my books, and liked feeling the heart of the story more intensely here.
On the other hand, this is a less-tightly-crafted book. The crystal polish of language in the first one seems a bit more muted, and the mystery is simpler. That's not all bad - I found the climax of this book easier to follow and more concrete, which I personally prefer. Crane's banter was also less sharp, perhaps because love was mellowing him (although he would no doubt be very dismayed at that thought.) At least, without Stephen as a fully deserving and ready target, he had slightly fewer beautifully-cutting lines here.
In this book we meet important secondary characters with enough detail for us to get a better feel for them. In addition to the inimitable Merrick, we meet Stephen's fellow justiciars and get to see them at work. The historical setting plays a strong role, reminding us that we have come far, if not far enough. There is more sex, and it's well done, with heat and desire that also moves the story forward.
I enjoyed this, devoured it in one reading, and will happily reread when the next one comes out....more
This book is a romp, but with a dark undertone. Vorgell, the horny (literally after that unicorn-horn episode) barbarian with the heart of gold and thThis book is a romp, but with a dark undertone. Vorgell, the horny (literally after that unicorn-horn episode) barbarian with the heart of gold and the cock of iron, rescues Maddog the witch from a prison cell, and assumes responsibility for him like some ancient Chinese curse. Maddog has a slave collar on his neck, and until he rids himself of it, he is tied to the nobleman who raped, tortured and enslaved him. He's also at risk from the wizards who are the nobleman's allies, and who hunt witches. The initial premise and Fafhrd-and-Gray-Mouser-with-sex story seem amusing and light-hearted. But the torture Maddog went through was intense, and the bad guys are not fooling around. I enjoyed this story a lot, and thought the author found a nice balance of tone between the serious and the comic. I would happily read more about these two guys....more
This series continues to be one great ride, with a nice blend of adventure, paranormal, and period romance. This installment brings Griffin face to faThis series continues to be one great ride, with a nice blend of adventure, paranormal, and period romance. This installment brings Griffin face to face with an echo of his greatest nightmares, an insane asylum like the one in which he was unjustly imprisoned before coming to Widdershins. As he works on the case of a murdered man, despite the looming shadows of that experience, he encounters one of the very men who kept him there, and must face difficult memories.
Whyborne has troubles of his own. New nightmares chase him, puzzling dreams of undersea buildings and creatures, and a sense of doom that he can't explain. As those dreams begin to spill over into the waking world, he needs Griffin's support just as much as the reverse.
This is a more emotional installment in some ways, as both the MCs battle fears, for themselves and for each other. The arrival of Griffin's parents throws a bit of mundane stress in the middle of the paranormal. And once again Christine is there, to provide her own indomitable assistance and unquenchable desire for equality based on her abilities and not her sex.
Whyborne is changing, becoming more sure of himself on the adventure and magic front, although still at times self-deprecating. His willingness to embrace violence is more practical than ever, and occasionally more blase than I would have expected from him, but his talents are shaping up nicely. The plot had some surprises, and the action moved swiftly. There were some sweetly romantic moments too. The period details are well done, and the asylum setting was almost more chilling than the paranormal threat, based as it was in the reality of the day. I'll look forward to another adventure from these wonderful characters....more
This remains one of my favorite M/F paranormal series. The mix of werewolves, fae, vampires, gods and more is complex, but grounded in the personal stThis remains one of my favorite M/F paranormal series. The mix of werewolves, fae, vampires, gods and more is complex, but grounded in the personal story of Mercy and the Pack. It's Mercy, and her relationships with all the people she cares about and considers hers who provides the heart, the humor and the warmth. Her courage, protectiveness, inventiveness and spirit make the books a pleasure to read.
In this installment, her husband Adam, the local Alpha, is contacted by his ex-wife who is in a panic, because the guy she just slept with is turning into a dangerous stalker. Neither Adam, nor Mercy herself, is going to turn away someone they know who might be in danger. Even after Christy, the ex, starts trying to fit herself back into the pack and Adam's life, they focus on keeping the peace and keeping everyone safe.
I liked the way that was handled, neither over-dramatic cat-fights, nor long-suffering angst. Mercy is justifiably snappish about things, but keeps her sense of humor and her sense of priorities,(view spoiler)[ and Adam doesn't loose sight of who he loves through all of it. He has his protective instincts, and sometimes gets busy or distracted, but I never felt that he was inconsistent with supporting his wife over his ex, or unaware of how much Mercy has become his life. (hide spoiler)] It made me enjoy the story even when I wanted to drop an anvil on Christy. I enjoyed learning more about some of the pack, seeing the dynamics shift, and the glimpses of Warren and Kyle.
The bad guy was interesting; the side plots with Stephan, Coyote, Tad, the fae and all, meshed well with the whole story, but left some open threads. But I found the end... emotionally lacking somehow. Not bad, just set up to be stronger than it turned out. Still a great read, and it left me eager as always for the next one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more