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3.76  ·  Rating details ·  222 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Outrunning a winter storm in the north, Captain Faran of the King's Guard leads his men and a young mage named Meric to shelter at Bitterwood Manor, the ancestral home of the Daenes. Faran and his troops have been searching for weeks for a mysterious, lion-like beast that reportedly haunts the uncharted northern woods. For Meric, finding that prophesied cat is a matter of ...more
ebook, 2nd Edition, 167 pages
Published September 19th 2016 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 24th 2011)
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3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  222 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Gail Carriger
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, coop, romance
Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwell was good. I wish the characters had been a little more developed initially, and the world/magical system could have used a more intricacy but those are quibbles. This was gay fantasy romance, and graphic at times, but sexy and if that's what you want/like I think it's one of the best I have ever read of this type. I enjoyed it very much.
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
~Review of second edition~

Bitterwood is a high fantasy set in a world with kingdoms, lords, castles, healers, and mages. It has a Middle Ages historical feel but with magic. Same-sex relationships are not forbidden in this world, but they're not encouraged either (families want heirs).

The story is told from two different third-person POVs: that of Faran, a captain in the King's guard, and that of Meric, a young mage.

Faran and Meric, along with their troops, are on a quest to find a magical bea
Oct 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, m-m
3.75 Stars

I enjoy this author's writing very much. She sets the stories so nicely. Her men are strong and honorable. It's nothing over the top or intense, just nicely paced and lovingly written.

In this book we get two love stories.

Joss and Faran. Joss is the Lord of Deanewood or Bitterwood. On a stormy night Faran a Captain of the King's Army shows up at his door with his men asking for shelter. Faran is travelling with one of the King's Mages, Meric. They are on a secret mission, which if it f
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quest into the heart of the wintry north country for a mythical cat and a powerful mage takes Captain Faran, his men, and Mage Meric to the estate of Joss Daenes, Lord of the Bitterwood. The journey is wreathed in secrecy and desperation, but the blizzard keeping them inside the manor of Joss and his sons brings an unexpected result. Faran is amazed at what he finds in this far north corner of the kingdom- the industry of the people, their loyalty to Joss Daene and the kingdom, and their distr ...more
Why this is a 5 stars story?

How many times did you read a book without stop to sleep or eat? How many times you wish the world could stop, and just you and your book would go on in time? That's how I feel, I couldn't STOP, and I didn't want to STOP, even when I was forced to!

The fantasy is very well explored in this story. Magic and magic creatures, curse, a realm without a king, a group of men defending their land from menaces, strong characters, romance subplot... EVERYTHING! There is ALL in t
Lexi Ander
Oct 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books that you can’t judge by its cover.

Captain Faran has spent two months crisscrossing the northlands with the young Mage Meric in tow looking for a legendary cat and a Great Mage when they come upon Bitterwood and its Lord Joss Daene. The Daene’s heraldry is the picture of the legendary cat that they seek, giving the Captain hope that they are close to the end of their quest for Meric, his young charge, is running out of time. Bitterwood holds more than an answer to a puz
~*~*~ REVIEW FOR THE 2nd EDITION ~*~*~*~

3.75 stars rounded up

Insta-love aside -- which is the major downside for me because I really dislike reading about people immediately knowing their true love within days! -- I thought this was a good fantasy-adventure-quest novella. I don't usually jump into high fantasy tale, but I've known Rowan Speedwell's writing so I figure I will be okay.

Captain Faran leads his men to the North in order to support a young mage, Meric, and find the mythical mysteriou
Book Gannet
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it
I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from this book, but I think it was more than what I actually got. There’s a bit of romance, but it’s mostly lust, there are mages and a little bit of magic, there’s the mystery of the cat, the mystery of Meric, a snow storm and lots of wandering around in a wood, but it’s pretty slow going and although a light, easy read, it never quite caught my attention as I’d hoped.

Part of this is because of the romance, or rather complete lack of it. There are actuall
Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
Rosalie's review posted at Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews

4.5 stars

I LOVE anything Medieval! And Bitterwood definitely did not fail to deliver! Something else this book had that I adore is dual POV's. The POV's in this read are from Meric and Farran. We get to explore both of these characters, as well as their sexy relationships, through the alternating POV's.

Faran and Meric are on a journey to find a magical cat that has been stated to help Meric get over the illness he has. Along the way, Faran
Book: Bitterwood
Author: Rowan Speedwell
Rating: 4 Stars

Bitterwood is a high fantasy set in a world that has magic and castles, and lords and ladies. And because it is high fantasy and modern world problems are not included same sex relationships are not forbidden although families would still like to carry on their line it is also something that isn’t exactly wanted either. It is an medieval historical timed story that includes magic which are two of my favorite things in this story.

One of my fa
Daniel Mitton
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
(Originally reviewed for Love Bytes Reviews with a copy provided by the publisher / author for an honest review. Rated 4.5 out of 5.0 Love Bytes.)

Have you ever read a book that you kept hoping wouldn’t get to the end too soon? This was one of them for me. I even made excuses to do stuff around the house to delay it. I know, right? To slow myself down…I even trimmed that damn Bougainvillea out front! I have the scratches to prove it!

But I digress. Back to the book. So what did I like? Pretty much
Joyfully Jay
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: veronica
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.5 stars

I really loved this world. I felt like I was completely immersed in a new place with histories and mysteries that were lush and captivating. Faran and Meric tell this story, though most of it is filtered through Faran. He’s a good soldier, and sworn to protect Meric at all cost—even if it means hiding important information from Joss. The magic is constant and yet never overwhelming. There are no cheap parlor tricks, just a deep understanding of the energies in thi
2.5 stars

This book had a solid idea and a solid writing foundation, but I found it lacked excitement. The author can write, but there was no real drive. Even when one of the characters is given an ultimatum, that didn't really give the story as much action as it should've? The opening was also very lacking. I'm of the opinion that books should start with an action-driven opening to pull the reader in, but this started with the description of a castle that wasn't really relevant in the end. I als
Chris Beatty
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this story. I will admit, I found the first quarter rather difficult to follow and suspend disbelief. This probably had far more to do with my own reading history and genre's that preceded this read than the authorship of 'Bitterwood.' Once I had the characters square in my mind, it was thoroughly a joy. I particularly liked the way it ended. There was just the right mixture of surprise and predictability,... and did I mention surprise? Yeah, there were elements that you pretty much fi ...more
Don Bradshaw
This was a thoroughly enjoyable read from beginning to end. It pulled me in from page one and left me feeling good with it's HEA ending. Meric is a 17 year old mage with a powerful curse laid on him. The prophesy says that he must be led to a great golden cat like beast by a most powerful mage by his 18th birthday or die. Captain Faran leads his men and Meric to the last of the ancient forest known as the Daenewood as a last ditch effort to find this mysterious creature. A wicked storm brews an ...more
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-m, historical, own

This world that Speedwell builds is so beautifully crafted, I easily felt a part of the story with all the details (without overwhelming the reader) about the area and way of life for the characters.

The characters in the story are lovable and endearing and I love how they just act on their feelings.

It was a sweet enjoyable read, but I did feel like I needed more in the story to be fully satisfied, everything feel into place very easily.

Great read, beautiful writing!
Oct 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It was very slow, with some insta-love thrown in. The fantasy story had some fascinating bones and a lot of potential, but being locked up in the manner house for all intents and purpose for the first half of the book turned into drudgery for me. At the end, I felt like the book just got started. I have a feeling those who love "pure romance" will enjoy it more than I did.
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a story! Loved every minute reading it. Joss and Faran are fantastic, what older (not old) lovers should be, and Meric and Eissa are at the beginning journey of what lovers are. Such a wonderful story of mystic tales, magic, love and adventure. I hope we see more of this world, and of Joss and Faran, Meric and Eissa and the Bitterwood.
Very entertaining. The only negative is it is too short. I hope there will be a sequel.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A unique M/M fantasy with depth, adventure, and erotic romance

Rowan Speedwell builds stories through compelling characterization, careful story development, and a gift for subtle world building and engaging dialogue. Her novels have a compelling, authentic feel, even when the story, as in Bitterwood, is a fantasy, which is achieved through the careful layering of details that unobtrusively coalesce in and around her characters. Notably, I'm not sure I know of an author who does a better job in t
Martha H.
I didn't really like the fantasy aspect of the story, the made-up kingdom, the looooong search through the woods, or the time period. Unless I missed it on page one, I didn't get any kind of description of any of the characters other than Joss, which would have helped give me a better idea of who I was reading about.
The story was alright; the dialogue was fine, the idea was ok. It just didn't stun me like Kindred Hearts did.
I liked the concept of Bitterwood, but the story itself felt really slow. The characters were interesting as was the prophecy and its resolution, but again, the book dragged. Every time I started a new chapter and saw that it was more than 10 pages, I groaned. I was also not expecting the sex scenes to be as graphic as they were; they felt a bit out of place, especially the first one. To reiterate, I thought the concept and characters were good, but the pacing weak.
Jane (PS)
I always enjoy these sort of fantasy adventures and in this case we have two couples to watch on their journey toward each other. Mix in a quest to find a mythical cat and a super-powerful wizard and I'm happy!
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finding a good, short, fantasy book is hard. Especially in the m/m genre spectrum. This was nice and (mostly) well paced. I have to admit the ending was a bit rushed but still, so awesome.
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So who was/what happened to the protege? Thought that was an odd thing to throw out there given there was no other mention.
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance-m-m
3 stars-ish? I appreciated the style of the writing, but could not have cared less about any of the characters. Would have been a DNF had I not read Rowan's other books.
Predictable and rather bland fantasy romance, but flowed smoothly enough.
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, paranormal
Rating: 2.5 stars. This book was just okay for me. To me a story begins and ends with the characters and the characters in this one failed to really grab my attention. Not sure why. I ended up skipping a lot of the book. Did enjoy the ending, it was the middle that dragged for me a bit. Such a shame because I really looked forward to reading this book. Just didn't live up to my expectations.
Elaine White
Book – Bitterwood
Author – Rowan Speedwell
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 167
Cover – Perfect.
POV – 3rd person, dual POV
Would I read it again – Yes
Genre – LGBT, Fantasy, Magic, Historical

Reviewed for Divine Magazine

I've been looking forward to reading this ever since it was a pre-order, so I was disappointed that work and life commitments kept forcing me to push back my reading date. Finally, we had our first date and the prognosis is good. I ca
Lisa The Novel Approach
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I must admit that I hesitated to take on the review of Bitterwood by Rowan Speedwell because it came across as a fantasy novel. I normally don’t care for fantasy, being a mystery lover at heart. But I readily confess that I was very mistaken—not about Bitterwood being in the fantasy genre—but about my worrying that I would not enjoy the novel. Frankly, I loved this novel and wish it had been longer simply so that I could visit with these characters for just a bit more—revel in their love and jou ...more
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An unrepentant biblioholic, Rowan Speedwell spends half her time pretending to be a law librarian, half her time pretending to be a database manager, half her time pretending to be a fifteenth-century Aragonese noblewoman, half her time… wait a minute… hmm. Well, one thing she doesn't pretend to be is good at math. She is good at pretending, though.

In her copious spare time (hah) she does needlewo
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