Review: Omega Returned by Tanya Chris, Omega Reimagined 4

Omega-Returned-small
Cover art by Chay Fox (https://www.etsy.com/shop/chayebookcovers)

 

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

Fortis and Keesh have their own complicated history of dancing around their attraction for each other for five years, each for his own reasons. As an alpha and a beta, they have a certain dynamic they maintain. When Prince Angel asks them to escort an omega named Owen back to his home in Western Pack, they agree. Owen has been treated badly by Prince Devin, who has canceled their mating. With an alpha’s ability to command compliance and an omega’s pheromones, both need Keesh’s beta abilities as a peacemaker to make their travel go smoothly, especially when Owen goes into heat.

This goes exactly where it says it will, there aren’t many surprises. Except for what is needed for each scene, there also isn’t much world-building. Neither does this move the overarching storyline forward much. If you have not read the first three books, you would still have no problem following this story. I’m not sure how Owen is so sweet, having been raised in a political household and trained for court life. Still, it’s nice to see him learn to be more independent. Much of the book has that feeling of being in a bubble as the three travel through the forest. Even when they detour to Central Pack territory to stop at Keesh’s hometown of Hybernia, the only other character to stand out is Keesh’s mom. The book is at its best as the three men work out their hurt feelings when jealousies arise. They are all willing to step aside for each other to be happy, as they all struggle with how to make a triad work. There isn’t any need; they just have to open their minds to it. Mainly, there are sweet, cute, and adorable moments in this, broken up by hot sex scenes and pining. Read this when you want fluffy, steamy goodness to enjoy without being too taxing.

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Tanya Chris’s Website

**The ebooks are exclusive to Amazon but you can buy books 1-3 bundled together as a paperback at Barnes And Noble here, so check back later after book six comes out to see if books 4-6 are published as volume 2. Ditto for Book Depository here.

Review: Silent Heart by Amy Lane, Search And Rescue 2

SilentHeart
Cover Art © 2020 Alexandria Corza

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

This is the second book in the Search And Rescue series. Damien was a key character in that book, so although this could be read alone, it would have more emotional impact read in order. Damien is in love with Preston, a dog wrangler who trains service dogs and search and rescue dogs used in law enforcement. Damien’s business partner Glen is his best friend and Preston’s brother. While Damien is still dealing with the aftereffects of the crash in book one, he has yet to move forward with acting on his feelings for Preston. When Glen disappears in Mexico trying to extract a “punk kid” named Cash during an earthquake, Damien and Preston mount a rescue with their friend Buddy.

Damien met Preston on leave from the military when he came home with Glen. Preston was 13 so Damien has watched him grow up, their friendship a close one. It’s the main reason he has hesitated, afraid he will lose his chosen family if things don’t work out. His injuries and mental health are other reasons he has given himself for holding Preston at arm’s length. Preston is in your face honest, gruff, and hard to figure out (although the word isn’t used, he seems autistic to me.) But Preston can make decisions too, and he is tired of waiting for his happily ever after so he makes his move. I think it needs to be this way so that the reader is never confused that Preston is being taken advantage of. Glen seems like he would be supportive, but he may have inadvertently kept Damien and Preston apart because of bad advice at a critical time.

Their story is told through their ongoing fight about changing their relationship to a romantic one as well as being seen in memories and flashbacks so the POV switches around. This was a little difficult for me to get into; it starts slow and there were moments I couldn’t keep thoughts and dialogue straight. There is a little repetition about how Preston organizes his thoughts and what he needs to focus. It’s difficult not to compare this with the first book: I was invested in Damien’s health because I was right there with him when he was sick and injured. Because this is focused on Damien’s and Preston’s journey to find Glen, the reader isn’t with Glen when he is injured and since the author doesn’t spend a lot of time with Glen in either book, I was less emotionally attached to his character. This uses forced proximity to get Damien and Preston together, and uses Glen’s situation to set-up the next book for him and Cash. Being with Preston’s POV also creates distance as his difficulty handling strangers and changes to his routine slow the pacing. Overall, I’m glad these guys got their HEA, I just wanted to feel more excited about them getting out of their own way.

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Amy Lane’s Website

Review: Snowstorms And Second Chances by Brigham Vaughn

Snowstorms
Cover design by Brigham Vaughn. Cover Images: © Africa Studio/AdobeStock © theartofphoto/AdobeStock © janecocoa/AdobeStock © LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/AdobeStock

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

On Christmas Eve, Erik is stuck in an airport bar on a business trip to Buffalo when he meets a travel writer named Seth. This is a week after Erik’s twenty year marriage has ended. After a mix-up in their accommodation they end up being roommates. Erik’s company owns the inn. I was a little worried at first since Erik is not the nicest guy and stress seems to make him worse. Their odd conversations turns strangely sexual. The awkward flirting continues as Erik wrestles with being attracted to Seth, but it sounds like Seth has been the only person he’s been attracted to for over a decade so he just…goes with it. Seth is a little too good to be true. The intimacy and trust, since they are both open and honest people, makes the sex more than just physical. What’s great about this is they actually communicate about their hopes and fears. This happen fast yet had moments that were sweet and hot. However, I felt a little removed from it like it engaged my head rather than my heart.

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Brigham Vaughn’s Website

Review: Honour by A.F. Henley

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is an historical romance set in a fictionalized England circa the late 17th century (at my best guess, owing to the clothing), but the speech is fairly modern with reference to the subconscious mind. If the author had called the country anything but England, I would have called it fantasy. There isn’t too much world-building, just enough to get a sense of place. First, the reader is thrown into the pivotal action sequence of the book without knowing what is happening. It then flashes back to four months earlier and the story unfolds to explain how things got to that point. Emmett is a merchant’s son who cares for people, yet he also seems to have been indulged and not learned the hard lessons of life. He is said to have a head for numbers in business, but obviously not the skill for diplomacy and trade negotiations that his father has. When his father’s ship lands in order to trade, he has a disastrous meeting with Prince Andrewe. This sets up an enemies to lovers scenario for most of the rest of the book. While Emmett’s duty to protecting Aleyn’s virtue and trying to help him establish a living is admirable, possibly honorable, Emmett’s honor comes into question soon enough when everything doesn’t go his way.

The misunderstanding…where Emmett thinks his father has sold him to be a companion to the Prince is rather interesting to me. Did Emmett’s father want to get rid of him because he doesn’t think his son is right to take over the business one day? Did he think this experience would teach Emmett a lesson? Yet Emmett is as enamored with the Prince, as Andrewe seems to be with him, thus he becomes First Gentleman. This is not necessarily dubious consent…but the power imbalance is inescapable and used to salacious effect. Since this is Emmett’s point of view, it’s unclear whether he is an unreliable narrator because: he doesn’t understand interpersonal communications well enough, he is naive in the ways of court politics and intrigue, he lacks the life experience to deal with a real intimate relationship, or he is too swayed by his emotions rather than logic. Emmett willingly made himself a servant to the Crown, not understanding he was essentially making himself a slave, and then chafes at his lack of freedom.

Andrewe is completely uneven throughout the book, at times sweet and loving, only to turn vicious, cold, or distant. Lust can only allow Emmett to overlook the Prince’s behavior for so long, but the Prince isn’t the only problem and Emmett never takes any responsibility for their discord. At one point I did wonder if Andrew was mentally ill. Is he just unsure about how to behave in this relationship? Is he taking it out on Emmett, so that his parents will make him marry and produce an heir? Is he being mean and cruel on purpose to create distance to protect himself? Andrewe’s use of Aleyn against Emmett to keep him in line is repulsive. It’s also when Emmett finally loses his way and the lack of real communication and respect between them, causes dangerous circumstances to arise. This is where the book starts to go off the rails for me with the introduction of Thomas.

His dalliance with Thomas is not lust, more the rush of being able to be himself again–someone’s equal where he can say what he wants and do as he pleases. However, Thomas is not three dimensional enough to pull this plot off and it all falls flat. I was really enjoying this, even with all the questions I have about the other characters’ motivations, until I felt the author wrote Emmett into a box he couldn’t get out of. The whole last 20 percent of the book was completely unbelievable to me, and that was mainly down to not having the characters be more present and rounded out. All that sex and time spent with just Emmett and Andrewe made the plot suffer. The reader only sees the royal couple a handful of times and what is there in the characterizations doesn’t match from scene to scene. Did the King and Queen think Emmett would somehow tame Andrewe or make him easier to control? At one point the Queen threatens to get rid of Emmett, yet when the perfect time comes to do so, she shows mercy that is not warranted. In the end, even Emmett is contrary: the overindulgence and opulence he previously found so distasteful is in full force at the end, yet Emmett no longer minds. Even though Emmett is the central figure, the only consistent character is Aleyn, who on the cusp between boyhood and manhood, has a good reason to be inconsistent, yet seems to be the only one to actually understand what is happening and why. I’m left feeling really torn because so much of this was well done, but I had too many issues with the way the author chose to resolve the plot.

The cover design is by Written Ink Designs (written-ink.com). I admit to having no clue what the cover is about, maybe I missed a pertinent passage.

Sales Links:  Amazon |  JMS Books LLC

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, Second Edition
Published October 23rd 2019 by JMS Books LLC (first published February 6th 2013)
Original Title: Honour
ASINB07Z7F3YHL

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Honour by A.F. Henley — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review : Fated Hearts (Shadow Bound #1) by Garrett Leigh

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

There is a free short story prequel to this book, but you don’t need to read it to enjoy this story. Alpha Varian of the Northern Pack is allied with the Shadow Clan against the allied packs of the South. I don’t really understand how this alliance works; it is something to do with the peace accord with other supernaturals (like vampires), but that is never discussed in any detail. Shadow Clan has so far stayed out of the agression. Zio is a beta in Varian’s combat squad, full of rage after the death of his best friend Emma, their wolf healer. When Shadow Clan sends their healer Devan to replace Emma, he must navigate culture shock, distrust, grief and the mating bond in order to save the lives of his new Pack.

The fish out of water element is a great way to explain things through Devan’s POV. Unfortunately, this is completely underutilized. In this world, paranormals coexist with humans, but shifters are treated differently in different parts of the world. The wolves are born with their own supernatural powers, like an affinity with different types of magic…and nothing is done with that except for a few small tremors and some shielding, which is literally a few sentences. There is one human character introduced briefly in the book even though humans try to stop the werewolf aggression and some wolves have human mates. Also, Devan is a different type of shifter…the author purposely doesn’t say what type until well into the book, but it’s on the cover so I didn’t understand the big secret. As an enemies to lovers story, it’s based on the loss of Emma, not that they are different animal spirits. The way humans or paranormals become shadow shifters is something else not well explained because the prequel made me have more questions than the book did–some people die once, while some people die twice…or is that only vampires who become Shadow Clan? I don’t know.

Zio is not in the correct frame of mind, as the reader can tell when his POV is given at key times. The only things that make sense to me about his extremes are either immaturity or PTSD, although that isn’t discussed, yet it’s treated more as a charcter issue that is fixed with the mating bond. This is a book about war, but the action scenes weren’t that gripping. Some shifters die and there are a few horrific injuries, but it is seen at a distance somehow, even with Devan being the one to heal them. None of the other side characters come alive; they are supposed to be close, sometimes having sex after battle, but I never got to feel anything for any of them because that is something the reader is told instead of shown. I wasn’t emotionally attached to whether they lived or died.

Even though Zio was bitten young, he was raised by humans and doesn’t seem to know wolf history or understand wolf biology. That’s convenient to move the story along, but he purposefully never rectified it and willful ignorance isn’t a very attractive character trait. Devan seems to be more arrogant, thinking he can ignore their growing bond, while Zio doesn’t recognize they are mates at all. Frankly, as a healer used to dealing with different kinds of supernatural, Devan should know better. About 60% of the way in, Devan says he likes Zio but I’m not sure why when they have barely spoken to each other and their interactions are contentious or a short sexual activity. All of the sudden, just when they start having whole conversations, there is a manufactured crisis to keep them apart, which would have worked better if the attention to the political details had been in the world-building. Again, while this is convenient for a slow burn romance, it doesn’t really work with the story except as an excuse to wallow in an agonizingly precarious position. Then all of the sudden Devan is dying for no reason. What? At the end, the humans are involved and have some drug to use on shifters, which has to have been stuck in there at the last minute to create conflict for the next book. I really wanted to like this more than I did, but I didn’t connect to this story.

The cover art was done by Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design. I’m not sure it is representative of the mood of this story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Fox Love Press
ASINB07XSKC3ZP
Edition Language: English
Series: Shadow Bound

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review : Fated Hearts (Shadow Bound #1) by Garrett Leigh — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Release Day Review: World Turned Upside Down by Elyse Springer

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Set at the McMurdo station in Antarctica, this story is told through the first person POV of a janitor named Simon. It follows his crush on Asher, a new researcher. With them stuck there for four months to over winter, Simon is afraid of rejection and making it awkward in an enclosed space where they can’t avoid each other, even if they want to. What starts out as a harmless bet, made in jest to get Simon to talk to Asher, ends up being the albatross around his neck as his thoughts change from lust to care. Sweet, shy, and awkward, Asher is not who Simon thought he was. Simon seems to suffer from low self-esteem and has no interest in a real relationship. Fantasies aren’t usually the same as reality, and Simon has to navigate what he thought he wanted vs. what he actually wants.

I understand just wanting to play the field, not wanting to get serious. I don’t understand Simon’s panic at the thought of a relationship; by the time he changes his mind…he has hurt Asher by not realizing he was already in one. Part of what happens is his fault for not communicating to Miranda and Oli that his feelings about Asher had changed, but it was none of their business and he didn’t really owe them an explanation. In fact, they are more acquaintances than friends. They’re not malicious, but they are self absorbed about their own amusement and thoughtless in their actions throughout the book.

Though this is enjoyable, there isn’t much detail. The Aurora is colorful and pretty. It’s cold and there is much ice. Simon is never really described even when he is looking in the mirror so all I know is he has: a flat stomach; a round butt; his bangs to the side; and a smaller physique than Asher. Several months pass and not much happens. The sex scenes start slow and build up as their intimacy increases; these are the best described scenes in the book. Overall, I think they make a cute couple because Asher is actually a nice guy. Who wouldn’t want to date him?

The cover is by Brooke Albrecht (http://brookealbrechtstudio.com). I assume the cover is Asher, who is described as a fit, tall man with blond hair that goes darker down his face and green eyes. I think the cover is very striking and matches the story well.

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Book Details: ebook, 105 pages
Expected publication: August 9th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644054277
Edition Language: English

 

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: World Turned Upside Down by Elyse Springer — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Fairground Attractions Series by L.M. Somerton

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

I read and liked the Investigating Love series by this author years ago, so I thought I would try these. This trilogy has one overarching storyline, so although each novella focuses on one couple, they have to be read in order and together for maximum enjoyment. Garth, Stevie, Adam, and Zach are friends from university who work at the local amusement park during the summer breaks. The conversation in the diner at the start of summer lets the reader know what they are in for as each character is described and labeled. The plot focuses on criminals using the park as a cover for their activities: something to further tie together these three stories of couples exploring their different kinks with a hurt/comfort trope for all. I didn’t rate the individual stories because the plot is the same and each reader will have their own preference on what type of sex scene and dynamic appeals to them. The BDSM scenes are all pretty steamy, even though I think they are only there for titillation rather than being truly moving. I also don’t think these are realistic representations of loving D/s relationships, just erotic romances with a bit of fun plot. There is a nudge nudge, wink wink quality since Criminal Minds and the Scooby gang are mentioned.

GHOST TRAIN

This one focuses on the goth of the group, Garth. He is assigned to work on the ghost train ride for the summer. Most of the details are not believable: Clem works as an investigator that helps the police so they just let Garth leave without questioning him after he discovers a dead body. This is rectified somewhat in book two and three. Clem and Garth drive straight into BDSM the next day, with bondage, when he has very little experience and it’s technically their first date. I appreciate that information is gleaned from actual conversations between the characters rather than info dumps. There are little details, like Garth getting hurt, that just don’t disappear–they stay consistently acknowledged. Garth is the bratty type of submissive for Clem, who likes the challenge and play.

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MERRY GO ROUND

Stevie is the sweet and shy one in this group of friends, but still no pushover. He has been assigned to the carousel. His best friend, and crush, Adam, is working security at the park. Although one assumes they have been dancing around their attraction for quite awhile, they are virgins who jump into more without talking about it. Whereas the first couple were much more serious about the BDSM, this couple seem more like they are playing at it. This matches them both being inexperienced and is generally cute. Although they are the same age and the dynamics are not all there, Adam is more like a Daddy with no age play.

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HELTER SKELTER

Zach has a crush on his former math professor Daniel, who has been dragged into the investigation since he is an expert on mathematical ciphers. He works with the police to decipher the codes the criminals are using. Now that Zach is no longer his student, he is ready to make his move. He is the strictest dom, needing a compliant sub. Again, they rush headlong into a masochistic relationship without any indication Zach would be into that until the first sex scene. There is some scary equipment use here with no discussion about anything. Zach’s father, who owns the park, has not been doing well with all the stress. It is the perfect handing over of the reins for Zach’s care as the police close in on the drug runners and the assassin Harlequin. When Clem and Daniel go to help the police, the three subs can’t resist going to see the conclusion of the investigation.

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The epilogue ties up any loose plot strings and gives one more scene between Daniel and Zach. Even though there are several traumatic events in these books, (murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, threats of sexual assault, shooting, and stabbing), they all seem to be there as a reason to excuse the insta-love/lust. The BDSM is used to take everyone’s mind off the criminal investigation and fear. There is amazingly low angst in all three of these. All three couples are looking to the future as the four guys head back to college for their final year.

The cover art is by Erin Dameron-Hill. I love the covers, but they seem quite dark. While there are dark plot points, this is all a bit of fun, so I think some more amusement park colors could have signaled that. Each one highlights the submissive in that story; I think the models used match the characters well.

Book Details: ebook, 86 pages
Published February 26th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786517234
Series: Fairground Attractions

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review:Fairground Attractions Series by L M Somerton — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Close To Home by Cate Ashwood, Sawyer’s Ferry 4

Close To Home
Cover Design © 2019 Cate Ashwood http://www.cateashwooddesigns.com

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

Although this is the fourth book in the series, it could be read as a standalone. I have not read all four of these in order and didn’t feel like I missed anything important as each book focuses on a specific couple. Witt flees to Sawyer’s Ferry after horrible violence. His friend Logan and his partner Jackson take him in while he’s recuperating. Mason is the brewmaster at Copper Creek; he met Witt once and there was just something about Witt that stuck with him. When Logan and Jackson need to leave for both a family visit and their preplanned vacation, Mason offers to watch over Witt while he’s still in his cast and dealing with the fallout from his situation. Mason’s sister April is a cop, so when Witt’s past trouble follows him to this small Alaskan town, he just may have the help he needs to rebuild his life.

I would call this a great beach read. This is a sweet, summer romance with dark bits that turns into more. Witt is introverted and has had a series of heartbreaks in his life. If you are a fan of the hurt/comfort trope, this is in dual first person POV so the reader can see Witt is not being taken advantage of. Mason helps Witt learn self defense–a main point of this story is Witt taking his power back and trying to make decisions about what’s best for himself rather than to make others happy. With this being the first major relationship for either of them, they have more than enough to deal with in a matter of weeks. Yet, the difficulties they face draw them together rather than tearing them apart, giving them a solid foundation to move forward with. I appreciate that some might find this instalove or think the plot a bit unrealistic. It is particularly low angst for the subject matter. The epilogue takes place in the future and gives the reader the opportunity to see the HEA due these two. If you want likeable characters, coming out for you, and first time stories, you could try this one.

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Cate Ashwood’s Website

Review: Hunter by J.V. Speyer, Hunted 1

 

Hunter cover
Cover design by Bad Doggie Designs

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

Luis is a federal agent, trained as a profiler, sent to Boston where he is assigned to work a murder case with a state police detective named Donovan. Donovan was his roommate and lover in college thirteen years before. Part of why they broke up was Donovan’s unwillingness to come out of the closet. Luis already faces discrimination for being Brazilian, so being gay is one more reason for his colleagues to dislike him; so he may as well be in their faces about it. Only Donovan knows Luis’s history and how people are unfairly judging him. For them to get their second chance, Donovan has to be honest about who he is and Luis has to value himself and stop pushing people away.

Many of Luis’s issues are his childhood trauma that he hasn’t dealt with. As a psychological professional, it is sad how mentally unhealthy Luis seems to be. His stressful work environment is not helping, and neither does he help himself. He is also dealing with racism at work–nothing overt, more like micro-agressions. Donovan’s family, also all police officers, are also not very accepting of Luis being brown, or gay. It takes awhile for Donovan to acknowledge he’s done anything wrong, or for him to admit he hasn’t ever recovered from their breakup either. Although I liked seeing flawed characters, it’s also difficult to not dislike them all at times throughout the book.

The writing is uneven. For example, Donovan is seemingly impressed with Luis being an FBI profiler at the beginning, but then he says it’s a pseudoscience and is disrespectful of Luis during the case. Then, he has an about-face defending him to Kevin, even citing Luis’s qualifications. Donovan belives in ghosts and psychics, but not psychology? Why is a police detective acting as an intermediary between FBI agents? At the point that Kevin and Luis are having issues, Donovan and Kevin are acting more like professional partners even though they don’t work for the same branch of law enforcement. Why does the FBI captain even listen to Donovan at all? The paranormal aspects of the case are only signaled by the cover. The entrance of paranormal activity is thrown abruptly into the middle of the story. I’m not sure it needed this aspect at all. I don’t think it added anything to what was already an interesting murder case. I think it took time away from character development and interpersonal communication that would have strengthened this book.

There are many things I liked about this book, and there are several parts I feel could have been better executed. By the time they have their HEA, everyone feels bad they were mean to poor Luis. At least in two sentences Luis acknowledges he needs to handle things better moving forward…but I wanted to see that as an actual realization. I wanted to see the work that would go into that, not to assume everything will magically be better after he gets out of the hospital and goes back to work, with his new boyfriend in tow.

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J.V. Speyer’s Website

Review: Purple Haze by Kelly Jensen, Aliens In New York 2

Purple Haze Cover

I would rate this 3.5 stars.

This is the second book in this series and takes place six months later. You can read it without reading Uncommon Ground, but the recaps make the plot sound crazy and the first story is charming and sexy. Why miss it? In fact, I almost think it should have been one book without the recapping. It is only the hot love scenes that morph into love between the two leads in the first story, that help carry the weight of this story–giving the reader something to be emotionally invested in. Dylan and Lang are now living together. Josh, who is a friend of Lang’s and appears in the first book for a nanosecond, is Dylan’s partner in his new art school venture. Josh’s life partner Micah, is mentioned, but doesn’t really have a major role. Apparently, these two characters are from stories by another author, but I didn’t read those and don’t feel like I missed anything. Upero, the ship AI, is evolving, making it much more of a real character.

This story is a more serious that the first one. That makes sense as they start facing family pressure for taking their relationship to the next level and facing the changes made to Dylan’s DNA. The latter issue has attracted the interest of Wren Clan. This sets in motion a chain of events that threaten Lang and Dylan’s future. What saves them is focusing on their humanity–their acts of rebellion change the alien mission on Earth. I do wonder if the seeds planted towards of end of this will grow into a rebellion and change the structure of their society, or if integration with humans will cause that naturally over time. But that is a possible then, and this is now. In the now, I felt like the author wrote Dylan into a bit of a box plot wise and was only mostly successful in writing Dylan out. I have a difficult time, with how the Wren characters are depicted, believing that they are done trying to control Earth affairs, and won’t follow up with Dylan at some point, so this didn’t quite feel finished even though there is an ending and it’s not a cliffhanger. This is a little less detailed than I am used to from this author. I enjoyed both books and I like the characters.

Kelly Jensen’s Website

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