A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating:3.75 stars out of 5 This is the third book in the series featuring five brothers who own a tattoo shop together. The whole series has a strong theme of survival and friends as family, so they would have the best emotional impact if read in order, but there is so much recapping that it’s […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Review: Repeat Offense by Jackie Keswick

Repeat Offence
COVER ART © 2019 Pavelle Art

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

Some of the ideas in this novella seem similar to the Dornost series by the same author. This starts with Taz’s first person POV after his death when he learns of his penance for dying before his and Hiro’s assigned time. I am using he/him even though I am not sure of Taz’s gender. They have to live out their lives apart–one as Human, the other as Guardian–until they can figure out how to be together at the moment of death. This is told through a series of vignettes that describe many of their deaths in heart wrenching detail. They learn what they are allowed and not allowed to do through trial and error. Hundreds of years of life changes them, but they find ways to keep each other from falling into despair. Hiro becomes more involved with each life, while Taz finds he prefers when he is the Guardian. I am still not sure if theirs is a romantic or platonic love. Life, even afterlife, is what happens while they are making other plans. The entire story is entertaining, focused solely on the two men. The hiccup, for me, was at the end. While I enjoyed this…I saw nothing of the Judges to make me believe this ending was plausible.

Jackie Keswick’s Website

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Review: Love Is All: Volume 2 edited by Xio Axelrod

LoveIsAllVol2
Copyright © 2019 by Xio Axelrod LLC

I would rate this whole collection 3.75 stars.

This is a charity anthology, so I tend to think of the stories as a thank you for donating money. All anthologies are a mixed bag and people will like different stories than I do, but here are a few of my favorites from this collection. There is a variety of combinations (M/M, F/F, M/M/F, M/F) with bisexual, trans, and ace represented. They are all contemporary except for the one historical, paranormal romance. The foreword by Roan Parrish is quite eloquent.

R.L. Merrill, Pinups and Puppies (F/F, 4 stars)

This is told from the first person POV of Marianne, who is struggling with grief and reintegration after her retirement from the Air Force. She owns a vintage plane and volunteers to transport dogs to help shelters who find them homes. That’s how she meets Dinah, who co-owns the shelter. They both seem to have great support systems filled with family and friends. With great chemistry, their lives and interests slot nicely together, making them a cute couple.

Susan Scott Shelley, Sugar Crush (Bliss Bakery Series) (M/M, 4.5 stars)

Jack, a horror novelist, gets to know a baker named Gabriel when he joins a softball team to help his friend Shane. This has an opposites attract trope with great sexual tension and friends as extended family. This is about fitting into someone’s life and making room for them to fit into yours–giving each other a safe space and carving out shared time, while still having their own interests. Also, not letting fear or the past get in the way of the future.

Xio Axelrod When Frankie Meets Johnny (M/M, 4.25 stars)

DJ meets contractor/teacher in this hurt/comfort tale with an age gap. This story is what you make it. I highly recommend listening to all the songs that he plays for a hell of a good time. If an artist is mentioned, but not a song, pick one that has a title that fits the scene. I would have rated this higher, but I couldn’t tell if this was Johnny’s first time with a man or he was demisexual? There is certainly a misunderstanding I think could have been handled better, but the story is charming.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Through the Tears by Leigh M. Lorien — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 Rafe’s human lover Eamon disappears through a portal to a differnet world after a ghoul attack. Rafe is a low ranking lord and thinks the king will not help so he decides to rescue his lover himself. As Eamon battles the elements and strange culture of the ghoul world […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Through the Tears by Leigh M. Lorien — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

A Chaos Moondrawn Review : Tarragon (Rise of the Symbionts #4) by Jo Tannah — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 This is the fourth book in the series, but it’s a prequel. The first three books mention Tarragon, the first and greatest of the technomage kings of Oryon. He became king at 18. This is the story of how he came to have a symbiont, and planned for the […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review : Tarragon (Rise of the Symbionts #4) by Jo Tannah — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Blood Is Forever by Asta Idonea

BloodisForever-f500
Cover Art by Natasha Snow

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

 

Holden is a half-breed in a world where pure bloods rule. Even though his fae father is the Council’s current Minister for Justice, he has cut all ties with Holden. His vampire mother died in childbirth. It would be difficult for him to be more of an outcast than he already is. Holden’s only friend is his lover for the last five years, the vampire Raoul. Working as a subcontractor for the Fellowship’s Investigations Team, he is finally given a chance to take the lead in a case following a series of murders thanks to the support of his supervisor, Owens. The Fellowship maintains the treaties for and preserves the cultures of the the three supernatural communities: fae, witch, and vampire. Part of their job is to keep them secret from humans. When Holden is partnered with Valerius Blackwood, head of the Mayfair-Belgravia witches, London’s most powerful and influential coven, his life becomes more complicated than he ever imagined.

 

This is one of those books where it’s difficult to critique it without spoilers. Holden is an interesting character and having Raoul and Owens as supporting characters makes this more engaging. Val is more complicated. It is challenging to make an unlikable character likeable, and the author only partially succeeds, in my opinion. If you like your white and black hats pristine, this morally ambiguous take might not be for you. The plot makes perfect sense in the end and is well told, I was just surprised where it ended up. What didn’t quite work is that not once, but twice, the lower than low halfen, as Holden is called, makes the mighty pure blood, prideful, Council members bow to his will. This really doesn’t gel with the rest of the book and how Holden is treated. They could have just killed him at the end, or put him in the medieval dungeon. No one would have cared. Where this book really captured me was the world-building with the details about powers, spells, demons, and shifters. I did want to see more about witch, vampire, and fae culture. The plot is good. The characters are good. The love story is good, albeit strange. Yet, this still didn’t come together for me as much as I was hoping. If you like to root for the bad guys, give this a try and tell me what you think.

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Asta Idonea’s Website

 

 

 

Review: Shift by Joel Abernathy, Flesh And Bone 3

Shift cover

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

This is the third book in the series about werewolves, vampires, and hunters. These should be read in order for the overarching storyline. These books don’t have white hats, but shades of gray with graphic sex and violence. This is Andrei’s story of how he meets Mihail showing alternating POV. It makes sense, in this world, that they would end up thrown together–both know death and the hunt. This is a coming of age story in many ways and shows their gradual loss of innocence, breaking away from their family influences/duties and finding out who they are and what they can live with.

After all the nontraditional pairing in the first two books, I’m not sure why everyone expects Andrei to just fall in line with tradition, especially with his past. This has that Romeo and Juliet quality, except they actually have known each other for most of their lives. The plot is similar to the second one featuring Mason and Vasil, so the author had to throw us a curveball out of nowhere in regards to Andrei. That’s not quite fair, there was a little foreshadowing, but I feel like the actual plot didn’t need it on top of everything else. It just seems to be there for a certain type of sex to occur. This is trope city with friends to enemies to lovers, dirty little secret, alpha/omega, first time, and dubcon all present.

One of the emotional components I really liked about this story was something I understand: abuse, being feral, and then being vulnerable when you feel loved and unable to access that rage for protection anymore. There are so many psychological issues that ring true to human existence included to help ground the story a bit. That’s especially important when writing about characters who are not “good” or necessarily likeable.

In the beginning the story seems slow and clunky, but gets better as you see the threads of the plot weave in and tighten. The author is consistent and committed to this over the top, angsty style so it makes sense to just revel in it. Then it all ties back to books one and two, making it all inevitable. All the interesting world building from book one isn’t really used or visited again. It’s also a shame that we see all the characters from the first two books, but they have just walk-on parts with no sense of their personality. These books have been about finding home and someone who will love you, scars and scarred psyche and all, yet I didn’t really feel it. The way this book ends for Andrei and Mihail, the way the series ends, has a nice symmetry.

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L.C. Davis’s Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Fracture (Unbreakable Bonds #6) by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 This is the sixth book in the series. If you don’t read these in order, you will miss some inside couple things, references to their friends and background for Jude’s family. Still, this plot is not connected to the other books, so you could jump in with this […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Fracture (Unbreakable Bonds #6) by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Inked Music by Sean Michael — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 Rene Conette is a bored businessman looking for…something. The first impression is of complete privilege so I wasn’t sure if I liked him, but I found myself warming to him more and more as he is patient and kind, if used to getting his way. Gavin Turner is a […]

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Inked Music by Sean Michael — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: The Case of the Voracious Vintner by Tara Lain, Middlemarch Mysteries 2

the-case-of-the-voracious-vintner
Cover Art © 2019 Kanaxa

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

Although this is the second Middlemark Mystery, you can read this as a standalone. Llewellyn and Blaise from book one (The Case of the Sexy Shakespearean) are planning their wedding at Marchand Wineries and get drawn in to the intrigue happening amongst the cut throat wine community. Bo Marchand tried to escape Georgia and start his own vineyard in California, but Bo’s whole family followed him and now live with him. As the “man of the house” at the age of 26, he is struggling with everyone’s expectations. Jeremy Aames, owner of Hill Top Wineries at the ripe old age of 24, has been in the area for a year and is starting to make a name for himself until a competitor seems to be undermining him at every turn. With Jeremy not who he says he is, Bo in the closet, and a murderer on the loose with a long list of suspects, I felt like I was in a soap opera. Thank goodness, because this is a load of fun.

The author shows both points of view, but Bo is so much more likeable as a character. He is the driving force in trying to save Jeremy from going out of business by teaming up to combat Ernest Ottersen, who is taking over most of the wine contracts. Eventually I got drawn in to Jeremy’s background story, but being intrigued by his story and interested in him as a character are two different things. There are times I felt sorry for him, times I was impressed by his cleverness and success, and other times where I think he is too naive, especially given his background. There is not a lot about the side characters: Jeremy’s assistant, Christian, Bo’s best waiter RJ, the ruthless competition Ernest Ottersen and his PR person Sage, the Cop O’Hara, Bo’s whole family, Jeremy’s family…really they are all there to be suspects, except Bo’s Momma, who is there to drive him nuts. The intrigue is very well done with different forks in the storylines. I don’t want to spoil it.

With this author I am used to OTT fabulous characters with a lighter plot. This book has more subdued characters and an OTT plot. There is some murky Dionysian group or secret society involved. There is also Jeremy’s past coming to bite him in a big way. Yes, some of this is completely unrealistic. I love how after people get killed, no one seems at all upset or traumatized in any way. There is one little thing that bothered me. There is a scene with some dubious consent that I am not sure added anything to the book unless you have that kink. I am not sure if it was meant to be hot or funny, but it didn’t work for me because it didn’t seem to match the rest of the story. Also, many more people should have gone to jail. Never mind, because the rest of the book is quite entertaining. Everything gets resolved and wrapped up with multiple bows. The banter and bad jokes between Jeremy and Bo are cute. The sex scenes are hot. I wanted these guys to have their happily ever after.

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