Review: Gabriel’s Storm By Sue Brown

GabrielsStorm
Cover Art © 2020 Brooke Albrecht http://brookealbrechtstudio.com

 

I would rate this 4 stars.

Gabriel has become a recluse, grieving the loss of his wife Jenny and his son Michael. The only one keeping him alive is his brother-in-law and neighbor Toby and Toby’s husband Damien. But Toby has been enabling Gabriel as helping him staves off his own grief. When Gabriel’s obsession with searching the sea finds an injured man in a boat, his life is jumpstarted in ways he never saw coming. With the man who becomes Sam having amnesia due to a head injury and emotional trauma, are his nightmares of someone trying to murder him true? As Sam and Gabriel become close during the forced proximity, they may be building castles in the sand that have an expiration date when real life floods in to their intimate bubble.

An alternating POV between Sam and Gabriel is used to good effect; I got to know and like both characters well. Gabriel has changed nothing in the house since his family died, he’s made no effort to move forward in his grieving process. Having someone in his home who doesn’t know anything about him or his family makes him confront what he has been avoiding, his home has become a shrine to them down to the mug that was his wife’s favorite. Sam has terrifying nightmares and flashbacks of people trying to murder him; little facts and bits of his life come back to him over a few days. Gabriel is his savior and safety in his world gone mad. The attraction is there, but the timing isn’t right, until it is. Both of them are experiencing fear, loss, and grief that helps them grow together. Toby, as the local doctor, grabs at the chance to support Gabriel by playing instigator and matchmaker. A well written category romance, this could have gone into great territory if the emergency that pulled the community together was a chance to really explore the others living there, but they are mostly just names with enough care from Gabriel’s POV to tug at the heartstrings without the work of making them more three dimensional. I did love the English seaside as a character that while beautiful, adds complex moods, both good and bad, to the tale.

Of course, there is that pesky attempted murder thing to deal with. By the time Sam is recognized from a news report for a missing person, the story is already emotionally satisfying. Is five days long enough to fall in love? I vote yes for a HFN, a promise to try to confront how to blend their radically different lives together after senseless loss. Much of this is down to good, believable dialogue. The angst is broken up by moments of genuine care for others and humor. For me, this was a lovely way to spend three hours.

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Sue Brown’s Website

Review: Shades Of Henry By Amy Lane, A Flophouse Story 1

ShadesOfHenry-1
Cover Art © 2020 L.C. Chase http://www.lcchase.com

 

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

Do yourself a favor and don’t read this unless you have read the following series by Amy Lane first: Johnnies, Racing For The Sun, and Fish Out of Water. You could read this first, or out of order, and enjoy the romance between the main characters Henry and Lance, but the main events of the novel come at you sideways via the fifth book in the Fish Out of Water series; you would have to keep track of two different names for a plethora of characters from the Johnnies series, since each has their real name and their porn star name. The true emotional payoff will come for the faithful fans who will enjoy all the series being woven together and already know all the side characters in this.

Henry is finally at rock bottom when he goes to visit his brother Davy (aka Dex), a former porn model, in Sacramento with his husband Carlos (Kane). After nine years in the Army he flounders with what to do now that he has been discharged. His brother sets him up at a flophouse used by a stable of young guys who work for Johnnies. His tragic story is layered into the book as he tries to avoid thinking or talking about it unless he has to. He acts as a “den mother” for Cotton, Randy, Zeppelin, Fisher, Billy, and Curtis along with Lance. As a resident finishing his internship at the hospital, Lance still does the occasional porn scene to pay off his student loans. As the oldest in the house, and the same age as Henry, it’s inevitable they are drawn together. Right when I started to get everyone straight, and Lance and Henry are forming a bond, there’s a murder, which drags the P.I. Jackson Rivers and lawyer Ellery Cramer, among others, from the Fish Out Of Water series into it.

Maybe the absolute worst time for a relationship, might be the best time. As Henry navigates his abusive relationship from the past eleven years or so, he doesn’t even know how broken he is. This makes his journey from internalized homophobic abuse victim to over the top hero at the end, without any counseling, a bit unbelievable for me. Lance is the stable presence here, not because he doesn’t have issues of his own, but because he knows what they are and seeks treatment both for himself and to inspire the other Johnnies in the house. To me, Lance is the real hero. Then, there is what I wanted to happen versus what I could realistically expect to happen based on the story so far; having something be emotionally satisfying doesn’t make it a realistic conclusion. What saves this for me are the genuine moments of intimacy and connection Amy Lane is known for invoking in her writing. I will probably read everything again, catch up on the few books I missed, and read this last.

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Review: Back In Black by Rhys Ford, McGinnis Investigations 1

BackInBlack
Reece Notley reece@vitaenoir.com

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

This is really a continuation of the Cole McGinnis Mystery series, but takes place a few years after the previous books. Being thrown into the fray with Cole in first person POV as he takes a job checking a property’s security as a favor for a friend reestablishes his character’s long history of hijinks. He is not only shot at, but finds a dead body on accident because that is a very Cole thing to do. Said dead body is a former client so he can’t let it go, determined to find the killer. The recapping should allow the reader to start here if they haven’t read the first six books, but it’s a lot to throw at someone coming in fresh–it will sound crazy OTT. It’s also a lot of telling instead of showing, yet this is the style of these with humorous asides in that hardboiled detective novel way that sounds like a voice over. It’s completely self aware of that as it describes parts of Los Angeles: “there were entire blocks of stone and metal whose shadows held the ghosts of noir detectives and gum-snapping dames.”

I did experience frustration at all the recapping though; if it was taken out, there would be little story left. Having said that, the main enjoyment comes from the prose rather than the action. It’s like Dragnet on steroids crossed with a beginner’s guide to ethnic foods of L.A. wrapped up in the feelings of love and family that finally flavor Cole’s life. I enjoyed seeing all the characters again, slightly older and more settled in their lives, I just wish there had been more depth to the glimpses. The heat level is ratcheted down here as compared to the previous books, which I didn’t mind, but I did wish I felt more of the emotional connection between then in the moment rather than having to rely on past events to know it’s there. In other words, I wish they were making new memories instead of reliving the old ones as a way to tell the reader they love each other. The previous focus was on Cole and Jae establishing their relationship with the mysteries and past traumas as a backdrop. Here the focus is on Bobby and Cole establishing a more formal business arrangement between them moving forward as consultants for the LAPD with O’Byrne being their main point of contact. It’s a focus that will rely way more heavily on how interesting the cases are moving forward unless there is manufactured drama to disrupt the happiness of all the couples and that won’t make longtime fans happy. I’m willing to see where it goes.

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Rhys Ford’s Website

 

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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Drawing The Prince by Kim Fielding, Stars From Peril 3

 

DrawingThePrince
© 2019 Alexandria Corza http://www.seeingstatic.com/

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

This is the third book in the Stars From Peril series. Although there is mention of Jaxon Powers and Landry Bishop from book one and two, this works well as a standalone. Cal Walters is a 23 year old artist who knows the right people. His insecurities about whether people buy his art because he’s talented or because he’s trendy due to his friends, has given him a little chip on his shoulder. Due to a bet with his friend Merc, he has to go on three blind dates. Third time’s a charm when he meets 28 year old Teofilo Vabriga-Kastav, playboy prince of the tiny nation of Porvunia and passionate art lover. Teo has insecurities of his own, never knowing if people like him for himself, or just want to be with him because of his family. He just doesn’t tell Cal he’s a prince…

The meet cute is actually, cute. I wasn’t sure about either character at first–Cal is standoffish and Teo is a bit too smooth–but their facades crumble fairly quickly. Seeing most of the book from Cal’s POV, at first he’s attracted to Teo, but not quit sure he likes him. Teo’s POV is used more sparingly to great affect. Seeing how Teo describes Cal and how Cal makes him feel hooked me into the story. He may be privileged and a bit spoiled, but he is actually a nice person and has a sincerity about him that’s surprising. Cal’s starting to develop that cynicism of living in California and being in the wealthy art scene, but he’s just a kid from Nebraska trying to protect himself. When Teo creates a painting competition in Porvunia in part to lure Cal there, they give in to their passions. Their intimate time is sexy, fun, and filled with laughter. Cal kids himself this is a one night stand, but they are already too taken with each other and he knows it’s more. Lying to yourself is difficult if you’re an honest person by nature. The dynamics here are fascinating as Cal’s in charge, even though he’s the commoner and younger. When his anxiety or fear gets the better of him in various circumstances, it’s Teo who steps in to help him relax or sort things out. They fit.

Teo’s family, his bodyguards, Cal’s friend Merc, Cal’s Gram, and other characters from the small town of Peril help move this along, but no one does more than Anita, his guide in the capital city of Velenik. She makes Porvunia feel more real with tours filled with fun historical stories. She is also loyal and proves herself to be truly caring of the prince and her royal family. This book is full of charming little details, whether of a foreign country, or of the Nebraska landscape, a thriving city or a small rural town. Still, it’s Nebraska that burns more brightly here when Con shares his home and all the people he grew up with, who have their own stories.

This really works through the opposites of being working class vs wealthy, an only child vs large family and having no father and absentee mother vs hundreds of years of extended family. Yet, their love of the arts united them. They have both had the benefit of fortunate fate and grew up having very little privacy albeit in very different fish bowls. When an emergency tears them apart, it would be easy to let life get in the way, to let it move them in different directions, but Teo is not having it. This is the point where, as farfetched as the story seems, it gets even more farfetched. For instance, Teo getting rid of his bodyguards when he should be worried about being kidnapped for ransom, or his rushing in and thinking he knows what a small town needs to “save” it. There is plenty of foreshadowing here to show the reader the way through. It’s sweet, and no matter how unlikely, I wanted it to happen just like that even if I didn’t know it at the time.

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Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford

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 not necessary. This opposites attract story revolves around SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls and tattoo artist Ivo Rogers. I have to admit I was looking forward to this pairing, so I enjoyed seeing how they first met. It’s not what happens plot wise that is the draw so much as exploring what happens when people put aside their learned behaviors of defense mechanisms and judgment.

While I like both of these characters, most of the words were spent re-weaving a world that was already built. A novel without a lot of plot could have really delved into getting to know Ruan’s partner Maite, or his friend and landlord Cranson, or his boss.

The prose is always beautiful and focused on observations: “There was a simple beauty in an older woman—a purity of the soul having settled down through life, a river-tumbled gemstone run smooth from its journey through the waters and over unforgiving rocks.” Yet, no one is explored with much depth, nor are any of the words used to layer in more information about the other brothers and move their story forward.

About 50% of the way in, it gets real as Ruan and Ivo connect, talking about their professions, which are their lives. Then it grabbed me by the throat and ripped my heart out. While this scene is powerfully emotional, it is a standout. Also, it is way too much, too early, for a couple barely dating who have seen each other a few times. It works because it’s what damaged people do: throw it all out there to see if the other person runs away. Ivo definitely gives Ruan one hell of a test when he shows up at the police station. My complaint is that Ruan don’t seem to lay himself bare as much as Ivo does, which means the reader doesn’t get to know him in the same way. Yes, the books are about the brotherhood, but the person each picks–their person–needs to be as fleshed out as they are. It gives you glimpses of Ivo’s and Ruan’s daily life and how they start to mesh them into one, but I didn’t live and breathe it.

To be fair, I have been really thinking hard about why I’m a little disappointed because I know fans of this series will love this. While I don’t like to compare books, it’s difficult when I just read Ramen Assassin by the same author and it’s just so much more entertaining. This gives a nice, romantic ending that I think will please everyone. There is a bit at the end dealing with James, so the audience knows whose romance is up next.

The cover art is by Reece Notley (reece@vitaenoir.com). The covers of the series are eye-catching with great models and have a unified look. This isn’t quite how I picture Ivo because of the hair.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details: ebook, First, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644056301
Edition Language: English
Series: 415 Ink

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

Review: Dead Man Stalking (Blood and Bone #1) by T.A. Moore

Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

This story features Agent Luke Bennett, aka Took, a member of the BITERs unit of the Anakim (vampire) police known as VINE. The reader is thrown into the action two years after Luke was Taken and turned. He’s been in therapy and is acting as a P.I. His case throws him in the path of his old commander Madoc, who wants him back at work, and is in love with him. It seems obvious to say Took has PTSD; he can’t remember the night he was taken and his fear seems to be getting worse instead of better, until he becomes consumed by this case and takes back his agency, literally and figuratively. As a former Cardinal for the Anakim, Madoc has always been a type of enforcer. He has a strength that Took finds and matches during the book. It switches between Took’s and Madoc’s POV. These are complex, three dimensional charcters. They have their blindspots, insecurities, and make mistakes; yet, both of these men can be cold, arrogant and prickly. For as much as these characters are not pleasant people, I loved them so much. Yes, the romance relies on the longer, off-page relationship in order to work, but the love scenes are hot (and bloody) and I love their working dynamic and banter.

I liked this new take on vampires, werewolves, and hunters. There was something called a Goat, but there wasn’t much detail about this species. I believe there may be other shifters, but that’s not explored in this book. While the political landscape is painted enough for this story to be successful, I wanted more, even if I think this book wasn’t quite the right time without info dumps that I wouldn’t want. There is also a weird shadow realm that is intriguing and terrifying, but not explained at all. The sorcerers are also not explained very much, but they are not capitalized like everyone else so I guess they are not considered born as their own species. There are times where the chapter or scene starts abruptly and I felt like I missed something until I kept reading and everything was explained: while this is a valid stylistic choice, I found it jarring. Although the secondary characters are all effectively utilized and would be great to build upon in other stories, I would have liked them a bit more concrete. (I did appreciate there wasn’t a formulaic meet these characters that will be the couple in the next book type of setup.) These may be minor things, but they did keep me from giving this a 5 star rating. It was a near thing because I loved everything else about this, so let’s talk about that. This is a book I will reread and be will on my best of the year list.

For those not familiar with this author, she always describes the scenes in stark details–gross, grimy, gory–but effective. This is brutal, as with any police case involving violence. I don’t want to give spoilers, but for trigger warnings and tags you might want to keep these in mind: child abuse, brainwashing, murder, child trafficking, kidnapping, and torture. I found this urban fantasy/police investigation mashup really effective; both the world and the case are interesting and well thought out. The action scenes are really well done. The world-building here is fantastically layered in throughout the book. There is information the reader gleans from the thoughts and instincts of the characters, suppressed memories, flashbacks, dialogue, and the actions and their consequences. All of the events and discoveries lead to logical conclusions, but not always the ones that I thought they would from the beginning, yet I never felt blindsided with too many plot twists. I liked the intricacies of the story that require thought. Now that this world is built, I want so many new cases to be written, but I am also content if they are not. The last sentence of this book was perfect. Don’t cheat, you have to read the whole thing.

The cover art is by Kanaxa. I didn’t love it, although it is striking and conveys violence and blood, which are main themes of the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner PressAmazon

Book Details: ebook, 260 pages
Expected publication: September 10th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644053379
Edition Language English
Series: Blood and Bone #1

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Dead Man Stalking (Blood and Bone #1) by T.A. Moore — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: The Witchstone Amulet by Mason Thomas

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

What helps makes this successful for me is that Hunter is well established as a character, and the reader is immersed in his POV, before anything extraordinary happens. Hunter’s choices, based on who he is as a person, lead him to another realm after he follows a thief stealing his mother’s brooch. This is a typical portal story of moving between worlds, but it’s very well written. Thrown into action in the enemy territory of the Heneran lands, a tense truce is formed between Hunter and the thief Dax as they try to survive. Once they are near out of enemy territory, Hunter meets the Rebellion forces–a ragtag band of people living in a camp in the wilderness and gets thrown into politics against the Crown. As the setting shifts to the capital city of Andreya, he learns more about his new world and how to survive in it. His world crumbles as he starts to question everything he thought he knew, including about his own mother. I felt like I was getting pulled in and figuring things out more quickly than Hunter, which is a clever way of getting the reader invested.

There are really only four main side characters that help the reader to more emotionally connect with the story and move in along in different ways. Glimpses of the rebel leader Quinnar are intriguing. Is he a good man? A good leader? Or does he just want power for himself? Because it’s Hunter’s POV, I was never really sure. It’s always welcome to have a strong, capable female character like Zinnuvial. Uri’s situation is played for sympathy, but I found it frustrating. Corrad at first comes off as a mean bully, but thankfully is a bit more nuanced than that in the end. The most interesting character is always Hunter. Because there isn’t another POV, and the story is focused on developing Hunter and the actual plot, I felt like I didn’t know Dax as well as I would have liked.

Hunter makes a good everyman; but he makes an even better hero. The character is written in such a way that there was always meant to be more for him, for his life. The author works hard at making this believable: that a modern man from Chicago could end up learning to flourish in a more difficult and brutal time without having grown up with the knowledge and skills everyone else would have. Hunter proves himself to be adaptable and able to listen and learn when under duress. The actions scenes are well written, helping to continually build the tension until the satisfying final confrontation. His relationship with Dax is a slow burn from enemies to lovers. Even after the sex, it only clicks into place when Hunter proves how clever, brave, and capable his is–making him a great match for Dax, someone Dax can really respect. It’s only when I thought back about the story that I realized in only takes place within a very short period of time, which lessens the believability. Then, there is the final chapter, which gives the happily ever after, whilst still leaving room for a new adventure as Dax and Hunter look to the future. It is clear there have been atrocities on both sides of this war and it will take time to right wrongs, so the story between the Humans of this world and the Henerans could go in many directions.

Cover Art: Tiferet Design. Rich and interesting, it absolutely works for the story and character.

 

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Book Details: ebook, 293 pages
Expected publication: August 27th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title: The Witchstone Amulet
ISBN 139781644055311
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: The Witchstone Amulet by Mason Thomas — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Release Day Review: Digging Deep (Digging Deep #1) by Jay Hogan

 

[This was painful for me to read because I have a chronic illness with similar issues. People are sometimes great when conditions are acute (like an emergency), but not so great when illness is chronic. They especially are not going to want to know details about your bowels, pain, depression, or anthing else unpleasant. It makes people uncomfortable. It’s not fun. So, I empathized with Drake immediately. In this world that is so sex driven, most people would try to avoid falling in love with someone who couldn’t or might not be able to have it–regardless of the reason. They like to think if the person they are already in love with got a serious illness or had a horrific accident, that they would stay…most won’t. But this, knowing ahead of time and still being willing to get involved with someone, tells you all you need to know. That’s why even though there is not a lot of dating and this all takes place in less than a year, I had no trouble believing the romance. Their lives are meshed together, their families and friends are blended. Parts of Drake’s life suck, and he’s been hurt, but haven’t we all? He is still pretty darn mean at times with his defense mechanisms, but it’s difficult to be nice when I am in pain–I lose sleep, patience, and my filter–so I get it. The petty crap and unimportant minutiae that many people focus on holds no importance for me. This is true for these characters also. They deal with live and death in their jobs. When people have health issues they can mostly hide given good timing and acting, it’s tempting to gloss it over and not let people see. The issue comes when people invite me out and I have to say no because I don’t feel well–most people finally just stop inviting me. If I go anyway and am not full of “all the fun”, I am a Debbie Downer. Even less fun is when people only see me when I am healthy, and then have a difficult time believing how I feel when I have health issues. Or, they see me when I don’t feel well and think, it doesn’t look that bad. What’s the big deal? I’m not constantly in the hospital or bleeding all over, so how bad can it be? This can be hurtful. People also always want to tell me what to do or use to fix me and make me better. While I appreciate it on one level, it is a bit egotistical to think they can cure what ten years of specialist doctors haven’t been able to with their talk of herbal tea, meditation, or vitamin supplements. I find this story believable because the people who will stay with you (romantic and platonic) are the ones who see you, believe you, and just accept you as you are. People who just want “fun” all the time are acquaintances or will drift away.]

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via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Digging Deep (Digging Deep #1) by Jay Hogan — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

In an unfortunate series of events, Drake meets Caleb. This is meeting the right person in the wrong circumstances–or maybe not! It starts with an enemies to lovers vibe. Frankly, I didn’t quite feel the attraction during the hate phase, but once it gets going I was really rooting for these two. This takes place in Auckland, so there is use of New Zealand vernacular. It alternates first person POV in different chapters. I am hoping this is a typo and will be removed before publication, but it breaks the fourth wall in Cal’s thoughts, “and yeah, you heard what I heard.” It is only one sentence, but I didn’t like it.

This is an honest look at two people who meet and are attracted to each other, but will have to be mature and put the work in to maintain a relationship. This is flat out real in the way most romances are not. Sex is awkward, at times difficult, messy, and painfully vulnerable. This story explores all that. Many people say they hate it when the characters have issues because they just don’t talk to each other–here is your book where they have no choice but to communicate if they want to make this work. Medical issues are no joke and either one or the other of them could chicken out and run away without confronting the details on a daily basis, but they don’t. Neither does this book slap a label on it and call it a day, the reader gets the full nitty gritty about Drake’s illness and profession. This is all seriously intense; they barely date and then they are in it for life, and yet it still feels really believable. I am worried people won’t give this story a chance, or will give bad reviews, because of the discussions about bodily functions. This story is very good. Thankfully, there is plenty of humor also.

These families are loving, accepting, and have ribald moments of fun. These friends do not let the characters have rose tinted glasses or lie to themselves. This is what friendship looks like to me–people who will tell you harsh truths, not to hurt you, but to help you and still support your decisions, even if they think you are wrong. However there is also a great line in Caleb’s thoughts about making sure to not let your friends define who you are, “the first mistake I’d made was believing that Leanne’s version of me was maybe all there was.” I love that there is a wide and varied cast with representation of different cultures and sexualities. The epilogue takes place six months later and is heartwarming, taking them into the future together.

The cover art is by Kanaxa. I think it shows Drake and all I could think of was that expression “in the weeds,” which seems apropos.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner | Universal Link

Book Details: ebook, 1st edition, 354 pages
Expected publication: August 6th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644054192
Edition Language: English
Series: Digging Deep

 

Release Day Review:Anhaga by Lisa Henry

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

This is written in the third person point of view of Aramin, or Min, who I wasn’t sure had anything to recommend his character except his adopted nephew Harry. This is the first clue that he has a heart in his cynical, morally flexible shell and if he lashes out in anger or bitterness, well it’s better than fear. His sass and wit are part of his charm. When Edward, the head of the Sabadine family, curses Harry to coerce Min into retrieving his grandson Kazimir from a seaside village called Anhaga, it starts a series of series of events that lead to tensions between the King of Amberwich and the Hidden Lord.

A large part of the book focuses on the morality or even fairness of what’s happening. I can’t help but think if the journey had taken longer, if the love had been fully actualized between Min and Kaz, it would have been more heart wrenching and interesting: a Sophie’s Choice, where random chance is morally preferable in the moral dilemma Min is caught in. It’s so close, but doesn’t quite get there because while there is lust, guilt, fascination, and attachment…it is not quite love yet in my opinion. Edward’s son, Robert, is also stuck between doing something reprehensible while doing his duty and being loyal to his father, or protecting his daughter. At first I wondered why Talys was even allowed/made to come on this journey and then I realized Robert probably thought it was the lesser of two evils rather than leaving her with Edward. There is a side love story with Talys and Henry. Of course, she is convenient for moving the plot along as are all the women in this story; they are strong, brave, and resourceful. Henry is sweeter than Min ever had a chance to be, and Min tries to keep him that way. Large parts of this show Robert in a bad light, but is Robert doing any less for Talys?

This book…was not what I was expecting. I was expecting high fantasy. I think it’s really a fairy tale. Sometimes I felt like it was trying to do too much and so it missed the opportunity to be great at any one thing. For instance, the scenery is described well, but not well enough for those who love fantasy world-building. There is nothing except what needs to be there at any particular moment. There is one well done love scene that shows you the possiblity of what Min and Kaz could be to each other, but the circumstances are not romantic. If looked at through the lens of a fairy tale, maybe I should just accept it is love, although to me that is what comes after the adventure. I thought this book was going to show the fae as beautiful and terrible as the lore does, only to have that change in the last chapter. Having said that, the creepy scenes are my favorite in the whole book–that feeling of catching your breathe and holding it. Once it gets going, the pacing is fast, as the plot moves from one point to the next. The book is foreshadowed well, but still manages to have a few surprises that are logical. Fairy tales get away with many things other stories do not, and this is so charming and satisfying as each layer of the story is revealed, I decided it was my expectations that were the issue, not the story. By the time of the final confrontation I was satisfied and if it was a little unbelievable, I didn’t even care because it is a fairy tale ending. The final chapter, which takes place four months later, gives the HEA everyone will want. I’m definitely going to reread it.

The cover art is by Tiferet Design. It is beautiful and striking. Now that I’ve read the book, it makes total sense and rather than just paying attention to the real buildings to give me a glimpse of setting, I should have also payed attention to the pastel, dream-like quality to give me a better hint of the story.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details: ebook, 220 pages
Expected publication: July 23rd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 139781644054642
Edition Language English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review:Anhaga by Lisa Henry — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words