Review: Like A Dervish by Olivette Devaux, Disorderly Elementals 7

dervish
Cover Art © 2019 Pavelle Art

I would rate this 3 stars.

The blurb said it could read as a standalone, but I would recommend reading them in order. Obviously, there will be spoilers otherwise, so I was surprised about many things like the truce with Brian and the polyamory between Cooper, Ash, and Sigmund. I have missed three books and there wasn’t always enough recapping about who people were. Also, Brian’s part in this (past actions) plays a huge role in the dynamic between Sigmund and David–they both worked for him and he’s had an effect on their trust of one another. Brian suggests Sig and David go to Las Vegas in order to practice with their powers out in the desert in an unpopulated area. While they obviously don’t trust Brian, they agree to help track down his missing cousin.

Some of this plot didn’t make sense to me. Who are they worried about kidnapping them? Who is chasing or tracking them now? Who is Lynn? Brian is supposedly looking for his cousin Zack who has disappeared, yet he’s a big time illusionist in Vegas and Brian has his own people there who spy for him. I didn’t understand Sig and David going back into a casino or populated areas where everything is being videoed/monitored if they are afraid of being found. They end up camping in the desert and practice working on their control over their elements. David’s wind element seems way more interesting to me in this book than Sig’s fire, but I am assuming that has been covered more in previous books.

Zack is an interesting character that isn’t full fleshed out even though he has the third largest role in the book. The POV switches between David and Sig except at one point where Sig’s POV seems to accidentally switch into Zach’s POV for a few paragraphs. There is also some of Cooper’s POV near the end that didn’t really add anything to the story. I understand lust and being touch starved, but I didn’t like the insta-love that David and Sig have with the introduction of Zack. The sex scenes are somewhat explicit, but not that steamy. I do think the dynamic worked as it helped take away David’s awkwardness about never having been with a man before due to Zack’s lack of experience also, but I thought David’s established jealousy melting away seemed unrealistic. As for secondary characters, Joe is more real than Celeste or Gianna. While this may signal Joe will pop up again in another book, making all the characters realistic would have added depth. Also, it’s a shame two powerful women characters aren’t better utilized. When the book ends abruptly, I am left wondering if the two triads will merge, with Sig as the bridge. While Sig seems to take a step back from Cooper and Ash when they go back to Pittsburgh, I wasn’t emotionally invested in their relationship since I have missed reading previous books. Also, if/when Zach comes to Pittsburgh…Sig being in love with four other men is a bit much for me. With a murky plot, lukewarm sex, and a ton of questions I am not sure I care about answering, this just didn’t work for me.

Buy From Amazon

Buy From Payhip

Olivette Devaux’s Website

Review: Master Of Obsidian (Master Chronicles #1) by Jamie Craig

Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

This is a dark erotic romance, with urban fantasy elements, set in Chicago. Jesse is a human who works for a vampire named Gideon doing private investigations. They’ve been hired to solve a murder that may tie to a dangerous new demon drug. This shows alternating points of view, but I still feel like I got to know Jesse better than Gideon, which may be a good thing.

One issue is the plot is obviously just to move them from one sex scene to another, which is a shame because there could have been something more interesting done with what is here. For instance, seeing more of their actual relationship before being thrown into their sexual relationship would have given this a more solid basis. More UST before they got together as well as any indication at all that Jesse was into pain before they have sex, would have made it less jarring. Seeing Jesse’s fantasies and revelling in Gideon’s angst to control himself would have added more depth. For me, the distressing part was no aftercare, even when Jesse had open wounds. Gideon doesn’t really treat Jesse with the care, the respect, the reader is told he has for him; not just in their personal interactions, but with the case they are working, where he doesn’t give Jesse vital information. At least that is acknowledged after the fact, it’s just that so much of this really should have been talked about before all the events that happen.

Between sex scenes, most of the information is told to the reader as a statement right before they need it, rather than being seen in flashbacks. I’m going to mention something that is not related to the plot, so it’s not a spoiler, but would turn many people off: I want readers to be aware there is a scene where Jesse gets off to Gideon’s snuff porn. This caused an issue for me: why is Jesse expecting better behavior from John, the blackest of mages, but then turns around and has no issue with Gideon’s past? I guess for those raised on a TV show with Angel and Spike, maybe this isn’t a big deal? But the reader doesn’t get to know enough of this supposedly good Gideon that is trying to save humans before being introduced to who he used to be. Then, there is the torture scene which really points out the problems with the world-building. One assumes, if the suspect were human, they would have involved the police, but since the suspect is a vampire (demon), they can do whatever they want to her? Obviously humans, mages, and vampires know about each other and coexist, but that is all the reader really knows about this world. In the end, I was left with a few steamy sex scenes and characters that are a bit twisted and not necessarily likeable. Even Jesse seemed more dangerously obsessed with Gideon rather than in love with him, enough to blur ethical lines and basically do whatever he wants as long as Jesse gets what he wants from Gideon.

I think for maximum enjoyment, this should be read as a series of sexual fantasies without a lot of expectations. Since it’s about vampires, expect a lot a blood. Also be aware this has a m/m/f scene, violence, torture, and Gideon sharing Jesse, so they are not monogamous in the traditional sense.

The cover art for my version was done by Cover Design: Written Ink Designs (written-ink.com) with image(s) used under a Standard Royalty-Free License. It does communicate the BDSM elements, but not really the paranormal or investigative elements.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon | Kobo

Book Details: Kindle Edition, 192 pages
Published September 25th 2019 by JMS Books LLC
ASINB07XWNT85S

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Master Of Obsidian (Master Chronicles #1) by Jamie Craig — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: A Faerie Story by Barbara Elsborg

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The first part of the book shows little snippets in the life of three different boys. During a traumatic event, Kaegan discovers Christmas. Over time, Inverkillen, in the Scottish Highlands, becomes his magical place where it is eternal Christmas. As his life becomes more and more unpleasant due to his twin Herne, he plots his escape from Faerieland to his new created home. Aiden’s childhood was horrible, and adulthood isn’t seeming much better, yet despite his disabilities and circumstances, he still has an open heart. The trauma Pascal suffered as a child has left him afraid to care too much about anyone or anything while depression wants to swallow him whole. Aiden is like a willow constantly blown over, while Pascal is like an oak struck by lightning. First Kaegan meets Aiden, but timing is everything. Then Kaegan meets Pascal and changes his life. Kaegan wants them both, thinks they could be happy together and invites them to his magical place. What will they think if they actually show up? But, Kaegan isn’t human and Herne continues to threatens his happiness.

Yes, it has insta-lust, but the love takes time to develop. Be warned it also contains violence, torture, domestic abuse, child abuse, attempted suicide, and addiction. There are parts of this that are all too real, and parts that are fantastical to give the reader a break from it all, to give us hope. I got a fortune cookie once that read, “say yes to something you would normally say no to.” I did, and it ended up being one of the favorite nights of my life. This book reminds me of that moment, when Aiden and Pascal say yes and actually reach for something different, even if it doesn’t seem like a good idea. If fact, it sounds crazy and ends up being quite dangerous.

The references to pop culture are very self aware. I have a friend who talks about how everything goes into his brain like a meat grinder and art comes out the other end. Through the unbelievable circumstances, what keeps this going are the thoughts they each have that the reader is privy to and the communication between them, which is real: funny, touching, sexy, at times bawdy. I laughed out loud several times. Having all three points of view enhances this story immensely. With all the things these men have experienced in their lives, there is a feeling of carpe diem, but also a longing for something good to last, to stay and the reader will want that for them. With Aiden’s scars and disabilities, his own doubts are heartbreaking, but he’s so likable because he usually doesn’t let them get in the way. As his trust is finally honored, he really shines. The sex scenes get hotter and hotter the more emotionally involved the men are, but there is also joy. As the deadline of New Year’s Day approaches, the tension is ratched up until the final confrontation with Herne. In some ways Pascal is more of a mystery than the other two; I think less time is spent in his thoughts, yet that is rectified at the end. While Aiden gets the plot twist, Pascal’s is the story of personal growth and second chances. Kaegan is the one I feel ends up with the least amount of resolution, it’s there, but it’s a whimper rather than a bang. Ultimately, his happiness is enough.

There was one thing that occurred to me: the reader knows Kaegan can’t read Aiden’s mind, but IF all fae can read minds like Kaegan, they would know Pascal wasn’t a creation of Kaegan’s. Happily the faeries seems to have differing degrees of power, so I can’t be sure and it isn’t brought up. There was also the part of the story that got bogged down a bit in the pacing, when Pascal is trapped in the village. While that is absolutely necessary to the story arc of his character, it was not as captivating to read. I can see myself rereading this, but might have to skim that part now that I already know what happens. The plot is enchanting, with an emotional core that gives it much more depth than most holiday stories. It also has the best HEA I can imagine, given the plot. Overall I think this story did everything it set out to do; it was sexy, moving, and fun.

The cover design by is by B4Jay. I love when covers not only have actual significance to the story, but are integral. The darkness of the three figures echoes their lives. I like that the details aren’t there while they are still becoming their best selves with each other, with magic all around them.

Sales Links:  Amazon
Book Details: ebook, 254 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2019 by self-published
Edition Language: English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: A Faerie Story by Barbara Elsborg — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Review: Ghost House by Jacqueline Grey

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The main characters are a college student named Andrew, who is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life, and a mysterious man named Caius, whom he keeps dreaming about after spending the night in a haunted house. I think the blurb tells you everything you need to know about this book, so if it sounds intriguing, go ahead and jump right in. I really hesitate to give any spoilers. Part of the fun of the book is it walks a fine line of many genres: horror, ghost story, historical romance, fairy tale, contemporary romance, paranormal, and urban fantasy. Is Caius the charming man of Andrew’s dreams, or an entirely different kind of nightmare?
Is he hallucinating? Is he going mad? I was often unsure where this was going to go; the fun is in trying to find out. At turns this is creepy, but never too much or for very long. It’s also fun with cute banter and some fantastical moments. Of more interest to me are the times when Caius is confronted about the fairness or morality of some of his past actions. This is actually a slow burn romance where the author successfully provides sexual tension at various points. While most of the book is chaste, when they finally do come together, it is really about them.

The book is divided in half with the first half told from Andrew’s point of view. His friends Charlie, Amanda, and Marie help round out the cast a bit, but don’t seem as real as Jason, Andrew’s best friend since childhood and college roommate. The reader also gets to meet Andrew’s parents, his father being a major source of anxiety for him. Yet, most of the first half I wasn’t sure if parts of what were happening were real or not. Once the second half starts, the reader gets to see some things from Caius’s point of view. I was still left waiting for the shoe to drop–waiting to see the real Caius as his thoughts were slowly revealed. Strangely, I was waiting to see the real Andrew as well since he wasn’t being honest with anyone, while letting his father plan a life for him that he didn’t want. So wrapped up in this bizarre tale, is still a new adult coming out story that has to be resolved. I think some people will really like this, and other people will not agree with all the choices the author made to go in different directions. For myself, I like quirky and different, so I enjoyed it.

The cover is by Kanaxa. I found it compelling and apropos for the way the book unfolds.
https://www.kanaxa.com/

Sales Links:  Amazon | Smashwords

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 244 pages
Published September 24th 2019
ASIN B07W7DFVXZ
Edition Language English

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Ghost House by Jacqueline Grey — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Master Of Restless Shadows by Ginn Hale, Book One

GinnHale Restless Cover
Cover Illustration by Zaya Feli Cover Design by Dawn Kimberling

I would rate this 4 stars.

I thought this was a standalone, but apparently it would have been helpful to read the Lord of White Hell and the Champion of the Scarlet Wolf duologies first. The world-building is amazingly detailed, yet I still feel like I might have had a rounder view of this universe if I read those first, as there are several characters from those books included in this one and they are written in linear time. Things about the court intrigues, neighboring countries, power struggles between church and state, all the differnet types of religious beliefs, and the use of magic obviously all have more background than I was privy to here. While the plot is always easy to follow, the explanations about the magic are not–until the second half. All of the sudden the magic is explained, the emotional connection I wanted kicks in, and the book really comes alive, which saved this story for me. I am left wondering if maybe I would have felt more emotionally attached from the beginning if I had read the other four books? The writing style for the first half is removed, like an observer focused on the main plot and moving about chess pieces. While there is clever dialogue and witty banter, the author never lets them succumb to passion or deeper emotions that the reader can actually sit with and let breathe. Then again, maybe that is because of the constant explanations of past events, but recaps are entirely necessary for this to work.

The story is told from four points of view: Narsi, Atreau, Ariz, and Fedeles. Narsi is a great character, a genuinely kind, clever, brave and warmhearted physician. Atreau the charming rake and novelist, but that deflects from what he is really doing as a spymaster. Ariz is the tragic tale, living under compulsion and being made to do things he doesn’t want to do. Fedeles as the Duke of Rauma is treading a fine line of facing his fears and past traumas to become the hero everyone needs. Although these main leads are all male, there are many strong females characters in this book and the cast is large and diverse. Clara and Oasia are the most intriguing, rich, intelligence, three dimensional female roles I’ve read in secondary characters in a long time. Everyone has various shades of grey as many are not whom they seem on the surface, even Narsi takes to subterfuge with ease. The characters are what bring this to life–why I even cared about all the plots and subplots. Honestly though, more than rooting for them individually, I was rooting for good to win over evil and for anyone to have even a dash of happiness. Just like real life, there is racism, sexism, homophobia, religious zeal, and xenophobia. In the end, it’s about averting a war. The corruption, greed, torture, assassinations, servitude…they are what you would expect from the rich and powerful. There is nothing fast about this book; it’s all slowly built brick by brick. That’s not to say that no action happens, but the pacing is slowed by the world-building–even though this all takes place in a week, it feels much longer. Suddenly everything happens at once and it’s over.

If you are wanting an m/m romance, this may not hold your interest. If you want a complex, painstakingly detailed, queer renaissance type high fantasy novel with a tangle of multiple plots and slow burn, fairly chaste romantic pairings, then you might like to try this book. This is also going to be a duology, so be aware this doesn’t end here. Right now I am frustrated on many levels. While I acknowledge the first half was neccessary, I didn’t love it and was getting bored. After the second half, I am completely sucked in and want to read the next book right now this minute. I am also sad that reading this might have ruined the four previous books for me, because I will know what happens as I believe this duology is the end of the series.

Ginn Hale’s Website

Buy From Amazon

Buy From Smashwords

Buy From Kobo

Buy From Barnes and Noble

Buy From Book Depository

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.

 

Sales Links:

Dreamspinner Press |   Amazon

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: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

Review: Through the Tears by Leigh M. Lorien

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 with the help of Beah, a native who helps him, Rafe battles ghouls to learn the secret of portals with his second in command Kiran. Larger evil is afoot than just ghouls jumping worlds to eat humans and what started as a horrible accident, leads into a possible war no one saw coming.

Rafe is called a rin, which is basically a vampire. I liked the lore used here. Even though the ideas aren’t radically unique, there are some interesting takes on common science fiction themes: interdimensional travel, feeding on blood/sex/energy, mind linking/control, bonded mates, turning on magic users, religion to control the population, the feudal type of setting, etc. Eamon is strange at first, full of fear and anger, like he can’t take control of himself and needs Rafe to (mentally) control him. I think this was meant to show him as submissive, but I’m not sure I like this characterization. Taking this out of the equation, Eamon is loyal and brave, even when frightened. I loved the flashback of how Rafe and Eamon met. At the beginning Rafe is cold, calm, and collected even after Eamon disappeares; then he seems to miss him slightly, but does go to look for him. By the end the I love yous are completely over the top, so I wish this had been a little more even handed. It would have made their reunion more impactful. Beah is a great trans character who gets treated horribly by his tribe. Be aware they are several depictions of misgendering, humiliation, and dead naming–although the author doesn’t allow the reader to know the dead name, which I appreciated.

This story could be a self contained adventure, but it’s also a larger story arc that will be picked up in the next book. The side characters like Kiren, Orienna, and the King are all intriguing, but there is little to them in this book. Eamon is the fish out of water in this tale. There is a little of Beah being a fish out of water as well, for some nice symmetry. It’s difficult in a first book with all the world-building, so I am hoping the next book works harder at holding/highlighting the emotional moments between the friends and lovers so they don’t get stomped on in all the politics and intrigue. Those are what gives me something to root for–to hope they win and save the day. There are twelve worlds and this book has only shown small parts of two, so there are so many different possibilities for future stories.

The cover art by Natasha Snow shows a desert through what appears to be a grimy window pane, which I take to be the portal between worlds.

Sales Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details: ebook
Published July 8th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139781951057015
Edition Language: English

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

Review : Tarragon (Rise of the Symbionts #4) by Jo Tannah

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 survival of his family, setting the stage for everything in the last three books. Yet, this can also be read as the first book without any problems: the other three must be read in order. Having said that, this ends abruptly leading me to believe this will also be a trilogy about how the symbionts in the first book came about.

Although there is a Council of Kings, the Capricis and Zaruthrans attacked the Dacrons, leading to years of war. Tarragon is the last of his line, becoming king on his eighteenth birthday. While his father insisted that he fight his magic, when they are close to being defeated, he embraces it. Not trained to either be king, or to use his magic, he turns to the mountain mages to help him and learns history of his world that was lost to his kingdom. With his Guardian, Brenn, he finds the will and allies he needs to fight his enemies and save his vassals. He plans to change Oryon so mages are no longer shunned due to fear.

The loss, deaths, and Tarragon psychically comforting his clan in their grief, is heartbreaking. Tarragon and Brenn becoming lovers, while a huge complication, was inevitable. The characters are cast about from one entertaining emergency to another, but that doesn’t hide some of the issues. The broken trust, not once but twice, between him and Brenn is never addressed. The fact that no other king has kept tabs on Kayel, for both their technology and their mages seems astonishing to me. After all, they do sell the technology to other kingdoms. There is never a good explanation for how the magic and technology work together (in any of the four books). The reader is just supposed to accept these things work because they are told they do. I would have liked to avoid the cliche of phrases like “once in every generation” and the idea that Tarragon is the being of a long held prophesy. There are abrupt shifts of mood between scenes on occasion, as well as the emotions and responses of the characters are sometimes uneven. Still, the whole thing is imaginative. There is something about these books or else I wouldn’t keep reading them. I have to know what happens, flaws and all, so I would recommend trying them if you want an easy science fiction romance without too much world-building or hard science.

The cover art by Angela Waters matches the other book covers. It establishes the magical and science fiction nature of the story whilst showing Tarragon how I pictured him except for that strange fur collar.

Sales Links: Extasy Books | Amazon

Book Details: ebook, First, 160 pages
Published April 12th 2019 by Extasy Books
Original TitleTarragon
ISBN139781487424589
Edition Language: English
Series: Rise of the Symbionts

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

Review: Healing Glass (Gifted Guilds #1) by Jackie Keswick

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

This is an intriguing fantasy novel about the political machinations amongst the Craft Guild. Most of the story revolves around a city made of glass that is suspended over the ocean. When the Craft Guild arrived and needed shelter they took it over, but the glass in the city is failing and no one knows why, or how to fix it. Between the need for Minel’s skills as the glass master, and the strange obsession Regent Wark has for him, Minel is unwittingly made into a pawn of the corrupt councillors. When Minel is taken strangely ill, his friend Captain Falcon tries to help him. He is not the only male craftor suffering from a lung evil and he must be pairbound to save his life. Regent Wark tries to force Minel to be pairbound by any means necessary, forcing Minel to flee the city.

I had my doubts–I thought this was just going to be an excuse that forced Minel into having sex with Falcon. I’m glad that was not the case; not because I would have minded that as a plot point per se, but that the rest of the book would have gone in a completely different vein. I would have missed reading what is there. Although sex does ease the symptoms of his illness, the author worked hard to remove concerns of dubious consent for the main characters. There are bleak references to dubcon/noncon for other characters (off page). It’s a tale of greed, power, sorrow, pain, and betrayal. Thankfully, the author makes the relationship between Minel and his warrior Falcon the touchstone, giving the book love, hope, and friendship. I enjoyed seeing flashbacks of moments of their friendship, while watching them carve out a future amongst all that life had to throw at them. With the way his character is described in the beginning, I worried how Minel would be able to be the mate of a warrior. The author crafts Minel’s character in a believable way throughout the story, showing how adapting to this new culture and way of life brings out the best in him. Falcon’s adjustments are there too: how to live with someone else, how to communicate effectively with a loved one, how to let go of pride if it’s in the way, and how to work through fear of danger for someone else. Minel too has to learn to bend his priorities to include others.

There are many layers to this story, spanning three generations. Warriors, craft masters, and merchants have different gifts (talent, magic) in general, with variety among individuals. Elements of spirituality are subtly incorporated here. This isn’t world building in the traditional science fiction sense–no description of flora or fauna, minimal history, and only the politics pertinent to the story. This novel is more focused on human factors and infrastructure for the city since the city is a main character. For an exciting change, all the female characters are strong, smart, and talented. It was easy to picture the world created here, without being overwhelmed by wordy descriptions of the terrain. The social commentary about personal choice and freedoms, political corruption for personal greed, people in power who don’t have the knowledge or skill to govern, and giving them free rein without proper oversight packs a wallop. Still, there are individual moments in this that are filled with joy and quite enchantingly described. With the way the warrior talents are used as a major plot point, I would have liked to have felt a little more of their brotherhood.

I think fans of the author’s Dornost stories will like this too. I hope there are other novels set in the Warriors’ Guild and Merchant Guild, or even more stories in the Craft Guild since this author likes to play in different timelines. I’d love to see more about talent and shapings, with some of the side characters involved; and more of the history of this world, which I expect will be layered in with other novels. I enjoyed this story and all of its characters.

The cover was done by Pavelle Art. It is perfect for this novel, depicting an important scene from the book.

Sale Links: iBooksAmazon | Nook

ebook, 229 pages
Published: May 13, 2019, by Jackie Keswick
ISBN: 9781386061410
Edition Language: English

Series: Gifted Guilds
Series: Healing Glass

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Healing Glass (Gifted Guilds #1) by Jackie Keswick — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words