Review: A Summer Of Smoke And Sin by T.J. Nichols

a-summer-of-smoke-and-sin
IDK, no one is credited on the copyright page of my ARC

I would rate this 3.75 stars.

This is an historical urban fantasy romance set in an alternative London in 1907. Three years ago Jericho left the Army in disgrace, was disowned by his family, and has done what he needs to survive his possession by the demon Eulalia. He owns a gentleman’s club, the Jericho Rose, and comes under investigation when a young noble named Doxley dies there. Nathaniel is sent to investigate Doxley’s death and stumbles onto evidence in a snuff pornography case. His father is unhappy about him being a policeman on the Nobility Task Force as he wants him to join the Church. In this London, men can marry but premarital sex between men is still illegal. Women are struggling to wed other women along with the right to vote. The first half of the book is told through Jericho’s eyes, whilst the last half is told through Nathaniel’s.

The crux of the book is Eulalia. It may not stay like this since mine is an uncorrected proof, but in the middle, for a page or two, is Eulalia’s point of view. I found it wholly unnecessary because it doesn’t do what I think it was supposed to do. This is the most important character in the book and she just doesn’t work for me. She stays in Jericho for three years, but never tells him the truth. Jericho tries to only take the souls of those who are corrupt or evil in some way, but that is Jericho’s decision. Eulalia reminds him that good souls taste better. He tries to keep her satiated so she doesn’t take control. When she is in control, he has no memory of what she does with his body. When she kills Doxley, it was for no other reason than she was hungry and she could; he was not evil. Yet later we are supposed to believe the demon wants to help Nathaniel catch the killer he is looking for because she wants justice. Eulalia swears she won’t kill Jericho once inside Nathaniel, yet later she says she cannot help what happens when he begs her not to kill Nathaniel. Yes, she is supposedly a demon, so one can assume she lies…yet we aren’t ever given that impression either. Then there is the Big Reveal where Nathaniel is privy to information Jericho never had, yet somehow Jericho all of the sudden knows even though they have been ordered kept apart and are not able to speak to each other. I feel like she could have been an amazing, complex character that instead was used as a plot twist–that would be a major spoiler so I won’t say, but I didn’t like it.

I did like Nathaniel’s interfering sister. I liked the symmetry of how the plot points got resolved for everyone else involved, except the case. Nathaniel’s boss doesn’t seem too worried that there was never any proof of who committed the crimes. Nathaniel’s feelings of being trapped, his frustration of life not being fair, his chopping at the bridle of his father’s control over his life–these were well written so that I felt them. There were times I wanted to wring his stubborn, fool neck. While there are some steamy moments, I wanted more for these two; I felt their longing, but not their love. Historical romance is not usually my favorite, so I wish I could dismiss my concerns for that reason, but this has some plot holes that wouldn’t work no matter the time period. I usually like this author’s work, so I am disappointed I didn’t connect with this one.

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Review: Fight For This by Suki Fleet, For This 1

FightForThis

 

I would rate this 3.5 stars

Grey, has a crush on his friend and co-worker named Si. Good thing Si has a crush on Grey right back. But the school they both work at, run by Headmaster Greene, is full of secrets–secrets that could harm or save everyone there. At first the POV switches between Grey and Si, the main couple here, but also grows to include Jaime’s POV. They meet Jaime in a nightclub and their fates seem tied together. The cast is further rounded out by Jaime’s twin sister Harry, a student at the school Robyn, and another of the teachers Tabitha with her cat that is not a cat Luna. This is a good introduction to a range of supernatural beings, or Folk, and some of their powers.

The main romance relies heavily on the weeks prior to the book, that the reader is not privy to, in order for their relationship to work. The lust is already there but this still feels like insta-love. The love scenes have that bonded fated mate feel. Then there is a manufactured crisis to keep them apart, which goes nowhere. This book seemed fairly straightforward at first, but as the mythos is built, it gets more complicated leaving questions without answers. Everything is foreshadowed with where this story will go and the story made sense, but many things are not explained. I think the parts of the plot that are meant to be saved for the next book could have been handed more deftly, made more intriguing. As it is, it just seems like the world-building is lacking.

The other driving force of the story is the secrecy that Greene encouraged. The Veil between the worlds is failing. It’s the Veil that was created to allow Folk to hide amongst humans as long as they were careful about using their powers. Greene has been collecting faculty, staff, and students who are Folk, often some who don’t know it, and created the school for them. It is assumed for them to be safer when the Veil falls, but his is a complicated character, good and bad in turns. It is only when all the secrecy falls away, that the characters can work together to strengthen the Veil before it’s too late. This is a temporary fix, so a more permanent solution will need to found for the future to help those trapped protecting the Folk.

Since the younger characters Robyn, Harry, and Jaime will likely play a larger role in the rest of the series, this is more like a YA book about a school for Folk, like a paranormal urban fantasy version of the school in XMen. The world-building only shows what the reader needs for each scene, so it’s easy to read. I just need more than that if I am going to be kept mentally engaged. I didn’t feel attached to the characters; I feel like I know things about them, rather than that I know them, so my emotional investment was low even though it was entertaining. Overall this is a stress free read for when you want to relax with an interesting premise and cute characters.

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Review: Asylum by Julian Burnes

I would rate this 4.5 stars.

Based on the blurb, this book wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, so I struggled to rate it and review it without spoilers. This is billed as a paranormal erotic romance, and while that is true, it is so much more. Tags are spoilers, so as per usual, I will only give them when I think stories could be triggering to people. This book contains multigenerational family trauma, sexual abuse, incest, attempted suicide in first person, suicide, bipolar and OCD mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse, and ghosts thrown in with kinky sex. Since this is told in a single first person point of view, I got very attached to this character, but talking about him is a spoiler. This story is not told in linear time, so it might be difficult to get into the first two or three times it goes from the present to the past, but then it seems very natural as he shares his life through memories. The characters become complex and multifaceted the more the book goes on–one minute I might hate a character and the next I felt sorry for them even though that doesn’t absolve them of their awful choices.

Let’s start with the erotic romance, which I think worked very well. He meets a Dom named Devon in a club and everything goes sideways. Luckily another Dom named Mike helps him when he needs it, allowing the reader to get to know more about the main characters before any sex actually happens. The trust comes when the paranormal aspects are believed by everyone involved, which helps the romance move forward. I think this was effective. All the characters here are likeable and believable. The sex scenes are hot. With an 11 year age gap, the huge disparity in circumstances, and the added D/s aspect, there is plenty of the hurt/comfort trope in play. Devon ends up being compelling as a Dom and very endearing as a person.

There are so many great secondary characters in this book: Officer McBride, Devon’s sister-in-law Maya, Dom Mike, and the medium Maxine are the obvious favorites. There are also well written characters that evoked very negative emotions for me like Uncle Barry, Mom Dana, and Vern. Barry seemed confused about right and wrong without ever trying to figure it out. Dana deserves credit for doing the best she could at the time, she made an effort…but not enough of one to actually heal, so that saddened and frustrated me. She had plenty of opportunities to get help from mental health professionals, but just didn’t. That may seem like victim blaming to some, but she had children to raise and could have done better by them. As for Vern, I hate him. At its heart, this is the story of two brothers and their tragedy, as well as how everything got to this point–it’s a story of an American family tragedy.

As for the paranormal aspects, occultism is treated with respect here, not as a party trick. I believe in energy work, in cleansing, in the benefits of ceremony and feel like this is a really good idea for anyone who wants to find closure for grief and trauma…we have funerals for a reason. Often, the difference is at a funeral people focus on the good, forgetting the bad…and that might not help people find any sort of resolution, especially with the ridiculous notion of not “speaking ill of the dead,” which is just a whole layer of guilt people get wrapped up in. I don’t agree that intention matters most. For many, this will be a lot of woo but this is based in what some people actually practice, so either the author does believe or has done excellent research on the topic. It does walk a fine line…and then gets preachy at the end. I would have rated this higher, but I don’t like being prostalitized to. Also, evoking Robert Monroe and the Matrix Control System is strange in an LGBTQIA book because he believed one reason for his theory is because all mobiles are split into two genders, ever seeking reunion with each other. Ugh.

This book is a rare gem–entertaining and packs an emotional wallop without wallowing in emotional pornography. I like how the ideas of Platonic solids, sacred geometry, and reincarnation are synthesized together, yet the New Age ideas used to explain the phenomena were a bit offputting for me. There is a lot to unpack here, but I’m not going to get into spiritual arguments about an erotic fictional book. Finally, there is an epilogue about 4 years later than the main events of the book. I liked the range of reactions to what happened because in the end, people still choose how to process things. Having or creating an opportunity for closure doesn’t mean everyone will let go and move forward in a positive way. I’m glad theirs is psychological work with a therapist, rather than only relying on New Age ideas.

The cover design was made by Written Ink Designs | written-ink.com. At first I thought the images combined with the title were a bit misleading, but the more I think about it, I really like them for the metaphorical imagery. The main character is trapped until he gets to see the bigger picture and find his asylum, his safe place where he is free.

via A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Asylum by Julian Burnes — Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

My Best of 2019 List

The Best Of The Best

This year I read approximately 200 stories/books, although I didn’t review them all. If you have been reading my reviews, both here and on my own blog, you’ll know I like quirky–books that do things a little differently than the status quo. They still have to make sense, connect with me emotionally, and tell a good story. I gave 5 Stars, without rounding up, to these book that were published this year:

Digging Deep, Digging Deep 1, by Jay Hogan
This book gave a realistic depiction of being in a relationship with a chronically ill person with humor, honesty, and dignity whilst still managing to be a romance. The author didn’t cover over the gross or inconvenient things about illness the way most books do.

The Ghosts Between Us, The West Hills 1, by Brigham Vaughn
People handle grief differently and sometimes they fall in love at completely the wrong time with someone others might deem inappropriate. Oh well, that’s their problem.

The Story Of Us by Logan Meredith
Literally, no one agreed with me about this book featuring an older prudish, judgmental man falling in love with a young student and porn star. With breaking the fourth wall and only one point of view, some people didn’t dig it.

Best Covers

The King’s Dragon cover by Natasha Snow, The Witchstone Amulet cover by Tiferet Designs, Anhaga cover by Tiferet Designs, Hell And Gone cover by Danonza, Ramen Assassin cover by Reece Notley, Earth Fathers Are Weird cover by Lyn Gala, Clean Break cover by Natasha Snow, Healing Glass cover by Miranda from Pavelle Art, and Taji From Beyond the Rings cover by Lyn Forester

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The Best Of The Rest

Best Contemporary

Arctic Sun, Frozen Hearts 1, by Annabeth Albert
Best Behavior by Matthew J. Metzger
Heated Rivalry, Game Changers 2, by Rachel Reid
Ramen Assassin by Rhys Ford
The Other Book, Those Other Books 1, by Roe Horvat
We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

 

Best Fantasy/Paranormal/Science Fiction

Anhaga by Lisa Henry
Dead Man Stalking by T.A. Moore
Empire of Light, Voyance 1, by Alex Harrow
Healing Glass, Gifted Guilds 1, by Jackie Keswick
Space Train by David Bridger
The Shoreless Sea, Liminal Sky 3, by J. Scott Coatsworth

 

Best Holiday

A Faerie Story by Barbara Elsborg

 

Best Dark Themed/Taboo

Sick And Tragic Bastard by Rowan Massey
Please read the tags and get ready for a big, fat, ugly-crying meltdown if you have a soul. Then, read or watch the fluffiest, sweetest stories you can find for a week after.

Best Rerelease

Release, Davlova 1 and Return, Davlova 2, by Marie Sexton
This dark romance duology (pay attention to the tags) was originally released under the name A.M. Sexton. I don’t think there are any substantial changes. Expect rich, bleak, dystopian world-building.

 

Honorable Mention

The King’s Dragon, Fire And Valor 1, by W.M. Fawkes and Sam Burns
The Stone Amulet by Mason Thomas
I read so much fantasy this year. These two books stayed with me even though I rated them lower than the others. Why? Maybe I didn’t have enough coffee.

via More Best of 2019 and This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words — 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

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: 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.

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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: 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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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