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Deprivation; or, Benedetto furioso: an oneiromancy - Alex JeffersTitle: Deprivation; or, Benedetto furioso: an oneiromancy
Author: Alex Jeffers
Publisher: Lethe Press
Length: 130k words
Genre: Gay Fiction
Heat: 2 – Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Dreams, Delusions, Coming of Age, 1990s, Italian Renaissance, Poetry, Parents, Divorce, Family Issues, Secrets & Lies, Economic Downturn
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

oneiromancy
noun
the interpretation of dreams in order to foretell the future.

Sleep deprivation does funny things to your head. Steeped in the romance of Renaissance Italian literature, Ben Lansing isn’t coping well with the routines of his first post-college job, his daily commute from Providence, Rhode Island, to Boston, the inevitable insomnia and lack of sleep, or the peculiarly vivid dreams when he does manage to sleep.

For Ben ”wished to be a paladin. He wished to mount Ariosto’s hippogriff and fly to the moon. He wished to sing a Baroque aria of stunning, shocking brilliance, bringing the audience to its feet roaring, ‘Bravo! Bravissimo!’ He wished to run mad for love.”

When Ben encounters a lost prince squatting in a derelict South Boston warehouse with his little sister and elder brother, exiles of an imaginary Italy, he resolves to rescue Dario and Dario’s family and himself. Stumbling from dream to real life and back again, Ben begins a fabulous quest. Amid visions of futures, pasts, strangely altered presents, he encounters mythic personages raffish bike messenger/artist Neddy, dilettante translator Kenneth, his own mother and father. He falls in and out of love. He witnesses the flight of the hippogriff and the collapses of the New England economy and his parents’ marriage. He discovers what he never knew he was looking for all along.

In Deprivation, a novel as real as a fairy tale or romantic Renaissance epic, neither Ben nor the reader can ever feel certain of being awake or dreaming, walking the streets of Boston or the mazy paths of dreamland. Can you separate wish from fulfilment? Do you want to?

REVIEW

I’m not even sure I can describe this book.  The best synopsis I can come up with is what a long strange trip it’s been.  Honestly at some points I wished I was on drugs reading this.

The story starts with a dream/hallucination/delusion – not sure how to even possibly describe it.  The reader has no idea what is going on with Ben, our main character.  It seems like he’s maybe on a bender or something and he comes across these squatters in South Boston.  Or does he??

Ben is a temporary placement agency employee who finds temp jobs for people.  It’s the early 90s and the economy is in the dumps.  Originally from California, he’s got a degree in Comparative Literature – always a marketable skill.  He has taken the job in Boston and he commutes from his college apartment in Providence that he is loathe to give up but which leaves him quite sleep deprived. (At this I had to laugh.  I’m more than twice his age and I’m before 5 every day and have a 60 mile commute by bus into Chicago every day.  I’m out of my house most days by 6 and can be home anywhere from 6 to 7:30 each night.)  He is nearly run down one winter day by Neddy, a bike messenger who then proceeds to insure that they will see each other again.

Ben’s co-worker, Jane, then wants to introduce him to another guy – one of her temp workers.  He claims that he’s not gay, but apparently he likes to dabble and he seems to like Ben.  Turns out he’s a wealthy guy who is also quite well educated and is going to be translating and book and needs to take a trip.  He might need an apartment sitting while he is gone.  Ben still does not want to give up his Providence apartment for some reason.

Finally we meet Liam, Ben’s on-again, off-again college boyfriend. He apparently has a key and lets himself in whenever he’s in town and has the urge to see Ben.  He’s Irish and a grad student.  But is he real?  We don’t really know.

Lastly among Ben’s potential paramours, he gets a letter from his old prep school Italian teacher/soccer coach and he’s coming to Boston on business as he’s left teaching and maybe they can get together. He was Ben’s favorite teacher. In addition, it seems that Ben’s mother is a novelist who is getting some notice.  In her latest book, which Ben gets a galley copy to read, she writes about a woman who is married to a doctor has a gay son who is HIV-positive and a family trip to Italy where the husband is discovered with a man.  Ben is furious with his mother and they have already had words – via a letter about this book.  He is disinclined to read it, but then his father calls. Ian, Ben’s father, admits that his mother has asked him to leave and that he is in fact gay and even though Ben already knows this in his heart, it’s another blow.   He has in the past suggested to his father that they should go their own ways, but Ian was having none of it.

Both Ben’s parents end up visiting him and there is of course quite a bit of family drama.  Ian and Sandra, Ben’s mother in a surprise move, arrive the next evening in Boston.  Ian tries to convince Ben to come back to California.  Ben confesses his strange dreams/hallucinations and chalks it up to his sleep deprivation although he asks his father’s take on it – like maybe he is crazy.  He also gets a disturbing call from Jane at the office.

After Ben’s parents leave, he has another encounter with Neddy that eventually results in him reaching out to Kenneth.  He takes Ben to get his hair cut and he meets Colin, Kenneth’s hair stylist.  Colin has his own opinion about Kenneth’s sexuality. Nothing is clear about any of these relationships but Ben is looking forward to Paul’s visit.

Throughout the novel, we also have this underlying current of Italian Renaissance literature and the imagery that entails. Ben has some vivid dreams/hallucinations of participating in this fantasy/fairy tale.

Boy where to start on this review.  This was nearly a DNF for me, but I can say I’ve only given up on one book in the past 10 years.  The beginning of this book reads like a 70s drug trip experience.  The reader doesn’t know what’s real, what’s dream, what’s delusion for Ben.  I was probably at least 30% in before I thought it might be worth finishing and even then I wasn’t sure.  I’m a fairly educated and well-traveled person.  I have a liberal arts degree and nearly a science degree as well, I’ve been to Italy, I have season tickets to the opera but this book made me feel stupid.  I just didn’t get it.  I kept thinking that I was missing something.  I still think I am.  It took me forever to read it and I had to go over a lot of it more than once because it just didn’t make sense to me.

The prose is interesting (although there are a few artifices and quirks that I didn’t like), but the story left me cold.  At the end, I really didn’t care what happened to any of these characters.  It’s not a good thing that the dream characters introduced at the beginning of the story elicited the most interest and empathy from me.  I didn’t care for Ben’s parents at all.  Everybody in this story has a LOT of issues and finally, I just didn’t care.  I’m not sure who is the target audience for this story, but I guess it wasn’t me.


privatedicks400x600Title: Private Dicks: Undercovers
Editors: Samantha M Derr
Authors: Siobhan Crosslin, K-Lee Klein, Holly Rinna-White, Alison Bailey, Megan Derr, EE Ottoman, Isabella Carter & Sasha L Miller
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 135k words
Genre: m/m + m/m/m Mystery Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Short Stories, Private Investigators, Undercover
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Temper by Siobhan Crosslin—Reese hates deception, but that’s all his life has been since he was sent to investigate a wolf pack on clashing sets of orders. Keeping his lies separated is all that’s keeping him alive, and it’s a job that grows harder by the day—especially with the unexpected complications of the alpha he’s investigating.

The PI and the Rockstar by K-lee Klein—Mason is a detective. He’s not flashy or hip and he doesn’t have an office conducive to entertaining wealthy clients. But when made-of-money Durango and his gum-snapping daughter hire him to do surveillance on a popular rockstar named Jade Jonathan Lee, Mason’s business world collides with his personal life, and the result is a mystery that must be solved.

Glamour by Holly Rinna-White—When his little brother is kidnapped, Jason hires Eric, PI and long-time crush, to find him, terrified of what will happen if people learn his brother is unregistered psychic. But when Jason is kidnapped as well, he learns he and his brother are not the only ones keeping secrets.

The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey—When the Virginia Gentleman rides into town, it’s a sure bet that trouble ain’t far behind. He’s quick on the draw, feared by all, and one sad little group of train robbers is about to find out why it’s never wise to bet on trouble.

The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr—Esmour is one the best Inquisitors in the kingdom, but the penance bracelets on his wrists serve as constant reminder that once he was not a master of deception, but a victim. To solve his latest case, he must work alongside the liar who changed his life, and the love he learned too late was never real.

Regarding the Detective’s Companion by E.E. Ottoman—Jamie is desperate: he has no money, rent is coming due, and if he doesn’t do something soon he’ll be forced back into a life of charity and pity. So when he is brought a case, Jamie takes it—even if it will mean lying to his client, manipulating the suspect and propelling himself into the middle of a plot involving murder and political intrigue.

The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter—One dead body left at the door is more than enough, but after three are left on the stoop of his father’s agency and no one else is willing to investigate, Quinton decides he’ll just have to solve the mystery himself.

Too Dangerous by Sasha L. Miller—Shi is good at what he does, no matter what his stupid ex thought. Danger comes with the territory, especially when that territory includes a special license to do select work for the government. But when the government needs him to fix something that defeated even their most elite, Shi learns that some situations are too much even for him.

REVIEW

I’ve been sitting on this anthology for a while, but if there’s anything that I know about anthologies from Less Than Three Press, it’s that they’re usually some of my favorites, it not my overall favorites from a specific publisher. So I was excited to read it and I found several stories within that I really liked.

Once again, as with the LT3 anthology I reviewed earlier this week (Something Happened on the Way to Heavenreviewed here), I was delighted with the diversity in the stories presented. Each story deals with a Private Investigator and a mystery, but the stories cross all genres, from Paranormal to Steampunk to Science Fiction, Contemporary and Western. I really enjoyed the steampunk story, “Regarding the Detective’s Companion” by EE Ottoman. Even though it isn’t the best story in the anthology, I really liked the characters, the mystery and the world. Having a steampunk world was also nice because there are so few m/m steampunk stories. The first story is one of my favorites. With a very distinctive style, Siobhan Crosslin takes us into an extreme werewolf society with some really fine writing.

So, look below and I’ll give you a bit about each story. The reviews will be shorter than usual, because this was a longer anthology, but the tags and info about each story will give you quite a bit about what each one has to offer 🙂


Temper by Siobhan Crosslin (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Mystery Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Shifters (Wolves & Dragons), Mate Bonding, Enforcer/Thug, Violence, Undercover

Siobhan Crosslin takes us into a highly segregated world of the different paranormal races. Werewolves form highly structured packs, and Reese has been sent by his alpha to investigate an alpha of a different pack. He infiltrates them easily. Reese was raised and groomed into a killing machine and his loyalties are clouded by his feelings for each alpha — his fear of the old one and his shifting loyalty to the new one, the one he’s lying to, and the one he’s falling in love with.

This one ended up being on the high end of Pretty Good for me, almost Really Liked It. In fact, for most of the story I really, really liked it. Most of all, I loved the writing style. The story thrusts you into the lies and deception from a point of view that is compromised, confused and unable to accurately bring the reader up to speed about what is actually going on and who is who. I admired that and fell into the story, excited by the challenging point of view. It soon grew to be tedious, however, and I ended the story upset that I never really learned much about the world or the people. I had hoped that the writing I loved so much was just being choosy about how to impart information to the reader, but what was held back never came to light.

I’ve since read the sequel to this story (Weld), or rather another story by this author, not a direct serial but also in this world. I ended up liking that one even less, because it carried on with this same writing style, but at an even higher degree, which made for an unpleasant read, unfortunately.


The PI and the Rockstar by K-Lee Klein (So So)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Rockers, Private Investigators, Piercings!, Sexy to the 999s, Closeted

Mason is a private investigator with a rather famous boyfriend. Though that’s all on the hush hush. Of course, that secret means that when a teenage client and her father come into his office asking him to find a musician that got the girl pregnant and then ditched her, he can’t tell them that the man they’re trying to frame is, in fact his boyfriend, the lead singer of a popular rock group. So what is the girl really up to? And how will the added level of duplicity affect Mason’s relationship with Jade?

This was an okay story for me. I was a bit sad that there weren’t any surprises for me — as soon as the girl came in with her father and explained “what happened” with the rockstar, I had a feeling I knew what was going to happen. Sadly, I was right. Add to that the fact that I never really felt like I got to know the characters well, made this story just a So So read for me.


Glamour by Holly Rinna-White (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Science Fiction, Paranormal, Mystery Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Brothers, Undercover, Private Investigator, Psychic, Aliens, Kidnapping

Most of my enjoyment of this story came from the world, which I found rather interesting. Jason and his brother are both unregistered psychics, in a world where those with abilities have to come forward to be assessed by the government. While Jason has mild precognition, his little brother is a different case, with a powerful precognitive sight that puts them all in danger. When Jason’s little brother is psychic, he must go to the man he’s had a crush on for months. Eric is a private investigator with secrets of his own, the least of which is that he’s as interested in Jason as Jason is in him. Searching for the men who kidnapped Jason’s brother, and then trying to rescue Jason himself when the fool rushes in to save his brother, brings both of them closer together.


The Virginia Gentleman by Alison Bailey (So So)
Genre: m/m Western Historical Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Undercover, Cowboys, Thieves, Kidnapping, Private Investigator

I admit, I had a little trouble with this one. I read half of it, finished the anthology then came back and re-read this story. I enjoy westerns, but most westerns in m/m romance are simply contemporary cowboy stories, and this story harkens to a much more authentic historical Old West. The story moved a little too slow for me, but that is all personal preference — the pace suits the plot and sub-genre.

While a man is searching for a boy that was taken years ago as a child, the Virginia Gentleman is looking for some helping hands for a train robbery. Finding the boy and his ogre of a keeper, as well as a man looking to score money to settle with his fiancee, the Virginia Gentlemen leads them across the west to a planned heist of a princess’ carriage. Along the way the VG gets to know the young boy, now a young man but shy and quiet and scared, all while holding some rather big secrets of his own.


The Royal Inquisitor by Megan Derr (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Alternate World Historical Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Royalty, Thieves, Second Chances, Undercover, The Big Mis

I really, really enjoyed this story. You all know how much I love Megan Derr’s writing, and I really got into this story. Sadly, I felt like the tension was created by a misunderstanding, and while it isn’t classic Big Mis type situation, having to do with some duplicity from other nefarious characters, it was still a little disappointing to me that the hurt Esmour feels in this story is because of pride and miscommunication. Still, that was only a shadow on the ending for me, and for the most part I really liked this one.

Esmour wears bracelets that show his penance toward the crown. Unknowingly involved in a sting operation in the past, he came down on the wrong side of the axe when all was said and done, only spared from the noose by his connection and faux-relationship with the undercover prince. Now, the prince has need of him to solve a mystery slave trade in a city in the kingdom, and Esmour, despite his bracelets, is still the best investigator working for the crown. The case will force the two back together into a situation that for all the hurt it may cause might ultimately lead to a reconciliation that Esmour could never have envisioned.


Regarding the Detective’s Companion by EE Ottoman (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Historical, Steampunk Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Disability, Injured Character, Nerds/Geeks, Politics, Science, Awesome Female Characters, Present Tense

**Spoiler Alert! The review of this story in the anthology has some spoilers**

Jamie was rescued from certain death by a priest. With no working legs, he hobbles on crutches, but manages to get around a steampunk Victorian England trying to solve enough cases to make a name for himself as a private investigator. If he does, he might finally be able to make rent, but as it is he’s facing another week of near starvation and one step closer to being back on the streets… or worse, falling up on the Father’s mercy. In his desperation, Jamie takes a case from a man who he’s certain is aiming to frame an innocent man for murder. So what if he didn’t explicitly agree to finding the man guilty? If he investigates, he can find the real murderer and bring real justice. The case could make his career. Plus, they’re paying him up front.

I really liked this story, mostly because of the characters. Jamie is great, but the really great characters are the friends he makes during his time undercover, as well as the sweet romance that develops with his employer and the man he’s meant to frame. I think what I really liked was that this story diverted from the norm. What I expect when I read a story with the lie/undercover plot device is that the deception will go on until the characters are in love and then the secret coming out destroys the trust and is the climax of the story. Instead, when the truth of Jamie’s deception is revealed, the characters band together, almost making their relationship stronger with the real truth. It brings down the barriers that previously existed as boss/assistant and teacher/student and put the characters on an equal footing. Plus, that allows the two to continue the investigation, but now together. And I really liked that, because the best parts of this story are the interactions between these two characters. It’s sweet, awkward, funny, and totally nerdy. And I loved it 🙂


The Demon Bride by Isabella Carter (Not Feelin’ It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few & Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Serial Killer, Demons

For some reason, I really just could not get into this story. I think it was the fact that both the romance and the mystery felt a bit incomplete to me. And even more, I didn’t really understand any of the characters, and to a smaller extent, what was really going on in the end. This could obviously be in my own mis-reading of the story, but I still never really latched on to this story like the others, no matter how little I understood about the end. Plus, I didn’t ever feel like this was really an m/m/m story.

Quinton has now found several bodies lying at the door of his father’s detective agency. No matter how many times he brings the subject of what to do about it up to his father, his father refuses to give him any information about it, despite the fact that Quinton feels he deserves to know, not only because he’s now older and wants to investigate the mystery himself, but also because he’s found the bodies, and he knew them. But when the third body is left of the stoop and Quinton finds a letter addressed to him, he decides he must investigate.


Too Dangerous by Sasha L Miller (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Science Fiction Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Action/Adventure, Second Chances, Military, Futuristic, Secrets & Lies, Kidnapping/Hostage

Ending this anthology with a Science Fiction story was a nice change of pace from the previous ones. And I really like Sasha MIller’s work, so this story, which was more of an action/adventure story was very nice to end the book with.

Shi is a successful private investigator, but he’s thinking about letting his military consultant status (at the highest clearance) lapse. Working a case for the military was how he met his ex-boyfriend in the first place and Shi is still trying to get over their breakup several months previously. So when he arrives at his office to find an unmarked hovercraft, he knows that the military has come to call once again. He fully expects to turn the offer down. After all, he made sure that provision was put into his contract. But when he finds out that he’s the only man for the job — to infiltrate the operate of a space crime syndicate to rescue the remaining member of the special ops team being held captive on the man’s ship — he knows he has to consider. Especially when he finds out that the man held captive is… his ex-boyfriend. No matter the hard feelings, he can’t leave him there. So despite the fact that he’s in way over his head, he’ll do what he has to to get the man out of there, and hopefully get some answers in the process.


heaven400Title: Something Happened on the Way to Heaven
Editors: Samantha Derr
Authors: Isabella Carter, Sylvia Winters, Elizah J Davis, Kayla Bain-Vrba, Evie Kiels, Megan Derr, Debora Day, May Ridge & Sasha L Miller
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 208k words
Genre: m/m & f/f Contemporary Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Keywords/Tags: Anthology, Short Stories, Angels, Demons
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Archangels. Guardians Angels. Cherubim. Angels of death, wrath, vengeance, love, peace, and hope. Fallen Angels. Nephilim. The lore of angels is wide and varied, from battles lost and won, to duties fulfilled and failed, from men raised up to their ranks, and angels banished forever from the heavens. They can be fierce warriors and gentle guides, heralds of joy and tragedy. They are beings of fearsome power, and the highest of servants.

But what else can angels be? What happens when they soar too high or dive too low? Are they flawless in their servitude, or cursed and blessed with free will? Come read these tales of angels in some of their many incarnations…

REVIEW

I meant to post this review this morning, but I forgot. Sorry about that! So, here it is now. I usually have a very specific format for reviewing an anthology, and it can be very taxing to review. Essentially, I review each story separately, and it’s like doing however many reviews all in one, which takes a lot of time. Since I’m not actually contracted for a review for this one, I just wanted to share my thoughts with you, I’ve cut them a lot shorter, but I still put all the details down for each story so that you get that individual information and ratings for each one. With 10 stories, that was just too much to write as much as I normally do!

In all, I really enjoyed this anthology. I wasn’t quite sure I would at first. I read the first story as a serial (this anthology has been being published chapter by chapter for a LONG time now) and sadly, the first story wasn’t my favorite of the lot, though it’s not a bad story. Angel stories tend not to be my favorite, but I was really surprised and delighted by the sheer diversity of stories, themes, plots and uses of angels in this story.

The anthology is $9.99, which is a pretty steep price, but for some readers I think the price is well worth it. For fans of these authors, fans of Less Than Three Press, or fans of angel stories, I think that you’ll like this. It’s over 200,000 words, well over 600 pages in PDF format, and has ten stories, some novellas by some really wonderful authors. Some of these stories were really wonderful, one in particular, “On Wings Not My Own” by Evie Kiels, which I just really loved. I read it twice. A few others were really wonderful. Sasha Miller’s addition, capping off the anthology, is a similar type story we get from her and the type that I love. The angels are very non-traditional in this historical, magical mercenary story. Megan Derr brings us back into the Dance series (which I love and I know many of you do as well). And Kayla Bain-Vrba gives us a very dark tale of fallen angels in a post-apocalyptic, post-Rapture world of broken civilization and the worst of human nature.

Now, here’s the individual information for each story, with just a bit of summary for each.

**Note: The third story in the anthology, “One for Sorrow” by Sylvia A Winters, is f/f, which I didn’t read. So it isn’t included in the review.


Sunburnt Country by LJ LaBarthe (So So)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Demons, Australia, Good vs. Evil

This wasn’t my favorite of the anthology, but it’s a good story to start off with and we get to see a type of angel in this story which is traditional in a way, yet larger than life and really powerful. The setting here, the far west of Australia, was perfect.

James has finally gotten over the death of just about everyone in his life, including his lover, after moving to the far west of Australia. He’s become part of the family of the small town and works various jobs for them all. He’s accustomed to having a life of migraines, but the one that starts at the beginning of this story is the worst he’s ever had, and he doesn’t understand why until a beautiful man with wings shows up and explains to him that he has an ability to hear the speech of demons, several of whom are inhabiting the area after stealing a very dangerous book.


A Better Ending by Isabella Carter (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Fallen Angels, Demons, Nephilim, Good vs. Evil, Mystery

Isabella Carter is an author who I’ve really grown to like. Her serialized novel, A Shadow of a Dream also just finished at Less Than Three Press and was released today, and I really liked it. This story was another in this anthology that stood out, and gives us a very interesting take on the process of angels falling and the sometimes inexplicable unfairness of Heaven.

Ainsley is mortified when he catches a story on the nightly news while cooking himself dinner. An unidentified woman has been found murdered in an alley and police are looking for anyone who can identify her. He can’t believe that the woman could be his friend Eleanor, but it is. Now, he has to explain what he knows about her to the police. One of the detectives assigned to the case is intense, and Ainsley seems to have some sort of connection to him. As they get to know each other, Ainsley starts to learn more about the detective, who is much more than he seems and is harboring a personal history and connection to the killer.


One for Sorrow by Sylvia Winters
Keywords/Tags: f/f


The Lost Angel by Elizah J Davis (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Nasty Exes

Alex has been able to see and talk to angels since he was five years old. But the world has changed and angels aren’t needed as much anymore. Through is life, Alex seemed to reveal a talent for finding people that needed angelic intervention, so he bought a bar, named it The Lost Angel, and every night a whole host of angels show up to make bids for those that walk through the door. The bar seems to have a knack for attracting people who need help, and they’re never seen again — that’s the mark of a job well done. When Finley shows up, newly dumped by an asshole boyfriend who stole all his money, Alex seems someone that he wants to help, despite his angels’ feelings.

This was a very cute story and I really liked these characters. Seeing Alex and Finley get to know each other slowly and fall in love while working at the bar together was really nice and this came out as one of the stories I remembered best.


Watch as My World Ends by Kayla Bain-Vrba (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Post Apocalyptic, Religion, Mythology, Dictators, Rent Boys, Slaves, Dub-Con

I mentioned this story earlier in the main part of my review, and it’s definitely the darkest story of the lot. It also has some of the very best worldbuilding. Growing up in a southern Baptist church, a lot of emphasis was given to the Rapture and the Apocalyptic Literature of the Bible. I always found the thought of the world and people left behind rather interesting, and I was delighted to see a story that really explored that thought, but not from a human perspective (though there is a small part from a human POV), but from two angels. This was another really great story in the collection.

Nathan (“Ephraim”) was created in the third generation of angel creations by God, but fell when he questioned his orders to slaughter and kill humans, including children. As such, they tore out his wings and he was left at the mercy of the civilizations created after the Rapture. Falling up on the mercy of the leader of such a city, while waiting for the seven years of plagues to end before all were sentenced to death, Nathan becomes the town’s whore, not allowed to do any other job and adamant that he pay his own way, even if that way is the most degrading way possible. Another angel is the leader’s assassin, but he has hope for redemption, and as such sets his eyes on helping Nathan. But Nathan won’t accept handouts, and a stalemate is created when the other angel, now called Dakota refuses to sleep with Nathan in order for Nathan to accept his help. But, Dakota won’t give up his mission — but is it because he is falling in love with Nathan, or because he’s obsessed with being redeemed?


On Wings Not My Own by Evie Kiels (Loved It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Alternate World, Religion, Second Chances, Amnesia

This story was my favorite in the whole collection. I’m not sure why, honestly, because I normally really don’t like amnesia stories and it had a few problems near the end (I thought). The world, however, really swept me up and I loved the idea that the two men, even though one can’t remember the other, are still completely in love and will do anything to escape the religious madmen who have taken them away from one another.

Aive can’t remember the last year of his life, but has the feeling that he’s missed something big. It drives him crazy that he doesn’t know what me missed but also why he can’t remember. And with the encouragement of his sister, he journeys from his home, walking hundreds and hundreds of miles to the ocean, following the prophetic dreams that come to him every night from the perspective of a beautiful, winged man that Aive feels he must know. When he gets to the city on the ocean, he finds people that seem to know him and wonder where he disappeared to. And when he follows the dreams to their very end, he finds an angel in a cell deep in a cave, left to starve and almost dead.

When he takes the angel to the Angel Embassy, he finds that not only is Sobal the one that sent him the dreams, but that they fell in love, were married, and were soon to travel to Sobal’s home, a city high in the mountains where the angels come from. But they waited, because Aive wanted to see a little more of the world knowing that once they journeyed there they could never leave. And in that time, a zealot devoted to God took his faith too far, possibly separating the two forever. Will his memories of falling in love never return? And will Sobal ever wake from his ordeal?


Made For You by Megan Derr (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Dance With the Devil series, Angels, Magic, Demons, Captive/Kidnapped

It was wonderful to return to this series. I love the Dance with the Devil books, I even re-read Dance with the Devil recently, as well as The Glass Coffin and I’m currently reading the newest book, Dance Only for Me as a serial. I seem to slightly remember this couple that was mentioned in one of the books, I think the first one, so seeing their story was interesting.

Charlie was brought to life and made into form by his master Jed, a descendant of Solomon, holder of the Solomon Ring, and a world-renowned sorcerer. Charlie is an angel, the best of his kind brought to life from the ether with only the power of Jed. He’s in love with his master, and set to protect him. He’s waited for Jed to realize that they belong together in love as well as in life and work, but Jed won’t accept it. They’ve been on the run for months from the men trying to kill of the last remaining descendant of Solomon and to take the ring, and they almost succeeded. Six months prior, they overpowered Charlie and kidnapped Jed. Now Charlie is searching everywhere he can, on the trail of the kidnappers, and he stops into Brennus territory to talk to the demon.


Angel Eyes by Debora Day (Pretty Good)
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Fallen Angels, Angels, Demons, Warriors/Bodyguards

This wasn’t one of my favorites of the anthology, but it is a well written story. I just, for some reason, couldn’t really feel the romance.

Uriel wakes up naked in the snow with no wings. He’s always been faithful and never failed his Creator’s orders, so why does he find himself fallen and unable to remember how he got there, how he could have made the worst mistake available? He’s rescued by Stephen, a man who lives in a cabin nearby. They get to know one another, Stephen disbelieving of Uriel’s story and thinking he’s just some crazy guy, while Uriel is nursed back to health. For the first time, Uriel feels human emotion, and starts to understand what makes angels fall, or want to fall — the addiction to feeling. But there is actually a reason that Uriel is here, with Stephen, and surprisingly it isn’t because of a mistake he made. He, the protector of the Garden of Eden, is set to protect Stephen against the hosts of hell who would kill him before he can enact a change in someone in the future, which will change the world.


Angel Fever by May Ridge (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Angels, Priests, Guardians/Bodyguards, Magic, Healers, Adoption, Family Issues

“Angel Eyes” is another story that I liked because of the world building. That, also, was the reason that it didn’t get even higher marks. I would have liked to have just a bit more information, or maybe history of how the angles and the church came to be working in a leading partnership of sorts. While I liked the story and romance within the world, and I got just enough for it to make sense, I didn’t get a sense of why, or a larger picture of the world, and because I was intrigued by it, I really wanted to know those things and to understand.

Malachi (Mal) grew up in the angel orphanage, like most angels do. He’s just turned 18 and can finally access his records. He found out that his father is a very prominent angel, on the Council, but he still doesn’t know who his mother is. He is a healer, and because he is male and has a different nature of magic, he is one of the best healers in a long, long time. When he returns to the orphanage, he meets with the priest in charge, a new one from when he was there and a very young priest by the name of Tobias. It seems, however, that Tobias cannot access Mal’s records either, which is very curious indeed. They begin to form a relationship out of their partnership to find out the details of why Mal’s files have been hidden away and what secrets they hold, learning about one another and each one’s secrets along the way. Why is Mal’s mother such a secret? And why do the priests regard Tobias with contempt?


The Book of Judgement by Sasha L Miller (Really Liked It)
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: HFN, Magic, Warriors, Assassins/Mercs

And last, one of the stories I was most eager to get to. I had to make myself not skip again and read out of order. I’m a big fan of Sasha’s work and this story definitely lived up to my expectations. I admit that I was getting a bit tired of angels by this point (I did say that I wasn’t really an angel story fan!), so this story was a nice diversion from the typical angel mythology and a story along a similar vein to the stories that I’ve liked in the past by this author. Unfortunately, the rushed ending and even somewhat shaky HFN, IMO, made it unable for me to give this story top honors.

Reza is one of the most powerful magic users at the university, and also a professor. While clearing out a crate filled with books left to the college from an estate, Reza discovers a very powerful and dangerous book of magic called The Book of Judgement. It is the true book, not a recreation, and the possibility of it getting to the wrong hands is very real and very terrible to imagine. So, at the behest of the Chairman of the college, Reza travels with Edmé on a month long journey to the place where the book can be hidden in a tomb, protected and never to be lost into the hands of the greedy or malevolent. But someone else already knows about the book. Reza is getting death threads and dangerous spells snuck into his mail even before he has left on the journey. And as the two travel, they’ll learn to trust one another even while almost sentient book tries to tear them apart and tempt Reza with the knowledge of what is inside.


Divisions_SC_FrontCover-lgTitle: Divisions (Out of Position #3)
Author: Kyell Gold
Illustrator:Blotch
Publisher: Sofawolf
Length: approx. 158k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Anthropomorphic, Series, Illustrations, Sports, Football, Athletes, Established Relationships, Family Issues, Homophobia, Youth Gay Suicide, Gay Activism
Rating: Really Liked It!

**This review contains spoilers for those who haven’t read Out of Position and Isolation Play**

BLURB

It’s been over a month since Devlin Miski came out publicly, and no other professional athlete has followed suit. Dev just wants to put it all behind him and play football, helping his Chevali Firebirds win their first-ever division title. If only his teammates—and everyone else—could just let it go, he’d be fine. But there’s one teammate in particular who seems determined to make his life difficult…

And for his boyfriend Lee, the past is never laid to rest. If it isn’t his parents’ troubled marriage, it’s an old friend pulling him back into gay rights activism. Lee could make a splash by getting Dev to promote gay rights, but he knows it would distract Dev from football. So he has to balance the pressures of the outside world against the needs of his relationship, and even for a clever fox, that’s a tall order.

In this third volume of Dev and Lee’s story, the tiger and fox continue to explore their relationship. Personalities clash and dreams are on the line as Dev and Lee navigate their very public lives and try to stay true to themselves.

REVIEW

divisions1Back when I was reviewing at Jessewave’s in early 2011, this is the series that brought Kyell Gold and anthropomorphic fiction to my attention. I fell in love with Lee, the fox who dressed up as a vixen to seduce a straight jock and Dev, the tiger who ended up falling for him. Their lives and relationship continued on in tumultuous fashion after graduation when Dev was drafted into professional football and Lee sacrificed his gay activism for his love of football and became a professional scout. The visibility in the sport forced him back into the closet and their relationship suffered. They endured, however, only to be publicly outed by Lee’s ex best friend and have since tried to make the best of their relationship and Dev’s career as a professional gay athlete. Dealing with homophobic teammates, homophobic fans, and family troubles have made their relationship stronger as Divisions opens, and we reconnect with the two in a much more stable relationship than in the past.

Though their relationship is stronger in this third installment to the series, they still have problems going on in their own lives and just like in the past much of the story is seen from their different perspectives while apart. Lee is dealing with a crisis of career. Now that their relationship is public, he has to be careful working in the same sport that his boyfriend plays in. And should he even still be working towards a career as a scout? What happened to his days of activism, when he wanted to make a difference? At the same time, his family has fallen apart around him. He’s close to his father once again and they’re working to make their relationship stronger, but it has really only happened because of his parent’s new separation. And the direction his mother has taken is even more upsetting when he learns that the organization that spreads hate he’s been considering taking up activism to work against has their own hooks in her, turning her into an even more intolerant mother than she previously was.

divisions2Dev has his own problems. Now out of the closet and past his problems with his own team, their newfound camaraderie has made them a winning team that is headed towards the Division Championships. All of that is jeopardized by a new member brought to the Firebirds who seems determined to make his life difficult. Dev just wants to play football and he doesn’t want to be made into a gay role model, something that his teammate and Lee with his reemerging activism can’t seem to let go.

I’ve been excited to read this book for two years now, ever since I read the first two and I wasn’t disappointed. The difficulty with an ongoing series is how so many different strands of a story become interwoven and then are left dangling when each book ends, and Kyell Gold did an excellent job taking up those strands and weaving them into the continuation of the complex relationship that I love. What I love so much about Lee and Devlin is that they have their own lives. It’s so much more of a real life relationship that what we’re usually given with romance plots, where a couple disappears into one another. They’re given their own lives that at times perfectly mesh with one another and are at times completely at odds. Lee and Dev have to reconcile those things and always work on their relationship, or at least actively work so that it isn’t destroyed among all the people that are trying to drive a wedge between them. Many of those people are back, some malicious (like Lee’s past activism friend Brian) and some whose intentions are unknown, like Dev’s new teammate.

divisions3The influences that surround them, especially in the wake of Dev’s coming out press conference, serve to make Lee realize what an opportunity they have to help gay youth, especially other young athletes. The modern day epidemic of gay suicide and bullying take stage in this book as Lee learns that one of the young men who wrote to thank Dev after coming out on national television is reported to have committed suicide. This affects Lee deeply, having corresponded with the youth and now understanding the full impact of their actions, or in Lee’s fears, their inaction. This is further compounded by the knowledge that the “family values” community his mother has apparently taken up with may have had a direct impact on the young football player and his reasons for taking his own life. Though only one part of the whole story, this subplot took front and center stage of this novel. It is indicative of the one central issue that stands between Lee and Dev and that is how they react differently to such issues. Dev, of course, just wants to play football. And with good reason, he’s naturally one that almost tries not to be affected by such issues, on top of which if he does consent to putting more time into his public image and philanthropy, it could kill his career. This, of course, drives Lee insane. He’s naturally a crusader and feels some guilt for letting his relationship and his love of football to dictate his life and career away from activism. Could he have been helping all along? What could he do now? Could he dismantle this organization meant to spread hate and lies and manipulation with the power his lover now has in the spotlight? Is it worth it to possibly sacrifice his relationship with Dev to save young lives? Their fundamental differences are continually pitting them against one another. In a sense, they deal with it well, but in many ways they’re prolonging the issues — I assume until the next (final?) book, which is only one of the reasons that I’m even more eager to read it.

When I find a book I love, I feel like a salesman. That’s really not my personality, but when you love something you want to share it. I want to get all of you to read a certain book. In many ways, I felt that way with the first two books I reviewed in 2011. I hadn’t heard of Kyell Gold at that time and I wasn’t really sure that many people in the m/m romance community had at that point, though I know Kyell had popularity in other communities. I feel like Kyell Gold is a widespread name now in our genre, something I’m very happy about, and I no longer really need to sell this series to all of you reading my reviews. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already heard of Out of Position and may have even read it. If you have, I know you’ll want to read this new book, because I can’t imagine anyone reading about Dev and Lee and not getting as hooked as I am.

Divisions is available to purchase at Sofawolf (follow the link on the title, then click to make Adult visible in upper right corner) in both Softcover ($20) and Hardcover ($40). It isn’t available as an ebook at this time. It is available to buy in Softcover at Amazon today.


Infected_LesserEvilsLGTitle: Lesser Evils
Author: Andrea Speed
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 150,486 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal, Horror, Mystery, Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Shifters, Serial Killer, Urban Fantasy, Series
Rating: Really liked it

Reviewed by Sadonna

Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read the first five books in this series, information in this review can be considered spoilers. It is not recommended to read this series out of order as each story builds on the previous history of the characters and events.

BLURB

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

Until recently, Roan was ahead of the curve when it came to reining in the lion that lives inside him. Now his control is slipping at the worst possible times. A new drug has hit the streets—one that triggers unscheduled changes in infected users. Street hustler Holden Krause gets attacked by one of his clients, then is surprised to find himself involved in an unwanted, unexpected relationship. And a serial killer begins targeting infecteds in their cat form—something that’s 100 percent legal.



To stop the murders, Roan has to work outside the law. But his newfound thirst for violence makes him worry he might be more like the killer than he thought, and his reluctance to talk about it with his husband, Dylan, puts an extra strain on their relationship. So Roan isn’t just fighting the killer and struggling with his mutating virus… he’s trying to save himself.

REVIEW

This latest installment of the starts with a bang and we continue on the usual roller-coaster ride that is the Infected series. If you are not familiar with this series, each of the published books includes two stories/mysteries from Andrea Speed’s serial, but the flow of the stories is not impeded by this format.

Roan is less able to control the lion and he feels like he is becoming a danger to everyone human around him – especially after he accidentally cracks a skull when he attempts to pull his punch. He has recently gotten news from his doctor that the virus is mutating yet again and his physiology is changing in new and unexplainable ways. He confesses the truth to Dylan and Dylan is worried that he is giving up.

The Church of the Divine Transformation approaches Roan about becoming a leader among the Infected which he promptly dismisses. But as the first story/mystery evolves, a new “designer” drug that specifically targets and kills infecteds gets his attention and he begins to think maybe he does need to do something. He is repeatedly called to intervene as the drug continues to crop up in various venues costing both infected and human lives. The race is on to figure out who is making the drug and why and how they are distributing it. It’s so sophisticated even Dr. Rosenberg, Roan’s doctor and an authority on the werevirus can’t figure out how it’s being made. Of course Roan decides to hunt down the drug dealers. As the incidents become more deadly, Roan determines that he can’t just sit on the sidelines.

In the meantime, Holden, his sometimes assistant who is also a high class rent boy has gotten involved with a high profile client who decides to try some rough stuff with him. When Holden informs the client that he won’t tolerate that, he is nearly beaten to death. Needless to say, Roan does not take kindly to this. His method of dealing with the perpetrators scares him – he feels himself becoming less human. Dylan once again tries to convince him he is wrong.

One of the fun aspects of this book is the reappearance of Roan’s hockey team posse. Local minor league players Tank and Scott and Grey and Jeff are around to perform various functions for Roan: getting him out of the hospital and protecting him from bigots, protecting his house, cheering him up when he’s down, and distracting him from the crap that just keeps coming. These guys are a great addition to this series and I hope we continue to see them. We also get treated to/tortured with some more conversations with Paris. These always make me sad but I love that the author includes them as the series continues.

In the second half of this installment, the mystery and pace of the novel and didn’t match the first half for a few chapters. There is a one off rescue with Holden and then a mysterious “missing persons” case that didn’t work for me, but it was shorter section of book. Somehow for me, these pieces felt like they didn’t belong in this book.

The final episode of this volume involves a serial killer who is hunting cats. Unfortunately it’s not really a crime to kill infecteds in their cat form. Roan is appalled by the lack of concern from the police. It seems that they are only “people” in his mind. He decides he will stalk the killer since nobody else is willing to spend any resources try to protect these “undesirables.” Holden is of course involved in this case as well – he has become Roan’s go-to guy. As Roan merges more with the lion he seems to have more trouble controlling his shifts and his health is once again endangered. The cliffhanger of at the end of this book is making me anxious about the next one (which has been contracted, but does not have a release date).

This is one of my favorite series because of the characters. In case you haven’t realized it yet, I have a particular affinity for really f*ed up characters and Roan is certainly one of the best the genre. He’s fighting against everything in his life, but mostly himself. His “family” of loved ones and friends keeps pulling him back from brink when he sinks too low. Each book is an emotional ride, so be warned if you are considering diving into this series. The pool is deep, but worth it.


Title: Houseboat on the Nile, Not My Spook!, Forever (Spy vs. Spook #1-3)
Author: Tinnean
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 126,649 words, 106,283 words, & 128,971 words (respectively)
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty (Overall)
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex (Overall)
Keywords/Tags: Series, Spy vs. Spook, Spies/Agents, Enemies to Lovers, Previously Online Fic
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Houseboat on the Nile

Mark Vincent is WBIS—Washington Bureau of Intelligence and Security. Quinton Mann is staunchly CIA. Mark thinks the CIA is full of dilettantes who leave him and the rest of the WBIS to clean up their messes. Quinn thinks most WBIS agents are sociopathic loose cannons. So they don’t exactly get along.

Of course, just because they don’t like each other doesn’t mean they can’t play mind games on each other. Or sleep together. But when an explosion at Mark’s apartment sends Quinn to the morgue to ID a body, he has to reevaluate his position on denial.

Not My Spook!

Highly ranked CIA officer Quinton Mann finds himself in a relationship with Mark Vincent—for exactly five days. At that point, Mark uses the excuse of going to Massachusetts for his mother’s funeral to end it. But Quinn’s a spook, and you can’t fake a faker.

Mark fears he’s getting in too deep with Quinn, hence the disappearing act. Then Quinn does something unexpected, something nobody has ever done before: he comes after Mark. Maybe being in a relationship with Quinn isn’t such a bad idea. In the meantime, something strange is going on in the intelligence community worldwide. When Quinn disappears while investigating a rogue antiterrorist organization, Mark makes up his mind. Quinn might be a spook, but he’s Mark’s spook, damn it—and once he gets Quinn home, he intends to keep him. He just has to find him first.

Forever

Lately, life is both sweet and sour for intelligence operatives Mark Vincent and Quinton Mann. The sweet is they’re settling into a relationship; Mark has found a condo in Alexandria with the help of Quinn’s mother, Portia; and Mark and Quinn are looking forward to spending the holidays in the Caribbean.

As for the sour, something shadier than usual is going on at Langley. Useless missions and sleepless nights are leaving Quinn exhausted, and then Portia’s life is threatened. When Quinn discovers the accident was no accident and the egomaniacal Senator Wexler is involved, he’s out for blood.

To this point, Mark has stayed out of Quinn’s CIA business. But hurting Quinn and those he loves isn’t on the table, so at Mark’s instigation, they set out together to deal with Wexler. The only catch: it’s the first time Quinn will see Mark at his deadly best, and Mark isn’t sure how his lover will react.

REVIEW

For weeks, I’ve had a plan to read the first of this series, Houseboat on the Nile with my awesome friend and reading buddy Laddie, and then just that week, I got so sick. That was last week, by the way. I didn’t know if I’d be in the mood to read these at all. I had a fever and a hard time concentrating. But then, it worked out perfectly. I spend several days reading this whole series, back to back. I couldn’t put them down, really. I had to know what happened to Quinn and Mark.

I did have some trouble getting into them. My cold medicine soaked brain was not up to deciphering complicated plots and a whole shitload of characters and their names. That’s how I thought this was going to be, and indeed the first 30k to 40k of the first book was just like that. But, then it all seemed to click for me, and I really got into them. I was almost glad I had the excuse of being sick and didn’t have to do anything more than lay around and read this series to my heart’s content. And the good thing, is that combined, they’re about 360k words — a very good chunk that you can spend time getting into!

The basis of the story is the rivalry between the various government agencies in DC. Set in 2002, the story switches point of view between several characters, but mostly between two men — Mark Vincent and Quinton Mann. Mark is a WBIS senior agent and most think him a loose cannon. Actually, they’re all afraid of him. His bureau is known for their unusual tactics, and Mark Vincent is the best of the best. Quinn is a CIA director and just as well known for his family and all around class as his success in his career. He’s just one in a long line of government operatives, including his mother Portia, who was a code breaker for NSA during the Cold War. They’re both extraordinary men, and by nature of the organizations they work for, hate each other.

When Mann finds out that Vincent has been doing a little snooping into his past, he sets out to up the ante, but the result is that they both find they have an extreme sexual attraction to one another. Is it real? Or is it a game to one up the other? Neither can quite figure it out, but they know they can’t stop.

At it’s heart, this is a really wonderful story. Mostly, that comes from these two characters their their chemistry, which is incredibly hot. The games they play on each other are hilarious, and I loved seeing them slowly come together and realize that they have actual feelings for each other. Watching them maneuver the minefield if their intelligence careers while trying to carry on a clandestine relationship was the best part of this story. I would read their books forever and wished that they went on and on and on.

But, I also can’t deny that these books are riddled with problems. Knowing ahead of time that these were previously one book of original online fiction, helped me to realize where the problem was, or else I might have been really confused. Now, I haven’t read that original book which was called Mann of My Dreams, but it seems to me from reading these released by Dreamspinner that they most likely weren’t changed very much. And that is a problem — they still read like online fiction. And while they’re good, they could have been great, with a really smart and exacting editor to bring them new life. The biggest problem with the published books is the repetition, which I have heard others complain about as well. And it isn’t just the style of the writing, which takes both characters point of view and shows the same events, over and over. While tiring at some points (because this series would have been at least half the length, otherwise), that didn’t bother me too much. I embraced the style and ran with it. But, there is a lot of other repetition within that should have been cut — whole paragraphs reminding us what happened a few chapters ago and whole scenes that are repeated to remind us, but 5 to 6 times over the whole series. It is one thing to remind us in the beginning of a sequel the few key points that happened in the first book, not everyone reads the books back to back like I did, I understand that. But, that is something from the online fiction that should have been cut. We aren’t reading this an online serial, so we don’t need to be reminded of things that happened, which online, we might have read several months or even years ago.

It was fundamental problems like that that really bothered me. Not just mistakes, but glaring problems. I ended up feeling that I might as well have just read them online for free if they had all that. So while I absolutely loved the story and adored the characters, I found the writing fundamentally flawed, which really affected my enjoyment of the story. I had hoped that some of these things might get better with each subsequent book — after all, I read these types of comments on each book page at Goodreads and thought they might influence how the later books were edited, but not. I didn’t see any difference, which made me a little sad.

I wholeheartedly recommend this series, but, I will warn you to brace yourself to be at least a little annoyed. If I were rating these books based solely on how much I loved the plot and characters, it would easily get a Loved It! rating, but since I’m not, especially since I felt there should have been more changes since this was an online book that the author then published, I had to lower the rating for all three books to just Pretty Good.

Have any of you read these books? What did you think?