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Tag Archives: Fae/Elves

blackdogbluesTitle: Black Dog Blues (Kai Gracen #1)
Author: Rhys Ford
Publisher: Self Published (Coffee Squirrel Press)
Length: 92,479 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Series, Urban Fantasy, Fae/Elves, Futuristic, Post-Apoc, California, Graphic Violence (and other…things), Blood & Gore, Dragons, Past Abuse, Action/Adventure, Unusual Creatures, Magic, Tattoos
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

Ever since he’d been part of the pot in a high-stakes poker game, elfin outcast Kai Gracen figured he’d used up any good karma he had when Dempsey, a human Stalker, won the hand and took him in. Following the violent merge of Earth and Underhill, the human and elfin races were left with a messy, monster-ridden world and Stalkers were often the only cavalry willing to ride to someone’s rescue when something shadowy and dark moved into the neighbourhood.

There certainly were no shortage of monsters or people stupidly willing to become lunch for one.

It was a hard life but one Kai liked. And he was good at it. Killing monsters was easy. Especially since he was one himself.

After an accident retired Dempsey out, Kai set up permanent shop in San Diego, contracting out to the local SoCalGov depot. It was a decent life, filled with bounty, a few friends and most importantly, no other elfin around to remind him he wasn’t really human.

That was until a sidhe lord named Ryder arrives in San Diego and Kai is conscripted to do a job for Ryder’s fledgling Dawn Court. It was supposed to a simple run; head up the coast during dragon-mating season to retrieve a pregnant human woman seeking sanctuary with the new Court then back to San Diego. Easy, quick and best of all, profitable. But Ryder’s “simple” run leads to massive trouble and Kai ends up being caught in the middle of a deadly bloodline feud he has no hope of escaping.

No one ever got rich by being a Stalker. But then hardly any of them got old either. The way things were looking, it didn’t look like Kai was going to be the exception.

REVIEW

Pretty much all of you who read my reviews know that for the most part I’m rather reluctant to read anything angsty or intense. My tastes change and fluctuate of course, but for the last year to year and a half I’ve mostly left those alone. So somehow, I suppose because at the time I didn’t really know Rhys Ford’s writing all that well, I got into her writing even though she really flirts with the edge for me at times, no matter how much I end up liking the books. It takes me a bit of mental cheerleading to work myself into the frame of mind to start her books, and really it’s mostly the anticipation; fearing that the book will get too intense for me is more than half the battle, because I usually don’t mind as much once I start reading. But now that I know I’ll read anything by this author, it still means that I’m nervous starting her books. I was actually most excited about this one, mostly because I was really interested to see how she’d deal with urban fantasy when most of her writing that I’m familiar with are contemporary mysteries. And once I started, I was immediately sucked into it. Even though it was in many parts intense — it was just a different kind of intensity than I expected.

Kai Gracen is an anomaly among the lower denizens of San Diego. Taken in by Dempsey when only a feral elfin boy, the grizzled and uncouth hunter raised Kai in his shadow, among the human hunters of the black dogs, the spawn of the unsidhe that threaten the human population and whose hides earn money from the government. After a war between humans and the elfin races (both sidhe and unsidhe), the land is split between areas for each race to inhabit, with land specifically designated for the elfin to set up their courts. It also left the world full of monsters and beasties like the black dogs, making travel between those areas often difficult and dangerous.

As a hunter, Kai is skilled and extremely knowledgable about the area, which is why he’s called into the local government depot (where he gets paid for his kills) to take a non-negotiable contract to ferry a new elfin lord up the coast during dragon mating season. The run through Pendle is dangerous even without the complications that the sidhe lord brings, the first being their passenger on return. Ryder, the sidhe lord, is new to San Diego, setting up a new court (the Dawn Court). He needs to retrieve a pregnant human from the sidhe city in Los Angeles and needs Kai to take him, serving as guide and bodyguard.

This book drew me immediately in. It feels… literally jam-packed with action and plot. It’s almost as if there’s no stopping. And after reading the book and then seeing that it’s only just shy of 100k words. Honestly, I felt as if I’d read twice that. There’s so much to this story, starting with the world and the characters. This book does well as the first of a new series to set up the world, but so much of it is in great detail. It is rather smartly done, too. We don’t need a history lesson, because while we don’t really know how the war between the humans and elfin came about or how it played out, it’s fairly self-explanatory by how the world is set up. Both races have their positive and negative qualities, and Kai is uniquely placed to give us perspective on both of them, while having his own unique one about where the two races collide. Over the course of the book we learn quite a bit about his history, which is fairly graphic in detail but shows the evil and the good in the world. And also, there is so much world, plot, characterization that this story really can’t have it all. The romance is really non-existent in this book, except in the sense as a prelude to future stories and in the building of the relationship between Kai and Ryder. But I appreciated that there wasn’t a rush and that Rhys Ford didn’t (perhaps) bow to pressure to include it too early.

I’ve gone the route of deciding to urge you to read this yourself rather than really dig in and explore the book in my review. I would actually love to do that, but there’s honestly just way too much to talk about. And I was really surprised by how well balanced all of that was. I felt like Rhys showed quite a bit of restraint in parts of the book, which makes me eager to see what she’ll write for the sequel… there’s just so much more story left to tell.

I will say that if you might be squeamish about blood and gore this might be a difficult read for you. I was expecting more emotionally intense writing than what I got, but I didn’t expect so many physically intense scenes. There’s one scene that made even me sick to my stomach (which… I don’t know that that has ever happened to me actually), where… Well, all I’ll say is that Kai gets something really nasty in his mouth. And the blood and gore was a few times almost comical, like a Tarantino movie. I really enjoyed that part of it, though some people really might not.

But, in all, this was a really fantastic read. While I applaud the author’s decision to take the romance slow (which is really needed because of Kai’s emotional growth throughout the book), I would have liked maybe a bit more connection between him and Ryder before the ending of the book. It got there, sortof, before the end, but for a book that for most of reading it I wasn’t sure if it even was going to develop into a romance, I wanted a bit more assurance of the direction their relationship was moving in before we left them for a year or however long it takes before the sequel is ready to read.

Beautifully and smartly written. And, I think, one of the best books so far this year. Definitely recommended!


wordsofdivinityTitle: Words of Divinity
Author: Kayla Bain-Vrba
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 42,500 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Enemies to Lovers, Quest, Second Chances, Street Kid, Magic, Warrior, Alternate Worlds, Gods/Demigods, Fey/Elves, Demons (uh… sorta)
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

Daniel is a sorcerer, good at magic and taking all the credit—or so it seems to Liam. In Daniel’s eyes that’s vastly preferable to being Liam, a hunter who excels at killing beasts and sleeping with everything else. They cooperate only to keep their country safe—until a new and greater danger calls for desperate measures that takes them to the land of gods, and the only way home again is by facing monsters, gods, and truths they’ve been avoiding.

REVIEW

In many ways this was just the kind of book that I love. A solid fantasy (not high fantasy) that plays with alternate worlds, gods/demigods, demon-like creatures, a magical war, and a quest between worlds and back. Though I had a few problems with the book as a whole, for the most part I really enjoyed it.

Words of Divinity is told from the opposing viewpoints of Daniel and Liam, a mage and a hunter. We first meet Liam on the streets of the capitol. He’s been living on the streets since the age of fourteen, a runaway from an abusive alcoholic father. While wandering the streets at night, Liam is attacked by a giant rat that nearly kills him. But in his fight for his life, Liam is able to kill the rat barehanded, an almost impossible feat that is witnessed by another man who takes Liam to the local regiment’s barracks. Liam is extremely distrustful of authority, but he soon learns that he’s there to recount his impressive tale and immediately offered into the ranks of a new group of warriors, a special subset of the country’s military that has been organized to fight a new menace — the demon spawn called up from the Underworld by the dark mages of a neighboring country.

Liam finds a place among the hunters. Completing training faster than any of the others, he finds that he’s exceptional at something and the center of a group of warriors that look up to him. Maybe it’s this new respect that inflates his ego, or more likely just part and parcel of how his experiences so far have molded him — his abusive father, his early sexual experiences and his casual disregard of how he’s been used by both people and authority. Whatever it is, this new and cocky Liam is the epitome of a bad boy — sleeping his way across the regiment, and then into the group of mages traveling with them and the local boys at every village they pass as they march from battle to battle.

Liam soon finds that not everyone is susceptible to his charms. Daniel is a mage that the other mages avoid. He’s held in high esteem by the Crown Prince Erik who accompanies their ragtag company, and they soon grow a friendship, though Daniel shuns any other company. He’s secretive, and for good reason. Daniel is their biggest asset because of his ability to hear the thoughts of the demons they hunt. He has more secret abilities, however, that seem to have a mind of their own, constantly wanting to be used. While he’s fighting the demon spawn with the other mages and hunters, he’s also waging a war among his own powers and his own history, which he keeps locked away among his deepest secrets. When Daniel first meets Liam, he’s taken by his charisma, confidence and sexy swagger. Their friendship, though, is brief when Daniel sees some of his worst qualities — his endless meaningless conquests and his loose tongue. Liam likes to brag about his conquests and getting prudish Daniel to give it up for him is his goal, including spreading the tales afterward to anyone that wants to listen.

Now pitted against one another, they spend quite a long time at odds, only growing in animosity. They’re soon thrust into a quest where they have to open up to one another and rely on each other to survive. And even more than that, they are forced to reevaluate their preconceived notions about the other.

What Kayla V-B did best in this novella is in these two characters. At times I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about them. In fact, for probably the first half of the book I really hated Liam. We don’t quite get a lot of his history until much later in the book so even though we know about his asshole father, we don’t quite understand his vulnerability, which just makes him seem like an asshole. I think that Daniel (at least for me) is a bit easier to get close to. It’s easier to understand him and to really pull for him because his vulnerability is on the surface… he’s extremely tormented. The format of the book (the quest is like an obstacle course they have to maneuver, with tests that manipulate them and their feelings) makes the two come together because, honestly, I doubt they would if they weren’t forced to. They’re so opposed to one another. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve read an m/m romance in recent history that deals with the enemies to lovers trope where the characters hated and misunderstood the other more. And with the world around them manipulating their actions, they constantly seem to come together to be torn apart. It makes for some nice angst that I didn’t feel was too overdone. And I really liked the fact that the characters are who they are with a real fierceness, if that makes sense at all. They’re both passionate, and that makes them alternately rub each other the wrong way, while at other times they can co-exist.

I had a bit of a difficult time getting into the story, though. The first few chapters traverse several years in order to set up the story, introduce both characters and a bit of their history, and then show the few years they travel together and how Liam and Daniel grow to hate one another. I think that it all comes down to pacing. At the start of the story the pace is extremely fast. We’re given a lot of information while time speeds forward every few paragraphs to chapters and then when the characters are forced on their journey together the pace changes. Also, while this part of the story is interspersed with skirmishes and battles that we’re shown in present time, there’s a lot of narration to fill us in on the world and the characters. It wasn’t until I finished the book that I could see the jog in the pace and I started to think about the beginning. Rather than telling us about their past, I would have rather been shown those scenes. It would have meant adding quite a bit more pages, but I think there would have been more balance.

But, in all, this was quite the enjoyable read and I’d definitely recommend it to fantasy fans. I’m not sure whether the author plans to extend the story at all, but I’d definitely be there, in line to read it if she wanted to. The story definitely ends with a pretty solid HFN, on the line to an HEA. I only doubt the HEA because of their past history and we don’t see where their adventures are headed. It’s nicely done to either let the story rest or open it again at a future point.


magicallydeliciousTitle: Magically Delicious
Author: Caitlin Ricci
Publisher: Silver
Length: 7,238 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Mild & Sexy
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Ireland, College, Exchange Student, Leprechauns, Professors, Fae, HFN
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Sadonna

**Contains some spoilers**

BLURB

Luke, an American exchange student studying abroad in Ireland, ignored his roommates when they told him to put back the gold coin he found in the garden. They warned him about what would happen if he kept the leprechaun gold. He might wonder if maybe he should have listened to them when a sexy, kilt-wearing leprechaun shows up that night to claim the last of the coins from his scattered pot of gold.

REVIEW

This is a really cute short story about Luke, an American student in Ireland. As he is working in the garden one day, he finds a gold coin. He polishes it up and when his Irish roommates see it, the back away and tell him to put it back because the Leprechaun will be looking for it and bad things can happen if he doesn’t find all of his gold coins. Luke laughs it off and keeps the gold coin by his bedside. Lo and behold Luke is visited by the leprechaun that night and he definitely wants his gold back. Arn offers Luke “anything” in exchange for the coin. When Luke makes a quite unusual request of Arn, he obliges. Luke thinks he’s dreamed up the man and he really enjoys their time together. Arn does as well and leaves the coin so that he can return to visit Luke again. Arn returns to the Fae realm where he is met by a guardian and taken to his mother – the Fae queen. She is not happy with Arn and his idea of taking up with a human. She offers him a very difficult choice that will allow him to see Luke again, but in a very different guise.

The Fae part of the story didn’t work for me as well as the interactions between Luke and Arn. I like both characters and appreciated the little twists and turns of the story. Of course it’s a bit insta-lovey, but hey, it’s magic 😉


The Druid StoneTitle: The Druid Stone (Layers of the Otherworld #1)
Author: Heidi Belleau & Violetta Vane
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 117,000 words
Genre: m/m Alternate World Fantasy Paranormal
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Action/Adventure, Angst-alicious, Bisexual, Emotionally/Physically Damaded, Ex-lovers, Fae, Gfy/Ofy, Injured Character, Kidnapping/Abduction, Magic, Pets, Physical Abuse, Secrets & Lies, Series, Suspense, Time Travel
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Sean never asked to be an O’Hara, and he didn’t ask to be cursed by one either.

After inheriting a hexed druid stone from his great-grandfather, Sean starts reliving another man’s torture and death…every single night. And only one person can help.

Cormac Kelly runs a paranormal investigation business and doesn’t have time to deal with misinformed tourists like Sean. But Sean has real magic in his pocket, and even though Cormac is a descendant of legendary druids, he soon finds himself out of his depth…and not because Sean’s the first man he’s felt anything for in a long time.

The pair develop an unexpected and intensely sexual bond, but are threatened at every turn when Sean’s case attracts the unwelcome attention of the mad sidhe lords of ancient Ireland. When Sean and Cormac are thrust backward in time to Ireland’s violent history–and their own dark pasts–they must work together to escape the curse and save their fragile relationship.

REVIEW

This story was… hard for me to get into. The world is extremely interesting. If I could rate on just that, I’d give this book five stars but I can’t because I struggled with other factors within the book.

What I liked is how desperate Sean was to stop reliving Cormac’s ex-lovers death. I also liked how shattered Cormac still is about his past. It made for some interesting conflicts between them. I also liked the chemistry they could have had together. Bits and pieces are shown but the full potential there wasn’t achieved, IMO. More than anything, I wished their relationship had been more developed because, while they might have had some attraction, I didn’t feel like there was any connection between them at all. In fact, I felt like there was always Cormac’s ex-lover that Cormac would put before anything else, including Sean, and I didn’t think that was fair to Sean, especially after everything he just did for Cormac.

As I said, the world is very interesting. It’s intriguing and captivating but I didn’t enjoy how it was handled. I was confused most of the time about what was going on. I couldn’t understand how Sean and Cormac would get into these situations, and while they were intense and interesting, it didn’t really make sense. This made reading the story difficult and I think what made the book also drag for me. I just really struggled with it. More than anything, though, the ending is what frustrates me. Sean and Cormac changed the past but nothing in the present changed. That made no sense to me at all. Also, while I found the ending very sweet, it came out of left field for me. Sean and Cormac love each other but I’m wondering how that development happened because I didn’t see it in the writing or the long journey they had together. I also really wished we got to see their time in D.C. because I felt like the ending was very abrupt in not showing that.

All in all, amazing world building but everything else I was just confused on. The events they go through and how they end up where they do, didn’t add up for me. I was confused on so many things that by the end, I was a bit disappointed by not only the journey they go on but the supposed love they’ve seemed to have developed off screen. Some people will really enjoy this one but, unfortunately, it missed its mark with me.


ARM_Not_An_ElfTitle: Not an Elf
Author: AR Moler
Publisher: MLR
Length: 10,000 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Terminal Cancer, Magic, Healing, Artist, Suicidal ideation, Fae, HFN
Rating: Really Liked It!

Reviewed by Sadonna

BLURB

Sometimes miracles come with pointed ears.

Artist Zephariah Lewis runs from his terminal cancer diagnosis to a friend’s remote cabin in the mountains. While contemplating his last likely option, he runs into an attractive and unusual man dressed in archaic clothes and carrying archery equipment. Who is this strange alluring man? Llyr isn’t what he seems. He’s fae and finds the human fascinating. But just how long will he be able to get to know Zeph? The clock is ticking.

REVIEW

Zeph Lewis has a stage 4 brain cancer and three to five months to live. He wants to escape the confines of the medical world and just be alone for a while at a friend’s remote mountain cabin. While there he meets what appears to be a very unusual man, Llyr, who can read his thoughts, which are quite suicidal. Zeph asks if he is an elf and Llyr confesses to be Aes Sidhe. Zeph finds himself attracted to Llyr even though he hasn’t thought that way about another man in some time and he thinks it futile anyway, given his situation.

The next day, Llyr is injured and Zeph helps him back to his cabin to recuperate. Llyr senses Zeph’s attraction and feels the same way. After a very hot make-out session, Llyr must return to his world to perform his duties for the king as a royal guard. He does tell Zeph he will try to return. When he returns, he finds Zeph but he can’t rouse him and he attempts to give him some of his healing magic. They return to the cabin and Llyr finds a book of sketches that Zeph had done of him and Zeph explains that he is an illustrator and works on fantasy books. Eventually they make love and a strange thing happens. I will let the reader enjoy the rest of the story.

I was surprised to see that this is only the second story I’ve read by this author. I found it engaging, intriguing and very well written. I felt like the characters were really developed quite well in this short story. The voices of both characters felt very authentic. I am really looking forward to reading the other books I have by this author and I wouldn’t mind reading more about Zeph and Llyr in future.


BoyandHisDragon[A]LGTitle: A Boy and His Dragon (Being(s) in Love #2)
Author: R Cooper
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Length: 79,598 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Urban Fantasy, Dragon Shifters, Faeries, History, Opposites Attract
Rating: So So

BLURB

Arthur MacArthur needs a job, and not just for the money. Before he dropped out of school to support his younger sister, he loved being a research assistant at the university. But working for a dragon, one of the rarest and least understood magical beings, has unforeseen complications. While Arthur may be the only applicant who isn’t afraid of Philbert Jones in his dragon form, the instant attraction he feels for his new employer is beyond disconcerting.

Bertie is a brilliant historian, but he can’t find his own notes without help—his house is a hoard of books and antiques, hence the need for an assistant. Setting the mess to rights is a dream come true for Arthur, who once aspired to be an archivist. But making sense of Bertie’s interest in him is another matter. After all, dragons collect treasure, and Arthur is anything but extraordinary.

REVIEW

When I decided to review this book, I didn’t realize that it was the sequel to R Cooper’s Some Kind of Magic. I had intended to read that book at some point, but even though I got it when it was released I never read it. This book seemed more interesting to me, however, because of the dragon. I love dragon shifters and I can’t stay away from any book that looks like it might have one. So I decided to read both of these books, and as it turned out, I ended up liking the first book better than this one, despite the yummy dragon man.

A Boy and His Dragon opens as Arthur MacArthur visits the home of Dr. Philbert Jones, a historian to interview for a position as his research assistant. Arthur is working towards a degree in history himself and has a real love of learning and an academic mind, but family problems and lack of money have forced him to take a student sabbatical until he can find a way out of his debts and support himself and his sister with enough money left over to return to his studies. This job, then, is perfect. While he has two other jobs, they’re part-time and don’t challenge him the way he needs to be, and a research job is just what he needs to keep his career on track.

Arthur is also a normal human. Living in a world where the paranormal is normal (at least for the last 70 some-odd years), means that there is familiarity and misinformation alongside one another. Humans mostly still know very little about Beings, at least on a day to day basis. Arthur is a an example of this. Knowing that his potential employer is a dragon, he makes and keeps an ongoing list of things he knows about dragons, which is very small and somewhat misinformed. Despite his personal curiosity, this job means a lot to Arthur because of his need to protect and care for his sister. But when he meets Philbert, “Bertie”, he finds another reason to care about the job — caring about the dragon himself. They’re fairly opposite, obvious signs notwithstanding, but they soon learn to care for one another as Arthur spends his days organizing Bertie’s book collection.

The writing itself in this book is very good. Readers who have read the first book in the series, Some Kind of Magic, will find it similar. The story is firmly set apart from that book, there’s almost no connection whatsoever, besides the world, so there’s really no need to read the books in any certain order. Mostly, however, readers will find this book very different from it’s predecessor, mainly in that this book isn’t a mystery. There is one overarching choice the author makes, however, that is the same in both books, and it is something that bothered me in both of them. The romantic tension is created by severe miscommunication, all bolstered and made more authentic by the fact that the Beings and Humans and the different types of Beings don’t understand one another. Still, I found this to be a rather fragile and thin excuse.

I read quite a few short stories because of my weekly reviews at Brief Encounters and one of the biggest problems I find in short stories is the excess of plot for a short format. This book had the opposite problem — I felt like there wasn’t enough plot for the size of this book, which made the story drag for me, throughout most of the book. The miscommunication and desire of the characters (especially Arthur) to do what they think is best for everyone else without talking it over with anyone else first (I hate that), is used to draw out the story into a longer work. I felt a bit like I was waiting and waiting for something to happen.

Others might like this story more. The writing, like I said before, is good, I just tend not to enjoy stories focused solely on the relationship and the added (very) slow place compounded that problem for me. For some reason, while I liked them, I didn’t find the characters engaging enough to overcome that problem. So it was really only a so so book for me. I’m still looking forward to reading more of this author’s work, however, and hopefully that book will be more to my personal taste in style.