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Tag Archives: Ghosts/Spirits

Helleville - Hayden ThorneTitle: Helleville
Author: Hayden Thorne
Publisher: JMS Books
Length: 76,977 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal YA Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Homophobia, Coming of Age, Self-Discovery Focus, Single Moms, Awesome Moms!, Bullying, HEA, Alternate Reality/Otherworlds, Ghosts/Spirits, Ghouls, Zombies, Vampires, First Times (Kisses Only), Magic, Mystery, Magical Realism, Nerds/Geeks
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

All fifteen-year-old Noah Hipwell wants is to go through high school in peace. Yet he finds himself suspended after a bully pushes him too far, and Noah’s forced to defend himself. His mother, fed up with the school’s indifference to his plight, pulls him out completely and leaves Noah uncertain of his future while they look for a good and safe school for him.

All Dorothy “Dot” Hipwell wants is to go through single motherhood in peace. Yet she and her son are harassed by weekly phone calls from her evangelical family hell-bent on guilt-tripping them both back into the fold. Then Noah’s grandparents ask strange questions about their old van after dropping cryptic references to a group called The Soul Warriors. Fed up, Dot takes Noah away for a much-needed getaway, only to find themselves suddenly transported to an alternate world, where a town called Helleville awaits them and all other condemned souls.

Along with warm-blooded, living human beings, the Hipwells rub shoulders with zombies, vampires, house ghosts, and occasional “green vomit piles” while picking up the pieces and sorting out what could very well be an eternity in a bizarre, fanciful, and humorous world of ghouls and banned books.

When residents suddenly disappear one by one with no trace and for no logical reason, however, doubts being “housed” in an alternate world for their sins are raised, and time suddenly becomes of the essence as Noah and the rest of Helleville’s condemned race to find answers to what’s quickly turning into a dangerous puzzle.

REVIEW

It’s been a while since I read a Hayden Thorne novel and now I remember exactly why I always want to read them! She has a particular quirky brain that makes her books unique in a way that always pulls me in. This wasn’t my favorite of her books, but it might be hard to top the Masks books anyway. Still, by the end of this book, I liked it and I really liked Noah.

Noah is fifteen and out of school. After a bad situation at his last public school, where some kids bullied him and he fought back, getting suspended, his super awesome single mom Dot went ape-shit on the administration for their blatant disregard of the bullying in their school and pulled Noah out. Since then, he’s been staying at home while his mother works two jobs and looks for a new, more inclusive school. Noah and his mom are pretty close, they’re their only family and they stick together. Well, Noah does have grandparents (Dot’s parents), but they really aren’t considered family — more like righteous stalkers. The calendar by the phone with bloody X’s mark the days that they call to harass them about their wicked ways (which include that Noah is gay and that Dot had him out of wedlock). It isn’t until his grandmother threatens to set The Soul Warriors on them that they get a little more worried.

When Noah and his mother decide to take a weekend road trip to a B&B to get away from all the phone calls, they find themselves transported to a strange alternate world that seems to be a ridiculous mockery of Hell — a town called Helleville filled with residents with similar experiences as them, full of banned books like Harry Potter and science textbooks that teach evolution, and weird and strange creatures like ghosts, vampires, zombies and ghouls. The strange thing is that though no one there can really figure out where they are and why they’re there (other than the fact that The Soul Warriors are behind everything), it isn’t the classic representation of hell that you’d expect. They’re well cared for with all the food they want for no money, the kids don’t have to take school (although they can sit in a class with Satan as a teacher if they want), and they’re surrounded by pristine nature with no need for jobs. The people there have formed a community of sorts with a mayor and everything, but they all have time to relax and enjoy the things that they didn’t have time for in life. Dot decides to take up crocheting.

They are, however, haunted by one serious problem. Every so often someone disappears. Soon after Noah and his mother arrive in Helleville, the fourth resident goes missing and no one can ever find them, no matter how many times they organize search parties and a night watch to try to catch anything abnormal. It isn’t until Noah makes a friend named John who loves to take pictures that they start to piece together the strange occurrences and what could be behind it all. But before Noah can get too attached to his new hobby of playing Sherlock Holmes he meets Alex, a boy his own age who seems to like him. Alex invites him to hang out with a few of the other teenagers in Helleville and finds that he’s not the only one with a crush on the nerdy teen. Matt, a cool seventeen, muscular and gorgeous, highly intelligent and the most popular kid involved in the community has a thing for Alex and he doesn’t intend for Noah, who he looks at like a bug under his shoe, to get in his way.

Before all of you m/m romance readers out there get excited, the romance in this story is kept on the back burner. Instead, this story is really Noah’s coming of age tale and his road to self-discovery. Helleville and the alternate reality they’ve been sent to acts as a catalyst to force Noah to grow. Before he was sent there, a lot of his own exploration of himself as a teenager had been stunted because of the bullying he experienced at school. He calls himself an introvert, but he’s really afraid to get back out into the world and try again, making friends and even meeting a guy he likes and taking a change. He has a lot of latent social anxiety and Helleville acts as a skewed kind of microcosm of the real world to get him to open up again. In Helleville, Noah can be someone new. He can meet and go on dates with a boy like Alex, he learns that he can have friends. And most importantly he learns that people can rely on him, that he has worth. Alex acts as part of that self-discovery, of course, and their relationship also is a somewhat significant part of the story, but it never progresses very far on page.

The pace and plot mimic Noah’s journey in a way. The POV is strictly Noah’s, so the first half of the book is quite sedate. I even read one reader’s review on Goodreads before I started reading that said that this book was boring. I wouldn’t say that, I quite enjoyed it. But there were a few times in the first half of the book that I set it down, read some other things and then picked it up later. I think that as long as you don’t go into this book expecting it to focus on Noah’s romantic life and that the story will be more about action than reflection, you’ll enjoy it. Also, if you haven’t read much of Hayden Thorne’s work by now you might not realize that most of her work is cerebral. This book is a reflection of Noah’s life, in almost an allegorical way. If you’d rather just read for fun and not want to focus on the meaning of it all, then you might find this story a bit slow … in the first half anyway, the second half was much more exciting.

So I definitely recommend this one. I really like Hayden’s work and I’ll always pick up her books when a new one is out. She always has a really great point of view coming from gay teenagers that it’s so easy to connect with. That, and sometimes this book just makes you go — What the FUCK?


deadmanrestlessspiritsTitle: Dead Man and the Restless Spirits Dead Man Vol. 1
Author: Lou Harper
Publisher: Self Published (Harper Books)
Length: 37k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Lou Harper Week!, Spinoff, Tails!, Demons, Ghosts/Spirits, Psychics, Hauntings, Magic, Witches/Mages, Piercings, Animals, Neighbors, Nerds/Geeks, Awesome Female Characters!, Awesome Moms!, Funny Guys, Mystery, Episodic
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

Dying sucks hairy monkey balls, even when you’re not the stiff.

Denton Mills has a secret: he can see dead people. Or rather, how they died. It’s quite a drag in a city like Chicago, teeming with the echoes of the no-longer living. Rather than whine about it, Denton has learned to live with his troublesome talent. His adaptability comes in handy when he meets his enigmatic new neighbor.

Bran Maurell catches Denton’s eye right away, but unfortunately Mr. Tall, Dark, and Mysterious is as standoffish as he is alluring. However, after an unexpected introduction from Bran’s cat brings the two men together, Denton discovers they have a mutual interest in the spirit world. Herbalist by day, Bran moonlights as a witch, performing house cleansings for a fee.

From Bran, Denton learns that his knack for interacting with the dead qualifies him as a necromancer. It makes good business sense for them to team up and rid Chicago of its pesky spirits one grateful client at a time. Amongst ghostly adventures the attraction between the men is impossible to ignore. They seem like perfect partners—unless Bran’s not-so-little secret comes between them.

Warning: men loving men, ghosts with attitudes, and a portly feline with hidden talents.

REVIEW

I was super excited to read this spinoff of Spirit Sanguine, which I really loved, because I really felt like I liked Denton a lot in that book. He’s really funny and he’s a natural to have his own book, with the fact that he can see ghosts and all, or at least, the remnants of death. And I really did enjoy it. I think that I ended up feeling quite different about it than Spirit Sanguine, no matter how much I enjoyed it and not relating to the fact that it is essentially different than that book. I’ll get to why in a bit, but most if it has to deal with the way that the story is told.

We first met Denton Mills in Spirit Sanguine, a book that was all about a different type of vampires. In a way, I feel like the viewpoint of vampires from that book (as Lou Harper has called “the Byronic portrayal of vampires—you know, dark and brooding, woe is me…”) is somewhat related to how Denton feels about them. He’s another type of paranormal entity in a city filled with them (Chicago), but where he sees them as other, he’s just like a regular guy with a gift, or a curse. They try to stay away from one another for the most part, probably as it is thought of in Spirit Sanguine because of the death that surrounds vampires. Our picture of him in that book is separate from and quite lonely, though with a quick wit and acerbically funny facade.

Dead Man… shows Denton’s world, and while they’re mostly the same the focus is different. The vampires are quite separate from his daily life (except when he thinks about Gabe and the crush he had). But he’s still quite lonely. He has a hard time relating to people, especially those who don’t know his secret. But when staying in his best friend Joy’s apartment, he finally starts to learn about his gift and the wider world of witches and necromancy — all because of the hot guy next door (who might also be a serial killer) and the man’s cat, Murry.

This book is enjoyable for itself, even if you haven’t read Spirit Sanguine. But if you have read that book, then I think you’ll enjoy this one as well because in writing style they’re similar in many ways. Denton is really funny and just in the first chapter or so and especially with his interactions with the cat, I was totally hooked. I think that is what made the book enjoyable for me, mostly Denton’s interaction with his surroundings and with Bran. They make a really great pair, but the real joy of reading the book comes from Denton’s voice. That said, I think that you really have to enjoy that for the book to be a total winner for you. Because while I enjoyed their paranormal investigative efforts together I also felt like they were quiet small mysteries that didn’t go nearly as in depth as I would have wished. And that’s fine, because I know that their story isn’t finished and Lou has plans for more for this couple. But it does mean that I ended this book feeling less of a connection between the two than in many of Lou’s other books. On the other hand, that makes me even more excited for the sequel, because I’m interested in where this couple will go. And, of course, I love Denton 🙂

So I wholeheartedly recommend this one, just for the joy of reading it. It’s a fun book, and not long, so you can enjoy it in a day or one sitting when you need a little pick-me-up, a little humor and some really good writing. Now that I’ve read almost all of her backlist, I can see that Lou has written some of the best characters in the m/m romance genre. Perhaps its that I find my reading preferences and her writing style mesh really well, but I think that Denton highlights what I really love about Lou’s characters, which is that they’re smart, funny and perceptive. And that they always have a different and unique way of looking at the world. I can’t say more than that.

Dead Man and the Restless Spirits is available today at Amazon and ARe!


beachremedy400Title: Beach Remedy (a Paranormal Days story)
Author: Sasha L Miller
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 17k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Magic, Witch/Mage, Vampire, Urban Fantasy, California, Ghosts/Spirits, On Vacation, On the Beach, HFN, Light and Sweet
Rating: Pretty Good

**Giveaway! Enter by 6/18 to win a copy of this story (as well as it’s partner, Herbal Remedy, by Megan Derr) on Sasha Miller’s guest post yesterday.

BLURB

With his cousin laid up from a broken ankle, Lee agrees to help him out and combine a beach vacation with a bit of legwork to scope out a haunted lighthouse. That his cousin agrees to pay for the vacation certainly makes a cheesy ghost tour bearable. Lee’s plan is to get the work out of the way quickly, then spend the rest of his time on sun, sand, and all the blood and sex a vampire can stand. But the cute hotel clerk he picks out proves to be anything, but an easy snack.

REVIEW

Though there’s no need to read these stories in any certain order (the other being Megan Derr’s Herbal Remedy), they are connected. The common denominator are two of the main characters. In this story, it is Jayden, who is the brother of the narrator of Megan Derr’s story. I happened to read Megan’s story first, so I found that I knew quite a bit about Jayden before I got to read his story. In Megan’s story we see quite a bit of Jayden and his importance in Jordan’s life, so I had a pretty good handle on his character. Though… it’s interesting, and this one aspect played out well in the order I read the stories. From Jordan, I got one characterization of Jayden and though it was admittedly multifaceted because he’s an important character to him, actually getting to know Jayden firsthand from this story completed his character in the same way you’d get to know someone through their sibling only to see later that you only understood them through the lens of sibling affection and at the same time, frustration 🙂

Lee probably felt similarly towards Jordan, when he meets him in this story just because he’s heard about him through Jayden. The two meet at a sunny beach hotel. Lee had planned his vacation to the beach for some well-earned rest. It might seem strange for a vampire to vacation at the beach, but all Lee wants is some relaxation and a new guy to share his hotel room with each night. So his fixation on one man alone surprises him.

Jayden works at the hotel desk and checks in Lee when he arrives. The two share a flirtation that baffles Lee a bit. Jayden seems to be reacting strangely to his vampire-seduction mojo, but if Jayden is immune then maybe he’s really interested in him. He still has a job to do though. He wouldn’t have met Jayden at all if his cousin wasn’t laid up with a broken ankle. Astor is researching the local lighthouse (which is rumored to be haunted) for his next book on hauntings. If he hadn’t agreed to do the research for him since he was laid up, then Lee wouldn’t be staying in such a swanky beach-front hotel, and therefore wouldn’t have had the chance to meet the lovely Jayden.

The best part about this story is that Sasha Miller has thrown away all the unofficial vampire rules and created an interesting, rather mundane vampire. For someone like myself who prefers the Wild Bill sort of vamp (though Wild Bill could never be called mundane!), I really enjoyed getting to know Lee. He’s got a bit of a shaky moral compass, though he’s a genuinely good guy. And I liked the couple that Jayden and Lee make.

Second, this is really a nice beach read. Not that it’s about a beach (duh), but because it’s really about a vacation fling, and those are always fun to read about. The warm weather and long evenings, the lack of stress, and… the beach. It’s about appreciating the day and not worrying about tomorrow. That made this story fun to read. Jayden and Lee enjoy each other, have lots of sex and because they aren’t worried about the future, they allow themselves to be playful. One of my favorite scenes is when they go to do Astor’s research at the lighthouse and make fun of all the ghost stuff. It’s light and sweet.

The story does evolve, towards the end, as they start having real feelings and thinking about what happens next. I appreciated having a solid Happy for Now ending with a real plan going forward for their relationship rather than an unreal HEA.

This is definitely best read as part of a pair, but mostly because the stories are both good and go well together than needing to be read together. You could enjoy either of them separately if you wished.


KM_AcrosstheEastRiverBridge_coverlgTitle: Across the East River Bridge
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 77,013 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary & Historical Paranormal Mystery Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Kate McMurray Week!, Author Backlist Project, Ghosts/Spirits, NYC, Brooklyn, Cold Case, 1870s, 1880s, Enemies to Lovers, Academia (NYC History), Hot/Cold (mostly Finn), Second Chances, History
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

When Finn’s boss sends him to a museum in Brooklyn, the last person he expects to see is his old rival, Troy. Although Finn and Troy have undeniable sexual chemistry, Finn still blames Troy for sending his career off the rails but Troy has research Finn needs. Troy also has an intriguing story; the museum he curates is haunted by the ghosts of two men who died under mysterious circumstances in 1878. Troy strikes a deal: he’ll help Finn if Finn helps him find out what happened to the men who died.

From diaries, police reports, and newspaper articles, Finn and Troy piece together the lives of the two dead men–and the romance that bloomed between them. As it becomes clear that the men were murdered, it also becomes clear that the ghosts are real and are capable of manipulating the dreams, thoughts, and actions of the living. When Finn and Troy start falling for each other, Finn worries that it’s all an illusion concocted by the ghosts to keep them working together to solve the mystery, but Troy is convinced the love between them is real. But how can he get rid of a couple of ghosts and prove it?

REVIEW

This is such a great book to kick off Kate McMurray Week! To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this story. I mostly read it on faith because I like the author. All I really knew was that it was about NYC and ghosts. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I did read it to find that it was something that I could really sink into. Part of my enjoyment of the story really comes from a love of history. Not that I’m particularly knowledgable, especially about NYC history, but there’s so much detail in this story that must have taken quite a bit of research and I found it all refreshing and compelling.

Finn and Troy have a turbulent history. Both pursuing advanced history degrees at NYU at the same time, they quickly found themselves to be rivals, with a love/hate relationship — mostly hate. But, every few years they succumb to temptation and fall into bed with one another, promptly returning to hate each other the next day. Finn isn’t where he expected to be when he envisioned his life all those years ago at NYU. He blames Troy for his failure to get his PhD that fuels his continued hatred. Troy was always the golden boy, one step ahead of him and outshining all of his successes. Now, years of regrets have become an ugly and miserable piece of Finn that he carries around with himself. And Troy is easy to hate… except when they’re in bed together.

Now working as a research assistant for a famous biographer (who is a bit of a bosshole), Finn is sent to research a small museum in Brooklyn, only to find that the curator is none other than Troy. He looks good and is, as usual, a consummate flirt. And again like all the other times their NYC circles merge, Finn is at the same time frustrated and spiteful and yet reluctant to admit how well they work together and understand one another. They have incredibly similar interests in the history of the city and between them, share a wealth of knowledge. Finn isn’t really passionate about the research for his boss, but Troy convinces Finn to help him research a mystery of his own. He’s currently going through the journals of the man who once lived in the building and the mysterious circumstances around his death. Troy, though thorough as any historian, is more apt to believe in the strange occurrences in the building — the cold spots, the dreams and as he delves deeper into the man’s story, the physical manifestations he sees with his own eyes. As the two start to uncover the secrets of the dead and piece together a picture of life in Brooklyn in the 1870’s, they start to fall in love. The problem, for Finn, is his reluctance to believe in what could ultimately be the manipulation of a couple of ghosts whose main interests aren’t finally getting the two of them together, but to solve their murder.

I mentioned at the start of the review that the reason I really liked this book was the research and the history presented of Brooklyn, New York in a different era. I think, though, that this might be a sticking point for some readers. Make no mistake, this book takes history and makes it real and solid, but it’s told from the view of two men who sift through obscure details every day and take them as deep as they go. So, much of this novel is really the journey into history, piece by piece as the two put it together. And there is a wealth of detail that Kate McMurray offers. I could see where some readers, who might not find those details as interesting as I, might find this book a tedious read.

What I really enjoyed was the journey to finding those answers, because the story and the picture of Brooklyn at that time takes shape slowly, and some of the best scenes in the novel were Finn and Troy connecting on the level of historians. It’s their common language, when they have a hard time getting close in other areas (except sex, that one is easy for them!). Those scenes are the best because both will go from sniping at one another and confusion about their feelings to connecting through the project and offering details back and forth, sussing out answers between them. Their relationship really takes the enemies to lovers trope to a realistic level. Most of the raw and angry feelings come from Finn. But he’s the character that we really get to know first and the one who we see this world through. When he actually lets down his guard enough to try to let some of that stagnate anger go, I think he finds that Troy really isn’t the man that he thought he was and that he doesn’t think of Finn in the way Finn thought he did. The dynamic between the two of them was done really well, and another reason that this story really worked for me, because the story starts with a shared history and routine between the two men and in their interactions. The research project is the catalyst to change that behavior. And discovering what life is like for a gay man in 1870’s America not only gives Finn perspective but gives him more ways to connect and understand Troy.

Though I’m partial to this author’s Out in the Field (which I’m going to be re-reading and reviewing later this week), this just might be my second favorite of hers. It’s definitely a book I recommend to you, if you think you’ll like it, of course 😉

Check back tomorrow for my reviews of Show and Tell and In Hot Pursuit!


ghostintheclosetAuthor: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 15,100 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy/Paranormal Erotica/Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Short Story, Magic, Ghosts/Spirits, Flashbacks, Secrets & Lies
Rating: Pretty Good

**This review contains spoilers for those who haven’t read the first two stories in the serial, “A Meeting of Fate” and “Life of the Party”.**

BLURB

You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.

Season 1: Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.

Episode 3: Ghost in the Closet
The aftermath of Dorian’s party leaves Gabriel and Michael reeling, and both become more determined than ever to wring some answers from this so-called ‘Dorian Gray’. Dorian’s continued hedging, though, pushes Michael beyond his limits, forcing him to reveal his presence. But what he could never have predicted is that Dorian isn’t at all surprised…

REVIEW

This third part of the Immortal Symphony serial is definitely the part of the story that I was waiting for. The dynamic between Gabriel, Michael and Dorian changes quite drastically after the second story, where Gabriel partook in the casual drug use and orgiastic (very public) pleasures in celebration of Dorian’s birthday. But what is a common evening of debauchery for Dorian is quite honestly uncomfortably hedonistic to Gabriel. Always the good boy in comparison to his twin brother Michael’s more outlandish actions, this story shows more than ever before how the addition of Dorian to the brothers’ lives has had an affect on them. Gabriel, who has always had trouble letting loose and giving up control to participate in the kinds of things like Dorian’s sex party, finds that he quite likes forcing himself to explore new opportunities and experience life in a more hedonistic way. Michael’s whole existence, however, is a testament to the partying lifestyle of excess drugs and sex, one which ultimately cost him his life. Seeing his brothers actions hits Michael the hardest. This drives a firm wedge between Michael and Dorian, and when Gabriel doesn’t seem as upset at Dorian and Michael feels he should, Michael decides to take over his brothers body and show Dorian his displeasure. The resulting confrontation between the two pushes open the door to Dorian’s secrets, until they start spilling out into the light.

While I liked this story even more than the first two — specifically because we’re starting to get some real answers — I’m still very of two minds about this series and the characters. First, I really adore the writing of Dorian’s character, but I don’t actually like Dorian at all. I say that I really adore the writing of him because I’ve suspected all along that my emotions are purposefully being manipulated as far as how I feel about him. He’s really not likable at all except in that pre-karma way, the “he’s going to get what’s coming to him” way, whether that be literal or the satisfaction of watching him start to have real feelings for someone. That’s why I can’t say I categorically hate Dorian, though he does make me uncomfortable. He’s a much more complicated character than that. In fact, he’s the character that really parallels the overall unfolding plot, because the reveal of his secrets drives the plot forward (which we see in this story as flashbacks). These two authors are really using this unusual medium to explore non-traditional romance characters. Dorian is such a big character that his presence often takes over parts of the story, and ultimately, I feel like he’ll be the deciding factor as to where the story will go as it navigates the boundary between erotica and romance.

The second part of how I feel about this serial is that as far as the overall plot and the emotional growth of the characters, this serial is still in it’s infancy, so those things like how I don’t’ like Dorian very much have very little impact about how I feel about the story overall. I suppose, I should just say that while I’m reviewing and having to give each little story in this serial a rating, I’m really reserving judgement for myself.

Readers who buy the Season Pass (all six Overture season episodes in one) will get an overall discount but also some freebies. The first of those freebies came out with this story in the form of a short story. “The Melody” goes far back in time to an innocent and young Dorian. We get to meet Basil, an artist that young Dorian loves with all the infatuation of a boy and who is also a character importantly referenced to in the first story. While the scene between the two isn’t completely instrumental to the main story (you don’t have to read it), I did really enjoy being able to get to see him and see who he really was to Dorian at that age. Plus, seeing Dorian as positive, hopeful and undamaged gives me a lot of hope that we’ll soon get to see a real change in Dorian in the main story as well.

The fourth story in the Immortal Symphony serial is out now!


lifeoftheparty immortalsymphonyovertureTitle: Life of the Party (Immortal Symphony: Overture #2)
Author: SL Armstrong & K Piet
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 15,300 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Erotica
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Short Story, Ghosts/Spirits, Public Sex, Drug Use, Multiple Partners, m/m/f scenes, girly parts!
Rating: Pretty Good

BLURB

You think you know the story of Dorian Gray, but you’re wrong. The real story didn’t end the way Oscar Wilde penned; in fact, it hasn’t ended at all. The ageless beauty of Dorian Gray walks now in our world of cellphones and lattes and internet porn. His latest conquest is Gabriel Lawrence, a paranormal investigator with a secret or two of his own. But the trouble with a life as long as Dorian’s is that the skeletons are threatening to overrun the closet… and not all of them want to stay dead.

Season 1: Overture introduces Gabriel to the truth of a world he had only suspected, where ghost hunting is the least of his worries. And at the heart of it all is the mysterious and fascinating Dorian Gray, as though he’d stepped out of the pages of the book bearing his name. But if he has, he hasn’t come through alone. And this figure from a past Dorian had though long behind him bears a grudge nurtured for a hundred years and intends to tear down everything Dorian has built, a piece at a time.

Episode 2: Life of the Party
Gabriel’s first glimpse into Dorian’s lifestyle was only the beginning, and now he finds himself tumbling further down the rabbit hole. Dorian’s birthday party introduces Gabriel to some of Dorian’s friends, all as free-spirited and debauched as Dorian himself. Through them, he learns that he isn’t the first that Dorian has drawn into his web this way, not even the hundred-and-first. And yet somehow, all of Gabriel’s concerns instantly seem strangely inconsequential at Dorian’s slightest touch, fueling Michael’s fears that there is so much more to Dorian than they could guess.

REVIEW

I was both excited and a little wary of reading “Life of the Party.” This is the second “episode” in the serialized story — about a modern day Dorian Gray. He’s a man whose mysterious powers and long life have given him an extreme confidence and at this point in the story, I might say arrogance. He’s a sexual creature to the point of extreme debauchery, which Gabriel soon finds out when he attends Dorian’s birthday party, which is pretty much a thinly veiled excuse for an orgy. Every gathering is an excuse for an orgy when Dorian is around! 🙂

This second story does a pretty good job of extending and strengthening those things which stood out in the first story. Gabriel is suspicious of Dorian and who he really is, but as his proximity to Dorian fluctuations so does his reaction to him, like a drug. When Dorian is near Gabriel forgets himself and is overcome with lust enough to distract from his conscience, or better named, his brother and ghost Michael. The two brothers have an interesting dynamic when we first meet them in the first story. Michael does indeed act as Gabriel’s conscience for the most part, but with his own personality and also wary attentiveness that Gabriel not succumb to the same pitfalls in life that he did before his untimely death. While Gabriel loves his brother, you can see that he often resents him as well. Or, he is at least uncomfortable with his presence. This complicated dynamic becomes even further strained in this story. Michael is already naturally suspicious of Dorian, who he can’t figure out on a spiritual level. But seeing Dorian’s effect on Gabriel alarms Michael further in Life of the Party. Dorian’s gift of spreading lust affects Gabriel so strongly in this story that he becomes a libidinous creature that shocks him afterward. It’s a kind of dubious violation that worries Gabriel.

That realization and ultimate agreement with his brother about his suspicions causes a bit of a change in Gabriel that sets a new tone and a new direction going into the third story. I have a feeling that in the next story Gabriel is going to be a bit more cautious and a bit more insistent that he find out Dorian’s secrets.

For the most part this story carried on the same as the story before it. Though we get to see a bit of a different setting and the characters are fleshed out a bit more, there’s not a huge change yet in the character dynamics, though as I said, this story seems to be setting the stage for some kind of upcoming change. Of course, there are still orgies aplenty 🙂

I’m still really enjoying this serial and looking forward to the coming stories. I have to admit that this story started to edge closer to the line in my comfort zone, but that made this story all the more exciting for me. I never quite felt that it was in danger of going too far for me (it would have to be very, very far!), but there was a bit of a discordant mood in this story that felt as if it was perfectly set to make the reader feel Gabriel’s warring excitement and unease with the sex party and his part in it.

Part 3 of Immortal Symphony: Overture, “Ghost in the Closet”, is out now. Part 4, “Shadow from the Past”, is to be released on May 10.