Title: Born This Way
Author: Poppy Dennison
Length: 25,383 words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between (just one [super hot] scene!)
Keywords/Tags: Shifters (Big Cats), Mate Bonding, Injured Character, Alphas, Teachers, Famous (friends), Music, Lawyers, Atlanta
Rating: Pretty Good
Dayton Whitmore injures his arm playing basketball with his lion-shifter friends, and his best friend asks Dayton to check on her estranged brother Hart while he’s in Atlanta visiting a specialist. Though Dayton and Hart were never close, he grudgingly agrees.
Banishment from his pride meant Hart Sherman could never see his family again. His liger heritage—a tiger mother and lion father—was a thorn in his alpha father’s side. He always planned to go back for Dayton, the man he knows is his mate, but he uses his career as an entertainment attorney as an excuse to avoid risking Dayton’s rejection. When Dayton shows up unannounced on his doorstep, Hart wants nothing more than to claim him.
Knowing what it means to be a lion’s mate, Dayton isn’t in any hurry to make a lifetime commitment. To convince Dayton he’s serious, Hart must come to terms with the circumstances of his birth—and find a place in the pride for them both.
Ever since finishing the finale of Poppy’s Triad series with Soul Magic (reviewed here), I’ve been really excited about this new release. At the time, I almost begged Poppy to tell me that she was going to write a spin-off about the kids in that series (Garon & Riley), only to have my poor heart crushed 😉 There is still a spin-off coming, also about cat shifters, but in the meantime this story isn’t associated with that series yet still, in some areas, I found reminiscent, like the pack politics.
Dayton grew up with Hart’s family, or pride. They welcomed him in as a kid with a mom who wasn’t around much and took care of him, making him one of their own. He exists in a strange kind of half adoption. While he’s part of the family and they consider him, a human, part of the pride, he still can’t really understand what it’s like to have a cat as a part of himself. Then there’s Hart, the son of the Alpha who was born as a cross-bred liger and subsequently more powerful than his father. His banishment ensured his father’s reign.
But even though Dayton doesn’t think Hart ever liked him much, Hart has a good reason why he’s willing to take the banishment. He’s known since they were teenagers and his first heat came over him that Dayton was his mate, but as an outcast among his own family, he couldn’t offer him much. In the years that Hart has been gone, forbidden any contact with the rest of his family, he’s made a career and a name for himself, all in the hopes of going back to claim his mate with a life to offer him. Somehow though, Hart can’t work up the nerve, knowing that accepting their mating may mean leaving his adoptive family behind. Having to face Dayton not choosing him is too hard, so they remain parted until Hart’s meddlesome sister Tawny, Dayton’s best friend, sets them on the same course. The ramifications, however, are more than any of them expected.
This was really a cute story and I think that it stands well on it’s own. I’ll say straight up, I was a little confused at first whether this was the spinoff that Poppy talked about, just because it has to do with cat shifters, but it’s not at all. Still, with the recent release and a similar type of story, I wouldn’t be surprised if people make comparisons. It’s probably bad to do that, in fact, because the Triad series had a real forward momentum that involved an overarching series plot. This story is different because it does stand alone. And while it certainly leaves things open for a sequel, it isn’t obviously just part one of a longer story. That means that the focus of this story is really the relationship, something quite different from the Triad series. And considering the characters and the setup of the plot, this story didn’t need a convoluted journey, no matter how much longer I wished it could have been so that I got to know the characters better and all that. It worked well as it is and I’m really just being greedy.
The story works in the Alpha Man trope with a larger stronger man and a smaller, more emotional and fragile man. But it also doesn’t play to stereotype, but allows the characters to become themselves as the story progresses and buck a few of those conventions. I think that the story could have benefitted from a little more concrete knowledge of the pack politics as well as some better knowledge of the secondary characters in the pack. Otherwise, the story mostly focuses on Hart and Dayton and uses the pack as a catalyst for the changes in their relationship.
I’m excited whenever I get a story to read from Poppy and this was no different. In particular, the two of these guys together are super steamy. Even though we don’t get more than one intimate scene with them, it packed a punch! Recommended, especially for fans of the author and fans of shifter stories.
Born This Way is available today from Dreamspinner Press!
Posted by Cole in 16-40k, 4 Pretty Good, Authors D-F, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Alpha Men, Atlanta, Big Cats, Dreamspinner Press, Famous, Injured Character, Lawyers, Mate Bonding, Music, Poppy Dennison, Shifters, Teachers
Title: Out in the Field
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 71,257 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Kate McMurray Week!, Sports, Baseball, Closeted, Coming Out, Famous, Diverse Couple, NYC, Brooklyn, May/December, Injuries, On Vacation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Dominican Rep.
Rating: LOVE IT!!
Matt Blanco has had a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career as the first baseman for the legendary Brooklyn Eagles, but age and a knee injury are threatening to end it. That’s when rookie Ignacio Rodriguez walks into his life. Matt has a policy of not getting involved with anyone for fear that they might share his secret with the world: that he’s a gay professional athlete. But this new rookie has him wanting to throw that policy out the window.
Iggy Rodriguez just got everything he ever wanted: a position in the starting lineup of the Brooklyn Eagles, his favorite team since he was a kid. Even better, he’s playing alongside his idol Matt Blanco. A locker room encounter one day reveals that he and Matt have even more in common than he would have guessed.
When Matt and Iggy fall for each other, they have a hard road ahead, their path to happiness blocked by injuries, trades, and the New York media hungry for a scandal. Fate has pitched them a game-winning run, but will the choice between love and baseball make them with a no-hitter instead?
I can’t help it — this is still my favorite book from Kate McMurray!
Matt Blanco is a Brooklyn boy, born into a crazy Italian family and famous as a top professional baseball player, nearing the end of his long career with the Brooklyn Eagles. He is also gay. There’s never even been a rumor of his sexuality, though he’s a perennial bachelor, because of his complete dedication towards discretion. If baseball wasn’t the true first love of his life, then he might be miserable. But things start to change when a rookie joins the Eagles out of the farm system.
Iggy Rodriguez is a magnificent player, the kind of player who will probably eclipse Matt’s own fame and talent. And he’s incredibly beautiful. Matt, normally the welcoming unofficial captain, is nervous around him because of his attraction to Iggy, no matter that he’s thirteen years younger than him and his presence on the team shows that the Eagles are most likely slowly pushing out the older guys to make way for new, young talent.
Iggy has his own problems concerning Matt. The Great Matt Blanco is his all-time idol and crush — a man who he fantasized about as a teenager as he looked down from the walls of Iggy’s bedroom. Meeting his idol is one thing, but to find out that he’s also gay and in the closet and that they have a mutual attraction? That blows his mind.
The two find a way to make it work, always putting discretion above all else. They manage to go years in love and playing together until the magic just can’t last. Matt’s having problems with his knee and it looks like it won’t hold out much longer. Looking at retirement is like the end of his life. Navigating the world of professional baseball with such a secret is hard, but as their lives change around them and pressure mounts, both Matt and Iggy have to find a way to put their relationship above the sport they both love.
First, Kate’s love of baseball really comes through in this book. I mean, the sport is shown from both positive and negative angles, but the love of the game is central in the book. It’s what initially bring both Matt and Iggy together, and it is at times what keep them together as their common language. Second, Iggy and Matt are amazing characters. It is only in the first few pages of the book that we’re shown the dichotomy between the young and old on the team, pitting both Matt and Iggy at different ends of their career. But it is a central theme. It’s a bit obstacle, mostly to Matt who has a problem facing the end of his baseball career, but also in the sense that Matt, who already has a problem with change, doesn’t want to rock the boat to sacrifice Iggy’s career. But the dichotomy between the old and new as they’re presented also works well for their relationship. Even though it means that they often clash, they’re two sides of a coin also. Where Matt represents a more classic vision of the sport and the culture, Iggy is the idealist who breaks through his stagnancy, to show him that there is hope that there could be a real active out gay athlete.
And third is the main reason that I think this book is so successful. We already have a great setup story and background of professional sports. And we have two really wonderful characters with a great shifting dynamic. What makes them come together to work so well in this book is the pace of the story. The whole story covers roughly three to four years. We’re given several major sections of the story in real time with transitions of quick narration to bring us forward. It moves at a quick pace which keeps the story in momentum, but which also allows the characters to grow farther than you might expect. I remember when I first read this, I kept feeling like I was probably getting toward the end, only to realize that I still had half the book left to read. The forward momentum brings the story into new times and into new shifting dynamics between Iggy and Matt, showing how they work around them, how they adapt to new times and how they, eventually, use that time to grow closer and carve a life for themselves.
The story really is beautiful. There’s no needless angst, only what is appropriate for the situation and isn’t long-lasting. And, after all that, the story ends beautifully. Every time, every damn time I cry when I read the last 7 to 8% of the book, from the 12 year old fan that comes up to Matt in the stands to the purple hats to Iggy playing in the game. The story ends on a high, very optimistically but not unrealistically, and with Iggy and Matt in a really good place. I couldn’t be happier.
I think I appreciated this book more the second time around. And I know that I appreciated it more after reading all of Kate’s books back to back. I can see where there are some sylistic differences between this book and some of the others. None of the others are formulaic, but something about this book just really works for me. It will always be a book that I’ll come back to and read over again. And it’s one that you should read as well!
Make sure to read my interview with Kate McMurray today!
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 6 LOVE IT!, Authors M-O, Contemporary, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often Tags: Baseball, Brazil, Brooklyn, Closeted, Coming Out, Diverse Pairing, Dominican Rep., Famous, Injured Character, Kate McMurray, Kate McMurray Week!, Loose Id, May/December, NYC, On Vacation, Rio de Janeiro, Sports
Author: Sam Kadence
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Length: 68k words, 230 pages
Genre: m/m YA Paranormal Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Famous, GFY, Ghosts/Spirits, Injured Character, Musicians, Past Abuse, Pets, Phoenix Shifter, Physical Abuse, Psychic Abilities, Secrets & Lies, Under Aged Character, Vampires, Young Adult Characters
Rating: Really Liked It
Reviewed by Nikyta
*This review contains some tiny spoilers*
Gene Sage has only ever wanted to sing, but his band, Evolution, is pushing him toward the big time. He finds it hard to focus on making musical history when he’s dreaming of graveyards and seeing ghosts. And while all he can think of is hiding who he is from a world unforgiving of anyone different, he discovers he’s also the ultimate snack for vampires and demons. When Gene literally runs into—over—his idol, Kerstrande Petterson, rock god, vampire in hiding, and music cynic, his life falls over the edge into chaos.
Jaded by the world and nearly a decade in the music business, Kerstrande thinks Gene wants to use him to make Evolution immortal in more than one way, but he can’t seem to brush aside the young singer’s enthusiasm.
Getting involved with Kerstrande drags Gene into otherworldly power struggles. Between the ghosts stalking them, the media painting supernaturals as villains, and a vampire out of control in the city, the only way for Gene and Kerstrande to survive is for Gene to embrace his powers—and his destiny.
I adored this story because I had so much fun reading it!
One thing I really enjoyed about this book were the characters. Genesis and Kerstrande have two very distinct voices that are nothing alike. Gene is almost too innocent and forgiving, sweet and nice but fun and eccentric. Kerstrande is grumpy, snarky, and more likely to give an insult than a compliment. They’re yin and yang and balance each other out nicely. In fact, the balance they give each other is a bit crucial to the story and explains some of the troubles they go through. Both Gene and Kerstrande have had a hard life but while Gene has made it his motto to just go forward, Kerstrande still lives somewhat in the past. Ashamed of who he is and what he has to do to survive, it’s not until being with Gene for a while that he realizes he doesn’t have to make things worse for himself. On the other hand, Kerstrande is able to give Gene the one thing he wants most – and that’s to be accepted and loved for everything he is, warts and all, even if Kerstrande doesn’t actually come out and say it. More than that, I loved how soft Kerstrande got around Gene (even when he was fighting those feelings) and even more that he let Gene nickname him KC.
This story took me on a slow but wild ride. It grabbed my attention from the beginning with the spectacular way Kerstrande and Gene met. There’s possession, jealousy, lust, love, distrust and heartbreak and a boat load of other emotions. Gene goes from a nobody to a star over night. From someone who barely knows his own powers to being thrust into the paranormal world without even knowing it or the dangers associated with it. Kerstrande is very hot and cold so a majority of the story is him trying to push Gene away but not being able to let him go. Overall, this book is about their journey, finding out who they are and accepting themselves and each other. One of the highlights of this story, though, is the back and forth between Gene and Kerstrande and the passion they have together. I felt like they had amazing chemistry with KC insulting Gene and Gene taking it in stride. It’s sort of sad but Gene understood why KC was so mean sometimes. Although, they don’t exactly know much of each other in the traditional sense, I was able to overlook that because of how much they go through together.
While I enjoyed this book immensely, there were some problems I had. Mostly, there were times when I was confused on what was going on, how and why some things happened but others didn’t, such as how Joel didn’t burn from the inside out but Hane did. Another thing, though, is that Kerstrande in the beginning was very firm on the fact he wasn’t gay to the point that was one of his main responses to whatever Gene was saying. However, he quickly overcame that objection so it had me wondering, was he in denial? Or was he just gay for Genesis? It’s not quite clear but either way I would have liked a little more detail on that because of how forcefully Kerstrande would tell Genesis that.
One thing readers should be aware of is that when Kerstrande and Gene start their unconventional relationship, Gene is underage. A few months shy of 18, in fact, while KC, the vampire, is a few years older…. Or is he… Anyway, they have sex although it’s not detailed but beautiful all the same and while I didn’t have a problem with this, I do understand that some readers might not take kindly to Gene being underage. So, this is me giving those readers fair warning. After all, this is a YA story 😉 I will say that Gene is very mature most of the time to the point I kept forgetting he was so young.
Overall, a great story that I really loved reading. It had its faults but I was so caught up in the book and the characters, it was easy to overlook them. I can’t wait to see what else this author has coming out next because I adored the writing and the style. There’s a lot of stuff that happened within this story but I didn’t want to give many details on it. Mostly because I want the reader to experience it for themselves but also because I would just sound crazy if I tried to explain it all. LOL. I definitely recommend this to those who enjoy young adult paranormal fantasies and I hope those who decide to read it like it as much as I did 🙂
Posted by Nikyta in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors J-L, Heat 1 - Sweet/None, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between, YA Tags: Famous, GFY/OFY, Ghosts/Spirits, Harmony Ink Press, Injured Character, Musicians, Past Abuse, Pets, Phoenix Shifter, Physical Abuse, Psychic, Sam Kadence, Secrets & Lies, Under Aged Character, Vampire, Young Adult Characters
Title: Threadbare Gypsy Souls
Author: TA Chase
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 52k words
Genre: m/m Paranormal Western Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Shifters (Wolves), Lone Wolf, Cowboys, Secrets & Lies, Alpha Men, Bikers, Gangs/Clubs, Drug Use/Addiction, Injured Character, Organized Crime, First Times
Rating: So So
Nashville Rocky Rhodes roars into Fallen Creek on his motorcycle one day, and nothing is ever the same again…
Nash is trying to find his path in life, after leaving Nashville and his biker gang in the dust. Fallen Creek, Wyoming, isn’t where he plans on spending the rest of his life, but it’s a nice place to rest for a while, and take stock of his life. Yet Nash has secrets he doesn’t want to share with anyone, especially not a taciturn, scarred cowboy.
Cullen O’Murphy is a lone wolf, and he’s been fighting a losing battle against the local shifter pack. He doesn’t want to become part of their pack, not knowing what they do for a living. Cullen’s not afraid, since he knows he can defeat the Alpha, but he doesn’t want to lead. He simply wishes to be left alone.
One night, Cullen goes for a drink at the Watering Hole, a local bar, and he meets Nash. The lust is combustible, yet both men are leery about trusting the other with all their secrets. Unfortunately, neither man might have a choice as circumstances spiral out of their control…
I picked up this story for a very particular reason — I wanted something rather simple and easy to read. Generally, shifters fulfill that quota. And I know from past reading that I can usually count on TA Chase to provide a satisfactory read that doesn’t push me to pay attention too much. It’s actually been quite a while since I read anything by TA Chase. Probably a year and a half, at least! So, after spending three weeks sick in bed and reading only Harry Potter and watching the whole series of Merlin, I needed something easy to dip my toes back into the m/m pool. I chose Threadbare Gypsy Souls.
Nashville is a tough looking’ dude. He’s immediately confronted by the Fallen Creek sheriff when he rides into town on his bike, covered in leather and looking like he came out of the bad end of a beat-down. And he looks like trouble. The truth is that no matter how gentle his nature seems, Nash has some secrets, some that don’t make him look very good and some that could come back and bite him on the ass. He’s running away from the town he’s named after, where he lived his whole life and was the Sergeant-at-Arms for a Bike Club after spending months in the hospital. He’s not really up to a long ride, but Nash deemed it prudent to get out of town fast and quietly, and started making his way to California to visit his mother. But the road isn’t kind to his still-healing injuries and he stops in Fallen Creek to take a few weeks to rest up before the rest of his journey.
But almost as soon as he comes into the town, running from trouble, he gets mixed up in Fallen Creek’s resident trouble. Stopping for a drink at the Watering Hole, he meets Jeanette, the owner and sticks up for her when her bartender stops in drunk and moves to attack her. The problem is that drunken Clay gets away with just about whatever he wants, simply because of his brother, Robinson, who pretty much rules the town. But, Nash has never backed down from a bully before, so no matter how many dire warnings he gets about getting on the bad side of Robinson, the local drug-dealer who has an inordinate amount of influence on the town, he refuses to back down. This earns him the respect of another powerful man in town, Cullen O’Murphy. But where Robinson is influential because of the power he holds over the town, Cullen is simply powerful. A natural Alpha wolf, Cullen could challenge Robinson at any point and take over the pack, the town’s big secret, but as a natural and life-long lone wolf, he doesn’t want to be in that leadership position. He’d rather have his small ranch and his comfortable life to look forward to the next day.
But Cullen will have to step in sometime soon. Robinson is even further out of control. Finding themselves on the same side of the line in the sand, they’re natural allies and even more, can’t stay away from one another. But keeping secrets from each other doesn’t make for a happy relationship, no matter how much they’re trying to avoid one.
For the most part, I got what I wanted from reading this novella. It was certainly a relatively easy read — no angst, some fun action/fight scenes, two beefy alpha types and some super hot sex. But while it was nice for the kind of read I wanted at that point in time, in the great span of m/m romance, it was only really so so. The book felt rather lopsided, in the sense that the pace, plot and style changes somewhat in the last 30-40%, leaving me feeling like I ended the book just at the point where everything came out in the open but that the relationship hadn’t settled quite yet. The biggest problem I had, however, was in the characters of Nash and Cullen. I really liked them for the first half to 60% of the book. They have pretty firmly outlined personalities, both rather dominant (though in bed Nash turns slightly submissive, so there’s no real head-butting in the sex). And I felt like I knew them rather well. Then, there’s a point (no spoilers) where one of them reveals a rather big secret that really surprised me (I felt like it hadn’t really been foreshadowed, though of course others might not be as surprised as me) and it made me feel uncertain about who that character really was, and their dynamic together that had already been worked out. Furthermore, I felt like the reveal of that secret could have been worked in better. I would have liked to be able to look back and see concrete evidence about the way the wind was blowing. So that, the timing felt off. I would have really liked to have hit that point in the story and gotten the feeling that everything came together for me. Instead, it felt off beat. More than that, I never really felt like they dealt with those secrets, instead they just seemed to… get over it.
Still, most of the story was fairly enjoyable. TA Chase is a solid author who has plenty of work already out there and a sufficient enough reputation that most of you will have probably read at least something written by her. So you’ll probably know what to expect when you pick up one of her books. If you’re a TA Chase fan, then by all means, pick this one up to read. Otherwise, I’d only really recommend it to those who fluff or sweet and easy reads, combined with shifters and cowboys. Both are in plenty of abundance!
Posted by Cole in 3 So So, 41-75k, Authors A-C, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Paranormal, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often, Western Tags: Addictions, Alpha Men, Amber Allure, Bikers, Cowboys, Drugs, First Times, Injured Character, Lone Wolf, Secrets & Lies, TA Chase, Wolf Shifters
Author: Jack Greene
Length: 15,400 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 4 – Very Often
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Military, Afghanistan, Second Chances, Injuries, DADT, Closeted, Public Places (Sex), Photography, Journalism, Writer
Rating: Pretty Good
On assignment as an embedded journalist in Iraq, Tom falls in lust with gorgeous Sergeant Craig.
The feeling is mutual, but “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is still the rule, so they have to grab their moments of forbidden passion when they can. Then a mission goes wrong, and Tom goes home, only to lose touch with Craig.
When Tom finds Craig again, will their lust turn into something more?
I am an even bigger fan of Jack Greene’s work now, after reading his first novel Indiscretion (reviewed here) a few weeks ago. But even though I found that book to have surpassed anything he’s written previously (and I’ve read most of his work), I’m still rather fond of his short stories. They’re usually uncomplicated, well written, and very sexy and I tend to save them for when I need something solid and simply enjoyable to read. This story adheres to all those qualities, but also diverges in a few ways that I found new for this author, in a way which I think might garner him new fans. Where, in the past, I’ve often classified Jack Greene’s shorts as erotica over romance, this story very firmly rests in the romance camp. This is based solely on the quality and type of sex scenes in the book. Instead of a detailed descriptive scene of the sexual acts, the details take a backseat to the emotion between Tom and Craig. And while there are rather a lot of sex scenes in the story, the overall quick pace of the story (which covers more time and story in less space) means that the relationship takes precedent over the sex.
The story is a fairly common romance plot, but enjoyable for it’s simplicity and in the way the story is told, heavier on narrative voice. After a bad breakup, Tom takes a position as a freelance journalist embedded with a group of soldiers in Afghanistan. He is very quickly smitten with the battalion’s Sergeant, Craig, who has a body to die for and is a natural leader and loved by all the other men. Tom grows to love all the men he shares time with, but gets to know Craig the best. He gravitates toward him and finds that they become friends. He wonders just how Craig feels about him — at times it seems as if Craig is hinting toward more, but in such a dangerous and charged atmosphere it is dangerous to become too close. Soon, however, the two throw caution to the winds and start a secret and whirlwind romance under the very noses of the rest of the men. But, Tom’s happiness ends too soon when he’s sent away from the man he’s growing to love and time and distance drive a wedge between them.
I liked this story, but I didn’t love it. I do think that at times the pace of the story seemed too rushed and also, for the short length, that some parts of the plot seemed excessive. For instance, early in the story there is a situation that serves to bring the two men together. While I could understand why it was written — to bring them together — it was a serious situation that was pretty glossed over and not give the attention that that type of situation really needs. I would have preferred a more streamlined plot for the sake of saving space rather than not going into detail about certain parts of the story.
Still, I found this story really enjoyable and, in the end, heartwarming. I think that a lot of readers who might not have been fond of Jack Greene’s highly sexualized writing int he past might enjoy this slightly different type of story. I enjoy both sides of the coin 🙂
Thanks to Jack for once again offering a copy of this story with my review!
Please leave a comment below to win an ebook copy of Chronicle. The giveaway will last until Midnight CDT on Thursday, April 18. I will choose the winner using Random.org and email the winner who will then have 48 hours from the time of the drawing to reply to my email. I will then forward the winner’s information to the author so the winner can receive their book.
Please enter the email you’d wish me to contact you at in the comment form, or if you prefer, leave it in the message.
Thank you and good luck!
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, Authors G-I, Contemporary, Giveaways, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, Sex Freq 4 - Very Often, up to 15k Tags: Afghanistan, Closeted, DADT, Injured Character, Jack Greene, Journalists, Military, Phaze, Photography, Public Sex, Second Chances, Short Story, Writers
Title: 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
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.
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.
Posted by Nikyta in 101-125k, 2 Not Feelin' It, Alternate World, Authors A-C, Authors V-Z, Fantasy, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Paranormal, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Action/Adventure, Angst-alicious, Bisexual, Carina, Emotionally/Physically Damaged, ex-lovers, Fae/Elves, GFY/OFY, Heidi Belleau, Injured Character, Kidnapping/Abduction, Layers of the Otherworld, Magic, Netgalley, Pets, Physical Abuse, Secrets & Lies, Series, Suspense, Time Travel, Violetta Vane