Title: Under the Waterfall (Have Body, Will Guard #5)
Author: Neil Plakcy
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 80,618 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Action/Adventure, Bodyguards, Existing Relationship, ex-Military, Teachers, Coming Out/Closeted, Abduction/Kidnapping, France, Corsica, Family/Kids, Multiple Romances, Expat
Rating: Pretty Good
As soon as they’re settled in their new home on the French Riviera, bodyguards Aidan and Liam are sent to the island of Corsica to protect a mining executive and his family. Though they’re still in love, and having lots of sex, the disruption, and the discovery that the client’s son is gay and in a touchy relationship, causes both bodyguards to question their skills and their commitment to each other. Can they engineer a happy ending for Michel and his boyfriend, while protecting the family from deadly adversaries?
What a wonderful surprise for me to find another Aidan and Liam book out! For some reason, I thought that after book four, Olives for the Stranger that the series was finished, so getting a new book and the possibility of even more after this (it sure seems like it) makes me so happy! Liam and Aidan are a couple that I’ve kept with since I read their first book Three Wrong Turns in the Desert several years ago. Each book is heavy on action/adventure and a serious dose of hot and heavy macho action. How could I not fall in love? Besides, I’ve always been drawn to Mr. Plakcy’s work. I really enjoy his style.
The fifth installment in this series diverges from the rest right at the start. Though we know Liam and Aiden well in Tunisia where they met and have previously worked as bodyguards, they moved at the end of the fourth book to France and are now living in Nice. Both of them think that they moved to primarily make the other happy, but the truth is that having less freedom is somewhat constricting to them both, because Liam doesn’t always like being told what to do and because Aidan usually does what he can to defer to his more senior partner and lover and because he generally ends up trying to please him anyway. This results in it’s own set of complications and when Liam and Aidan take on a new case in Corsica protecting a mine owner’s family from threats by Corsican nationalists to preserve the island from drilling, they both spend much of their time there working through their own issues about their relationship. Aidan wonders if he’s doomed to play the doormat when once again Liam takes the active role in their operation and Aidan feels that he’s undervalued. Liam is forced to confront his past when they find that the son in the family they’re protecting, Michel, is in the closet and secretly in love with his father’s biggest adversary’s son. It might be a classic star-crossed lovers tale with a bent twist, but the interactions between scared, closeted and teenaged Michel and his blithely criticizing father force him to confront his own feelings about his past and his development into his only real relationship — with Aidan. Liam has never considered himself as any kind of commodity, until recently mostly avoiding his sexuality except in the basest of situations, but their friend Louis makes a comment that shows him he just might be attractive to other men. That leads him to consider his relationship with Aidan and his feelings about sleeping with other men.
Their main issue in Corsica, nonetheless, is keeping their client’s safe, not angsting about the issues in their relationship.
This book (like the last one) was both an enjoyment to read and a bit of a disappointment. The pure adventure and excitement that I’m used to from the earlier plots in this series seem to have gone away. On the other hand, I think that Plakcy, better than most writers in the m/m romance genre anyway, seem to have a real knack for writing about the issues that crop up in long lasting relationships. They’re the everyday issues — communication, self-esteem in relationship to your partner, jealousy — and they’re handled responsibly. Sure they might cause a bit of angst, but I like the format of this series because the external adventure/mystery plot takes some of the focus away. The plot doesn’t need to be built on those internal relationship issues to carry the story, so those real-to-life relationship issues seem to carry the modest weight that is natural. Of course they’re important but they aren’t life or death issues that need to much focus. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy a classic relationship-centric contemporary romance, but Aidan and Liam feel more real to me because while I might have to occasionally suspend disbelief at their gun-toting, crime-solving antics, the relationship at the center is down to earth and totally believable.
I remain a fan of this series. I probably always will be. But, I think I might need to shift my expectation of the future books. From here on, I’m going to look forward more to the relationship than the external plot. It might bring me some enjoyment, but so far the last few just haven’t been nearly as satisfying as the first ones. I will say that I found Liam and Aidan’s physical relationship in this book somewhat disappointing. I’m not sure why the author didn’t include much sex (hardly any!). One of the draws to this series for me has been the hot and heavy sex between these two men. Maybe the author is trying to shift the overall arc in another direction? Or, perhaps, the plot in this book just didn’t fit with the two getting hot and heavy. But I sure hope that when these two come back for book six that they’ll be getting it on in all kinds of weird places like they used to!
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 76-100k, Authors P-R, Contemporary, Heat 2 - Romantic & Tame, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 2 - Few and Far Between Tags: Action/Adventure, Bodyguards, Closeted, Coming Out, Corsica, Ex-Military, Existing Relationship, Expat, Family, France, Have Body Will Guard, Kidnapping/Abduction, Kids, Loose Id, Multiple Romances, Neil Plakcy, Series, Teachers
Author: AJ Rose
Publisher: Voodoo Lilly Press
Length: 110,000 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary BDSM Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sexy to Story
Keywords/Tags: Series, Sequel, Cops, Psychologists, PTSD, Serial Killer, Family, Child Abduction & Abuse, Obsession, Paparazzi!, HEA
Rating: Loved It!
Reviewed by Sadonna
This is a sequel to Power Exchange and as such contains quite a few spoilers for that book. It is NOT recommended to read these books out of sequence.
Everywhere Detective Gavin DeGrassi looks he’s reminded of his attack by the Breath Play Killer. It’s in the house he lives in with his partner and Dom, Ben Haverson. It’s in the sympathetic yet pitying looks he receives from his fellow detectives when he returns to the force after a year-long hiatus. It’s in the suffocating coddling of his entire family, and the relentless reporter demanding an exclusive of his ordeal.
Most of all, it’s in his lack of submission to Ben, who isn’t convinced Gavin’s recovered enough to trust the power exchange between them.
The miraculous recovery of two teen boys from a twisted kidnapper gives him heart, and Gavin’s determined to prove he can handle anything despite increasing strain between him and Ben, painful nightmares, and panic when anyone touches him.
But his next case is too close for comfort: a friend and colleague found raped and murdered in a fate chillingly similar to what could have been his own, and this killer isn’t stopping with one cop. As the body count rises and taunting souvenirs are being hand-delivered to Gavin, he faces a frustrating lack of leads, a crushing need to prove himself, and a sinking suspicion the imprisoned kidnapper’s reach is further than originally thought. A miasma of uncertainty and fear threaten to suffocate him when he asks a question with which he’s overwhelmingly familiar: what happens when a victim is pushed too far?
Safeword begins about a year after the events of Power Exchange. Gavin and Ben are still together and Gavin has just returned to work after a year’s disability leave. He’s been through intensive therapy with Ben’s partner Laura and he and Ben are also seeing her as a couple. Things seem to be going OK with his return to work and his partner, Myah, who is now engaged to his brother Cole. While Gavin is still dealing with some residual anxiety, he is able to work effectively even when his first case back turns out to be the murder of a fellow police officer. And it’s not just any officer, but a colleague of Gavin and Myah’s who broke a big case involving two abducted teens and the man who was holding them hostage – one for a number of years. This case may or may not be related to his murder.
As Gavin and Myah are investigating the case, there doesn’t seem to be any real motive or potential suspects but Gavin can’t help feeling there is some connection between the murder and the victim’s last big case. While there are no real leads in the case, another cop is murdered and there are some potentially disturbing similarities between the murders and some coincidences that can’t be ignored. This of course brings more stress to Myah and particularly Gavin who is still dealing with his own recovery and anxiety. The other annoying issue is the reappearance of Gavin’s former partner Trent, who it turns out is still with Gavin’s ex-wife. Trent has done nothing but bad-mouth Gavin since he was run out of their precinct after being caught in bed with Victoria, Gavin’s ex. He’s a complete pain in the ass, but it turns out that he has a really disgusting skeleton in his closet that he doesn’t want public, so he tows the line – at least being civil. And only for a little while.
Things have not gotten back to normal between Ben and Gavin in their sex life and while they haven’t given up getting back to their Dom/Sub relationship, things are moving much more slowly than Gavin would like. However, Ben is unwilling to risk Gavin’s psyche any more than it already has been compromised. They are continuing to work on their relationship and Gavin’s limits, but he has to push Ben to get any forward movement. This is further complicated by a third cop murder and the murderer’s fixation on Gavin. Regardless of what precautions Gavin and Ben and the force take to protect him, there continue to be breaches in Gavin’s security. Needless to say, Gavin once again being in the crosshairs of a killer takes a toll on him and Ben.
If you read my review of the previous book, Power Exchange, you know that I was somewhat disappointed in the mystery and particularly with the resolution of the case and the identification of the murderer. No such complaints with this book. The murder mystery is really well done with some surprising twists and turns and some good police work by Gavin and Myah along with another nail biter of a climax. There are plenty of villains to hate in this one and some pretty good payback as well, which really did give me some perverse satisfaction unlike the end of the first book 😉
The other central story of this book is the ongoing love story of Gavin and Ben. I though the first book was incredible in describing the progression of their relationship. It was incredibly intimate and intense and hot and so well written. This part of the story in this book does not have that same level of intensity, but it is still really well written and very intimate. Ben and Gavin are still trying to find their way back to themselves and each other in the aftermath of their ordeal in Power Exchange. They are working through all of the issues together and they are incredibly committed to making things better and getting back to where they were before. There are some really hard moments for them in this story but the one fundamental factor that prevails over everything else is their love for each other and what they are willing to do to fight for that love.
I really loved this book – so much so that I went back and reread Power Exchange again because I couldn’t get enough of Gavin and Ben. I don’t know if A.J. Rose is planning to write more about these two, but I’d definitely read it!
Posted by Sadonna in 101-125k, 6 LOVE IT!, Authors P-R, BDSM / Kink, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: AJ Rose, Child Abuse, Cops, Family, HEA, Kidnapping/Abduction, Paparazzi!, Power Exchange, Psychologist, PTSD, Sequel, Serial Killer, Series, Voodoo Lily Press
Title: Sky Runners (Skybound #2)
Author: Fae Sutherland
Length: 51k words
Genre: m/m Sci Fi Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Space Opera, Middle Book, Captive/Kidnapped, Slave, Rent Boy (forced), Dramatic Rescues, Drugs (forced), On the Lam, Bisexual
Rating: Pretty Good
Crux Ansata second-in-command Killian O’Neal has a plan. The governor’s son, Neith, has been enslaved in a high-end brothel. Killian’s going to break him out, take him home and collect a reward. It’s a daring mercenary rescue. What could go wrong?
A lot, as it turns out. The governor doesn’t want his son back, the ship and crew are on the run from the slavers, and Neith is in withdrawal from a drug that instills in him a desperate lust.
A passionate heat flares between Killian and Neith–but is it just the effects of the drugs still in Neith’s system, or could it be something more permanent? They both need time to figure out if what they have is real–but Neith has taken a valuable item from his old masters and they’re not going to let him go easily. When the slavers catch up with the Ansata, Killian will have to choose between the safety of his ship and its crew, or life with the man he’s falling in love with.
I had a love/dislike relationship with the first book of this series, Sky Riders (reviewed here), mostly because though I liked the overall story I found myself drifting throughout the middle of the book. It just didn’t keep my concentration (that is, admittedly, hard to do!). So I went back and forth for a few days before deciding if I should accept this book for review. As you can see, I decided to review it in the end. And though I feel like I had some of the same problems with this book that I had in the first, I’m still glad I made the decision I did. Even if most of that reason is that I need to be caught up for book #3, about Jeret, the one I’m really looking forward to!
Killian, “Cookie” as he’s known to the crew of the Crux Ansata (or affectionately,”Annie”), is the second in command and has watched his captain and best friend Torin fall in love with bad boy Rain. The two are now happily settled and married, for the most part, and life has gone on as normal. Though he loves them all as family his life is still lonelier than the In Between. That all changes on their next rescue mission. Well, call it a rescue mission if you must, but they’re really out for themselves. They’re a mercenary crew and though they don’t go out of the way to hurt others they’re still criminals and happy to take what they can. When they hear of a son of an influential man has been taken hostage and is being kept as a whore on Kalliope 9, they make a plan to rescue the kid and bargain him back to his father for payment.
The plan goes off without a hitch, mostly. They do indeed rescue Neith. The first problem is that he is Rain’s ex-boyfriend and the father in question the man who Rain delivered a major fuck-you to at the end of the first book. Besides the fact that Torin doesn’t want Neith anywhere on board near Rain, Neith’s father isn’t going to pay them shit for his son — both because he hates their whole crew and because he doesn’t really give a shit about his son either. Complicating things further, Neith’s captives are fast on their heels and they’re not sure what they want. Is it Neith, or something he took from them? Neith is keeping secrets. But, it’s natural, he’s been tortured, raped and drugged to want it all with a new designer chemical called Pandora’s Cure, a drug that makes the user crave sex from whoever or wherever they can get it, simultaneously shutting down any worries or fears or ability to think for themselves. With the drug moving out of his system, Neith is dangerous to the crew and to Killian, who wants to be the one Neith wants, even though he mostly wants Rain. Do the drugs affects negate any of the real feelings between the two? Or, is a relationship between rich and beautiful Neith and a big, brawny criminal a pipe dream to Killian?
I had the same problem reading this story as the previous one, in that I just had a hard time keeping my concentration. I’m not sure why. I wasn’t sure with the last one and I’m not sure here… if it’s my problem or something to do with the books. I think the most likely case is that I need quite a bit of sci-fi plot to get me interested in a space opera type story. That’s not the case here. I mean, we do get an overall plot, with the slavers chasing them and all that. But for the most part and for the middle half of the book, this reads mostly like a contemporary romance, just with a few details added in here and there to make sure we remember that they’re in an alternate world/spaceship. The setting fades into the background and the focus was on the couple. And there’s definitely an internal conflict between Neith and Killian. Neith is mistrustful of his own feelings because of the drug in his system and Killian just wants to do everything to protect Neith, while at the same time hope he realizes that what they have is real and for the long haul. I just had a hard time keeping interest. I noticed that my concentration picked up again as the tension mounted in the chase.
But, for the most part this is a good story. I think that you should definitely read Sky Riders first. Not because you’d be completely lost if you read these out of order — I don’t think you would — but because these stories are quite similar in theme and style and if you like the first one you’ll know that you’ll like the second as well. I really want to read the third book, which is coming out pretty soon. It’s about the last of the crew, 18 year old Jeret, who is always the guy who seems to draw my attention whenever he’s in the scene. I just love him, he’s quite a unique character that I can’t describe, but you have to read to see for yourself. So even if this book was only so so for me, I’m glad that I read it so that I could read Jeret’s upcoming book 🙂
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors S-U, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, SciFi, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Bisexual, Captive/Slave, Carina, Dramatic Rescues, Drugs, Fae Sutherland, Kidnapping/Abduction, Middle Book, Netgalley, On the Lam, Rent Boy, Series, Skybound, Space Travel
Title: In Hot Pursuit
Author: Kate McMurray
Publisher: Loose Id
Length: 59,095 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Mystery Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Kate McMurray Week!, Cops, Closeted, Action/Adventure, On Vacation, Crime/Mob, Kidnapping, Drugs, Grieving Partner, Florida, NYC, Awesome Female Characters!
Rating: Pretty Good
Hard-working NYPD cop Noah Tobin didn’t even want to go on vacation. But it’s been a tough eighteen months since the death of his lover, so he’s determined to make the most of it. On his first night in sunny Florida, a chance encounter with a handsome man in a bar bathroom jumpstarts something in Noah that’s been dormant for all those months. Then the man disappears.
Noah’s vacation is thrown into upheaval because he can’t just let it go when he learns that the mysterious man who turned his life upside down went missing. He volunteers to help with the manhunt for his mystery man, a wealthy restaurateur named Harrison Knowles. But finding Harry is only the beginning of Noah’s hot pursuit.
If I’m correct, this book is Kate McMurray’s first published novel. At least, from her Goodreads info and a quick look. It does list her short “In December My Heart’s Full of Spring” as being released first but, as it is available now for free, I’m not sure if it was ever published or not. Anyway, the whole reason for that is that I always find it rather interesting to go back and read an author’s first published book when they’re more well established. Sometimes you find that you hate it and you don’t really understand how an author ever turned their writing around, and sometimes you find that the quality was always there. I think I found this somewhere in between, which is the best place for it now in retrospect, if you ask me. It means that at least in my opinion, Kate’s writing has gotten better and her stories more interesting and dynamic with practice, showing growth and not a plateau in talent.
So, naturally, that means that while I liked this book and found it an engaging read it didn’t really wow me. But, in knowing that I was going back to read an author’s first book, an author I find myself quite fond of, an interesting thing happened. I biased my own expectations and ended up liking the book more than I thought I would. It’s a bit like when I finally ended up watching the Sixth Sense and thought, huh? I had heard too many praises. Only the opposite was what happened here. And that’s a good thing to happen for me, as the reader 🙂
In part, this is a mystery and a contemporary romance, those two things here being somewhat different. The framework of the story is wrapped up in the mystery, how just after NYPD cop Noah meets a cute guy named Harry in a bar while on vacation in Florida, he sees on the news that Harry has gone missing and is pulled into the investigation as the last man who saw him. But the filling in between that framework is much like a contemporary romance. When Harry comes stumbling out of the forest beat up and running from his captors, the two are reintroduced and Noah is set to bodyguard duty until they can figure out just who was wanting to kill Harry and why. That’s the real meat of the story.
And honestly, I found myself wishing that there were a bit more synergy between those two elements. The story easily moves between action, with the two dodging a hail of bullets to quiet downtime in their safe room at a resort getting to know each other and Noah slowly opening up about his past traumas. The problem for me was that at times these two things seemed to get a bit out of proportion, with those moments together taking precedent and leaving the mystery behind to pick up later. And the problem there is that the story, at times, seemed to lose momentum.
In all, this was a really fun book to read. It’s mostly light and easy to read, but the action kicks it up a notch to make it more exciting. And it’s easily satisfying, ending in a solid, feel-good HEA. It’s not a bad book to take with you on vacation, which I suppose is apropos 😉 And at the very least, if you find yourself a fan of Kate McMurray and having not yet read this book, then it’s always interesting to go back and see where an author started.
Kate’s new book, Save the Date, is out tomorrow along with my review!
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors M-O, Contemporary, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Mystery, Romance, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Action/Adventure, Awesome Female Characters, Closeted, Cops, Cops/Crime, Drugs, Florida, Grieving Partner, Kate McMurray, Kate McMurray Week!, Kidnapping/Abduction, Loose Id, NYC, On Vacation, The Mob
Title: The Gravemen
Author: Melissa North
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 48k words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Historical Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: Enemies to Lovers, Warriors, Kidnapping, Opposites Attract
Rating: Really Liked It
THE BANAM-HIN: An elite guard of the royal palace and city, they are seldom seen beyond them. Asdelar is a Blade of marked skill, but also a man who lives loud—flirtatious, teasing, open and free with affection. Life is not meant to be dull, even for a Blade.
THE IMALT-WOR: The notorious strong arms of the king, they maintain his law across the land. They are highly disciplined, respected and feared. Hinego is as strict in his personal life as he is maintaining the king’s law. He has no time or patience for careless wastrels.
Forced to work together to locate the king’s missing niece, neither man sees the journey ending in anything but disaster.
I was already somewhat interested in this story from the blurb, but I was really excited to read it after I read Melissa’s guest post here on the blog yesterday. So, when I had time last night, I decided to read it. And I’m glad I did! It was the perfect length for starting a book at night (I just can’t seem to make myself start a long[ish] novel anytime after 5pm) and I was drawn right into the story, literally from the first few sentences. Instead of a lead-in to the first real scene, maybe some narration to ease us into the story like I usually find in romance, The Gravemen starts in the middle of a conversation and immediately shows how the two main characters are set against one another. The tension is there from the beginning. And oh, how exciting! I love enemies-to-lovers stories 🙂
Asdelar and Hinego are thrown together to carry out a mission in the name of the King: search out his great-niece and bring her home. The only thing they have in common is that they’re both Gravemen — members of one of the two warrior sects that serve under the King — in all the rest they’re firmly opposites. Asdelar is a Banam-Hin, one of the warriors known as Blades for their skills with the sword who stay in the capital city as a guard. He’s also incredibly handsome and free-spirited, easy with charm and sexual innuendo and quick to laugh. Leaving the city is an adventure for him, he’s rarely seen anything but the capital and the palace, but he’s always wanted to travel and see the country. Hinego is one of the Imalt-Wor, warriors called Reds because of the color of the sash they wear to assert their authority. The Imalt-Wor travel the country and assert the King’s law among the many towns and villages. They’re most known, though, for their fighting style that eschews weapons in any form. While Asdelar is a young prodigy with the sword, Hinego can take down a group of mercenaries with just his hands, using precisely placed blows to cause the most harm, even death.
As they travel behind the lost girl, searching for clues of her whereabouts, the two seem to grate on each other’s nerves more and more. Because while Asdelar’s natural friendly affinity for meeting new people and making new friends has him talking Hinego’s ear off trying to get to know him and enjoy his first adventure away from the city, Hinego grows more contemptuous about having to work with him, seeing him as weight he has to carry. Hinego is in his element while traveling the countryside, but he’s a natural loner. Often surly and ill-tempered, Hinego holds his duty to his King above all others and see’s Asdelar’s choice to seize opportunities to enjoy the trip (whether an evening at a village tavern or a night in bed with a woman, or man, he’s not picky!) as out of order. And even more than angering Hinego, it makes him undervalue his worth to commit and see their job through to the end. It doesn’t help that Asdelar has little skills to make it on the road.
Clues to the whereabouts of the King’s niece are thin on the ground, and though Hinego is apt to think along the lines of kidnapping, Asdelar is used to the bratty royal and her frequent attempts to run away to get her way because of his familiarity with the palace and is pretty sure that they’ll find the girl in no time at all. Asdelar is trying everything he can think of to try to get to know Hinego, but nothing seems to be working. He’s going to have to do something to prove to the Red that he’s capable and takes his job and their mission seriously. Sooner rather than later, that opportunity comes when fording a river swelled with spring runoff. Being rather shorter than the tall Banam-Hin, Hinego is swept away and is rescued by the impetuous man, whose quick thinking sees them both to safety. Though things between them are never easy after that, they start to get to know one another.
I think what I liked so much about this story was just how easy it was to read. There’s not a whole lot of worldbuilding, so even though this is technically fantasy, the story is character driven and the details (political, cultural, geographical, etc.) are limited only to what it takes to fill out the story satisfactorily. Likewise, while the relationship between the two is never downright chummy, they also aren’t constantly at each other’s throats. There’s quite a bit of gentle banter and a few small arguments, but mostly it’s a subtle dance of attraction and camaraderie and bonding that they play, and it is often humorous to watch Asdelar’s flirting and Hinego’s seemingly prudish embarrassment. Yes, for the most part, this story is really about these two men getting to know one another while traveling through the countryside. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.
While I wasn’t wowed by the ending, I wasn’t entirely disappointed either. There’s a fair bit of action in the last quarter of the story as the two come closer and closer to their quarry and face the inevitable confrontation. I think it depends on whether you wanted more worldbuilding and external story (outside of the relationship, I mean) during the first three-quarters or if you were satisfied, like I was, if you’ll really enjoy the ending. Because while it wasn’t heart-stopping and it was pretty obvious what had happened to the girl, I didn’t really care as much about that part of the story as I did the relationship anyway, so all I really cared about was how they would come to together. On that front, I did wish that it had happened a little bit earlier, so that we could see them together and getting to know each other with all the cards on the table. As for the lack of any sexual scenes, that didn’t bother me at all.
This author is new to me, but I really hope that she continues to write and publish. This story was perfect for Less Than Three press, so if you know that publisher as well as I do and like what they consistently publish then this will be perfect for you. I would encourage you to give it a try, though, especially if you’re in the mood for something that’s light but not without substance or good characters that aren’t of stock romance quality. And if you do read it, I hope you enjoy it as I did.
Posted by Cole in 41-75k, 5 Really Like It, Authors M-O, Fantasy, Heat 1 - Sweet/None, Romance, Sex Freq 1 - None Tags: Enemies to Lovers, Kidnapping/Abduction, Less Than Three Press, Melissa North, Opposites Attract, Warriors
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