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Tag Archives: Post Apocalyptic

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

BLURB

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


blackbirds400Title: Blackbirds
Author: Xelly
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 7,500 words
Genre: m/m Fantasy Romance
Heat: 1 – Sweet/None
Sex Frequency: 1 – None
Keywords/Tags: HEA, Healing, Injured Character, Kiss Me at Midnight Collection, Light & Sweet, On Vacation, Post Apocalyptic, Short Story
Rating: So So

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Rizki is long used to the tourists who flock to attend Endless Nights. They bring good money and, thankfully, are gone the rest of the year. This year, however, he finds himself captivated by one of the strangers crowding in, a man who brings unexpected things out of the Endless dark.

REVIEW

Rizki lives on Old Earth and every year he partakes in Endless Nights, a three day celebration during New Year where tourists come and visit. On this particular year, he meets Ethan but after a night of fun, he doesn’t see Ethan again. Until after all the ships taking the tourists back, there’s a man who was seriously injured, who turns out to be Ethan. Unfortunately, Ethan is now stuck on Old Earth for another year and it’s delegated to Rizki to take care of him. While they might have had one night of passion, the feelings they have for each other are still there and now they have a whole year together but will that year be too much for them to handle?

This is one of those stories that had a lot of potential but was hindered by the length of the story. I really enjoyed the world it was set in and I liked the characters. Rizki is more melancholy than anything else and he’s a loner while Ethan is spritely and fun. I liked how Ethan was stuck on Old Earth and how Rizki ended up taking Ethan home with him after Ethan healed. The brief scenes of their time together was sweet but Rizki seemed confused at where their relationship had ended up at times.

This was a good read but it felt more like an outline than anything else. There is not much depth so you don’t know much about the world, which left me with a lot of questions. More than that, while we get to know the characters somewhat, they aren’t as fleshed out as they could have been. For example, the problems with Ethan and his family left me more confused than anything because there wasn’t a lot of detail about it. You don’t really see this love they’ve developed but what you do see of it is very sweet. One of my favorite parts of the story, though, was how the author blended the nursery rhyme for blackbirds (or magpies as I know them) into the story and how it was played into their relationship. Although, this rhyme was a tad different from the one I’m used to but it goes like this:

“One for sorrow,
Two for joy,
Three for a wedding,
Four for death;
Five for silver,
Six for gold;
Seven for a secret,
Not to be told;
Eight for heaven,
Nine for hell
And ten for the devil’s own.”

Overall, this was a good story, although I think the short length of the book didn’t do the story justice. I liked the characters and I absolutely loved the world but the lack of depth to everything made me curious and slightly frustrated. Still, this was a short and sweet read, recommended for those looking for something quick and easy.


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

BLURB

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

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

REVIEW

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


LavenderSkiesLGTitle: Lavender Skies (Quantinum Residue #2)
Author: Jackson Cordd
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 99 pages, 24,948 words
Genre: m/m Scifi Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Cliffhanger, Existing Relationship, Opposites Attract, Post Apocalyptic, Scientist, Series, Short Story
Rating: Pretty Good

Reviewed by Nikyta

**This review may contain spoilers for the first book – Duanta Beads**

BLURB

To adjust to the changes brought on by the Bang, Shelter 17 geneticist Evan develops a retrovirus to stimulate a growth of fur that will allow him to live aboveground with Rourke, an enthralling surface dweller. Evan takes the treatment, leaves behind the only home he knows, and follows Rourke to his village, unsure of how he will fit in with the tribe.

Rourke likes the changes in Evan, but vast cultural differences and Rourke’s limited English make for difficulties when they try to forge a closer relationship. After spending more time in the village, Evan discovers some worrisome details about life on the surface. Soon he realizes the villagers are in the same precarious position as the few remaining shelter residents….

REVIEW

Lavender Skies starts exactly where Duanta Beads leaves off with Evan leaving his home to be with Rourke and live as a Common. Now sporting a thick layer of fur himself, Evan gets to see the sun for the first time without fearing for his life. His adjustment to his new life is rocky at best, made more difficult by how his fur differs in color from everyone elses, but he has Rourke and that’s all he needs. Left to wonder what skills he can offer the village, Evan comes to realize the Commons are in the same situation with reproduction as the Vaultees and, as a geneticist, he’s hoping he can figure out a solution. Along the way, events happen that cause Rourke to drift away and a lack of communication and cultural differences threatens their fledgling relationship.

I’m a bit confused on why this series is separated into multiple stories when they could most likely easily make up a full novel when completed. Regardless, I liked this one a lot. Not only do we get thrust back into this world with it’s fascinating occurrences and how different the world is after the Bang but we get to explore more of Rourke’s culture. It was interesting to see how Evan fit in with the Commons and how people reacted to him. Rourke has quickly became my favorite character in his simple ways and feelings. He adores Evan and is hurt by some of the things Evan unintentionally does. I liked Evan as well but the way he thinks sometimes makes me want to just shake some sense into him.

This book follows Evan as he gets accustomed to Rourke’s culture and the language. It was interesting to see how he settled in but then how he went back to his own people to get them to follow his lead. Both species (if you can even call them that) are facing the same problems and if they just merged their talents and knowledge, they could get their problems solved. Beyond that, where the first story is of Rourke and Evan getting to know each other, this one shows how their feelings can be misconstrued and causes some confusion. I found it very sad because it hurt Rourke more than it hurt Evan, who didn’t realize what his actions were doing.

In some ways, I liked this story better than the first one, especially since we get to see so much of the Commons culture and how things work with them. However, a big conflict within the story was a lack of communication, which I’m not much of a fan of, but also towards the end, Evan started to become a bit too obsessive over a friend he had while he was living underground. I grew slightly annoyed by that because it makes me think sometime in the future, a move will be made that I won’t like, which dampened my enjoyment a bit. That’s just me, though, so chances are, other readers won’t be thinking that way. Aside from that, this story had some of the same problems as the first one, where a lot of head-hopping takes place and an abrupt ending, which I was a bit baffled at. I don’t quite agree with Evan’s reasoning towards something and I’m wondering how their lack of communication and cultural differences will be fixed so that Evan can convey his wishes towards Rourke. I’m also wondering, as Evan being a scientist, why he did not warn the others he injected about symptoms they should look out for with their change.

All in all, I really did enjoy the story. I don’t quite agree with some of it but I can’t deny this series absolutely fascinates me with the world and how much I’ve come to love Rourke. The relationship between Rourke and Evan develops a bit further and I loved getting to know the customs and ways of Rourke’s people. I’m looking forward to the next in the series and seeing how the story progresses from there. I’m also secretly hoping that Jimbo gets a man of his own… maybe Kenneth?? We shall see and hopefully soon!


DuantaBeadsLGTitle: Duanta Beads (Quantinum Residue #1)
Author: Jackson Cordd
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 17,933 words, 75 pages
Genre: m/m Scifi Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Cliffhanger, Opposites Attract, Post Apocalyptic, Scientist, Series, Short Story
Rating: Really Liked It

Reviewed by Nikyta

BLURB

Thousands of years after a cataclysmic explosion forever changes the atmosphere of the Earth, shelter dweller Evan journeys to the world’s surface in search of a way to help his people survive. What he finds is Rourke, a descendent of the humans who stayed above. They’re different: Evan and the other shelter dwellers are hairless, while Rourke and the other “Commons” have evolved fur to protect them from a harsher sun. As Evan searches for answers, the two men feel a growing attraction for one another, but Evan has been raised to think of Commons as subhuman. Can they look past appearances to explore their passion?

REVIEW

Evan and Rourke are two very different types of humans. Evan is a Vaultee, a person who’s lived his whole life in a shelter underground; Rourke is a Common, an evolved human with a thick layer of fur everywhere on him which protects him from the harsh conditions of the sun. When they meet, Evan’s disgust is evident but overtime they strike up a friendship that turns into more. With them both learning about each other’s cultures and developing a deeper connection, they’re limited to only nights together. Soon, Evan wants more than that and decides to find a way to make that happen. The problem is, the only solution that’s ideal is turning himself into the very being that he was raised to hate and fear… and that’s a Common.

This was a fascinating story. The world the author created is extremely captivating and the way that humans have evolved, yet been reduced to a very basic setting was very well done. I loved the way that Evan started out disgusted by Rourke but then couldn’t get Rourke out of his head. From Evan’s perspective, Evan is the sophisticated one while Rourke is the beast. Quite literally since Rourke has, from what I understand, the appearance of a gorilla, although with more humane features and more intelligence. I enjoyed the connection Evan and Rourke created, how Rourke thought of things in the most basic of ways yet Evan thought of them in a more scientific way. I felt like, even for such a short story, Evan grew as a character. I absolutely adored Evan’s version of the bonding beads. I found it so sweet and I really liked that concept of the story (along with everything else).

Since the book is so short, however, it only covers those first few meetings between Rourke and Evan. The slow relationship they develop and then the eventual decision on Evan’s part to become a Common and how he establishes that. It’s a good start to a series, however, it does end rather abruptly in a cliffhanger, which leaves a bunch of questions about Rourke’s tribe, his customs and such. Beyond that, I found that there was a lot of head-hopping that had me very confused because for the most part, it is from Evan’s POV but occasionally there would be one or two paragraphs here or there that was from Rourke’s perspective, which it interrupted the flow of the story. Aside from that, I felt like Evan’s solution and retrovirus was too easy to create, and quite quick. I didn’t understand how that was possible even if the machines he had were so advanced.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. There’s a lot I’m not elaborating on because it’s a bit difficult to do so. The book ends on a cliffhanger and there are problems with it but I really enjoyed it. It’s so unique and different from other scifi books that I’ve read, especially with the way the world ended and how humans ended up where they did and how they evolved, that it appealed to my inner geek. I’m looking forward to exploring this series more and hopefully getting answers to my questions.


somethingnewanddifferent400Title: Something New and Different
Author: Beth Wirth
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Length: 18k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Heat: 2 – Romantic & Tame
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Short Story, Kiss Me at Midnight collection, Aliens, Texas, Diverse Pairings, Swordplay, New Years, High School, Post Apocalypse
Rating: Not Feelin’ It

BLURB

Dragged by his stepfather to the edge of civilization in rural Texas, Matthew hates everything. The butt of a drunken dare, Kyle hates Matthew. And that’s when the aliens invaded.

REVIEW

I must admit that I’m a little disappointed. I’ve been eagerly awaiting another story from Beth Wirth since she wrote The Hunt of the Cold Moon (my review) and Less Than Three Press released it as part of The Bestiary collection. I really liked that story, but more than that I admired the writing and made sure to watch out for what seems to be a new, talented author. I have no doubt that she is, but for me, this story missed the mark.

Matthew moved to Texas several months ago and has been making all the wrong choices to fit in. On a dare, he kisses Kyle at a party and makes the man think he really wants him, only to hurt Kyle horribly when everyone starts cheering that he won the bet. The problem is — Matthew actually likes Kyle, and now he’s messed everything up. In an almost allegorical reflection of the utter mess of Matthew’s life, aliens attack during a football game, and Texas explodes into a post-apocalyptic frenzy of alien/human warfare. And while trying to make his way out of it and to his family, Matthew runs into Kyle and his mysterious friend. Not only will he get the answers into the alien invasion, but Matthew will have a chance to repair his relationship with Kyle.

The core of this story really isn’t bad — in fact, I liked it. I simply had a problem with the execution. Most of the story is told instead of shown. There are long passages of narration and summary over time and then, when it isn’t needed and it would be preferable to drop us into a scene and show us what is happening, we’re again told what is happening, what people think, and how people act without seeing it for ourselves. On top of that, I really never understood some of the decisions the characters make. For the whole story Matthew talks about how he has to find his little sister (who he was separated from when the aliens attacked and hasn’t found), but instead of actively looking for her he wanders for days and weeks with Kyle around Texas. It didn’t really make much sense to me, when he wasn’t sure if his little sister was even alive.

Aside from the telling vs. showing, I liked the tone of the story. It’s a bit ridiculous and very casually treads the line between the reality (working to repair his relationship with Kyle) and the absurd (the alien invasion, and the often completely Matrix moves with his sword). It just felt like it was a bit incomplete and needed filling out here and there. I ended the story not really sure what to think and not having connected with the story or the characters.

So, I look forward to what this author will again write in the future, but maybe in a little more subdued way. Among the Kiss Me at Midnight stories, this definitely isn’t my favorite, and there are several others I’d recommend over this one. I say … skip it and read a different one. I can’t recommend this story.