Review: Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) (Pulp Friction 2014 #11) by Havan Fellows

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Blown HardRowen Smithe and Mick Rutger are men that come with their own special brand of complications and impressive set of problems attached to each of them.   Rowen Smithe wears his some complexities and special issues like clothing. But not all.  Rowen’s other problems, like the voice in his head, are more deeply buried and waiting to come out.

Mick Rutger’s sunny disposition and impetuous manner is hiding a past that he hoped he had buried when Mick came to Mountain Shadows.  Rowen Smithe, his neighbor and new love interest, has finally agreed to a dinner cooked by Mick and that is all he has been thinking about.  But the dinner and its aftermath have left a wake of new problems for them both.

While Mick is weighing his next move and Rowen is doing his best to hide, an old enemy arrives at the campground.  The winds of change are blowing strong.  Who will be left standing after the storm has passed?

In Rowen Smithe, Havan Fellows has created a character that continues to surprise me with each new layer of his persona that comes to the surface in the Whispering Winds series.  A cruel and dismissive voice in his head?  Check.  Self appointed guardian of the woods who will use any means at his disposal to keep all safe? Check.  An overwhelming need to hide from all but a few? Check.  Paranoid, competant, intelligent, and gorgeous.  But is he sane?  Hmmm.  Not sure.  He is the gift of a conundrum that keeps on giving.  And boy, does he do that in spades here.  Do I love this character?  Indeed I do.

Havan Fellows has then paired him up with as unlikely a fellow as could be.  I often think of Mick Rutger as a human Golden Retriever.  Affable, good hearted, loyal, and fun to have around, Mick’s impetuous nature can get him into trouble.  Handsome, quick to laugh, too quick to act, and an attention span that….squirrel…..that wanders.  He is almost impossible to dislike even when you are sighing in dismay over something that he has done or said.  And of all things to grab his attention, that would be the dark question mark of Mountain Shadows, Rowen Smithe.  It’s a fascinating, unlikely, and perilous combination that has made this series a compulsive read for me in every way.

For the last two stories, Fellows has kept these two unlikely mates in a fight and flee sort of pattern.  Mostly with Rowen fleeing. Whether it is into his cabin, into the woods or up his tree or all three combined, Mick has had to make the decision to follow when Rowen leads or pursue where Rowen has fled.  It’s been funny, sad, and totally entertaining.  But now a tentative peace has been obtained and Rowen has made the huge commitment to each food someone else has cooked and attend a dinner/date at Mick’s cabin that has been especially prepared for him.  To understand just how big a decision that is for Rowen, you have to read the preceding stories.  That’s how Blown Hard starts off and then quickly turns into something totally unexpected and sort of shocking when yet another dimension of Rowen is revealed to Mick and the reader.  And neither of us was prepared for it.

Fellow’s narrative is concise, taut, and it flows quickly from start to finish, barely pausing for us to gasp at the shocks along the way.  This is the darkest of all the stories to date and the most compelling to read.

This is a story of the perceived cracks in people’s characters that become exposed for the deep and camouflaged crevices they always were.  And it’s not just Rowen’s flaws and elements of his character that are exposed here but some of Mick’s as well.  This story is so well titled because Havan Fellows’s hard winds blow through the plot, scrapping away superficial notions and assumptions you have made about these people (and ones that they have made about each other) to leave something very fundamental and naked exposed at the end.  It will leave you in a state of disbelief and in immediate need for more.

I need more.  Much, much more.  So will you.  This (and the whole Pulp Friction 2014 author series) is a must read.  But please, dont’ start here.  Go running to the first book in the series.  Grab it and prepare yourself for a wonderful rollercoaster ride of emotions, romance and explosive secrets!  I have listed all the stories, all the authors and their interconnected series for 2014 below.  Use it as a check list, don’t miss out on any of them.

Definitely one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Highly Recommended Stories, and Series of the Year!

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I love these covers and Laura Harner has done a beautiful job of branding not only the series and all the Pulp Friction 2014 Mountain Shadows interconnected series.

Buy Links:        All Romance eBooks (ARe)             Amazon     Blown Hard

Book Details:

ebook, First, 58 pages
Published June 15th 2014 by Appleton Publishing Avenue
ASINB00L02WUR8
edition languageEnglish
seriesPulp Friction 2014 #11, Whispering Winds

The Pulp Friction 2014 series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters, events and plot:

Round One:

Firestorm (Fighting Fire: 1)by Laura Harner
Cold Snap (In From the Cold: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blown Away (Whispering Winds: 1) by Havan Fellows
Higher Ground (Earthquake: 1) by TA Webb

Round Two:

Controlled Burn (Fighting Fire #2) by Laura Harner
Cold Comfort (In From the Cold #2) by Lee Brazil
Blown Kisses (Whispering Winds #2) by Havan Fellows
Moving Earth (Earthquake #2) by TA Webb

Round Three:

Backburn (Fighting Fire #3) by Laura Harner
Cold Feet (In From the Cold #3) by Lee Brazil
Blown Hard (Whispering Winds #3) by Havan Fellows
Tremors (Earthquake #3) by T.A. Webb

Round Four: 

Flare-up (Fighting Fire #4) by Laura Harner
Out In The Cold (In From the Cold #4) by Lee Brazil
Blown Chance (Whispering Winds #4) by Havan Fellows
Aftershocks (Earthquake #4) by T.A. Webb

Round Five: to be released

Radiant Burn (Fighting Fire #5) by Laura Harner
Cold Day in Hell (In From the Cold #5) by Lee Brazil
Final Blow (Whispering Winds #5) by Havan Fellows
Terra Firma (Earthquake #5) by T.A. Webb

Sixth Book Series Finale Written by all the Authors
charactersFinn Lorensso

 

 

 

 

Review: The Rusted Sword by R.D. Hero

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The Rusted Sword coverAfter ten years of marriage, Lord Raleigh’s union to the vicious fighter Prince Moshe has become mired in endless arguments, uncertainty, and finally separate chambers.  A love once hot as the fire is now becoming cold and Raleigh is afraid for their future.  A proud man, Raleigh is now beset by pain from old injuries, unable to wield his swords as he once did, the same swordwork that captured the heart and passions of his husband Moshe.

After yet another argument ruins the moment between them, Raleigh learns that Moshe has accepted an invitation to participate in a winter sword fighting tournament.  It will take place in the castle on order from the king, a ruler overly fond of Moshe from Raleigh’s perspective.  Fearing that Moshe will away rather than return to the small holdings deep in the mountains, Raleigh chooses to accept as well.  Raleigh believes might be his last chance to win back Moshe’s love.  But can a man bound by pride and age find it in himself to win one more battle?  That of the only thing he wants….Moshe’s love.

The Rusted Sword by R.D. Hero is a well written short story that encapsulates the problems of one couple’s marriage.  That the couple is located in a fantasy world of snowbound keeps and a kingdom where swordplay and tournaments go hand in hand doesn’t alter the fact that most couples issues stem from the same problems.  A lack of attention to each other, a shutting down of communication and a walling away of self from your partner.  Those relationship truths exist no matter the genre or couple or even universe.

Raleigh (cousin to the King) was once a heralded swordsman.  He was famous for winning battles and tournements and by his talents, he won the heart of Moshe, a prince sent to the King from another country as hostage/good faith.  A playmate and friend of both the King and Raleigh as children, Raleigh loved him from the start and pursued him relentlessly once they were grown.  It’s been 10 years since Raleigh won Moshe’s heart and they were married and their marriage is now cold , filled with self imposed loneliness and pain.  The author makes us feel every bit of Raleigh’s years.  His aching knee, his age, and his fears that being less than what he once was has cost him Moshe’s love.  That it’s Raleigh’s pride that is also pushing Moshe away is apparent to the reader although not Raleigh himself.  Hero makes us hurt for both men even as we are exasperated by Raleigh’s actions.  It is a poignant picture Hero paints of a union in trouble, realistic in the pained dialog and long awkward silences.

An invitation acts as the impetus for a change in the relationship.  A trip, a tournament and an old friend’s actions brings about a sea change.  How that happens and the world building by Hero are some of the real joys of this short story. I thought everything here was so well done from the characterizations to the plot to the visualizations of the halls and trappings themselves.   While I wish I had a little more of the history between Raleigh and his cousin, it still came across as a  complete story instead of an interlude pulled from a much larger tale.

The Rusted Sword was a first story for me by R. D. Hero but it won’t be the last.  It’s tiny gems like this one that surprise me and makes me seek out more from an author.  That will happen here.  Love fantasy and short stories too?  Grab this one up, its just the thing for you.

Nice cover art, not sure who the artist is.

Buy Links:  Less Than Three Press               All Romance (ARe)    to come                Amazon  to come

Book Details:

ebook, 14,000 words, approx. 31 pages
Expected publication: August 27th 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC
original titleThe Rusted Sword
ISBN139781620044049
edition languageEnglish