Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Lawyer Kevin Almstead has just been told he doesn’t have what it take to ever make partner. Apparently he has “no fire, no ambition”. That’s what he has just been told and Kevin isn’t sure that he doesn’t agree with that assessment. Depressed and unsure of his next step, Kevin heads out for a drink and wanders into Purgetory, a gay bar in Washington, DC. What and who he finds there will forever change his life and his outlook on the world.
All leather, long blond hair and sexy hot, Kiernan Guaire spells trouble for Kevin Almstead in every way. For starters, he isn’t even human. Kiernan Guaire is Fae,a Royal from the Demesne of Earth who was banished from his realm for the only crime the Fae will not tolerate…kin killing. For killing his brother, Kiernan’s soul was sundered and he was sent through The Pattern to Earth. One hundred and sixty five years later, Kiernan has wandered, lusted and lived clear of attachments and beholden to no one. Then Kevin walks into Purgetory looking to drown his problems and finds Kiernan instead. Kiernan’s life and everything changes for him as well. For Kevin is his SoulShared, his other half.
Drawn into the SoulShare bond after one passionate night together, they separate unwilling and uncertain what that explosive moment meant to each other. But strange things are happening at Kevin’s work. Kiernan is having problems staying away from Kevin. And under the ground in Washington, DC an ancient enemy waits for its chance to free itself and walk the earth and Fae realms once more. And bonding of Kevin and Kiernan might just give it the magic it needs….
Hard as Stone is the first in the SoulShares series and my first by Rory Ni Coileain. My introduction to this amazing world building talent, creativity, and Rory Ni Coileain’s marvelous characters had me staying up late until I finished the story and then grabbing immediately for the next in the series. Just the mention of a storyline that includes a Fae thread and I’m involved. Then upend that Fae into the modern world and let the fireworks begin or not, depending upon each author’s take on the subject.
Ni Coileain’s Fae may be magical but they are not terribly likable, especially to each other. Ruthless, mercurial, and imperious. Yes. Gorgeous and forever young. Yes. Dispicable? Yes, that too. Particularly, as I said , with each other. The only rule they seem to abide by? Dont’ kill each other. Torture, maim, and terrorize, yes. Killing? No. Even if it is warranted. They may not kill but they also don’t love. This is a society of beings you want to avoid and they fall more along the lines of the old Fae of Irish lore.
Hard as Stone (and all the others) open in the realm of the Fae, a universe they walled off from ours, pulling the magic from Earth when the Fae left. There we first meet Kiernan Guaire, already bound in silver and awaiting his fate. We learn his crime and watch his tortuous passage through to Earth. It’s a great start and it draws us into his pain and the scary place that is his people and home.
Waiting on Earth is Kevin Almstead. Tall, kind, and gorgeous, Kevin’s life is on shaky ground. Groomed to be a partner at a prestigious law firm, it now looks as thought that won’t happen and Kevin is pondering his next step. Kevin is immediately someone we can identify with. He is approachable and his disheartened state of mind is one that anyone who has been rejected or stymied at work can recognize. I loved this character and thought he was a lovely balance of vulnerability and strength.
Hard as Stone takes place in Washington, DC and although there aren’t a lot of local flavor mentioned here outside of Adams Morgan, there isn’t any errors either which I appreciated. In fact, I wish Purgatory actually existed. The closest thing I could think of was The Crucible. But Purgatory is vividly described from its lighting to the bar and floors. It feels real and that successful element is a must here because Purgatory has a huge part to play in the stories so its ability to feel alive and present is as necessary to the series as the characters that drink there.
There are monsters here. Human, fae and something far worse. It speaks to Rory Ni Coileain’s ability as a writer that the dread she creates and the horror that is the Marfach will make you recoil from the pages and the terror that is rising from them. And the fight against it is as desperate and wild as you can imagine. I am still cringing just thinking about a passage or two when the Marfach comes to mind. That’s a job well done indeed.
There are a number of plot threads introduced here that set up the books to come. They will spark your interest and anticipation for the next story, Gale Force, in the series. I loved the SoulShares concept and the idea of finding your other half against all odds. A wonderful rationale behind an instant love/instant attraction…the fact that you recognize something so familiar about the person in front of you. It’s a compelling thought and a great storyline. I can’t wait to get to all the books in the series.
If you are a lover of a Fae/human connection and a fantasy that stretches into our world for unexpected consequences and love,, this is the story and series for you! I highly recommend them but make sure your journey starts with this one, Hard as Stone.
Cover artist isn’t credited but while the models are great, the use of fire doesn’t make sense as ice blue, and earth are major factors here.
Kindle Edition, 185 pages
Published October 18th 2012 by Ravenous Romance
original titleHard As Stone