Review: Hero by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Hero coverHal Porter left his family and home believing that his large Catholic family would never accept his homosexuality.  In fact, Hal is not even sure he accepts it.  But he thought that a new city, new apartment and job would bring a new perspective.  Instead it brought more questions, long hours as a construction worker and loneliness.

Strange things are happening at the construction site Hal is working on.  There’s a huge empty lot in the middle of the job that all avoid.  A lot on which a strange bar appears and disappears at will.  And at times Hal swears he sees a crystal tower and a balcony on which stands the most beautiful man Hal has ever scene.  Something about that lonely figure calls to Hal like nothing ever has in his life.

When a strange fox like woman approaches Hal from the bar, she has a quest for Hal.  A long enchanted shape shifter needs saving, needs a hero…and Hal is that person chosen to save him.  But can Hal be the hero when all his life he has been told he is nothing special?  And when love approaches in the form of the shape shifter, will Hal be able to accept his homosexuality in time to save them both?

Hero is large in heart while short in length.   I loved so much about this story that I wished it was as large in length as it was in emotions and depth of storyline.  Heidi Cullinan took this “prince in a tower needing to be saved” story and gave it quite a few marvelous and fresh twerks, not the least of which is a prince instead of a princess who needs a hero.

Some of the wonderful surprises Heidi has in store for the reader are things that should be left as elements to wonder at when you come upon them in the course of the tale.  But others, like choosing the kitsune as the shape shifters and Japanese lore as a foundation for those magical beings are both charming and new.  I wish Cullinan had gone a little more in depth into the kitsune legends but what is here is marvelous and intriguing.

And then there is the bar/tower.  Such an amazing idea and construct.  This aspect of Hero almost made the entire story for me.  But the figure of Hal Porter must always remain at the top.  He is such a lovely, gentle man.  A Catholic who is wrestiling with the church’s idea of homosexuality versus his love of men, Hal is a man divided between the mother and family he loves and being true to himself.  Cullinan brings Hal and his internal monologues into sharp focus.  We love Hal for the decent, caring person he is and understand the insecurities and lack of self esteem his upbringing has caused.  Hal Porter is a wonderful character and we are happy to follow in his footsteps towards acceptance, bravery and love.

This book has not yet been released yet  (August 13) by Wilde City Press but when it is, grab it up and start reading.  I think you will be as charmed as I was by Hal Porter, the kitsune prince and the quest for love no matter where you find it.

Cover art by Wilde City Press.  That is an unbelievable cover.  One of the Best of 2014 for me.  And it works perfectly for the story in every way!

Buy Links:         Wilde City Press                  All Romance eBook (ARe)                        Amazon  – links to come

Book Details:

Sequel to MILES AND THE MAGIC FLUTE

Length: 60,000 words
Link: http://www.wildecity.com/books/gay-mainstream/hero/#.U9Mhys3OjFM
Release Date: August 13

ebook, 2nd Edition
Published May 27th 2014 by Wilde City Press (first published December 4th 2009)
original titleHero
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.heidicullinan.com/books/hero

Review: Gale Force (SoulShares #2) by Rory Ni Coileain

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Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

Gale ForceConall Dary is the most powerful mage born to the Fae race since the Realm was parted from the human world, over two thousand years ago. But that very power condemns him to a lifetime of celibacy, because sex calls to power, and he has power enough to drain a world. When he refuses to use his talents for a Noble lady’s petty revenge, he finds himself shanghaied to the human world, his soul torn in half and his magick blocked.

Josh LaFontaine is the beautifully inked owner of Raging Art-On, a Washington, D.C. tattoo and piercing parlor. While taking part in New York City’s Pride march with a former lover’s dance company, his world changes forever when the man of his dreams materializes out of nowhere at his feet . Josh’s sensual and loving touch, the first Conall has ever known, may be enough to give him back the magick he’s lost. But before they can complete their Soulshare, a terrible accident leaves Conall bodiless, lost, and invisible, to everyone except – maybe – the human with whom he shares a soul. But Josh will need to find him before the ancient evil of the Marfach does or everything they have – and more – will be lost.

Hard As Stone, the first in the SoulShares series, pulled me wholeheartedly into Rory Ni Coileain’s amazing collision of fantasy and contemporary urban American society.  I found her world building amazing, her characters complex and compelling and the drama and pain of a soul ripped in two irresistible.  How was she going to top it, I wondered?  Gale Force is the answer and an outstanding one to boot!

At the end of Hard As Stone, after Fae Tiernan Guaire and human Kevin Almstead have united in the SoulShares bond, we were informed that more were Fae coming and that Tiernan, Kevin and the bar Purgatory had to be ready.  But no one could have been prepared for the next Fae to be hurled through the Pattern, his soul ripped in two.  That would be the most powerful mage ever born, Conall Dary.  If there is a complete opposite of the sexy, sarcastic Tiernan, it would be Conall Dary.  Virginal, lonely, he is so powerful that he has kept everyone at bay and himself isolated because he feared the damage he could inflict.  That isolation has also made him a target and somewhat naive as to what the other Fae are capable of.  That outlook and a refusal to use his power for petty revenge gets him tossed out of the Realm in the worst way possible.

The author’s descriptions of the Fae Realm and its inhabitants are sharp and complete in both the emotions and characters involved.  Their pettiness is on a scale we find horrific as is the manner in which they demand their “requests” be attended to.  That Conall is too good for this Realm is immediately understood, although not by him.  He has internalized the Fae culture’s image of himself and the damage that has caused his self image is acute.  I fell in love with Conall here and that love only deepened once he fell at the feet (literally) of Josh LaFontaine during a Pride parade.

Josh LaFontaine.  Here is another character to love. Covered in his own ink, magic swirls around him.  I loved him for his bravery, compassion, and determination.  Such a remarkable character and those tats of his…well, that’s one of the highlights of this story and I won’t spoil it for you here.  With each new couple and their passage to a SoulShares bond, the series gets better, the evil that is the Marfach becomes more diabolical, and the scope of the plot widens to show that the author’s plan for all her characters is more complicated and delightful than I had anticipated.

Yes, that magnificent monster, the Marfach is back and even more determined to return to the Realm of the Fae.  Rory Ni Coileain’s ability to drive up the suspense and impression of evil is marvelous.  The Marfach is so twisted that you can almost smell the stench.  What a creation!  And now that it resides in the poor reanimated flesh of the bouncer, we get the thoughts of both beings in one.  That aspect of this story only serves to amp up our anticipation of the evil to come.  Love that about this stoy too!

Gale Force is one wild fantasy ride!  It has it all.  A virginal hero (and Fae at that), magic, a monster, and a forever love waiting to be found.  Rory Ni Coileain delivers  it all in a fast paced, vividly described and beautifully detailed story you won’t want to put down.  I am on to the next in the series, Deep Plunge.  Put this book and the other SoulShares stories on your TBR list.  It is one of ScatteredThoughtsandRogueWords Must Reads!

Cover art:  Not credited which is fine because there is nothing that really speaks to the story within on the cover.

Buy Details:          Ravenous Romance                   All Romance eBooks (ARe)                    Amazon    Gale Force

Book Details:

ebook, 230 pages

Published March 12th 2013 by Ravenous Romance (first published March 10th 2013)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/gale-force.php
seriesSoulShares #2

Books in the SoulShares series in the order they were written and should be read are:

Hard As Stone (Soulshares #1)
Gale Force (SoulShares #2)
Deep Plunge (SoulShares #3)
Firestorm (SoulShares #4)