A MelanieM Review: A Curse on the Mountain by Missouri Dalton

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

A Curse on the Mountain CoverLong ago the god Cai  was torn from the mortal woman he loved by Death and his fellow gods refused to let them reunite.  In a rage born of loss and pain, Cai cursed a city and watched his curse doom generation after generation of humans who live on a mountainside made almost inhabitable by Cai’s curse.

Perched on a mountaintop surrounded by a frigid swamp, the rain never stops in the cursed city of Var Eldore.  Here a former pleasure slave Myr lives in hiding, trying to stay a step ahead of his captor. But Myr is far more than he realizes, and fate has other plans for him. Reunited with his mate Ryall and their daughter Quinn, Myr and  his family gathers together a group of disenchanted soldiers, spies, nobles, and wizards  to oppose the king and all he stands for.  This includes certain nobles and their houses who perpetuate slavery   Myr and his following intend to fight for the freedom of their land. As they uncover secrets and conspiracies, each more tangled than the last, Myr also discovers he has unique abilities to aid their cause—the Redeemers.

As the strength of the Redeemers grows, so does the number of enemies they must face. Each member of their alliance has his or her own demons to battle, and Myr must confront the truth about himself and become the leader they need. Alongside his lover Ryall and the people who have become his family—as well as some unlikely friends—Myr and the Redeemers must prepare for war. If they fall, the city in the rain will follow.

I fell in love with Missouri Dalton when I discovered her Guidebook series (a must read that included Necromancy and You) as well as her Night Wars (The Hanged Man’s Ghost..)series.  Both are exceptional supernatural series which can always be found high on my Recommendations lists.  So I was thrilled to see a new story from Dalton from Dreamspinner Press and gobbled it up with  a certain amount of anticipation and glee.  But what I found didn’t live up to my high expectations for this author and book blurb.

What was amazing about The Curse on the Mountain was Missouri Dalton’s world building.  From the vengeful god Cai to the denizens of Var Eldore, Dalton brings alive a city dark, icy cold and constantly wet from the endless rains and snow.  Life is perilous unless you are weathy and on the right side of the King.  For those who are poor, out of favor and just unfortunate enough to block someone’s ambitions or path to power, well, then death would be favored over the imprisonment, slavery or torture that follows.   The author’s descriptions can give the reader a good case of the shivers based on the people and places that appear in her narrative.

Even Dalton’s characters hold out such promise for a suspenseful and rich story.  Myr, Ryall, and fierce adopted daugher Quinn are terrifically realized people and I would have loved to have seen a story that truly focused in on them, their past history, their love and fight for freedom.  Had that happened this would have been a different review.

But instead, Dalton starts piling on more characters,  more relationships (old and new) as well as couples who meet, come together, mate, part so quickly that they mimic the life of a mayfly.  Here and gone in a blink of a moment.  Or if they reappear, its as sudden and short lived as their first appearance.  Relationships and people age in a flash as time moves swiftly by as the Redeemers rebellion gains in power and strength and then we flash back to the past and prior events.  And along with that ever changing time line the author gives us side stories with Cai, foul supporters of the King, evil creatures, back to Myr and Ryall, past and present, all starts to cram together until it has all the density of a 10 year old fruit cake.  Yo can tell it is comprised of many different elements you would enjoy but it’s become so dense and unwieldy that it has become inedible. For me, that’s The Curse on the Mountain.

Dalton just piled on too many characters, plot threads, and elements that all get lost amidst the jumble of timelines, storylines, and relationships that keep folding back on each other.  Even if you start to get a glimmer of feeling and interest in certain beings and events, the focus moves away to another part of the story and the power of those characters is lost.  It makes it nigh to impossible to feel a connection to any of these people and their situations and the frustrations build as the reader tries to make sense of some of the events and happenings that occur…some threads I never did untangle in my mind. I mean I just take a look at my notes on the story and after a while all I see is a list of names and places and question marks.  It’s never a good sign when you feel you should have to storyboard a novel to make sense of it all.  Sigh.

Still because of the promise of the world building, the terrific mythology Dalton creates and the largess of the scope of her story, The Curse on the Mountain deserves a 3 star rating.  If you are a Missouri Dalton fan, you might want to pick this up and enjoy the elements I have talked about.  But if you are new to this author, I would recommend you start with her other series that I mentioned above.  They are marvelously addicting and will give you a true taste of this author’s many talents  as a storyteller and her wonderful writing skills.  Just thinking about those stories prompts me to pull them up on my Kindle again.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  Loved this glorious cover, from its design to the colors used, it works on every level.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press        All Romance (ARe)      Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages, also available in paperback
Published December 29th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632162823
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

A BJ Review: Chyna Doll (Horizons #4) by Mickie B. Ashling

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

ChynaDollLGChyna, an intersexed male raised as a girl, is struggling with identity issues as she enters adolescence. She finds herself suddenly attracted to her brother Chip’s friend, Luca. Luca, who has grown up with two gay Dads, struggles with his own sexual identity when he finds himself torn between an attraction to Chip and his twin sister, Chyna. .

While the cover and blurb made me think this book concentrated on the relationship of Luca and Chyna, that’s only partially true. A large section of the book concerns the somewhat troubled relationship of Luca’s two Dads, Grier and Lil. This is definitely not a young adult book, since the sex between the two older characters is quite kinky and includes such tantalizing bits as diamond tipped penal plugs, sounding and men who like wearing lacy women’s undies. So a small warning: don’t go into this thinking it focusing only on young adults and their issues. That is not the case.

Chyna’s sexual identity issues were exacerbated by the deplorable way Chyna’s parents handled her upbringing, lied to her and others, and kept from her so many things that could have made it easier on her. Heartbreaking to read about such betrayal from those entrusted with such responsibility.

This book covers some intense and interesting issues pretty thoroughly and from various angles. The ending wasn’t cut and dried but and all tied up sweet, which felt right. But it left me cheering for Luca and feeling hopeful for a HEA for him and Chyna.

This story had excellent potential, but ultimately fell short for me. The writing style varied from extremely readable to parts an info dump of telling. In addition, I found it jarring when we move totally away from the main characters and focus exclusively on the vacationing gay parents and their issues for the space of quite a few characters in the middle of the book. At that point, I’d invested myself in the story of Chyna and Luca and had to resist the deviation to skim forward. Finally, the large number of POVs characters sometimes felt a bit like head hopping and make it hard for me to anchor to any of them long enough to develop a rapport.

Cover Artist: Anne Cain.A lovely cover that portrays two of the main characters close to the way I’d pictured them. This cover gives the impression that these two are the only focus of this story, when actually there’s almost equal focus on Luca’s gay parent’s relationship. In that respect, the cover misleads.

Sales Links:    Dreamspinner Press      All Romance (ARe)       Amazon     Buy It Here

Book Details:  

ebook, 320 pages
Published February 23rd 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
(first published February 23rd 2014)
ISBN139781632167323
edition languageEnglish
seriesHorizons #4

Horizons series includes the following:

  • Horizons (Horizons, #1)
  • Taste (Horizons, #2)
  • Daddio (Horizons, #3)
  • Chyna Doll (Horizons, #4)

A Stella Review: Loving the Astrophysicist (Astrophysicist #1&2) by T.N. Tarrant

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Rating 4 stars out of 5

Loving An Absent Minded Astrophysicist coverAt twenty-three, Dr. Liam McGregor is a well-respected astrophysicist, astrobiologist, and geologist. With no family, few friends, and no romantic prospects, he’s used to being alone. Focusing on his various scientific projects and taking care of his decidedly unusual cat help keep the loneliness at bay.

Jareth Manning is starting life over—new town, new job—after the loss of his husband. The last thing he expects is for the most absentminded, and beautiful, man he’s ever seen to take up residence in his heart. Nor did he expect to find himself a willingly humble slave to Her Imperial Highness, Empress the Cat.

But Jareth has learned that love doesn’t come around often and to hold on to it when it does. Jareth is willing to be patient if Liam is willing to take a risk after being burned before. They just have to survive Liam’s past returning.  

Eight years after Liam and Jareth marry, they want a child. Things don’t go well when they try to adopt, with terrible accusations thrown at Jareth. After recovering, they proceed with a private adoption, bringing home a beautiful little girl, Carinae. Then things get ugly, endangering not only Liam’s life, but Carinae’s.

How cute is a cat on a leash! Her Imperial Highness sure is amazing.

This book is a second edition and basically put together the two previous books in the Astrophysicist series by T.N. Tarrant. It’s a really sweet book with great MCs and some valuable second ones. I loved the plot too.

In the first part we meet Dr Liam McGregor, a twenty-three years old astrophysicist, geologist and astrobiologist, simply known as the absentminded astrophysicist. After being attacked by a colleague, he is soon rescued by Jareth, the new head of the security in the institute Liam works at. Where Liam is a chubby geek, Jareth is sexy and handsome. How can someone as the strong guard be attracted to the sweet Liam? But Jareth is determined to court him and show him he can be trusted.

“I think you’re beautiful, Liam.”

“How can you think so? I’m fat, scarred, and almost constantly bruised because I can’t even keep an eye on where I’m going, or I fall all over myself when I try to,” Liam objected. “Nobody has ever really wanted me,” he whispered.

Jareth knew only time would show Liam he was serious about wanting him. “You are perfect as you are, Liam. I thought you were absolutely breathtaking the day I met you, and I still think so. […]I was paying a lot of attention to you.” Liam obviously didn’t believe what he was saying. “But why?”

“I have no idea, Liam.” Jareth tipped Liam’s chin up so he could look into Liam’s eyes. […]“To be honest, I don’t really care why. I just know that I find you beautiful and sexy as hell, and one of these days, I want to strip you down and lick you from head to toe, front and back, and have you do the same to me, tangled up together until we can’t sort out who’s where.”

In the second part we find them after being together for eight years, planning on becoming parents. It will be a really hard journey, full of hurts, crisis, accusations, and fears. At the end it will be so worthwhile to get Carinae in their life.

I liked Liam and Jareth, I especially loved how Jareth is a positive characters. After suffering the loss of his husband, he went through dark times and started drinking. Thanks to his family who saved him, now he’s going on with his life and he’s ready for a new love. He’s protective and sympathetic with Liam and his world.

Son of two genius parents, Liam had an incredible and really bad youth, he was stabbed almost to death by his mother cause she couldn’t stand him for being smarter than her, with his father as witness. Liam lives for and in his work, he’s pretty much lonely, apart from his cat Empress and the sweet Aimee. He’s not used to be loved cause a lot of people took advantage of his great mind, just used him.

I put this book in my comfort list, a beautiful list to me. First of all it means that I’m surely going to reread Loving an Absentminded Astrophysicist.  I really loved it, it was an emotional reading but at the same time all the bad things were faced with lightness and positivity. So this is definitely a book to reread when I need a hope glimmering in a dark moment. So happy to have met Liam and Jareth and really well done, TN!

Cover Art by Bree Archer. What can I say about it? I’m a sucker for children, so I honestly can admit I even have read the blurb before requesting the ARC. I saw the cover and I had to read it. So if the aim of a cover is to catch the reader’s eye before the story, this cover to me is a winner, so sweet cute aww.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press    All Romance (ARe)    Amazon         Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 226 pages
Published February 20th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781632164773
edition languageEnglish
Author Website: http://tntarrant.blogspot.com/
seriesAstrophysicist #1-2

 

 

Join Us for Release Day for Eric Gober’s Out of Order

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outoforder-banner

It’s Release Day for Out of Order by Eric Gober

Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing

Synopsis

After bombing a job interview, Trent wants to get to the airport and fly home. But high up in a San Francisco skyscraper, he stumbles upon Rob, an old crush who mysteriously vanished from his life. Little does Trent know he’s about to be broadsided. In a moment, Rob will make a startling confession, old feelings for him will reignite, and the city’s worst disaster in decades will erupt around them. Can the two survive the deadly shaking? Or will they perish in the shattered, blacked-out city?

*originally published in the Stranded anthology

out of order

Book Details:

  • Author: Eric Gober
  • Length: short story
  • Genre: M/M, gay romance, contemporary

Buy links

Excerpt

Rob emerged from the hallway wearing an Oakland A’s baseball cap.

I didn’t know you were a baseball fan.

I’m not much of one, really, just supporting the home team. Iím going to a World Series party after our drinks.

You live in Oakland?

Yep. He came and stood very close to me and pointed. South of Calís clock tower, near Rockridge BART Station, so I take a train into the city for this project.

So many trees. It must be pretty there.

I like it.

Does Chris live with you?

He shook his head. We split up.

I’m sorry.

Me too.

Well, if you ask me, it’s Chrisís loss, not yours.

Trent, what I meant was I’m sorry I wasn’t completely honest with you in Arizona.î He looked at me as if I knew what he was talking about.

What do you mean?

Chris was my boyfriend, not girlfriend.

As I gazed into his handsome green eyes, comprehending his revelation, a crust around my heart ruptured, and feelings Iíd stored for him rippled through me. I felt the office sway as I tried to steady myself.

Then my knees buckled and everything shook.

Plate glass quavered. Lobby chairs lurched. Kaleidoscopic serigraphs rattled and fell off walls. Fluorescent light tubes popped from fixtures and shattered around us. A big beige computer monitor flew from the reception counter and exploded on the parquet floor.

Rob seized my arm and tugged me under the counter. The ground vibrated beneath my hands and knees, and the ceiling cracked so hard I feared it was caving and rubble from floors above would bury us. Something hissed, and I felt drops soaking my suit. I looked up. The fire sprinklers were on. Rob grabbed me and pulled me close, and I shut my eyes and nestled against him hard. If I were going to die, at least I’d be in the arms of someone I’d loved.

About the author

Eric’s fiction often explores complications and entanglements in romance. His debut novel, Secrets of the Other Side, won three Reader Views literary awards, including Best Fiction Book of the Year. Described by critics as an emotional journey of love, loss, and self discoveryî and ìan incredible coming-of-age story, the novel chronicles one gay youthís quest for love and happiness during the tumultuous eighties and nineties.

His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Encore, A Likely Story, Stranded, First Time for Everything, and Best Gay Romance 2014. He earned his MFA in creative writing from Wichita State University.

Eric grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and has lived in Arizona, Kansas, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Today he makes his home in Los Angeles, where he enjoys trail running, spending time with friends, and working on new short stories and his next novel.

Social links

Website: www.ericgober.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoberEric
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gobereric
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6964936.Eric_Gober

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