A MelanieM Review: Hell and Back by Dirk Greyson

Rating:  3.5 stars out of 5

Seventeen years ago, Forge Reynolds fell in love… and had his heart broken. When Staff Sergeant Gage Livingston was brought into Forge’s Army field hospital, temporarily paralyzed, Forge sat with him, read his letters, answered his mail, and formed a connection he thought would last. But Gage was sent home, Forge transferred to a new post, and his letters to Gage went unanswered.

Now in the middle of a bitter divorce, Forge is sick and tired of his husband’s manipulation. He’s almost ready to make any sacrifice to get closure—then he finds Granger murdered execution-style in their home. Forge had no idea about Granger’s illicit activities, but the killers don’t believe that. They think Forge has something they want, and they’re coming after him.

When Forge’s lawyer arranges for professional protection, the last face Forge expects to see is Gage’s. Can he even contemplate a second chance for them after almost two decades, or will hope only lead to more heartache? Before they can explore the possibilities, they must figure out what information Granger had—that others are willing to kill for—or that possible heartache could become a certainty.

I have to admit that as much as I thoroughly enjoyed Hell and Back by Dirk Greyson I have been going back and forth over the rating for this review.  Sigh.  I hate it when that happens. Pure entertainment value over elements that just  stopped me in my tracks mid or end story that are jerking me back and forth here. So let’s start off with the wonderful shall we?

The wonderful is the couple at the center of Hell and Back, Forge Reynolds and Gage Livingston, two men who meet under the most stressful conditions when enlisted and then lose track of one another.  Two of my favorite tropes is lovers reunited and second chance at love, both of which are beautifully covered here.  Greyson delivers a frightening scene, plus all the emotional impact of a reunion we could ask for and more.  I just fell in love with  both characters and stayed that way.

It also helped that Greyson let Forge work through his emotions over his ex/dead husband with Gage.  To totally abandon those feelings and ignore “the body” as it were would  have done the men an injustice as well as the romance and relationship that the author is so carefully building up.  No the romance and the couple are the glue that holds this story together for me.  I adored them and the danger that the author puts them in, especially Forge, creates an anxiety and suspense for the reader that doesn’t let up until the end.

No, for me where the story falls apart is the criminal element, the police work, and shockingly, Forge’s action’s towards a criminal at the end, in the presence of law enforcement agents (of many agencies, mind you) that would never, ever, be allowed to happen. It would compromise their case and I was absolutely floored it was in there.  Especially after a scene of beautiful restraint earlier that was so much better.  If you are going to have such an elaborate criminal structure, why not make it as great  as your love story?  And why ruin it with that gesture that would never fly past any agency?    Especially those that, in the author’s own words had worked years to put those men away?  Made no sense whatsoever. There are other nitpicky things about hard drives that I thought Gage or someone should have  picked up on.  But the huge thing?  The story never recovered after that.

I read the epilogue which was lovely, but I never recovered my connection which was a shame.  I did wish I could see that desk and jade puzzle box though.

If you are a fan of Dirk Greyson, then this is a story for you.  If you love romance, second chance at love and lovers reunited, then perhaps again this is a story for you.  But for those who love  police procedurals, crime stories, and law enforcements action adventure?  Maybe not.  I’ll leave it up to you.

Cover art by L. C. Chase is terrific. Colorful and eye-catching. Love it.

Sales Links:  AmazonBarnes and NobleDreamspinner Press

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published October 27th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition Language English

A MelanieM New Release Review: Dragon Rider (Landlocked Heart #3) by Kay Berrisford

Rating: 4 stars out 5

The road to Ben and Lyle’s wedding is proving a bumpy one. Ben hasn’t even told his family he’s getting hitched to a shapeshifting merman, and he’s not the only one worried. When Lyle’s tearaway sister, Cully, whisks Lyle away on the merfolk equivalent of a stag do, she questions whether marriage is what Lyle needs anyhow. A merman should roam the seas and seek adventure, not work in an ice-cream parlour and worry about the rent.

With rumours flying among merfolk that Lyle is a dragon shifter, adventure seeks out Lyle, whether he wants it or not. Cully and Ben must set their differences aside to save Lyle from a gang wishing to steal his magical powers, which are in reality waning, possibly life-threateningly so. Lyle soon realizes it’s going to take a miracle for him to make it to the wedding, forcing Ben to embrace magic and become something other an “ordinary” guy…

For a series that started out as semi-humorous in nature (at least in my perception) Landlocked Heart is taking a nicely dark and interesting turn.  It started in book 2, Lyle’s Story, where we learned about Lyle’s background, his torture, and the merfolk clan history.  Not a pleasant one at that.  Here, in Dragon Rider,  we pick up at what should be the best time of Lyle and Ben’s life, preparing for their wedding.  However, it seems to be anything but.  Ben hasn’t told his family that, ‘hey, I’m marrying a merman’.  And Cully, Lyle’s brother/sister arrives on the scene, never a good thing with Lyle’s family.

With merfolk they can choose their sex but their clan history and rulers have long taken that choice away from them until recently.  Until Lyle.   Now the ramifications and mythology are coming home to make waves for the “happy’ couple.

I love the turn of events here.  Cully especially is a figure of power and the effects of her warped upbringing.  I liked her and understood her even if I didn’t especially like her actions.  Plus you have to remember she is also non-human and has those thoughts going on inside her head layered over with their joint abused background.  Lyle too turns tragic here in ways I didn’t expect as did Ben.  The growth among the characters and plot is doubly highlighted when you think back to the first story in the series.  The hints and clues the author’s dropping just ratchets up the anticipation for the next story in the series.

In fact, with all the new information and mythology added here, Dragon Rider could easily have been twice it’s length.  It opened up so many new questions for me that I need answers for.  I can only hope the next stories in the series continue to enlarge the universe that Kay Berrisford is building while bringing more layers, more to the new relationship dynamics she has started here.  She has me really hooked!  If you are a lover of fantasy, this is a series you will want to grab up!

Cover art by Jasmine Ang continues the simple design that brands all three stories while giving you hints as to the storyline.  Still not a fan.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Published November 8th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

Landlocked Heart Series

The Lonely Merman (Landlocked Heart, #1)

Lyle’s Story (Landlocked Heart #2)

Dragon Rider (Landlocked Heart #3)