In the Spotlight: The Balance (The Eternal Dungeon #3) by Dusk Peterson (excerpt and contest)



The Balance (The Eternal Dungeon #3) by Dusk Peterson
Release Date: April 11, 2016 (reissue)

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Love In Dark Settings Press
Cover Artist: Dusk Peterson


“‘The Eternal Dungeon is my home now,’ the High Seeker said. But as he spoke, he lifted his face and looked at the Vovimian carving, as a man might look at a beloved he must leave forever.”

The Seekers (torturers) in the Eternal Dungeon have always expressed contempt toward the Hidden Dungeon in the neighboring kingdom of Vovim, whose torturers abuse prisoners without restraint. But the balance between mercy and hell is not so clear as might be thought in either dungeon, and now that balance is about to tip. Only the strength of love and integrity will determine the paths of two Seekers whose fortunes are bound together.

A winner of the 2011 Rainbow Awards (within the “Eternal Dungeon” omnibus), this tale of love and adventure can be read on its own or as the third volume in The Eternal Dungeon, a speculative fiction series set in a nineteenth-century prison where the psychologists wield whips.

The Eternal Dungeon series is part of Turn-of-the-Century Toughs, a cycle of alternate history series (Young Toughs, Waterman, Life Prison, Commando, Michael’s House, The Eternal Dungeon, and Dark Light) about adults and youths on the margins of society, and the people who love them. Set in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the novels and stories take place in an alternative version of America that was settled by inhabitants of the Old World in ancient times. As a result, the New World retains certain classical and medieval customs.


Pages or Words: 90,000 words
Can be read as a standalone
Categories: Alternate Universe, Gay Fiction, Historical, Adventure, Queergender


He had awoken, on that day after, to find himself lying alone in bed.

It had all been a dreaming, then: the promise of everlasting love, the passion that had followed upon that promise, the warmth of Elsdon’s body – and more importantly, the warmth of his companionship. Layle had expected it to happen one day: his dreamings had become so real that he had begun to believe them.

The bedsprings creaked.

He reacted automatically, which meant he reacted violently. Reaching toward the only loose object at hand – the night-table next to the bed – he grasped it by its leg, wrenched it from the floor, and had begun to swing it toward the intruder before he checked himself in time.

He opened his eyes. Elsdon, fully clothed and hooded but with his face-cloth raised, sat beside him. He looked, Layle realized with amazement, more amused than fearful.

“By all that is sacred,” Elsdon said, speaking the mildest of oaths, “is this how you always greet your love-mates upon awakening?”

Layle slowly lowered the night-table, feeling the blood thunder within his body. “I’ve never had a love-mate before who slept with me.”

“I can see why, if this is how you wake from your sleep.”

Layle slowly raised himself into a sitting position. Elsdon was still smiling, he noted with growing incredulity. The Seeker-in-Training had made a joke about the fact that Layle was a killer born.

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Meet the Author

Honored in the Rainbow Awards, Dusk Peterson writes historical adventure tales that are speculative fiction: alternate history, historical fantasy, and retrofuture science fiction, including lgbtq novels and young adult fiction. Friendship, family affection, faithful service, and romance often occur in the stories. A resident of Maryland, Mx. Peterson lives with an apprentice and several thousand books.

Where to find the author:


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, A.M. Leibowitz, Wake Up Your Wild Side, Full Moon Dreaming, Bayou Book Junkie, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, My Fiction Nook, Jessie G. Books, MM Good Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter, Charley Descoteaux, MM Book Escape, Bonkers About Books, Velvet Panic, The Hat Party, Outrageous Heroes, Open Skye Book Reviews



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A BJ Review: A King’s Ransom by Lia Black


Rating:   4.25 stars out of 5

A King's Ransome cover

Kaidos Vailinn is a Wander-born thief trying hard to overcome an unfortunate past when he’s approached by a gentleman offering him a large sum of money to recover a kidnapped prostitute for return to the King of a distant kingdom. Kaidos is surprised when he undertakes the mission and discovers upon trying to bed Veyl that not only is the prostitute in question the highest paid companion in the brothel, but also very much male.

Thus begins a journey of epic fantasy proportions. A King’s Ransom is a longish book separated into two parts. Part One was awesome—I adored it. Veyl and Kaidos are sexy, quirky well-developed characters that captivated me and had me thoroughly invested almost immediately. I was absolutely riveted watching them fall in love on their journey across the kingdom to an unknown end. As their pasts are revealed in all its delicious angst, they had me enthralled. Then about midway through came part two and everything changed.

At that point, the book shifted from a tightly focused love story to a sprawling Lord of the Rings style epic set within a complex world of elves, werecreatures, mages and demons in a kingdom of political intrigue. The storyline complexity bumped up to encompassed three m/m love stories, and to facilitate that there are several new POV characters introduced. None of them were bad, in fact, all were interesting and well-drawn. But I’d become so completely invested in Veyl and Kaidos, that this shift threw me.

The entire book is well-written with compelling characters, wonderful storytelling and world-building. Part two just wasn’t the story that I personally craved after having become engrossed in part one. Having the main couple separated for nearly the whole second part of the book had me itching to hurrying through all the other fun stuff going on in order to get back to the relationship of Veyl and Kaidos again. In the end, the brief time on-page after they were reunited left me wanting just a bit more.

Veyl and Kaidos are an awesome couple. I enjoyed them so much that my only niggle with this book centers around my annoyance at having them share the spotlight with any other couples no matter how interesting and fun they were.

Cover Artist: Cinchbug. I appreciated the cover more after reading the story than before.

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

Book Details:

ebook, 432 pages
Published February 1st 2014 by Smashwords
original titleA King’s Ransom
edition languageEnglish

Down Under Day 19: Author Tony Griffin, AUS/NZ Facts of the Day!



Welcome, Toni Griffin!

It’s Day 19 of our Down Under Author Showcase and our featured writer today is Toni Griffin!  Toni lives in Darwin and write a number of supernatural romance series, including shifters!  Toni is also involved in a new publishing company along with Angel Martinez, Freddie McKay and Silvia Violet in Mischief Corner Books which put out one of my favorite holiday anthologies in 2014, Chestnuts Roasting, including a story from Toni Griffin!

Visit Toni Griffin’s page which  follows shortly, learn about Toni, her books and writing and don’t forget to enter her giveaway contest and find the Down Under Scavenger Hunt word of the Day.

Australia Fact of the Day!

Today’s Down Under Australia  fact will be about Darwin, Toni’s home town!Darwin map

Darwin is the capital of Northern Territory is a multicultural city famous for its huge thunderstorms, beautiful sunsets,mindell beach marketsDarwin_2324 colourful Mindil Beach Markets and excellent barramundi fishing. Places to see include the Northern Territory Parliament House, Fannie Bay Gaol Museum, Darwin Entertainment Centre and Botanic Gardens. Outside are Charles Darwin National Park, Crocodylus Park, Territory Wildlife Park and Berry Springs Nature Park.

Who was Darwin named after?  Charles Darwin, the man came up with the concept of natural selection and evolution.  darwin

Find out more about Darwin here!




New Zealand Fact of the Day!

Since I chose a city for Australia, let’s take a closer look at New Zealand’s Christchurch.

Christchurch is New Zealand‘s second-largest city (question: can you name the first?) and the gateway to the South Island. christchurch cathedral new-zealand_zpse7b0c64dSumner Bay, Christchurch NZBordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains that stretch to the Southern Alps. Christchurch, New Zealand is interwoven by two rivers linking parks, gardens and avenues. Bordered by the Port Hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the Canterbury Plains with the Southern Alps as a majestic backdrop. The award-winning Christchurch Botanic Gardens feature one of the finest collections of exotic and native plants found in New Zealand,

In February 2011, Christchurch was hit by a huge earthquake. Much of the central city with its classic neo-gothic architecture was destroyed.  This event was a major element in a book from one of our Down Under Authors.  Do you know which one? It’s still in the process of rebuilding, but the heart and soul of New Zealand remains the great people who live there. tram1

An Aurora YA Review: Tales From High Hallack Volume Three by Andre Norton


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Tales From High Hallack 3In the third and final volume of High Hallack, tales of high fantasy, science fiction, and coming of age reach back as far as 1943, yet are still as fresh and relevant today as when they were written. High Hallack was a place in Andre Norton’s fiction and was also the name of the genre writer’s library she opened in Tennessee. It is a wondrous keep that she called home, and now High Hallack opens its gates and allows these amazing stories to unfold.


This book is a compilation of short stories, all taking place within the same world, but not necessarily interconnected. It focuses largely on high fantasy elements.

I really had a great time reading this book, and it’s definitely one that I would have picked up even if I had just seen it on a shelf somewhere. Some of the stories had be so on edge that I read through them again simply to get the thrill of it. I think that the author really captures making very real characters in very ridiculous circumstances, which is always something that I love to see in my fantasies. Short stories can often fall short in making you really care about the characters in such a short amount of time, but that is really not a problem with this book. I found myself, with many of the stories, even wishing that they could have gone on longer!

The book only lost a star because, while I absolutely loved a lot of the stories in the book, some of them weren’t quite suited to my fancy, which is a matter entirely of personal opinion and every story was very well written, my interest levels just varied throughout the book.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase. The cover art is simple, but pretty and well suited to the book. I think the dark color scheme definitely makes it appealing, while the bright color of the fire draws the readers eyes to the bottom of the page where the artist wants them to look.

A MelanieM Note:  I first discovered Andre Norton when I was about Aurora’s age and have loved her writings ever since.  I was curious when I saw this new collection of her stories just published.  Would this generation of YA readers find her as relevant and exciting as I found her all those years (decades if I am honest) ago?  Happily, it turns out the answer is yes,  Andre Norton and her stories are timeless.  Pick them up and discover that for yourself!

Sales Links:      Open Road Media    amazon             Buy It  Here

Book Details:

ebook, 300 pages, also in paperback
Published October 14th 2014 by Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (first published January 1st 2014)
ISBN 1497660378 (ISBN13: 9781497660373)
seriesTales from High Hallack #3

Tales from High Hallack Collections by Andre Norton:

Tales From High Hallack, Volume 1: The Collected Short Stories of Andre Norton, Volume 1
Tales from High Hallack, Volume 2: the collected short stories of Andre Norton
Tales from High Hallack, Volume Three: The Collected Short Stories of Andre Norton

An Aurora YA Review: Children of the Knight (Children of the Knight #1) by Michael J. Bowler


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title

Children of the Knight coverAccording to legend, King Arthur is supposed to return when Britain needs him most. So why does a man claiming to be the once and future king suddenly appear in Los Angeles?

This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade of unwanted kids against an adult society that discards and ignores them. Under his banner of equality, every needy child is welcome, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gang affiliation.

With the help of his amazing First Knight, homeless fourteen-year-old Lance, Arthur transforms this ragtag band of rejected children and teens into a well-trained army—the Children of the Knight. Through his intervention, they win the hearts and minds of the populace at large, and gain a truer understanding of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and the children squarely against the rich, the influential, and the self-satisfied politicians who want nothing more than to maintain the status quo.

Can right truly overcome might? Arthur’s hopeful young knights are about to find out, and the City of Angels will never be the same.


Arthur, a boy apparently the reborn King Arthur, of legend, is in Los Angeles, California, with a Camelot of his very own, fighting the oppressive nature of the city with an admirable message of equality and acceptance.

I think this book had a really original idea behind it, which was something that I immediately loved, with so many books marketed toward young adults seeming like a copy of The Hunger Games or Twilight or Harry Potter. This book definitely didn’t seem like that, and the author took the idea that had a lot of potential, and transformed it into a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was interesting to see an attitude toward the adult world from someone who hadn’t quite reached adulthood yet, and seeing a young person fighting for something they really believed in, in an inclusive way. The book sends a great message without being overt about it, or pushing the theme to the point where it distracts from the actual story.

The characters were great, as well, and, again, the original idea behind the story fueled my interest at the beginning, but before long, I really cared about the characters and wanted to know how their journeys were going to play out. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it very highly.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante. I’ve said this before, and it is absolutely my own personal bias, but I simply don’t enjoy photo-edited covers as much as drawn covers except in very rare cases. That being said, this cover is well put together, and it is suited to the book, it simply isn’t my cup of tea.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press     All Romance (ARe)      amazon             buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 344 pages
Published June 20th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 19th 2013)
original titleChildren of the Knight
ISBN 1623806569 (ISBN13: 9781623806569)
edition languageEnglish

Series the Knight Cycle:

Children of the Knight #1, The Knight Cycle #1

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Vixen’s Valor by Charlie Cochet


Rating: 4 stars out of 5:

Vixen's Valour coverSexy, and shall we say slutty, Vixen, one of Santa’s trusted Rein Dear squad has been jealous of his team leader, Rudy, for years. Though Rudy is his friend, Vixen’s now even more envious of Rudy since Rudy captivated the heart of Prince Jack Frost (The Heart of Frost). Always wanting to be the center of attention, Vixen uses his body to entice as many members of the Toy Soldier Army into his bed as possible.

His dreams of one day becoming a prince are unrealistic, but he can’t help himself, and even when presented with an opportunity to date Lieutenant Vale Frost, cousin to the prince, he treats the date casually. Until he starts to notice that he’s interested in more than Vale’s body, and Vale is interested in more of him than a quick and easy tumble in the snow.

Then, just as their relationship begins to mean more to each of them, Vixen betrays Vale’s trust and winning it back nearly costs him his life. Will he succeed? What will happen with his friendship with Rudy? And what awaits Vixen and Vale in the future? You’ll have to pick this up to find out.

This is such a fun series! Charlie Cochet has put together a sweet holiday saga laced with visions of sugar plum fairies, toy soldiers, Santa’s elves, and the highly esteemed Rein Dear squad. Her subtle sense of North Pole humor is woven throughout each of the books in the series, and this one is no exception. Don’t hesitate to pick it up.

Cover Art by Paul Richmond depicts a sexy Vixen trying to entice a more straight-laced and official-looking Lieutenant Vale Frost into playing some Rein Dear games. Great cover for this story.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press         All Romance (ARe)          amazon                  buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 81 pages
Published December 3rd 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
edition languageEnglish

Series: North Pole City Tales:

  • Mending Noel (North Pole City Tales #1)
  • The Heart of Frost (North Pole City Tales #2)
  • Vixen’s Valor (North Pole City Tales #3)


An Aurora YA Review: Of Dreams of Fire and Gods – Gods by James Erich –


Rating: I give this book 5 out of 5 stars:

A Harmony Ink YA Novel


Dreams of Fire and Gods: Book Three

GodsLong ago, two factions of gods, the Stronni and the Taaweh, nearly destroyed the Kingdom of Dasak in a great war. The Taaweh vanished when their queen was imprisoned, and the Stronni declared victory. A thousand years later, a young nobleman named Sael and his lover Koreh have rescued the Taaweh queen. In the process Koreh was killed, and now an injured Sael struggles to heal from both injuries and grief. Unknown to him, Koreh embarks on a journey across the land of the dead, trying to make his way back to Sael—and to life. But time moves differently in the underworld, and decades pass while Koreh travels.

In the living world, tensions between the emperor and Sael’s father, Vek Worlen, who is regent of the eastern kingdom, have soured beyond repair. Worlen conspires with the assassin Donegh to break into the imperial palace and challenge the emperor to a duel to the death. But the goddess Imen has chosen a young priest named Gonim as her champion. Through him she discovers the Taaweh have returned, and her enraged king threatens to destroy Dasak and all its human inhabitants. Sael must save his world, must confront the gods and persuade them not to destroy humankind. But it seems hopeless. If only Koreh were at his side…

First, I would like to say that I loved this book! Often times, epic books aren’t exactly my cup of tea, and I tend to prefer shorter, more modern-fantasy type stories, but I had an amazing time reading this book, regardless. The only difference between this book and any of my favorite books was that it took me a little while longer to read, but once I’d finished it, and as I was reading it, it was a great experience.

There was great depiction of bigger things while still keeping the characters and problems ‘real’, which is what I loved so much about it and what kept me interested. The author also did a great job of keeping things from getting too confusing while still being on a big scale. I know that this book is one of a series and I haven’t read the others so there are probably some things that I didn’t necessarily appreciate that I could have, but even only reading this book out of them all, I didn’t find myself ever scratching my head and being drawn out of the story.

I would definitely read this again, and I plan to read the rest of the series, and I would recommend it even to people like me who usually reach for shorter books, because it is worth it.

Cover Artist: James Erich. I think this cover is beautiful, and it’s one of the few times I would actually probably favor a photo-edited cover over the exact same premise, but drawn, because it just seems more realistic, and is able to have more details. Because it’s simple, I think it works really well.

Sales Links:   Harmony Ink Press eBook & Paperback         All Romance (ARe)        amazon            buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published October 17th 2013 by Harmony Ink Press (first published October 16th 2013)
ISBN 1627983783 (ISBN13: 9781627983785)
edition languageEnglish
seriesDreams of Fire and Gods #3

Books in the series include:

Dreams (Dreams of Fire and Gods, #1)
Fire (Dreams of Fire and Gods, #2)
Gods (Dreams of Fire and Gods, #3)

A Sammy Review: The Holiday Hoax by Skylar M. Cates


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Life should come with signs like an amusement park ride, warning you of all the possible side effects.


The Holiday Hoax coverEvan Goodman is like any college freshman. He’s just trying to find his way in the world, find a place for himself. Of course, he knows that the world is truly a stage, and theater is his one true love. It’s on stage that he meets Tyler, another performer. Evan does a cliff dive into the relationship, but when he looks back, Tyler hasn’t even stood within a foot of the edge.

So when Christmas comes and Evan’s supposed to come with a handsome, cultured boyfriend… he’s, well, screwed.

But after seeing JD, a fellow student, being rejected by his brother, he gets a not-so-bright idea. His family doesn’t know what Tyler looks like, and JD needs a place to go, so why not?

Holidays come with a spark of magic though, and maybe Evan and JD might have some magic of their own.

Sometimes it was easier to face the world when I couldn’t see every harsh shape, every flaw. The world could be kinder if everyone was a bit myopic.

I’m not exactly a holiday story fan. I like stories that really tell more than just a few days, I want stories that breathe life. I gave this a shot, however, because the cover, by Paul Richmond, is just plain adorable and totally drew me in (and is a total match for the heart of the story, which I appreciate), and because I’ve liked some of Cates other work.

Unfortunately, the magic wasn’t there for me. This was a perfectly fine story with some cute elements and others that were surprisingly deep, but it fell flat in ways that short stories often do. I felt like something was left missing and things wrapped up way too neatly for my tastes.

So to be clear, there was nothing wrong with this at all, it just wasn’t really a story that suited me. If you’re into cute and fun holiday stories that are short and sweet, then you will probably adore this. If you want some more depth, maybe not so much. Overall the story was nice, but it didn’t leave me with a big impression.

Cover art by Paul Richmond.  Just plain adorable.

Sales Links:    Dreamspinner eBook          All Romance (ARe)         amazon          buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 83 pages
Expected publication: December 12th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press

A MelanieM Review: The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate by Kay Berrisford


Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The merman and the Pirate coverRaef’s mother brought him up on tales of true love and humans when he was young.  Now grown, Raef, a lonely merman, spends his days watching the dashing Lord Haverford from afar and dreaming of romance.  The current chief of their tribe forbids any contact with humans but Raef refuses to give up his romantic dreams and spends his time watching for his prince. When Haverford is robbed by a pirate, Raef vows to reclaim the stolen goods, hoping his victory will buy him the happiness he yearns for with Haverford.

Jon Kemp is not your ordinary pirate, something Raef finds out when he steals aboard Jon’s ship in an attempt to recover Haverford’s stolen goods. But what happens next is surprising to all and leads the young merman on an epic quest to right wrongs and find true love…for merman and pirate, whether they want it or not.

Truly, this is a tale that should start off “Once upon a time, there was a lonely merman who longed for love” because this story, The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate by Kay Berrisford has all the hallmarks and qualities of the classic fairy tale.  Stories of mer folk, especially gorgeous mermen abound these days and each offers its own take on the mer folk lore and myth.

Rafe in The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate harks back to the littlest mermaid, that timeless story whether it be Hans Christian Andersen’ original fairy tale or Disney’s version.  Here as the story opens we find the young Rafe listening to tales of love from his lovelorn mother.  They enchant him and fill the babe with visions of a forever love and humans, dreams that increase their hold on him the older he becomes.  Those bedtime stories gain increasing value when his mother dies, leaving Rafe is alone in a tribe turned restrictive and cold by a new chief with his own pain and agenda.

I loved that Berrisford captured the spell woven by Rafe’s mother at that young age and the loneliness felt by the older Raef who is unable to let go his romantic yearnings.  This fits so beautifully into the fairy tale trope, from the lyrical quality of the narrative to the “casual adult cruelty” that drives Rafe to break the rules and strike out for love.

You have the beautiful prince observed from afar, someone surely worthy of love or so Rafe thinks with only his stories to go by.  Pirates or Kluggites as they are called by the mer folk are horrible things, to be avoided at all costs.  So when one appears to have stolen something from the beauteous prince, Rafe thinks he must not only get it back but feels he has an avenue made to approach his prince and find true love.  Rafe’s naivete is both charming and typical of the fairy tale hero, who are usually sort of clueless about the realities of the world around them.  Again, Kay Berrisford is sticking to the rules of the classic tales, albeit with a LGBTQ twist or two or four.

The romance is light, fun and frothy.  The adventure they set out on is fraught with peril,  an adorable merman as well as virtuous maidens who need saving (including one that is more than capable of saving herself), cannons firing on the high seas, and more scary rescues and escapes to satisfy those readers who require that in their tales of pirates and love.  I had such fun reading this story.  It was enjoyable quick read and wonderful entertainment.

The only issue that brought it down for me was one that could have been left out all together.  In a fairy tale, I don’t need any mer folk natural history lessons or rational for species.  In fairy tales, they just are.  However, Berresford felt the need to include her take on why they can shift into human form and then back again.  It involves procreation and, quite frankly, makes no sense what so ever.  Look at all the mammals living in the seas.  They certainly don’t need legs to further their species, they do just fine as they are with the appendages they have.  That much detail just doesn’t work in something so lighthearted. Yet, Berrisford returns to this again and again.  And the more she does so, the more illogical her “mer folk biology” created for this story appears.  At certain points in the story, I spent more time mentally poking holes in her world building than I did focused on the story.  Not something an author wants to hear.

But, that aside (and buried deep under the conch shells where it belongs), this is a lovely, lighthearted fantasy escape.  Rafe is a joy and Jon, a charmer who steals the heart of a young merman and readers alike.  The secondary females characters are strong, layered people with surprises of their own for the readers.  I loved them too.

If you are in the mood for a lovely, frothy, fairy tale romance, then Kay Berresford’s The Merman and the Barbarian Pirate is just the story for you.

 Cover Artist Julie Wright.  What a gorgeous cover.  It drew me in with its lush design and wonderful characters. Loved it.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press      All Romance (ARe)      amazon      buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 214 pages
Published July 30th 2014 by Less Than Three Press (first published July 29th 2014)
original titleThe Merman and the Barbarian Pirate
edition languageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Darach’s Cariad (The Fire Trilogy #2) by R.J. Scott


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Darach's Cariad coverWhere once there were three who were as close as brothers, now there is only one who remains in the land.  Darach Gravenor is a keeper of blue Fire. He is alone in his world because one of them, Eoin, died consumed by his amber fire.  Kian, the second of them has fled to Earth, forever out of reach. All Darach can think of is to follow Kian to the Other World now that Darach is older and able to rescue his friend.  But to accomplish this impossible mission, Darach needs help and from the one people he has always been told were horrors unto themselves and banned from his city.  But Darach knows that a Cariad has crept into their city and been captured.  Now all he has to do is rescue the Cariad and get him to help Darach travel to the Other World.

Ceithin Morgan’s brother Trystan was a wielder of the amber fire, and that was reason alone for someone to kidnap and kill  his beloved brother.  Ceithin seeks answers and revenge upon those who killed Trystan,  answers he believes he can find within the forbidden city.  Ceithin is a member of the Cariad, a nomadic tribe still connected to the old magic.  Captured and tortured for his  power, the last thing he expects is to be rescued by Darach.

Both men are on a mission to find theirs to their lost brothers.  Unexpectedly, their journey and missions find themselves bound them to each other in a way neither could have predicted.  Then they come upon some shocking information, and the search that will bring them both to the Other World and Kian.  Soon it’s not just one world but two worlds that need saving….

Darach’s Cariad is the second story in The Fire Trilogy by RJ Scott.  Scott continues to build her universe and complicated mythology needed for her Fire lore and trilogy structure.  There are three fire powers. Green fire which has the qualities of nature, nuture, and protection.  Blue Fire which gives its user the power over water, and finally Gold or Amber Fire, the rarest, most powerful of them all.  Amber fire is used to rule.  But those born with amber fire are few and they have a tendency to disappear shortly after coming into their powers, a mystery that acts as another primary plot thread throughout all the stories.

I loved the world building here.  We start back on Earth (the Other World) with Regan and Kian from the first story in the trilogy, Kian’s Hunter.  Immediately we know that things and Kian’s health have gotten worse.  For those readers not familiar with the first story, this chapter provides enough information on their story and a tantalizing glimpse into the relationship between Regan and Kian.  From there we are transported back to the City, the ruling Council, and the dungeons with its one despairing occupant.  I loved all the various storylines, layered one on top of the other, and soon, to flow into one central plot that will pull all three books together, along with their characters.

Scott skillfully builds her larger trilogy leitmotif, first in small clues and facts scattered throughout the first part of the story, then gathering momentum as the characters themselves start to pool all their knowledge to arrive at a horrific and shocking revelation.  It helps immensely that we are drawn to the complex characters as much as the characters are mesmerized by each other.  Darach is a wonderful combination of youthful confidence and need.  We get his measure and strength immediately and love him for it.  Ceithin Morgan on the other hand is full of arrogance and pain, a member of the Cariad, a gypsy like clan that are the keepers of the old magic and gateway to the Other World.  The Cariad are as fascinating a tribe as all the other engrossing elements that Scott has created here.  The fire of attraction that ignites between them is hot and sexy and layered over with uncertainty.

There is so much information as to the world building and lore that it can sometimes confuse a reader unfamiliar with Kian’s Hunter, but never once will a little confusion make you want to put this story down.  No, instead, once you have reached the end of this story, the only frustration will be at not having the final story to delve into.  This trilogy is addicting and with the resolution just out of reach by the end of Darach’s Cariad, the reader will be left grasping at the clues and revelations that point to a rich, explosive final story.  Don’t be surprised to find yourself heading back to the first story, Kian’s Hunter and begin the journey all over again while you wait for the final book to arrive.

If you are a lover of fantasy and romance, if the idea of different worlds or realms connected to each other by magical portals grab your imagination, this is the series for you.  You can read Darach’s Cariad out of order but the trilogy is far richer if read in the order they were written.  This is definitely a fantasy must read for all.

Cover artist: Meredith Russell.  The fantasy element is minimal, with just a trace of fire at his hands.  I could wish for a little more of the fantastical worlds that Scott has built for us.

Sales Links:  Love Lane Books    All Romance (ARe)       amazon                 buy it here

Book Details:

ebook, 133 pages
Published November 7th 2014 by Love Lane Books (first published January 1st 2011)
edition languageEnglish
seriesThe Fire Trilogy #2

Books in The Fire Trilogy in the order they were written and should be read:

Kian’s Hunter (Fire, #1)
Darach (The Fire Trilogy #2)
Eoin (The Fire Trilogy #3)


The stories were previously published at Silver Publishing, but have been revised prior to their re release.