Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
This book is actually three books in one, all with a common theme: the curse on the Fitzwarren family, a curse made by a distraught Jonathan Curtess as he was about to be burned at the stake by Sir Belvedere Fitzwarren in the 1600’s. “I curse you and your children’s children, that you shall all live out your allotted years, and that those years shall be filled with grief and loss and betrayal, even as you have betrayed and bereaved me.”
The first book, The Psychic’s Tale is by Chris Quinton. When his grandmother’s new interest in genealogy reveals that Mark Renfrew, a psychic, is a descendent of Jonathan Curtess, she urges him to investigate the Fitzwarren family curse personally, hoping he’ll be able to bring it to an end. It seems that this curse isn’t just folklore; the Fitzwarren family has lost more than their share of family members to death over the centuries, and the family coffers have virtually run dry.
Mark not only meets one of the surviving family members, he also meets an archaeologist, Jack Faulkner, who is doing preliminary research in the area for a potential dig. Intrigued by the man, their plans are aborted when the rest of the Fitzwarren clan discovers he’s in town, and they virtually run him out of town. Intrigued, his research shows that there’s a possible cure for the curse that starts as “When the one who reads the earth joins with he who sees beyond.” It’s apparent it could be a psychic and an archaeologist, so he contacts Jack, and the two head back to talk to the Fitzwarrens to attempt to convince them to let Mark try to help them.
This begins a tale in which Mark and Jack do make some inroads toward not only a lasting relationship with each other, but also toward lifting the curse, though there are further steps and more people to be involved, but at least the Fitzwarrens are now tolerant of Mark, and he and Jack can only wait and hope that the others needed to break the curse eventually show up.
The second story is The Soldier’s Tale by RJ Scott. This story focuses on Corporal Daniel Francis, a young man injured in the line of duty when a roadside bomb his demolitions team was working to defuse exploded, killing most of the team. He not only suffers from nightmares, PTSD, and survivor’s guilt, he lives in extreme pain from a knee which was so badly injured, it was almost irreparable. He hates taking his pain meds and goes to great lengths to avoid that sickening fuzzy-headed, loss-of-control feeling they give him. He prefers to walk off the pain, an action that gets him into trouble one night when he’s walking along a road and is nearly run over by Dr. Sean Lester who was speeding along in his Audi while trying to work off his anger with his father.
Having briefly met before, this accident gives the men the opportunity to talk and for Sean to see beyond the façade Daniel puts up—enough to reach out and help him in more than a professional way. Sean helps Daniel change the meds he’s on so that he can manage his pain but not feel so helpless and drugged up. They also find themselves drawn into the Fitzwarren family curse when it’s discovered that the old knife Sean carries—a knife handed down through his family for centuries—is the knife that someone threw at Jonathan Curtess as he was being burned at the stake so he wouldn’t suffer the agony of the flames. When Sean and Daniel meet up with Mark and Jack from The Psychic’s Tale, Mark determines that this couple fulfills the second half of the prophecy: “when the warrior and the healer stand to seal a sacred bond.” Could it be that Sean and Daniel standing up for their best friend Will at his wedding to Diana Fitzwarren fulfills that requirement?
This was also a wonderful story in and of itself, but the way it entwined with the first book was seamless and added to the enjoyment of the romance and intrigue surrounding the curse. At this point, I could hardly bear to put the book down.
The last book, The Lord’s Tale, is by Sue Brown. Phil Fitzwarren, the family accountant and single gay man in the cursed family, is the most skeptical of the remaining Fitzwarrens. Both Diana and their older brother, Charles, have come to accept that what Mark has done so far to lift the curse seems to be working, but it’s far from finished and Phil is starting to resent the hope the others are carrying. He’s not going to fall for a psychic’s story like they all are. The one way he can safely work off his anger and his need for danger and adventure is by rock climbing. And of course, due to the damned curse, he can’t do it on a real mountain, so he goes to his favorite rock climbing facility where he meets a young man who supposedly has been watching him for weeks while Phil has been focused inwardly on his family’s circumstances.
Lee Curtis is far younger than Phil, only twenty-two to Phil’s twenty-eight, but he’s alpha all the way through and more or less manhandles Phil into a relationship, whether he wants one or not. And he does. He just always thought he’d be the top, but Lee is the one to inform Phil that they are together and always will be. During dinner at Lee’s family home one evening, it’s revealed that Lee’s first name is Jonathan. Phil, realizing that Lee is a descendent of Jonathan Curtess, starts to freak out until Mark and Jack, who happen to be there, see the connection to the curse and the possibility of having found the last key to breaking it. The final phrase, “when the one who seeks in danger is sworn to the landless lord” fits the couple perfectly.
I really enjoyed this segment as the author instilled a bit of humor into the relationship between these men, and it was easy to see how happy they made each other. The final chapters of putting all the pieces together and finding the final clues which lead to not only resolving the curse, but also restoring the family fortune were exciting and fast-paced.
It’s evident that these authors worked closely together to match personalities as they brought characters from one story into the next, and they worked together to create an intriguing action/adventure that didn’t slow or lag at any point. I devoured this story, and I highly recommend it to all who enjoy a multi-character MM romance with humor, intrigue, danger, and lots of loving.
Cover Art by Meredith Russell depicts three men who represent the MCs: the psychic, the soldier and the lord. I can easily imagine the MCs looking exactly like these men. I love it when cover artists create an authentic representation of the characters in a story.
Sales Links: All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here
Published October 29th 2015 by Love Lane Books Ltd (first published December 14th 2011)