A Free Dreamer Review: This Is Not a Love Story (Love Story Universe) by Suki Fleet


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

When fifteen-year-old Romeo’s mother leaves one day and doesn’t return, he finds himself homeless and trying to survive on the streets. Mute and terrified, his silence makes him vulnerable, and one night he is beaten by a gang of other kids, only to be rescued by a boy who pledges to take care of him.

Julian is barely two years older than Romeo. A runaway from an abusive home, he has had to make some difficult choices and sells himself on the street to survive. Taking care of Romeo changes him, gives him a purpose in life, gives him hope, and he tries to be strong and keep his troubles with drugs behind him. But living as they do is slowly destroying him, and he begins to doubt he can be strong enough.

This is the story of their struggle to find a way off the streets and stay together at all costs. But when events threaten to tear them apart, it is Romeo who must find the strength within himself to help Julian (and not let their love story turn into a Shakespearean tragedy).

I’ve been a huge fan of Suki Fleet for years now, ever since I first stumbled across one of her stories online. I’ve loved all of the books I’ve read by her so far and “This is Not a Love Story” is no exception.

This book is simply and utterly brilliant. It’s incredibly bittersweet and had me hooked from the beginning. The story of Romeo and Julian is so very sad and yet so very beautiful. Their love for each other is obvious, no matter what they’re faced with. I loved both of them and their story tore me apart. And yet it also made me smile, because their love was always shining brightly, there was always a bit of hope, no matter how hopeless the situation might seem.

Romeo and Julian are faced with a lot of hardships that come with living on the streets, making this book anything but a light read. If you’re easily triggered by these things, you might want to pass on this book. It’s never overly graphic, but it’s still obviously there, the consequences not glossed over or ignored. Because of the whole theme of the book and the somewhat explicit sex scenes, I’d call this a New Adult story. Probably not suitable for most readers under 15 or 16.

It was really interesting to see how Romeo and Julian changed and developed throughout the book, how Romeo becomes more confident with his disability. Romeo being mute was definitely an important part of the story, but it’s not what the story was ABOUT. It was simply yet another obstacle to stop the both of them from leading a “normal” life.

The ending was really well done. It’s happy but not overly cheesy or unrealistic. It was very fitting.

Long story short: “This is Not a Love Story” is utterly brilliant, the kind of book that leaves a lasting impression. And I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on the second part of this universe.

Cover:The cover is simple but absolutely fitting. The bleak skyline of London with the title in bright, hopeful colours is a perfect representation of the book’s tone. Well done!

Buy Links: Harmony Ink | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book details:

ebook, 270 pages
Published May 22nd 2014 by Harmony Ink (first published March 22nd 2014)
Original TitleThis Is Not a Love Story
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLove Story Universe
CharactersRomeo Danilov, Julian Lavelle

A Free Dreamer Review: The Circus of the Damned (Deal with a Devil) by Cornelia Grey


Rating: 4 stars out of 5

TheCircusoftheDamned_500x750Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.

But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.

Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.

First of all, I had very high expectations of this book, since I absolutely loved   “Devil at the Crossroads by Cornelia Grey. Unfortunately, this book didn’t quite manage to live up to my expectations.

But let’s talk about the things I liked first. Once again, Cornelia Grey gave the trope of the “deal with the devil” an interesting and unique twist. The descriptions of the circus were full of loving details that made the whole setting come alive. I could practically breathe the circus air and see myself talking to all those unusual and strange circus performers.

I could easily relate to the protagonists and found myself head over heels for Gilbert within a few words. Gilbert is a real man – he drinks, he gambles (and cheats), he’s got a foul mouth and doesn’t mind the occasional brawl and he’s absolutely unapologetic about it. He openly admits that his pet mouse is probably a lot more intelligent than him and saved his ass on more than one occasion. I loved how Miss Grey gave even Gilbert’s mouse her own distinct characteristics.

The plot was fascinating from the very beginning. There’s tons of actions and the love story between Gilbert and Jesse develops as more of a side product, which is a huge bonus for me because I love stories with lots of plot and little romance. Once the sex did happen, it wasn’t simply hot. It was sensual and very erotic, even if the action itself was mostly vanilla. The UST up to that point alone had me drooling. Miss Grey definitely knows how to write sex! I loved that there were no sappy declarations of love. Gilbert is a man of action, so he acted and didn’t talk.

Unfortunately, the minor characters didn’t get quite as much love as the protagonists did. Sure, there are lots of weird and unique people, but overall I would have loved to find out more about them. A few more conversations between Gilbert and the other circus performers would have been nice.

The world building was a little disappointing as well. There were some very interesting concepts there, but the bigger picture kind of fell flat. I couldn’t tell if this was a completely different world or if it was a kind of historical AU. That was a real shame.

To sum it up, “The Circus of the Damned” was a very enjoyable read. I’m hoping for a sequel so we get to find out more about the world and the side characters.

Cover  by Kanaxa is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’d love to have this book as a paperback, simply because it would look so amazing in my real bookshelf. It’s definitely the best of the series.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 347 pages
Published November 3rd 2014 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleCircus of the Damned (A Deal with a Devil Story)
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review: Devil at the Crossroads (Deal with a Devil) by Cornelia Grey


Rating: 5 stars out of 5            ★★★★★

Devil at the CrossroadsThe devil covets more than his soul …

Six years ago, Logan Hart sold his soul to the devil to become the greatest bluesman of all time—and now the devil has come to collect.

The irony is that Logan squandered his gift. High on fame, money, and drugs, he ignored his muse and neglected his music. And despite managing to escape showbiz in a moment of clarity, it’s too late to redeem himself. All that’s left is to try to go out with some dignity. Alas, the prospect of an eternity in Hell isn’t helping much with that goal.

But Farfarello, the devil who bought Logan’s soul, isn’t ready to drag him down to Hell quite yet. He’s just spent six years working his ass off to whip a bluesman into shape, and he refuses to let that—or the opportunity for more sinful pleasures with Logan—go to waste.

A blues guitarist selling his soul to the devil. Well, been there, done that, right? That’s what I thought when I first read the summary. But “Devil at the Corssroads” is a really interesting take on that trope.

The sex scenes were sizzling hot and made me drool. But even before they got at it, there was this sexual tension that made the butterflies in my belly go crazy. Cornelia Grey definitely knows how to write sensual and erotic characters. “Devil at the Crossroads” pretty much oozes sexiness and passion from the beginning right through the end.

But what made me give this novella five stars wasn’t the hottest sex I’ve read in ages. There’s more to this than simple pornography. I often find novellas lacking something. Usually I feel like it’s incomplete or the plot is not detailed enough or a million other little things that I missed. But “Devil at the Crossroads” is different.

The characters were very well developed and unique. Farfarello really isn’t what you think of when you hear the word “devil”. I loved the way Miss Grey described his looks. Definitely a unique character.

I really liked Logan as well. The shame he felt at ruining his chance at fame was very compelling. I felt really bad for him.

The balance between plot and porn was perfect. The storytelling is utterly compelling. I felt like I was right there with the characters, living their experiences through them. It all felt very realistic. Even though we only got to see short snapshots from those six years, I felt like I knew everything there was to know. And I most definitely liked the ending.

I also loved the references to other famous blues musicians. Talking about Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the like made me really enjoy the whole setting. I’ve always had a thing for blues, and when Logan mentioned a song title, I immediately felt the urge to look it up. Thanks to this book and a dear online reading buddy, I’ve also discovered my favourite singer: some of Hozier’s songs fit the mood perfectly.

To sum it up, “Devil at the Crossroads” is an incredibly hot novella with unique characters and a very realistic setting. A must read!

The cover by Jared Rackler is absolutely gorgeous. It’s so simple and yet it fits the mood perfectly.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 75 pages
Published September 23rd 2013 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 21st 2013)
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesDeal with a Devil

Note: While this is technically part one of the “Deal with a Devil” universe, each story can be read as a stand-alone.

A Free Dreamer Review: Traitor’s Moon (Nightrunner #3) by Lynn Flewelling


Rating: 5 stars out of 5     ★★★★★

Traitor's MoonSeregil and Alec have spent the last two years in self-imposed exile, far from their adopted homeland, Skala, and the bitter memories there. But their time of peace is shattered by a desperate summons from Queen Idrilain, asking them to aid her daughter on a mission to Aurenen, the very land from which Seregil was exiled in his youth.

Just like the rest of the series, “Traitor’s Moon” was absolutely amazing.

We start about two years after the end of part two. Seregil and Alec are now officially talimenos, an Aurenfaie term that means something like “lovers”. They’ve spent these past two years wandering the country, while Skala was fighting a brutal war against the Plenimar and its necromancers. Alec and Seregil are needed for a diplomatic mission to Aurenen.

I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but there’s even more in-depth world building happening in this book. I loved all the details and customs we learned about Aurenen. It’s such an intriguing place.

And there are dragons! Oh my god, there are cute little baby dragons! They’r called Fingerlings, because they’re about the size of a finger. I love dragons and I love this concept of dragons. They aren’t born as sentient beings. It takes a long time for them to become sentient animals, capable of speech and thought. They can get absolutely huge. But the huge ones aren’t the ones you need to fear. It’s the middle sized ones. The teenies, not yet self-aware, but very strong and poisonous. I really, really hope we’ll get to read more about those dragons in the future. They’re awesome.

Even though Alec and Seregil are now a couple, the romance is kept way low-key. In fact, when they don’t refer to each other as “tali” (“beloved” or something like that – can be used between friends and family as well), they still call each other “friend”. There’s absolutely no on-page sex. It’s mostly just holding hands and the rest is implied. Personally, I absolutely love the very low-key romance and it’s one of the things that keeps me hooked on the entire series. Lynn Flewelling doesn’t need to make her romance explicit for me to feel the love between Seregil and Alec. It’s obvious how much they love each other and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Once again, there’s lots of intrigue going on. There are secrets to uncover, murderers to find, allies to win, and past secrets that keep surfacing at the most inconvenient moments. We finally learn more of Seregil’s past and why he was exiled. I loved the sheer amount of politics in this book. I felt like I was really getting into the heart of the scheming. It was intriguing.

It’s hard to believe, but I think “Traitor’s Moon” might be even better than the first two parts. I’m starting to feel as if this series just keeps getting better and better with every book. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book. I might even read “Glimpses”, a collection of short stories set in the Nightrunner universe, even though I’m usually not very fond of short stories.

Cover: Once again, I really like the 90s charm of this cover. It fits perfectly with the other covers.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Series: Part 3 of the Nightrunner series

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 561 pages
Published December 23rd 2009 by Spectra (first published July 6th 1999)
Original TitleTraitor’s Moon
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesNightrunner #3
CharactersAlec í Amasa of Kerry, Seregil í Korit Solun Meringil Bôkthersa
Literary AwardsGaylactic Spectrum Award Nominee for Best Novel (2000

Series: Nightrunner (books 1,2 and 3 are linked to Free Dreamer’s reviews)

A Free Dreamer Review: Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner #2) by Lynn Flewelling


Rating: 5 stars out of 5              ★★★★★

Stalking DarknessWith the Leran threat laid to rest, Alec and Seregil are now able to turn their attention to the ancient evil which threatens their land. The Plenimarans, at war with Skalans, have decided to defeat their ancient enemy by raising up the Dead God, Seriamaius. The early attempts at this reincarnation—masterminded by the sinister Duke Mardus and his sorcerous minion Vargul Ashnazai—once left Seregil in a sorcerous coma. Now, an ancient prophecy points to his continuing role in the quest to stop Mardus in his dread purpose.

Seregil’s friend and Mentor, the wizard Nysander, has long been the guardian of a deadly secret. In a secret, silver-lined room hidden well beneath the Oreska, he has served for most of his 300 years as the keeper of a nondescript clay cup. But this cup, combined with a crystal crown and some wooden disks, forms the Helm of Seriamaius, and any mortal donning the reconstructed Helm will become the incarnation of the god on earth.

Nysander holds the cup and Mardus the wooden disks—one of which was responsible for Seregil’s coma—but the crown must still be located. Threatened under pain of death by Nysander to keep his quest a secret even from his loyal companion, Alec, Seregil is dispatched to find the last missing piece of the Helm so that he and Nysander can destroy it. But this is only the beginning of one of his deadliest journeys ever, for the prophecy also holds that four will come together in a time of darkness, and gradually all that Seregil values is placed at risk as he, Alec, Nysander and Micum are drawn into a deadly web of terror and intrigue.

After absolutely loving part one of this series, I of course had high expectations for this book, too. And I can honestly say that I was not disappointed. This might even have been a tad better than part one.

I read part one a while ago, so I did have some trouble with all the names in the beginning. It’s probably best to not take too big breaks between the individual parts. This way you won’t have so much trouble remembering names and events of the previous book(s).

At times, this did get actually rather gory. It fit the plot and it wasn’t overdone, but if that’s not your thing, be careful.

I continued to fall in love with Alec and Seregil. They really grew and changed throughout this book, especially Alec. His life has changed so much in such a short time and it really affected his development.

All main characters really grew on me and my heart went out to them whenever they were faced with difficulties. It was easy to relate to their feelings and they felt very realistic to me.

I loved that the author introduced a new main character with Micum’s daughter Beka. Her pov was really interesting.

The plot was absolutely amazing. So very addictive. I often found myself reading till the early morning hours, because I just couldn’t stop. There was so much going on, but it never got confusing. The ending just about broke my heart. It was so completely unexpected, I could only gape in horror for a few minutes.

There’s a bit more romance here than in part one, but only in the second half and still very low-key. But the little bit that was there was absolutely wonderful.

Once again, the world building was very impressive. Lots of descriptions about religious and cultural rites made it very easy to really feel at home in the world the author created.

Overall, I just absolutely loved “Stalking Darkness” and I’m delighted I already own part three. I absolutely can’t wait to find out what adventures Alec and Seregil will face next.

This is a series for all those fantasy lovers out there, who are craving awesome world building with a hint of gay romance.

The cover by Gary Ruddell shows a scene toward the end of the book. Just like the first cover, it definitely fits the story. Well done.

Buy the Book Here:  Amazon Paperback |  Kindle

Book details:

Paperback, 501 pages, first published 1997 by Bantam Spectra

Kindle Edition, Reissue, 513 pages
Published November 17th 2010 by Spectra (first published February 3rd 1997)
Original TitleStalking Darkness
Edition Language English

Series: Part 2 of the Nightrunner series