A Free Dreamer Review: Incubus Honeymoon (Arcana Imperii #1) by August Li

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

As the so-called magical creatures go, I’m low on the hierarchy, and my powers aren’t much good to human mages. I’m a lover, not a fighter, through and through. I’m also selfish, lazy, and easily bored. But I’m damned good at what I do.

Too bad that won’t get my arse out of this sling.

Do one—granted, uncharacteristic—good deed, and now I’m held hostage to an arrogant faerie prince, trying to track down the one who summoned him while dodging gangbangers, gun runners, and Nazis. Add the powerful mage guilds scrambling to gather firepower for some doomsday event they’re sure is around the corner, and my cushy life of leisure might be nothing but a memory. On top of that, something’s compelling me to change on my most fundamental level. I’m not sure what I’ve got myself mixed up in, but nothing will ever be the same.

Bloody hell.

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Featuring a new twist on urban fantasy combined with fast-paced action and intrigue, the Arcana Imperii series books are standalone adventures, each completely accessible to new readers.

I probably wouldn’t have picked up “Incubus Honeymoon” if it hadn’t been published by DSP. The title kind of leads you to expect lots of sex and not much of a plot. But since this is a DSP title, I knew there would be mostly plot and little to no romance in it. And that’s exactly what I got. This is, first and foremost, a fantasy novel that also has some elements of romance and sex in it.

The blurb promises “a new twist on urban fantasy”. That’s almost an understatement, if you ask me. While the elements the story is made up of aren’t exactly new, the combination of said elements was what made this book truly unique.

We have three very different protagonists in this story. Blossom is your typical Fey of the old stories: a ruthless bastards who only ever does what suits him best. Then there’s Dante, a normal human who knows nothing about magic but who’d do everything to keep his little sister safe and happy. And finally we have Inky, an incubus and the only one of the trio who has something resembling a human conscience. I don’t think I actually liked either Blossom or Dante, but that was fine. I definitely understood Dante’s motivations and Blossom is Fey and Fey are always jerks.

The plot itself is truly breathtaking. There’s so much action and drama and so many hidden layers, it was really hard to put the book down. This is an urban fantasy setting and the author does a brilliant job of combining the fantasy elements with current events. Climate change, Trump, terrorism and nationalism were cleverly interwoven with the magic of the story. That’s one of the things that really stood out to me and me absolutely love this book.

As I’ve mentioned above, there really isn’t much of a romance to be found. There’s an established couple that becomes quite important but their love is not a main focus at any time. There are a few semi-explicit sex scenes and a few more off-screen, which makes sense, considering Inky is an incubus. But again, the sex was not a focus point.

Oh, and there were cats. I love cats and well-written cat characters are always a huge bonus for me.

This was shaping up to be a 5-star-read for me. But there were just too many POVs throughout the story. Sometimes it actually got a little confusing because of that. Ultimately, that’s the thing that made me knock off half a star.

“Incubus Honeymoon” is the first part of a new series by this author and it shows. While the story doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, the plot quite clearly isn’t fully resolved. And I’m really looking forward to what happens next.

I can’t believe this is my first book by August Li. He’s obviously a brilliant author and I’ll need to check out his other works.

I think this book will appeal to all fans of urban fantasy. It’s definitely an interesting new twist on well-known fantasy elements. Read it, I’m sure you’ll like it.

The cover by Blake Dorner is perfect. Inky looks exactly like I’d imagined him and he has his super cute cat with him.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 274 pages

Published July 17th 2018 by DSP Publications

A Free Dreamer Review: Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

I’ll be honest, “Bones and Bourbon” had me sold after the first paragraph of the blurb. That sounded so weird and crazy, I knew I just had to read it. And the book definitely delivered.

First of all, this is not a romance. Jarrod is in a relationship with a very interesting young man with a penchant for crazy ideas but that’s really not the focus of the plot at all. Rather, “Bones and Bourbon” is a wild Urban Fantasy with a protagonist who happens to be in a relationship.

The world building was excellent. I have a thing for myths and fairy tales of any kind. I’ve never heard of huldra (and some of the other creatures) before but there are actual myths about them. It was so fascinating. The author does a great job of describing their individual oddities. I’ve never met a character who’s literally only skin and bones. No blood, no internal organs, no nothing. And Jarrod has a cow tail, which is all kinds of weird and awesome at the same time. There were so many different creatures from all sorts of different cultures and I’ve heard about maybe half of them. Dorian Graves definitely deserves extra credit for creativity and uniqueness.

Nalem is probably one of the most interesting people I’ve met in a book in a very long time. His abilities are intriguing and also pretty creepy. We really don’t know anything about him and that makes him all the more fascinating.

All four of our protagonists are actually really interesting. And likable, with the exception of Nalem. Though even he has his moments. Oh, and they take “daddy issues” to a whole new level.

I’m Austrian, born and raised, so it added another layer of awesomeness that our protagonists were named after Austrian places. Retz is a tiny village I’ve never heard of before, even though it’s actually not that for from where I live. I’m always thrilled when authors remember little Austria exists.

The whole story was an incredibly wild ride of insanity and blood and violence. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Or unicorn fans. Because they’re actually vengeful bastards and extremely hard to kill. Which is all kinds of awesome, if you ask me. I think I’ve found my inner unicorn thanks to this book! And the best thing about this? This is only the first part in what promises to be a truly amazing series!

If you’re on the hunt for something a very different fantasy novel, and don’t mind dark and twisted stories that can get pretty gory and a little gross, then this is the book for you.  “Blood and Bones” will very likely make it under the top five books of 2018 for me. I’m not easily impressed, but this book did it. I can’t believe it only has less than 300 pages.

I’m not sure if I like the cover by Natasha Snow. It’s a bit generic, tbh.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 268 pages
Published April 23rd 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608527
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review: Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray. When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairytale, where all the rules of magic—and love—are changed.

To set Thornby free, both men must face life-changing truths—and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?

While I’m not big on normal historical fiction, I absolutely love historical fantasy and Salt Magic, Skin Magic had me sold at “dark fairytale”. I had high expectations and was not disappointed.

The setting as such is quite unique. I’ve read lots and lots of fantasy of all sorts, but never before have I come across a combination of all the elements Lee Welch came up with. I loved how magic was such a normal part of life and yet still remained somewhat mysterious. There was just the right amount of world-building and I really enjoyed the whole set-up.

Both Thornby and Blake were immediately likable. They come from very different backgrounds and it was very interesting to watch them overcome those differences. There’s a huge gulf between nobility and working class, even if Blake has some rather important friends.

I liked the minor characters as well. Thornby’s aunt seemed like a fascinating woman and I’d have loved to find out more about her.

The attraction between Thornby and Blake has a delightful air of forbidden romance. Lots of sneaking about and avoiding discovery had me constantly on my toes. It gave the love story a certain amount of suspense that I liked very much. The romance unfolds slowly and is anything but rushed. I loved how these two gentlemen get all rough and dirty with each other.

The ending was completely unexpected. Of course I had my theories as to why Thornby couldn’t leave his father’s grounds, but I certainly did not expect that. There were no easy solutions to be had and I was quite satisfied with what the author came up with.

Long story short, “Salt Magic, Skin Magic” is brilliant. It’s highly unique and extremely well written. If you’re a fan of unusual fantasy with gentlemanly lovers, I’m sure you’ll love this book.

I really, really hope Lee Welch will write more fantasy. She clearly has a talent for it. It’s so hard to find really well written fantasy with a well written love story, where neither takes away from the other.

The cover is quite the eye catcher and really fits the story.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book details:

ebook, 241 pages
Published August 9th 2018 by Lee Welch
ISBN139780473444518
Edition Language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Armistice (The Amberlough Dossier #2) by Lara Elena Donnelly

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Armistice returns to Donnelly’s ravishing 1930s Art Deco-tinged fantasy world of Amberlough with a decadent, tumultuous mixture of sex, politics, and spies.

In a tropical country where shadowy political affairs lurk behind-the-scenes of its glamorous film industry, three people maneuver inside a high stakes game of statecraft and espionage:

Lillian, a reluctant diplomat serving a fascist nation,

Aristide, an expatriate film director running from lost love and a criminal past,

and Cordelia, a former cabaret stripper turned legendary revolutionary.

Each one harbors dangerous knowledge that can upturn a nation. When their fates collide, machinations are put into play, unexpected alliances are built, and long-held secrets are exposed. All is barreling towards an international revolt…and only the wiliest ones will be prepared for what comes next.

First things first: “Armistice” is NOT a stand-alone story. At all. If you haven’t read the first book yet, don’t read this review, as it contains spoilers for book 1.

While “Amberlough” was set in a world similar to Europe, “Armistice” is largely set in a world that’s similar to India. With significant differences, however. The society is mostly matriarchal. Not extremely so, but women are definitely the ones with more power. I always find that an interesting concept and love to explore matriarchal worlds. And once again, the author did not disappoint. The setting was extremely well developed, with lots of little details that made the atmosphere all the more real. As soon as I read the first sentence, I immediately fell into the setting and found it extremely hard to resurface.

The feel of this book is very different from the previous one. It’s still intense, but there’s less action and drama. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this book any less than the first one, it’s just different, quieter somehow. Which is a weird thing to say about a story that features Cordelia Lehane… I loved getting to know her better. Lillian, Cyril’s sister, also made for a very interesting MC. We do get a bit more of Ari, but really, this book is all about the women.

Just like “Amberlough”, we get yet another cliffhanger ending. Endings are hard for me. It’s so easy to ruin an otherwise good book with a crappy ending. And usually I despise cliffhangers, especially if it’s not the first part of a series. But Lara Elena Donnelly writes perfect endings and I actually like her cliffhangers.

Honestly, there’s so much more to say about “Armistice” but somehow I lack the words to express just how awesome this series is. Like, seriously, these two books are among the best I’ve read in a very, very long time and I have a feeling the author might become one of my favourites. Read it. It’s so, so, so worth it. And I might just die from sheer anticipation till part 3 FINALLY gets released.

The cover is gorgeous and matches the first part perfectly. I might just buy book three as a paperback because I finally want one of these amazing covers in my physical bookshelf.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details: ebook, 384 pages

Published May 15th 2018 by Tor Books

The Amberlough Dossier Series:

Amberlough

Armistice

Amnesty coming in 2019

A Free Dreamer Review: Amberlough (The Amberlough Dossier #1) by Lara Elena Donnelly

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A double-agent sacrifices all his ideals in order to save his smuggler lover before a government coup takes over their decadent city in Lara Elena Donnelly’s glam spy thriller debut, now a Nebula finalist for Best Novel!

Introducing…

The Smuggler: By day, Aristide Makricosta is the emcee for Amberlough City’s top nightclub. By night, he moves drugs and refugees under the noses of crooked cops.

The Spy: Covert agent Cyril DePaul thinks he’s good at keeping secrets, but after a disastrous mission abroad, he makes a dangerous choice to protect himself…and hopefully Aristide too.

The Dancer: Streetwise Cordelia Lehane, burlesque performer at the Bumble Bee Cabaret and Aristide’s runner, could be the key to Cyril’s plans—if she can be trusted.

As the twinkling marquees lights yield to the rising flames of a fascist revolution, these three will struggle to survive using whatever means — and people — necessary. Including each other.

Review: First of all, I think we need to talk about expectations. When I read the blurb, looked at the publisher and what people shelved ”Amberlough” under, I’d expected 1920s America with magic and romance. What I got was an espionage thriller AU of 1930s Europe, before the Nazis came into power. And a little bit of romance. Had I known what kind of setting to expect, I wouldn’t have read this book. So I’m glad I got the wrong impression because “Amberlough” is utterly amazing and brilliant and one of the best books I’ve read in 2018 so far. It would have been such a shame to miss it.

I was actually quite surprised to see a review request from Tor pop up in my inbox. They’re on of my favourite publishers out there (Brandon Sanderson!!!!) and I had high, if false, expectations. I just didn’t know they had LGBT protagonists in their books too.

I absolutely loved the setting. The nightclub ambience was fascinating and the world building was brilliant. It was so easy to just get sucked into this glamorous world full of intrigues and backstabbing. There are so many little details that make the whole world feel alive and real, without lengthy info dumps. A brilliant example of how to do world building.

I won’t say too much on the plot itself, as it lives from the suspense and surprises. This is not a romance novel. It’s probably more gay literature than gay romance, even if the relationship between Cyril and Ari is essential to the plot. It’s heartbreakingly romantic. But really, this is a thriller that happens to have a gay couple in it. The plot might make you believe there’s going to be a MMF relationship but there isn’t. We have a homosexual relationship and a heterosexual one.

I usually don’t read thrillers because I’ve always felt the characters stay kind of shallow. It’s just not my genre. But here, the character development was excellent. We have three main characters: Aristide, the glamorous male stripper with a bit of an illegal side business; Cyril, the spy who can’t keep his hands off Ari, even though they’re very different; and then there’s Cordelia, also a stripper, who’s worked her way up the hard way. I loved all three of them and how they played together. Each had their own distinct voice and it’s always obvious who’s POV you’re currently reading.

Honestly, I don’t really have the words to do this book justice. I loved every single second of it and it drove me mad that I couldn’t immediately start book two. Because there’s one hell of a mean cliffhanger at the end. Yet another thing I usually can’t stand. But I guess Lara Elena Donnelly just has a way of making me love things I usually hate. The suspense nearly killed me. Definitely not recommended for people with a weak heart.

Long story short, read this book. You’ll love it. Just don’t expect a fairy-tale romance full of hearts and flowers. This is not a happy fluffy love story and I’m still unsure if we’ll ever get a happy ending. “Amberlough” is gay literature at its finest. Oh, and you might want to make sure you already have book two waiting for you.

Cover: Oh my gosh, that cover. It’s so gorgeous in it’s simplicity. I love, love, love it. Makes me sad I only have this book on my reader and not on my physical shelf.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details: Kindle Edition, 398 pages

Published April 2018 by Tor Books (first published February 7th 2017)

ASIN: B01F20E73S

A Free Dreamer Review: Bane (Strain #2) by Amelia C. Gormley

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation. 

Rhys Cooper once thought he was a dead man. Instead, he’s proven immune to the virus that nearly wiped out humanity.

Now the Clean Zone’s scientists want to know why. Summoned for testing, Rhys is about to learn first-hand why his Juggernaut partner, Sergeant Darius Murrell, and the rest of his superhuman comrades in Delta Company don’t trust the uninfected survivors in the Clean Zone–or the remnants of the government that unleashed the epidemic in the first place.

For a decade, Zach Houtman has yearned for his lover, Nico Fernández, but fear of infection has kept them apart. Separately they keep tabs on the last vestiges of the corrupt government, particularly the head of the Clean Zone’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood seeks to unlock the secrets of the Bane virus. But Nico knows how dangerous Littlewood will be if that ever happens.

Zach and Nico now have the perfect bait to draw Littlewood out: Rhys. But Delta Company isn’t about to let Rhys walk into hell alone. They’ll take Littlewood down together, or not at all. Even if they succeed, however, for Zach and Nico one question remains: can infected and uninfected people ever be together safely?

Bane is the second and final installment in the Strain series. As such, it really doesn’t work as a stand-alone. I would recommend you to read the prequel “Juggernaut” as well. Both couples from book 0.5 and book one are back in “Bane” and I think you really need to get to know all four of them to really enjoy this book.

It’s been years since I read “Strain” but it’s a very memorable book and I absolutely loved it. It’s very, very different. “Bane” is much more mainstream. It’s still dark, but there’s no dubious consent. The sex scenes between Rhys and Darius are fewer and not as explicit as in book one. While I’m glad that Rhys has found his peace and is starting to feel more self-confident, I just kind of missed the spark I remember from book one.

Zach made me really angry at times. I kind of understood why he didn’t want to infect himself with the Alpha strain all those years ago. The whole “it’s God’s will” pissed me off. I thought it was really cruel of him to do this to Nico.

The author definitely knows how to write sex scenes. And while it is far tamer than book one, the sex was still really hot.

Once again, the book was incredibly addicting. I just could not put it down and it really had me emotionally invested. While I did have my issues with Zach, it’s always a good sign when I get so emotional over a character’s choices.

There were so many twists and turns and intrigues and secrets, it really had my head spinning. I really did not expect some of these things. I’m actually quite satisfied with the ending. I often have issues with how books end, but this really worked. It’s not exactly a HEA but it does leave you hopeful.

Overall, “Bane” is a great read. While it’s not quite as good as the first two books, I still really enjoyed it. It’s tamer and more mainstream, but still pretty good. If you liked the first two books, I’m sure you’ll like this one too.

The cover matches the other two in the series perfectly. It’s just as dark and creepy and gorgeous.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 240 pages

Published April 20th 2018 (first published September 19th 2015)

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: The Wanderer (Chronicles of the Riftlands #1) by Rowan McAllister

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

After centuries of traveling the continent of Kita and fighting the extradimensional monsters known as Riftspawn, mage Lyuc is tired and ready to back away from the concerns of humanity.

But the world isn’t done with him yet.

While traveling with a merchant caravan, Lyuc encounters Yan, an Unnamed, the lowest caste in society. Though Yan has nothing but his determination and spirit, he reminds Lyuc what passion and desire feel like. While wild magic, a snarky, shapeshifting, genderfluid companion, and the plots of men and monsters seem determined to keep Lyuc from laying down his burden, only Yan’s inimitable spirit tempts him to hang on for another lifetime or so.

All Yan wants is to earn the sponsorship of a guild so he can rise above his station, claim a place in society, and build the family he never had.

After hundreds of years of self-imposed penance, all Lyuc wants is Yan.

If they can survive prejudice, bandits, mercenaries, monsters, and nature itself, they might both get their wish… and maybe even their happily ever after.

I really enjoyed The Wanderer. It ticked a lot of boxes for me and I just couldn’t put it down.

I liked both Yan and Lyuc immediately. They’re very different but make a wonderful couple. I really enjoyed their relationship dynamic and it was pretty obvious that they cared for each other. I really enjoyed watching their relationship blossom and especially Yan changing and growing in character.

But my favourite character by far was Lyuc’s traveling companion and friend. He’s so cool and he really added to the story.

The fantasy part has all the potential to become truly epic. It’s not exactly a brand new idea, but the author definitely made it work. The world building was well done and I immediately fell into the universe. It had me intrigued and I definitely want to find out more. This is just the beginning, after all.

There weren’t all that many sex scenes. While I don’t always need tons of sex to enjoy a book, I think this could have used a bit more. It’s implied that Yan has had some not so great experiences in the past and that he’s used sex as a favour to get out of trouble. It felt like he immediately went from “sex as a favour” to “sex out of love”. There was no slow change over time and that’s a bit of a shame. But that’s all I have to complain about.

Long story short, I absolutely loved “The Wanderer” and I can’t wait for part two. This really has the potential to become a really epic fantasy story with a wonderful relationship. I just hope the author will keep the current couple and won’t introduce a new one. I really liked our trio.

I really like the cover by Stef Masciandaro. It makes me smile and fits the story perfectly.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640802360
Series Chronicles of the Riftlands #1

A Free Dreamer Release Day Review: Exodus ( Heaven Corp #2) by CC Bridges

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Henry “Hank” Abraham’s privileged status in the floating city of Heaven lets him flout Morality Laws that control the lives of others. But when he wakes up in the arms of another stranger, only bodyguard Ian Caldwell’s quick thinking saves his life.

Though Ian’s from the low levels and the labor class, he’s used to dealing with the pampered society of Heaven. He’s assigned to protect Hank while angels, cybernetically modified humans who defend Heaven, investigate the assassination attempt. Doing his job means Ian must ignore his growing interest in Hank. Acting on their mutual attraction would certainly get Ian reprogrammed, something neither of them can afford.

When Hank follows Ian to a popular BDSM club in Downside and his ID chip is lost during a nearly fatal mugging, he finds himself locked out of Heaven. As Ian fights to get them home, rumors of impending war begin to circulate—along with more troubling news that Ian is wanted for Hank’s murder. While struggling to keep the man he has come to love safe, Ian must find out who’s behind the plot and if it’s a catalyst for war or just a convenient excuse.

“Exodus” is part two of the “Heaven Corp” series. I read part one “Angel 1089” over three years ago and have to admit I don’t remember much. But I never had any trouble getting into this book, so “Exodus” works perfectly fine as a stand-alone.

This book was a great mix of two things I love in books: SciFi and BDSM. The world building was really well done and it was to understand the world this was set in. It was kind of creepy , to be honest. I loved all the little details C.C. Bridges worked into her world building. It made the whole universe seem that much more realistic.

I usually don’t read Fantasy that deals with angels because I don’t like reading religious books. But “Heaven Corp.” is a brilliant exception to that rule. There is a god and there are angels, but neither of them has anything to do with religion. God is a God AI and the angels aren’t some mythical beings but people with metal wings that allow them to fly. An ingenious idea and very unique.

The BDSM part was wonderful as well. The dynamic between Hank and Ian was absolutely smoldering with sexual tension. But it was also obvious that they really, really cared for each other and that it wasn’t just about the sex. Ian is such a wonderfully caring and loving Dom. I loved that the relationship wasn’t rushed. It’s a very slow build till they get together but that fit the two of them perfectly. That way, we get to see how their feelings for each other evolve and become deeper.

I loved both of our MCs. At first glance, Hank is your stereotypical bratty and spoiled sub. But when you get to know him better, you get to see beneath that facade. And underneath lies a very likable, intelligent young man, who definitely has his own demons to fight. Since the story gets told from both POVs, we get to know both of them intimately. I took a liking to Ian right from the start.

The plot had me hooked right from the very first page. I finished this book within two days. If not for real life interfering, I probably would have finished this in one sitting. There are so many twists and turns, I was practically breathless from following it all. The balance between romance and Mystery/SciFi plot was perfect in my opinion. Neither takes away from the other.

You don’t need to be a hard-core SciFi fan to enjoy “Exodus”, nor do you need to be a hard-core BDSM or M/M romance fan. There’s a bit of everything and never too much of anything. A perfect mix, if you ask me.

It’s a real shame there are only two books in the series and book one deals with different protagonists. But the ending does leave with me some hope that we’ll see more of this world, if not our protagonists. And it’s high time I read more by this obviously brilliant author.

Read it, you won’t regret it, trust me.

Cover: The cover by L.C. Chase is nice to look at, though I am growing a bit tired of all those naked upper bodies on M/M books of any genre… I do like the background though.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 200 pages
Expected publication: February 28th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 2nd 2014)
ISBN139781640801264
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Heaven Corp.

Angel 1089 (Heaven Corp., #1)

Exodus (Heaven Corp #2

A Free Dreamer Review: Light by Nathan Burgoine

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

 

Kieran Quinn is a bit telepathic, a little psychokinetic, and very gay—three things that have gotten him through life perfectly well so far—but when self-styled prophet Wyatt Jackson arrives during Pride Week, things take a violent turn.

Kieran’s powers are somewhat underwhelming but do have a habit of refracting light into spectacular rainbows for him to hide behind. Even so, it’s not long before Kieran is struggling to maintain his own anonymity while battling wits with a handsome cop, getting some flirting in with a hunky leather man, saving some drag queens, and escaping the worst blind date in history. It’s enough to make a fledgling hero want to give up before he even begins.

One thing’s for sure: saving the day has never been so fabulous.

This book was simply amazing. “Light” was funny, unique and had me hooked in absolutely no time.
I liked Kieran from the very first sentence. He has a telepathic bond with his cat (Seriously, how awesome is that?), having created certain images and signals to represent the various activities in a cat’s life. Other than that, he only uses his (all in all rather underwhelming) powers on his clients to find out where and why they are sore, making it a lot easier for him to massage those aches and pains away.


Kieran is not really a hero, he has never used his powers openly and doesn’t achieve any heroic deeds with them. That is, until a bunch of religious nutters show up at Ottawa Pride Week, the highlight of every year. Their “prophet” Stigmatic Jack is a psychokinetic that has a gift for randomly cutting “sinners” without needing a knife. That’s when Kieran really uses his powers for the first time, by bending the light around him and blinding Stigmatic Jack and his followers. From this moment on, the mysterious saviour is known as “Rainbow Man” or “Disco”, names that Kieran really can’t stand.


So the plot is a little different from your average superhero novel – no superhero heroically saving the lives of innocents on a daily basis. No, Kieran is a perfectly normal man with somewhat limited powers, looking for the love of his life. His friend Karen keeps setting him up for blind dates with some of the weirdest men in the history of dating.


While religion certainly does play an important role in this novel (the religious nutcases obviously make Kieran think about the way he sees religion), I never felt like the author was trying to force his believes on me.


At times, “Light” was simply too funny to be true, without ever getting ridiculous. I spent a large part of the novel snickering at some remark or another. My favourite scene has to be during the annual Drag Off. I nearly fell out of my chair.


At other times, especially during the great showdown, I found myself breathlessly chanting “nononononono”, completely ignoring everything around me.


The only thing I wasn’t too fond of was the whole “love at first sight” deal. But since it wasn’t overdone and seems to be an extremely common phenomenon in romance novels, it didn’t bother me too much.

To sum it up, “Light” is an ingenious work full of humour and suspense that should appeal to any lover of paranormal romances that enjoy heroes that aren’t all that heroic after all.

Cover: I quite like the cover. It’s definitely not your run-of-the-mill m/m romance cover. The colours are beautiful.

Sales:   Bold Strokes Books | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 190 pages
Published October 13th 2013 by Bold Strokes Books
ASINB00FVHFGEW
Edition LanguageEnglish
CharactersKieran Quinn, Sebastien LaRoche settingOttawa, Ontario (Canada)

Literary AwardsLambda Literary Award Nominee for LGBT SF/F/Horror (2014)

A Free Dreamer Review: Olympia Knife by Alysia Constantine

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Born into a family of flying trapeze artists, Olympia Knife has one small problem: When her emotions rise, she becomes invisible. Everyone in the traveling circus has learned to live with this quirk; they banded together to raise Olympia in a loving environment when her parents vanished midair during their act, never to return. But the same fate befalls Arnold, the world’s shortest man, followed by one act after another, until the show is a crumbling mess of tattered tents and terrified troupers. Into this chaos walks Diamond the Danger Eater. Olympia and Diamond forge a friendship, then fall in love, and, together, resolve to stand the test of time, even as the world around them falls apart.

The first word that comes to my mind when I think about Olympia Knife is strange. Closely followed by sad. And kind of creepy. I’ve never read anything like this and I was a bit unsure whether I liked it or not. But it’s so unusual and memorable, I just had to give it the full five stars.

First things first: This is classified as literary/genre fiction and as such doesn’t have much of a love story and definitely not your run-of-the-mill HEA. The ending is very open and leaves many questions unanswered. I’m not always a fan of open ends, but in this case it fit the tone of the whole book perfectly.

I love circus settings, especially historical ones. They give you so many possibilities. It can be utterly magical and charming or it can be utterly terrifying and creepy. Olympia Knife was definitely more creepy than charming, though it did have a bit of a magical air.

People keep disappearing in the middle of their acts, Olympia keeps turning invisible and there are some other otherworldly things going on, so I guess this would qualify as Fantasy. The circus acts, especially those in the sideshow, are all fakes and don’t have any magical abilities. The correct genre correct is probably magic realism, combining reality with some fantastic elements. It’s an unusual genre and I really enjoyed it.

There isn’t all that much action but I didn’t mind. This was a very slow book and it was all about the atmosphere of the book. I was completely immersed into the world and it sometimes took a while for me to resurface.

At times, this book does get pretty brutal and very intense. It was a hard read and it really took a lot out of me. “Olympia Knife” is such a gritty, intense and heartbreaking read. It’s one of the most extraordinary books I’ve ever read.

If you’re looking for an easy, magical romance, this is definitely not the book for you. I think this is a case of love it or hate it. And I loved it. I’ll have to keep an eye out for future releases by this author. If you’re easily triggered, you might want to check out the content warnings on the publisher’s page.

The cover is utterly gorgeous. It’s the kind of cover that I’d love to have in my physical bookshelf, just to show it off.

Sales Links:  Interlude Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 212 pages

Published November 2nd 2017 by Interlude Press