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

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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

A Free Dreamer Review: Echoes of the Gods by Gaia Sol

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Peace reigns in Midgard and with no wars to fight, Yngvi, soldier and fancy-free charmer, craves danger, excitement and adventure. He finds all that and more in a mysterious stranger whose arrival in Midgard coincides with an unexpected attack on Asgard’s pantheon by the fiendish armies of Loki, renegade god of the Underworld.

Shara has pursued a killer to Midgard and can’t afford to be distracted by the charismatic Yngvi, not when the fugitive has eluded him twice already. But Yngvi is like no one Shara’s ever met—annoyingly tenacious, but also brave, loyal and inconveniently attractive. A single night together shouldn’t change anything. But it changes everything, and Shara finds himself giving Yngvi his body, his trust and much more.

Caught in the riptide of Shara’s shocking secrets, Yngvi joins him on a quest for vengeance that takes them across the stars, onto new worlds and into battles with gods, monsters and their own unfamiliar, conflicting feelings. Disloyalty breeds distrust, threatening to destroy their new, fragile bond, but they must each choose between heart and life when they finally uncover the startling past that will change the future.

I absolutely loved “Echoes of the Gods“. I have a thing for mythology and fairy tales and I especially love it when authors take on old myths and make them into something new. And Gaia Sol did a brilliant job here.

This is the first time I’ve heard anything about the Babylonian pantheon and I actually had to google some of the names before I realized that the author didn’t just make the whole thing up. I love it when a book teaches me something new and makes me want to learn more. “Echoes of the Gods” was definitely educating for me, but it never felt like the author was lording her knowledge over the ignorant reader.

Yngvi and Shara were immediately likeable. Shara is very innocent and at times a little naive, but it fit his backstory very well. He’s never had much contact to other people and spent most of his life living alone in the woods. But he’s a quick learner and he has other qualities to make up for his innocence. I loved the dynamic between Shara and Yngvi. And I really felt for both of them, suffering with them through their various hardships and heartaches.

The world building was great. The Babylonian, Norse and Greek pantheons were explored in-depth and we got to see a lot of action there. I’m fairly familiar with Norse and Greek gods and it was great to meet well-known characters but also to learn new details I knew nothing about. And the Babylonian pantheon was completely new to me. I don’t think you need to know anything about the old gods in order to enjoy and understand this book. But to me, the familiarity added another layer of enjoyment.

Aside from the pantheons, there were lots of little magical things going on and it was all brilliantly explained and executed. It really felt like I was there with Yngvi and Shara, meeting the old gods and traveling through space and time.

The romance was definitely there, but it wasn’t overbearing. The love story is wonderful and Yngvi’s and Shara’s feelings for each other were easy to relate to. There was a really great balance between fantasy and romance, another great example how one doesn’t exclude the other. Because you can definitely have both: amazing Fantasy with great world building and a wonderful Romance.

The only thing that bothered me tiny little bit was the lack of communication and the misunderstandings it caused. But since Yngvi is a Norse warrior and Shara has spent most of his life in solitude, I guess it’s understandable. It didn’t distract from the overall brilliance of the book.

Overall, I simply loved this book. This is the author’s first book and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for future books by her.

If you have a thing for great fantasy with brilliant world building and a wonderful romance on top of it all, this is definitely the book for you.

The cover is absolutely gorgeous. It’s such an eye-catcher and really fits the storyline. At first glance, it does look like a cover for a space opera, though.

Sales Link:   Amazon

Book details:

ebook. 316 pages

Published October 25th 2017

A Free Dreamer Review: Dali by E.M. Hamill

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Dalí Tamareia has everything—a young family and a promising career as an Ambassador in the Sol Fed Diplomatic Corps. Dalí’s path as a peacemaker seems clear, but when their loved ones are killed in a terrorist attack, grief sends the genderfluid changeling into a spiral of self-destruction.

Fragile Sol Fed balances on the brink of war with a plundering alien race. Their skills with galactic relations are desperately needed to broker a protective alliance, but in mourning, Dalí no longer cares, seeking oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, in the arms of a faceless lover, or at the end of a knife.

The New Puritan Movement is rising to power within the government, preaching strict genetic counseling and galactic isolation to ensure survival of the endangered human race. Third gender citizens like Dalí don’t fit the mold of this perfect plan, and the NPM will stop at nothing to make their vision become reality. When Dalí stumbles into a plot threatening changelings like them, a shadow organization called the Penumbra recruits them for a rescue mission full of danger, sex, and intrigue, giving Dalí purpose again.

Risky liaisons with a sexy, charismatic pirate lord could be Dalí’s undoing—and the only way to prevent another deadly act of domestic terrorism.

“Dalí” was simply and utterly brilliant. I loved every single second of it. It’s no secret that I’m a lover of SciFi books and I’m glad I started reading space operas a while ago. Otherwise I might have missed out on this seriously amazing book and that would have been a real shame.

The set-up is intriguing. Dalí is a third gender changeling. Essentially, they’re the epidome of genderfluid. Their body can actually change to become male or female. Or they can stay in their neutral state, where they’re neither. For a big part of the book, Dalí leans toward female, for reasons I fully understood. And the idea of changing genders was only the beginning. The author took great care to create a truly fascinating world, full of little details that showed how much care went into creating this setting. The world building was extremely well done and it all felt so natural.

I absolutely loved Dalí right from the beginning. I felt their grief and loss and suffered through their self-destruction with them. It was breathtaking and felt so very genuine it made my heart ache. Dalí is a tough person, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel fear or pain or grief or doubt.

Now, I’ve always had a thing for the antagonists/villains in books and movies. And E.M. Hamill did a great job of creating a villain the way I like. He’s not completely and utterly evil. His actions actually made sense, in a cruel, twisted kind of way. And the tension between him and Dalí was absolutely sizzling.

Speaking of sizzling: The sex scenes were smoking hot. Incredibly erotic, without being overly detailed. Dalí’s unique body made the whole experience even hotter for me. But the sex wasn’t just there to get the reader hot and bothered, it always furthered the plot. The balance between hot smut and essential plot device was perfect.

There’s so much going on in this book, with so many unexpected twists and turns, it left me completely unable to put down the book. It was full of action and suspense, but also full of feelings. There were more quiet parts of the book, but those were just as addicting as the fast-moving spy parts.

Another thing I loved about this book was how diverse it was. There are so many different types of relationships and genders portrayed. It always felt completely natural to have such diverse characters. The author didn’t get lost in unnecessary terms or explanations, the characters were just there.

Although this book is set in the distant future and the world as we know it no longer exists, the plot touched on many issues we’re facing right now as well. There’s terrorism, human trafficking, drugs, religious extremism, gender identity and so on. It’s not easy to make a space opera feel like it deals with problems of our day and age.

Every lover of good SciFi with a bit of Erotic thrown in should read “Dalí”. I, for one, enjoyed every single second of it and I really, really hope there will be a second part sometime soon. You’ll love it too, trust me.

I like the cover by Natasha Snow. The colours are gorgeous and the space ship looks great. The young man’s face spoils the otherwise great cover a little. I think it would have looked even better without any human on it.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook
Published August 7th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947139572
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review: Seidman by James Erich

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In Viking Age Iceland, where boys are expected to grow into strong farmers and skilled warriors, there is little place for a sickly twelve-year-old boy like Kol until he catches the eye of a seið-woman—a sorceress—and becomes her apprentice. Kol travels to the sorceress’s home, where her grandson, Thorbrand, takes Kol under his wing. Before long Kol discovers something else about himself that is different—something else that sets him apart as unmanly: Kol has fallen in love with another boy.

But the world is changing in ways that threaten those who practice the ancient arts. As Kol’s new life takes him across the Norse lands, he finds that a new religion is sweeping through them, and King Olaf Tryggvason is hunting down and executing sorcerers. When a decades-old feud forces Thorbrand to choose between Kol and his duty to his kinsman, Kol finds himself cast adrift with only the cryptic messages of an ancient goddess to guide him to his destiny—and possibly to his death.

I’ve always been fascinated by ancient mythology, and when I discovered this book about Iceland Viking mythology, I just couldn’t resist. And I’m glad I didn’t, because “Seidman” was utterly brilliant.

There are plenty of books out there that feature ancient mythology in some way or another. But most of the time, it’s Greece or Roman mythology. Other myths are much rarer and I don’t think I’ve come across a book with a similar setting to “Seidman” before. I’m not overly familiar with Viking mythology, I just know the bare basics, but that was enough to understand what was going on here. Unfamiliar terms were explained and the glossary at the beginning was a huge help as well. I loved that the author actually included a bit about how to pronounce the language. I’m a bit obsessed with foreign languages and it always bothers me immensely when I have absolutely no clue how to pronounce words. So the bonus points started adding up before the actual story even began.

James Erich created a very intricate world, that felt extremely realistic, seemingly without any effort. The world building was brilliantly done. It all just fell into place, without any need for lengthy explanations or boing info dumps.

I liked Kol from the beginning. He’s really sweet and charming at the beginning and it was interesting to watch him grow up and change. The love story between him and Thorbrand was low key and yet obvious from the very beginning. It felt inevitable, really. But in a good way. The two of them were just meant to be. When they had to seperate, it broke my heart.

I liked that the author didn’t just skip over any homophobia. It’s just the way it was, back then. Glossing over uncomfortable topics makes a story unrealistic. I’m glad the author chose to address all the issues Kol and especially Thorbrand would have had to face. I loved the book all the more for how realistic it was.

The ending was perfect for the story. It was in tone with the rest of it. A bit sad, but ultimately it left me happy.

Overall, I really enjoyed “Seidman”. I think it’s a wonderful Young Adult story, also suitable for a bit younger readers. I’d recommend it for ages 13 and up. If you have a thing for Vikings and mythology and don’t need it to be overly bloody, then go for this book. It was brilliant and probably won’t be my last by the author. I wish there were more books about this topic!

Cover: The cover is simple but fits the story. I like it.

Sales Links:  Harmony Ink Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 210 pages

Published May 31st 2012 by Harmony Ink

Honorable Mention: Best Gay Debut Novel/Book

Honorable Mention: Best LGBT Young Adult / Coming of Age

A Free Dreamer Review: Strays (Urban Soul #2) by Garrett Leigh

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Work, sleep, work, repeat. Nero’s lonely life suits him just fine until his best friend, Cass, asks him to take on a new apprentice—a beautiful young man who’s never set foot in a professional kitchen. Despite his irritation and his lifelong ability to shut the world out, Nero is mesmerised by the vibrant stray, especially when he learns what drove him to seek sanctuary on Nero’s battered old couch.

Lenny Mitchell is living under a cloud of fear. Pursued by a stalker, he has nowhere left to run until Nero offers him a port in a storm—a job at the hottest restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush. Kitchen life proves heady and addictive, and it’s not long before he finds himself falling hard and fast for the man who has taken him in.

Fast-forward a month and a neither man can imagine life without the other, but one thing stands in their way: a lifetime of horrors Nero can’t bring himself to share with Lenny. Or can he? For the first time ever, happiness is there for the taking, and Nero must learn to embrace it before fate steps in and rips it away.

After I pretty much inhaled part “Misfits”, part one of the “Urban Soul” series, I was extremely relieved to already have “Strays” waiting on my Kindle. While “Strays” is technically part two of the series, it works as a standalone. The MCs from book one to get their page-time, but they’re introduced well. However, I see absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t want to read “Misfits”!

Just like part one, “Strays” was absolutely brilliant. I loved every second of it and just couldn’t put it down. Lenny and Nero make for an incredibly hot couple and the stalker-part added an interesting twist to the story.

Nero isn’t a nice guy. He’s rude and he doesn’t make friends easily. And he’s definitely not the boyfriend-type. He’s been through quite a lot and it takes him a long time to open up to Lenny. I liked that they were both honest about the troubles Nero’s (understandable) hesitation caused and how they reacted to it. Nero is an intriguing character. While he’s definitely not the easiest person to be around, he can be genuinely kind, if he wants. I loved how he comes over as this super-macho kind of guy, but has no trouble admitting he likes boys wearing eye-liner.

Lenny is a sweet guy. He’s far easier to like than Nero but no less interesting. He’s tough in his own way and I really liked that about him.

At first glance, this couple might come off as a stereotype found in many m/m romance books: macho (sort of) closeted guy and younger, effeminate man. That usually leads to the older guy being in charge of the relationship and that’s something I can’t stand. But in this case, Nero and Lenny are very much equal. There’s nobody clearly “in charge” and I really liked that.

The stalker part was a bit predictable toward the end, tbh. Other than that, I think it was done really well.

Just like in the first book, the setting is described vividly. London and the restaurant kitchen felt very much alive to me. There was never any doubt as to where this book was set and where the characters are from. I really like books with such a strong sense of place, it gives them something unique.

Long story short, “Strays” is just as brilliant as part one of the series. It’s very different and might be more appealing, if you don’t like ménages. The sex is still smoking hot. I really hope there’ll be a third part in the series. I just love the whole universe.

The cover was done by the author herself. It’s in tune with that of part one. I love that tattoo, it’s so hot.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 249 pages

Expected publication: March 27th 2017 by Riptide Publishing

A Free Dreamer Review: Foxes by Suki Fleet

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

FoxesWhen Dashiel’s body is found dumped on an East London wasteland, his best friend Danny sets out to find the killer. But Danny finds interaction difficult and must keep his world small in order to survive. By day he lives in an abandoned swimming pool and fixes electrical devices to trade for supplies, but by night, alone, he hunts sharks—a reckless search for dangerous men who prey on the vulnerable.

A chance meeting with an American boy selling himself on the streets throws this lonely existence into disarray. Micky is troubled, fragile, and Danny feels a desperate need to protect him—from what, he doesn’t know. As Danny discovers more about Micky, he realizes that what Micky needs saving from is the one thing Danny can’t help him fight against.

To save Micky, Danny must risk expanding his world and face something that scares him more than any shark ever could: trusting he will be accepted for who he is. If a freezing winter on the streets, a sadistic doctor, and three thousand miles don’t tear them apart first, that is.

I’ve been a fan of Suki Fleet’s writing for a long time, so I just had to have this book. I had high expectations and I wasn’t disappointed.

The tone is achingly bittersweet. There’s the bitter reality of Danny’s life in an abandoned swimming pool, desperately lonely after the death of his best friend. He’s dead set on finding Dashiel’s killer and protect other boys and girls like him. So Danny follows dangerous men all over London, alone, at night, without telling anybody. He also writes descriptions of every street walker he meets during his search. One night, he meets Micky and his carefully arranged world spins into chaos.

That’s when the sweetness starts seeping in. Because the love story is absolutely beautiful. I was often torn between wanting to grin like a loon and wanting to cry my eyes out.

I loved that Suki Fleet didn’t turn this into an angst-ridden cinderfella story. There’s no easy solution at hand, no rich lover who rescues the poor rent boy. Micky and Danny both have next to nothing. Both have issues aside from being poor that can’t be solved with a sudden influx of money. Still, the beautiful love story was a great counterpoint, keeping just the right balance of sad and happy. The result was an incredibly addicting story that I just couldn’t put down. I just sort of fell into the story and it didn’t let me go till the end.

Both MCs proved to be very likeable. They’re unique and well developed. They have their quirks and troubles and simply felt very much alive. Suki Fleet created an intense connection between me and Danny and Micky. They have depth and aren’t just cardboard cut-outs. Suki Fleet’s character building is simply beyond words.

Foxes were a bit of a recurring theme throughout the story. A little detail that endeared the story even more to me.

The writing style is quietly poetic and fits the mood of the story perfectly. Suki Fleet can conjure an incredibly dense atmosphere with very few words. It’s an incredible gift. I could practically see the streets of London before me and feel the bitterly cold rains on my skin.

By now, you’re probably wondering why I only gave this story 4.5 stars. There’s an easy answer to that: I didn’t like the ending.

Now, to be fair, I’m very picky about my endings and I’m often dissatisfied. In this case, the HEA felt forced and a little rushed. It was jarring after the slow quietness of the rest. It didn’t really fit the otherwise so realistic story either. Honestly, I’d have been perfectly happy with a HFN or even a tragic ending. But I’m weird like that.

“Foxes” is a quietly poetic story, without much excitement, that is still incredibly addicting with its bittersweet love story. Suki Fleet is one of the most talented writers out there and she deserves more readers. So, go read this. And everything else she’s written. She’s amazing.

The cover by AngstyG shows two things at once. At the top, you can see the silhouettes of two men walking toward the sunset. On the bottom are two silhouetted naked figures, one leaning down to the other, as if they’re about to kiss. I love the cover, it portrays the same sense of quiet bittersweet as the story itself.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 274 pages
Published February 8th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781634769211
Edition LanguageEnglish