Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review – The Two Gentlemen of Altona by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The Two Gentlemen of Altona by coverSpecial Agent Ryan “Mac” McGuinness has no idea that when he meets Richard Falstaff, aka Toby Seacoal, aka Henry Page, that his life is never going to be the same again. Henry witnessed a murder in the kitchen of his patron’s home, a patron who had no idea he was a conman, but that’s okay because Henry had no idea that her nephew was an infamous mob boss.

As a witness, Henry is invaluable, but as a person, Mac finds Henry lacking in all areas except in his gorgeous body and handsome face. When Henry gets away from Mac, not once, but twice, Mac is not only humiliated, he’s incensed. Adding fuel to his anger is his withdrawal from caffeine and sugar. He’s trying to follow instructions from his doctor to lose weight and reduce stress, but that’s impossible with Henry around. Wise-cracking, donut-loving, Shakespere-quoting Henry just can’t help teasing Mac with both sweets and his body until he blows.

When Mac suspects a leak in his office, he and Henry take off with the blessing of Mac’s boss and former partner, Val. With Henry sharing how to evade capture and how to “borrow” a car in order to make their getaway in secret, Mac is ready to throttle him by the time they get to Mac’s parents’ remote vacation cabin. But within a few days, while taking advantage of their attraction and in the midst of a hot and heavy petting session, Henry breaks away when a clap of thunder scares him. Mac takes the opportunity to reevaluate his choices. He definitely isn’t ready to give up his career and jeopardize the case by having sex with the witness, but he can’t deny his fascination with this smart-mouthed, uber-talkative, sexy guy.

Disaster occurs when someone discovers their location, and to keep the concluding chapters spoiler-free, this reviewer will only say that this story is not typical of this writing team in that there is no D/s, no BDSM, no spanking, and no sex. There’s also no HEA, however we know the series will continue and the characters are so endearing and so attracted to each other that there’s no way they won’t get back together for another fun romp. And fun it was—there was just as much humor as there was chaos and the writing was fast-paced with fun quirks around every corner. Henry is witty, sweet, and sexy and Mac is gruff, taciturn, and powerfully male. We see Mac’s soft spot for Henry over and over again and we see that Henry, despite his current escapades as a con artist, has a deep soft spot for Mac, a man for whom Henry may be willing to compromise and change. We can only hope that’s true as we look forward to the next installment, “The Merchant of Death”.

I highly recommend this story if you are looking for an M/M action adventure with a couple who have great chemistry outside of the bedroom, and you’re willing to hang in there as their relationship develops into something more intimate, but undoubtedly strong and full of potential.

Cover Art by L.C. Chase depicts an almost empty donut box containing one single donut with a bite out of it. This represents MC Mac’s efforts at dieting in the face of MC Henry’s efforts to get him to eat the donut treats and lighten up. It’s a nice way to represent the underlying humor in the story.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing Pre Order       All Romance (ARe)         amazon         buy it here

Book Details:

Author: Lisa HenryJ.A. Rock
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62649-218-9
eBook release: Dec 29, 2014
eBook Formats: pdf, mobi, html, epub
Print ISBN: 978-1-62649-219-6
Print release: Dec 29, 2014
Word count: 56,500, Page count: 228
Type: Part of a Series
Cover by: L.C. Chase

This title is #1 of the Playing the Fool series.

A MelanieM Review: Firestorm (SoulShares #4) by Rory Ni Coileain

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

FirestormFinalCoverCuinn an Dearmad is the last surviving Fae Loremaster, and he’s just seen the beginning of the death of the Realm, the land the Fae fled to after the battle with the Marfach.  The Fae sealed off The Realm from Earth to protect the last of the Fae and insure that the Marfach didn’t follow them.  The method they used cost them all the Loremasters but one.    But now cutoff from Earth’s magic, the Realm is dying and the only hope of stopping it starts with Cuinn finding the Prince Royal of Fire, a baby he stole from the cradle, and lost in the human world, many years ago.  But where to start looking?  It seems that Fate and Fae have combined to make the impossible happen.

Rian Sheridan was found and adopted by a Northern Irish Catholic family who whose Da was already deeply involved with the IRA and the liberation movement in Belfast. For all his 21 years, fire has been Rian’s companion and curse. His human parents loved him without knowing who exactly Rian was, a Prince of the Demesne of Fire and the hope of the Fae Realm. But fire was both his pain and salvation when his world and sense of self was destroyed by the Orangemen on July 12.  Now all Rian knows is pain, and a need for punishment.  But he is about to get something more…much, much more.  A future and a name for who and what he is.

Cuinn an Dearmad or Cuinn the Exiled and Prince Rian Aodan whose signet ring, Croi na Dothan, means he’s the heart of the Flame, are on a collision course with Fate and each other.  For Cuinn and Rian are SoulShares, something Cuinn thought only happened between Fae and Human, not Fae and Fae.  But will Rian be able to accept Cuinn, the man responsible for stealing him away from his Fae mother and the agony he experienced on Earth?  And Cuinn?  Can he overcome his guilt and foresworn duty to heal his SoulShare and with him save both worlds?

Firestorm is the last and, quite naturally, the most incendiary book in the SoulShares series by Rory Ni Coileain.  Through three stories and elements, we have watched the Fae of the Demesnes of Earth (Tiernan), Air (Conall), and Water (Lochlann Doran) find their human SoulShares and engage in battle with the Marfach.  Now time has run out for The Realm and Earth with the last of the magic dries up killing The Realm in the process and the Marfach plans for Armageddon on Earth.  Three couples stand prepared but they are incomplete without the last element of fire.

Having brought her characters and readers to this highly suspenseful and anticipatory state, author Rory Ni Coileain ups the stakes with her last two major characters.  One is Cuinn an Dearmad or Cuinn the Exiled, the last Fae Loremaster, the missing chink in the Pattern.  The absent Fae of the Demesne of Fire? A Prince stolen at birth from Queen Nuala, the Fae ruler and deposited with a human Irish family.  The culprit?  That would be Cuinn an Dearmad who to the day carries the burden and guilt of the pain he inflicted on an innocent.

Ni Coileain’s complicated plot becomes even more convoluted with the pairing of Cuinn and Rian, each carrying with them a past and foretold future even more tortuous and tangled then any of the others.  Cuinn has been the willing puppet of the Loremasters  plans and manipulations with Rian one of their subjects in the harshest way.  Rian has paid in anguish and torment just as he turned 21 and came into his magic.  Now Cuinn must not only heal Rian, convince him  about the reality of Fae and his own true birthright but get all of them prepared for the final stage of the Loremasters machinations.   Rory Ni Coileain is quite the puppetmaster herself to keep all these major themes and plot threads unreeling simultaneously while building the suspense and anxiety for all involved.

The point of view changes from the SoulShares (all of them)  to Marfach’s zombie host and back again.  Its effective and harrowing if a little complicated. But it’s Rian who captures our empathy and shared pain with his constant, overwhelming need for abuse and  sexual punishment.  The basis for this need is shattering for the readers and for Cuinn who by then has become his SoulShare.  Cuinn also has secrets he has been hiding and all must come out. Not just to Rian but all the other couples involved in the battle against the Marfach and the ley lines under Purgatory, the DC leather bar.

How I loved this part.  I adored having all the couples I have become so fond of here at the final installment and still managed to make more room in my affections for the tormented couple of Cuinn and Rian.  Rian is fire!  The images that Rory Ni Coileain uses to build his portrait are as combustible as his element.   Hot, powerful and quick tempered, Rian is as incendiary as it comes.  But the center of Rian is total darkness and pain and the author brings that to life as well.  Cuinn is all cold guilt and responsibility to Rian’s heat. Cuinn’s character is more removed from emotion, more bound to service and the change that happens to Cuinn is purposeful and believable.  Great characters both of them, Ni Coileain balances the growing relationship between Rian and Cuinn against the ever increasing desperation of the Marfach and the Realm.   And at times, the balance is undone by the emotions and events that are occurring within the story.  The march towards action or Rian and Cuinn?  More of the story  comes down on Rian and Cuinn here and while that works beautifully towards making their SoulShare real, it takes away from the Marfach’s impact at times.

Never more so than at the ending.  Some will love it,, others not so much.  Yes, there is resolution to be found here and yet there are also plenty of openings for this series to continue.  I wish I knew which way the author was leaning.  I was almost satisfied and yet….I left the story and the series with a vague sense of  incompleteness and a bit of irritation.   Normally, that would bring the rating down considerably.  But Firestorm and the entire SoulShares series  is so beautifully woven through with its lore, imagery, characters, and plot, that its hard not to celebrate Rory Ni Coileain’s writing in this series with a high  rating.

Do I recommend this book and series?  Absolutely.  Its remarkable, its entertaining, and its magical, full of pain,obstacles,  heartache and love.  Don’t miss out on any of the four stories and like me, continue to hope for a fifth.

Cover artist:  Allen Penn.  Of all 4 covers, this is my favorite.  Dramatic and hot!

Sales Links:        Ravenous Romance          All Romance eBooks                 Amazon        Firestorm

Books in the SoulShares series in the order they were written and should be read are:

Hard As Stone (SoulShares #1)
Gale Force (Soulshares #2)
Deep Plunge (SoulShares #3)
Firestorm (SoulShares #4)

Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 248 pages
Published February 27th 2014 by Ravenous Romance
ASINB00IOWB2BW
edition languageEnglish
seriesSoulShares #4