A Sammy Review: Cronin’s Key III (Cronin’s Key #3) by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 4 out of 5

“For every birth of light comes the birth of darkness. It is an honor to call you our enemy.”

Cronin's Key IIIAlec, Cronin, and the entire gang come back for one last epic battle. They’ve dealt with mummies and terracotta armies, not to mention the stress of Alec’s change. He’s just starting to get the briefest understanding of his powers when the world throws another potentially earth-ending situation their way.

This time it’s a legend that’s spanned ages and cultures. What they’re up against now come with many names – lycans, Zoan – all doing little justice to just how wretched the actually creatures are. Once again, Alec must use his powers as the key and get a little help from his friend to save the world and maybe finally get a little bit of peace.

Humans confuse mythology and fact. What they choose to believe as myth and folklore quite often is the truth, but that truth is horrific and frequently unexplainable, so they choose to paint it as a fairytale.

The third and final book in the series is a bit bitter sweet. It’s been an awesome journey to follow Cronin, Alec, and all their friends through so many adventures. This book delivers just as the previous did. It has a nice combination of alternate history that makes you think and a nice dash of heat to spice everything up.

What was lacking a bit in this book were some of the fighting scenes. They felt less tangible and tense. To a certain degree, it makes sense that the author wouldn’t draw them out, but the last fight scene in particular felt like it was over in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, I also had issues visualizing it.

Still, the book was a lot of fun. It also was somewhat sad, which I didn’t expect. I’ve grown to have little notches of love for each of the characters. They have such personality. That in itself speaks volumes because there are a whole lot of characters in this, but a reader can get a grasp for pretty much all of them. Not everyone makes it out of this book, and that’s quite simply sad, but also understandable and fitting.

While I understand N.R. Walker is done with this particular series, I wouldn’t mind if she gives us some more of stuff from other covens and couples. Might be fun! I’d love to see more of Kennard.

The cover by Sara York fits well with the others and does a nice job of capturing the topic of this book.

Sales Links:  ARe | Amazon

Book Details:

175 pages
Published September 18th 2015 by BlueHeart Press (first published September 1st 2015)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCronin’s Key #3

A Sammy Review: Behind Closed Doors (Browerton University #1.5) by A.J. Truman

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Behind Closed DoorsAt Browerton University, a lot can happen behind closed doors.

Two frat brothers can reveal their true feelings. An honor student’s dark past can come to light. Ten hours in a car can turn strangers into lovers. And a coach can teach his star quarterback a very valuable lesson.

Catch up with some familiar Browerton students and meet new ones. Four stories. Four doors. Endless possibilities.

Door Number One: The Whitmore Room (Out in the Open prequel)
Door Number Two: Is There a Porn Star in my Class?
Door Number Three: Road Trip Cone of Silence
Door Number Four: Coach’s Revenge

BEHIND CLOSED DOORS is a collection of gay new adult romance stories filled with humor, heart, and hot guys. The book is intended for audiences 18+ as it contains explicit sex and language. Approx. 30,000 words.

Behind Closed Doors is comprised of four short stories that give a quick glance at life at Browerton University. The first story, The Whitmore Room, is a prequel to the first book in this series and tells of Greg’s first gay encounter with his fraternity big. The second story, Is there a Porn Star in My Class?, has Blake on the quest to figure out if his classmate is the stunning porn star Austin Kelly or just a regular guy. Next is Road Trip Cone of Silence. When Henry sees an ad with someone looking for another person to drive to Chicago with over break, he takes the chance to get away from everything, including his closeted potentially ex-boyfriend. But his driving mate Nolan is not quite what he expected. And rounding out the stories is Coach’s Revenge. When the QB of the football starts to harass a fellow player who just came out, the coach takes it into his hands to teach the QB a lesson.

Porn stars did not go to college in the middle of Pennsylvania. They lived in Los Angeles or Miami, where it was warm, where they didn’t need their brains. Blake wished his life was this exciting. It wasn’t. Porn stars did not go to Browerton University and take art history classes on Wednesday afternoons. They didn’t study the David. They were the David.

The stories in this book all have one thing going for them. They’re quick, often hot, little reads. You can fly through them in an afternoon and still have plenty of time left to do chores without any guilt that you put a book first (…speaking from experience.)

Unfortunately, they suffer from what I call “short story syndrome.” For the most part, they lack depth and don’t necessarily grab the readers attention. The second story in particular had this issue for me. It moved very quickly and the end felt like a freight train coming out of left field. The relationship and characters unfortunately lacked development for me.

The first story is one that I was conflicted about. It was great to see Greg again, but reading about him with another guy was a bit off putting for me. It is a prequel, which is important to note, but I felt like I understood enough about what happened in this situation from the first book to not necessarily need this. I also felt like when it came to the actual sex scene between them, it was over in literally the blink of an eye. I suppose that if you’re going to go there, you should probably actually go there the whole way.

The story I preferred the most was Road Trip Cone of Silence – though the title confused me. I kept thinking the author typo’d code and made it cone. This one had a little bit of trauma and a lot a bit of hot. Like the others, it happened to fast, but it was a cute story.

As for Coach’s Revenge, I’m very conflicted. It was steaming, but it was also very heavily dub-con. I don’t mind dub-con at all, but this one just didn’t quite sit right with me and I wasn’t really expecting it to go there.

In general, the author still shows some good story-telling skills, but I think that maybe they are more suited for long stories than short ones.

The breakdown of story ratings:

The Whitmore Room: 3 stars
Is there a Porn Star in My Class?: 3 stars
Road Trip Cone of Silence: 3.5 stars
Coach’s Revenge: 3.5 stars

The cover art by James at GoOnWrite.com is nice and simple, but it doesn’t really apply to any of these stories specifically. So as far as a generic cover, it’s nice, but not original.

Sales Links: Goodreads | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 30th 2015 (first published June 29th 2015)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBrowerton University #1.5

A Sammy Review: Rock Rod Studios Presents (1-3) Series by Emory Vargas

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Alex UndoneAlex comes again, no longer concerned with the consistency of his semen. His primary concerns are staying conscious and not sobbing for his mother or something equally horrific. He’s down a wormhole of ecstasy and it’s terrifying.

After an incident with a past roommate, Alex isn’t entirely sure he’s totally, completely straight. So when the opportunity to earn some extra and much needed money through gay porn comes up, Alex is open to the option.

He’s not expecting to realize just how much he enjoys being with guys, and he’s definitely not expecting to meet Peter, the sexy, tattooed temporary secretary. Peter’s not into relationships, but the two can’t seem to shake the connection between them, and besides, Alex could really use some help with understanding all the gay stuff. After a couple shoots, Alex may just walk off with a whole lot more than some extra cash.

“What base is fuckmachines?” Alex asks.

“Home run.” Peter turns the kiss into a quick, nipping thing that almost wakes up Alex’s incredibly worn out sex drive. “We’re basically married now.”

I went into these three books with an open mind. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect other than hopefully some delicious smut. I definitely got that, but I also was surprised by some of the other things that came out of this series.

First, I’ll mention that these three stories are a super quick read. They’re perfect for when you have just a couple hours of downtime, or maybe if that’s all you can justify with all the other work you have to do. They were a fun little reprieve for me. You do need to read them all in order, otherwise it’s like picking up a fork and expecting there to be your favorite cake on it and realizing that it fell off before it got to your mouth. Yeah, total bummer.

I wasn’t expecting the nice little drops of humor that were laced throughout each of the books. Alex was naive but not in a completely annoying way. It was believable and sweet and silly.

The one thing that I had some issues with were revealing Peter’s past. As someone who works in a men’s inpatient rehab, I felt like the entire issue was a little footnote, and I’d encourage authors to not include something like that if you aren’t going to give it the time of day in the actual story.

Also, I like angst. No, I love angst. I would’ve adored if there was just a dash of that here, but alas, there was none. I think that will work great for most people, but for me I just wanted more emotions.

All in all, a nice introduction to the author and a sexy little series.

The covers by Emory Vargas are simple, but I think they fit the stories just fine. They work together and you can tell they’re all for the same series, which I appreciate.

Sales Links Amazon:  Alex Undone  |  Opening Alex |  Alex On Top

Books in the Series Reviewed with links to Goodreads pages:    

 

A Sammy Review: Unbound, Unbroken (In His Arena #2) by Nasia Maksima

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Rating: 2.75 rounded up to 3 stars out of 5

Unbound UnbrokenDawn had broken hot over the Empress’s Grand Amphitheatre, and despite cooler winds coming in from the northern countries, the theatre itself held the day’s heat as though it meant to drive its occupants mad with fever. Still, the masses crowded the stands, drawn by fantastical Spectacles, each more gruesome and gory.

Titian is part of a bonded pair, a pair in which he is forced to be the submissive. But submissiveness is not Titian’s nature. Every bone in his body screams for dominance, but each gladiator has a role to play in the Arena, and that is his.

His opposite, Galadros is also one part of a pair. He, the stronger, desires to be dominated. But a gladiator of his stature and with his goals can not afford to bend for anyone.

That is until Alession works his magic to bind them together in an effort to create a tragic puppet show for the beautiful and feared empress. He’s failed once before. If he fails again, he will be met with no mercy.

“Do not regret. Every man makes his choices in the theatre. Some are right; some are wrong. Fewer can be taken back.”

In all honesty, I am slightly irritated with this book. For much of it, I felt like I was reading the first book over again. Situations were tweaked slightly, but the story of Galadros and Titian very much mirrored that of Lucan and Hektor. I was hoping for something different within the same world, as I think most people would with a sequel, but I didn’t get it. This aspect had the biggest impact on the rating, but that’s not to say that there weren’t good parts of the book.

Hidden in the background behind the mirrored story is a bit more of the plot. Alession is again the ultimate villain, but I really enjoyed getting to see him. There’s more to him than meets the page, and I appreciate that. He’s depraved and completely amoral, but I’d expect nothing less of him. I also want to know what is going on with the empress, and for this little hidden plot I will likely continue to read the series.

The author also does a really nice job of describing battle and some of the darker aspects of the story. House Menelaus and the Grotesqueries were incredibly alluring and sickening (though I kept picturing a giant squid for the last one, which didn’t really frighten me). And the sex, for the most part, is pretty hot and heavy, though some of the dirty talk borders on eye roll-worthy for me. I think the author would be benefited from cutting down on some parts of the stories and focusing on the point of the book.

Still, I will read the next book, if only to know more about Alession and the empress.

The cover art by Fiona Jayde Media is fitting for the story and how I’d picture Titian. My own quibble is that I swear the book says that Titian never wore his helm. Hm.

Sales Links:  Loose Id LLC |All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 309 pages
Published April 21st 2015 by Loose Id
ISBN139781623009212
edition languageEnglish

Series: In His Arena

A Sammy Review: Entwined by Liberty Lace

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

Entwined coverTobias and Thomas are twin brothers keeping a big secret: they’re in love. Ever since high school, they’ve been attracted to each other in a way that they know no one else can ever really understand. But finally, they are going to get to be together, even if no one knows. At least until their family gets together for their grandma’s eightieth birthday celebration. Then, sometimes, secrets have a way of getting out.

After reading this, I think I’ve decided that Liberty Lace and I just aren’t compatible as reader and author. For me, there’s a huge disconnect when it comes to emotions or writing in her stories. I don’t feel anything when I read them, other than occasionally annoyed.

This story in particular read a lot like a soap opera. There was a slew of family drama packed into such a short number of pages. When it wasn’t one issue, there was another, and then you’d turn the page and there’d be something else.

Another thing that drove me insane was how careless the twins were being. It’s supposed to be this big secret but they pretty much grope and kiss each other anywhere. Because of this attitude, it didn’t feel like a secret to me, but more like a game of “how much can we push it before we get caught?” I was just irritated.

Additionally, just because this is a short story and the boy’s are twins, doesn’t mean an author can’t give them each a unique personality. Sadly, I felt they were bland and flat. I couldn’t tell them apart, especially since their names both began with T and there were no distinct personality characteristics. Eventually, I didn’t even care about telling them apart anyway. On top of all of that, the editing was lacking. At one point, dairy was spelled diary and I had to headdesk just a bit. I was bored and glad it was short.

But other people have enjoyed this story and this author, so it may be a case of it’s not you, it’s me.

The cover art by Wilde City Press is fine. It’s fitting as it has a beach setting and well… the same guy/”twins.” So in general, I think it works for the story, and the word play is cute.

Sales Links:  Wilde City Press |  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook
Published August 5th 2015 by Wilde City Press
ISBN13 9781925313406
edition language English

A Sammy Review: The Ultimate Team (Juxtapose City #4) by Tricia Owens

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5   ★★★★★

“You’re not getting your mythical knight in shining armor,” Parker told him softly. “You’re getting a man who’s trying very hard to be good, but has never been shown how to be. You have to stick by him and show him what’s best within him, Calyx. You have to take his darkness and make it light.”

The Ultimate Team coverFollowing the events of the previous book, Starr is holed up in bad and the team is down a man. That is until the captain assigns none other than Parker to the team. But another psypath on the team, let alone a psypath that has history with Black and knows his secrets? That’s dangerous.

Between the team trying to rebuild again and new threats arising from some unexpected places, Starr and Black have to find a way to balance their secrets, half-truths, love, and duty to the team, all while remaining alive. In other words, just another day in Juxtapose City.

“You don’t need a city, a hiding place, to be happy. I can make you happy. I can take care of you.”

It has been so long since I’ve been able to read a book in this series, and I hadn’t had the time to reread the previous ones before reading this, so I was very nervous that nothing would make sense to me, but it gradually came back to me, and within a matter of pages I was lost in the story yet again.

If you’ve read the previous books (and you should read them in order), you know what a hot mess Starr and Black’s world is, not to mention their relationship that evolved from hate. Adding Parker to the team adds an uncomfortable dynamic, but the author handles it well and doesn’t have the problem go away like magic. It’s there and they have to deal with it.

Unlike the previous books, this one had much more of the romance element to it. Starr and Black spend a lot of time dealing with their flaws, particularly the mean streak of jealousy that Starr has, paired with both of their doubts. And some of it is just so painful, like how Black truly thinks he’s this horrible person, and how sometimes Starr isn’t so sure either, but still manages to love him. It straddles a moral boundary that is so intriguing and wonderful.

On top of it all, Tricia Owens manages to continue to bring the steam. We finally (no, but really) get some penetration, though it’s not quite what I was hoping for or expecting, but it’s a step forward. But it just goes to show that she’s been able to keep up the heat and fire without that.

Black, Jake, Haney and Bee had all killed in the course of their work. But looking across the aisle first at Jake and then at Haney, who immediately gave him an encouraging thumbs up―Calyx didn’t see evil in them, or cruelty. They didn’t look haunted like Black, who carried his sins as if he was half a man without them.

This book also provides some insight into Starr and Black’s pasts. We get to see a bit more of where they came from and what Black went through to get where he is now. There are still so many unanswered questions, but you have to expect that in this series and embrace them.

Not for even a second was I bored. I enjoyed each word and am so happy to get some reacquainted with a favorite couple: Starr and Black.

The cover art is nice in that it fits the rest of the series and is cohesive. Unfortunately, the model for Starr doesn’t quite work for me, but besides that it’s not bad.

Sales Link:  Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 207 pages
Published March 24th 2015

A Sammy Review: Cronin’s Key II (Cronin’s Key #2) by N.R. Walker

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Cronin's Key II cover“I am forever by your side.”

“As are we,” Jodis said.

Finally, Alec smiled. “Just like the musketeers, huh? All for one and one for all.”

Cronin pulled back a little so he could see Alec’s face. “They weren’t vampires.”

Life hasn’t been a picnic since Alec MacAidan had his world turned upside down. Finding out you’re fated to a vampire, have pretty much been stalked by another since your birth, and are some kind of mysterious key that could save the world is a lot to swallow. But now that he’s started to embrace it, Alec wouldn’t change a thing.

But if he thought there would be rest for the wicked, he was wrong. With rumors of vampire covens fleeing Russia and disappearances in China, there’s no mistaking that Alec’s job as the key has come into play again. But this time, it’s not his life on the line, it’s his forever.

Completion.

Alec understood now what that really meant. It wasn’t some prudish, polite way to describe an orgasm. It was to be at one with Cronin, to be whole, to be complete.

To be fated.

I was beyond excited to read the second book in this series. The first set a great stage for world building and a lifelong (and then some) romance between Cronin and Alec. In this book, we get even more of that world building and romance, and let me tell you, Walker cranks up the steam.

One of my favorite aspects of the first story was the alternate history, and we got even more of that here. Hell, I’d have loved for pages of it (though most readers wouldn’t, so I understand her limiting it.) The author did a nice job of balancing the copious amounts of information with humor and the rest of the story so that it didn’t feel to heavy or like a huge info dump.

And that humor… oh that humor. It was just spot on. I adore Alec and in this book we got to see more of some past favorites and meet some new ones. I hope to see more of Jorge, and even when Alec and Cronin’s story concludes, I’d love to see what Walker could do with Jacques or Kennard. They both have a lot of potential as stars in their own stories.

But… I do have a bone to pick. Or, well, a few. First, the editing. I literally cringed at some of the mistakes. Commas were missing at points, commas were thrown in where they shouldn’t be, words were wrong… it’s a shame, because someone should’ve picked up on those things before it was published. Normally I can get over a few mistakes, but there were enough in this one that I was actually distracted a few times when reading.

Another issue I had was luckily resolved, and that was the portrayal of Dissociative Identity Disorder (or DID, as most people in the field would call it.) I was glad things changed at the end, because I was pretty unhappy with how this was written.

And then my last issue was with how quickly things happened at the end and the lack of emotion I felt for those parts. It was like two books of build up to that moment and… well, it basically went out with a little whimper instead of a bang. I’d love to see Walker push for more emotion in those parts of her story. Make it less of the motions and more of the feelings. In the end, it just felt too neat and clean. And when we found out who was behind stuff… it literally was like “huh? Oh… okay.” I was totally bummed by that.

Still, I love the world building and the characters, and I can’t wait to read more of these two.

The cover art by Sara York is a nice compliment to the first. It’s still not the prettiest thing in the world, but it ties in with the story and the series.

Sales Links:  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 195 pages
Published May 22nd 2015 by N.R. Walker
edition language English

A Sammy Review: The World in His Eyes by A. J. Thomas

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

My dad always says if there aren’t zombies involved in a catastrophe, it’s not worth worrying about.

The World In His Eyes coverLarry Myers works tirelessly to get his doctorate. That means long hours and grueling shifts of sometimes seeing the worst possible things happen to people, especially on his rotation in the ER. Though he loves what he’s doing, it’s not exactly conducive to a relationship, so he often resorts to Grindr for a little destressing between the sheets.

One day he stumbles upon the picture of a man who captures him with his eyes. He takes the chance and writes to the guy named Brandon. What starts as an innocent way to get release quickly becomes more when the two manage to connect on a level that’s night normal for a hookup. But between their jobs, family, and some disagreeable friends, a relationship may be out of the picture, but maybe it’s worth a shot.

“He can’t take on the world,” Larry insisted. “But he’s the only one who’s ever tried to take on the world on my behalf.”

From the very moment I saw this prompt up for claim for this years Don’t Read in the Closet event (Love is an Open Road), I was incredibly excited. This screamed for the author to tell an honest story that didn’t disregard race or use it as some sort of ploy. When A.J. Thomas picked it up, my excitement grew. What I’ve read by her has been quite good, and I was looking forward to seeing what she could do with this.

She did not disappoint. She created this story of two men who are both very independent. Larry, a black man striving to be a doctor and dealing with his mother being in a nursing home, and Brandon, a man who is living in his father’s shadow at the software company he works for. They both felt so real to be… like two completely honest characters, down to some of the quirks of hooking up with a doctor (they may have to leave you midthrust when their pager goes off, whoops!)

It had dashes of humor and the right touch of seriousness. There were so many strong characters, such as Larry’s mom, who Larry didn’t give enough credit to but was a truly shining part of the story. Then you have Larry’s best friend (and ex-girlfriend) August who is a strong female and made me smile a few times.

I thoroughly enjoyed every word of it, and I would love to see A.J. Thomas write more about real black characters. Why? She didn’t ignore race. She brought it in perfectly without making it the focus of the story. It felt real, it was real. There needs to be more of those kinds of characters in M/M stories. Thank you for giving me one, A.J. If you happen to want to write more, well, I’m here to gobble it right up.

The cover art by A.J. Thomas is very simple. While it’s not the most design heavy, I’d prefer that from an author who doesn’t have experience in graphic design. She seemed to understand that and not try to make it into something it wasn’t, so I do appreciate that. It’s simple but not ugly.

No Sales Links:  Free

Book Details:

ebook, 128 pages
Published August 5th 2015 by M/MRomanceGroup.com
edition language English
setting Santa Clara, California (United States)
San Jose, California (United States)
Oakland, California (United States)

A Sammy Review: How to Train Your Dom in Five Easy Steps by Josephine Myles

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
How To Train Your Dom coverEddie Powell is a painslut, quietly looking for more than just hot sex. That hasn’t worked so well with his last Doms – but when he spots Jeff White, a supposedly straight wannabe-Dom, he can’t resist a good challenge.
Jeff is newer to the scene, and between an embarrassing past experience and his lack of personal etiquette when it comes to meeting subs, he’s been struggling to find his way. He’s skeptical when Eddie approaches him and offers to train him, he isn’t gay after all. But he could use the help, and it’s just experimenting, right?
But even the most sound experiments can go awry, and no one factored chemistry or love into this equation.
“And you think you love him.”
 
“I do love him. Even if he doesn’t deserve it.”
 
“Deserving it has nothing to do with it. If you wait around for someone who truly deserves your love, you’ll be waiting forever. We’ve all got our flaws. You can be a good Dom and still have issues.”
Hm… well, my feelings toward this are a bit mixed.
I’ve stated it before, I do not actively seek out heavy BDSM practices in my books. I make an exception for this one based on the wonderful reviews it had gotten and a plot that sounded pretty yummy. And for the most part, I liked it.
I’m still a bit more on the side of vanilla when it comes to CBT (which, you know you’re in a helping profession when you originally think this means Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The meaning in this book is quite different LOL). I could’ve taken it or left it. Plus, I have a hard time getting the image of all the contraptions combined with the rope work and such in my head, which can be a bit frustrating.
Beside that, though, I enjoyed the idea of the story. It’s something I’ve read quite a few times before. Straight boy experiments with gay boy and they fall madly in love. I thought adding the element of BDSM and a D/s relationship to this was quite interesting and gave it a whole other layer.
I also enjoy hearing a bit about the practices in general, as someone who isn’t involved in the scene, I’m always open to hearing about it and how people potentially view their roles. I got some interesting insight in this book, particularly in conversations between Eddie and Maddy. (I was a bit disturbed by the mom being called Mags though, I got them mixed up a bit and was like “wait, what?”)
I was really looking forward to the humiliation aspect of this, too. And the dirty talking. And it fell a bit flat for me in those realms – bummer 😦
Overall it was good, I just wish I had felt more connected to it.
The cover art by Lou Harper is pretty basic and in general just okay. I like the use of the basic font, but his tie looks like it’s floating and from a design standpoint, it seems like there wasn’t much that went into it. At least the guy is nice to look at.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Links:
G00dreads
Kindle Edition, 295 pages
Published September 23rd 2014 by Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
ASIN B00KT23WMW
edition language English

A Sammy Review: Tin Man (Bliss #1.5) by Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Everything in his life that should have been profound had been nameless. Life and death, fucking and killing—it should have been profound. It should have resonated. He wanted it to, with Ace. He just wanted something to matter, for once.

Tin Man coverAshoka “Ace” King is known as a crim, as are most people living in District Three. Between Morality Laws and rules that target those without jobs or homes, life in Tophet isn’t easy for those not in the upper realms of society. On top of it all, they all have to be on the constant look out for the ATU, a police force known to kill at random.

One unlucky night, Ace runs into a member of the ATU. He’s forced to make a split-second decision that puts his life in danger and makes him a target for the ATU. What he doesn’t expect is for that decision to lead him to Soren Lau, the ATU agent who just couldn’t seem to pull the trigger when ordered.

After a sordid tryst, the two become irrevocably entwined. But they’re on two different sides, and when fate brings them together yet another time, they both have to make a choice and decide which side they want to end up on.

“What would you do?” he asked. “If you were me, standing at the edge of the world. Would you run back toward solid ground, or would you jump?”

“I caught you once, didn’t I?”

One of my favorite things in books is when they are able to build this world that feels so vivid it’s nearly tangible. I was hoping to get that out of this book, and I did. The authors managed to weave in details of life in Tophet without making the book heavy with them, they intrigued me as a reader and made a society that I felt lucky to get to see and lucky to not have to live in… or do I?

Sometimes I think I can read a bit too much into things. My career involves social justice and advocacy, so upon reading this, bells went off in my head. A society where the people meant to protect us are causing harm, particularly to those in poverty? A society that marks people as criminals like it’s a brand that will forever be embedded in their skin? A society divided not by right and wrong but by the money in your pocket? So yeah, let’s just say I connected with that, and as much as it pained me, it was so wonderfully done. This society that is labeled as dystopian but somehow resembles bits of our own? If that’s not intriguing and thought-provoking, I don’t know what is.

But onto other matters, the characters. Ace and Soren together managed to create this almost devastating couple that shouldn’t work but did. Soren is questioning his role and all he’s dedicated himself to, and Ace is struggling just to survive. But these characters are anything but weak. Being able to watch them in their own battles was a real treat, especially when it resulted in their growth.

My absolute biggest complaint is that I wanted more. It ended just as it was getting good, and while I was satisfied to an extent, I definitely will be wanting more not only of this universe, but also these characters. Where do they go from here? I don’t know. I hope that I’ll find out though.

I really appreciate the cover art by L.C. Chase. It is very simple but provides a stark image and helps me visualize Soren without giving me all the intricacies of detail that readers like to fill in for themselves.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing  |  All Romance |  Amazon  | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 134 pages
Expected publication: July 20th 2015 by Riptide
ISBN139781626493285
edition languageEnglish
seriesBliss #1.5