A MelanieM Release Day Review: Dream (Aisling #2) by Carole Cummings

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

To reveal the intricate machinations threatening them, two men must learn to trust each other. But how can they, when their hearts and minds—their realities—are subject to manipulation?

When he set out to escort the prisoner Wilfred Calder back to Putnam, Constable Dallin Brayden didn’t anticipate the political betrayal and malicious magic threatening their lives at every turn. To his surprise, he slips into the role of protector—and it’s more than duty compelling him to ensure Wil’s safety as they’re haunted by strange dreams.  But does Wil dare put himself in the hands of a man he believes wants him dead?

Wil’s past weighs heavily on him, tainting his perceptions as he struggles his way through a tangle of lies. With both will and magic as his weapons, he fights desperately for survival—and his soul. For the Aisling is coveted by more than the Guild and the Brethren; ancient gods and soul-eating spirits also want what lives within him. His only chance might be Dallin and his goddess, the Mother, who Wil has been taught to despise above all others.

It’s hard to describe just how exquisite this book and saga actually is.  Dream, the second story in the Aisling Trilogy, picks up exactly where the first left off, with Dallin accepting that Wil is the Aisling, the one he is meant to protect above all else.  Why?  Because Dallin is the Guardian.  What that means, how they are to fulfill those roles start to be revealed here.

That revelation and the impact upon their relationship starts immediately.  One of the biggest issues here is trust and what each man has seen/been told will happen to them.  Do they learn to trust each other and that they can make the future their own?  Or is the future already written and are they simply trodding a path they are meant to go down?  What do the gods have planned for them if anything?

The world building Cummings starting in Guardian (Aisling, #1)  becomes even more complex and wide ranging, crossing lands and picking up cultures and peoples we had only heard about in the first novel.  Mirroring the complexity of the world building is the relationship and personal dynamics between Wil and Dallin.  From enemies to friends and now the slow move into a romantic relationship, Cummings has been careful to establish the necessary trust and communication that let’s this happen between them.  I love the slow courtship between the men.  Considering all Wil has been through, the slow emotional involvement that the physical one also implies makes perfect sense.

Even as we enjoy the small touches that illuminate the growth of intimacy between the men, Cummings is busy ramping up the suspense of the chase as well.  For the evil is never far behind them, the good men chasing them for the wrong reasons as well…even their destination is fraught is peril.  The author makes us  fear the smallest of breaks in the woods,  the turn of every corner in a village is reason for the reader to hold our breath.

There is no one element or section here I can highlight.  It’s all equally fantastic.  Characters are beautifully created.  I believe in them and their relationships.  Fear for their futures.  The evil here is horrific and about to deepen with the last story.  The gods and aspects of religion the author has devised is stunning in its originality.  How this will play out for Wil and Dallin in book three, Beloved Son, is something I can’t wait to read when it’s released in December.

As with the first story, Dream ends somewhat abruptly, most likely where the final installment will pick up.  Oddly, I’m alright with that.  After the ending in Guardian, I almost expected it. At the end here Wil and Dallin are poised on the precipice of knowledge.   That next and final story tips them and us over the edge.

If you love fantasy and are new to this trilogy, you have until December to get caught up.  I highly recommend this story (not a stand alone) and the first, Guardian.  Then join me in December for the release of Beloved Son.

Cover art by Anne Cain is perfect for the character and for branding the series.

Sales Links: DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 2nd Edition, 336 pages
Expected publication: October 17th 2017 by DSP Publications (first published June 15th 2011)
Original Title Dream
ISBN13 9781635336740
Edition Language English
Series Aisling #2
Beloved Son (Aisling Trilogy, #3)  coming Dec 13th 2017 and I can’t wait
Everything (Aisling #3.5)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Guardian (Aisling #1) by Carole Cummings

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Aisling Trilogy: Book One

As he pursues a man who is not what he seems, Constable Dallin Brayden learns the lines between enemy and ally, truth and deception, and conscience and obedience are not only blurred, but malleable.

 

Constable Dallin Brayden knows who he is, what he’s about, and he doesn’t believe in Fate. “Wilfred Calder” has no idea who he is or what he’s about, and he’s been running from Fate for as long as he can remember. When Wil flees after witnessing a murder, it’s Dallin’s job to pursue him. Along the way, he’s pulled into a maelstrom of ancient myth, fanatical religion, and the delicate politics of a shaky truce between two perpetually warring countries—all of which rests on the slender shoulders of the man he knows is not Wilfred Calder.

 

Even Dallin’s success proves a hollow victory. Wil is vengeful, rebellious, and lethal, and his tale of magic and betrayal rocks the carefully constructed foundations of Dallin’s world. Suspicious and only half believing, Dallin must question not only his own integrity and his half-forgotten past, but the morality and motives of everyone around him—including those who hold his own country’s fate in their hands.

I’m going to come out and say I gave this 5 stars despite the ending.  Guardian is just that good.  The first in Carole Cummings’ Aisling Trilogy, it doesn’t so much end as stop, clearly waiting for the next story to take over.  No cliffhanger, just a cessation more or less in the storyline.  Argh as they say.

But everything that comes before that ending? Just outstanding!  From the incredible world building to the nuanced characters full of anguished pasts and unimaginable pain to a present to comes with a slow buildup of suspense and a flight of terror against faceless enemies, this story is one you cannot put down.

And it starts off  so calmly with our introduction to Dallin Brayden, an orphan whose fate is tied up with the man he’s about to meet.  All the characters here are densely layered,  with revelations about who they are peeled back over the course of the story. Dallin’s character is imminently likable and that only increases the more we get to know him.  His own doubts and confusions let us understand him while the innate goodness Cummings has written into his personality makes him an anchor for us to connect with.  Then there’s Wil. Oh, my, there are hardly any words for Wil.  You must meet him, go along the journey here with him to begin to understand why you will fall in love with him so.  And fear for him.

Cummings is building a complex mythology here along with her relationships and cultures.  It all works to a stunning detail.  I’m so tempted to wait until the last two books are out and read through the entire trilogy to the end.  I don’t think I can handle another ending like that.  Just too frustrating as this story is that good and I want to know how it  ends!  You will too.  You decide what sort of reader you are.  Can you handle a story one book at a time?  If so, then pick this up and get started on the Trilogy and a couple you’ll want to meet.  If you are someone who wants to know how it will all end, you might want to wait until all three books are out and read them all together.  Either way,  I’m in line for the next one to come out!  This author has me hooked on Aisling!

Cover Artist: Anne Cain.  I’m not sure I’m a fan of this cover.  It fits in a way, just a matter of taste.

Sales Links:  DSP Publications | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 285 pages
Expected publication: August 15th 2017 by DSP Publications
ASIN B073Q8GV1G