A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Familiar Angel by Amy Lane

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This was certainly a departure from what I normally read and most definitely a departure from stories I’ve read from Amy Lane, one of my favorite authors.  The main reason it’s a departure is that it’s fantasy-based and that’s not my favorite genre; there’s also a historical element, a lot of world-building, and a huge family dynamic with relationships out of the norm—it’s a family of the heart rather than a family of origin—so even understanding all those intertwining relationships took some time and concentration to get me into the rhythm of the story.  Was it a romance?  Well, there’s an MM romance within the book but I would hesitate to recommend this one to someone looking strictly for an MM romance because it’s only about 20% of the story, and actually, once the angel is in corporeal form, it’s only about 10%. 

But I digress.  Here’s the background:  A sorceress and a demon—Emma and Leonard—are ill-fated lovers and while being pursued/hunted, they take the time for the sorceress to prepare a spell to humanize the demon and to get them away from their pursuers. During the incantation, she looks across the clearing and sees three young boys who are running for their lives from Big Cass, a whoremaster, rapist, brothel-keeper.  She includes the boys—Harry, Edward, and Francis—in the spell and when the dust settles, the demon is now human, and she’s still alive but has given some of her power away to change the three boys to her familiars who are now able to assume cat form.  All have become immortal, though they will age very slowly over time. To the boys, the important thing is that they will be together and they’ve escaped Big Cass.  Then they discover both the safety they feel and the fun they can have in their cat forms and remain in those forms more often than not over the first year or so after they’ve been changed.

The family establishes itself in California and when the boys later hear of a group of young people being sold into slavery, they determine they are going to rescue them. Thus starts a hundred year plus journey during which the family specializes in finding, rescuing, and redirecting young women and men being trafficked.  Over time, Harry and the angel, Suriel, who is Heaven’s angel doomed to suffer for those bound against their will, become very close. In fact, almost from the beginning, Harry loves Suriel and Suriel loves Harry, so much so that he comes down from Heaven a few times over the years to save Harry’s life.  Each time, he suffers more when he returns to Heaven.  It’s a price he pays for helping Harry—a price he gladly pays. 

I’m not sure I’m doing justice to the world the author built here as it was complex so somewhat confusing to me, but I liked the fact that in the latter parts of the story, the characters recounted some of their adventures so it helped to put their view of the world and the events that brought them together into perspective. 

I wish there had been more time for Harry and Suriel on page. Though the depth of their love for one another was clear at the end, their earlier years together were told as flashbacks, and in some cases, assumptions, so the strength of their bond was not as apparent as it was in the last chapters.  And maybe Harry wasn’t quite as lovable a human as I would like.  I’m not sure. He spent a lot of time in his head and looking out for his brothers—a typical oldest child.  There is a nice setup for both brothers to have their stories: Edward, the middle brother, is apparently in love with a demon who has helped them off and on through the years; and Francis, the youngest brother is in love with the child born to Emma and Leonard who is now at college age and about to be sent off to Oxford.  I found it odd that though none of the rest of them are aging, the child of the sorceress and former demon grew and aged at a human pace up to this point.  Will that continue or will his progress slow so that he can keep pace with his lover, Francis, the youngest of the familiars who at this point is immortal?   Hmm, inquiring minds want to know. 

Overall, though, I did enjoy this story from the fertile imagination of Amy Lane. I do recommend it to those who enjoy angels and demons and the world they live in and to those who want to get in on the ground floor of what could turn out to be a long-term, engaging, and intriguing MM romance series.

Cover art by Reese Dante.  It works for the character and storyline.

Sales Links;  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: October 20th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13 9781635339468
Edition Language English

Getting Personal with Liam Livings of ‘The Guardian Angel’ (guest post, excerpt and giveaway)

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The Guardian Angel

The Guardian Angel by Liam Livings
Release date 27th November 2015
Publisher: Love Lane Books
Cover Art by Meredith Russell

Buy Links to follow

Welcome, Liam, to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. We’re happy to have you here today.  Tell us something romantic, about yourself and for our readers. I know that plays a part in your story.

Best place for a first date?

To Paris, under the Eiffel Tower. Have I been on a date there? Yes I have. Was it my first date? Strictly speaking no. I think Paris is such a romantic city. In The Guardian Angel, Richard has a few romantic escapes although one of them doesn’t turn out to be as romantic as he’d thought, but I won’t say any more or I’ll spoil the story.

Best night out you’ve had?

You know when you have one of those nights when the gods, or your guardian angel or whoever you believe in, is smiling down on you, when everything comes together to make a perfect night? Well, one night a few years ago, a friend had come to London from up’t North and we were going to have a quiet night in – Ab Fab box set, few bottles of wine, Chinese takeaway, you know. But once we got to eight o’clock we realised it was a bit of a waste for this friend to come all the way from Yorkshire / Derbyshire / Lancashire, wherever it was, down to London to only see the inside of the flat. So we jumped on the tube, went to a club called Fiction – used to be around the back of Kings Cross station, has since been pulled down to make way for a block of penthouses – which was a series of brick arches, converted into a night club. We got straight in, my friend charmed the doorman, as usual, deposited our coats and within minutes were in one of the dance floors throwing shapes and having it large with the rest of ’em. We met other clubbing friends once inside, having managed to whip up a Saturday night from thin air and a few hours’ notice; much hugging and dancing and  sitting putting the world to rights and philosophising occurred. The club had an outdoor area and I talked to a group of lovely random people over cigarettes and philosophical life talk. We stayed right to the end, at 6 o’clock the next morning, dancing until our limbs ached, catching up about the last time since this friend had visited London and sitting to rest our sore feet. There was an enormous queue for the taxi rank and at that time of the morning all we wanted was a comfy sofa in the flat. Somehow, as we approached the queue a taxi appeared next to a man with a clip board and we were whisked into the car and thence back to the flat. That taxi journey will go down as the most ridiculous, rude, hilarious and surreal journey I’ve ever been on. Because we were all a bit the worse for wear from the club, we were in a jokey mood. I won’t go into details for fear of offending sensitive readers, but suffice it to say our jokes veered more towards the blue end of the scale and when one of my friends apologised to the taxi driver who’d been huffing and puffing at us, I replied, ‘No you’re not, you’re not sorry at all.’ To which he turned to the taxi driver and said, ‘He’s right you know,’ and promptly started telling the next filthy story. At the time, The Last King of Scotland was at the cinema, and we were discussing how sexy James McAvoy the male lead is, and then there we started to play on the name of the film, twisting and turning it until it was much ruder and didn’t make any sense at all. As you can imagine, at the time we thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world.

Richard has a few ‘memorable nights’ resulting in a lot more than an x rated taxi journey and some laughs. He’s definitely searching for something in his life, but sometimes it’s not clear where you have to search, and whether what you’re looking for is what you actually want or need. These are things Richard is grappling with during The Guardian Angel.

Most romantic thing someone’s done for you?

It probably will sound very pedestrian, but a few years ago, when I was saving up for my Mazda MX5, I had stopped buying any non essentials – no clothes, no music, films, books anything. Because Himself knew I was near to my saving target the Christmas before he bought me a Liam care package: most of the music, films, books and toiletries I had wanted over the previous 2 years of saving frantically, and hadn’t bought myself.

Richard doesn’t have much experience of romance as he’s not really done relationships before. He’s less moonlight and roses and more hook up app and takeaway with a friend; until he meets someone he wants to be in a relationship with

Buy links here

Blurb

What happens when a man falls in love with his guardian angel?

Richard Sullivan is plagued by white feathers turning up at the oddest moments. Amy, his best friend, suggests his guardian angel is trying to contact him, but he dismisses the idea out of hand as nonsense.

Until, that is, he meets Sky. Six feet of muscle in a man skirt with white feather wings.

What exactly is a guardian angel? And what happens when your guardian angel takes leave and sends in a temp to cover? Do you wait for a perfect boyfriend on the off chance you may be able to touch him, to be with him, or do you grab happiness with another human? And, why the hell has Richard’s life suddenly become so complicated?

Excerpt

It all started on my way back from the wrong job. I’d just turned it down because I couldn’t stand to listen to that lot going on about sustainability this and putting bees on the roofs of houses that. I just wanted them all to fuck off. I didn’t need their job offer. I had a good feeling the law firm application would get me onto their graduate scheme. I knew it. I could feel it in my water.

The law firm sent me a letter thanking me for the application. And good luck with my other job searching.

Fuck it.

I returned to the office just west of Liverpool Street station to do my last week of temping—my last week temping there, after a long series of temping jobs, some of which had made me want to jump under the train some mornings, others I could just sail through with my brain in neutral. And now this one. Well, this one was fine.

It had been fine. At first I thought it was quite interesting to try to do what New York City had done with its unloved, unknown areas, and name them. Like their SoHo was the area south of Houston Street. TriBeCa was the Triangle Below Canal Street. All this was interesting and news to me when I’d started at the Between Town Partnership. They were trying to make the area between the City of London, Liverpool Street, and the West End, happen. At the moment it was a sort of nowhere between the proper shopping of the West End and the financial district—a sort of no man’s land. No one had reason to go there specifically, unless they worked there, as I had for a variable three months.

I turned on my PC, went to the kitchen to make myself an instant coffee, but not Nescafé because they were doing something nasty about bottle-feeding in Third World countries. I had listened at the time, a bit, but had just internally rolled my eyes. No, this was all free-range, organic, preloved coffee. Shame it still tasted of shit, though.

I sat at my PC and noticed a white feather next to the mouse. I picked it up, looked at it closely, noticing it was pretty perfect as far as feathers went, and then threw it in the bin.

The morning passed without incident: spreadsheets about the CO2 output of various buildings, some brainstorming for this new area, and another offer of an extension to my contract.

“I’ll think about it, thanks,” I said, folding the offer letter into my bag and leaving for lunch.

I sat on a bench in a little park. The grass was covered in office workers, each eating their lunch and grabbing some air and sun for a moment in their day. I pulled out the offer letter from my bag, and another perfect white feather fell into my lap. This one was a bit larger—as big as my index finger—and still perfectly white, still not bent or dirty. I folded it back with the offer letter, then rang Amy at work. She’d know what to do.

“Good morning, The Music and Video Shop, how can I help you?”

“It’s me. How’s your morning?”

She swapped her phone voice for her proper, slightly Welsh accent. “Busy as it goes. I can’t believe people still actually come into a shop to buy this stuff.”

“Just be thankful they’re trying to close down Pirate Cove. And there’s plenty of people who don’t know how to use it anyway, playing it safe, buying DVDs and CDs from you lot.” I paused, thinking about my morning, my situation, and the feathers; she’d want to hear about those. “So, white feathers, what do they mean?”

About the Author

About Liam Livings

Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film – and he’s been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.

 You can connect with Liam

Giveaway

Win a $15 Giftcard from Amazon or ARe, plus 2 further prizes of an ebook from Liam’s catalogue. Competition closes 11th December – midnight GMT.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Link and prize provided by the author and Love Lane Books.

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