A Free Dreamer Review: For the Clan by Archer Kay Leah

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Rating: 5 Stars out of 5

Canada, 2165 AD. The Water Wars and a decimated economy have taken their toll. Anyone who doesn’t live in a military-patrolled metropolis lives in a clan. But being in a clan doesn’t mean safety.

And for a Ven like Roan Lee, it doesn’t matter where he lives. Safety is a luxury. So is freedom.

Roan is desperate to escape the governtary’s exploitation and torture. He is nothing to them but 54σK1, an artifact born from a genetic mishap. When the chance to escape arises, he makes a run for it—and encounters the lover from his past, twisting his future into a second chance he never expected.

As leaders of Clan Teach, Jace Ama and his wife, Cayra Diega, have enough difficulty keeping their people safe. When Roan is thrown to their feet as a prisoner, their marriage becomes an additional challenge. Jace still loves Roan, but where does that leave Cayra?

For the Clan” wasn’t my first book by this author, but it was the first MMF book I’ve ever consciously picked up. Not so long ago, I wouldn’t have given it a second glance, simply because of the relationship dynamic. But then I decided to give every book with an interesting blurb a try, no matter the pairing. And I’m so glad I did, because I absolutely loved this book.

Strangely enough, the first word that comes to my mind when I think about this story is “beautiful”. Something about it just made me feel really happy, even though a lot of horrible things happen and life definitely isn’t easy for our protagonists. I think it might be because of the wonderful love story we get to witness. Roan’s situation seems so bleak and utterly hopeless and it was so amazing to watch how love gave him hope again. I loved all three MCs and their dynamic. There was no bitterness or jealousy, even if it wasn’t always easy. They’re strong with and for each other, but they can also be weak and know that the other one will catch them.

The book is incredibly well written. This is actually my fourth book by Archer Kay Leah, but while the three other books I read were something between “okay” and “good, but not great”, this was a masterpiece. It was easy to fall into the world the author created and get lost in it and in the feelings of the MCs. The descriptions are all so vivid and the landscape felt very alive.

But there’s more to this book than just a wonderful love story and some pretty hot sex scenes. The world building was really well done too. There’s an explanation for everything, without ever giving an “info dump” feel. It was woven perfectly into the plot, just like how great world building is done.

There’s a lot of action and fighting going on. I was breathlessly anticipating what would happen next. The plot was very well thought out and had real depth.

If you like dystopian futures with brave heroes in a wonderful relationship and aren’t easily triggered by violence and horrible background stories, then you should read this book. You won’t regret it.

The cover by Natasha Snow is perfect for the story. It’s dark and violent, but also hauntingly beautiful.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 228 pages

Published May 25th 2016 by Less Than Three Press

Fantasy Spotlight Special for Soulbound (The Republic #4) by Archer Kay Leah (Playlist, Excerpt and Giveaway!)

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Soulbound

Soulbound (The Republic #4)

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Archer Kay Leah here today on tour for their latest story in The Republic series, Soulbound. Archer has brought along a Soulbound Playlist for all our readers to enjoy. Check it out below.

 

Soulbound Playlist – The Loving, the Hopeful, and the Sensual

Welcome, everyone! I’m Archer Kay Leah, author of LGTBQA+ romances with a fantastical kick (and sometimes even sci fi). Thanks for dropping by, and many thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting me today! ❤

One of the things I adore most is music, from way back in the times of Gregorian chant and before that all the way up to what’s new right now. Seriously, it’s my addiction, and it blends with my writing in a big way. Some authors prefer silence or shows/movies while they write, but I’m one who needs the right tunes on hand to ground me in the right moods and feelings while the creative process happens.

In a previous stop on the tour, I shared the major themes from the playlist for Soulbound, but today I’m sharing other sounds of the book, including love songs, the more hope-inspired tracks, and a few sensual tracks that hogged the limelight for a bit… or for at least a quarter of the book, actually.

Darren Hayes — Insatiable

First up is this sensual, seductive track from the lead singer of Savage Garden. The mood, tempo, and (most of) the lyrics are so perfect for Mayr and Tash. They’re a couple that doesn’t want to keep their hands off each other, or lips, or any part of the body, to be honest. They’re happiest when they’re left alone in the same room and just being them, no expectations, no judgment, no nothing to get in the way. This is a song for those who can’t get enough of intimate moments.

Ed Sheeran — Give Me Love

One of my favourite Ed Sheeran songs! I love how it’s put together, with a beautiful blend of music, vocal, and lyric. I can’t help but sing along, with a bit of my heart just sort of being tossed out with it. If Mayr and Tash ever decided to dance together, this would be a song they’d choose. The overall sound is definitely them, even though the lyrics don’t completely match up, but it works well with the constant yearning they have for each other. There’s the soft and tender part of the song, but then towards the end, it goes a bit harder, more… insistent, and plays out into a gentle, pleading end. Then the track switches over into “The Parting Glass,” an old, traditional piece that I also enjoy.

In some ways, this song would’ve been more suited for the second book in the series, Four, where Mayr and Tash first met. Though I think there’s a place for it here, because sometimes — at least in the beginning — even when they have each other, they pine for more because they haven’t quite reached the full force of their relationship. That comes with time, effort, and the willingness to finally surrender completely to what they have.

Enigma — Age of Loneliness & Enigma — Carly’s Song (Remix)

Two versions of the same song that I’ve loved since I was a teenager. Then again, it’s Enigma, which I adore. (It was because of an Enigma album that I fell in love with Gregorian chant!)

This song is a sensual, sexy piece in terms of sound and vibe. It’s always in my repertoire while writing romances or anything with intimate elements, particularly for sex scenes and even sparring scenes. With the original version of the song, “Age of Loneliness,” the rhythm and key kills me, the drums and beats are perfect, the vocals are entrancing and diverse like the music itself, and the way the different tracks are blended together is brilliant, with awesome timing of particular sounds that make the song special. It’s a feast for the ears and brain, one I feed off while writing and really sink into. “Carly’s Song (Remix)” is no less captivating, with its own sound, but never losing that sensual flavour. There were a few scenes in Soulbound that called for both versions, which I tended to alternate. Fun. Times.

Enigma — Return to Innocence

More Enigma, but this one was for the hope it speaks to. The encouragement. Courage. Self-acceptance and being true to oneself, no matter what others think. This song is uplifting, beautiful. It not only brings me to tears, it gives me goosebumps. There have been times when my confidence and self-esteem have hit terrible lows or grief and loss have hit so hard, I’ve cried-sung my way through this a few times to feel better. The music video is also a piece of art, with stunning images that tell a touching story.

This was great for Soulbound when Tash needed a boost of hope. Being in his head… sometimes it’s rough, and his soul just hurts. There are days where he hates himself, hates what he’s done, and fears the future. But there are bright moments, too, where he’s swept away into happy thoughts and devotion and things smooth out for a while, because he’s finding his redemption and peace in those around him. There were other scenes, too, where this song worked perfectly, though I can’t really talk about them without spoilers!

Joseph Trapanese (Insurgent Soundtrack) — Amity

Here’s one of my favourite pieces from the Insurgent soundtrack (second movie of the Divergent franchise), though I love the whole soundtrack, to be honest. Joseph Trapanese is a composer I’ve quickly come to treasure because he’s amazing. “Amity” is only one of his beautiful pieces, where everything is finely placed, the music is wonderfully played, there’s movement, there’s emotion, and it gives me wicked chills, right down through my legs. It makes my heart ache, my eyes tear up, and there’s a powerful force that comes through via the string ensemble, brief instances of percussion, the purr of the bass line, and other sounds mixed in.

With all of that, this song was great for scenes when characters were dealing with heavy emotions and tough choices. When their emotions were being pushed too far, but they kept holding onto hope and the will the fight. It’s a piece that conveys (to me, at least) strength, vulnerability, and determination.

Loreena McKennitt — Samain Night

One of my favourite Loreena McKennitt songs (though, okay, I have many). It kept coming up while I wrote, attaching itself to Mayr and Tash whenever they went into sweet and squishy mode. The song really stuck with them, enough that whenever I listen to it now, I associate it with them.

Maybe it’s the harp that did it, with the violin and the guitar and Loreena’s lovely voice. Maybe it was the lyrics and the title which connects to the Celtic Pagan holiday of Samhain (especially since the religion in The Republic series is inspired by Pagan beliefs and practices). Or maybe it’s just because the song is just so pretty and touching and these characters really couldn’t get enough. Either way, this song leaves me gutted with imagery and romantic notions.

Placebo — Running Up That Hill

Yes. Yes, yes, and yes! Sensual. Darkly sexy. Perfect for scenes where things get steamy.

This is only one of the many covers of Kate Bush’s song in my music library (plus Kate’s original and her remake of it, because I LOVE Kate Bush, always have — she’s brilliant), but this version is the only one with this particular feeling to it. It worked with Mayr and Tash so well, I kept playing it over and over and over… It just didn’t want to stop.

The Weeknd — As You Are

Here’s the first of a few songs by The Weeknd that made it to Soulbound‘s playlist because of their sensual groove. More and more, I’m turning to The Weeknd when I need tunes for intimate, romantic, and downright sexy scenes.

For this book, I tended to associate this song with what was going on between Mayr, Tash, and Arieve — all three of them, together, since they all suffer from a similar worry that they aren’t good enough for their lovers. Mayr and Tash have figured themselves out, for the most part, but Arieve hasn’t been as lucky. She’s struggling with her own relationship issues and some of the lyrics remind me of everything they’ve all gone through. This tune had all the right feels in terms of tone, rhythm, mood, and meaning of the song. They really do take each other as they are, challenges and flaws included.

The Weeknd — Love in the Sky

Easily one of my top favourites of The Weeknd’s, which will end up on several of my playlists because the sound of it is just Mmmm, yes, please. It hits all the right notes. The mood is very Mayr and Tash when they’re in hot-and-heavy mode. The lyrics don’t really apply to them, but I don’t care: the groove is where it’s at. Slow, sensual, delicious… It’s kind of (but so completely not) terrible how much a single track can still inspire me even after I’ve listened to it a few hundred times. Though my characters really don’t care, because they’ll make me listen to it a few more hundred times… and I’ll happily sing along.

The Weeknd — Where You Belong

After I heard this song once, I was hooked — still am, won’t lie. It’s got that lovely dark, delicious feel I adore from The Weeknd and I just can’t… stop… listening. Again, this one’s for when Mayr and Tash are alone and best left that way because they’ve gone X-rated. Though I think I may have had this going during that one time, at the tavern…

And with that little nugget, thank you so much for reading! I love hearing from readers, so feel free to share your thoughts, questions, and comments. And if there are any songs that you particularly love, I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

Archer Kay Leah has a new MM/MMF fantasy romance book out:

In a relationship that violates rules and expectations, Mayr and Tash have found their perfect match in each other. Despite their fears and difficult pasts, they hope for a shared future with security and a family. When Mayr’s secret first love, Arieve, proposes they create that family with her, it seems dreams could become reality.

But life is complicated, and so is the delicate balance between duty and love. While Mayr protects the Dahe family at all costs, Tash is determined to succeed as a priest. Both positions require sacrifice, forcing their relationship into painful choices. To make matters worse, criminals lurk in the shadows, seeking revenge on them and those they guard.

The life they want risks losing everything—including Arieve and each other. Even if they can have it all, keeping it may take more than they can give.

Warnings: “Soulbound” contains some explicit content, references to self-harm, suicide, and mentions of suicide-related behavior and intent. This story also contains instances of graphic violence, references to rape and domestic abuse, and depictions and mentions of depression.

About the Series:

With the right people and the right price, the Republic of Kattal can be brought to its knees. But for every line crossed, someone waits on the other side, ready to push back.

Armed and ready to defend their lives, these heroes are not afraid of the fight. They stare adversity in the eye and dance with the darkness within. But in their justice, there is wisdom. In wisdom, there is protection. In it all, there is love. Sometimes it’s a matter of saving a village; sometimes it’s a matter of saving the one they can’t live without. Sometimes it’s just about doing the right thing and learning to love oneself.

Magic may lurk in the shadows. Crime may never sleep. But love doesn’t back down.

Less Than Three Press | Amazon | Amazon CAN | Amazon UK | Amazon International | Bookstrand | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Smashwords | Goodreads


Giveaway

Archer is giving away three $10 Amazon gift cards with this tour – enter to win via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Soulbound Meme 2 - Archer Kay Leah

Silence fell, deep with meaning conveyed by long gazes and soft smiles. Why had he expected Aeley to say anything different?

Three loud knocks rapped the door, scaring them both. Cursing under his breath, Mayr opened the door.

Arieve.

Every foul word tumbled back down Mayr’s throat. “Hey.” He leaned against the door, one arm sliding up the side.

In an instant, he tripped on his own feet and stumbled into the door, swinging it open further.

“You can’t possibly be drunk already.” The corners of Arieve’s eyes crinkled with her smile, her glossed lips painted pink like her cheeks. Dark curls and plaits cascaded over her shoulders, the firelight lending a golden hue to the white-blonde streaks in the fringe of hair across her forehead. She held a silver tray, presenting two glass goblets filled with a bluish-purple drink and fragments of gold leaf sprinkled on top. “Otherwise, this might be a bad idea.”

“What’s a bad idea?” Mayr grimaced, his mouth suddenly dry as if filled with pillow stuffing. Quick to recover, he smoothed his shirt, resettled his belts, and slicked back his hair, pretending he meant to be clumsy.

“Your after-dinner drinks. Lira was going to bring them, but I thought I’d save her the trip. She’s having fun trading stories with your mother.” Arieve cleared her throat. “I didn’t want to interrupt your conversation.”

The tray rattled in her hand. The drinks threatened to slosh over the rims.

Mayr steadied the tray. “Thanks for that. This. These.” He offered her an awkward smile and took the goblets. “I’ll let you get back.” So you won’t see me kick my own ass for being completely inappropriate.

“Thanks, Arieve,” Aeley called from her desk.

“You’re welcome.” Arieve hesitated as she lowered the tray. She swayed gently, the rich green layers of her tiered, ruffled skirts moving with her. “I’ll let you finish.”

Before Mayr could say anything else, Arieve hurried down the hall and around the corner.

“I wonder what the mix is this time.” Aeley snatched one goblet to sniff it. “Hint of gaffa nectar, soured pamolea extract, and a bite of fulore. Plus maybe, probably—” another sniff “—syrup from the Sailor’s Sweetheart bush.” She took a sip and nodded. Flakes of gold leaf clung to her top lip. “Not as fun as last night’s concoction, but I could get used to it.”

“That’s what you always say.” Mayr brushed the flakes from Aeley’s lips with his thumb.

Aeley wiped her mouth on her sleeve. “Not always, just a lot. Cook knows her stuff. To be fair, she’s known me since I was three, getting into her puddings and tarts anytime she turned around. I trust that when she serves up a hodgeypodgey drink, it’s got personality.” She tapped her goblet against his. “I’m heading back to our guests. You should, too, considering it’s yourparty. We can resume this conversation later.”

After a kiss to his cheek, Aeley flounced out the door and through the corridor, humming to herself.

Mayr stared into his goblet, watching the gold swirl in an abstract pattern. My stomach. My head. I can’t even…

He set the goblet on Aeley’s desk. He needed Tash’s forgiveness more than he deserved a fancy drink.

As he exited the room, questions assaulted him hard enough to drown the sound of the door latch as it caught. One question practically shouted above all the others: how much had Arieve heard of his conversation with Aeley?

His heartbeat faltered. He was mortified. The door was not impervious to sound. What would Arieve think of him had she heard…

Hey, stupid! It doesn’t matter.Mayr grumbled and hooked his thumbs around the back of his belts. It still comes out to you’re taken and happy, so shut up.Dragging his heels, he wandered through the corridor and turned into the next, towards the ballroom.

Around the corner, Arieve leaned against the wall, head bowed, with her face hidden by her hair. She twined the trailing black laces of her bright green tunic around her fingers and pulled taut, then released them only to repeat the process. The empty tray rested beside her, abandoned against the wall.

“Hey.” Mayr stopped, careful to leave two foot lengths between them. “I thought you went back?” He toyed with his marriage ring, twisting the band nervously. Memories of Tash surged forward, the airy weight of his kisses almost real enough to feel.

“I wanted to wait for you.” Arieve raised her head and offered a tender smile. “I probably won’t get a word in the rest of the night given the company, so I thought…”

She was in his arms before he could reply. Her hug stole his surprise, shredding it until all that remained was stunned.

“Congratulations,” she murmured, her forehead tucked beneath his chin. “He’s got a good heart, solid. You’ve found your match. If the Four could grant me one wish tonight, it’d be for you two to have everything you desire.”

Mayr hesitated, his hands hovering over Arieve’s back. Touching was a bad idea, especially while he kept Tash from the truth. “Thank you.” Quick as he could, he embraced Arieve and pushed her away, feeling worse than the coward he was. “Let’s go back. I need to stop my mother from revealing every baby story she has or everyone’s going to hear about my naked backside and trailing diaper crowns.”

Arieve picked up the tray and started up the hall. “I’m sure Tash is soaking them up as we speak.” She laughed, the joyous sound digging up a dozen memories.

Memories he needed to lock up and burn down.

He followed Arieve and cast his gaze to the ceiling. Please, Reverent Goddesses, get me through tonight. Then let’s talk about strength of will, because one of these days I’m going to have to confess everything and it’ll hurt more than scorching my pride.


Author Bio

Archer Kay Leah was raised in Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.

Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged. When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a bigender partner and rather chatty cat.

Author Website: http://archerkayleah.wordpress.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://facebook.com/archerkayleah

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/archerkayleah

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ArcherKayLeah

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/archer-kay-leah/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/archerkayleah

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A Free Dreamer Review: Blood Borne (The Republic #3) by Archer Kay Leah

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

For Ress, survival is a complicated nightmare. Caught between two masters on different sides of the law, his life is falling apart one bad decision at a time. All he wants is to be is a good person, a loyal family man, and a successful metalsmith–a dream he can never obtain while he works for the Shar-denn, the violent gang that plagues the republic of Kattal.

To make matters worse, he works as an informant for the High Council. He scrapes through both jobs waiting for his last breath. As the Shar-denn motto says: the only way out is dead.

No stranger to living complicated decisions, Adren is caught between worlds of cir own. As the child of a Shar-denn faction boss, cir life is conflicted tangle of expectation and duty. When cir family is arrested, Adren manages to escape, but nowhere is safe. Desperate and on the run, Adren is determined to punish Ress for turning in cir family. No one who betrays the gang can live. Ress must pay the price, even if Adren has to go against everything ce is.

“Blood Borne” is the third and final book of the series. Just like the previous two books, this one can be read as a standalone without a problem. The MCs from book two do play a somewhat important role here too but everything is explained.

While this isn’t my first book with a non-binary protagonist, it is the first time I’ve read a book that uses gender-neutral pronouns other than “they”. It definitely takes some getting used to and it didn’t help that the word “ce” always reminds me of endless French lessons I had to suffer through at school. I’m not sure if it helped that the author switched between Adren’s and Ress’ pov. It’s the only book in the series that’s told from both povs. I felt like I was just getting used to Adren’s “ce” and “cir” and then the author switched back to Ress’ “he” and “his”.

Adren is the only non-binary character in the whole series. So it felt a bit odd how accepting everybody was of Adren’s choice of pronouns. Only the bad guys didn’t immediately adapt to cir wishes. Nobody ever slipped up once after they’re told it’s not “she” but “ce”. That seemed a little unrealistic. I’d expect at least a little confusion. This complete lack of resistance would have seemed  a lot more realistic, if there had been other non-binary people in previous books. As it was, it seemed like Adren was the first ever person to not identify as either male or female.

I never really bought into the romance aspect. That shift from “I hate your guts because you ruined my family” to “You’re sweet and kind and I’ll love you forever and ever after” just never happened for me. Sure, we find out that there’s more to Adren’s history than ce thought and I do get why ce would be reluctant to kill Ress. But that’s still a far cry from true love.

“Blood Borne” definitely has the most fantasy of the whole series. Adren has some sort of special abilities that lets ce make bodies disappear without a trace, amongst other nifty things. Sadly, we only see those gifts in action once. I’d have loved more showing and less telling. It’s a shame, really, because the gifts seemed really cool.

I was thrilled to see Tash and Mayr again. They played a fairly important role and we got to see quite a bit of them.

Overall, this was the weakest book of the series to me. It had quite a few weaknesses and I never really found a connection with the MCs.

The cover by Natasha Snow is absolutely gorgeous. It’s the best cover of the whole series.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 276 pages
Published July 11th 2017 by Less Than Three Press, LLC
ASINB073WC4Y7V
SeriesThe Republic #3

A Free Dreamer Review: A Question of Counsel (The Republic #1) by Archer Kay Leah

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Life hasn’t been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother’s trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship. When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn’t know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn’t know.

Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family-a sister to Aeley’s suitors and the family’s disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship. Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley’s ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life…

A Question of Counsel is one of my very first F/F books. I’ve never really liked books with female leads, no matter the genre, so I never thought to read a story with a lesbian couple. But my reading tastes have evolved over the years and the blurb sounded so tempting, I just had to give it a shot. And I’m glad I did.

I quite liked Aeley from the beginning. She’s a tough woman and definitely no damsel in distress, but she’s not perfect either. She drinks too much and can be a little grumpy at times. And she’s apparently not very good at flirting and courting women. She made me laugh a lot.

I loved the flirtations and courtship between Aeley and Lira. Loved the sexual tension as well. And the one explicit sex scene we get was absolutely scorching hot.

While I liked both protagonists and the romance between them, the rest of the plot fell a bit short. The beginning starts right in the middle of things and I felt like I missed a prequel or something. I’d hoped there would be more explanations as the plot moves on, but I always felt a little lost. So much happened before the beginning of the book, it just left me with a big fat question mark.

Another issue I had with this book was the world building, or rather the lack thereof. Throughout the book, I was left wondering just what genre this book was trying to be. A sort of historical AU? Fantasy? Or something completely different? It had a historical feel to it, but there’s four Goddesses and homosexual relationships are perfectly normal. It just had me completely puzzled.

So while I enjoyed the romance part of the book, the rest was just confusing. Still, I did quite enjoy the book for the most part and there’s definitely potential for an interesting sequel.

While the cover by Natasha Snow looks pretty cool, it might give the wrong impression. There is no BDSM in this book.  As long as you don’t take the blindfold too literally, it does fit the book, though.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 184 pages

Published May 27th 2015 by Less Than Three Pres