A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Cold Shadow (Cold Country #2) by Mercy Celeste

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This story was powerfully moving, deeply chilling, and amazingly complex. But before I even begin to review it, I need to share some of the triggers that may be problems for some readers. I know I was caught off guard by a few of them and, though they are definitely issues for some people, I was honestly shocked that they didn’t turn me away from this riveting drama.

So proceed with caution if any of these are your triggers because the scenes are vivid and realistic in many of these situations: descriptions of past rape, abuse, and torture; dubious consent; rough, often violent, sex scenes; cheating—on multiple occasions; ménage, and with it, double penetration.

Where to start? First of all, to understand this story you really need to read book one first: In From the Cold in which Nathan Truman was kidnapped, raped, tortured, and brutalized at the hands of a law enforcement coworker turned monster. Nathan’s high school best friend and lover, now deeply closeted—but still involved with him—country western superstar, Quinn Anders, was able to save Nathan’s life with help from FBI Agent, Drew Walker, a secondary character in book one. As book one ended, Nathan and Quinn had made plans to be together quietly and out of the limelight, but to be committed and to raise Quinn’s daughter by an early marriage together. Their relationship would be low profile to the world at large, but known to those closest to them, and Nathan would go back to work in law enforcement. It would be for the local sheriff’s office after he had time to make peace with what happened and heal both physically and, hopefully, psychologically from the trauma.

And that’s where this book opens, but the quiet life they planned falls apart early in the story as someone is kidnapping and maiming Hispanic workers from Truman Steel and the FBI sends in an undercover officer to assess the situation. The officer they send, complete with lip piercings and a whole lot of attitude, is none other than Drew Walker, the Feeb from book one. Apparently his mother is Hispanic and he was raised in a household of Spanish-speaking family members so he’s able to fit in comfortably. Assisting him in getting into the plant is Nathan’s sister, Natalie, who’s now the manager, and Natalie’s boyfriend, the Hispanic foreman.

The story is way too complex to try to condense in any sort of detail in a review, however, it’s easy to sum up in generalizations. First and foremost, there’s apparently a lot more going on with Nathan’s and Quinn’s relationship than most people know—both now and in the past. Quinn not only loves rough and violent sex, he’s participated in it during many past occasions and has not remained faithful to Nathan. In fact, there’s a history there between he and Drew, the man who was portrayed as straight in book one. And Nathan is sexually attracted to Drew as well. As mentioned before, this story features ménage—some pretty hot ménage, to be sure—including a scene of double penetration. But it’s the violence that might turn some readers away. Though they ostensibly love each other, there is very little tender sex between Nathan and Quinn. In fact, it’s most often brutal.

Add to that, Nathan’s nightmares of his past kidnapping, and Quinn’s behaviors when he was addicted to drugs and alcohol early in his career and sold himself for a high, and you get the picture. Now, with the new round of kidnappings and mutilation of the victims, the terror comes closer when Natalie’s boyfriend goes missing. When one of the men is then taken while out hunting the kidnapper, all will have to put their personal needs, plans, and lies aside to bring the killer to justice. And though the culprit may be a shocker, the danger is not lessened when booby traps get triggered.

Honestly, as I write this review, I wonder how I can say I enjoyed the story so much, and yet I did. That indeed is a tribute to the author who dragged me into every scene and gave me a new appreciation of her talent. Unfortunately, the end of the story didn’t have the twist I’d hoped for. I held out the hope until the very last sentence of the story when the statement made totally disappointed me. It may have been 4.5 stars if not for that. I can’t go with 5 because of the cheating that was not mentioned in any of the blurbs or advanced summaries I read. Plus, even after I went back to the previous story and searched for indications that Drew was more important to these men than appeared on the surface, I can’t shake the feeling he was a very minor character in the first story and much of what is revealed in this one as having taken place during the time of the first one doesn’t have a firm foundation in the first book. (Sorry if that sounds confusing.) So a 4 star review here. But overall, I do recommend it to those who like a dark and/or kinky story and can forgive the cheating.

Cover art shows the muscular, bare-chested Nathan in the forefront with the shadow of a man with a guitar in the background, an obvious representation of closeted Quinn.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 308 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by MJC Press
ASINB071DL35K3
SeriesCold Country #2

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Lagniappe (Iron Lace #2) by Mercy Celeste

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

lagniappe-by-mercy-celesteThis story is an exemplary sequel to what was a wonderful story, Behind Iron Lace. In this one, Caleb and Darcy are now in Oregon, building the restaurant Caleb dreamed of. The taste of New Orleans meets Oregon here, and the bad boy is settling down.

One of the little glitches that turns out to be a major issue is that the chef is Caleb’s cousin, Bubba, imported from Louisana, and he still has the hots for Caleb as he did when they were eighteen year olds caught in the act. It doesn’t matter that he has a wife—he’s out to get Caleb away from Darcy. And in the meantime, Darcy has his own problem—his former best friend and life partner, Bailey, has come for a visit, and Darcy doesn’t want to see her. She cheated on him and then ran his magazine into the ground when he left it to her as he escaped to Oregon. Plus she’s eight months pregnant with the cheater’s child. What’s to like?

Jealousy, anger, and surprises abound when all of this comes to a crisis just before Christmas, and the surprise Darcy receives is nothing he could ever have expected and neither could the readers! I loved it. If you like Mercy Celeste, by all means read Behind Iron Lace and then read this one. It’s terrific! BIL should be read first though, as this one isn’t really a standalone.

Cover art by Jay Aheer of Simply Defined Art features a stunning, apparently nude male torso in a black-and-white photo.

Sales Link

7104e-waxcreative-amazon-kindle

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 83 pages
Published December 6th 2016
ASINB01N9ET2JC
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesIron Lace #2

A Stella Review: Out of the Blues by Mercy Celeste

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Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Out of the BluesWhoever said you can’t go home again should change that to should not go home again. As in EVER!

Mason Foxworth swore on his grandmother’s bible never to return to the small Georgia town he sort of grew up in. And for eight years he’d succeeded in keeping that promise. Until his twin sister decided she needed to get married…back home…and she’d invited their parents. Wasn’t this going to be a just a fabulous weekend?

Since leaving the Marines, Kilby Adams rarely ever left his farm and now here he was in Georgia, as best man at his stepbrother’s wedding. Out of his comfort zone and with too many people that he doesn’t know Kilby has nothing to keep his mind off the past except the gorgeous brother of the bride.

And wouldn’t you just know it, there was only one room left at the Inn and Kilby would have to share it, with Mason, who was straight and….yeah, this was going to be one hell of a weekend.

Out of the Blues was nothing I was expecting. Of course I didn’t read the blurb, I was almost in the dark, but it is a Mercy Celeste book, her name is a guarantee to me. Reading this story was a lovely and emotional journey, with quite a lot of angst that had me putting down the Kindle for a moment. I shed some tears and had some laughs, and at the end the book left me satisfied and with a smiley heart.

What I most loved in Out of the Blues were the main characters: Kilby and Mason were both the perfect (just cause they are imperfect) characters I learn to love in Mercy’s writing. She gave them both a huge baggage to carry on their shoulders, with similar, and different at the same time, heavy experiences, impossible to forget. Both of them went through some really emotional times, they came out a little broken but they are so strong. I liked how their new born love allowed them to be weak and almost defeated. They have a great personality, I couldn’t have enough of their thoughts and words and feelings. Mason and Kilby were unforgettable. Every book should have characters like these ones.

I didn’t give the book five stars cause something in the writing bothered me a  little, not sure what, maybe it’s personal, maybe not, perhaps too many suspension points,  or the broken sentences, that yes they made the dialogues more realistic but sometimes were too much and made me lose my train of reading.

I want to highly recommend Out of the Blues to anyone who loves emotional story, full of angst and with well done characters, second ones too. Moreover if you like GFY, this is for you.

The cover art by Jay Aheer is very eye catching and fitting. It probably is one of my favorite of this year.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 219 pages
Published November 9th 2015 by MJC Press
ASINB017SXYXLS
Edition LanguageEnglishsettingGeorgia, United States (United State

Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review: Light from the Dark by Mercy Celeste

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Light from the Dark coverI really like Mercy’s Celeste’s work so it’s not unusual for me to expect a good story from her, but this one is the best I’ve ever read! My first thoughts upon completion: awesome, complex, convoluted plot, extremely damaged yet loveable MCs, an intriguing mystery, amazing sex, and a story that will remain with me for quite a while.

The blurb doesn’t do justice to the full scope of this story, but in a nutshell—former US Marshal Micah Beasley, tired of living with the guilt and negative thoughts of the disaster his last job took, decides to accept a job offer as bodyguard for what he assumes is a spoiled rich kid who can’t (or won’t) leave his house. Thinking it will be a cakewalk, when asked what salary he’d like, he asks for a million dollars. Imagine his shock when he gets it!

Christopher (Kit) Auberon is all that’s left of the very wealthy and powerful Auberon family. Unable to speak, scarred from spending two years in prison for the attempted murder of his uncle, white-haired from that same imprisonment, he’s also a brilliant computer gamer. Loner doesn’t begin to describe his isolated existence, however.

Unfortunately, recent break-ins at his supposedly secure estate, coupled by escalating memories of a time when he was kidnapped as a child after seeing his parents killed, are sending Kit into a place in his mind from which he may never return.

The scope of the story is so huge that I need to break it down a bit to do justice to a review. Starting with the MCs—first, Micah Beasley, blond, muscular, with a scar that slices his face on one side, former US Marine, former US Marshal, not out to his family, burdened by guilt connected to his last case when his work partner, Heath, was killed along with the child they were protecting. Heath was also his lover, and Micah feels that if they hadn’t taken fifteen minutes for a quickie before picking up the little girl, she wouldn’t have been killed, Heath wouldn’t have died, and Micah might have some semblance of a career left. Instead, his affair with his married co-worker comes out in the investigation, and Micah is relieved of duty, retired quietly, and sent on his way. Stewing over all of this for over six months, he’s shocked when his name is suggested for the bodyguard position but realizes it might be just what he needs to join the living again.

Kit Auberon was only eight years old when he was kidnapped from the scene where both his parents were murdered and their home burned to the ground. When he later wanders into a convenience store, covered in blood, he’s unable to speak and has no memory of what happened or where he’s been. And if that isn’t bad enough, we learn that he has psychotic episodes in which he shuts down completely after exhibiting violent behavior. During one of these when he was only a young teen, he attacked his uncle with scissors and nearly killed him. His uncle refused to back off and Kit was sent to a horrible mental institution for two years during which he was physically and mentally abused. When he was finally released to the custody of his grandfather’s chosen guardians, his hair had turned completely white, he had scars all over his body, and he faced a long road back to recovery. The experiences this young man went through in the past and goes through in the present in this story, are heartbreaking and tragic. This reviewer came to love him, his strength of character, his will to continue to fight his demons, his brilliance in putting his intellect to work by creating computer games and tweaking artificial voice controls in order for him to communicate with those around him. He alternates between sign language and the computerized voice, and I found myself wishing I could be there to help him in some way.

Over the course of the first week that Micah is with Kit, Micah discovers that Kit is highly intelligent, sweet and innocent in regards to relationships, definitely a virgin, impotent, and someone with whom Micah could easily fall in love. In fact, he’s one of the only people Kit trusts in his inner circle, outside of the few household staff who have been with him most of his life, and Kit begins to have feelings for Micah as well. Kit’s nickname for Micah is Beastly, not because of the scar which slashes across his face, but because of his lion-hearted strength and his rough blond good looks and hairy body. The two develop a rapport that runs much deeper than either expected, and it’s Micah who is finally able to help Kit fight his darkness and find his way back to stability when their safe environment goes to hell in a handbasket.

The mystery surrounding the childhood kidnapping is eventually revealed in all its complex twists and turns, as is the time Kit spent in the psychiatric facility, and the details of Micah’s own past with the complex situation which led to his dismissal from the department. I swear I was going to get out my spreadsheet and plot a few graphs to help me get through the cast of characters and their relationships to each other, to Kit, and to the mystery itself. At the heart of the last few chapters of the story is the deep and abiding love that Micah has developed for “Chris”, and the mutual understanding and reliance upon each other as they battle their demons and ghosts, both past and present.

I can’t begin to express how very much I enjoyed this story. It’s much more than a simple M/M romance. It’s a journey of two men’s struggles to come out of the depths of despair and fight for stability and happiness in a situation which seems virtually hopeless. I highly recommend this one to lovers of M/M romance, mystery and intrigue, and those who want to have an opportunity to stretch their imaginations to new lengths. Don’t miss this one!

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Cover Art by Reece Notley is a photo of a gruff-looking man in a suit as he holds the jacket closed, showing tension in every line of his body. This is a good representation of MC Micah Beasley and the tension under which he has been living.

Sales Links:       Amazon      Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 246 pages
Published March 6th 2015 by MJC PRess (first published March 5th 2015)
original titleLight from the Dark
edition languageEnglish
url https://mercyceleste.wordpress.com/